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ICW 2007

STARTING IS THE KEY IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

 The courage to begin always separates dreamers from achievers.
Your willingness to act, to overcome inertia, is your first step on the path to success.

You're surrounded by opportunities to be successful.
Create a definite plan for carrying out your desires and begin at once,
whether you're ready or not, to put your plan into action.

Don't wait.
The time will never be just right.
Start where you are, and work with the tools you have at
your command and better tools will be found as you go along.

The first step is the hardest.
But you must take it.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

©2006 by Max Steingart




September 1st., Labor Day weekend, turned out to be one of our better Labor Day excursions in years. Although the wind started out light and variable, the afternoon was 10-15 from the north, and John Zimmerman and I ended up shortening canvas as the hours grew late. We pulled into Solomon’s Island, met with Tim Fuhrmann & Bryan Twigg aboard the Write Byte, and then anchored up Mill Creek for the night. The next day, we sailed to Bivalve on a port tack reach, and met our girls for dinner at Boonies. It was a peaceful night, but the wind remained very light and variable for Sunday’s Captains Cup Race. After five hours, everyone had suffered enough, so we shortened the race, and most all headed to Deal Island for the festivities. It was there we rafted with Bill & Chris Burry aboard Plover for the rest of the weekend. We savored the views of the arriving Skipjacks, laughed at the shenanigans of those around us, and partied with our ESSA friends ashore. On Monday, we toured the racecourse with the skipjacks, dropped our friends back at the harbor, and took off for Coulbourne Creek to dine with family and friends at The Creek. Wow!

On Tuesday, we weighed anchor, and sailed with Plover to the south end on Tangier Island. We swam and explored the deserted beaches, and then returned to our boats for another peaceful night at anchor. The next day, we motored into Tangier harbor and stayed with Capt. Parks at his marina. We found a pleasant surprise awaiting us… it was Riley and Charlotte waiting for us aboard Dream Weaver! The six of us roamed around Tangier, sampled the crab cuisine, and enjoyed an evening ice cream cone. For those who have not visited Tangier Island, this is a must cruise destination when the weather suits you.

The following day, we shoved off for Crisfield to honor some routine doctor’s appts.

From Crisfield, we sailed to Onancock, Va., anchored near the good ship, Godspeed, (www.jamestown2007.org/Godspeed-Sail-pictures.cfm ), and visited with former ESSA members, Russell and Ann Jones. Their new (old) home in Onancock is beautiful and both are as active and funnier than ever. Onancock is another must destination with a very well protected harbor, restaurants, shops, lodging, and food support.

From Onancock, we had a brisk sail across the Bay on starboard tack to the Rappahannock River. We sailed up the Corrotoman and stayed with ESSA friends, Greg and Anne Weik. Their home and dock seems to be right out of Home & Garden. We toured the area, briefly explored the Tides Inn http://www.tidesinn.com , and performed some laundry chores. From there, we sailed to Urbanna, Va. http://www.urbanna.com , and took advantage of the well-protected class A anchorage in the harbor. Urbanna is an excellent example of an old colonial town that’s steeped in American History, and it is cruiser friendly. The local grocery store is only a quarter mile from the docks, and, by the way, dinghy docking was free.

From Urbanna, we sailed 46 miles to Yorktown’s Riverwalk Marina and spent 2 days touring the Yorktown Battlefields and Victory Center. http://www.yorkcounty.gov/tourism The Riverwalk Marina is the convenient spot to access the National Park, public transportation, restaurants, shops, and buses to Jamestown. In the summertime, Yorktown has free concerts on the lawn/plaza during the weekends.

After Yorktown, it was 36 miles to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital anchorage, and a visit from our cruising friend, Jon Bickel. Sea stories were swapped, plans for the winter were made, and old memories shared as we dined at the docks. Another glorious sunset topped off another glorious day, and an evening’s rest went undisturbed. The next morning, we motored down the picturesque Dismal Swamp Canal and managed to clear both locks within the same day! The Carolina drought had fostered a thick carpet like bloom of green duckweed. This spectacular canal was created by George Washington and his business partners to in order connect Chesapeake, Va. with Elizabeth City N.C. http://www.albemarle-nc.com/camden/history/canal.shtml.

In Elizabeth City, we visited old friends, and had our picture taken with Fred Fearing, a founder of the Rose Buddies. http://www.elizcity.com/rose

We headed out for Manteo, but the weather forecast turned unfavorable, so we made a mid course decision, and turned south for Oriental, N.C. using following winds and seas from the northeast. We made new acquaintances, explored the sailing capital of N.C., and feasted on fresh shrimp meals. Oriental on the Neuse is a sailor’s full support port, and with a little effort, we were able to replace the top 2 mainsail slides we had broken while sailing up the Neuse River. Zimmy did a great old-fashioned job of sewing the slides onto the mainsail.

