59 Jekyll Island, GA to Hampton, VA

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Bump, there was that pesky bottom again. We were trying to get into Walburg Creek and a sandbar was in our way. It took three tries and kept our dubious record of touching at least once on each ICW trip intact. Once anchored we studied shore looking for any escapee from the endangered species-breeding program managed on Sapelo Island, which bordered the creek. All we saw were trees, but it was beautiful. Just after sunset, the cell phone rang and we learned from Debbie and Jeff that we’ll be grandparents for the first time in mid December.

Emily’s in Beaufort, SC was the perfect setting: small, intimate, dark paneling, interesting menu, great food. We toasted our future grandchild. We had also heard from Cindy and Mike that Mike’s job was not only intact but that he got a raise (Kodak had sold his division), so we toasted that too. After dinner we walked town then dinghied back out to Tranquility anchored off the town dock. It had been a long but happy day. We were in bed early and slept soundly.

Kiawah Island was fun exploring by bike. Hungry, we headed back to Bohicket Marina and lunch. After 17 miles of biking, we were still moving at 15 mph pushed by a favorable wind and a desire to get lunch. In moments inattention my shoulder clipped a tree and I fell. Slipstreaming close behind, Ruth didn’t have a chance. She crashed into me, went over the handlebars and came down hard on the bike, the pavement, and me. As I struggled to get to my feet, my heart was broken more than my body. Ruth was already up with lots of blood coming from her mouth and face. Her face had hit the pavement and she had a badly cut lip on both the inside and outside. I hurt more from what had happened to her than from my own bumps and scrapes.

A crowd gathered. Napkins were offered to clean away blood and stop bleeding. Shock kept pain away as we sorted out damages. Road rash covered the upper left side of Ruth’s mouth. Her glasses were destroyed. The inside of her lip was badly cut from her teeth. We turned down an offer to have an ambulance called.

The fork on Ruth’s bike had bent in the crash. We couldn’t turn the wheel. A little pulling and twisting on the fender provided enough clearance to get steering so I could ride her bike. Mine was scratched, but had no serious damage. We slowly, painfully rode the last 3 miles back to Tranquility.

Once home, we started cleaning the road rash covering the left side of Ruth’s mouth and the cuts inside. The inside lip cuts were very deep. Seeing a doctor about stitches seemed like a good idea. The marina people drove us to the doctor. There he properly cleaned and dressed the cuts, decided against stitches and gave us a prescription for antibodies to help fight infection.

That afternoon, feeling lousy now that the pain had caught up with her, Ruth rested. I rigged lines between deck cleats, her bike and the genoa winch and straightened the fork on her bike. It had been quite a day.

In spite of the crash, we enjoyed Bohicket Marina. Condo’s lined the east shore. To the west, across the creek open marsh provided a nice view of the sunset. We enjoyed the quiet of the area and will return on a future trip.

The clip-clop of Dan’s hoofs added to the charm of the carriage tour. The horse seemed to know the way as our guide provided historic details about Charleston. Tom and Marilyn, our cruising companions from last year on Samum had joined us, and we were exploring historic Charleston. We had a grand time for 4 days poking around Charleston and the surrounding area. The weather was perfect, and it was a fun time. All too soon, Tom and Marilyn headed back home to Canada. The summer weather we had been enjoying since January seemed to follow them north. Hours after their leaving, the wind picked up and the temperature fell. We started north the next morning with marginal weather.

The universally despised ICW boat is the ‘sportfish.’ Having only two speeds: wide open or docked they don’t fit the slow pace of the ICW. Last Buck earned the despised sportfish award as they waked a number of boats who complained loudly on the VHF. Finally Last Buck came on the VHF, not to apologize, but to ask the Coast Guard about towing services. They missed a buoy at high speed and were hard aground. The VHF came alive with cheers as boats earlier waked, told them they got what they deserved. Last Buck remained aground for 6 hours until the rising tide freed them.

It was a dark and stormy night. The VHF crackled as late- running boats searched for berths in now- jammed marinas. NOAA upgraded the weather report from ‘gale warning’ to ‘storm warning’. Offshore seas were reported at 25 feet. We listened to reports of 50-mph winds in marinas mixed together with clipped discussions of dock masters and boat captains trying desperately to keep boats and docks from crunching together as they attempted to tie up in the windy, rainy, darkness.

Every fender we owned was crushed almost flat along our port side holding Tranquility off the T dock we were tied to. Wind screaming in from the northeast, heeled us over 10 degrees at the dock. A VHF call to Towboat US informed everyone listening that Main Ship had dragged anchor at Carolina Beach and gone aground. Their rescue made interesting listening as we tended to various leaks revealed by torrential rains.

Moon Shadow had anchored with Main Ship. Worried about dragging, they asked about dock space. We answered, directing them to open space behind us on the T dock. Decked out in foul weather gear we went out to assist them in getting in. My hand held-wind indicator picked up 35 knots blowing directly onto the dock. The wind caught Moon Shadow’s bow and blew her down into the fairway between the slips. They just managed to back out. The second try worked. We caught lines and quickly had them secured behind us.

As the days wore on, we found we were in the epicenter of a classic northeaster. Storm warnings remained up for 3 days. The Coast Guard launched a full search and rescue effort upon finding an overturned boat at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Lift bridges in the area locked down unable to open in the high winds. Our rain gage on the stern of Tranquility registered 10.75 inches of rain. Much of Carolina Beach where we were tied up shut down with flood warnings and standing water over the roads. As we were in no danger, we snuggled in and enjoyed 4 days of relaxing, reading and tending to leaks.

The uniqueness of the cruising contacts showed up again. We’d met Sea Mist last spring, saw their boat by chance last fall where they had stored it for the winter and now again met up with Jerry and Janet in Oriental. A few days later at Coinjock we got talking with Don and Mary on the trawler, ‘Out of the Woods’ (never did find out the story about the name). As we toured their spacious trawler, we learned they knew our friends on Patriot. Told them that we were threatening to sue Patriot for corrupting our simple sailboat life style and that having seen Out of the Woods, we might have to add them to the lawsuit. They bought us off by passing us off to Charlie and Joan on Let’s for a tour of their trawler. We ended up with an application to join the trawler association. Then as we pulled into Hampton, we spotted a boat we last seen in November in St. Augustine. It’s indeed a small friendly community spread over thousands of miles.

Having made two passages through the Dismal Swamp we decided to try the Virginia Cut branch of the ICW. We traded Elizabeth City’s wine and cheese party for the 32-ounce prime rib (for two) at Coinjock. Dinner was great and leftover prime rib made great sandwiches the next day.

Virginia Cut is the fastest route to Norfolk. It is the favored power boat passage. Consequently, the ratio of powerboats to sailboats was about 20:l. The route north seemed like a hassle as we continually slowed to let powerboats pass and then ran at maximum speed to catch the next scheduled bridge opening (hurrah for our new Autoprop). The power boaters were all very courteous, but it made for a tense day.

The change from rural wilderness to gritty industrial sprawl seemed to happen with a rounding of a bend in the river. Trees were replaced by ship building cranes. Old ships mixed with new and with ships undergoing repairs. For two people who had been away from any industrial scene for the last 6 moths, it was a shock. We threaded our way past Norfolk and pulled into the city dock at Hampton, VA. It felt good to be back.

It’s been 3 weeks since our bike crash. Ruth’s road rash scabs have disappeared and the inside cuts have almost healed. She no longer gets sympathetic comments asking what happened. I guess, for us, we are back to normal.

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