April 24 to April 30

April 24, 2011  Bull Creek anchorage to Beaufort, SC 

Happy Easter!  We woke to a beautiful sunrise over calm waters.  Everyone had left ahead of us, except one lone sailboat.  We pulled anchor at 8:00 and made our way past Hilton Head Island and its famous candy-striped Harbortown lighthouse.   One of the boaters that we met, said he had reservations at Hilton Head for tonight, but because the PGA was back on again, slip fees were now $10/foot.  So he told them to forget it and ended up in our marina for the night.
People were up early doing some parasailing over the calm waters.  It was mostly sunny, warm, and there was no wind to be found.
The tide was still 8′ lower this morning, which left many docks and shorelines high and dry.  We passed an area where 4-5 dolphins were slapping their tails on the water and spinning around, using their fins to spray water in the hopes of rounding up some fish.  It was quite interesting to watch.  Crossing Port Royal Sound was calm with small rollers coming in from the sea.  We’ve had good luck in crossing all the sounds (openings to the Atlantic Ocean) so far.  For all, except one, we’ve had calm waters.  To the west, we could see some lingering fog over the water, but we had sunshine overhead.  We motored along at 10 mph and stopped in the Beaufort River to get a picture of the numerous jellyfish that were suspended in the water all around us.  No such luck!  They were very elusive.  We traveled a short distance up the Beaufort River to the Beaufort City Marina and were docked by noon.  We traveled 30.3 miles today.  We keep running into the same 3 boats from Montreal.  They speak some English, but have a heavy French accent.  Bob calls them the “Frenchies” and starts speaking with a French accent whenever we see them.  What’s up with that?   We gave Auggie a chance to stretch his legs once we got to shore, do some laundry, and used the courtesy car to make a quick run to the grocery store.  I wanted to get a slice of ham for our Easter dinner tonight and a few other necessary things.  We did some trip planning and tidied up the boat in the AC, waiting for the sun to go down or an afternoon breeze to kick in.  We got more than we hoped for.  It was blowing 15-20 mph and the boat was rocking in the slip.  We enjoyed our Easter ham (slice) dinner and watched some cable TV.  What a treat!  We’ll explore the historic town of Beaufort on our bikes tomorrow.  
April 25, 2011  Beaufort, SC

We started off the day with calm winds and blue skies.
It should be in the low 80’s with lots of humidity.  We’re watching the weather pattern that swept through the St. Louis area creating devastating tornadoes. We’ll keep an eye on that for now and see if it swings our way.  We put our folding bikes together and before it got too hot, we took off to explore the city.  We started off at the Visitor’s Center which is located in an old arsenal, that is also a museum.  It was a cool building. 
From there we took our “tour of the city” map and biked to some of the more historic places.  The houses here are West Indies style in a t-shaped floor plan with a raised first floor, high ceilings, and double porches.  There were lots of beautifully restored homes to see.  
We rode to the Petit Point – a home with beautiful gardens, but they were hard to see through the hedges.

We rode through the streets where the hanging moss from the live oak trees made a canopy over us.  Some of the trees were hundreds of years old and had limbs that touched the ground. 

One was even marked with a sign that said “low clearance”. 

Of course, I had to get a picture of a cute little schoolhouse that was used many years ago.

Our next destination was to the St. Helena Episcopal Church built in 1724.  It was surrounded by a wall of bricks that arrived from England and were used as ballast on the ships.  The altar was covered in white lilies for Easter and each of the windows in the church had window boxes filled with fresh flowers.  The church smelled so fragrant and looked so beautiful.

The church had a cemetery where the tombstones served as operating tables for the doctors during the civil war.  That was pretty amazing!
We finished our tour with a ride down the historical main street to check out the shops.
We rode back to the marina along the waterfront.  We marveled at the beautiful waterfront park that is enjoyed by many people. 

We stopped for a light lunch at Hemingway’s Restaurant – a local hangout set in the basement of an old two-story brick building. 
The walls were covered in dollar bills and there was a nice sitting area outside. 

We met a couple from Orlando who were kind enough to take our picture.  It isn’t often that we both get in the same picture.  So here we are!

The afternoon sea breeze appeared and kept the humidity low.  Back at the marina we washed the boat, polished the rails and windows, filled the water tank, and put the bikes away.  Next on the list of “to-dos” was to groom Auggie.  He got the full treatment – a bath, haircut, pedicure, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing.
He was so co-operative, stood so still, and looked so cute when he was done.  But afterwards, he was so tired and took a very needed nap.  Back in the marina, we noticed that more boats came in for the night.  Here is an unusual looking homemade one.

