Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Bone Yard!

Sunday night we anchored between Bull Island and Capers Island about 20 water miles from Charleston.  Our gold looper friends from Charleston highly recommend this anchorage knowing how much we like to walk empty beaches.  The added bonus is this mess of dead and bleached out trees that the locals have named the "Bone Yard".  We took Victory lap (the new one) over to Capers Island on Monday morning before up anchoring. If you look closely behind Victory Lap (which BTW still does not have her name plate)  you can see the mother ship on anchor.
This was our view of the two islands with the open inlet to the ocean far off in the distance. 

We walked and walked Sunday afternoon on the empty beach of Bull Island.  We could build a house here and never leave except it is Federal Wildlife property!

This beauty was just hanging out on the edge of the water waiting for the tide to rise and take it back out to the ocean. 

This was a very peaceful place to drop an anchor for a night, especially after a week in a city marina with tour boats going in and out day and night!  We much prefer the anchoring.  We are heading to Myrtle Beach to leave the boat for a week while we fly to Indy for the 100th running race.  So no blogs for more than a week because going to Indy by land doesn't count as part of the loop!

Charleston, a Week's Layover

InSpeyered 2 spent an entire week tied to the dock at the Charleston Maritime Center.  Al was away 3 days for his jaunt to Miami and I walked the streets for hours seeing sights, getting a much needed hair cut, getting a pedicure, buying stuff and cleaning the boat.  I also had a day with the sister of my dear friend Jayme, who died just before we left on this trip last September, so I enjoyed a special day with Charlene.  She took me to the Magnolia Plantation where we toured the grand house and the beautiful gardens around it.  What a treat to go somewhere in a car so even a Walmart run was accomplished easily!
This is the entryway to the house surrounded by live oaks hundreds of years old.  Interesting how so many of the old plantation homes suffered from fires and were rebuilt sometimes more than once and yet these old trees keep on standing tall despite fire and hurricanes!
A beautiful spot on the grounds that is a place for artists to paint and brides to have pictures taken.
This tree, "Angel Oak" is on John's Island and is thought to be the oldest live oak in South Carolina.  She brags to be at least 500 years old.  Charlene remembers climbing this tree and bringing her kids here for picnics but now the tree has been "discovered" so has signs all over to stay off and she has her own visitor's center to entertain the throngs of visitors.
 One day Al and I took a water taxi over to Mt. Pleasant where the Yorktown aircraft carrier is docked and open for tours.  We opted to take a long walk to a pier instead of touring the navy boats.
This is my favorite house in Charleston; I passed it every day on my way to the old town area. The locals simply refer to these "sideways" homes (my term) as single homes.  Most of them have iron beams imbedded into the bricks to hold them together during earthquakes.  The last quake was in the 1800's but apparently Charleston sits on a large fault line so these homes need to be protected.  We had a wonderful dinner with fellow boaters who are gold loopers and harbor hosts for Charleston and learned that Charleston has laws disallowing the destruction of any historic buildings so the city has the most antebellum homes in the US,

Al took this from the second floor marina balcony of our view across the Cooper River after we had dinner with Erik's good friend Austin who is Jayme's son.  Charleston was a good stop over for us since we had local folks to visit. 

InSpeyered 2 siting in the marina where we practically had the whole place to ourselves! 

We finally took off from Charleston on Sunday morning, 5/22 and passed by Sullivan's Island with more lovely low country homes on its shores.  Now on to a couple of nights on anchor on our way to Myrtle Beach. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Carolina Dolphin Friends

Don't need words to explain these pictures!  Soon we will lose our dolphin friends because fewer live north of the Carolinas and today I had good picture taking luck (or perhaps my skills are also improving).  The new screens made me seek a different place to watch my friends so these are taken on the mid-deck closer to the water.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A View of Low Tide Traveling

When we cruised our way from port city to port city, we chose to time our travels following a rising tide to find the deepest water levels in the shallow areas.  This also lead us to travel shorter periods so we found lovely anchorages between the cities.
This is the Wahoo River where we stayed between Savanah and Beaufort.  If you make the picture larger you can see a dolphin quietly swimming around the boat during early evening.  This is one of the best times of the trip when no other boats are around, there is complete silence except for chirping birds and the occasional light snore when a dolphin comes up for air while swimming by the boat.

This is our salt marsh anchorage on Tom Point Creek between Beaufort and Charleston taken when the tide was around the high point.  But to leave this anchorage, we chose to change it up and go when the tide was low to have the rising tide behind us and push us along.  It also allowed us to arrive at a narrow passage just before getting into Charleston where it is known to be a tricky passage because of strong currents.  We tried to time it so the current was slightly against us, as it is easier to steer while plowing forward as opposed to having the current push us to fast.  A strong push feels like driving a car on icy pavement.
So this is what we saw coming out of our anchorage at low tide.  The small island of sand is a visible shoal maked on the chart as a slight "hump" that could easily catch the keel if covered by water at higher tide and cause a grounding.  This is my first glimpse of the sandy shoals we have traveled over for the past week or so.  Kind of scrary to actually see it sticking out of the water but also made me realize why Al always talks about the safety at low tide when you can see everything more clearly.  

