Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge, SC

We had a fun couple of days in Hilton Head at a marina last Wednesday and Thursday. Our friends, Schaef and Sandy, came and picked us up and brought us back to their house for dinner. We had a great time visiting with them and another boating couple…lots of interesting sailing stories told. The next day we cleaned the boat and did boat chores with the plan to leave on Friday morning to head towards Charleston.

Our weekend was interesting. We spent the weekend with Barry, you know, the tropical depression! We knew that the storm was coming and our friends in Hilton Head told us about a good anchorage that they had stayed in, about 10 miles south of Charleston so we arrived there on Friday afternoon knowing that we would be there through at least Monday, depending on what the storm did.

The anchorage was great as far as ‘holding’, meaning we didn’t worry about the anchor dragging. But it didn’t protect us much from the winds and Barry brought very heavy rains and winds. For most of the weekend the winds blew around 20-25 mph but we had gusts of 40 mph. We settled in with exciting plans for lots of reading and catching up on inside chores. At the gustiest times when I looked out the window the shoreline was moving around like a Tilt-A-Whirl ride. I didn’t look out much, though, as I thought I would get seasick.

By Sunday afternoon most of the bad weather had passed us by and on Monday morning we weighed anchor and moved to our next anchorage about 45 miles north of Charleston. The tides and current were with us so we even saw Rickshaw moving at over 10 mph much of the day (had to hold on to our hats!). We could be home in a few days but our boat slip is rented through June 17 so we have lots of time to hang out.

As we do every day, we saw lots of dolphins and shore birds. The dolphins swam with the boat for a bit and we always enjoy seeing that. The weather today called for a 30% chance of rain and we ran into that 30% just as we were pulling into the anchorage. It was a heavy rainstorm but only lasted about 20 minutes. The winds are still blowing hard, a sustained 30 mph, and will be through tomorrow. We are both ready for some calm seas!!

Just a note: Some of you have asked how we know where to anchor. The ICW in most parts is pretty skinny. You can’t anchor in the ICW as you would get run over, but there are plenty of creeks and rivers that run into it that are good candidates for anchorages. Most of them are well documented in the cruising guides that we use. We generally run about 40-60 miles a day and we try to pick one that has good water and is relatively protected. With the tide ranges in GA and SC running between 6-7 feet, we always check the tide and current tables, and do the tidal range math, so that we don’t get surprised by low tide and end up on the bottom. We ususally look for a spot having 8 to 10 feet of water at low tide. When we decide where we want to anchor, Rick goes on the forward deck and uses the windlass to deploy the anchor and chain. I try to maneuver the boat so that anchor and chain lie on the bottom directly off the bow. When we have the right amount of chain deployed, which depends on the depth, we "set the hook" by backing down on the anchor. We then monitor our position for a while, to see that we're not dragging, before shutting down the engines. We have heard that many couples have almost come to blows during this process but we haven’t had any troubles (fingers crossed!!). (Ed: Lynnie does a great job maneuvering the boat, both during anchoring and the retrieval process.)

We will leave tomorrow to head to south Myrtle Beach to spend some time with my brother, Tom, and his wife, Carolyn. Tom is going to take us to the grocery store on Thursday, as the wine cellar is looking very empty!

We passed the historic town of Beaufort, SC on our way.
The bridge in the background was hit by a barge and is now closed to traffic while repairs are being made. This has thrown all the vehicle traffic onto a swing bridge, which only opens 4 times a day with 30 foot clearance, which fortunately we are able to get under without an opening by lowering our antennas.
Parris Island, SC, home of the Marines.
This is our anchorage in the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge. You can see that there isn't a whole lot of activity except for birds and dolphins. We had stopped here on the way south and enjoyed it. The saw grass flats are beautiful in their own way. Last time we stopped, the water was very calm but not today!!

As we are posting this, yet another thunder and lightening storm is directly overhead. They are calling for more strong winds and hail. Ai-yi-yi! Enough with the bad weather!