We relaxed a little, had dinner, and took an evening walk with Auggie.  Then we watched a little TV before going to bed for an early departure tomorrow.  We hope to anchor in the Stono River just outside of Charleston after picking up some fuel.  Bob did his homework and found an inexpensive place.  What would we do today without the Internet?

April 26, 2011  Beaufort to St. John’s Yacht Harbor, Stono River, SC

We had an early morning rain shower for about 10 minutes as we listened to the rain on the “roof”.  We got up to prepare to leave at 8:00.  The sky was dark to the north, where we were headed.  After checking the radar, we could see that small showers were blowing in from the ocean and would come and go for awhile.   We pulled away from the dock at 8:00 and said goodbye to Beaufort.
We had sunshine at our backs and dark clouds up ahead.  We didn’t get far before we hit another brief shower.  We ran a little faster thinking we might be able to get out from under it.  There was no wind and it was a little cooler this morning before the high for today reaches the low 80’s.  The clouds were helping to keep the temperatures down. We met up with 3 of the boats who had left the marina 30 minutes to an hour before us.  We ran past them to get ahead of the rain. 
Dark clouds took over and the rain came hard for a brief time.  Those two white specks are the boats in the heat of the storm behind us.
We got through a very narrow stretch of water where a floating log was reported, but there was no sighting.  Then we heard a clap of thunder and saw a flash of lightning.  We heard a boat say that they thought the lightning struck too near to them and it took out their electronics.  Good thing he still had his radio!  Up ahead….another narrow stretch and another reported deadhead (log).  Gotta keep a sharp lookout!  This time we made a sighting.
Good thing we came by at low tide so we could see it sticking out of the water.  At high tide it would be under the water. It definitely looked like it had been hit before.  Ouch!  It seemed we would be plagued by small showers all day–which was ok.  It was nice to have a cloudy day and get a little relief from the heat of the sun.  We were leading a parade of about 7 boats now.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not?!
The sun started to peek out every now and then, but the breeze remained nice and cool.  Bob figured that we have about 700 miles to go to get to Washington, DC, so that means that we are halfway there.  Woo-hoo!  There still wasn’t much to see in the way of scenery–marshes and a few homes dotted the shore.  We came upon a section of the AICW where large ships were in dry dock.  It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.
In checking ahead for the weather, we heard on the marine radio that a cold front would be moving through the area Wednesday and Thursday.  We made arrangements to hole up in the Isle of Palms Marina for 2 nights.  The winds are predicted to be in the 15-25 mph range with a 40% chance of rain or thunderstorms.  Sounds like a good time to be tied to a dock in those kinds of winds.  We saw lightning up ahead and hoped it was not where the AICW would take us.  It wasn’t, but the Coast Guard put out a warning of a strong thunderstorm traveling in from the ocean, with wind gusts to 35 mph, hail, and dangerous lightning.  So…..change of plans.  We would not anchor out tonight, but would take a slip at the marina right near the anchorage…St. John’s Yacht Harbor in the Stono River.  We called and they had room for us.  The price was right.  Great facilities and a pool!  We got a 25% discount for being a BoatUS member.  It was a tricky docking with strong tides and winds, but Bob got us to the dock without any problems.  We arrived at 2:00 after traveling 63.8 miles today.
We felt much better about being tied to the dock in that kind of weather.  Boaters always have to be flexible in their plans….always checking the weather and making adjustments.  We settled in and continued to watch the weather. The skies cleared a little, but the winds remained strong.  The threat of the storm seemed to have passed….for now.  We relaxed and had a later dinner.  The wind continued to be strong all night long, creating waves rolling down the river.  With the wind and tide combined, that made for a lot of rocking and rolling at the dock.  At times it sounded like we were in a washing machine.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some sleep and have a better weather day tomorrow. 
April 27, 2011  St. John’s Yacht Harbor, Stono River to Isle of Palms, SC

Bob woke up early and couldn’t sleep.  I got up a little later for the same reason.  The boat continued to rock and roll at the dock from the wind and tide current.  It was sunny to the east and dark to the west.  There was fog in the area, but soon it would burn off with the sun.  The forecast is still the same for later today….cloudy,increasing winds and rain, so we got everything ready to move on.  We don’t have far to go, but we have to cross Charleston Harbor.  That should be interesting with the winds today.. We left the dock at 8:45 with help from the dockhands. 

