Friday, December 13, 2013

Beautiful Beaufort

Still a little too cold for my liking!
Finally our part arrived.  About 3 hours later the engine was fixed and we were ready to resume our trek south…but, as sailing luck would have it, bad weather came in and we had to wait out two days of high wind before venturing into the Albemarle Sound.  
Once we were started again we made excellent progress.  We anchored in most of our usual favorite spots and a few new ones. The engine works great now, except that we need to keep taking oil out of the fresh water reservoir.   
Anchoring on the Pungo River

We docked at a marina in Oriental NC to wait out the huge storm that hit the eastern seaboard on the day before Thanksgiving.  Oriental is a bit of a throwback town that is reminiscent of Mayberry. The people are very friendly and offered us the use of their bikes or rides in their cars as we made our way around town. We decided to stay there and chillax for Thanksgiving Day. Although very cold, it was a beautiful, clear, crisp day. In the morning we wandered about and took some pictures, and then we watched The Sound of Music and enjoyed our own little turkey dinner.  I took the time to reflect on the trip so far and decided I had a lot of reasons to be thankful…not the least of which is the chance to be on another Coyote Adventure…But, most of all I am thankful for our family and friends.
Our Thanksgiving table

The rest of our travels down the ICW were relatively uneventful, with the exception of a few groundings.  But, as one of our sailing friends pointed out…a sailor who says they have never run aground has never left the dock.

Oriental - a quaint little town
Evening on the ICW

The first one occurred just north of Charleston SC as we approached the Ben Sawyer swing bridge. There is a notoriously shallow area and we were travelling at low tide (sometimes that is just out of your control).  Anyway, there was a sailboat already hard aground and actually leaning at about 30 degrees. We approached very cautiously hoping we could feel our way through.  Didn’t work! We gently touched bottom and were stuck there for about three hours till the tide came in.  We very effectively blocked the rest of the channel and three more boats opted to wait out the tide rather than navigate around us.

No way through this channel!

When we finally floated off we missed the last opening of the bridge by six minutes! Aargh!  After hovering for two hours we went through the bridge and had to find our way through Charleston harbor in the dark…a little nerve wracking.  But we made it safely to the anchorage and dropped anchor, which thankfully held immediately; we hit the sack soon after.

Sunrise in Beaufort
The next day was the last stretch for the first part of the journey. We were heading for Beaufort SC where we planned to stay for a visit with Lynn’s brother and his wife (David and Gini). We decided to take a detour from the ICW to avoid another shallow area called the Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff. Once again we were going to hit it at low tide and didn’t want a repeat of the previous day. So, instead of turning left in the Ashepoo River, we turned right and headed for the St. Helena Sound.  The charts showed deep water the whole way and it was just a few extra miles.  The plan went perfectly till we reached the mouth of the river where, without any warning, we hit bottom in water that was charted at 22 feet!

Docked in Callawassie
Lynn is always called to the helm to get us out of sticky situations…which he deftly did in this case once again. He backed us off and then carefully negotiated the rest of the area that was at least 10 feet more shallow than it was supposed to be.  Once out into the sound we were able to relax in about 40 feet of water.  We were very happy to pull into the Beaufort marina for the night and enjoyed a nice meal with some fellow cruisers we had met on the radio that day!

Another spectacular sunset
After a short, four-hour ride the following day, we arrived at Callawassie Island where we have been staying for the past week.  David arranged for us to dock Coyote at their pier and we have been enjoying comfortable, restful nights on shore in their lovely home.  We have filled the days with some chores and some fun. Our friend Chuck arrived yesterday on his boat, Driven, and is now docked next to us.  It is not often that the community has a big sailboat docked here, let alone two, so I am sure we are getting a lot of attention.

Beaufort Carolers

After we go home for Christmas we will start as soon as possible to go south to Florida and then to the Bahamas.  We are at the point in the journey where we need to hope for good off-shore cruising weather…so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait too long…I’ll keep you posted.  Till then, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year!!