Early Morning on the ICW
This is a typical peaceful view early in the morning in the low country
May 7th in the Alligator River
We often wonder why it is called the Alligator River as we have never SEEN alligators here... but we always look!
When last we wrote we were enjoying Charleston, one of our favorite cities, made all the more fun by having our daughter Andrea to guide us to the best places. This trip was no exception and we enjoyed both time out and about and time at her house watching movies and eating pizza. We anchored in the Ashley so didn't feel the financial pinch (marinas in Charleston range from $1.40 to $2 per foot PLUS $4 to $8 per day for electricity. That translates to $60 to $88 per day for I Wanda and we would rather spend that on shopping and eating out, or just not spend it. I should think everyone is watching their pennies this year!
The weather pattern continued with constant S to SW winds created by having the Bermuda high located much closer to the east coast. Perfect weather, mostly, for off shore runs northward, but we decided we wanted to take the inside route. We LOVE the Wacamaw River, haven't been to Georgetown in years,
Georgetown fishing boats
The shrimping season hasn't quite started so these were still at dock
and wanted a closer look at the wild fires that were burning in Barefoot Landing. Oh yes, and there was Carter. Andrea pressed for us to leave him in Charleston so her Marie Claire would have a friend but things had been improving and we hated to lose him from our crew. We knew HE would prefer the inside route so it reinforced our plan. Of course CARTER had a plan of his own and DEMONSTRATED his unhappiness just crossing Charleston Harbor. Sigh. Still to give him credit after his protest he was his jovial self and along with Bisous spent most days out observing the wild life and the marsh lands as we moved smoothly along. We have never seen as many alligators as we did this trip in the leg between Charleston and the Wacamaw River. We usually see one or two and the same for bald eagles-- but THIS time we saw dozens. Alligators, that is. We had anchored in the marsh and had an early morning start. Maybe we were the first boat to pass them and since we have wind for the sails the motor is either off or on low RPMs our pass was
Christian on the Boardwalk
This boardwalk is a nice addition to the Georgetown waterfront, but further limits anchoring in the harbor.
fairly quiet. Or maybe there are just more of them. Hard to get good pictures but we tried.
Georgetown has changed a lot since we were last there and it is both good and bad. The good thing is that the City has built a long, wide boardwalk along the waterfront that is enhanced with flower boxes, historical plaques and benches to sit and look out over the water (no one is looking at the steel plant, right?). The bad part is that all this construction has squeezed out most of the few spots to anchor. We did find one though and enjoyed a long walk on shore and a quiet night. The Wacamaw River was wild and lovely as we remember, though in the upper reaches many landings and docks have been built on lots that remain for sale. We hope that this is not a sign of things to come! We anchored in a quiet bay behind an island near the top. With our usual early morning departure we were greeting with the first evidence of the wildfires: thick fog that smelled of smoke. It reminded me that London had much more fog when it used coal
Boardwalk in Georgetown
This continues for most of the waterfront in downtown Georgetown
and wood to heat its homes and run its factories. We had to stop and anchor once to wait for better visibility. There was no evidence, other than the smoke, of the wildfires along the ICW.
A stop in Clabash is a sentimental favorite, but we found the seafood this trip unremarkable. Is that because of the recession or what? There seemed to be a lot of fishing boats there but the restaurants were not crowded, the prices were high and the quality not what we remembered. Ah well. Back on the boat we gave a critical eye to the depth of the river and the tides and realized we would need to get an early start the next morning (two hours before low) or remain for an additional 4 or more hours. We were underway at first light and had an amazing run all the way to Wrightsville Beach as we arrived at Southport just as the flood up the Cape Fear River started. We have had miserable conditions before on the Cape Fear so I took the precaution of giving Mr. Carter a small dose of Dramamine. Wow! He foamed profusely from the mouth for about 10
Much of the downtown has been attractively landscaped
minutes and then sprawled unhappily on his scratching pad below. At least there would be no laundry...
Wrightsville Beach has always been a favorite stop. The great laundry is gone and the grocery store is not what it once was, but the beach is lovely, there are great hot dogs and ice cream and "year one" friends. Year one was 1993-94 and we enjoyed sharing many anchorages with John & Kathy on Ancon... and they enjoyed some of I Wanda's antics on the upward learning curve! They are no longer cruising, preferring to meander the back roads of North America in search of the perfect fly fishing spots. No matter. We always have fun catching up on family news and keeping track of Clarkson-St. Lawrence hockey. John went to Clarkson and rowed up to chat in West Palm Beach back in 1993 when he saw "Canton, NY" on our stern. The wind was STILL from the S-SW and piped up a bit making the anchorage a bit rough. Not TOO rough we thought... but Carter disagreed. It was with a heavy heart that I called Andrea to arrange for her to drive to Wrightsville over the weekend and collect
We found a large fishing net in Georgetown that we thought might be useful if one of the feline crew went overboard.
Carter. She was not thrilled with the 8 hours of driving this created (after all... she had TOLD us it was the thing to do while we we in Charleston) but she WAS pleased to get Mr. Carter and all reports are that Marie Claire, Andrea and Carter are happy with the new arrangement. Bisous misses him (and WE surely do) but I have to admit that it is easier to plan the cruise when no one gets sea sick!
We traversed the Camp LeJeune area with no bombardments and again made amazing time given the persistent (3 weeks now!) S-SW winds. I Wanda is a 6 knot boat under power and we were making 7, 8 and even 9 knots with sails up. We anchored in the South River around the corner from Adams Creek. Lots of room and good protection from the South. Not so great in Belhaven, though where we had a lumpy night. Most of the downtown businesses are closed there now but there is still a great dinghy tie up in the canal by the hospital and very convenient laundry and ice cream. Today it is the long canal and the Alligator River. We
Much of this river is wild and undeveloped. One of our favorite spots!
are stopped in our usual anchorage for a thunderstorm but it is only 11 am (another early start and sails up!). We want to position ourselves near the mouth of the Alligator for an early morning hop out into the Albermarle Sound and over to Columbia. Stan and Judy on Rhumb Runner (also year one friends) reported this as a nice stop and we would like to give it a try. North winds are forecast this weekend so our luck may be changing...
More soon... Mary & Christian with Bisous on I Wanda
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