104 Coinjock, NC to Bucksport, SC

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We started walking to the marina restaurant on the other side of the ICW for lunch. Heading out to the main road confirmed there is not much to do in Coinjock except watch boats pass. Modest homes mixed with mobile homes from various past decades formed a small residential district. An uninteresting mix of gas station/convenience store, gas station/smoke shop (just cigarettes for sale by the cashier) and a speed shop lined the main highway. We found the bridge over the ICW with 4 lanes of heavy traffic and not much of a side shoulder, pedestrian unfriendly. We went back to Odyssey and dinghied across to the restaurant and a nice lunch. .

Tomcat with Tom and Dianne aboard had pulled in behind us while we were at lunch. We’d last seen each other in Baltimore. Aboard Tomcat we swapped stories about our mutual adventures. Dianne is a weaver and has a small loom aboard. Tomcat’s cabin looks wonderful with her woven rugs and pillow covers adding color and warmth to their cabin.

Traveler, a Kady Korgen pulled up anchor and fell in behind us just before we entered Albemarle Sound. Ahead a number of sailboats formed a line pointing the way across the sound toward the Alligator River ICW route. We turned east leaving the line. Traveler called on the VHF and inquired about our destination. We swapped notes explaining we were heading for Manteo on the Outer Banks island of Roanoke Island. They filled us in on their plans to winter in New Bern.

Biking around the Roanoke Island provided much needed exercise after our lazy days in Coinjock. We found a few roses still blooming at the Elizabethan Garden in November along with other flowers we normally associated with midsummer. The site of the first English colony is also located there. A bonsai plant managed to follow us home from our visit to a small eclectic shop we found while biking. Judging from all the construction in process the place is extremely popular. Bumper stickers reading “Save Our Island From Urban Sprawl” indicate not everyone is happy with the popularity. Plans to go to Hatteras were dashed when Ruth called to reserve a slip and learned tuna were offshore and sport fishermen filled all the marinas.

For years we’d heard stories about Oregon Inlet located just above Cape Hatteras. Those stories were always associated with disasters occurring when a boat would attempt the inlet in storm conditions. Now as we headed south on a benign day the inlet stood off to our port, and we were intrigued with the buoy placement marking the ever-changing channel. As we headed into Pamlico Sound, the low-lying outer banks quickly disappeared from view, and we felt more like we were offshore. A few shrimpers out from Oriental kept us company as we worked our way across the sound to an anchorage north of town in Broad Creek.

The telltale earring indicated Ross might have circumnavigated. Shortly after we had lugged our anchor line and chain to his store he came to the Oriental Town Dock. Aboard his hand truck was our line and chain complete with a beautiful new rope to chain splice. We had discussed what I’d learned from Maxwell earlier about the splice causing the pressure arm to break as I again ordered spares. He was familiar with the problem and had done a number of other splices for people using a Maxwell anchor winch. “Just come back sometime before you leave to pay,” he said as he headed back to the marine store. I went to work flaking the line and chain along the dock to add new length markers. Soon I’d enlisted the help of two men who had shown up with a barrage of questions about Odyssey. Working on the bow to reconnect the chain to the anchor, I became aware of town traffic. Cars would slow to check out boats at the town dock and marina next door. Many pulled over and parked. The owner would get out, walk the dock, many times asking questions and then return to their car with their curiosity satisfied.

We purchased a new ChartKit to replace our now well-used and badly worn copy. The new version has charts for New Bern and other areas we may explore that were not included in our old copy. The new kit provided hours of entertainment and pleasant memories as we moved notes from old to new charts and studied the design improvements MapTech had made.

After discussing bridge clearance with New Bern bridge tender we asked him to stand by. Standing on the bow I confirmed we would just clear. Our VHF antenna dinged the bridge bottom as Ruth guided us slowly under the bridge. Our early morning trip up the Neuse River had been pleasant. We were curious about New Bern and on our way to visit friends who liked the town so much that they were wintering over.

Dave off Rolling Stone met us shortly after we arrived. He’d heard our VHF traffic with the bridge tender. Just as he and Pricilla had done in Baltimore months earlier, Dave gave us a great walking tour of New Bern. Later we found Anita and Frank on Snow Goose. They are staying in New Bern for an extended period while they replenish their cruising funds. Taking advantage of Dave’s offer, I used his phone line to update our web site. He showed me some of the genealogy research he’s doing. It seemed like he was becoming personally acquainted with ancestors from the 1850’s as he reviewed copies of the handwritten censes documents of the time. Anita and Frank provided transportation to Harris Teeter. Our minor grocery trip turned into a major restocking effort as we took advantage of the variety offered by the store. Our planned two day visit stretched to three as we enjoyed friends and the town. With light just beginning to show in the east we used the dock master’s assurance of depth and passed under the roadway next to the swing bridge to take advantage of a few feet of extra air clearance.

Our timing was right for a stop in Morehead City. We’d seen the Sanitary Restaurant sign years earlier and couldn’t believe the name for a restaurant. Their $10 dock was available and we tied up. Designed for peak season activity it feeds hundreds simultaneously. Clean, with good reasonably priced food, it also works on rapid turnover. We were in and out in record time.

The strange small boat we slowed to pass was a punt covered in brush. A camouflaged hunter was pushing it back to his duck decoy set. Here we were just north of Myrtle Beach on the ICW with a duck hunter for company.

Sweet potato pie was all we find at first at Food Lion. We’d stopped at Myrtle Beach for our last item for Thanksgiving dinner. After much searching we found our pumpkin pie and were ready for Thanksgiving. Off we went heading for the Waccamaw River.

Four years earlier and 330 miles further south we celebrated our first Thanksgiving living aboard while anchored off Cumberland Island, GA. This year we were tucked up a small creek near Bucksport, SC just off the Waccamaw River. From our quiet vantage point among the cypress trees we could see boats moving on the ICW but were protected from their wakes. Roasting turkey aromas worked their way through the cabin and attempted to escape up the companionway into the cockpit. Inhaling deeply we did our best to keep them from escaping. Just off our stern a small mound of dirt became a gathering place for local turtles as it emerged at half tide. We enjoyed our turkey while being entertained by the silent turtle sextet jockeying for the best sunning position on their temporary now shrinking island as the tide began to rise.

Well before dawn we half heard the putt-putt of the sailboat leaving the anchorage. They had come in at dusk the night before. A bit later as we got up we were surprised to see them apparently anchored between the creek mouth and a small island. A peek through the binoculars revealed the true story. In the dimness of first light I could just make out someone attempting to pole the boat. They were hard aground on a falling tide. Captain Marvel was needed for another boat save. Trusty dinghy, however, wasn’t quite ready for action. The cold morning had it sagging in the middle so the first order of business was to add air to the dinghy.

A seaman’s cap, a few wisps of blond hair and tired looking eyes appeared just above the deck as I approached what was turning out to be a very old, very tired wood sailboat. She was the crewmember sitting on the cockpit sole manning the bilge pump. She smiled then went back to pumping which continued for most of the time it took to get them off. Forward, the man was still pushing hard on the spinnaker pole attempting to move the boat. Six inches of bottom showed at the bow; this was going to be a tough save. Pushing on the bow with the dinghy spun them around. Then attaching a line to their stern and letting the dingy come along side we added the dinghy’s thrust to the efforts of the small outboard being used to power the sailboat. Four tries later a bow wake appeared as they began to move. A pull on the highwayman’s hitch freed the dinghy’s line from their cleat. Accepting their thanks, I wished them well and asked them to someday return the favor to another boater. Off they went heading north. We settled in to wait for the turtles to again gather and maneuver for the best sunning position as their island began to appear.

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