Hello To You All Again
This update is very late arriving out to you which I am sorry about, but so much has happened with so much to share. I am taking you on a bit of a historical trip down the Inter Coastal Waterway, and then you will see where we are now. So, here we go.
After our morning ashore, we up anchor and with the quaint town of Oriental in our wake we cross the Neuse River, which is very wide here, to join the ICW into Adams Creek. The temperature has risen to 21 deg.c. which makes for a nice change. From here we motor for 21nm to the town of Beaufort, NC. where we drop the anchor, eventually, in Taylor Creek after three attempts to get it to set. Another yacht which we have been seeing along the waterways on several occasions was having the same problems anchoring. There are a number of yachts on mooring buoys here, plus a couple of sunken vessels which we do not want to get caught around. Finally we are dug in.
|A Job NOT well done!!|
|A Marooned Yacht|
The following morning we head ashore to have a look around and for Alec to get oil as he is about to do another oil change. We are back on board and he has just finishing up when another Kiwi yacht comes in. Later they tender over and call out “Hi Ann and Alec” ???? Oh help the face looks familiar but can’t remember where from. They re-introduce themselves – Eric and Cathy off “Erica” whom we met at the Mary River Marina, Maryborough, Australia in December of 2007 – WOW – talk about a small world. They come aboard for drinks and we swap stories of the places we have been since we last saw each other. We spend part the following day with them visiting boat shops, but then the time comes for us both to move on.
|Another sad sight|
As we are raising the anchor the following morning we bring up another chain. We have a feeling it is from one of the partly sunken yachts that is some way in front of us. Once cleared we are over to the fuel dock, and then on our way. As we are motoring down the waterways we have flocks of Pelicans with us this morning low flying just above the surface of the water looking like Lancaster Bombers passing. It is fascinating watching them glide by.
Our anchorage that evening is in the White Oak River off the quaint town of Swansboro. It is dusk when we arrive and we don’t go ashore here. We are up before sunrise the next morning and heading out with dolphins all around us. Today we have a 46nm run to Wrightsville Beach where we know there is a good sheltered anchorage as a front will be passing through tomorrow. The last two bridges to pass through are 5st.m. apart. The first opens on the half hour, but the second only on the hour, so we time it to have the half hour transition between the two. The first is a little slow to open which leaves us under half an hour to reach the second. No problems we should make it. Alec ups the rpm once we are through and off we head at 8kts – plenty of time!! We have silting at small estuary entering the waterways and the buoys have been repositioned. All goes well till I call out to Alec to move to Starboard to round a marker, which he is a bit late to negotiate when we come to a sudden sliding halt, ops we have hit that sandbank. We are able to back off, round the buoy and continue on making the last bridge for the day. No damage thank goodness.
We drop anchor as the rain starts, along with a number of other yachts which are also seeking shelter from tomorrows front. The following day we have passing thunder showers with winds gusting to 25kts. SHAMAL sits quietly at anchor with her nose into the wind and we stay on board and catch up with small jobs. The following two days are spent ashore in lovely warm sunny weather. There are some supplies to pick up and we go for long walks. Wrightsville Beach is just east of Wilmington, and yet another holiday resort town with its high-rise apartment blocks along a continuous white sandy beach boarding the Atlantic Ocean.
|Pelican Coming In|
|Well Hello There|
A couple of days later as we are heading towards the border into North Carolina from Virginia, we see deer, bald eagles, and no end of water fowl. That evening we dropped anchor just after dark after moving from our first position as we were at a busy entrance from the waterways to the ocean, and, a couple of casino boats plus shrimp boats were passing a little too closely. Just before midnight a shrimp boat passes and becomes stuck on a sand bank. After numerous attempts to get off he has to resign himself to the fact he will have to sit there for a couple of hours till the tide comes in before he can return to his dock a little further upstream.
|Early Morning Mist|
|Turtles, Waccamaw River|
We are again waking to frost in the mornings. Now in South Carolina we enter the Waccamaw River. It is a very pretty winding stretch of water with lots of Cyprus trees dripping with Spanish moss. We arrive into Georgetown on a warm sunny morning and drop anchor in Sampit Creek, have lunch then go ashore. It is another quaint historic town with interesting shops and restaurants along the waterfront, and, we are told by one restaurant owner that yes, you are well into alligator waters now – we still have not seen one, but apparently they are not seen so much during the winter months.
