Sunday, January 15, 2017

1/15 The Hydrophilic crosses her wake in Wilmington, NC

Today, we crossed our wake at MM 295.  We are now Gold Loopers!!!

April 27, 2016, the Hydrophilic cruised past Mile Marker 295 on the Intracoastal on a voyage of a lifetime.

This morning, we welcomed our last sunrise of the loop.
As we entered the mouth of the Cape Fear River, the reality of completing the Great Loop hit.  What was our favorite part?  It was special to have some family come aboard.  Passing the Statue of Liberty in New York, passing the Arch in St. Louis, cruising the Chicago Sanitary Canal were all exciting.  In Canada, cruising through the locks of the Trent Severn, especially the Big Chute, and anchoring in the North Channel, and eating butter tarts were all memorable.  Did I mention cherries in Michigan and oysters on the Gulf Coast?

The best part of the loop was being part of the looper cruising community where you never meet a stranger.  As we approached a new dock, someone would call out, "John, Ann Marie, I will get your lines."  We would discuss where we have been and the next place we wanted to go.  We thank all of you who shared your lives and your loop with us.  You made our voyage so special.

I have three people that I have been thankful for on this trip.  My husband, John, became interested in the Great Loop first and we got to share this voyage together.  Alan Lloyd's Navigation Notes were out the whole trip and we really appreciated his way points on long crossings.  Lastly, Rocna, our anchor, held each and every time we dropped him overboard, so I could sleep well at night.

Some of John's colleagues from UNCW, came out to meet us on the Cape Fear.  They took pictures of the Hydrophilic with her gold burgee flying. 
Then, we were escorted up the river.
 We passed MM 295 for the official crossing of the wake.
 Here we are coming into our dock.

Finally, we opened the bottle of Gentlemen's Jack that we had etched with our names and the loop at the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, TN to celebrate.
Here's to our voyage and all our friends.  Cheers!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

1/14 We cross the North Carolina Border

We took a right turn out of Osprey Marina and headed for the North Carolina border.  It was low tide on the Waccamaw River and the exposed tree roots were visible coming out of the shiny black water.
Another new 64 foot bridge is going up to help with the traffic over the waterway.  Even on a Saturday, the workmen were busy high atop the span.
Next, we came to the Socastee Swing Bridge.  Most of these old swing bridges are being replaced.  They are beautiful, iconic pieces of Americana though.  I particularly like this bridge.  First of all, you must hail the bridge tender by calling on channel 09, "Socastee Swing Bridge, Socastee Swing Bridge, Socastee Swing Bridge..."  Well just try saying that three time fast!  But this bridge is particularly pretty.  As the pictures progress, you will see the span swing open and how it looked as we passed through.

Heading north, we passed through Myrtle Beach.  One can tell when you are at Myrtle Beach because there are golf courses along the waterway on one side and T-shirt shops and attractions like go carts and mini golf on the other side. I enjoyed passing this business that has a huge whale and many buoys on shore for sale.

The only hard part of cruising today is going through an area known as the "Rock Pile".  The Rock Pile is a narrow area of the Intracoastal that was created by breaking through rock.  The sides of the channel are lined with rocks that remind you to stay well within the channel.  After being in Canada, one might think that we got more comfortable cruising above rocks  We haven't.

Eventually, we cruised past Little River, South Carolina and crossed the border into North Carolina.  We are almost home.  We have stopped at Ocean Isle Marina for the night.  It is a chillier day and the high is only 59 degrees but at least it is bright and sunny.

Lat 33 degrees 53.40 North
Long 78 degrees 28.35 West

Friday, January 13, 2017

1/13 North to the Waccamaw River

What a beautiful morning!!!  The full moon was reflected in the waters of Jeremy Creek by the shrimp boats.  I took these pictures about 10 minutes apart.

We crossed the North and South Santee Rivers.  The dolphins were very numerous.  The reflections in the water of the marshes were so peaceful. 
We passed Minim Creek where we have anchored in the past.  This fire lookout stands at the entrance to Minim Creek. 

After Minim, we entered Winyah Bay that leads from the ocean to Georgetown, SC.  Crossing the bay, we saw this eagle on a green marker.  The eagle did not seem too concerned as our boat passed fairly close.  Because we were on the fly bridge, we were right at eye level.

Next, we cruised into the Waccamaw River.  I love the Waccamaw.  The river has deep dark water from all the tannins from the leaves.  Along the way, we saw this large steel sailboat at anchor.  The name of the boat is Steel Away. 

Osprey Marina was our planned stop for the night.  The fuel here is well priced so we filled up.  We have stopped here in the past.  The reason I wanted to stop here again is because they give you a bag of goodies.  Their goodie bag includes the best red pepper jelly you have ever had.  In addition to the jar that came in the goodie bag, I bought two more jars.  We met a nice couple from Charleston who have just started cruising.  It was so nice to talk with them.

