119 Tuckahoe Point, NC to Jekyll Island, GA

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Ruth came back from Belhaven with a whole new interest in hardware once she discovered the store carried wine, caviar and other goodies in addition to mundane hammers and nails. Being isolated from Belhaven by a 6-mile bike or courtesy car ride was perfect as far as we were concerned. We were out in the country, in a beautiful marsh area that had much of the feel of being anchored out but with the convenience of being at dock.

One e-mail brought profound sadness as it conveyed it’s sorrowful message about one of our Prince Edward Island newfound friends. Rodney had died of a heart attack. Memories of the good time we’d had with him rushed , and we felt all the sadder knowing they were good times not to be repeated.

A new marina at Oriental looked ideal for having cruising friends arriving by car meet us. We wandered town to find a spot where cell phone reception improved enough to allow us to call and confirm time and place. Hours later we went searching for cell phone coverage again to change time and place due to a revised weather forecast. An old boater adage says that on the water one can pick place, or one can pick time, but it’s high risk to pick both place and time. We’ve told people that for years. This year we disregarded our own advise and put together an intricate web of meetings with tight timing. We are two people who prefer letting random events determine timing and meetings. Now we felt like we needed a social secretary to keep track of all our fun reunions.

John drove over from Chapel Hill. Dave off Rolling Stone drove over from his wintering spot in New Bern. They joined us at Morehead City. We’d planned on poking around town, and maybe a light dinner out, but the conversation was so much fun that we just sat and talked for hours. Reluctantly Dave finally headed back to Rolling Stone. John, as planned, spent the night. We were eager to move in the morning to get ahead of anticipated bad weather, and John helped us slip lines before he headed home to catch up with Nancy who we were sorry to have missed.

NOAA’s artificial voice warned of 70 mph winds, killer thunderstorms and tornados as we took on fuel at New River. Our radar confirmed an ugly line of storms about 10 miles away moving parallel to the ICW and drifting closer. We elected to stop for the day and tie up in the marina next door. Wind rose a bit and we had lots of rain. The storms; however, stayed to our west.

Just as we reached the end of Snows Cut heading for Cape Fear River, the line of navigation marks ahead disappeared visually and from radar as a heavy downpour overwhelmed eyes and electronics. We slowed and turned to stay in the Cut and spent the next half hour running a holding pattern up and down the Cut waiting for the squall to pass. Then favorable wind and current allowed a fast passage down the river and an early arrival at Southport, NC. Town seemed to have gone upscale since our last visit five years earlier on our first passage south on the ICW.

Between spring and fall Bucksport had changed. The tiny rundown marina has expanded with an extensive set of docks restricting the channel we use. We continued upstream watching behind us for all visible traces of civilization to disappear while at the same time keeping an eye on the depth sounder looking for an elusive shallow spot in the narrow but deep creek. Finally depths changed from 20 to 12 feet, and we set the anchor with nothing but almostbare Cyprus trees and a few turtles watching warily from a nearby log for company. The sun drained the warmth from the cockpit and color from the Cyprus as it set. We retired below to read. The cabin stayed warm and snug by using the genset and AC running in heat mode to provide heat. Finally all systems were shut down letting quiet return. We snuggled comfortably under our goose down comforter while inside temperatures dropped to the mid 50’s matching the water temperatures outside. Morning found frost on Odyssey’s decks.

Ralph and Steph on Sea Jay worked their way up and rafted along side. We settled into again enjoy each other’s company and doing what sometimes seems to be boaters’ favorite pastime—besides happy hour. Ralph and I went to work sorting out an electrical problem. Finally turned out to be a bad alternator. The next morning we parted company with Ralph and Steph now committed to be part of our intricate time and place timing. They’d agreed to join us with Dean and Linda off Seagull at Jekyll Island for Thanksgiving.

A failed injector pump erased our time and place plans in an instant. We back tracked 40 miles to Myrtle Beach and Hague Marina, a working yard for repairs. Ruth, substituting for our social secretary made calls canceling Thanksgiving plans at Jekyll, a trip to Orlando, a doctor’s appointment and many marina reservations. It was two weeks, much frustration and many boat units (boat units are measured in $1,000 increments) before we were back to normal and on the move again.