|Christmas in Charleston|
On the afternoon of the 23rd December we arrive into Charleston Harbour. We drop anchor off James Island. We plan to go into the city marina in the morning and spend Christmas there. The following morning we up anchor and motor over to the marina only to be told they can’t take us, and no you can’t take on fuel here as they only have a fast flow pump!!! ****!!! They try to send us off to some other marina under a fixed bridge which we could not pass under as our mast is too high. I did try to explain this but to no avail. Yes they had room, but I suppose because it was Christmas Eve it was all a bit too much for them. I was really mad. We ended up anchoring off the Marina and that is where we stayed for Christmas week. The marina staff under the bridge did feel sorry for us and we could use their dinghy pontoon to come ashore.
|Boone Hall Plantation|
Christmas morning we wake to thick fog – a real ‘pea soup’. We spend the day on SHAMAL. I bake some Christmas goodies in the morning and make a nice Christmas dinner. The temperature reaches 26 deg c. and here we are in mid winter.
|Slave Houses Boone Hall Plantation|
We do lots of trips ashore, one to visit an old Plantation which I had wanted to do in this area. We went to the Boone Hall Plantation which is said to be “a must see stop” on a trip to Charleston. It sits a little way out of town, and once there you enter the Plantation along a driveway nearly a mile long through an avenue of beautiful oaks dripping in Spanish moss. A number of the old slave cabins have been preserved which present a fascinating history. As part of this history we were invited to an informative presentation of the life of the slaves in those early days. In the area through South Carolina, Georgia, and into Northern Florida the slaves were known as the Gullah/ Geechee with a unique culture which came out of Western Africa where they were brought from. The original 470 acre property was founded in 1681 and grew cotton and pecans, Today it is one of America’s oldest still working Plantations covering an area of 738 acres growing vegetable crops and strawberries. The ground floor of the home is open to the public for tours as the family still use the first floor. The house was all decorated up for Christmas and each downstairs room including the entrance hall had two big beautifully decorated Christmas trees. We were asked not to take photos inside unfortunately.
It is now 29th December and time to move on. Alec has visited the marina and told them WE ARE coming in for fuel and a waste water pump out!!!! Funny now they can give us fuel!!!! We go back to SHAMAL and up anchor – NO – we are stuck fast to something on the “B” Bottom!!! No end of trying we just can’t get the anchor to budge. So back to the marina in the tender to get help. We need a diver. The river is very murky and the current quite strong. We are told to wait till slack water and help will be out. It was not an easy job and the anchor had to be unshackled from the chain. The chain had got wrapped around another old sunken boat. Four hours later and $250 less in our pocket we are refuelling at the marina and can’t wait to move on. It is now after 5.00pm and we don’t want to move into the ICW at dusk, so will anchor somewhere far away from our last anchorage as possible.
On New Year’s Eve we arrive into Beaufort, South Carolina. (Yes another town with the same name) As we pulled into the marina here we were given a lovely warm welcome and given a good position to watch the fireworks that evening. The only problem we have here is their power connections are not compatible with ours – the American 120 volt system, and we run on the European 240 volt system. It has been a bit hit and miss so far. In some marinas our step up step down converter works, and others it does not. We are so glad we fitted an extra house battery and those solar panels and the wind generator when we first brought the boat.
Beaufort is in the heart of the Low Country – this is a geographic and cultural region that stretches from South Carolina and into Georgia including the Sea Islands. In the early days it was known for its slave based agricultural wealth with the crops rice and indigo grown which really flourished in the subtropical climate. Today Beaufort is left with a number of beautiful historic homes. This town being founded by the British in 1711 also has a rich history.
Two days later and we are back on the ICW crossing sounds, entering rivers and creeks and making our way towards the border into Georgia. Our first stop in Georgia is the town of Thunderbolt which sits on the outskirts of Savannah, another historic city.
We spent a day exploring Savannah’s beautifully manicured parks and squares, and take a tour through the cobblestone streets beside the horse-drawn carriages which gives the old city a really authentic feel. And, then of course I met Forest Gump's Father !!!!! It was here in Chippewa Square that the famous bench scene was filmed.
|Forest Gump's Father !!|
We continue heading south finding an anchorage each evening just off the waterways till we reach Brunswick where once again we go into a marina. Everyone here is lovely and so helpful. Three lots of people work on our power problem which they are determined to fix for us. By midnight we have power here. Marggie and Gerry, a Canadian couple on the boat next door are lovely and give us a run down on the town. They tell us this place is like “Hotel California” – You arrive and don’t leave !!!!! So many we met had been here for ages. Our one night turned into 3 nights. This really turned out to be the BEST marina we have come into in the States to date. It is run by Cheri who can’t do enough to make everyone’s stay so welcoming. There is free Wi Fi that works, free water, free laundry, free pump-outs, free bikes to get into town, and free beer ever day at the Club House, and free wine three nights a week. It is a wonder anyone ever leaves here.
