We passed into South Carolina today and we’re at mile 373 of the ICW. The Boca Raton Resort and Marina, where I’m in the wedding party for a dear friend’s wedding on November 16, is at mile 1047.5. We’re totally on pace to make it on time barring any catastrophes.
We’re now in the south and you can totally tell. Not only was the confederate flag an indication, but every menu offers hushpuppies, the weather has warmed so we're wearing shorts on a daily basis, we shopped at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, and everyone is amazingly nice and friendly. We even had an appetizer of crawfish cakes at a marina back in North Carolina. The seafood is plentiful.
We're in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina tonight at The Osprey Marina. A severe thunderstorm is supposed to come through tonight so we thought we’d seek shelter. This part of the ICW is a channel weaving through inland swamps, so I have no idea where the ocean is from here. I thought Myrtle Beach was a seaside vacation spot?!? I went for a run when we pulled in and saw no sign of the ocean aside from a seagull. I used to see them at the dump outside Laramie, WY, so I guess that doesn’t tell me anything about proximity to the sea.
A couple nights ago, however, we anchored very close to the ocean in Topsail Sound, NC. After a long dinghy ride surveying the coast for an appropriate landing spot, we docked at a marina, crossed the street, and got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the first time of this trip. It was beautiful and a good preview of the white sandy beaches to come.
In the meanwhile, we continue down the ICW. We’ve met wonderful people who are quick to help, eager to converse, and incredibly personable. Most of them even have their own boat business cards listing their boat's name, contact info, and cutsie graphics. Apparently, three age brackets are cruising sailors: young, pre career college-age kids hitching a ride with someone, mid-career sabbatical types, and retirees. Most everyone we’ve met so far falls into the third category. They have more money and better boats than us. They also don’t understand our rush to get to Florida. Every one of them, though, says ‘I wish I would have done this when I was your age." or "If only I knew then what I know now…” They all seem to be enjoying their own personal adventure, either way.
The couple docked next to us tonight is coincidentally from the suburbs of Philly. They are on a large modern sailboat with cable and a big, flat screen TV down below. They’re getting married in a couple weeks and the wife-to-be reminded us with a smile, “You’re never too old to start again.”
As far as the boating goes, we’re getting more and more accustomed to life on the high seas (although the ICW hardly counts). It’s actually a lot of work. Aside from pulling in anchors, getting dock lines and fenders ready, taking on diesel and water, we also have to watch our course closely at all times. Unlike being out in the open ocean, we have to stay within very tight channels. One cruising guide indicated that straying outside of the channel during one particularly rocky stretch today, could result in “ripping out the bottom of your boat.” So we keep one eye on the chart plotter, one on the Ipad, and the person not steering monitors the paper charts and cruising guide. We’ve run into the bottom on numerous occasions so far, but luckily have not gotten stuck. We’ve watched sailboats right next to us get stuck, not able to move again for hours with the changing tide. We also encounter traffic jams somewhat regularly, especially when waiting for a bridge to open. I think we’ll be happy once we get out into the open ocean, although the calm nature of the ICW is quite appealing.
|Don't want to end up like this guy!|
And of course, I’ll leave you with one obligatory beautiful sinrise shot. It’s not all work out here :-)