Our good friend Tanya joined us for the trip from Wilmington NC to Savannah GA. She kept a personal log and shared it with us, letting us see our world through a different set of eyes. With the following excerpts from her journal and the accompanying pictures on Fliker, we share highlights from this segment of our southward journey.
Sojourner waits in Wilmington
Thurs., Nov. 19: At 4:00 pm my neighbors, Dick and Sandy, took us to the boat; we got the last of our gear aboard and said goodbye to good friends. We got everything shipshape and had leftover chili mac for dinner. It was as good as or better than the evening before. We watched “Bones” on TV (oh, the modern conveniences on boats these days) and crawled into our berths, excited about the next morning.
Fri., Nov. 20: Got up a little after 6 am and were away by 7:30. We called Dick and Sandy and waved like crazy as we passed Tangle Oaks. They then drove quickly to Snow’s Cut and took more pictures of us going by. When they got home, they discovered the Snow’s Cut boat wasn’t Sojourner… but one that looked like us; it’s named Osprey. We had a good chuckle about it. When we got in that evening we had emailed pictures from Sandy of our boat passing Tangle Oaks and of Osprey in Snow’s Cut. We spent the first night at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, dining at Umberto’s, restaurant where I think I’ve eaten before… It was very pleasant with good Italian food, linen tablecloths and candles. We, in our sweatshirts and jeans, and me carrying a towel and toiletries from my shower at the marina, sat next to 3 older women in sequined-covered tops… Back on the boat, we made it until about 8:30 pm and then crashed. I didn’t think I could go to bed so early, but I did. I fell asleep right away and slept the night through.
Sat., Nov, 21: We left a bit later today: 7:41 am. It’s surprising how quickly one becomes accustomed to getting up early and going to bed even earlier. We established contact with Ajaya, a sailing catamaran from Portsmouth, England and enjoyed his British accent while waiting for a bridge to open. We went through the “Rock Pile”, a cut through shale with treacherous rocks in the shallows and requiring extra diligence. We then entered the beautiful Wacamaw River with its full growth trees on either side cut only by the waterway. Large portions of the land are a wildlife refuge, so very few houses or other signs of humanity… As we approached Georgetown, our destination for the evening, we came to a bridge or, more correctly, bridges. First, an ancient swing bridge on the national historic registry meaning that it can never be demolished. Right behind it, the tall concrete bridge like the ones that have replaced all other ICW swing and pontoon bridges. So boaters will always have to stop for the swing bridge before (or after depending on their direction) passing easily under the new one. Progress???? At the Harborwalk Marina, we saw several boats we had passed earlier on the waterway. There was Osprey, who had also stayed at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, and the sailboat Last Dance… I visited Osprey, told them about Sandy and Dick’s pictures, got their email address, and sent them the Snow’s Cut picture of their boat… We met Ron and Robin from the Canadian boat, Breakaway IV, who are on their last sailing trip. They’re thinking about getting a trawler and were interested in seeing Sojourner. Susan invited them aboard and we had a delightful time talking with them… While S and C took care of the boat, I walked the block and a half to downtown Georgetown…lots of specialty stores, especially antiques, and restaurants, but no drug store. I found a large department store and was able to get another sweatshirt, a scarf which I greatly missed having forgotten to pack one, and their last two pair of cotton socks. I didn’t think it would be this cold, especially as we travel further south. I had been given a charge (by Carolyn) to bring back “something good”. I stopped in “Morsels,” and found shortbread cookies with chocolate chunks and a great salt bread loaf. Both were hits with the captains. Later, we walked to town for dinner at the Rice Paddy, a lovely restaurant made from a former bank and barbershop…The proprietress was from Kentucky but had been in Georgetown running the restaurant for almost 20 years. She introduced us to two other women at the bar who were fellow water travelers….; one asked if we wanted a ride to Wal-Mart. I could have used one but declined. It’s amazing what you can’t get on/near the water. It’s mostly the simple things like groceries or toiletries. We went back to the boat, turned on our computers, and then went to bed, again before 9 pm!
