30 November 2006

Georgetown, South Carolina

November 30, 2006
written at Thoroughfare Creek, SC (near Bucksport, SC)

Old houses in Southport, SC

Kristen eating ice cream in Southport, SC

Hans at the computer in Southport

SC/NC border

An inlet to the Atlantic.

We’re anchored tonight in the most undeveloped section of the ICW that we’ve come across in the past 2 weeks. Granted, we had to motor through hours upon hours of sprawl (see development blog entry) before getting here, but it’s well worth it. It is completely silent, except for the birds and mosquitoes, and we were able to go ashore to Sandy Island to hike around, which is co-owned by the SC Department of Transportation and the Nature Conservancy. Our neighbors tonight are a couple from Quebec on a 40 foot steel sloop. The woman mentioned that she was having trouble with her English and her ability to understand the bridge tenders over the VHF, but Kristen reassured that we’re all having problems understanding the bridge tenders who speak fast and with a rather heavy southern accent that is often hard to decipher over the radio.

Hans motoring through a bridge.

The only pontoon bridge left on the ICW.

Yesterday we had an unintended short day of only 30 miles. Whisper and Boris are capable of getting us over 50 miles in the daylight, but we’re having trouble contending with opposing tides which set our speed down at least 2 miles an hour (about 25% reduction in speed!). We also lose some time waiting for bridge openings. But, at least we’re not racing with anyone. We anchored last night in Little River, off the town of Callabash, SC (or is it NC, it is hard to tell on the chart). We went exploring in the nearby salt marshes and then made our way to town. It is an interesting place with some derlict tourist fishing boats tied up to rickety piers and about 10 restaurants in a matter of one mile. We may have stumbled upon South Carolina’s biggest deep fried tourist trap. We didn’t succumb, and dinghied back to Whisper to cook up some shrimp and grits. Fabulous.

We left the anchorage at dawn and spent the morning motoring through patchy fog until the sun came out in full force around 9:30AM. We’ve been waking up at 6:15AM or so and are generally moving before 7AM. The majority of the morning was spent passing housing developments, both new and old.

aerial tramway traveersing the ICW.

Around 10AM we motored through the infamous “Rock Pile” section of the ICW which is renowned for outcroppings of rocks reaching out to the edge of the channel. It turns out, however, that it was mostly hype, and while there were indeed rocks bordering the ICW, you would have to be half drunk to run your boat into them.

Kitkat spent the whole morning in the sun before retreating to the clothes locker to rest after her hard morning.
Around 11AM, shorts were dug out of the recesses of the clothes locker and we fully enjoyed the 75 degree weather post-Thanksgiving!

We entered the Waccamaw River this afternoon which was a welcome change after the Myrtle Beach area. The Waccamaw is almost completely undeveloped marsh and mangrove land with a couple marinas here and there, but mainly just oaks with Spanish moss.

We arrived at our anchorage around 4:30PM and after exploring, had a dinner of bacon spaghetti (some may call it spaghetti carbonara), red wine and truffles.

Tomorrow we’ll head to Georgetown to pick up some mail and then we’ll be off towards Charleston.

29 November 2006

"The Grand Strand," South Carolina (Myrtle Beach area)

November 29, 2006
Waterway housing developments

There is an astonishing amount of housing development along the ICW. It’s easy to understand the desire to live on the water, but you have to stop and wonder about the environmental consequences. Almost every acre of land along the ICW around the Myrtle Beach area was either houses, condos, hotels, shopping malls or golf courses. Even after the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused along the Gulf Coast, development along South Carolina’s coast appears to be continuing unabated. Here are some samples of just a few miles of the ICW.

27 November 2006

Southport, North Carolina

November 27, 2006

We left Morehead City on Saturday morning and had a fairly short and easy day motoring down to an anchorage maintained by the Marine Corps at Camp LeJeune, Mile Hammock Bay. There is a boat landing which marines & their families use for small fishing boats, and the rest of the relatively large basin is used by passing boats. We were the second boat in and by sunset there were nine other boats. It was the first night we had to contend with mosquitos, which must be the tradeoff for warm weather.

Pelicans and seagulls sitting on the sandbars along the edge of the ICW in the Bogue Sound.

Kitkat with her ears flat as she visually stalks the birds.

On Sunday morning we left pretty early (7 AM) and headed for Wrightsville Beach, NC. We are truly in the "ditch" of the ICW now. Each day is a pretty straight shot down the ICW, we rarely need to look at the charts since we basically just motor in between the red and green markers. Mostly there are houses of all sizes on the western edge of the ICW with piers and fishing boats, marshland to the east and in the distance we can see either large houses, condos or hotels which are built up on the edge of the ocean.

The "ditch." Houses to the west, marshland to the east.