Traveling at low tide also helps to appreciate why these homes have such long docks that travel over pluff mud when the water is as much as 8 feet lower compared to high tide.  I love that term, pluff mud!  It is the soft bottom teaming with shell fish and has its own special odor when not covered by water! Those things that look like sliding boards are walkways that adjust to the water level.  Walking down one at low tide is a challenge!!
Entering the Cooper River along one side of the Charleston peninsula we see lots of boats.  We are lying low in Charleston for a week so Al can fly to Miami to have his eye checked.  Since I have been slow to blog, he has already been to Miami and had all good news.  His retina is reattached and healing well and his vision is improving slowly the way the doctors expected.  He has to return to them in another month but in the mean time, we will continue our trek north.

Enjoying the Easy Living in the Low Country.

This week has just meandered by!  We have cruised along the ICW following tides and currents, making sure to avoid shallow areas at low tide.  Funds are low for dredging the waterway so over years of storms and tidal changes, some areas in Georgia and South Carolina can be tricky when you need more than 5 feet of water to pass through.  Al's job is to drive carefully and my job is to plan our timing and stopping points each day as well as to read out warnings from our chart plotter so Al knows to stay toward the red or green markers depending on where the sandy bottom has shifted.  All that attention to detail has kept us with very easy going days and nights.

We left the beautiful area near Cumberland Island on Saturday, May 7th and continued cruising Georgian waters to Brunswick which is a town with a long history as a commercial port.  We have been hopping from one port city to the next and each one claims to be the second largest port on the East coast!  Wonder what cities get to claim being the number one?

Just under this grand bridge we turned to Starboard to cruise up along this river full of shrimp boats along the Brunswick port.  Made it into the marina just in time for a farmer's market for fresh tomatoes.  After being on anchor for so many nights, I needed to do a real shopping and proceeded to walk 2 miles to a grocery looking like a tourist and pulling a cart I use to haul bags.  No one mentioned an area of town that is not real safe so I simply took the shortest route and just when I walked past some young men that had likely been drinking all afternoon, who made cat calls as I passed, up drove a white van that pulled over and the couple inside hollered to me "are you a boater?".  Yup I am and thank heaven they were too. They offered to drive me the rest of the way, wait for me to shop and return me to the marina all safe and sound.  More looper magic!!
This navy vessel was in Brunswick for the weekend offering the local folks tours.

The shrimp boats were gathering in Brunswick for the annual "Blessing of the Fleet"
 We passed by beautiful low country homes on the way out of Georgia and into South Carolina.  But before we left Georgia, we made a stop at Isle of Hope which is very close to Savannah and spent a lovely day on a trolley tour of historic (also the second busiest port city) Savannah.

We walked and walked from one beautiful grassy square to the next and treated ourselves to the best ice cream at the well known Leopolds to end our day. Our next port city to visit was Beaufort which is smaller but equally quaint and full of history and lovely old homes.  Don't remember why, but we took no pictures in Beaufort in town but took this picture while walking along an old railroad grade.
And we ended our stay in Lady's Island marina across the bridge from Beaufort with another peaceful sunset on Friday the 13th.

Next stop is Charleston!


Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Beautiful Beach with Wild Horses!

We cruised into Georgian waters and set anchor next to Cumberland Island on Wednesday 5/4 midafternoon so had time to put (new) Victory Lap into the water and go ashore on the island.  What a treat!  It is a mixture of beaches, salt marshes, and dense live oak woods filled with all kinds of wildlife including horses running free.  It also has lots of history dating back hundreds of years.  Now  a good portion of the island is owned by the National Parks and is protected.

We walked from a dock at the Rangers station straight into this dense live oak woods then out onto the boardwalk to cross the island to the Atlantic side and the beach.  Al is getting in a nice back stretch while enjoying the shade of the woods!
Then we walked about 2 miles down the nearly deserted beach to find these two horses enjoying some dune grass.  There are inland ponds that we figured were where they get their liquids.
We came back to the island on Friday to do more exploring and when nearing the ruins of a Carnegie mansion, we found this large gathering of horses including this baby under the tree with its mom.  Judging by how unsteady its spindly legs were and the distended stomach of the mom, we decided that baby was at most 2 days old. As an aside, we did not make it over to the island on Thursday because the wind picked up to 20+ knots with high gusts.  So we were boat bound and took a day off from everything.  First day to sit at an anchorage and just read; it was quite relaxing.
Al reads every sign to learn about the area and this one is in front of what remains of the Carnegie mansion. After seeing the grounds around the mansion, including a small cemetery from the 1800's, we crossed another boardwalk to reach the beach and again walked miles with few people in sight. 
The beach seems to go on forever and is full of tiny wildlife.  We found our first intact sand dollar and observed many crabs, terns and snail-like crustaceans burrowing into the sand.

And we saw plenty more feral horses.  (Feral because their long ago ancestors were brought to the island as domestic animals and then left behind by some soldiers or settlers.
Then after shaking the sand from our shoes and scraping the horse dung off the tread we headed back to the mother ship to relax our tired muscles.  Did I mention we are sooo happy with the new canvas!

And then we were treated to another breathtaking sunset while watching dolphins slowly swim and feed in the Cumberland Sound. I don't seem to have success at catching the Dolphins as they swim along.  I do better when they jump in our wake.  I will keep trying!