Landfall in North Carolina

June 15, 2009

We’re on land in North Carolina….

Ever since leaving Titusville we knew we would need to stop in Wilmington NC, the home of Bennett Brothers Yachts, a boat yard specializing in Selenes.  From our first trip down the Mississippi (and on to Lake Barkley in KY), we have had some electrical problems for which Selene takes responsibility and has provided the needed replacement parts.  Additionally, it’s time for the 1000-hour service on the engine, we developed some superstructure leaks during the 40 days and 40 nights of rain in Florida, and we had some seepage around the rudder and a through hole that needed attention.  Once we committed ourselves to stopping in Wilmington, “the Bennett Brothers list” grew with each passing day.  One of the most recent additions was our chart plotter.  As we pulled out of the downtown marina in Beaufort SC, we noticed the vessel icon on plotter was suddenly facing backward…  we tried everything we knew to turn it around but to no avail…  so we proceeded to “back” northward from then on…  Carolyn spoke with the manufacturer’s technical support service, and it was determined that the problem is actually with the autopilot compass.  It registers that the boat is moving in a direction precisely 180 degrees from the one in which we are actually travelling, hence the stern-forward boat icon!  Fortunately, the precise size of the error in degrees allows the autopilot to still work, so we simply had to become accustomed to steering as if we were going backward!! 

We’re certain there will be at least one more post about North Carolina, but for now, we wanted to bring everyone up-to-date on our whereabouts and doings.  We are very, VERY fortunate that a dear friend, Tanya, lives in Wilmington, and she (and her wonderful feline companion, Maggie) have graciously taken us in-  Tanya has shown us some terrific places in the area, including Wrightsville Beach and Airlie Gardens, and she even made certain we don’t pine for the ICW-  Her gorgeous townhome faces right on it so we see it all the time!  We will eventually pass right by her place when we head northward again… (More Pix)

The ICW from Tanya's place

The ICW from Tanya's place

We have seen a lot of Bennett Brothers as well.  Given the various projects needing attention, it was necessary to pull Sojourner out of the water… “putting her on the hard” as they say… and what a traumatic event for us!!   (more pix)

Up she goes!

Up she goes!

But she seems to be handling that experience and all the attention quite well.   We hope to be underway again before the end of the month…   We’ll keep you posted!!

Nothing could be finer than…

June 11, 2009

musical notes

The trip through South Carolina offered both more beautiful scenery and piloting challenges…  The landscape changed gradually as plentiful trees and sometimes virtual forests coming right down to the water’s edge replaced the vast salt marshes of Georgia…  The Waccamaw River just north of Georgetown is our favorite stretch, a wide expanse of deep, blue water, somewhat reminiscent of the northern section of the Tennessee River, though the vegetation is quite different, of course.  Waccamaw RiverEqually, the shoreline of the South Carolina ICW is more populated than that of Georgia.  While miles and miles of uninhabited country remains, the sense of total isolation and aloneness felt in Georgia dissipated the further into South Carolina we ventured.  And eventually, the ICW becomes quite populated as it runs along the back side of famous and crowded South Carolina beaches and coastal resort areas.  It was strange to see the non-ocean side of such places as Hilton Head, Edisto Island, Pawley’s Island, and Myrtle Beach, as well as Charleston and Ft. Sumter from the water.

The US Coast Guard seems to be a fixture along our travels-  we have seen them in marinas, fixing navigational markers along the ICW, and in South Carolina, we just missed being part of a USCG munitions exercise in Calibogue Sound.  We heard numerous warnings about it as we approached, but just as we were going to announce our arrival in the Sound on the VHF radio, the Coast Guard announced the conclusion of the exercise and all we saw was the moored vessel.   USCG to the rescue!Our second Coast Guard encounter in South Carolina was closer…  A fierce storm passed during the night we were in Georgetown and at one point we heard “a bump in the night”… and the sounds of sailboat riggings blowing in the wind.  We were docked near a sailboat so we dismissed the sounds and went back to sleep…  only to awaken in the morning to a runaway sailboat snuggled up tightly along Sojourner’s side.  Its anchor had broken loose in the storm, and the boat was wandering free in the tides, current and wind.  We had to call the Coast Guard to come, tow it away, and re-anchor in the nearby mooring field.

Though they receive much less attention in the cruising guides and cruiser listservs, the piloting challenges of South Carolina are just as serious, if not more so than the infamous ones of Georgia.  The primary difference is that in Georgia, one can study the tides and use them to traverse the difficult areas.  In South Carolina, however, the challenges are located such that if one is approached on a rising or high tide, the distance to the next one means you arrive on a falling or low tide.  Two of these were particularly harrowing:  an area just south of McClellanville and the “Rockpile.  Because we timed two earlier trouble spots, we hit the former at a 1/3 falling tide and had to “dance” back and forth across the channel to “find the water”.  We were lucky:  though the depth finder registered 0.00 for several minutes, we never lost our momentum and only kicked up mud once.  The “Rockpile” is a narrow, 15-mile cut in which the bottom and sides are composed of rock instead of mud.  It’s also a stretch of the ICW used very often by tows and barges.  Barges get the right of way!We were very fortunate here too in that we saw an approaching barge just before we entered a particularly narrow section and we were able to duck into a nearby marina until the barge passed.  Thus, we are still looking for deep water and hoping to find it in North Carolina.  We are also looking forward to some land time as Sojourner has an appointment at Bennett Brothers Yachts in Wilmington for some maintenance and repair work.  More South Carolina pictures

Cruising in Georgia

June 3, 2009

As noted earlier, the ICW in Georgia meanders through some very rural, uninhabited areas,  but it also takes water travellers along both wide and narrow rivers and quite close to some rather large communities.  We were struck by the great contrasts among the miles and miles of twisting, turning salt marshes, the rivers that feed them, and the broad and deep sounds that separate both…  On one day, we traversed through 5-6 different sounds as well as the rivers that connect them..   After doing the Cumberland and Jekyll Sounds on our first day in Georgia, on the second day we travelled through the St. Simon, Buttermilk, Doboy, Altamaha, Sapelo and St. Catherine Sounds as well as along the  Sapelo, Brunswick and Medway Rivers and many salt marshes inbetween…  Our trip through Georgia took us to Brunswick, very near Savannah and across the mouth of the Savannah River as well…   Here are the promised Georgia pix.