Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014/12/23 A Chistmas Story...Again.

2014/12/23 A Christmas Story...Retread

A few years back Gigi and I were in Vero for Christmas. The “Woman with the Brown Coat” is one of my favorite stories so you get it again whether you like it or not..and it happened just the way it was written. As a matter of fact, I liked it well enough I'm gonna publish it on the blog and send it as an email since some of you follow the Blog and some the Spot only.   

Sorry about not sending photos but broadband is not very broad in the Bahamas. Photos will probably have to wait until we “reach” Black Point where they have real wifi.

Woman With the Brown Coat:

It was a couple of days before Christmas and Gigi and I had taken the bus out to the mall to see “Lincoln” (must see movie, by-the-way). The bus's air breaks had just announced a stop near Publix Super Market and I could see a short stub of a lady in a brown coat standing near a grocery cart with 4 or 5 heavy bags of groceries inside and a young black man standing on the opposite side of the cart.

She was a short roundish woman with bowling pin legs, a pair of black, road weary shoes and white stockings rolled to the knees like tight garters. Her hair was clean, stringy and of the salt and pepper variety that hung to the shoulders of her dusty brown coat. She was one of those ladies that could have been 50, 80, or anywhere in between nor could her “race” be known simply by looking. She might have been Black, White, or Latino but I could not tell. Her eyes were cold black with a twinkle of arthritic pain set in a round face with a smile that gave your heart a lift just by its presents.

As the door opened to the bus the young black man on the other side of her cart grabbed his single bag of groceries, bolted for the door, pushed his way inside, and slid into a seat toward the middle of the bus. The Lady In The Brown Coat had barely been able to awkwardly turn, square her self with the cart, and start her struggle to lift her heavy bags by the time the young man was seated. She was in obvious pain and loosing the struggle.

My heart said, “help her” but before I could move two young Black Men with the grace of gazelles cleared the door as if floating on air and were at her side in an instant. One gently touched her shoulder, she looked up with questioning eyes that broke into a Christmas smile as one man took charge of the bags and the the other young man helped her to board the bus. The young White Man in front of me quickly moved his bags from the seat next to him and slid over to make room for The Lady With The Brown Coat near the front of the bus to make it easier for her on exit. Her young helpers, without so much as a word, simply vanished into the anonymity of the bus's interior as the bus pulled away from the curb headed for the Hub to transfer its inhabitants to waiting buses.

The last I saw of the Lady With The Brown Coat was at the transit hub when a young White Woman scooped up her groceries, helped her down the steps, and began chattering away as they slowly made their way arm in arm to the next bus.

Neither, race, nor age, nor the lighting speed of today's society had mattered. The spirit of Christmas was on that bus in Vero Beach that day and had warmed its way into the hearts of most of us (one young man excluded). Christmas spirit, humanity, common decency, whatever you want to call it hangs around this time of year, every year waiting... just waiting... to warm the heart of an unsuspecting passersby. More often than not it succeeds.

Merry Christmas,
Fairwinds & Rum Drinks,


PS - I will get out a Blog on the crossing...when I decompress a bit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014/12/02 Palm Coast to West Palm Beach, Florida

2014 /11/29 Palm Coast to West Palm Beach, FL

11/13/2014 Palm Coast Marina to Titusville RR Bridge, FL 65 nm
11/14/2014 Titusville RR Bridge to Titusville City Marina, FL 2 nm
11/19/2014 Titusville City Marina to Indiatlantic Bridge, FL 36 nm
11/20/2014 Indiatlantic Bridge to Vero Beach Mooring Field, FL 30 nm
12/01/2014 Vero Beach Mooring Field to N. Lake Worth, FL 55 nm
Total Miles to Date: 788 nm

It does not matter how many times you get knocked down. What matters is how many times you get up.” Bobby Mock – Coxswain for 1936 Olympic championship 8 man rowing shell.

CLOD For a Day (Cruisers, Living On Dirt):

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday - maybe the only holiday the “commercial” has not been able to screw up. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather, share a good meal, and catchup on each other's lives. My Uncle Jack and Aunt Katherine Hankins from Kinston were my only relatives in North Carolina. Katherine was a wonderful lady with a generous heart and never failed to invite my family for Thanksgiving Dinner. However, there was a catch. Jack had a big yard with lots of trees and a huge supply of leaf rakes. Jack's Thanksgiving tradition meant raking his leaves. It sounds sneaky but it was actually fun..working with friends always is.
Turtle's Eye View of Victoria Gaye, Temptation & Skat
We had stopped in Titusville to visit with Steve and Aggie Knox, share an early Thanksgiving dinner, and catch up on each other's lives. We met Steve and Aggie while anchored at Royal Island near Spanish Wells Gigi and my first year cruising together and for some reason became fast friends for life – it happens that way when you cruise relationships develop fast. Steve and Aggie were full time cruisers until a few years back when Steve found a job, bought a house, moved ashore for a spell, and became a “CLOD.” Steve was actually the first person I ever heard use the term CLOD...so Aggie if you don't like it its Steve's fault.

