“Danny, there’s a lot of badness in the world”*

Before we get to the badness, how about a little goodness?  As in Monday when we pulled in to Johns Island and met up with Doug’s old pals from the Knoxville days.  Greg and Mary Jane always deliver laughs and fabulous meals.  Awesome evening, with the crowning achievement being an unexpectedly-safe return to the boat.  Hopefully we’ll see them again soon.

Tuesday morning we took off for Beaufort with gratitude.  Well actually, no we didn’t.  Gratitude is a 2020 North Pacific 45.  Beautiful.  Her brand new owners weren’t around for us to congratulate, however, so obviously she stayed behind.

The long trip between Charleston and Beaufort requires traversing several cuts notorious for trapping boats on shifting shoals.  Although it looks harmless enough, Watts Cut historically is one of the most treacherous.

Meh.  The Army Corp of Engineers recently dredged it.  We just jumped on the Bob432 Aquamaps overlay and didn’t even slow down.

The equally treacherous Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff where we once hit bottom and The Lower Place chickened out and then we all waited an hour for the water to rise before following Miss Patsy through?  Also recently dredged.  Nice.

So basically we had no issues at all, unlike the three poor guys on Carol Ann.  (Note: news photo, not ours.)

The story of Carol Ann hasn’t yet gripped the national consciousness like the Andrea Gail didno book or movie and there’s still a chance for a miracle—but it’s been big news along the South Carolina and Georgia coast and may prove to be just as tragic.  For the past week the Coast Guard cycled a notice to mariners every hour.  The 31-foot fishing boat left Brunswick, Georgia, with a plan to return on October 19.  On October 21, the boat owner reported the crew missing.  The last potential sighting was October 17, when they were fishing some hundred miles off shore.  Despite significant search efforts, nothing since then.  We obviously are pulling for a positive outcome.  It’s odd how personal these things feel when you hear the radio chatter every day.

Anyway, back to Beaufort and South Carolina badness.  South Carolina has a long sordid history of it, from slavery and the seeds of succession, to Susan Smith, to Dabo Swinney and Shane Beamer.  The most recent poster child, of course, is familicidal moron Alex Murdaugh.  And what started the House of Murdaugh’s collapse occurred in cute little Beaufort—one of our favorite stops—when a drunken Paul Murdaugh thought it a fine idea to slam his boat into the Archer Creek bridge at 2 in the morning, tragically killing one of his passengers.  Video confirmed him drinking shots at Luther’s Rare & Well Done before staggering back to the day dock where he and his friends had left the boat.  One of us is fascinated by the entire drama and wasn’t about to miss out on the photo opportunities.**

Okay, that mostly concludes the dark portion of this post.  Beaufort has more to offer than just grisly Murdaugh stuff.  Beaufort has awesome movie sites, which we’ve covered in prior posts.  And civil war history, which we’ve also covered in prior posts.  But we still found a couple of places we hadn’t seen before.  Like another Carnegie Library.  Starting in 1802, Beaufort’s library was amassing quite a collection until the Yankees stripped the shelves exactly sixty years later.  Carnegie apparently felt bad so built this one in 1918.  Who knew?

And back behind the trees and Spanish moss is the Anglican church, which as we previously noted dates to 1724.  What we failed to include is that the British used it as a stable during the Revolutionary War and both sides used it as a hospital during the Civil War, presumably after cleaning out the horse poop.  That’s a lot of history right there.

Incidentally, Spanish moss looks like it might be fun to hang around your house, but don’t do it.  Spanish moss is loaded with chiggers, although there are reports that the chigger thing is just a myth.  Anyway, Beaufort is on the short list of our favorite stops, despite its role in the whole Murdaugh saga.

Slack tide at 8, so off the dock at 8.  We’ve heard that Marines do more by 8 than most people do in a day.  That may or may not be true, but what we know for certain is that unless they just decided not to update the water tower, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island still is making them.

The last stop on the Murdaugh Murders tour was Archers Creek and the Archers Creek Bridge.  We didn’t actually stop, of course, because (1) Archers Creek is only about two feet deep and (2) the 50% of us who is willing to veer out of the way to see where something horrific happened generally loses the democratic vote by about twenty to one.  But here’s the bridge through the big lens.

