I last blogged a week ago Tuesday when we tried to leave Charleston and then turned around in a massive storm that hit us. Well, Wednesday wasn’t much better. It rained. And rained. And rained. The wind was insane. We didn’t even try to get off the boat, let alone take the boat anywhere. But then around 4 pm it magically stopped and the sky cleared a bit. We hopped off the boat as many around us did and stretched our legs. We took an Uber to the store to grab a few things and mostly just to have an outing.
Thursday morning we made a run for it! After hours of studying charts and tide schedules and wind and rain schedules Wednesday night we decided to give it a try. The weather was much improved. The rain was pretty much gone and we just had some wind to deal with. We had to head through a very nervous making passage between Charleston and Georgetown and we needed to do it on a mid to rising tide. The tide schedule was not in our favor as high tide was scheduled for around noon in Charleston and 1 where we were heading. So, we got up at 5:15 and pulled off the dock by 6 AM. Anyone who knows Ben knows what an achievement that was for Ben and how he was exhausted the rest of the day and the next day after doing that! He and early mornings don’t agree. Anyway, we had a great group of boats to travel with and the river traveling north is beautiful when you aren’t stressed out and can look at it. We did enjoy the view.
The boating community is so supportive. We left Charleston right behind another boat who has similar draft to us and has done the trip many times. Ben called him a number of times to ask for a depth report and he was helpful each and every time. Then we found ourselves traveling with a 95 ft boat with a 5.5 ft draft and unprotected props in front of us and a sailboat with a 6 ft draft behind us. They were going nice and slow and we were happy to stay right between them. The sailboat was a local and had lots of tips along the way. The 95 ft was not and had not thought to do any research prior to the trip. He hadn’t looked at Active Captain or Waterway Guide. We get kind of frustrated when we get accused (mostly online forums) of being unprepared and not paying attention to conditions. I had two pages of notes about tide levels and times for every hazard mark that day. We do a LOT of preparation. It doesn’t always matter. But, we like to be as prepared as we can be. So, we were happy to slow down and let the 95 footer go first. We’d call ahead to him each time we approached a hazard and between us and the sailboat both reporting our research findings he navigated through first and we both followed.
We finally made it to Georgetown and kept on going. We thought there was a chance we’d have to stop and anchor and wait for tide to fall and then rise again but we made good time and got to the last of the tricky spots just after high tide and still had plenty of water. Georgetown was unfortunately full. There was a fishing tournament going on and those two extra days in Charleston meant there wasn’t room for us now. We’ve been told it was a cute stop but we just can’t catch them all. So, we headed on north to Wacca Wache on the Waccamaw river. Say that five times! It was a very nice marina with very friendly people and the river there is beautiful even if the water is browner than brown. We hopped off the boat and decompressed after a long day.
Friday we headed to North Myrtle Beach to Barefoot Marina. Our friends Rod and Susie from Beehaven keep their boat there and had gotten us a slip for as long as we wanted to stay. They are just another example of the truly wonderful people we have met on this trip. They are just the sweetest! We got in fairly early and I took the girls to the POOL! A huge pool. With a sno cone tent on the pool deck. The water was a bit chilly but the sun was hot and the sno cones were delicious.
Rod and Susie came by the marina later that afternoon and they and Ben joined me on the pool deck until I was able to get the girls out of the water. They have two condos they rent out right on the beach. They are staying in one while having some maintenance work done on their boat. We had dinner together next to their condo and then walked out to the beautiful beach. Then they took us up to their 18th floor condo. I’m terrified of heights so I could appreciate the view from inside but no looking over the balcony for me. Rod immediately pulled out his ukulele and started teaching the girls how to play.
Saturday we spent the whole day with Rod and Susie. We went back to their place and had a lovely lunch and Molly got another good long ukulele lesson. She’s completely learned how to play Happy Birthday! Then we all went down to the beach. It was perfect boogie boarding weather. The ocean was warm. The waves were big. The sand was soft and there was no current pulling them. Ben and I got in too. Their condo also has a pool and lazy river so after we were done with the sand we took a float around the lazy river for a bit and then headed upstairs again. Susie immediately told the girls to go hop in the big Jacuzzi tub.
In our continued craziness, Saturday night we hopped in a rental car and drove most of the way to Annapolis, MD. Stopped at hotel and slept so the girls could swim and play a bit in the morning. That was the agreement with taking on another road trip although this one was only 7.5 hours. Half the length of our last one. Sunday morning after they played we went to see another boat we like a lot. Spent the day there and had a great lunch at a local crab place. Drove back the entire way that night arriving back in North Myrtle Beach around 1:45 AM. Ben and I were tired. Boat discussions go up and down constantly so I won’t waste space with that here.
Memorial Day we laid low. We were both tired. I sat around in pajamas until after noon. A coworker of Ben’s from Schwab came to visit us and brought his 14 year old daughter. They mentioned they live outside of Charlotte but didn’t mind the drive. Given that we’d just driven 7.5 hours we told them we’d love to have visitors but that they were CRAZY! The girls all swam for quite awhile and then we had a classic Memorial Day cookout before they headed back. They brought us some North Caroline favorites to try – peach and almond bread and Cheerwine! It was a perfectly relaxing and chill holiday.