Saturday rolled around and Gigi had been announcing for weeks that she and Aggie were going to do a “girls” day out and Steve and I could just “hang out” at their house. Aggie showed up at 9:00 and the girls were off. Steve pick me up and on the way out to the house started mumbling something about “bushes and elephant ears” Not speaking CLOD anymore I rode on in “cruisers bliss.” It was only when we turned into the drive and large piles of brush appeared piled next to the fence that I started to suspect something was amiss. It was right there I became CLOD for a day...what I didn't know was I was going to be sucked into becoming a pirate as well.

Steve put a shovel in my hand and said “let's go.” The house next door was vacant having been in foreclosure on for many months and as it turned out had a huge “volunteer” supply of elephant ears growing wild in the jungle at the back of the house. Aggie liked elephant ears and Steve was on a mission to liberate a few from the neighbor's jungle. We jumped the fence or in my case sort of clambered over doing as little bodily harm to my self as possible, slunk not so deep into the neighbor's swamp, quietly liberated a few plants, and beat our way back thru the palmetto and across the fence to Steve's. Me, all the time thinking, “So this is what CLODS do.”

As we put the shovel away and the liberated elephant ears in a cool place in the garage for planting later Steve muttered, “How 'bout helping me hump the brush out to the street and then we can cut that palmetto palm back out by the drive. Aggie want's that thing out a here.” “Why not.” I said, with visions of my Uncle Jack's Thanksgiving tradition starting to crystallize in my feeble brain. Steve stuck a set of long handled pruning shears in my hands and we went at this huge palmetto that I sort of thought looked nice near the front edge of the drive....but if Aggie wanted it down, down it would be.

An hour later the bush was down and brush piles humped to the street we retired to the house. Steve and I had just settled into enjoy a well deserved beer and Gaterade out by the pool when we heard the girl's car pull into the drive (Steve is smarter than I and does not drink).

Aggie being the astute person she is noticed the huge pile of brush near the street and...the missing palmetto palm that had once lined her drive and was not happy. With steam rolling out of her ears she made a beeline for Steve. I really sort of felt sorry for Aggie at this point. She had company and could not unleash her full wifely ire on Steve. At least I felt sorry until Steve muttered, “It was Vic's idea” and quickly disappeared out the door to plant elephant ears – Steve is quick on his feet he is. I did what my old buddy Jeff Hildberg taught me to do with mad women - looked at my feet and kept my mouth shut (I got ya back Steve, old buddy, but ya owe me).

Aggie of course calmed down and forgave us both, fed us a great meal, and I got to be a CLOD for a day even managing to piss off someone else's wife. And as a bonus, was rewarded with warm memories of my Uncle Jack and Aunt Katherine, and had the great pleasure of working with a good friend...even if he did get me in trouble with his wife.

In truth, I enjoyed being a CLOD for a day but don't intend to make a habit of it...not yet...not yet.

Vero by Night
A Cruiser's Thanksgiving:

Some of the best things in our lives seem to just “happen.” Our second Thanksgiving was shaping up to be one of those time and will be one of my most memorable. 
We made Vero Beach Mooring field as a group with the Turtle slightly ahead of the pack followed by Buck and Vicki on Victoria Gaye, Earl and Karen on Temptation, and Jim and Barb on Skat (all Matthews Point Marina Boats...or honorarily MP boats). Craig and Dovie on Bubbles would arrive a few days later in some of the worst weather we have had...bless 'em.
Buck & Vicki
The girls immediately went into planning mode. The Turtle offered the most room so was naturally drafted as host boat for Thanksgiving dinner. Vic would do the turkey and gravy. Barb mashed potatoes (I love mashed potatoes) and some lovely flowers for the table. Vicki pecan & pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, and asparagus. Karen mushrooms, cornbread dressing, cherry tarts, and her famous whole cranberry sauce (which Earl forgot to bring and was to leave a full plate of food to go back and get..and it was worth it, I might add). The girls gave Dovie a by since they were to arrive on Wednesday just before Thanksgiving and would have little time to prepare...but as any good cruiser would, was not going to be left out and prepared some yummy sweet potatoes.
Jim & Barb
Dinghies started arriving about 1:00 and the ladies set a table for the menfolk on the aft deck and a more formal gathering in the main salon for the women's table. A buffet was set on the counters and all were called to dinner. It was about the time Earl finished piling his plate with food he discovered the missing cranberry sauce. He stood staring at the turkey and dressing with a forlorn, life without cranberry sauce is not worth living look on his face for about 4 seconds and he was back in his dink headed to retrieve Karen's sauce. And I have to say, after slathering my dressing with Karen's cranberry sauce, I'm glad he did. As you can well imagine, everything was delicious...and so were the seconds. As a matter of fact the seconds were so good the turkey and sun slammed Buck's eyes shut and he almost fell out of his chair before could headed off for a nap back on Victoria Gaye.

However, the best thing at both tables was the friendship, the warm conversation, and the sense of peace filled the Salty Turtle to overflowing. That... my friends is what Thanksgiving truly is. I wish you all peace, love, family, and friends.