Sun., Nov. 22: Small things matter a lot on a boat. I started the day with a luxurious shower on land. Later, fellow travelers helped us cast off…. The scenery was beautiful: a lot of marsh, in its honey brown of fall…at times as far as we could see with small channels and creeks cutting crisscrosses through the grass. The area was very remote, very few signs of humanity… caught a picture of an isolated and rusting forest tower; saw a gazebo and walkway going nowhere… This is the first day we saw dolphins, lazily rising and diving on our starboard side. Mid afternoon, we came into the Leland Oil Company (our marina) in McClellanville, SC. Walt, the very nice dock master, told us where to find a restaurant. Amenities were minimal. Walt even suggested we not use the restroom since it hadn’t been cleaned “in awhile”. We tied up securely and then took a walk into town, a small and historic place with an old Episcopal church with a woman vicar named Jenny. We ventured inside to find incredible stained glass windows and white marble markers recognizing church members from as far back as the early 1800s… We met the pastor of the Presbyterian Church as he was leaving his church; he spoke to us briefly, suggesting the restaurant up the street. Along the way we passed the high school and an art center in what must have been a small commercial building in earlier days -great for a small town. We ate at T.W. Graham & Co., first opened in 1894. The inside was a hodgepodge of sea-related paraphernalia from channel markers to a nude mermaid masthead—interesting for a town that doesn’t serve wine on Sundays. Saw several green spaces given to the town by citizens. One contained the Deerhead Oak reputedly over 1,000 years old. Moss-filled live oaks lined most streets. It was a lovely town. Many boaters berate the marina because it doesn’t have great amenities, but we felt very fortunate to have stopped at this out-of-the-way place. It gave us great sites, great ambiance and another good story to add to the trip’s repertoire.
- Leaving McClellanville
Mon., Nov. 23:
We left moderately early (or late depending on your perspective) at 8:35 am… .taking it easier today because we had fewer miles to go. It was very cloudy, hazy and cold. As the day began, we were again surrounded by marsh grass broken up by a few short green trees and small creeks running off the waterway. Then we began to see signs of civilization. We thought about the movie, “Walkabout” and commented how disappointing it was in the movie and now in real life to see the encroachment of civilization on beautiful natural landscapes… We’ve marveled at the wildlife in the marsh. The cormorant, not the gull, is the most common bird. Who knew? We often see birds resting on docks… once a collection of small brown birds aligned in perfect military formation. We also passed a boat graveyard with several sunken vessels… there’s also the occasional mansion and a few remote structures we assume are fishing or hunting shacks. Gulls followed us briefly… surprisingly, the first time on our trip. We enjoyed a young dolphin that followed us for a few minutes. Try as I might, I couldn’t get a picture of her… The landscape became greener with the state’s palmetto palm making its appearance. Then we began to see the houses, some modest and inviting, but most, huge and out-of-place in their simple, pristine surroundings. As we entered Charleston harbor, the unexpected, midday fog was so thick, we couldn’t see the shore. All I could get was a photo of the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas entering the harbor. I did get a hazy picture of Fort Sumter. Closer to Charleston, we finally saw the shoreline through the haze. I was assured that, on a clear day, it was amazing. It was still impressive to see some of the old colonial homes along the water…We continued south through Elliot Cut, a short one with lovely homes, and then on to St. John’s, a new, again isolated, marina. It’s a yacht club with slips for sale, a pool, a club house, etc. for members. It also takes transients, so we had great restrooms, showers and laundry facilities. But, we didn’t have live oaks draped in moss or hundred year old restaurants.