Luckily for us, the tide and wind were about equal in force, so we were able to pull away from the dock without any mishaps.  We approached downtown Charleston at 9:15. 
We were able to see the Battery area of Charleston and the Yorktown from the water, which we toured in March during our land visit to Charleston to see our friends, Pam and Don.
It was overcast, with grey skies and the waves in Charleston Harbor were about 2′ high.  We passed Ft. Sumter about halfway across the harbor.  It was about 4 miles across the entire channel and we were covered in salt when we were done.  Once we got across the harbor entrance and inside the AICW channel, it calmed off. The sun peeked out as we reached the Isle of Palms area.  The tide was going out as you can see here.
We pulled into the marina at 10:20 and headed for the fuel dock.  They had cheap fuel and we wanted to be in a marina for the severe weather that was still predicted. We finally got to our dock for the night at 11:30 and settled in.
They put us right behind the Miz Doris, a 100′ yacht.
According to Bob’s calculations, we got 1.05 miles per gallon.  That’s the best we’ve had on this trip with only 46 miles going fast.  The rest of the miles were done at 9 or 10 miles per hour.  We went up to the Morgan Creek grill for nachos and one of the best views around.
After lunch we noticed that the yacht, Miz Doris, in front of us, was getting ready to leave.  Bob asked if they needed some help getting away from the dock.  The captain said we could help by throwing off the lines for them. 
They were headed back to Charleston.  So after the young owner and his party of 4 returned from playing a round of golf, they got on board.  The captain started the engines, we threw off the lines, and they were on their way.  What a thrill for us!
We wanted to explore the area a little, so Bob unhitched the dinghy and Bob, Auggie, and I motored off through the small channel along the marina.  It would take us between the Isle of Palms island and the mainland.

Auggie enjoyed the ride, especially when we went fast.  We noticed two boats with cute names: Miss Alignment and Water We Doin’.
  We came back to the boat to get out of the sun and relax.  Auggie wanted to play and found a new hiding place in the stair vent.
I checked our email and found that we had gotten a confirmation from our U.S. congressman saying that he was able to set up tours for us to the Capitol, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Pentagon, and the Supreme Court while we are in Washington, DC.  We are excited!  We are still waiting to find out if we can get a tour of the White House.  Get ready Obama!  Company’s coming!  As evening came, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped.  They were predicting the storms overnight or early tomorrow morning.  We’ll see if they’re right.  We had a late dinner and relaxed with some TV before calling it a night.  We were both tired from our early hours this morning.  It’s nice to know we aren’t going anywhere tomorrow.  We can really get a good night’s sleep. 
April 28, 2011  Isle of Palms Marina

We woke up to a breezy,overcast day.  In checking the radar, the horrific storm that killed people in 6 states was heading our way.  it should arrive in our area late this afternoon.  Bob surprised me with a card and my birthday present.  It was an Aaron Rogers/Green Bay shirt…just what I had wanted!  What a guy!
We decided to do our bike ride to explore the area before it got too hot or started to rain.  We rode our bikes along Palm Dr. which paralleled the shoreline.  The homes there were beautiful.  We took one of the beach access paths to the water.
The waves were big and some surfers were taking advantage of it.  The tide was going out, so a lot of beach was exposed and so were the shells.  I found a few nice ones to bring home.  I finally got my picture of that beautiful jellyfish that was being so elusive earlier this week.  It was about 8″ wide, laying dead in the sand.  
We continued our ride down the shore towards the Pier, but the road took an unknown direction, so we decided to hop on the bike path and head back.  It was still breezy, but the sun started to peek through.  We got back to the boat and cooled off a bit after our ride.  There were a couple of boat maintenance projects that we had been wanting to do, so we took the opportunity to work on them today, while we had a cool breeze blowing and partly cloudy skies to keep it cooler.  We spent a couple of hours cleaning the dinghy, washing the inside of the Sunbrella top, and cleaning the fenders.  Tomorrow we are moving on, so we wanted to take care of those things while we were at the dock.  While waiting for the stormy weather to arrive, we did some trip planning for the next 4-6 days.  Our hope is to do some more anchoring out.  We cleaned up and went to dinner at the Morgan Creek Grill at the marina.  It was my birthday dinner and was such a treat to eat out.  We got back to the boat by 6:00, so Bob would be able to do a Skype call and participate in our Co-op board meeting.  He was responsible for giving his treasurer’s report.  Auggie and I played, while Bob participated in the meeting.
As the sun was setting, I took Auggie for his walk and came back to watch a little TV.  Bob and Auggie got comfortable after the board meeting finished at 9:00.
It had started raining after the sun went down and rained off and on into the night.  The storm skirted around us, so we didn’t get much of it, just the wind and a little rain.  Thank goodness!  Hopefully, the rain will bring cooler temperatures tomorrow.  We called it an early evening, so we could get an early start tomorrow. 