At Anchor Titusville RR Bridge


My third Thanksgiving was a real surprise...and a big one. It was 6:00 AM in the morning a few days after Thanksgiving and I was on the head. Gigi was in the galley fixing the morning coffee and had turned the VHF on. I thought, “that's odd. Why the VHF this early?” but didn't give it another thought and went back to business when I heard some one hailing the Salty Turtle on the radio. Gigi said, “you need to get that. I can't.” So...with pants at half mast I made my way up the steps to the VHF and hailed the boat calling Salty Turtle. SeaSea answered with a distinctive Georgian lilt to her voice, “Salty Turtle this is SeaSea switch 17.” Where the heck did SeaSea come from that's my cousin's boat? And it was my sneaky cousin Stacy Brannon and her husband Paul passing thru Vero on their way to join another boat in Stuart, FL. She and Gigi had set this up as surprise...and it was. She literally caught me with my pants down.

We had breakfast and a great visit before they headed on South to Stuart. I love my family. Vero and two conniving females had given me “family” for Thanksgiving...a really great gift. But Stacy...I will not forgive you if you do this again and don't stay with us on Salty Turtle. The V berth belongs to you and Paul.

ICW Underway Making Way

We are currently at anchor in N. Lake Worth. As weather permits, we will move on South to Ft. Lauderdale and will stage either there or Miami for a crossing to the Bahamas as soon as a window develops.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic Copelan

Vicki, Bob, Gigi, & Vic

PS – Bob & Vicki of First Look, thanks for taking the time to give us a visit. Your visit gave us yet another Thanksgiving. May First Look be back in one piece soon and you guys underway making way.

Note: First Look was hit by lighting this summer and is under a major refit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014/11/12 - Fernandian Beach to Palm Coast, Florida

2014/11/ 12 - Fernandina Beach, FL to Palm Coast, FL

2014/10/30 Brickhill River to Bell River, Fernandina, FL 21 nm
2014/11/04 Bell River to Pine Island, FL 43 nm
2014/11/06 Pine Island to Palm Coast, FL 33 nm

Total Miles to Date: 600 nm
Ibis Headed Home for Night
I find the great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as what direction we are moving; to reach port, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

Small World - Jimmy Copelan & Dale Tingle

Friday, the 31st of October, was the day before the Georgia / Florida football game and Fernandina, like all towns within 50 miles of Jacksonville, was packed with football fans gettin' “prepped” for the big game. When in Fernandina Gigi always gets her a “mani and a pedi” and I always go to the Palace Saloon and drink beer – do what ya do best I always say. 

Fermandina By Night

I left Gigi at the “Mani & Pedi” store and headed for the Palace. The town was full of fans dressed in Red and Black with a sprinkling of fans of the “other” persuasion – clearly Fernandina was a Georgia town that just happened to be in Florida. The Palace was filled to overflowing with “Dawgs” already well oiled and it was only 2:00 PM, the day before the game. The Georgia fight song was blowing the doors open on the Palace and sounds of “Ooof Ooofs” were echoing in my ears. The Palace was no place for me today! I headed for the Green Turtle Bar about 2 blocks away to do my duty and suck down a beer or two.
Walk the Dog
As I crossed the street there was a man with a GA shirt sitting on a bench in front of one of the stores obviously doing what most men do, wait for their shopping wives. We struck up a conversation. Being originally from Georgia my self I asked where he was from. He said Edenton to my surprise. I told him I was from Sparta a scant 30 miles from Edenton and introduced my self. His eyes widened. He was Jessie Copeland originally from Greensboro and he had met and had nothing but respect for my Grandaddy, Jimmy Copelan. He said, “Mr. Jimmy”planted and cut hay for his Grandad.” When he called him “Mr. Jimmy” I knew he was the genuine article - a Green County boy that truly did know my Grandad. When you meet someone like Jessie that actually knew your Grandady it, in away, brings him back to life for a warm moment or two. It is a small world. But that was not the only surprise Fernandina had in store for me that day...

Bell River Sunset
After “a few” beers at the Green Turtle and some pleasant conversation with new friends Gigi called and asked me to meet her at the Ice cream Store...don't remember a time I've turned down ice cream. While waiting out front of the Ice Cream Store (you always wait on women..think it must be a rule) I noticed a couple with red and black “Oconee” shirts on some folk. I introduced my self and told them the story of my boat “Oconee.” They were from Watkinsville, a small town that is now part of Athens. My cousin Steve Tingle has a business in Watkinsville and I asked if by chance they knew Stevie. The husband said he did not but...his wife piped up and said “but I'm distant kin to Dale, Steve's wife. Dale and I grew up in the same town.” For the life of me I can't remember names..wish I did. They too were nice folk.

All and all, it was a really good day. I enjoyed the company of some new friends. Drank me some good Florida beer...and Florida makes some good beer. Ate some good food. And had me some real pleasant surprises. But best of all, I got to remember my Granddad.

The Broken Rule:

One of my all time sailing heroes was Dick Bradley. Dick wrote a column for Motor Boat & Sailing in 60s and 70s. Dick's columns on boating (of course) and on life yielded bucket loads of simple wisdom. Dick used to say that you didn't need courses in “seamanship” you needed courses in “landsmanship.” “God,” Dick said, “would teach you all ya needed to know about seamanship.” On land it was a complicated “crapshoot.” He also had a hard fast rule he called the rule of “Chicken seamanship: Never put yourself in a position you might need seamanship.” I have done my best to live by Dick's rule...occasionally I fail.