Tues., Nov. 24: Carolyn, the navigator, anticipated this would be a longer day, so we got up early. It was so dark we had to wait for the sun to rise. We left at 7:01 am traveling on larger rivers and bays and seeing a number of dolphins. One ran along our starboard side just under the water—fascinating. We passed a tower in the water and I noticed a dark bird with a white head. We figured it was a bald eagle and turned the boat around to take a picture… The scenery along the waterway today was a mix of uninhabited marsh and scrub trees and houses with docks to the water. We passed yet another golf course… I wonder how many golf balls lie at rest in the water there… As we approached Beaufort, SC we first saw a US Marine reservation and dock, and then we heard the distant sounds rapid fire guns, both reminding us Paris Island and a US Marine airbase are very near. We pulled into the Downtown Municipal Marina, a city-run facility with all the amenities, a number of transients, a few live-a-boards, and local boats, some that left for the day and returned while we were there. A charter named Top Gun had had a successful fishing day. The captain was on the dock cleaning his catch. We took off for a tour of the town including a grand old two-story house that now has the galleries of the local art association… some nice things, but nothing that struck my fancy… many art galleries, some with very excellent art… also a lot of clothing stores, but once again no stores with practical items. We returned to the boat and changed clothes to go to Emily’s, a lovely local restaurant with dark walls covered with original art, and a black ceiling draped with tiny white lights. Susan and Carolyn ordered shrimp & grits (who’s surprised: it’s all they order when I am with them) and I had shrimp and scallop curry. Carolyn started her meal with she crab soup. It was the lightest cream soup I’ve ever tasted. Our house salads had a unique combination of baby greens, baby shrimp, tomato, artichoke hearts and a couple of small gherkins. We asked for some bread and our waitress brought feather-weight yeast rolls right out of the oven… The meal was fabulous. We got back to the boat in time to watch NCIS—a TV show that surprisingly all three feminists on board enjoy. We weren’t going to stay up for NCIS-LA, but it had Abbey, one of our favorites from the original NCIS, and so we had to watch it. For favorite characters, it was two for Abbey and one for Zeva, so I guess our feminism isn’t buried. We were wild and crazy today: we didn’t go to bed until 10:15!
Wed., Nov. 25: I awakened early, toured the town, took pictures, and found Palm & Moon Bagel Company where I got bagels for lunch, sat, read a paper and watched the people coming and going while enjoying a toasted bagel and cream cheese. When I got back, I talked to a couple on nearby boats, No Bad Day from Oriental, NC (they were originally from Cincinnati) and Sandpiper (a motor sailor with a couple from Indiana who were going to winter in Jekyll Island, GA). We heard Last Dance and Osprey on the radio as they came into the marina. How did they get behind us? On our way out we passed Paris Island with its large water tower proclaiming “1-800-MARINES.” Port Royal Sound was a big body of water, but land was still in sight. The good number of dolphins in the Sound made the crossing fun (but still didn’t get any pictures of them—they’re too quick). We crossed several bays and had to watch carefully for markers. Arrived at Hilton Head mid afternoon… as expected, it was very resort, i.e., condos, restaurants and cute shops…but also a small general store, the first we’d come across in almost a week on the ICW. Crowds there for the holiday milled around the marina environs. In the evening we watched Bones reruns, ones we hadn’t seen all the way through and then Glee. I’m still marveling at having cable TV on a boat.
Thurs., Nov. 26: Shock! The day dawned sunny! –the first one of the trip! Got up and S & C were gone. Got dressed, went to general store for personal items I’ve needed from the beginning. Went to the bakery expecting to find them, but they had come and gone. Returned to the boat to enjoy sinful pastries and coffee, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and read the NY Times. No denial of goodies and pleasure here. The sun is out and it’s a gorgeous day. After eating, we went up to wash clothes. I know it is Thanksgiving, but laundry access is a treat on the water, and we are grateful! After the parade and laundry came the National Dog Show (from Philadelphia) and then we got ready for our big Thanksgiving meal. It was buffet, so we could eat what and as much as we wanted. There was gumbo for starters, just like home! …too many starches as usual: creamy mashed potatoes with skins, dressing with sausage and apples and plain cornbread dressing (not as good as my apple and sausage or my mom’s plain cornbread dressings)… The turkey was moist and quite good; the excellent turkey gravy made the other starches taste better than they should have. Prime rib and au jus were available and salad too, but who had room? Desserts were pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pie, apple cake and eggnog Crème Brule. We all agreed we had never met a Crème Brule we didn’t like… until this one… too much nutmeg and not enough Crème Brule. Back to the boat—too full to do much of anything. Played with our computers and tried to find something interesting on TV, ended up with a football game of all things. I finally went below to take a nap but ended up reading for several hours. Around 9 pm hunger reappeared… it had been 5 or 6 hours depending on whether you count from the time we got to the restaurant or from the time we finished. Had peanut butter on ½ bagel which sounded good to others, so we all had one. I went back to reading as did Carolyn. Susan just went to sleep.