Some of the houses on the ICW are ridiculous. One was pink with portholes for windows and a matching pink lighthouse, complete with palm trees. It's amazing how the waterside development doesn't seem to stop down the North Carolina coast. N.C. has miles upon miles of beaches and there seems to be development all along the way.

A "cottage" along the banks of the ICW in North Carolina

someone's pet giraffe

Motoring in a small saiboat is a bit of challenge as Whisper wasn't designed for motoring and every time a power boat passes us, even if they slow down, we get tossed around on their wake quite a bit. Today a large powerboat passed by very close to Whisper, going probably 20 knots and did not slow down. We turned right into the wake so we could take it on the bow and then Hans called on the radio to yell at them. Of course they didn't notice. At times you really want a red button to take care of people like that.

A tug pulling a dredging barge. One would think that the larger the boat, the bigger the wake, however that's not the case. Tugs and barges give us very little wake, while a 25 foot powerboat can really toss us around. It all depends on the speed and displacement of the powerboat.

All the southbound sailboats lined up waiting for the Wrightsville Beach Bridge's 2PM opening.

The anchorage at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach at sunset.

We got an early start, well earlyish, this morning, and arrived in Southport, NC, a little after noon. We anchored in a small harbor, had some sardine & tomato sandwiches for lunch and dinghied ashore to walk around town. Southport is a quaint, historic town which is capitalizing on it's history and small town charm. There are lots of antique stores, boutiques, and some toy stores. The first fort in North Carolina was built here, Fort Johnston, however all that remains is the barracks.
We stopped at a little cafe for some ice cream and, without looking at the menu, Kristen asked if she could have a single scoop strawberry ice cream. Without blinking or showing any sign of emotion, the clerk replied "No.". Kristen wasn't really sure how to respond in turn and the two spent a couple seconds just staring at each other until the clerk said "we don't have no strawberry" and pointed at the ice cream menu. Kristen got a black raspberry ice cream and Hans had a chocolate & black raspberry cone. We sat out in the sun (73 degrees today!) and ate the cones while watching the water and passing car and foot traffic.

We stopped at a seafood store in Wrightsville Beach yesterday and bought some shrimp and tuna, both local, so we'll grill up the tuna for dinner tonight.

We're still trying to figure out our best daily mileage and have come to the agreement that we really enjoy getting into port in the middle of the afternoon when there is still a couple hours of daylight left to hang out at anchor or to go ashore and explore a little. This means we'll take longer to get to Florida (and thus the Bahamas) but it gets pretty tiring to motor for 10 hours a day. We'll probably average between 30 and 40 miles a day.

Quick poll: Does anyone look at the Daily Pictures blog? It's kind of a pain to upload the pictures, but if you all are enjoying it, we'll keep it up. Leave a comment. Thanks!

24 November 2006

Morehead City, Part II

November 24, 2006

We're still in Morehead City. We found a nice floating dock, free water and electric so we decided to hang around for a couple days extra. We'll leave tomorrow morning and anchor out tomorrow night and aim to be at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina the following night. Ruppert and Dorrie had us over for Thanksgiving dinner last night which was excellent. They even made sausage stuffing. Good Brits! Ruppert carving up the Thanksgiving bird (chicken actually).

Today we biked over to the Maritime Museum in Beaufort which has lots of displays of Maritime history including displays on Coast Guard history, fishing in North Carolina, lighthouses and some treasures taken from Blackbeard's ship, "Revenge of the Queen Anne."
Some houses in Beaufort.

The owner of the dock is very kindly lending us his truck to run to the grocery store, so here are a couple pictures of the last few days.

The pelicans drift past our boat on the current. Kitkat stalks them along the deck but they take no notice (surprise surprise).

A boat crossing under the bridge between Beaufort and Morehead City.

22 November 2006

Morehead City, North Carolina

November 22, 2006

We've been spending the last couple days in Morehead City, North Carolina as some bad weather passes through the area. We're tied up at the Portside Marina--nothing fancy, but it does have hot showers and free laundry. Today an older man walked up to us on the dock and asked us if we were the owners of "Whisper". We responded in the affirmative and it turns out that he lives in the condo complex that overlooks the marina and he had been admiring Whisper and eventually got out his guide to classic sailboats and guessed that she is an Albin Vega. So he came down to meet us and compliment us on how beautiful she is and how well maintained she is for a boat that is 31 years old. We obviously can't take much credit for her inherent beauty, but it is always nice to receive praise for all the hard work we've done over the past year.

Speaking of beautiful boats, there is a 1922 John Alden schooner tied up at the end of the pier. It takes at least 6 crew to sail her, but she is so beautiful that I almost volunteered to become crew member #7. The decks were actually white pine, not teak, she only has 3 winches on the whole boat, butterfly hatches, and all of the bunks (8, I think) have homemade quilts on them!