We left Fermandian and rode the height of the tide down the Amelia River. The first part of the Amelia can be a little skinny and G and I like to have at least a couple of feet of tide under us for this section. We hit 10 knots in places between Fernandian and the crossing of the St. Johns river. I commented to Gigi that we were seeing more current than normal in this section and was not looking forward to pushing that current once we crossed the St. Johns. I had no idea...

1960 Crocker
After we crossed the St. John's River our speed dropped to 4.5 knots - one whale of a current and now we had us a convoy of boats in front of us to add to the mix. The current thru the first bridge turned us every where but loose. The second bridge in this section always has the worst current. The ICW narrows here and all the water of the Sound flows between the fenders of the second bridge. Our friend Dan Boeny often anchors and waits for slack before attempting the passage thru the bridge..Dan is a wise man. Ahead of us was a couple of catamarans, Slow Fight – another Defever 44 like the Turtle, and last in line just ahead of us was an about 60' express cruiser. Express cruisers can create a huge wake when they apply power. Their stern digs a hole in the water – result huge wakes. 

We waited our turn, backed way off on the throttles and put about 100 yards between us and the Cruiser. We could see it was not going to be fun from the way the other boats were getting kicked around but it looked do able. It was all we could do to hold position in the 5 knot current. When the last cat cleared the bridge and the Express kicked her engines to life with all but full throttle and pushed a huge wake thru the bridge. I powered up the Salty Turtle and started to follow the Express thru the bridge. Gigi mumbled something like, “Do you think we should wait..?” At that slim point I had a choice - go or spin the Turtle and wait a bit for the wakes to die down. Right here is where a lifetime rule was broken. I applied more power. I had no idea how big a trouble I was in. 

One hundred feet off the bridge fenders the Cruiser's wake ricocheted off the shore and combined with the standing way under the bridge creating 4' waves that seemed to be coming at the Turtle from all directions – sort of like trying to push a 52 thousand pound boat up a mountain cataract. I pushed the throttles to unknown territory around 2000 RPMs, A-framed my legs to brace my self, and did what the boat told me. This is one of those situations you can't think thru you just have to react. Waves and current were kicking Turtle all over the place. We were rolling 15 degree from port to starboard at the whim of the standing waves and kicking Turtle's stern about like a ping-pong ball. I was making 20 degree rudder corrections and the Turtle was still not responding. It took adding every drop of power we had to port or starboard engines as required (steering with engines) to keep us from careening off the bridge fenders...and even then it was a matter of slim feet. Slowly, ever slow slowly I was able to regain control of the boat. By the time we were exiting the bridge fenders the Turtle was just fighting current and I was able to ease off on the throttles a bit. At this point I glanced at the GPS and we were doing a screaming 3 knots...and safe.

Gigi took a breath..I think her first since we hit the wake...and said,” Were you scared?” I took my first breath and said, “No, too damn busy to be scared.”

Dick Bradley don't ever let me break that rule again!!!!


Memories are our most prized possessions..maybe our only true possession. A good one is like gold in the bank to warm our hearts, minds, and yes..bodies. They can change a back day light and shift our moods in a blink of an eye. It was like that the other evening at anchor South of Pine Island. It had been an especially grueling day (see above). The Turtle was swinging to her anchor and I was sucking down a well deserved “sundowner” when I looked up to see a navy blue Island Packet swing off the ICW and quietly anchor a couple of hundred feet ahead of us in the creek. I knew that boat? I grabbed the glasses and took a closer look. It was...it was... “Slow Dancing” and suddenly, in a flood of memories, it was 8 years past in January and Mike Yount and I had just finished a long wait for weather to cross to Bimini...

Pine Island Morning
The night was dark and there were 29 boats that were crossing at the same time, about 10 going to Bimini the rest headed to Nassau, Morgan's Bluff, or Chub Cay. For some reason we struck up a conversation with Paul and Diane Kline (?), also first timers, on Slow Dancing...and we did not know it at the time but a friendship was born and one of my lifetime memories was deposited in the bank. 

Pine Island Sunset
In Bimini Mike and I ate our first Bahamian lobster cooked by Diane aboard Slow Dancing. We crossed the banks a few days later together and held up for a three day 30-40 knot Northeaster in Fraiser Hog Cay – Slow Dancing at the Berry Island Club and Oconee at anchor. That storm is still the storm by which I measure all others. The Mule and I turned Slow Dancing's bow and pushed them off the Berry Island Club dock after the blow and helped them escape the grip of the dock and bottom (they were aground). We met again in Marsh Harbor in the Abacos and they “shepherded” me a bit since they knew I was now single handing.

Pine Island Moon Rise
  Paul and Diane sold Slow Dancing, moved to (of all places) Washington, NC and took up golf and became a CLOD (that's “Cruisers Living On Dirt”). But..Slow Dancing kept her name and is still cruising fulfilling another couple's dreams...and salting away gold in their memory banks. Me? Just seeing that boat sail once again into my life brightened my day. 