From Oriental, we sailed to New Bern, N.C. for two days of tourism in downtown, historic New Bern. http://www.visitnewbern.com . We toured Tryon Palace and Gardens, visited the birthplace of Pepsi, meandered through a terrific, old-fashioned Mitchell’s Hardware store, and enjoyed the local seafood cuisine (i.e. Capt.Ratty’s). After we recovered from being Palace’d out, we returned to Oriental only 29 miles away. From Oriental, we motored 41 miles to Ocracoke Island; I called this another trawler day.

We anchored in Silver Lake, dinghied ashore, and walked around Ocracoke Lighthouse. Fishing around the area is some of the best, and it is easy to understand why pirates and sailors have chosen this place to hide. The weather was calm, so we ventured out Ocracoke Inlet (sweating bullets), turned to starboard, and enjoyed another trawler day for 65 miles down the N.C. coast to Cape Lookout. It was thrilling to retrace the voyages of the Spanish, French, British, Pirates, Confederates, Union Forces, and others who have sailed the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Without today’s modern technologies, I would not attempt this Coasting in anything that has a draft over 3 feet! To encounter breaking waves, sand bars, and sandbar islands 10-15 miles offshore is frightening; if you cannot turn around, turning right or left may be tragic.

We anchored inside Cape Lookout Bight and explored the National Seashore Park. http://www.crystalcoast.com/capelookout/CGNC . The Nat’l Park video, Ribbon of Sand, in my opinion, captures the beauty and majesty of cruising our East Coast Outer Banks from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida. Although the anchorage is a pirate’s dream, I would not want to be there during a tropical storm; the Outer Banks are thin and have very little structure to block high winds. The waters are calm, the beaches pristine, the vegetation superb, and the wildlife captivating. From Cape Lookout, we motored 6 miles to Beaufort, N.C., dropped the hook off Town Dock, and reprovisioned. Beaufort, N.C. is another sailor’s town, and a Must Stop for beaches, boats, ballads, bars, and Beaufort’s Maritime Museum! After our recharge, it was off towards Georgetown, S.C. via the ICW, Topsail Island, and Southport. http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/maritime

When we arrived at Southport, the weather report was favorable, so we decided to sail offshore at night to Winyah Bay (Georgetown, S.C.). However, when we got out into the ocean, the wind shifted onto our bow, then dropped off to nothing, so we had to motor all night! The full cockpit enclosure kept us warm and cozy from the cool night ocean air. We had an uneventful night, and the stars stretched out over the heavens. We still arrived at Winyah Bay entrance at 0600 despite slow rpm’s. Oh well, we navigated the entrance without going up on the rocks, and rode the flood tide to Georgetown. We took a nice long nap, and then went into town to Thomas’ Café for fried green tomatoes and gumbo (I will play for Gumbo, Jimmy Buffett). Later, it was dinner at the River Room for the best Shrimp ‘n Grits along the coast! We listened to beach music at Buzz’s Roost until we were yawning too much; after a short dinghy ride to the boat, I was asleep in minutes, and enjoyed another great, peaceful night aboard Hemisphere Dancer.

From Georgetown, we motored south (20 mi) to the North Santee River to visit Hopsewee Plantation, the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence for South Carolina, and a step back in time for sailors. Two original slave homes are intact, and archaeological digs around the Plantation are active. The old rice fields and flood control gates are still around, as well as shrimp, crab, and fish. Bob Dickey is right, one could spend months cruising between the Waccamaw River and Charleston, S.C.; the history, traditions, and scenery are almost unchanged over the past two hundred years. Our thanks go out to Frank and Rae Jean Beatty for opening their Hopsewee home to us, and preserving a piece of American History. http://www.hopsewee.com

From Hopsewee, it was 20 miles to McClellanville. We anchored in Five Fathom Creek which is part of Cape Romain and the sea of salt grass. The next day, we motored 35 miles to Charleston and enjoyed 2 days of visiting old historic haunts. The Market, the Battery, Fort Sumpter, Spanish moss streets, and Charleston cuisine are unique parts of our history! I have loved stopping in at the restaurant, Mistral, Mistral, Mistral for dinner and live music. The French bistro atmosphere is a welcome break from the hurried pace of modern life outside. After an evening of good music and good food, the walk along the Battery to the Marina is a treasure of days gone by. This should be followed by an easy trip down the ICW to Church Creek, Wadmalaw Island, and then, Beaufort, S.C.

