This entry will capture the last leg of the ICW from Georgia to the mid-Chesapeake where we plan to settle in for about six months. Weather for this period was mild, but a bit breezy at times. We tried to continue the practice of anchoring out two of each three days; not just to avoid the slip fees...the sunsets/rises and serenity are well worth the effort to clean up after the muddy chain and anchor. At anchor, Bill usually sleeps in the pilot house so Jean gets a respite from the minor annoyance of his snoring...something that he doesn't think really happens.
Coming out of beautiful Beaufort, SC on that Sunday morning we had a very foggy start. Along with the three sailboats and two other trawlers ahead, there was ample information passing over channel 68 to remove any uncertainty about the navigation and traffic. Fortunately, the mist burned thru about mid morning and we all moved along unimpeded. The 73 Nm leg to Isle of Palms passed quickly as we seemed to cross each shallow cut at exactly high tide and also, catch the current on the stern most of the time. This is the nautical equivalent of a trip that sees several plane, bus and metro changes without delay, each with a strong tailwind. It should never be planned on and rarely happens in the real world.
The Isle of Palms stop has become a constant of our trips along the ICW. Mike and Marta Loy are great hosts and this sixth layover was no exception. Mike was on the pier to take the lines and Marta soon had Jeannie in the car for a shopping tour. Their journey was all about grandbabies and these ladies were on a mission. Bill had a chance to tidy up the boat and make a trip to the Piggly Wiggly for provisions. But the treat of the stay occurred that evening as we gorged on oysters, baked on their barbecue at home. Great fun, and needless to say, Bill didn't sleep in the pilot house...and perhaps, didn't even snore.
Up early on Tuesday morning we covered the 92 Nm to Barefoot Landing near Myrtle Beach. This formerly "free' dock has been a favorite stop for the cruising community for years. It fronts on a waterfront mall with lots of shops and eateries. Our choice was for dinner aboard and ice cream cones, ashore. The next day we covered the 62 Nm to a popular anchorage just east of Wrightsville Beach. The race to find a safe anchorage at days end is a tactical challenge that usually involves several daring sailboats darting thru the field, some still under sail, while the more pedestrian trawlers deliberately make their way in. The first vessel to set the hook has priority over anyone coming later and our relatively quick setting anchor with chain proved successful on the first try. Many of the sailors that had arrived earlier were still setting, and resetting as we lit off the barbecue. This very visible sign says that we have claimed our own swing space, so others should look after their own.
This anchorage is convenient to the Masonboro Inlet which opens to the Atlantic. On a good crossing the next day, we were able to avoid the pesky bridges and more lengthy arc through the Marine Corps training areas of Onslow Bay by going outside. By mid-afternoon we moored at Beaufort Docks. Rather than thinking of it as un-beautiful, we like to believe that some civil war debutante had a beau stationed at a "fort up north". Memory aids are even helpful for old folks. Anyway, our stay here was for two days as we soaked up on a lovely southern city...and waited for the wind to lay down a bit.
The wait was worth it, because the next day saw a record 97 Nm beneath the keel as we crossed the Pamlico Sound and her associated cuts and canals to the lower reaches of the Alligator River. Saturday evening we anchored off Catfish Point in a place called the Straits. The tight fit was rewarding and the anchorage was in a deserted primordial backwater complete with lots of exotic waterfowl. We had a short trip on Sunday, crossing the Albemarle and arriving at Coinjock by noon. This is the last chance for relatively cheap diesel, so we topped off on arrival. That evening, we shared the 36 oz prime rib that has become their hallmark...and still took away an ample portion for future meals.
On the last day of April we cleared the locks at Great Bridge, navigated around the busy commercial and naval activity of Norfolk and entered the lower Chesapeake. The bay was a lot calmer than the tempest we had met in mid November, heading south. The anchorage that night was on Back Creek at the mouth of the York River. We arrived at the Patuxent River Marina on May first. And, after retrieving the truck, it was time to cross the bridge to Solomons and see how the Oyster Bay condo was coming along. Our plan at this point is to spend the season here, be around for the arrival of two grandbabies, enjoy some Navy football and still take in some gunkholing in our favorite Chesapeake haunts.