Slow Dancing
We are in Palm Coast waiting the arrival of Victoria Gaye, Temptation, and Skat with long time cruising friends NC aboard. Today there will be one hell of a reunion on the back deck of the Turtle. Tomorrow Salty Turtle will start her plod South again. Next destination Titusville and a visit with Steve and Aggie Knox (another set of CLODs).

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic C.

Monday, November 3, 2014

2014-10-31 Long Creek, SC to Cumberland Island, GA

10/13/2014 Long Ck to Bull River, SC 61 nm
10/14/2014 Bull River to Ladies Island Marina, Beaufort, SC 17 nm
10/18/2014 Ladies Island Marina to Beaufort Anchorage, SC 2 nm
10/20/2014 Beaufort to Bull Ck, SC 25 nm
10/21/2014 Bull Ck to Herb River, GA 18nm
10/22/2014 Herb River to Thunderbolt Marina, GA 2 nm
10/24/2014 Thunderbolt Marina to Buckhead Ck, GA 24 nm
10/26/2014 Buckhead Ck to Thunderbolt Marina, GA 24 nm
10/27/2014 Thunderbolt Marina to Wahoo River, GA 40 nm
10/28/2014 Wahoo River to Brickhill River, Cumberland Island, GA 59 nm
Total Miles To date: 502 nm
Is it possible for us to struggle and overcome fate..or are we merely being swept along a course which all our efforts fail to alter or change?” Elizabeth Cochran (Nellie Bly)

The Boarding:

The Turtle hauled her anchor in Long Ck and headed for the 4 mile stretch of the ICW between the bridges off Mt (un)Pleasant with 2' of tide under us. Over the last 3 years this section has shoaled in and in conjunction with cross currents that move water in and out of numerous small creeks make this area just pain unsettling at low tide. We hurtled S. at a screaming 6 knots, thru the panorama of Charleston Harbor, pushed the 3 knot current down Elliots Cut to the Stono River and started our slow trip South on the Stono. Our plan was to reach the shallow entrance to the Dahoo River and the shallow water of the S. Ashepoo / Coosaw Cutoff at the top of the tide.

About 10 miles down the Stono we noticed a Charleston City Police boat slowly overtaking us. The VHF sprang to life and the courteous but firm voice of a Southern Gentleman said, “Salty Turtle this is US Customs would mind if we boarded you.” Of course it was not really a question..was it. I Southern Gentlemaned right back at him, “We will slow to idle. Meet me at the starboard gate and I'll help you aboard.” I gave Lt.Daniel Maddock, Charleston County Sheriff, and Kenzie Driggers with US Customs and Border Protection a hand aboard. Both were very courteous and allow us to return to speed. They wanted to see the boat's documentation. Gigi keeps all our papers filed so I turned them over to her and I took over on the bridge.

Odd combination, a Customs supervisor, a Sheriff's Lieutenant, and a Charleston Police boat clearly outside Charleston's jurisdiction. Odd? Ten minutes went by, then twenty, and I was beginning to worry when Gigi finally returned on deck and took over the helm while I helped the officers to re-board their vessel and they were off after apologizing in their best Southern manner for our delay. Gigi said all they wanted to see was Turtle's documentation and our driver's licenses...nothing else – not the heads, not lifejackets, not passports, not nothing. They called our licenses numbers in to Columbia and waited for a response. To this day we do not know why they boarded us. Our best guess was they were looking for someone. 'Tis a mystery. Certainly was not normal.
A Mooing in the Marsh:

Once we crossed into Coosaw Sound the current was in our face and (more importantly) it was approaching cocktail hour - by 5:00 our anchor was now in Bull River about a 20 miles N. of Beaufort. We'd make that run tomorrow morning with a rising tide and the current with us.

Bull river has a habit of giving us a dolphin show and it did again this day. We had sundowner's with dolphin doing tail walks and back flips what could be better. That night the sound of dolphin pinging the hull lulled us quickly off to sleep. Mornings just as the sun's first rays first starts to paint the sky a deep blue with hints of color usually finds me on the aft deck enjoying a cup of coffee – a peaceful way to greet the new day. This morning had a surprise in store. I was startled out of my contentment too the sound of “mooing” in the marsh. I've seen deer, raccoon, hogs, eagle, stork, all sorts of wildlife in the marsh but cows? Never. What the heck were cows doing in a marsh..besides the obvious - eating of course. This trip seems to be full of mysteries.
Marsh Cows
Ladies Island Marina – Beaufort, SC:

Cruisers (us included) rush South on a mission to get to “Paradise” in the warm waters of Bahamas and as a consequence miss some great places and people in doing so. It was supposed to blow like a mother with a cold front passing over the area. Usually we anchor off Beaufort and dingy into the town. Gigi said, “Vic, why don't we stop at Ladies Island Marina and enjoy the luxury of a dock for the night. That will put us within walking distance to a Publix and a liquor store (we needed ships stores).” “OK by me,” said I. This was to turn out to be a near disaster.

