100 Vero Beach, Fl to Baltimore, MD

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Smooth waters, bright sunshine, light winds and a silent VHF radio accompanied us on our eighth passage along the ICW. Scattered pockets of local boaters out fishing for the day waved back as we slowly passed before resuming cruising speed. Occasionally we’d see other boats traveling the ICW, but for the most part we had the waterway to ourselves and loved it.

The long transient T head at Jekyll Island drew us in after two days travel in hot, humid weather. In the spring and fall it’s jammed with 20-30 cruising boats. Now only two boats were tied along side. We left the waterway to weekend boaters while we explored the changes summer had brought to one of our favorite places on the ICW. Empty beaches during our spring and fall visits now sported a light covering of sun block-coated sunbathers. It was nice to see changes being made in the historic district to limit vehicles in front of the old cottages now being restored. The historic millionaires’ club bustled with activity and parked cars overflowing into secondary lots. However, we had the pine needle covered trail leading past the tiny pond complete with the alligator to ourselves.

Tucked a block off Main Street in Beaufort, SC is Emily’s, an elegant restaurant which we try never to miss. We enjoyed the early evening sunlight splashing off the dark, wood paneled walls with a bottle of wine and a sampling of their unique tapas appetizers. Earlier town had been crowded with tourists, horse drawn carriage tours and cars backed up each time the Ladies Island Bridge opened. Now things were quieter as we explored the streets and waterfront park looking for more “Pigs on Vacation” the latest pop culture fad. We’ve now seen decorated cows, moose, horses, and pigs scattered around towns we have visited over the past couple of years.

Rising wind and choppy water made for a wet dinghy ride back to Odyssey and influenced our decision to relocate into the lee of Ladies Island. Our anchor winch didn’t cooperate. The stripper plate broke and the winch stopped working. Wind blew at an angle to the strong current as Ruth manipulated our dual throttles and found a way to relieve strain on the anchor line as I worked to bring the anchor up manually. Ten exhausting minutes later we had the anchor aboard. Relocating to the quiet waters of Factory Creek we anchored again. High above, wind in the treetops brought in cooler air. Odyssey swung quietly on the anchor and for the first time in months we slept without the AC running.

Free spare parts from Maxwell Winch waited at the Wacca Wache Marina on the Waccamaw River. We rented a car to go on a quest to find a vice needed to press fit the winch drum back together. Across from the Enterprise office an auto parts store let us use their shop vice. So much for our vice quest. Back at the marina, a few minutes work had the winch operational again.

Beautiful varied gardens, maintained to perfection provide exquisite settings for the sculptures they frame. We spent a lazy morning exploring and enjoying the grounds of Brookgreen Gardens. Winding paths, huge live oaks, splashing streams and smooth reflecting pools provided a great way to see the lovely sculpture collection. The huge, still private, estate is open to the public and provides a unique, quiet, artistic contrast to the commercial Myrtle Beach area jammed with tourist attractions.
Brookgreen Garden sculptures

Driving east until we ran out of road we turned north and followed the coast exploring the subdivisions, towns and resorts lining the shore. A beach access sign and free parking space enticed us to stop and check out the beach. Planes sluggishly worked their way along just off shore trailing long advertising banners. Below them, parasails trailing behind powerboats hoisted thrill seekers into the sky. Cresting the slight dune, a colorful dense mass of umbrellas, beach towels and sun-baked people came into view. The people-packed beach continued unbroken as far as we could see. It looked like the entire east coast had migrated to the beach.

We lingered a third day at Wacca Wache reading in the cockpit and leaving a beautiful Saturday to weekend boaters. A very active boat launch directly in our view made for great people watching and entertainment as people launched and retrieved their boats. One hapless jet skier pulled out forgetting to attach his jet ski to the trailer. It slid nicely off the trailer crashing to the concrete ramp.

Itchy to move, we took off early Sunday morning. A few miles later we anchored just off Bucksport in a creek sheltered from the traffic on the ICW. A short dinghy ride brought us to a restaurant. Only the deck was open. Our BBQ chicken was outstanding and we ordered extra to take with us. We got to talking with Jerry, the owner, and he filled us in on his expansion plans and the unique characters in the area.

Tow Boat US hailed us as we passed Southport. He was interested in Odyssey, and we provided performance information. We mentioned we were headed to Wrightsville Beach to anchor there for a first time. He provided details on where to anchor, where the dinghy dock was located, and where to find a grocery store. In addition to his great directions we found a great dinner out. We’ll revisit Wrightsville Beach again.

The free town dock was empty and the anchorage at Oriental had only one other boat when we arrived. We rejected both because of wind strength and direction and slipped under the bridge to anchor away from town in quiet water. A jet skier stopped, expressing interest in trawlercats. We gave him a tour of Odyssey. Then as we climbed out at the town dinghy dock another man stopped us asking if we were off the trawlercat. He’d spotted Odyssey as we came in and had been waiting to talk with us. We answered his questions and learned about the sailing cat he’s building.

We couldn’t help but turn and look when the man at the bar, the only other patron in the restaurant said, “Look you can see the mullet jumping.” On Pamilco Sound, a quarter mile away all we could see were white caps. We had already guessed he was a fisherman since he was wearing mid calf sea boots and sported a very weathered face. He was a gill-netter who worked out of Oriental in the summer and Key West in the winter. He’s tried giving it up, but couldn’t stand working ashore or for someone else or regular hours. His love life fell apart because of his migrations, but he was happy and loved his work. We talked for a bit enjoying his stories. His knowledge of fish and their habits was impressive. Later that evening we saw him heading out by himself in a small boat to spend the night gillnetting for mullet.

Two weeks after leaving Vero Beach we passed the start of the ICW at Portsmouth, VA. Florida’s hot weather caught back up with us, and we pulled into a marina to relax a bit and explore Portsmouth and Norfolk. The marina’s courtesy car had no AC. It was a hot ride into town to explore and find a nice place for lunch. The next day we declined using the courtesy car and instead took dinghy across to Norfolk.

I continued to shake my head no as a telltale wake and my ability to still hold slack in the cleated anchor line indicated the anchor hadn’t set. Ruth said later that she didn’t need my signal since we were doing 1 mph in reverse. We left the tiny cove, tried another then finally anchored with good holding off Dobbins Island on the Magothy River. The predicted front passed through that night. Early the next morning we found yet another secluded cove with a silty, poor holding bottom. However, with calm winds in the forecast we anchored close to a wilderness shore and enjoyed a` quiet day and night at anchor. Sunrise and the early morning light playing over the mirror smooth cove and into the dense trees along the rugged shore provided a perfect backdrop for our pancake and maple syrup breakfast. We lingered enjoying a lazy morning. Finally it was time to up anchor and head for Baltimore.

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