August 15, 2016

From Waccamaw to Cape Fear

 "He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” 
― Aristotle

Glory Days moved into the Chesapeake Bay August 9, 2016 and is resting comfortably in a small sailors town called Solomons, Maryland. I finally found some time to catch up on posting some past photos and  true stories that occurred over a month ago… Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoy the ride. 

After my sailing buddy, Jay, left Georgetown, I lingered another day before departing north.  Thanks to Jay for a great 3 days on the water and for driving my car back to Georgia! I am again sailing solo, or as they say single handling, for this next section and beyond.
Here's some parting scenes from Georgetown before hoisting the sails again while bound for the Chesapeake Bay.

Georgetown is known for a rich history, it's lovely homes and streets lined with gorgeous Live Oaks.  Some wise mayor 100 years ago had the forethought to plant hundreds of trees along these streets for the future.  They can be found throughout the community including one particular Live Oak estimated to be 500 years old.

 As a wandering kind of traveling man, one soon learns to locate the public library in each town along the way.  The libraries offer a quiet respite to rest and collect your thoughts, not to mention the fast wifi and the luxurious air conditioning on a July afternoon in the South.  I made one quick stop here before untying the dock lines for departure. I've learned I can carry a week's supply of groceries dangling from the handlebars on my little fold up bike here.

Ahhhh, by noon I am finally underway and motoring north along the scenic Waccamaw River.  It is here that I am entering a region called the Cypress Swamp, noted for a rather dramatic change in the plant life where Bald Cypress trees, wildlife and lush forests seem to sprout right out of the water.
This Waccamaw River area was such a peaceful and graceful expression of nature that I later regretted passing through it so fast.  There are countless great anchorages to be found in various nooks and crannies of the incoming creeks and rivers.  The change in the plant life as I approached the Myrtle Beach area was equally dramatic as when I had entered the Waccamaw River from Georgetown.  

Entering the urban sprawl and highly populated area as I neared Myrtle Beach would soon put a damper on my nature boy experience found on the Waccamaw.

 Lo and behold as I was slowly trickling up the river I spotted a man paddling a kayak just on the edge of the channel.  Sure enough it was Rich Brand the adventurous paddler Jay and I had met and dined with back in Georgetown 2 days ago.  I flagged him down and felt a little sorry as he was paddling against the flow of the river.  When I offered a tow behind Glory Days, he was glad to accept and take a break from the rigors and monotony of swish swash swish swash hour after hour.  
 I knew he had already paddled the 2000 miles from New Orleans so I don't blame him at all for accepting a tow of 25 miles to rest his arms and just enjoy the view for a change.
Once again, here is his direct link if you want to read about the purpose, message and the gift he is sharing along his historic travels by kayak:

 I remained mesmerized by the tranquility and ever-changing beauty of the Waccamaw River before scoring a lovely quiet anchorage on one of the quiet side creeks.

 A thunderstorm threatened from the west but soon drifted off to the south.  So I just played some local music to the marsh with the occasional osprey passing over my mast.  It's times like this when I have to pinch myself to remind me that I am not dreaming.

I traveled in my dinghy about a mile up the creek to meet with Rich for dinner at a local eatery on the water there.  I passed this stately schooner along the way.

 There's an interesting story about a flawed architectural design on this boat that makes it handicapped or basically useless on the sea.  Can you spot it?
Rich's mission attracts a lot of interest and he seems to be quite the celebrity wherever he goes.  So I ordered a cold one and he joined me after answering all the typical questions onlookers tend to ask in their admiring curiosity.  We parted ways the following day but I would not be at all surprised if our paths cross again further up the watery road.

There is a sad memorial at marker 57 in this rural South Carolina community.  It marks the spot where a young man, Jacob Causey 17, lost his life when his skiff collided with this marker at dusk on May 23, 2016.  His fishing buddy survived the crash.  This article below describes the unfortunate event of a much loved teen on the verge of great things:
Teen Killed in Crash
This pair of ospreys seem to be keeping a vigil for Jacob at their nest located atop the marker 57 which will never be forgotten by many.

"When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest."
Henry David Thoreau

After some much needed housekeeping aboard Glory Days, I felt refreshed, organized and ready to tackle another day on the river.  This is when I wish I'd stayed another night on the River instead of forging ahead north.  Little did I know that navigating the highly crowded waters to Myrtle Beach on a Sunday would be similar to fighting traffic in a hot city.

A fuel stop at Osprey Marina out in the boonies was a nice break and chance to stretch the legs, walk around and have my picture taken before running the gauntlet of power boats to Myrtle Beach.

