Monday, November 16, 2009

Catching Up to Tide Hiker

We left Wrightsville Beach Saturday morning despite the still 15-20 knot winds - we just couldn't sit there any longer - we'd had enough of Ida!! So off we went and actually the trip down to Myrtle Beach wasn't too bad. In the ICW we were fairly protected from the winds and it was only at several of the inlets that open up to the ocean that we felt the real gusts of the wind - looking out the inlets to the ocean beyond we were really glad we were in the "Ditch" as the waves out in the ocean were huge!! The trip through this section of the ICW normally is pretty shallow and narrow but two of the worst spots historically were dredged at the beginning of this year so they weren't too bad - a couple extra feet of depth makes all the difference in the world to your sphincter (we call particularly hairy moments on the water "sphincter moments")!! We rode a great current down through Carolina Beach
Approaching Carolina Beach
which looks like a fairly cute beach town with lots of gingerbread colored houses
Carolina Beach Houses
and several colorful marinas (although we've never stopped here) - along the way we passed the igloo house,
The Igloo House
the blue bus to nowhere
The Blue Bus to Nowhere
and tons of pelicans. sea gulls, ducks and herons who kept us company. The current turned against us in Snow's Cut (we dropped from 9.5 to 5.0 knots in a heart beat!) and we encountered the earth ball house boat again that had last caused us problems under the Wrightsville Beach bridge - he seemed to be anchored right in the middle of the cut - huh???
The Earth Ball
And then we got out onto the Cape Fear River which was nasty in the full on wind - luckily once we got out into the middle of the River we had the wind and current both behind us so it wasn't as bad as it could have been but there were still lots of white caps and the wind was whipping. We've seen worse!!!
The Cape Fear River

Passing Southport, NC we caught up to the Army Corps of Engineers workboat Snell that we had heard on the radio earlier - they were out picking up fallen trees, logs and other debris in the ICW in the wake of Ida. We gave them a big wave and thank you as we passed them by!!
The Snell
The last obstacle before Myrtle Beach was the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge which is the only pontoon bridge on the Atlantic ICW - it only opens on the hour (because it is old, tired and in need of lots of work!!) and unfortunately we missed the opening by 10 minutes so we had 50 minutes to hang out and contemplate life before the next opening....
Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge
They are building a 65 foot bridge to replace this one which will be great when it's done but for now there is just the added complication of lots of work boats and barges there! But then we passed into South Carolina (yippee another state down!!) and it was on to Myrtle Beach, home of one of our favorite bars Key West Crazy on the Little River!!!
Key West Crazy from the ICW

The alternator that Doug had installed while we were in Wrightsville Beach worked great - the only problem was that we weren't charging our batteries the whole trip so we had to run our generator for awhile to stay reasonably charged. Things that make you go hmmmm....Doug initially thought that it was a regulator that wasn't working properly so when we got into our slip at Lightkeepers Marina in Myrtle Beach, Doug headed down into the dungeon (or engine room) to replace the regulator. Turns out that wasn't it which we found out the next day - but have no fear, Doug figured it out and it turned out to be a blown fuse which he replaced in Georgetown so Gypsies is completely happy once more and we are good to go!!!

Anyways...after the regulator switch, we were off to Key West Crazy for a night of fun and games - it's a three mile walk from the marina but we had an absolutely amazing sunset to take our minds off the walk!!
Sunset in N. Myrtle Beach
Turns out there was a great band playing called Tammy's Tangent believe it or not (you can't make this stuff up!)
Tammy's Tangent
We had a wonderful dinner even though the owner/chef Mike wasn't around as we listened to the band and made up stories for the incredible cast of characters that were frequenting the bar that night. What an incredible mix of people - bikers, blue hairs, dirt bags, and sailors (oops sorry that's a Michael McCloud song...but it seems appropriate as there was truly a very interesting assemblage of people there that night!) Anyways, knowing we had to be up at 6:00 am for an early trip to Georgetown the next day, we dragged ourselves away earlier than we wanted...if you're ever in North Myrtle Beach you really should check out this place - it's a riot!

We actually woke the next morning to something we hadn't seen in a long time - the sun!!! and not too much wind either!!! Somehow it is always easier to get motivated when it's sunny out - so we didn't even grumble too much when the alarm went off (although Bootsie refused to leave her cocoon under the covers because it was still pretty cold out (she wound up staying there all day))! Heading out of the marina we saw this half sunken boat which caused us to think the captain should have followed our example and left before that last beer at KWC the night before!!!
One Too Many Beers at Key West Crazy
We immediately came upon the Little River Bridge which the bridge tender had open for us before we were even upon him - too cool a way to start the day!!! The Myrtle Beach stretch of the ICW is called the Rockpile because it is a narrow ditch lined with coquina rock on either side which makes for an interesting passage usually but we had such a high tide, that we had no issues at all - it was actually fairly fun to see all the houses, some magnificent

and some not so much, although they were often very colorful!!