Then out into Port Royal Sound, past the pelicans hanging out on a decidedly disgusting channel marker.

Although the hop from Beaufort to Hilton Head Island is pretty short, the stretch after the fake lighthouse where we made five knots against the tidal current didn’t feel short.

Even including the slow part the trip was worth the effort, of course, because the marina flyer says the Neptune statue at Shelter Cove is “the world’s largest working sundial.”  Awesome!  We gotta see this bad boy.

Um, no.  The Hilton Head sundial is cool and all, but the one in Jaipur, India, is more than 27 meters tall.  Which is exactly why we don’t trust these kind of claims.  But we enjoyed the walk around Shelter Cove and the bananas we bought at Kroger along the way.

The Tex-Mex place—conveniently located about two hundred feet from where the dock guys put us—delivered a solid meal and, a bit later, a fantastic singer.  Dude looked like Ryan Reynolds and sounded like Chris Stapleton.  Maybe the best entertainer we’ve encountered in our travels, and he played virtually nonstop for six hours.  Oh, and we saw our first manatee of the year.

This morning we headed down to Isle of Hope, past another abandoned boat.

How does somebody just walk away from his or her boat, leaving it behind as hazardous garbage?  Sadly, this is quite prevalent, particularly down in Florida.  Know where we’ve never seen a mess like that?  Canada.  Canada might be cold, the health care might suck, and Canadians might embrace Tim Hortons, but they also have a much lower percentage of scumbags.

Fields Cut?  No problemo.

Anyone who read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will recall the eccentric characters drinking at Conrad Aiken’s grave in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery.  The famous “Bird Girl”—also made famous by the book and the movie—was in the same cemetery until they moved it to a museum.  The point is, we twice stayed at Thunderbolt Marina and could’ve walked over to explore, but didn’t think of it.  This time we thought of it, but only could muster a really poor non-representative photo from the Wilmington River.  Grrrr.

Whatever.  We made it to Isle of Hope.  Isle of Hope is famous as the place Gammel Dansk recovered after that terrifying night on the Sandbar of Despair.  Probably some other important stuff happened here since the first settlers arrived in the early 1700s, but we’re getting ready to watch the Diamondbacks so haven’t done much research.  We did muster an awkward three-mile sidewalk-less round trip for a restaurant experience that started off strong but quickly deteriorated, although watching Roxie the Racoon out the window was cool enough.

On a final sad note, this morning—after combing 94,000 square miles of Atlantic Ocean—the Coast Guard stopped searching for Carol Ann.


*“I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber.  I didn’t want to do it, I felt I owed it to them.” – Judge Elihu Smails

**That same one of us wanted to rent a car and drive out to the Moselle property but all the cars were out, presumably taken by everyone else who wanted to drive out to the Moselle property.

Wacca Wache is fun to say, and RIP Larry Morris

The uneventful offshore run from Morehead City continued after our last post, terminating in Wrightsville Beach some ten hours after it started.  Actually, that’s not true.  It would’ve ended in Wrightsville Beach if we could’ve gone back to Seapath Marina like we hoped.  But Seapath was full, so we ended up at Bridge Tender Marina.  Which almost is in Wrightsville Beach but instead is in Wilmington, just across the ICW.

Damn, did we get lucky.  We loved this side.  And the marina guys are awesome.

Here’s an artsy photo of a delicious Pinot Noir at Bridge Tender restaurant, which may be even more awesome than the marina guys.  There’s Tumbleweed out at the dock.  And on the left is the Wrightsville Beach Bridge, tended by a famously fickle bridge tender whose shenanigans we avoided by going outside.  Bwaahaahaa.

Thursday morning was gray and drizzly, but not too gray and drizzly for a walk up to Blueberry’s Grill.  Damn again.  How many delicious restaurants are there around these parts?

On the hike back to the boat we swung over and through Airlie Gardens, a Wilmington botanical garden that we found to be mostly in that season between flowers and Christmas, although it still was cool enough to justify going out of our way.