April 29, 2011 Isle of Palms Marina to Mt. Rena anchorage

It was a clear, crisp morning of 64 degrees.  Wow!  What a switch from the heat and humidity.  The temps should be in the 70’s with lows in the 50’s for the next few days.  For the last 2 days, we saw no boat traffic on the AICW due to the impending storm that never came.  Today….the parade begins again.  We bid adieu to our new friend, Bruce, on his sailboat, Skimmer, who was traveling solo.  He spent the winter in the Bahamas and was spending the summer in Annapolis.  He is originally from Steamboat, CO so he and Bob exchanged stories and memories of the “old days” in Steamboat Springs.  They had discovered that they were both in Steamboat in the 70’s and had a lot memories to compare. We prepared the boat and ourselves to leave and were underway at 8:00. 
Destination: Thoroughfare Creek or Bull Creek for an anchorage tonight.  The weather looks perfect for anchoring out for the next 2-3 days.  We met up with Bruce a mile or two on the AICW and I’m sure we’ll run into him again down the road, maybe even in Annapolis.
We took a leisurely pace of 10 mph to conserve gas through the salt marshes with a few houses thrown in.  Believe it or not, there is a house among those trees with a very nice dock.
After awhile, in a very narrow and shallow stretch of water, we came nose-to-nose with a commercial fishing boat.
We had to hold our position and pull over to the side so that the female captain could pass.  I made a note on the chart to transit this area next time on a rising tide.  We passed a man in a Pathfinder kayak, fully loaded with camping gear, making his way north against the current.  Bob said he hoped he wasn’t going all the way to NY in that thing.  He must have tremendous arm strength!
The dolphins came along beside us to play awhile.  Love those dolphins!
We traveled along pretty much by ourselves, passing a boat here and there, until just north of McClellanville we ran into a pack of 5 boats….3 sailboats and 2 trawlers clustered together.  Slowly, we passed them, one by one.  We transitted through numerous “manmade ditches” where the water was shallow due to the low tide and we had to go at idle speed.  That is when were attacked by hundreds (and I’m not exaggerating) of horseflies.  Just about this time we had been getting a little bored with the lack of scenery, so with weapons (flyswatters) in hand we proceeded to attack with a vengeance.  The body count was over 150 by the time we were done, with the “mother of all horseflies” going to her doom as well.  You can see her there on the lower left side…dark black.
At first it was a pleasant diversion, but after awhile it was annoying.  Bob called for the bug spray when we could stand it no longer.  After that, they flew around but didn’t land on us.  Thank goodness for Repel-Sportsman bug repellant!  All in all we were lucky!  Only 5 bites between the two of us.  Battle won!  Once we got near Georgetown we were out of the “ditch” and could travel at a little faster pace.  The horseflies stayed away!  During the horsefly invasion, we had to put Auggie down below to stop them from attacking him and to stop Auggie from jumping off the seat to go after them. We passed Georgetown and headed north towards our anchorage.  Along the shores the charts designated  this area as abandoned rice fields.  In the 1840’s Georgetown produced half of the rice consumed in the entire U.S.  They even had a rice museum in Georgetown. Their special “Carolina Gold Rice” is back in production today.  We’ll have to try and make it one of our stops on the way back to check out all the plantation and rice history.  We now noticed cypress trees lining the banks of the river and more abandoned rice fields.
I guess I never gave any thought to where our rice came from. We had to slow down for a ferry crossing on a cable. 
We entered our first anchorage option at Thoroughfare Creek and decided it was too narrow for our comfort, so we moved a little farther north, just past the town of Mt. Rena and pulled off to the side of the wide channel to anchor for the night. Mt Rena had their own version of a school bus.
This was a beautiful spot.  Cypress trees line the shores and the water looked like tea.  (I know it looks blue, but it was really the color of tea.)
There was some boat traffic to watch on the river, as we relaxed after our drive of 69.2 miles today.  It was 3:00 and we were done driving for the day.  Auggie was getting his daily dose of “protein” and helping to clean up the dead fly carcasses.  Ick!  We ate an early dinner and sat out in the back of the boat to watch the sun go down. The sun cast an orange glow on the trees as it set.
We heard nothing but the sound of an owl in the distance….it was that quiet.   It was cool and pleasant….until the mosquitoes came out.  Then we went in and called it a night.  It was one of the best anchorages we’ve had so far.

