Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #57 Southbound Cruising II

Mile Hammock Bay is a protected, secluded anchorage within the Camp Lejeune boundaries that we enjoyed on our trip north, so we decided that it would be a good spot to wait out the foul weather coming tonight. It’s still protected but not quite so secluded. There are nine or ten other boats here, presumably for the same reason. It was a long 55 miles of motoring today, but we feel good about “making progress” (to quote our less-than-illustrious leader).

Along the way today we ran into some old friends that we’ve really missed over the last few months—a couple of dolphins and several egrets. Our primary disappointment in the Eastern ICW has been the lack of wildlife. We enjoy bird- and dolphin-watching, and we just haven’t seen many—or any other wild creatures, for that matter—since leaving Florida. That said, the otters playfully romping in the channel as we were leaving the marina in Oriental were also a special treat. So thanks to all those critters who graced us with their presence today. We truly appreciated the visits.

Yep, the foul weather arrived. Wilma crashed her way across Florida, but our rain and wind came from a front coming down from the northwest. So that also means—you guessed it—back to the sweatshirts and jeans for a while longer. We’re still sitting snugly in Mile Hammock expecting the winds and rain to diminish overnight.

Mile Hammock sunset
Sunset at Mile Hammock Bay

After three nights in Mile Hammock Bay we were definitely ready to get moving again. Yesterday morning the skies cleared and we hemmed and hawed as we watched almost all the other boats up anchor. However, the winds were at 20-25 knots with gusts to 30+, and the high for the day was predicted to be 60 degrees. When it comes to reefing sails, we’ve learned to trust both our instincts and the axiom that says, “If you think you might need a reef, you probably do.” We now think that axiom also applies to staying vs. going, i.e. “if you think you should stay, you probably should.” Since we really didn’t want to fight those cold winds in the ICW channel, we decided to stay in the protected, secure bay one more night. So as the northwesterlies blustered and blew all day, we watched videos and congratulated ourselves on our good instincts and the wisdom of our choice. Today the winds were a pleasant 10-15 but very cold, and we were able to motorsail almost the whole way here to Carolina Beach, NC. We even turned off the engine and just sailed for a while as we timed a bridge opening. The quiet time was a refreshing respite.

Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, SC, makes for a great stop along the lengthy land cut of the ICW. The FREE dock adjoins a shopping and restaurant complex that offers a variety of diversions. We spent the day celebrating Jim’s birthday with some touristy shopping, a bus ride to Wal-Mart, and two savory seafood meals at different restaurants. It was a fun break from the ICW tedium, even with the chilly temperatures.

Let’s see. First we put on the turtleneck, then the sweatshirt and sweatpants. Then comes another sweatshirt with a hood. We pull on wind pants over our sweatpants and top off with our hooded jackets. We don’t forget the toasty socks. Okay, now we’re all decked out for a ski run! And look! There’s even a gondola crossing the ICW headed for—the ski slopes?? No, that looks more like a golf course. Wait!! We’re not on a ski trip! That was just a dream brought on by the shivering 40’s overnight. No, we’re actually still out on the ICW for another run to get further SOUTH! Now where did I leave my thermal underwear?

Fall color
Fall color on the Waccamaw River

Charleston was one of our favorite stops on our cruise north, but this trip we’ll get only one night here. We’re now more than halfway to our destination of Melbourne, FL, for the Seven Seas Cruising Association annual party there in two weeks. The weather the last couple of days has been sunny and clear, and the temperature has improved to around 70. Nights are still chilly enough for extra blankets, though.

After spotting two bald eagles in one day and having a dolphin visit in the anchorage tonight, I guess I’ll eat my words about the lack of wildlife on the ICW. The numerous herons and egrets are also entertaining.

Today was a day of clawing our way up-current and skimming over low-tide shoals. We could have made better time with favorable currents and more water but for a bridge just south of Charleston that doesn’t open between 6:00 and 9:00 AM. We actually set an alarm to up anchor early enough to get through at 5:45, only to find that it was still dark until about 6:30. The toasty bed won out, and we actually got to have breakfast pre-departure for a change.

So tonight we’re anchored at the mouth of the Bull River about 15 miles north of Beaufort, SC. This far off the beaten path we certainly didn’t expect trick-or-treaters, but several showed up soon after we anchored. The costumes were quite convincing if not terribly original. They cavorted and begged, but, alas, we weren’t prepared with the appropriate hand-outs. They eventually got the message and went on their way.

Trick or treaters
Our “trick-or-treaters”

Our cruising guide says that shrimp boats make this a frequent anchorage, so the local dolphins apparently expect treats from any boat that stops here.

We missed it on the trip north because the Causton Bluff Bridge was broken. But over the last several months it’s been fixed. So this time we get to visit Savannah. We’re docked at Thunderbolt Marina ready to take the bus into the city tomorrow. We’ll enjoy the opportunity to be tourists again.

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

P. S. Don’t forget to look up Alice’s book, Reaching a Far Horizon, at www.lulu.com!

Posted Tuesday November 1, 2005

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  1. Hi, guys. We’ve been wondering where you are and if you’re going to make it to Melbourne in time for the SSCA meeting.

    Your photo of the sunset was stupendous. Also, happy birthday to Jim. My birthday was on the 18th of October, so I guess we’re kindred spirits.

    We’re looking forward to seeing you in Melbourne.

    Take care …

    Gail & Paul
    — Gail Carroll    11/01/2005 07:26 PM    #
  2. since I found your site, I have been vicariousily enjoying your adventure as we are buttoning down our fleet here in Minnesota….today it is supposed to be 70 degrees (that is unusual for November), but we are supposed to see snow by Saturday….say hello to FL for us!!!!!
    — rob mc elrath    11/02/2005 04:15 AM    #
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