Hey, here’s another one of those bottle houses!  We last saw one of these on Prince Edward Island.  Probably not built by the same dude.

Given the shame we carry from that time we fell for the Old Tree Scam of ’19, we’re a little reluctant to buy the hype surrounding Airlie Oak, which supposedly already was nearly two-hundred years old when Blackbeard was pirating in the nearby waters.  We don’t vouch for anything other than that it’s big.

After our big breakfast and our little sightseeing trip, we untied and headed for Southport.  Still gray.  Still drizzly.  If it doesn’t bother the pelicans, however, we ain’t letting it bother us.  Incidentally, we both think the guy flying in the middle likely has a great sense of humor.

Sunny Point—more technically Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point—handles more armament and ammunition than just about any other place in the world.  Ocean Jazz was loading up under the watchful eye of the range boats plying the Cape Fear River.  We looked on Vessel Finder but there wasn’t a reported destination for all that sweet American war material.  Sadly, these days it could be anywhere.

Then on around to Southport.  By the time we tied up the gray and drizzle had been replaced by mostly blue sky.  Nice.

Friday morning, fog.  Fog?  We weren’t expecting fog.

“It’ll burn off quickly,” the nice dock guy.  So we took off, hoping that would happen before we reached the bridge.  Nope.  The bridge was about fifty feet ahead of us in this photo.  Couldn’t see a thing.

But soon enough the fog turned to blue sky, which we enjoyed immensely for a chunk of the day.

Then an hour or two from Osprey Marina the blue sky turned to rain.  Grrr.

Rain off and on all night, but since there’s not too much to do or see around Osprey we mostly stayed on the boat anyway.

Saturday morning up and out.

According to Waterway Guide, this stretch of the Wacammaw River is the prettiest on the Loop.  We’re not so sure about that—and since we wrote the Waterway Guide section on the Down East Circle we know there’s some subjective personal preference involved in these things—but it certainly was a nice and easy two hours down to Wacca Wache.

After a quick stop that involved a lot of crappy football, we took off at first light for a long run to Isle of Palms.  This stretch of the ICW is not the prettiest.  Mostly rice paddies and marsh.  Rice used to be a big deal around here, what with the free labor and all, and there’s still a few folks hanging on.

They call this area the “Low Country.”  Not because of topography, of course, but because of all the South Carolina Gamecock and Clemson Tiger fans.  Can’t get much lower than that unless you’re in Alabama or Georgia or Florida.*

Here might be the worst place possible to build a house.  Soggy eroding land.  No road.  No electricity.  No sewer.  No trees.

Google Earth tells the sad story.  You wake up to a heart attack, you’re screwed.  Someone never heard the real estate mantra about location, location, location.  This place is so absurd that Zillow has no wildly-off-base valuation for it.

On previous trips we’ve wanted to stop at Isle of Palms.  (“IoP” to the locals, although that’s too close to IHoP for our liking.)   This time we made it.  Cool little island.

The scooters took us around the island this morning.  The beach was empty.  The iconic turtle statue was dressed up—rather tackily if you ask us—for Halloween.

Speaking of icons, this morning we got the horrible news we’ve been dreading.  Cancer finally claimed our buddy Larry.  The Mayor of Cholla Park.  We disagreed about many things, but always with a laugh.  That’s two summers in a row the Cholla pickleball community has lost a great one.  Hopefully it’s the last for a while.  We’ll miss you Larry.


*We submit that for obvious reasons those places collectively should be called “Lowest Country.”  We also note that right about here we could work in a clever bit about Mississippi and The Lower Place, but we love Charlie and Robin so we won’t.

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning*

Ten miles off the North Carolina coast during a ten-hour trip to Wrightsville Beach seems like a good time to knock out a blog post, so here we go.

When we last checked in, we had arrived in Belhaven.  Belhaven is a cool enough little town—made cooler by the marina golf cart that took us to the Food Lion—although it’s kind of dead on Sundays.

Spoon River Artworks & Market was open for brunch, however, and never fails to deliver.

The rain cleared out and the wind died down, but we stayed put.