Yesterday the weather was miserable. We spent the morning tidying up on the boat and going through paperwork, then we went to Ruppert & Dorrie's boat to cook swedish meatballs. We all went to the local bar for some .99 Yuenglings and then walked back to our respective boats precisely when the torrential downpour hit us. It poured all night long, but the wind abated so we were able to get a good night's sleep, until the wind completely changed direction and the massive tugboat which was tied up next to us began to drift threateningly close. We quickly jumped out of our (very warm and cozy) sleeping bags and, with the help of a boat neighbor Alan, we added 4 more lines to the 3 they had tied off with. (Yes, professional tug boat operators tied off their tug in a gale with only 3 lines.) So, needless to say, we moved down a couple slips to put some distance between us!

This afternoon we biked a couple miles over to the beach, watched some people surf, went for a walk and played with a little 3 month old puppy. It's been calm and sunny all day but the ominous clouds on the horizon just won't go away so we're staying put for another night until all the gale & small craft advisories are lifted (hopefully on Friday morning). Sorry there aren't any pictures on this post, I guess we've been lazy the past couple days.

19 November 2006

Beaufort, North Carolina

November 19, 2006

We are writing this anchored in Beaufort ("Bo-fort"), North Carolina, just east of the southern end of the Outer Banks. Apparently, the town offers free wireless. We left Elizabeth City on Friday morning and had a beautiful sail across the Albemarle Sound. The Sound is reputed to have unpleasant sailing conditions, including short, steep waves, but we picked a day with 10-15 knot winds and were able to cross on a beam reach averaging about 5 or more knots comfortably. After crossing we motored through the Alligator Swing Bridge and then continued to sail the 15 miles down the Alligator River to our anchorage, just at the entrance to the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal.
Alligator Swing Bridge

All the other boats we saw were motor-sailing, but we had a lot of time to make it to our anchorage before sunset so we steadily sailed along at a relaxed pace. The scenery has changed from forests to swamps and marshes.

Our anchorage was a little more out in the open than we've become accustomed to, so we were thankful for our large anchor. We tried out our new Coleman stove-top oven for the first time to make a spaghetti-chicken casserole. Perhaps not the epitomy of culinary arts, but hot and filling, so it passed the test. After dinner we went on the foredeck and marvelled at the stars. We saw the milky way, and there were so many stars that we were unable to find the big dipper. Pretty amazing.

On Saturday morning we woke up warly and started motoring down the Canal with the goal of getting south of the Pamlico River to anchor for the night. The canal was pretty with lots of marshes and undeveloped land, but I think we were both a little too tired and fed-up of motoring to really appreciate it.

On the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal

The shoreline of the Pungo River

Once out of the Canal and into the Pungo River, we were able to unfurl the jib and motorsail. The winds were just not strong enough to sail properly. The first excitement of the day was hearing our friends Rupert and Dorrie over the VHF communicate with another boat. We had caught up with them! We quickly got on the VHF and planned to anchor together in the same creek for the night. The second excitment of the day happened when we left the Pungo River and entered the Pamlico River. All of a sudden two (or maybe it was just one) dolphins were swimming in our bow wave. We both ran to the bow and watched as they swam alongside Whisper and then took off to the side to jump a little. They then fell back just to repeat the process. If we had laid down on the deck we probably could have reached out to touch them. I (Kristen) had hoped we would see dolphins, but I never imagined they would come so close.


After motoring down Goose Creek for a couple miles, we caught up with Rupert and Dorrie on "Sandpiper" and found a nice spot to anchor for the night. We were surrounded by marshland--very peaceful, until we all started singing (wailing). We had a fun evening eating good food, drinking wine and playing guitar, washboard, flute, etc. and singing.

hanging out in the cockpit at sunset

playing some guitar and washboard...trying to remember lyrics to songs and failing miserably.

Kristen trying out the new dinghy

Whisper at anchor in Goose Creek

Kit kat looking at us from Whisper as we dinghied over to Sandpiper, mad that she wasn't invited to join in the fun.

This morning (Sunday), in anticipation of light winds, we switched the jib with the genoa and weighed anchor around 8:30.


Sandpiper at sunrise.

After motoring a short distance out the creek, we were quickly able to turn the engine off and sail. Unfortunately, after a few hours, the winds died and we had to turn old Boris back on again. We chose good weather for sailing the Neuse River as it has quite a nasty reputation, however we had minimal waves and light winds.

Whsiper sailing wing and wing down the Neuse
A catamaran sailing with their spinnaker. They caught up to us, overtook us and disappeared over the horizon. I swear I heard Whisper say "I want a spinnaker"...

Tonight we're anchored in Beaufort, North Carolina. It's a pretty crowded anchorage, but after a few circles around we were able to find a good spot to drop the hook. Tomorrow we're off to Morehead City, North Carolina, just down the ICW a few miles where we'll tie up to a marina and take showers. I've almost forgotten what it's like to have clean hair.