Before I knew it, I had suddenly entered the Sunday afternoon crazy-crowd zone. For the next 25 miles, all the local yahoos with power boats were dominating the waterways and slicing into my serenity with great exuberance.  I am no fan of power boats, but I slogged along through it all at a slow pace of 5 knots.  Power boaters don't always know the rules of etiquette for boating, but I sucked it up anyway.  However, it wasn't long before I found myself enjoying this new type of "scenery" as seen here. Like the song says, "Girls just wanna have fun."

Suddenly the tranquil beauty I had discovered on the placid Waccamaw River was replaced with party animals in power boats, beer drinkin and hell raising on the outskirts of urban sprawl.

Rich mansions soon appeared on the waterway. One night at the Barefoot Marina in Myrtle Beach was enough for me.  I did however enjoy a good band that evening at the House of Blues before sailing north early the next morn.
 (Filtered photo above) In just a few miles I was back into the more natural beauty surroundings I have grown to love and expect along the ICW.   My next stop would be at Little River Inlet about 33 miles north.  It would be here that I stage the boat for a 60 mile crossing in the Atlantic to enter the inlet at the Cape Fear River, North Carolina.

NOTE:  Lots of cell phone cameras these days have the option of applying "filters" to "enhance" or alter the actual colors of the photo scene.  That is the case with the shot above.  Pretty to look at, but not the Real McCoy in my view. I often wonder if it's been altered when I see photo scenes with "out of this world" colors. Probably so. 

Before long I arrived at Little River inlet where I would make my crossing the following morn.

I chose this sweet little anchorage just behind the beach near the Little River inlet (see the blue dot below.)  I arrived that afternoon and had enough daylight to actually transit the inlet as a trial run.  I love night sailing, but not so much when it involves navigating tight or unfamiliar channels with crazy currents or opposing tides.  Knowing the lay of the land in advance is always comforting whether entering or exiting an inlet.

Shown below is my boat anchored near the inlet poised and ready for a 4 a.m departure which would ensure I arrive with ample daylight on the other end of the crossing. 
It turned out to be a sweet anchorage so I explored the area in my dinghy, Dazy, and was soon scarfing down a fine meal before turning in at an early hour.

The 12 second video below captures the essence of returning to the mother ship after scouting out the area in little Dazy.  (may or may not play on portable devices)

This second little video was shot at dawn on a clear morning that moved me.
(may or may not play on portable devices)

Above is the route I took for this outside passage to Cape Fear.  The winds were more fluky than I like and so it was a slow boat to China to get there for the most part.  I idled the day away tinkering, reading, playing guitar, and staring off into the wild blue yonder.

But for the final three hours, things started to pick up with a good feisty SW wind and I was able to make my landing at Bald Head Island well before dusk.  All the things I'd read about Cape Fear had given grave warnings of the brutal currents you could face when entering the inlet, especially if the current is met with a strong opposing wind.  If those conditions occur serious chop or fetch can occur and make for a rough entry. 

Thankfully, my calculations with tides and estimated time of arrival seemed to jive.  So instead of fighting a strong opposing current, I scooted in like a canoe going down a rapid river.  Thankfully too, there were no opposing winds to the current and it proved to be a jolly good time entering the area.

Bald Head Island, at the Cape Fear River, is a lovely stop along the way to Southport or Wilmington.  I opted for one night here just to stretch my trip out a bit longer before catching that flight back to Georgia. (filtered photo above)
 Bald Head Island is only accessible by ferry or private boat.  They allow no cars on the ferry so you will only see electric golf carts scooting around the island.  I was expecting a more remote island, similar to Cumberland Island, but it turned out to be loaded with beach homes dominated with a lot of rich white people.  Still its a scenic spot worth visiting. 

I had some big company next to me in the marina.  I typically opt for an anchorage over a marina but there are none due to the swift currents of the Cape Fear River just past the sea wall.
The following day, I made my way up the river to St. James Marina near Southport.  It would be here that I prepared her for a 3 week hiatus in order to return to Georgia for the closing on my home there.  It turned out to be a pretty good spot to leave her.  Packing up the boat this time of year means you pack her up for hurricane potential, strapping things down, and adding extra dock lines.  It always takes at least a full day and then some.

Not a bad place to rest, sweetheart.  See you in about 3-4 weeks!

 "I'm leaving on a jet plane... Oh baby, I hate to go."

This concludes yet another post from yours truly.  As a single handler, this trip was a great time to think, ponder, love and adore all of God's great creation.

I hope you'll join me for the next segment coming soon.  It will cover the best adventure yet from Wilmington to Beaufort and to my favorite sea side village Oriental, then crossing the Pamlico River, the tumultuous Neuse River, Albemarle Sound and entering the great Chesapeake Bay in the state of Virginia!  

I think my friend Captain David said it best, "the further north you go the cooler it gets!"


Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

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