Tuesday it was time for us to move along even though it was blazing hot and the girls wanted to swim again. Rod and Susie drove Ben back from Enterprise to the marina and came to say goodbye. We truly enjoyed our time with them and will stay in touch just like the rest of our looper family! We had an easy trip from North Myrtle to Southport.
I told the girls we crossed through another state and are now in North Carolina! Because of the tide schedule we left late morning and didn’t arrive til around 4:30 PM. We took a quick walk through town and headed back to the marina for a 6 pm briefing a fellow boater holds nightly. He walks through weather and tides and the rest of the route north from Southport all the way to Norfolk, VA. We left with a good handle on the next few days and a packet of information including maps and notes on the tricky parts ahead.
While in town the harbor host for Southport, Robert Creech, reached out to us! He saw our boat at the marina, looked us up and called Ben. What a nice guy! His house is right on the water so we walked past and stopped and said hello on our way back to the marina. He and Kay have a lovely view of the water from their front porch. The girls enjoyed a few minutes in the rockers before we had to go.
This morning we took another walk into town before heading north. Wendy from La Cigale and mentioned all the history here and I asked her to tell me more because I missed it last night! Wendy said go walk along the water. So, we did. And she was right. Tons of Civil War history here as well. We didn’t make the girls stop and read every board but we read them. Stories of the Union blockade of the rivers and the confederate ships in NC that were used to partially block the blockade so that the blockade runners could sneak ships out carrying cotton and rice to Bermuda and the Bahamas. Here they sold these goods for military supplies that they then snuck back into NC. There is a string of shipwrecks of these ships up the coast of NC from Southport. There’s even a very old, very rusty anchor from one of them on the bank where we were standing. The girls instead stopped at almost every swing to swing while we read. In the background is the former house of a blockade runner.
Then we moved on to the Pilots’ Tower. People would stand in these very tall towers and look for ships out on the ocean. When they spotted one ready to come in they would fire a cannon alerting a pilot boat to head out. The pilot boats would head out to the inlet and the captain would climb the ladder up to the big ship. The mate would drive the pilot boat back in to the harbor and the pilot would bring in the big ship navigating twists and turns and shoaling in the inlet and river. Although these towers are no longer needed today because of electronics and improved communications the pilots are still used. I first learned about pilots in the Bahamas. Had we gone south to Eleuthera there were spots that we would have called a pilot to take us in. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing!
Just as we were rounding the corner to walk up into town and get some salt water taffy Ben saw tents about a block down. We were just lamenting we had a rental car in North Myrtle yet somehow seemed to be very low on produce. And then just like that a farmer’s market appeared! Yay! We loaded up on tomatoes, blueberries that were picked yesterday, asparagus, red peppers, Jade cucumbers and romaine. Then stopped off for some garlic herb pickles.
Once we loaded up on the healthy stuff we headed for salt water taffy. Ben and I like it as much as the kids so Ben grabbed a bag and everyone grabbed handfuls of the flavors they wanted. We ended up with just over 3 lbs. Yes, I’m admitting that. I won’t admit how quickly it disappears. There are also three local fish markets in town with fresh catches each day. We got 2 lbs of fresh shrimp brought in this morning for the crazy cheap price of $7 per lb. What a deal. So between the shrimp, the fresh veggies and the taffy we are eating well tonight!
Other random stats from this past week include another tooth lost by Madelyn. She’s now toothless in the front and enjoying her funny speech until those big teeth grow in.
And while we had a car I decided haircuts were in order. The girls haven’t had a trim since early January and it was time. Molly has been growing her hair out since last summer and decided it was bugging her and she wanted to go back to short. Madelyn fought me on cutting a large chunk off of hers but it was all the way down to her waist. Her hair is extremely thick and unless I have it braided every single day it just was looking derelict! So, despite her protests I gave the instruction to cut 4-6 inches off. It’s still plenty long! She wants to grow it to her feet like Rapunzel of course.
Ben and I were both kind of feeling burned out yesterday. We have just been tired and ambivalent about where to go next and what to do. My cousin and his wife are driving to see us Saturday so I’ve been trying to map out where to meet them. Our choices were go to Carolina Beach, or Wrightsville Beach or Topsail today. Carolina Beach was so close to Southport that ultimately seemed silly. So we settled on anchoring at Wrightsville Beach tonight. We planned to drop the dinghy in the water and go into town. They have a close and easy to get to dinghy dock here. But what they also currently have are 25-30 mph winds. The forecast says 9 mph. Seems like more often than not we have a good forecast and then boom, crazy wind when we anchor. Ben reminded me that we had lovely nights anchored at Fernandina and St. Simons. He is right. I just remember the windy ones! So, we are sitting at anchor spinning back and forth while all the sailboats and the one other power boat don’t move at all. Looks like we won’t make it into town. We can’t leave the boat when it’s this windy. Instead we’re having a relaxing afternoon chilling out. Molly and I worked on a puzzle a bit and now I’m sitting on the back deck listening to the water and watching the boats around us. Ben unfortunately just spent a long time in the hot engine room working on something. Hopefully he’ll sit and relax soon too. (And now that I’m done writing it has already calmed quite a bit)
Tomorrow we head to Topsail Island Marina in Surf City, NC. Another recommendation from the Wilson family. Then we think we will meet Michael and Addi in Beaufort, NC Saturday before we turn to head north after the weekend.