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Location: South Carolina:  

Our next stop was Georgetown, SC. To get there we wound through the Waccamaw River, a beautiful, remote area that was like a jungle cruise with tall, Spanish-moss-draped trees.

Georgetown was ugly and inhospitable-looking from the river, with big factories belching smoke. But the town itself was quite pretty. The anchorage was very tight, shallow, and had reversing currents. Taku and Zora anchored next to each other, the normal distance apart, and then a late-arriving sailboat planted themselves right in between us! There was barely room to swing to the tides, so it was not a restful night as we lay awake anticipating a bump in the night. At one point, the boat's davits tangled with Taku's bow pulpit, but the owner refused to move. (We did not see this boat again until yesterday, when the came into the anchorage here at  Miami Beach: luckily they anchored well away from us this time!!!) Georgetown was a nice stop: we stayed for several days doing laundry, and gorging ourselves on fresh-caught shrimp right off the boats. We'd been seeing these shrimp boats since Virginia, but hadn't been able to find a place to buy the catch. I would look at the grocery stores at each town but found only imported shrimp!! Here in Georgetown the dock where the fishing boats unloaded had a small retail store with huge buckets of different-sized shrimp as cheap as $1.99 a pound. We boiled them with Zatarain's Crab/Shrimp Boil spices and feasted!! (Note to galley cooks: do not use this Crab Boil in an enclosed cabin! One night it was raining and the companionways and ports were all closed: there is cayenne in the spice mix and our lungs burned and our eyes swelled up from the fumes!!) Some pictures of Georgetown (including one with Taku and the too-close boat!):

Our next stop was Charlestown, South Carolina. It had been a very long day of stressful navigating on shallow rivers and a wild race to make a final bridge opening before they stopped opening for the rush hour commute. With our big genoa out, we were motorsailing under bridges and through narrow channels at up to 9 knots as we raced the clock. We made the last bridge opening, and came into Charlestown just as it was getting dark. The city looked wonderful and we were eager to explore it. We anchored in the big, deep anchorage in the river along with many other boats. Earlier in the day, we'd been passed by our friend Jon Eisberg (who we had never met, only "spoken" with via email and the Cruising World Bulletin Board) as he headed south delivering a motor boat. He stopped in Charlestown as well, and came over to Zora for dinner and a great visit.

That night, in the early morning hours, the wind picked up. It was blowing maybe 20 knots, and when the tide turned, the wind was coming from the opposite direction as the current, which ripped along at several knots. Boats were on only one anchor, and had a lot of scope out as it was fairly deep. With the opposing wind and current, boats began to behave erratically, sailing forward over their anchors with each gust. Of course, boats with different underbodies behaved differently, some sailing about more than others and some lying back on their anchors more. Soon the anchorage was in chaos. Boats were sailing into each other. A catamaran dragged their anchor and smashed into a big center-cockpit boat. Many owners did not wake up at all, and those of us who did wake up spent the pre-dawn hours maneuvering so as not to hit or get hit. We had our engine on, idling, as we actively steered the boat as she sailed forward with each gust. When dawn came, we upped anchor and went to reanchor in the only other available site. It soon became apparent that it wasn't safe there, either, though, and reluctantly we raised anchor after breakfast and left Charlestown without ever having set foot ashore.

The ICW in this area winds though natural creeks bordered by marshland. Towns and bridges are few and far between, and wildlife is abundant. We saw around a hundred bald eagles, a real treat. When powerboats would pass us in the narrow creeks, their props would stir up the fish and the eagles would come to feed. We got to see several  eagles close up, and many more resting in the trees beside the creeks.

We spent the night in a very narrow creek called Tom Point Creek. It was pretty nerve-wracking going in: strong tidal current, very narrow and shallow. We set two anchors here, as the wind was blowing hard and the creek was barely wide enough to turn around in. It was cold and grey, but very pretty and remote.

When we left in the morning, it was blowing hard. We had to navigate a very difficult area with confusing bouys. The edges of the marshes were invisible since there was an unusually high tide, and the channel made confusing hairpin turns, seemingly in the middle of a broad river. To make matters worse, it was foggy and we had limited visibility. We helped a little sailboat out by relaying his call to SeaTow: his engine was disabled and his VHF could not reach the town. Later, we left the narrow creek system and came out into the wide and windy  Dawho River. We heard a "Mayday" call on channel 16 at one point, and after I did not hear any follow-up traffic on the VHF, I called the Coast Guard to make sure they'd heard it. They had not, and so we spent the next couple hours talking to them on the radio as we sailed in very gusty winds into a confusing, shallow, rough part of the river. It was not fun. We never did hear what happened about the Mayday, either.

Our next stop was Beaufort, SC. (This one is pronounced, "bew-fert", as opposed to North Carolina's, which is "bo-fort"). What a pretty town! It seemed, to me, quintessentially Southern, with lovely big homes and spanish moss. I was reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and I had wanted to visit Savannah, but it was too difficult to do, logistically...Beaufort satisfied my craving for a dignified and mysterious Southern town!

These were long days. But it was cold and we wanted to get south, so we pushed on into Georgia. We crossed the Savannah River, a rather scary experience, like trying to dash across a highway with Mack trucks speeding by! The river is narrow and filled with huge container ships; you approach perpendicular to the river in a shallow creek with a big high bank that blocks your view of oncoming traffic. The current is pushing you along quickly and you have to dash across and find your way through another maze of bouys into the narrow creek on the other side!

We were now back in wilderness marsh areas, taking narrow winding creeks from one large river inlet to the next. Most of the time the broad river mouths were very shallow, and the ICW channel frequently cut east all the way to the ocean before heading west again into the marshes. At these broad inlets, with the genny out and the wind pushing us for once, and with the ocean swell moving the boat in an entirely different manner from the creek currents, I would get overwhelmed with the desire to just head out to sea. But each time, the conditions were not right, or else there was someplace just ahead on the ICW that we really wanted to visit. So we continued to wind our way through the pretty, and very shallow, creeks and rivers of Georgia.

We had heard that Jekyll Island, with its millionaires mansions from the turn of the century, was fun to visit. Anchoring, however, was not fun. The only anchorage (again, most boats took a marina slip) was just along the side of the channel in heavy current. It took us an hour to get anchored. Ashore, we walked for miles to the mansions (we wanted to see the Tiffany stained glass windows in the chapel) and got very tired and cranky. By the time we arrived, everything was closing. Liv was cheered up by the purchase of a souvenir: a "stablemate" model horse she named Jekyll. But we decided not to stick around. The next day we had a short run down to Cumberland Island, on the GA- FL border.

Cumberland Island was a great stop. It's a state park now, it once had mansions as well, including Dungeness, a Carnegie mansion. The ruins are there for exploring, with park rangers giving free tours twice a day. The island has a fabulous white sand beach on the ocean side, and the interior has tall live oaks hung with Spanish Moss, and palmettos underneath. There are herds of wild horses here, too, a more dainty breed than we saw at Beaufort. Some of them are so tame the you can approach quite close. Liv made friends with a white foal she named "Snowflake". ( Her account is on her web page.) We saw a yellow rat snake and an armadillo as well, and found some fossilized sharks teeth on the interior paths. We stayed several days and all agree that it's one our favorite places we've been so far.

Next: Florida!!!

Next: Florida!!