Steve, the dockmaster, moved some boats around to fit the Turtle in on the T head and Gigi headed for Ladies Island Marina – I handle lines and Gigi steers the boat. Gigi did her usual perfect job of bringing us in and I hustled the lines ashore to eager, competent, hands. When I slowed up enough to look up it seemed almost everyone at the Marina had showed up to welcome the Turtle “home.” Home? This is not home? How could this be home? We are headed South...weren't we?
We planed on staying one night and stayed 4. This is a dangerous place – a dream killer. We had not settled in good before we had offers of a car, a truck, and even a “an ice cream truck” to run errands. Everyone treated us like long lost friends. The marina even has a huge, well equipped shop..did I mention this place was cheap. It even has a restaurant and bar next door...sort of.
“The Filling Station” is a local dive with character of it's own. In the parking lot it is not unusual to find beat up pickup trucks of unknown lineage side by side with brand new BMWs. The bar is run by an former Marine (everyone know that there's no such thing as an ex-Marine) and his Philippine wife. They don't serve food but...on Wednesday you can get a hamburger, hotdog, and fries for $4, Thursday 2 pork chops and 3 home cooked sides for $5, and on Friday a huge ribeye steak and 3 sides for $10. Gigi and I did pork chop night and were wowed...decided to stay to Friday and try “steak night” and were wowed again. Their steaks and pork chops are some of the best I've ever eaten.
Friday night after supper at the Filling Station Steve, the dockmaster, came aboard for a gam and touch of rum and did his worst to talk us into staying thru the following week. When Steve left. I looked at G and she at me. We both said, “We gotta get out of here or we might never leave.” See what I mean, Laddies Island is a dangerous place, a dream killer..a place you could call “home.”

To Hell and Back...and Back:

Cruising boats are really a combination “private island and time machine” that slowly drift with the tides and currents in the general direction their inhabitants wish. Occasionally, we allow special people to share our island and even more rarely we are transported back in time by circumstance and company. John and Nancy Holmes joined us in Thunderbolt, GA for a weekend cruise. It was to be special in both place and time.
Buckhead Ck
John (Monk) Holmes was my best friend in high school. I had met Nancy at our Sparta High reunions but had not had the chance to know her well. This trip was going to fix that. I wanted to give John and Nancy a taste of our life – a little of what it takes to cruise and a little of the beauty the marshes and tidal creeks of Georgia could provide. Within a short 25 mile trip we could do some of both. Hell's Gate is a cut with swirling currents and shallows that should be run at half tide or better and require a little planning or luck (the challenge). Five miles further South lay Buckhead Creek, one of the most remote anchorages on the ICW (the beauty). Buckhead was our destination.
Eagles for Breakfast
Within minutes of John and Nancy coming aboard John had transported me back to the 60s growing up in Sparta, Georgia our friendship a warm as ever. Gigi, usually takes a little time to warm up to strangers. Nancy Holmes turned out to be an exception. Before the anchor was down in Buckhead Ck she and Nancy were (scarily) comfortable with each other. Talking and yes... giggling (quite un-nerving – when ya don't know what a woman is up to, you don't know what a woman is up to).
Buckhead delivered and then some. Beautiful sunsets (and good sundowner's), coffee with Bald Eagles in the morning, time to relax and catch up on each other's lives, time to solve most of the world problems, and most importantly, time to re-discover the joys of each other's company. All too soon it was time to cross Hells Gate for the second time on the voyage back to Thunderbolt Marina and time to part ways. Thank you John and Nancy from the bottom of my heart...time is the greatest gift that can be given.
Vic, Gigi, John, & Nancy
The next day we passed thru Hells Gate for the third time this trip headed South for our date with Cumberland Island.

Cumberland Island:

Cumberland is one of the “Sea Islands” of Georgia. Originally a private island owned by Nathaniel Green and developed during the “railroad baron” era of the 1800s by Thomas Carnegie the brother of Andrew as an opulent estate / cotton plantation. Lighthorse Harry Lee, Robert E. Lee's father, came here to die and was buried here for a time. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin on Cumberland. Today it is a US Park and open to us all...and man are we lucky. Cumberland is one of the most beautiful places on this earth.
We spent 3 days anchored in the Brickhill River off the North end of Cumberland Island. Gigi and I had explored the S end near the ruins of Dungeness Estate in past years but had never had seen the N end. We explored the shore line until we lucked upon some primitive camp sites shaded by live oak and were able to beach the dingy there and spent a pleasant afternoon wandering the sand roads canopied with live oak. If you like wildlife this is the place deer, raccoon, pileated woodpecker, snakes (yep), fox squirrel, turkey, and plenty of bugs (bring your bug spray here). Cumberland has a large herd of wild horses but while we saw piles and piles of “evidence” we saw none this day.
Coon Tracks
John John Kennedy was married in the small Black Anglican Church in the Black Settlement on the N. end in a very private, very secret ceremony. I wanted to photograph the preserved settlement but it was not to be for this trip anyway. We were still 4 miles S of the settlement and that was too much of a walk for Old Vic. 
The next morning we jumped in Mule and ran the Brickhill 4 miles S to the Plum Orchard Docks for a little walkabout. Plum Orchard is the second of 3 estates on Cumberland build by the Carnegies and maintained by the Park Service. On an island like Cumberland where every inch is special the beauty of Plum Orchard stands out with acres of sweeping manicured lawn, live oak lined drives, and (yes) Cumberland horses wandering the grounds.
Plum Orchard
Cumberland is personal for me at least. It is my vision of what Eden must have been like...and in some ways still is. While I'm on the island I feel like it is mine and I'm the first and only person here. It is primordially quiet, natural, and breath takingly beautiful. The best part, you don't have to be a boater to visit Cumberland. You can reach the island by ferry from St. Mary's, Georgia. You owe it to yourself to put Cumberland on your “bucket list.” You will not be sorry. It is Eden still.