Tomorrow, we will cross into North Carolina. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

1/11-1/12 Traveling North through South Carolina

1/11 We pulled out of Lady's Island Marina in Beaufort at first light.  A fog hung over the marsh. The sky was almost orange.
We wanted to get a good run at high tide as we knew we would be going through some areas with skinny water.  The wind was not strong so the waters were flat.
The scenery was fantastic over the marshes.

The dolphins were everywhere and visible in the waters.  The plovers screeched as they flew over head. 

We cruised into St. John's Yacht Harbor for the night.  We were close to slack tide but the current was still very strong.  This is a lovely marina.  We stayed here about a year and a half ago but we didn't use the pool this time.  We took the courtesy car to dinner.  We hadn't planned it but ended up at a fun Irish Pub.  The sign outside defined pubs.
We knew that Stephen Backmeyer and Bob Kelly would have loved it.  They had over 50 whiskeys on the blackboards.  I didn't even count the beers.  I had a single malt that was excellent.  The local musicians were gathering to play Irish music just as we were leaving.

Today, we left at high tide early in the morning.  We were going through some areas known for skinny water. We made it through Elliott Cut with no problems.  Tide was dropping out though and created strong currents as headed into Charleston and across the harbor.  Fort Sumter was off our starboard. 
After Charleston, we saw many areas of skinny water and areas with heavy cross currents.  We saw this sunken barge that was visible in the low low tide.
The moon is full so the tides are higher and lower than normal.  I enjoyed this pirate emoji that smiled at us from the shore.
 As we headed to Jeremy Creek in McClellanville, SC.  we experienced some really low water.  John inched us along sometime in neutral and letting the current take us along.   We pulled into Leland Marine on Jeremy Creek.  This is a working marine area that has been recently dredged.  The creek is filled with shrimpers coming and going.  It is very scenic. 
I took a walk in this small town of McClellanville.  The town was founded by the McClellan family before the Civil War.  This is an historic church in the town. 
This live oak is called the Deer Head Oak and has been estimated at 1000 years old.  One of its limbs is over 70 feet long.  
Pinkney Street is a main street in town and the McClellan family planted live oaks along the street.  It is so beautiful and peaceful.  Many of the homes were marked with historic markers.
The marina loaned us a golf cart that we took into town to the restaurant, T. W. Graham.  I had fried oysters as an appetizer and a crab, shrimp, and corn chowder.  It was delicious but dessert was homemade pies, really home made.  I had a coconut cream with real whipped cream on top.  Yum.

Tomorrow, we will start out early again to travel with the tide as we head north. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

1/10 Warmed up but...

Sunday was just plain cold.  Monday morning was even colder.  BUT... the boat would not start.  Neither would the generator.  We figured it had to be cold fuel.  So we put our heater in the engine room and turned up the heat in the cabin and opened the hatch.  It warmed up but the engine still didn't start. 

This morning, Jason from the marina came to look at it.  Well, it was not the cold.  As it turns out, the fire suppression system had a short in it and was shutting off the fuel.  So now, we can run the engine and the generator.  Yeah!!  We decided to spend another day here in Beaufort, so we would not go through the Ashepoo Coosaw area at low tide.

Beaufort has been very nice.  Mary, one of the dock masters, drove me over to down town Beaufort.  What a pleasant way to spend a few hours.  I explored unique shops, had a spumoni gelato and walked the waterfront.  On the waterfront, I saw this otter who was bringing his oyster dinner to shore. 
I walked back over the bridge to Lady's Island.  The day had warmed up and the view on the Beaufort River was lovely.
 Along the shore, there were many boats that had been tossed ashore during Hurricane Matthew.

Tonight walking back from dinner, the full moon peeked through the trees.

We loved it here in Beaufort.  We will definitely stop here again going up and down the ICW.  Tomorrow, we head north again. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

1/8 Coldest Days on the Loop

The rain had stopped.  The skies were totally clear and sunny.  And it was COLD here in Beaufort, SC. 
Fortunately, the heater on the boat works well.  The heater ran all night and day.  The R value of our windows must be close to zero.  We took the courtesy car to church in the morning.  We were thankful that we didn't have to walk.  The wind speed was still in the high teens and found every crevice.

After lunch, I took a walk in the sun up to Publix.  I was bundled up though.  Beaufort is very hospitable.  Tomorrow morning, we will take off early to head north.  Tomorrow's forecast is sunny but very cold the winds are supposed to be less intense.  We really like running from the fly bridge, so tonight we got out our small heater so it is ready for the morning.  It is forecasted to get down to 21 degrees tonight and tomorrow is supposed to have a high of 45.  Hopefully, the day after tomorrow will warm up.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

1/5-1/7 to Beaufort, SC and Kazoos and Steak

Thursday 1/5, we left Thunderbird, GA and headed north to Beaufort, SC.  We saw some skinny water in Fields Cut.  We moved fairly slowly through the remaining marshes.  We passed Parris Island Marine Base.  Parris Island is where the Marine recruits start out.  The water tower there does not say Parris Island.  Instead, it proudly proclaims, "We make Marines". 
But we had our eyes on the weather.  It was predicted to get cold and rainy.  We made dock reservations at Lady's Island Marina.  What a neat place.  We are going to stay until Monday when it will warm up to the high 40s.  The sunset was stunning.