Beaufort, S.C. is a wonderful old Coastal Carolina/Georgia small town rife with history, traditions, antebellum architecture, and southern charms. It is cruiser friendly, presents a beautiful waterfront, and has several good restaurants and shops. Dinghy docking is free, temporary big boat tie-ups are free, and anchoring spots are plentiful. During oyster season, a café named Nippy’s has an all you can eat shrimp and/or oyster night on Fridays and Saturdays. We hit the ice cream parlor on the back to the boat……….. yum. If you want to live elegantly, southern style, then make your reservation at the Rhett House Inn. http://www.rhetthouseinn.com Several movies have been made in Beaufort, so take the tour in a horse drawn carriage. If you’re looking for a quiet vacation, this may be your destination.

From Beaufort, S.C., it’s 43 miles to downtown historic Savannah, Ga. I do not recommend downtown, because there is no place to anchor, the few slips and bulkhead tie ups are not protected from wakes or currents, and there was no visible security personnel walking the waterfront. I recommend securing your boat at or near Thunderbolt, which is five miles southeast of Savannah, and taking the bus or cab into town. Savannah is filled with history, southern culture, great homes, and beautiful parks. The movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was filmed here, and the person, Lady Chablis still performs once a month at a local club. For sailors, a visit to the Pirate’s House is a must. It is considered to be the oldest house in Georgia, and many a sailor has consumed too much grog here, only to awake the following morning aboard some ship at sea. The old hidden underground tunnel that leads to the river is still operational. http://www.thepirateshouse.com/history.html

Alas, the waterfront has too many honky-tonk shops that detract from an old time sailing atmosphere, but the numerous pubs and cafés compensate the loss… maybe not.

After Savannah, I woke up to find us sailing offshore towards Brunswick, Ga. We anchored off Golden Isles Marina for the night, and woke up to light rain and wind the next morning. We motored past Jekyll Island, Kings Bay (no gunboats, John) Fernandina Beach, and Cumberland Island. We anchored at Ft. George State Park, Fla. for the night. The next day, we pulled into St. Augustine for R&R!

St. Augustine, Fl. is one of my favorite seaports; it affords excellent protection, it’s close to an excellent ocean inlet, and it is convenient to all modes of transportation. Founded in 1585, St. Augustine is a sailing town replete with an old fort, Castillo de San Marcos, that guards the city, old Spanish streets and buildings, Flagler College, a sailors exchange marine store, pubs, shops, galleries, hotels, restaurants, and all within walking distance along cobblestone streets lined with bougainvillea, hibiscus, and live oaks draped with Spanish moss. http://sailors-exchange.com If you’re tired of walking, just do an Otis Redding and sit on the dock of the bay; the waterfront is excellent. The St. Augustine City Marina is convenient to most everything, provides showers, laundry, a ship’s store on the premises, and a dinghy dock for those who wish to anchor out nearby. If you can’t find a good time in St. Augustine, then something is wrong. All good seaport liberty must come to an end, so after 3 days ashore, we shoved off for Daytona Beach, 49 miles away.

With the wind at our backs, we sailed and motored down the ICW at 7-8 knots. Unfortunately, while we were listening to live jazz, and drinking and smoking cigars at Stogies in St. Augustine, we missed BikeToberFest in Daytona………. drat! Don’t you just hate missing all those Harleys barking up and down A1A, the biker babes, and philosophical discussions? Oh well, maybe next year… So anyway, here we are at Seven Seas Marina, Daytona Beach nestled snugly in a slip and watching tropical storm Noel reek havoc, and drift towards the Bahamas. A high-pressure system stationed over the Mid-Atlantic States and a low-pressure system near south Florida created a big pressure gradient over the Daytona region. With northeasterly and easterly winds at 20-30 knots, no one was moving. The wide Daytona beach went underwater, flooding occurred on lee shores, and squall bands moved through every few hours. Our slip neighbors, Stu and Claudia, were on an Ocean Yachts 48, and they were waiting, like us, to move to Ft. Pierce. So every day at 1700 (5 p.m.) we convened a Ward Room meeting over French Martinis to discuss the weather! For six days, it blew 20-30 knots! Finally, Hurricane Noel moved out to sea and we shoved off for Ft. Pierce. We were extra careful to watch for new sandbars and storm debris, but fortunately, there were no surprises. The ICW seemed to turn into I-95 with heavy powerboat traffic. A couple of times, we just pulled over and let the mob go by! We did have two nights at anchor in places that were protected, quiet, no wakes, and beautiful. Mornings were especially memorable watching the sunrise with hot fresh coffee in our hands. As we drifted with the wind and tide towards Ft. Pierce, the end of our journey raised bittersweet feelings towards stopping, but after the Holidays, the journey will continue, old friends will be seen, and new memories discovered. The islands are calling… however, it is the Journey, not the Destination that’s important.

Christmas Trip 2007

2007.12.21


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