We are anchored in Bell River off Fernandian Beach, FL and plan to leave here tomorrow for Pine Island and Palm Coast the next day to visit Gigi's cousin Tom and his wife Olga.

Faiwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic C.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 2014 - Wrightsville to Charleston

October 12, 2014 – Wrightsville Beach to Charleston

Barefoot Landing
10/06/2014 Wrightsville Beach to Barefoot Landing (Myrtle Beach, SC) 66 nm
10/07/2014 Barefoot Landing to Enterprise Ck, SC (Waccamaw River) 19 nm
10/08/2014 Enterprise Ck to Prince Creek, SC 7 nm
10/09/2014 Prince Ck to Throughfare Ck, SC 9 nm
10/10/2014 Throughfare Ck to South Santee River, SC 27 nm
10/11/2014 South Santee River to Dewees Ck / Long Ck, SC 31 nm

Total Miles To Date: 234 nm

This is one of the few sports whose technique never quite match the demands. Throughout a sailing career, we never stop finding new skills to master and new problems to solve.”

John Sousmaniere

The Waccamaw River:

We left Wrightsville on a mission to check off a long cherished item from our “bucket list.” In years past we had sped thru the Waccamaw River spending no more than a brief night at anchor on our way South. Always we had looked wistfully at the myriad of cypress lined creeks and always we had said, “next time.” “Next time” was upon us and we planed to spend the next few days relaxing, enjoying and exploring the Waccamaw.
moon rise
To me the Waccamaw has always meant peace and a respite from tensions of daily life and the shallow water navigation the rest of the ICW brings. The Waccamaw is an old river meandering its way South in snake like fashion leaving oxbows and cutoffs in it's wake. It's peaceful, quiet, deep, tea colored, fast flowing water is, lined with cypress, cattails, waterlilies, wildflowers, and is inhabited with all types of wildlife. Here live feisty little King Fisher, Red Wings singing the morning away in the marsh, owls of all kind herald the late night hours, heron fish for their supper and (of course) alligator quietly doing what alligators do. The Waccamaw to me seems a magic place – a place out of time. A place to collect one's self. A place of peace.
The River was named for the Waccamaw Indians who called this area home. They were river dwellers similar in lifestyle to Lumbee Nation who lived on the banks of the Lumber River in NC. The Waccamaw Indians hold the dubious distinction of being the some of first American Indians enslaved by the Spanish explorers ( the Spanish and Portuguese were a tough bunch). The Waccamaw river basin runs from up above Winston-Salem, NC to where it empties into Winyah Bay near Georgetown, SC and is navigable by Salty Turtle as far as Conway, SC. The ICW joins the Waccamaw about 20 miles South of Myrtle Beach near Enterprise Creek. We were to spend our first night there anchored in the swift current of the river with River marker No. 2 in sight leading the way to Conway 15 river miles North.
Exploring in Mule
Every creek and anchorage has it's own distinct personality Enterprise was no exception..I call it Enterprise but, I guess, technically it was the Waccamaw its self. Where we anchored was fairly shallow for this river – only 13 feet. We dropped Mule in the water and headed North poking our collective noses into little tributaries as we went. Spanish moss hung from the popular and oak lending a cool protective feeling to the exploration with flowering waterlilies and water hyacinth gently being pushed aside by the bow of Mule. We explored about 5 miles North and returned to the Turtle for sundowners accompanied by a little good music. As we sat on the aft deck enjoying our drinks we watched rafts of water hyacinth sail past headed down river with the current and wind. They looked like little green schooners with all sail set headed for ports unknown. Gigi wanted me to photoshop some little green men on board the rafts but I just couldn't do it (not that I wouldn't I just don't know how).
Water Hyacinth
The next morning the Turtle upped anchor and headed for Prince Ck about 7 miles down the Waccamaw. Prince is narrow deep and lined with cypress and occasionally a small tributary choked with cattails. It is really a cutoff that begins and ends in the Waccamaw. We anchored around a bend in a secluded spot about half way down Prince. We need Mule fodder (read gas) so we dropped her in the water and headed for Wacca Wache Marina about 3 miles from our anchorage on the Waccamaw...and got lucky. Not only did they have gas they had a nice little restaurant - K-Rayes Bar and Grill..and they were right in the middle of “Octoberfest.” I had knockwurst & sauerkraut with course German mustard, potato pancakes with homemade spicy applesauce...and beer of course - so good we did it again the next day before we moved to Throughfare Creek. On the way back to the Turtle we explored Bull Ck., another great anchorage complete with a rare sand beach, sand bank and rope “swinging” tree.