Monday took us back to River Dunes.  Along the way we passed R.E. Mayo Seafood, which is a famous stop for fresh seafood, fuel, and t-shirts.  We didn’t stop, but the fleet of fishing boats is impressive.

The approach into the basin at River Dunes remains the coolest we’ve encountered.  Awesome every time, although we might not think so if it was raining.

We once met with the River Dunes sales person who happily would’ve sold us a lot or a house, but we didn’t bite.  We subsequently did buy a fabulous lot on deep water around the corner in New Bern, only to discover that building a hurricane-proof house is cost-prohibitive, so we promptly sold the lot.  If just one person reads this and learns from our mistake and doesn’t foolishly buy waterfront property without first investigating the cost of building on it, however, our experience will be justified.  Or possibly not.

Anyway, short stop in River Dunes, then off to Morehead City.   In our 2019 post about heading north on this stretch, we lamented not checking the current in Adams Creek.  Fought it the entire way.  In 2021 we got lucky.  This time?  We didn’t check the current heading south in Adams Creek.  Fought it the entire way.  But if just one person reads this and learns from our mistake . . ..

Historically we’ve stayed at Homer Smith’s Dock in Beaufort.  We like Beaufort, although we like the Beaufort in South Carolina much more.  But in their fine blog our pals on Exhale discussed stopping in Morehead City, so we stopped in Morehead City.

The nice lady at the ice cream place said that the town shuts down for the winter so a lot of places are closed, but since we weren’t planning to buy a lot and build a hurricane-proof house in Morehead City it didn’t matter much to us.

Followers of this blog know we like monuments and sculptures.  We’ve posted more than a few.  This one with what looks to be a third-grader’s papier-mâché project plopped on a gravestone, um, isn’t good.

But the marina was nice, and conveniently located right at the junction of the ICW and the Beaufort Inlet.

We opted for skipping two ICW days and instead riding outside.  This route avoids some troublesome bridges and some slow(er) boats and some narrow spots and some shallow spots and Camp Lejeune, none of which we mind avoiding this time.  So out at daybreak for a long boring trip down the Atlantic.

The following photo may look like a zillion other photos we’ve posted, but there’s a twist.  This is the exact view that the dread pirate Blackbeard had on June 10, 1718, when he unloaded loot from Queen Anne’s Revenge after he scuttled her/grounded on the shoal, although we suspect there wasn’t a fiberglass fishing boat close enough to observe the incident.

We know this was Blackbeard’s view because we took the photo while directly above what’s left of the wreckage.  We did not stop, don wetsuits and scuba tanks, and dive down with an underwater camera, so this is not our photo of said wreckage.

We tend to side with the historians who think Blackbeard’s grounding was intentional, because the shoal is marked clearly on our chartplotters and Navionics iPad app.  Even at dead low tide it wouldn’t be hard to avoid.

Hopefully there won’t be anything exciting to report about the rest of the day.  We’re thinking naps and showers and lunch and possibly a replay of the Tennessee victory over Texas A&M, followed by dinner at The Bridge Tender, assuming everything works out.


*With all due respect to Al Jolson and Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and every other crooner who recorded that song, we submit that in fact there are finer places to wake up with your sweetie and morning glories.  But we have had a run of fine mornings—and more importantly we needed a title for this post—so we’re willing to go with it.

Cheers to old friends and new friends and a bunch of miles

Monday’s planned departure was foiled by a small red light, which indicated that ZMI hadn’t quite sorted out the electrical issue.  Mike and Ed finally wrapped up at 3, but we saw no appeal to rolling into Solomons in the dark so we stayed at Herrington Harbour yet another night.  Grrrrr.  But at least—fingers crossed—we won’t be tripping any more shore power pedestals.

Tuesday’s theme was sailboats.  Here we have what turned out to be a rather pedestrian one, but it was pretty enough in the morning sun.

Next up, Pride of Baltimore II.  This globe-trotting Baltimore Clipper topsail schooner “represents Baltimore and the State of Maryland” as she visits ports far and wide.  Despite all those billowy sails, AIS clocked her at 3.9 knots.  If you ask us, that’s a lot of work for very little payoff.