Fri., Nov. 27: S & C didn’t awaken until 8 am, a record for slug-a-bedding this trip. Our second sunny day, but very cold and windy. Yet, we were warm and toasty in the sun baked, enclosed fly bridge… We traveled some shallow waterways with one spot being VERY shallow. We didn’t run aground, but it seemed touch and go for a time. We got to Savannah’s city dock and found the amenities to be sparse. True, there were floating docks and electricity, and it was gated from the street, but it was expensive and had no restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, cable, etc. We figured that we, like other tourists, were being asked to pay for the privilege of being downtown. We lunched at the Boar’s Head, a nearby restaurant and then took a delightful trolley tour of Savannah… Went to The Shrimp Factory for dinner. It was good… but more expensive than it should have been… We’re not staying here tomorrow. We’re heading for a marina that is more reasonable and has more amenities. Makes sense to me.
Sat., Nov. 28: Got up and watched all the morning activity on the busy and fast moving Savannah River. Saw several cargo ships filled with containers stacked five or six high. I was reminded of the story of such containers being cut loose in storms and causing serious hazards for other boaters when they float just under the surface of the sea. We got out just fine in spite of the currents. We made a U-turn to get better pics of The Waving Girl (but they didn’t come out as well as my first ones from the shore). As we began to make the turn we came upon a huge blue container ship coming toward us (and out to the ocean). Our boat seemed so small as the freighter cruised by.
We traveled from the Savannah River to Thunderbolt, GA back on the ICW. We hit a patch of very shallow water because we took the red marker on the wrong side, but we had to watch the water depth the whole way. The many curves and consequent shoaling on sides of the channel required quite a bit of diligence on Susan’s part. The trip to Thunderbolt Marina was quite short. We passed a Hinkley boat yard and then found huge yachts at Thunderbolt… in fact there were no small boats here (except for a single fisherman who left after cleaning his catch). Around 11am we were ready to check out the amenities: showers, baths, laundry, but no courtesy car. The advertised car rental companies didn’t have any cars due to the holiday. We moved the boat for a pump out and then moved up a bit further for the final tie up of the day. I was exhausted and took my traditional nap. When I got up, I found that I was the last to shower and did that so as to not offend the others. We then walked into the small town and went to a marine store. I picked up shells from the next door parking lot, reminiscent of my grandparents’ yard and driveway in Louisiana. We dined at Tubby’s Tank House and had very fresh seafood and homemade salad dressings. A good meal. I had Bell’s Amber Ale. Need to remember it. It was good. Then, back to the boat for preparations for my leaving. It’s going to be hard. I’ve had such a great time.
Sun., Nov. 29: We got up and did our usual things except that I wasn’t straightening my bunk, I was packing up. It felt strange to be leaving. It seems odd that you could become so accustomed to an environment in just 9 days, but being on the boat and with Susan and Carolyn seems so natural that it feels even odder to be leaving. I was amazed at how much stuff I had to schlep back to Wilmington. My duffle was very heavy and I took several bags off the boat as well. We said goodbye, and I got in a taxi to the airport to pick up my rental car….
It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the roads would be packed, so I ignored MapQuest’s plan for me to take I-95. Instead, I chose back roads to Hwy. 17 which would take me by land on the trip we had taken by boat… but I missed the turnoff to McClellanville. I really wanted to see the drive into the lovely town, but I did go back through Georgetown so I could get a picture or two of the Rice Paddy restaurant… I also went through Myrtle Beach and passed the marina and restaurant we enjoyed there.
One of the things that traveling on a boat does is to bring me in touch with place. I was fully at each place we traveled and wasn’t distracted by the things that capture our attention in our everyday lives (My Buddhist therapist will be so proud.). I was on the water. I was in the middle of beautiful forests and marshes. I was with the birds and the dolphins who live there. I am very envious of Susan and Carolyn and the opportunity they have given themselves to really see and be part of this beautiful country and its waterways. And I love them dearly for letting me join them for the ride.