Mornings in Prince Creek are my idea of how “mornings” should be. Picture, we are floating in a mirror of tea colored water at a slight bend in the creek with water and bank indistinguishable in the reflected water, the coffee is hot and the sky is just starting to show signs of pink and ever lighting blue. I am sitting on the aft deck when a concert slowly starts to build – warblers, carolina chickadees, red wings, great blue heron all playing their parts in morning song. Prince Creek is the kind of place that leaves you speechless and cleanses the soul. Prince has earned a place in my heart and I will anchor here again.
After lunch at K-Rays (told you we'd do it again) we headed down river for Throughfare Creek and again a different experience. Much of Throughfare is part of a park owned by the Nature Conservancy complete with a nice walking trail. It is a unique habitat with high sand dunes apparently left over from when the shore was here eons ago. Behind the dunes is a small lake and what is left of a development most only accessible by water. Gigi and I ran the Mule into the lake and most of the canals. It looks like many of the homes are abandoned and some of the sites have been re-claimed by nature with only hints of the humans that once lived there. We found one spot with brilliant red lilies growing along the bank with the sign nailed to the tree all that was left of the homesite.
The next morning we headed South for Dewees / Long Creek just North of Charleston one of my all time favorite anchorages on the ICW. The Waccamaw and the Pee Dee join to become Winyah Bay at Georgetown, SC and flow East to the sea. About half way down the Bay the ICW takes a hard right and enters the SC Low Country. The stark difference between the cypress lined deep running Waccamaw and the shallow marshes, creeks, and rivers of the low country offer quite a contrast – 15 miles and everything is different...very different. The Low country is just as beautiful as the Waccamaw just different. Here we saw our first eagle this trip riding the morning thermals just North of McCellansville. We anchored in Long Creek after a night in the S Santee just North of Charleston and settled in for a pleasant 2 days on the hook with it's salt marsh and ever changing light palate of reds, greens, and fall orange painting the marsh for our private entertainment.
Monday we head South toward Beaufort and another adventure.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic C

PS – Bucket Lists have a way of expanding. Next year I want to go all the way up the Waccamaw to Conway, SC

Saturday, October 4, 2014

2014/10/04 Morehead City to Wrightsville Beach

October 4, 2014: Wrightsville Beach – The Voyage Begins

10/02/2014 Morehead City Yacht Basin to Wrightsville Beach, NC         74 nm

Total Miles For Voyage: 74 nm

O're the glad waters
of the dark blue sea,
our thoughts as boundless,
and our souls as free.

Lord Byron

Spritsail Skiff
 Sometimes You Da Entertainment

“Sometimes you da audience and sometimes you da entertainment,” or so the saying goes. It was our time to be on “stage”... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

It was an absolute “bluebird” day – a good day for beginnings and heading South. Not a cloud in the sky with light NW winds and 1 to 2 foot waves - a prefect day for the run off shore from Morehead City to Wrightsville Beach, NC. Galen Newton and friends helped us slip our docklines and we were away by 7:30. We even had the current with us and cleared the inlet by 8:30.

The only fly in our ointment was the watermaker. I had rebuilt it this summer and needed sea water to test it but there was a “but.” In a casual conversation with the manufacture of the membranes he said, “Oh they only have a shelf life of 6 months before they should be installed.” We had had ours stored in the bilge for 2 years. The kind man speculated they would probably not work. If not we had just pounded $900 and 2 days work down a rat hole.

Once off shore and in clean water I cranked the generator, brought up the watermaker and held my breath. After an hours run time we were making water with only 184 ppm salt, better than that straight out of the tap at the Yacht Basin. Life is beautiful...and we were lucky! More to the point we were $900 richer and I don't have to rebuild the damn thing again.

The Fates really were with us on this day. We caught a nice Spanish for supper. Had dolphin dancing our bow. Scared hell out of a lot of flying fish. Our new friends on Rickshaw (another Defever-44), and Kenny on Tortuga, a friend that runs a dive charter out of Morehead, caught us just before Wrightsville Beach Inlet. We anchored just before the bridge in Banks Channel. Dropped the dink in the water and had sundowners with Jim and Belinda Wolfe on Rickshaw – a perfect end to a perfect day...or so we thought.
 The weather was supposed to continue to be trouble free until late Friday night when a significant front was supposed to pass thru Wrightsville. At 2:00 AM in the morning (Friday morning not Saturday morning) a squall hit with probably 40 k gusts. It was about then that the horns started blaring announcing someone was dragging. Why! Why I ask! Is it always 2 in the morning when shit happens! Rain was blowing sideways, visibility sucked, and as it turned out the Turtle and Rickshaw were the someone and consequently ordained as the entertainment for the evening. I'm still not convinced we were going walkabout but we were closer to the boat behind us and elected to move.

Let me tell you getting up an anchor in a driving rainstorm with a 52 thousand pound boat to hoss around is no small task. An hour later drenched to the skin after wandering around a bit we re-anchored a little further South in Banks Channel off the Wrightsville Beach Yacht Club. Like I said, if you voyage sometimes you are gonna be the entertainment and not the entertained.

Wrightsville Beach Morning
 There is a little “Ying and Yang” in everything however. We may have lost a bit of sleep and got soaked to the skin but we did get our clothes washed for free even if they were on us at the time.
Morning Peace
 Faiwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic C.

PS – The Saturday night front was a non-event...go figure.