Ducks Swimming Along in the Rock Pile
Pelican Taking a Rest on the Pilings

Pelicans on the Dock
We even encountered a courteous Sea Ray owner who actually slowed down as he approached us in the Rockpile and didn't floor it again until he was well past us - because we have never before seen such a thing, we are giving him the place of honor in our blog today!!!
The World's Only Courteous Sea Ray Owner!
We passed a great sign showing the mileage to NY vs Miami - glad we are heading south!!
Sign Along the ICW

Then it was time for our favorite stretch of the ICW - the Waccamaw River!!!
Along the Waccamaw
Black Mangroves in the Waccamaw
Boat in the Waccamaw
Blue Heron Wading in the Shallow Water of the Waccamaw
Pelican in Flight
Tree in the Waccamaw
Trees in the Waccamaw
The Waccamaw is truly a special place lined on either side with towering cypress trees draped in Spanish moss with osprey nests atop the trees or nestled above the channel markers.
Osprey Nest in the Top of Tall Cypress
Some of the Markers are Hard to Read in the Waccamaw
Osprey Nest
When we passed through here this summer on our trip north, each nest was filled with baby osprey - now the nests lay empty awaiting the next mating season, some of them so overgrown you can barely see the navigation marker. The River was wonderfully calm and there was plenty of wildlife to keep our cameras clicking and our mouths open!!! We picked up lots more current down the Waccamaw so were in Georgetown before we knew it and were greeted on our way up the channel by Norm and Vicki on Tide Hiker!!
Approaching Georgetwn
We were at a different marina as theirs was supposedly full for the night (NOT) - but no worries - after getting Gypsies safely tied up, we headed over beers in hand to say hello! Now the best part was that it was not only sunny in Georgetown but it was also warm - I'm talking full fledged shorts weather - yippee!!!!! SO with white legs showing we interrupted Norm's boat cleaning afternoon chores (which Gypsies is desperately in need of - but we have our priorities straight and enjoying the warmth with a few cold beers takes precedence!)
The Gang Showing Off Their White Legs
When we drank Norm out of cold beer (sorry about that Norm!!) we headed back to Gypsies to change for a late afternoon spent over at the Roost watching some football. While the sun was warm while it lasted, the chill set in as it started to sink!! Vicki and Norm joined us over at Buzz's Roost for wings and cold beers - what a great way to spend an afternoon (although we did have to move in from the outer deck to inside due to the vulture sized mosquitos that were dive bombing us - who ever heard of mosquitos in November (the mosquitos in Maine start hibernating in August due to the cold!!!)
The Gang at Buzz's Roost

We all headed back to the boats for an early evening given the 7:00 am planned departure for Charleston to try and avoid getting in at mid-tide (Charleston's current is horrific and makes docking there always a challenge - we're wimps - we like to minimize the challenge!) I had hoped to watch the Pats/Colts game since we had cable at the dock but alas it wasn't working so I settled for watching the gamecast on my computer on - well that got old soon enough and when I went to sleep we had the game firmly in control at 24-14 at halftime. Imagine my disgust when I woke up at 2:16 am, checked the score and found out we lost by 1 point - I really hate Indy (sorry Denise!) Oh well, what can you do??

We woke this am to huge fog - what are we back in Maine??? But we headed out anyways - heh, we're Mainiacs and used to a little fog!! The fog lasted through the Winyah Bay until the sun broke through and burned it off but we got some great pictures of the harbor and sunrise through an almost ethereal fog!! Right now it is unbelievably calm, sunny and beautiful out here on the waterway - one of those top ten days - what you dream about when you think of living this life!!! I'll save all the pictures of today's steam for our next blog because there will be tons of them!! For now we are headed to Charleston and looking forward to spending several days - now we can play without worrying about having to wake up early to steam the next morning - watch out Charleston!! I hear church calling.....(for those of you that have forgotten or not read our prior Charleston blogs and are thinking have I lost my mind - church is also a bar)!!!!!

Click here to see our location at Lightkeepers Marina in N. Myrtle Beach.

Click here to see our location at Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a bit too much beer to me - I think the ducks are swans, and I don't think anyone has EVER seen mangroves on the Waccamaw!

    Hope you're behaving yourselves in church.....