Brunswick is a little different from other towns we have visited. It is somewhat tired, and really nothing to write home about, but, it’s people really have a very big heart. Alec’s visit to the local barber was one unforgettable experience. I laughed till I cried. We entered his shop which was complete with the red white and blue pole outside. It was set in a time-warp of about the 1950’s with old bottles containing lotions and potions, scissors and razors set out on a try looking more like a surgeons instruments, and those old fashion barber chairs which I am sure one would now only find in antique shops. The smell was of a rather strong sickly sweet after-shave. An old man in his mid to late eights was standing in front of a mirror giving himself a shave with the old cut-throat razor. We thought he was a customer who may have preferred to shave himself, so sat and waited for the barber to appear. When the old man had finished and wiped the excess soap from his face with a hot towel, he told Alec to take a seat. Oh help, surely not !! Alec explained what he wanted – even though he nodded in agreement, that was a waste of time as there is only one style that comes out of his shop and that is HIS style. As he picked up the scissors and proceeded to hold his scissor hand with the other hand, and I could see Alec was in for something REALLY different. Twenty minutes later after his sides had been trimmed, an ear nicked, his neck shaved and nicked, and the top left untouched – still thick and bushy, our barbers work was complete. Alec paid and I was told to take my young man into town and show him off !! It was all quite delightful – well not the hair cut.
Three days later we reluctantly untie our mooring lines to leave this quaint place behind. The winds are blowing 20kts gusting 25kts but we are in the sheltered waters of the ICW. The following day just before we enter the State of Florida we enter Kings Bay, the home to the US Navy’s Submarine Base and their six Trident-class submarines. We sailed pass their “Degaussing Range” which looks like an apparatus from some science fiction movie. It is an area where the submarine enters to have the procedure for erasing the magnetic field from the submarine which has been used to camouflage it against magnetic detection vessels, and enemy marine mines – quite complex, and yes I had to look that up !!! Next we turn into a small creek and drop anchor off Cumberland Island to visit the Dugeness Ruins. This house was first built in 1736 but later destroyed by a fire. In the 1880’s it was to become the home of Andrew Carnegie and his wife Lucy who had the house re-built. Andrew died before it was completed. He had made his fortune in the steel industry. This wonderful home was guttered by fire around 1945 under suspicious circumstances. Today one can see the magnificent ruins but of course you can’t go inside. Later that afternoon we entered Florida and anchored off the town of Fernandina Beach. The following day we take the tender ashore to explore the town. Again another town with a rich history and some lovely old buildings.
Two days later after another overnight anchored out in the wildness, we arrive into St Augustine – the oldest continuously occupied European established settlement in the USA. It was founded in 1565 by a Spanish admiral, and is known for its beautiful Spanish architecture, and has a wonderful European atmosphere as one wanders through the historic district. The “Bridge of Lions” which crosses the ICW here, replaced another bridge, and this one looks as if it has come out of Venice. It is quite beautiful.
|St Augustine, Florida|
SHAMAL was due for a lift-out and work doing, so we chose a yard here in St Augustine to have the jobs done. She is now sitting on the hard in a Marina here, but, as I write this Alec and I are in different parts of the world. First, before we left SHAMAL we did the more important jobs spending a month working on her. Thank goodness we got our heating problem sorted as we arrived mid-January and it was still very cold. We ended up buying a larger step-up step-down converter transformer which solved that problem. I was also invited by Seawind to do a PowerPoint presentation at the Miami Boat Show in early February. We drove down with a couple of other friends whom we met in the Boat Yard and had a good couple of days there.
|SHAMAL in St Augustine|
Alec’s overseas trip which he is on now, started with emails part way through last year from a couple who were looking at buying a catamaran and trying to decide on which model. They asked him the pros and cons of a Seawind which he answered. The long and short of it is they ended up choosing a Seawind and invited Alec to be their delivery skipper. As these catamarans are now made in Vietnam he flew out there on the 22nd Feb, and I flew north back up to New York to spend time with our daughter and her husband and the grandchildren. I flew back to New Zealand at the end of March as I needed to renew my passport and do other jobs.
Alec has now reach Cairns in northern Queensland, Australia. He will be leaving the boat and its new owners there and returning to New Zealand in a few days. We hope to be back in the States around the middle of May to complete our work on SHAMAL and continue on with our adventures.
So to all of you who have been following our blog, thank you for your support. To all whom we have met, and to all who have helped us along the way, we want to thank you for making our time so special. That includes both land and water based folks. Americans have big hearts and are warm and generous.
|Alec Ann Miami Boat Show|