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 did—no 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.