The Cove Point Lighthouse might be the last one we see for a while.  Originally built in 1828, Google gives it 4.4 stars.  For whatever that’s worth.

As we rounded into the mouth of the Patuxent River, we caught an awkward angle of Sultana, a full-scale replica of a British schooner with the same name.  The original Sultana enforced the tea tax up and down the east coast between 1768 and 1772.  This one seems to be some sort of school.  We would’ve gotten a better photo, but we were distracted by the nice people who were so desperate to go slow in front of us that they tried to ram their Great Harbor into Tumbleweed’s side.  Dana later made peace with them, however, so it’s all good.

Then on in to Solomons.  We love Solomons.

Solomons has what the little plaque says is the “Maryland State Record Swordfish.”  Does that mean the largest swordfish caught by a Maryland angler?  Largest caught in Maryland waters?  Largest eaten with Old Bay?  All we know is that Old Bay is delicious on everything.

Zimmerman graciously set us up in a free slip beside the TraveLift. Which worked out well, because they’re busily hauling boats in and out starting at sunrise so we didn’t even need to set an alarm.

Here we see the Atlantic Test Range at Naval Air Station Patuxant River.  This is the Navy’s “principal location for the research, development, testing, and evaluation of Naval aircraft.”  We always think it cool to pass by.

A fighter of some sort screamed overhead just as we injudiciously cut a corner of the restricted area, but luckily he didn’t bomb or strafe us.

Long but easy day down to Deltaville.  Past green channel marker 69A—famous as the official place where we finished our Loop—but too far away for a commemorative photo.  Past the Potomac River.  Not even a worthy sailboat along the way.  Stress-free, but a tad boring.

Deltaville normally wouldn’t be much of a reward for a long boring day.  We’ve spent far too much of our lives waiting in Deltaville for this or that to be done to a boat.  This stop was great, however, because Barry and Robin from Crossroads picked us up for a delightful dinner at our favorite Thai place.

Crossroads and Misty Pearl were two of the three Selene 43s in the 2018 Loop fleet.  Although Change of Pace—the third onesits just a few slips down from Crossroads, sadly Jeff and Terri couldn’t join us.  Awesome to catch up with Barry and Robin, and for dessert the Diamondbacks finished off the evil Dodgers.

Thursday was one of those weird Chesapeake Bay days that can’t decide whether to be sunny or gray.  But the water was smooth the whole way, which is all that matters.

Dana is a bit out of practice with dolphin photos—what with the scarcity of them in the Great Lakes and all—but still managed a decent job as we approached Norfolk.

Past Hampton Roads, which is famous as the place where ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia bounced cannonballs off each other to a draw and as the place where some dirtbag shot out a window on Second Wave.  Then past Norfolk Naval Shipyard and into our spot at Waterside.

This is way more of a business trip than a sightseeing trip, so there wasn’t time for more exploring.  But there was plenty of time for Scott and Sandy.  Scott grew up a Yooper.  Even spent a year as an Eskymo.  He follows the blog and sent us lots of ideas about the U.P. and Lake Michigan and Lake Superior while we were up there.  Scott and Sandy stopped by the boat before we enjoyed a great meal that actually involved more than just water.  Fun people.

Scott gave us some local history and things to do, but sadly we didn’t have the time.  Up for an early Friday morning departure.

Portsmouth is home to the oldest operational drydocks still in use by the Navy.  Drydock No. 1 is right along there somewhere.  After the Confederates took over the facility they raised the poorly-scuttled USS Merrimack, used Drydock No. 1 to cover her in armor, and renamed her the Virginia.  Now they supposedly work on subs along here, although we can’t verify that because despite our best efforts we still haven’t seen one.

This may look like just another bridge.  It isn’t.  It’s the @$&%ing Bridge No. 7, which we have studied for multiple hours from the other side while waiting for it to open.

This time luck was with us.  We zoomed right through, literally two minutes before they closed it.  For a brief moment we pitied the poor slobs who were behind us and got stopped, but then quickly resumed congratulating ourselves.