April 30, 2011  Mt. Rena anchorage to Dock Holidays Marina, Myrtle Beach, SC

It was a beautiful, sunny day with no humidity.  Aaahh….We could see steam coming off of the water as it was cooler this morning. 
We pulled the anchor at 8:30 and it came up perfectly clean, which concerned Bob a little.  Did that mean it wasn’t holding very well or that the bottom was more solid than mucky?  We’ll never know.  We motored north through the cypress swamp at high tide.
It was much prettier scenery than we’ve seen in days.  The river was winding and it made for an interesting ride.  We passed Bull Creek , our second option for an anchorage last night.  It would have made a great anchorage, but you never know until you see it for yourself.  I made a note for our return trip.  Six bass boats came screaming by us at one point.  There must have been a bass tournament somewhere this morning.
When Bob did his engine room check (as he does every morning), he noticed that the exhaust blower, that ventilates the engine room, was shot.  It had been making noise for a few days, but he had been keeping an eye on it. Fortunately, it’s a very common part and we found a convenient, nearby West Marine Store online that had one in stock.  We decided to stop at Dock Holidays Marina in North Myrtle Beach for the night and pick up the part at the West Marine store just down the street.  As we approached the Socastee Swing Bridge, we were told we would have to wait for an opening in about 15 minutes with 6 other boats that had arrived. 
It seems the town was having a walk-a-thon and we would have to wait until most of the walkers cleared the bridge.  We waited about 20 minutes and the swing bridge opened. It looked like the town of River City was having some kind of festival today.
We waved to the bridge tender as we passed and continued on.  
The scenery changed from cypress swamp to housing developments as we motored through another “ditch” approaching Myrtle Beach.  It is a Saturday so the weekend boat traffic added to the congestion of this narrow passageway.  We were surprised to see a gondola suspended above the waterway and more surprised to see that it was used by golfers to get from one side of the golf course to the other across the water.
Who would’ve thought?  This area aound Myrtle Beach is called the “Grand Strand”.  The Grand Strand consists of 60 miles of beaches, golfing on championship courses, entertainment galore, and more than 1,500 restaurants. Money, money, and more money everywhere you look! Here’s an example of one of the little houses along the AICW.
We came upon another area of the AICW known as the “The Rock Pile” – the worst stretch of AICW for 15 miles where the bottom is hard shell or rock.  Rock ledges line both sides of the channel here.  It is very narrow along this stretch and any mistake could be costly.  This poor sailor found out the hard way!  He got a little too close to shore, got stuck, and then the tide went out.  At least, he ended up on one of the few sandy spots instead of a rock ledge.
Everyone stayed very diligent about staying in the middle of the channel and there were a lot of boats playing follow the leader until we got through it.
We got to our marina without any problems and tied up by 1:30. Our trip today took us 40.7 miles. After checking in, we took a short 1/2 mile walk to the West Marine store and Food Lion. We bought a replacement exhaust blower and a few groceries.  Back at the boat, Auggie got a walk, Bob worked in the engine room, and I worked on my blog and did some trip planning.  The repair went very smoothly. No fuss, no muss.
This area seems to be very commercialized and caters a lot to tourists. We saw this miniature golf place called Molten Mountain where purple water pours out of the mountain like lava.  Cool!
We relaxed and watched the Saturday afternoon boat traffic on the AICW.  There was a lot to see.  Auggie found a sunny spot to take a snooze.  
We’ll head off for Carolina Beach, NC tomorrow.  The weather should continue to be nice to anchor out.  We’ll cross the border between South Carolina and North Carolina and keep making our way towards Norfolk.  We relaxed a little before dinner and heards the sounds of music coming from the restaurant on the premises.  We decided to take a walk over there to see what was going on.  It looked like a marina party.  The band, the Carolina Breakers, were awesome!  It was a 5 piece band of older men who could really create a party atmosphere.  We stayed for a beer, enjoying the music and the dancing.  Then back to the boat for a late dinner and some TV before turning in.