Sam overwhelmed Odyssey’s engine compartment. He’s a large soft spoken man who found it difficult to fit big hands into engine access spaces that are just adequate for normal sized people. It was his job to remove and later replace our injector pump. Dropped tools clanging against the hull, frequent grunts and occasional “Oooh, doggie’s” floated up to our ears as he worked.

We salvaged one of our time and place appointments by using a rental car to drive to Hilton Head and spend a couple of nights with Tom and Marilyn. We’d planned to stop as we passed by boat; instead we drove. Always boaters, we all went looking at marinas and even a potential trawler for Tom and Marilyn. It was quickly rejected by all—too much work to bring up to a decent condition.

Taking advantage of the rental car we went shopping for carpet to replace the carpet we’d just added to Odyssey. The fuzzy dark green carpet added in DC looked nice but showed every piece of dirt and lint and needed vacuuming daily or sometimes twice a day. The new carpeting isn’t fuzzy and being almost a dirt color doesn’t show the dirt. The pieces we added to the window shelf cut the reflection on the windshield and reduce glare.

The Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving we thought we were free and started south again. Fuel leaks found underway brought us back to another marina at Wacca Wache to wait for Sam to return to work on Monday and drive down and fix the leak. Instead of a big Thanksgiving party with friends, we had Thanksgiving for just us aboard Odyssey—peaceful and pleasant.

At speed this duck blind hits 40 mph

At speed this duck blind hits 40 mph

We’d never seen a 40 mph duck blind until one went screaming by us on the Waccamaw River. The bass boat had an elaborate covering of grass and reeds. They become indistinct against shore, but looked really strange when running out on the river at speed.

Finally everything was back to normal and we were moving again until we decided to stop and ride out two days of cold and rain Beaufort, SC. Rain lingered and we stretched our stay to three days. With the cold and rain we’d treated ourselves to being at a dock instead of our normal anchor out at Beaufort so we didn’t mind the delay.

As rain poured down we regrouped and changed our winter plans. The plan to leave Odyssey in either St Petersburg or Tarpon Springs while heading north was scrapped. We evaluated alternatives and decided to go only as far south as Jekyll Island before driving back north for the holidays. It saves a day’s driving time each way so there was a plus side to our changes.

Weeks late we arrived at Jekyll Island and signed up for a month and kicked back to enjoy the quiet elegance of the island. Off we went with Linda and Dean off Seagull exploring the island, walking the beach and riding the tour train one evening to see the beautifully lighted historic district and hear the tour narration about the history of the Millionaire’s Club.

Joe, soon to take delivery of , Sunlover, a Trawlercat 44, made an unexpected appearance. It was fun to hear his plans for day chartering SunLover out of Frenandina Beach for island tours.

We’d hoped to catch John and Barb on Eriskay as they again headed down the ICW. That had fallen through because of our repairs. Now we took advantage of another opportunity as they drove north. They arrived by car, a bit soggy, in all the rain and settled in for a wonderful reunion. Kelly, their golden lab, snuggled in looking like she’d always lived aboard Odyssey.

We’d moved from the face dock to an inside slip since we were staying so long. Curious to see the few boats still coming down the ICW we turned on the radar and set a guard zone. As boats came into view the radar would alert us, and we’d check to see who was passing.

We left the VHF as background noise, but giving us an occasional alert as boats came to the marina. Half listening we heard “Rolling Stone” on the radio and listened more intently. We know a Rolling Stone, but we thought Dave was wintering aboard at New Bern. There was no doubt it was Dave when he made his second transmission confirming dockage at Jekyll. We helped catch lines and he was as surprised to see us, as we’d been to hear him on the radio. He’d lined up a crew to help bring Rolling Stone south. Dave and John, his crew came aboard, and we had a fun time getting acquainted with John and swapping stories.

Hazy sunlight peaked out around passing clouds and played tag with the shadows as we enjoyed a lazy, elegant breakfast at the Millionaires’ Club. The gracious ambiance of the dining room enveloped us, and we lingered over breakfast. Christmas music played in the old worker homes now converted to eclectic shops and helped put us in a holiday mood. Finally we rode our bikes lazily back to the marina.

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