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.