Beaufort, SC is pronounced Bu fort.  The city of Beaufort, NC is pronounced Beau fort.  Yes, they are spelled the same.  We arrived on Thursday.  I got the lay of the land by walking less than a mile to Publix.  The marina folks had lots of recommendations.  Just outside the marina is The Fillin' Station, a bar that serves hamburgers and hot dogs on Wednesday and on Fridays serves a steak dinner for $14.00.  The problem was one has to put in their order for the steak dinner on Wednesday and pay in cash.  I walked in and prevailed on the proprietor by telling him I knew of the special but had just cruised into town.  I was granted a waiver and paid for our steak.  Friday night, we went back for our steak dinners.  When you arrive you go out to the deck overlooking the creek.  Your order is confirmed from the hand written list and he asks how you want your steak.  There are several grills on the deck and the steaks are cooked to order.  Go to the bar and order a drink and a huge perfectly grilled bone in steak, baked potato, and veggie will be brought to your table.  It was perfectly seasoned and I had some left over for lunch on Saturday

Friday morning, the dock master gave me a ride to get my hair done.  When I got back to the dock, John and I took the courtesy car about 5 miles away to the Kazoobie Kazoo factory.  What fun this was.  The Kazoobie Kazoo factory is the only one in the USA that manufactures plastic kazoos.  There was a small museum of kazoo history.  Did you know the kazoo was invented in 1852 and was patented?  Kazoos can make different sounds based on the material they are made from.  Our tour guide, Erin, showed a short film on the history and the injection molding of the plastic.  Then, she put her talents to the test playing all types of instruments based on the kazoo and various materials.  Who knew there was so much to a kazoo.  Then Erin took us to the manufacturing floor, where she explained how the kazoo pieces were put together and imprinted with logos.  At the end of the tour, we selected our colored pieces and assembled our own kazoo.   Here is John playing his red and green kazoo.
All this for the $5.00 price of admission.  This morning, when we skyped with our granddaughters in Houston, we played a duet for them.  Sshhhh, they will be getting kazoos in the mail when we get home to Wilmington.

The cold front came through last night.  The temperature dropped and the wind really kicked up.  It rained hard last night.  Today, it has not warmed up.  The skies are gray.  The rain keeps spitting on and off.  It is just plain raw.  The wind is howling.  Thank heavens, we have decent heat on the boat. It was a good day to get laundry done.  This might be the last laundry load until we get back to Wilmington. 

I can see why so many people love it here in Beaufort.  It is hard to believe we are so close to completing the loop.

Lat  32 degrees 25.19 North
Long 89 degrees 39.50 West

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

1/4 to Thunderbolt, GA

As John pulled the anchor at Walburg Creek, the dolphins came back to the boat to say good-bye.  We were cruising on a rising tide through the many rivers of Georgia that make up the Intracoastal there.  The currents go back and forth between being with us, so we sog (our speed over ground) at 8.4 or against us, so we sog at 6.6.    We safely cruised through Hell's Gate.  Yes, on all the charts, the area is called Hell's Gate.  We saw at least 9 feet as we passed through the Gate.   The rivers offer so many switchbacks that you can see across the marshes to where you were a half hour ago. 

Most of the day, we were in suburban Savannah.  We docked for the night at Thunderbolt Marine, in the town of Thunderbolt, GA.  This marina services some huge mega yachts.  The dock master told many of them will be in the Mediterranean or the Islands shortly. 

I walked the town of 2600 people in the afternoon.  This sculpture fountain was turned off for the winter but I loved the boys carrying their boat.
The town hall was decorated for the holidays.

Tomorrow, we continue north to Ladies Creek, which is at Beaufort, SC.  We plan to stay there to wait out some forecasted rain and sleet on Saturday.

Lat 32 degrees 1.50 North
Long 81degrees 2.83 West

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

1/3 Through Little Mud River to Walburg Creek

Morningstar Marina started our day off delivering a newspaper and muffins to the boat.  It made me want to spend another day.  The rain started just as we left the dock.  It was a good thing we got an early start because a navigational error had us taking a trip up the Brunswick River before we turned back and got on the Intracoastal.  We were still on the early side of the rising tide though.  The rains came and went all day.  The skies were very threatening at times.
  This area is full of twists and turns and low water, but the marshes are beautiful.
We had plenty of water going through Little Mud River, but we were glad we were on a rising tide.  For the night, we anchored in Walburg Creek.  It is a really nice anchorage.  It is wide, peaceful, and has good holding.  The dolphins came right up to our boat to say hello.
 After the rainy day, the sunset was spectacular.

Tomorrow, we head through an area known as Hell's Gate.  We plan to go through there on a rising tide, too. 

Lat 31 degrees 40.00 North
Long 81 degrees 9.78 West