Did we mention that Scott is a great guy?  He drove around Friday morning just to get some cool photos as we started down the ICW.

A slow day was made slower by the Great Bridge Lock and the Great Bridge Bridge and Tocino and Seabird and Sam McGee piling up with us and Island Pilot pushing a barge through a narrow opening while we sat dangerously near the stumps.  But since we recently had foiled Bridge No. 7, we couldn’t complain.

Plus, the weather was glorious when we pulled into Coinjock.

The plan yesterday involved a pre-dawn departure.  Gotta get to Alligator River by noon, because we greatly prefer to be tied up when storms hit and the weather people predicted afternoon storms.  No way we want to face the Albemarle Sound in wind and rain.  Pre-dawn departures often yield good photos, however, and once again Dana got a good one.

The Sound?  Meh.  Not a big deal.  We entered the Alligator River at 11:30.  Time to spare.  Wait, what did the Alligator River Marina Dockmaster just say to Miss Eva and Gemini?  They radioed in ahead of us, asking for their reserved spots on the wall.  Lots of confusion and funny business, apparently caused by a sailboat that hadn’t left as expected.  Long story made short, we weren’t certain there was room for us after all, we weren’t inclined to wedge into a small slip in the wind, and the bridge was about to open.  As the Greatest College Football Coach in history preached in Maxim No. 3, however, “If at first the breaks go against you, don’t let up.  Put on more steam.”  Screw it.  Let’s go to Belhaven.  Maybe the rain will hold off.

Here’s No Curfew passing by.  She’s a 100-foot Princess, available for weekly charter by anyone with $65,000 or so laying around.

We later chatted with the captain.  Nice dude.  Very young.  They’re moving the boat down to the Bahamas for the winter charter season.  Since they plan to be in Port Canaveral by Thursday, we probably won’t see them again.  We’ll still be north of Florida when October turns to November.  We get the last laugh, of course, because they’ll burn a lot more fuel.

Anyway, back to the Alligator-Pungo Canal.

Although it remains super-fun to say the word “Pungo,” the Alligator-Pungo Canal is not particularly enjoyable.  The Alligator-Pungo Canal is even more not particularly enjoyable in the rain that hit us about five minutes after we took the preceding photo.  But we slogged on, mostly because there wasn’t any other option.

After several hours, we reached the Pungo River just as the rain took a break.  Seagulls swarmed us like they swarmed The Lower Place that time Charlie tossed cheese balls in the air and then flashed us from the flybridge, but we’re not sure why.  (We’re also not sure why Charlie took off his shirt.)  Dana got yet another photo that looks fake but isn’t.

We felt a little dirty passing by Dowry Creek and our pal Jeff—particularly since the restaurant finally is open—but we decided to give River Forest a try.  Rolled in almost exactly eleven hours after leaving Coinjock.  The Vols were tape-delayed, but still beat Jimbo Fisher and the disgusting Aggies when we watched the game.

So we made it from Herrington Harbour to Belhaven in five days.  For us, that’s pretty impressive.  Time for a day off, which meant we remained happily tied to the dock and in our pajamas at sunrise this morning.  Nice.

It’s not a big Deale, but we’re back

Well objectively the trip west was a success.  Doctor appointments and vaccines?  Check.  Girls all set up in new cities?  Check.  Pickleball?  Check.  No travel snafus?  Check.  Bobcat taking over the backyard like he owns the place?  Yup, that too.

Also, Arizona sunrises from the front porch are awesome.

And the Pacific Ocean looks quite a bit like the Atlantic Ocean.

Okay, that’s that.  This afternoon we had just enough time between Carl dropping us off at the boat and the Cardinals’ game to walk into Deale.  Hmmm.  Here’s downtown:

Although Deale is small, the worst thing about living here would be dealing with all the dumb puns.  Not ideal.

While we were gone, ZMI impressively multitasked by completing the few service items we requested while simultaneously sucking our bank account dry.  But now we’re ready to head south again.  Port Everglades by Thanksgiving or bust.  Tomorrow—assuming the Small Craft Advisory goes away—we’re off to Solomons Island.  We’ll wrangle the blog back into shape at some point.