Thursday, November 16, 2006

Carolina Coast, Georgia and Fernandina Beach, Florida 11/16

During the past week we have been motoring (occasionally sailing) through remote areas of South Carolina and Georgia. We have passed very few towns and when we do anchor near a community the nearest grocery store is usually three miles away (not walking distance for me at the end of a long day).
We continue to see many eagles, pelicans and countless cormorants, but we’ve added o our list: Wood Stork, Louisiana Heron, Anhinga, and White Ibis. Along one creek bank at low tide we watched a flock of 12-15 White Ibis feeding furiously in the mud.

We’re always moving by dawn and so are most of the south-bound boaters. We see many of the same boats each place we anchor; sometimes we travel near them for hours. The sailboats tend to proceed at about the same speed (5 1/2- 7 knots), so we often seem to be part of a flotilla winding south through the rivers, creeks, and sounds of the South. The early start means we’re also ready for bed early. After dinner and some family games (including a two-day game of golf), I usually read aloud; Louis L’Amour and C. S. Forester are favorites. Sam and Annie seem to enjoy this, but Mary Ann usually falls asleep before I’ve finished the first page. That may be around 8:00 PM.

Just before arriving at the anchorage near Georgetown, SC, we were boarded by a Coast Guard patrol. They were nice young men carrying large semi-automatic pistols. One of them, Eugene was from Toledo! They found no drugs, explosive devices, or illegal weapons on board, and we passed the safety inspection.
The next evening, while anchored in a marshy estuary named Outlet Creek,we discovered our first alligator of the trip. Annie identified it first (although she may have called it a crocodile), and Sam and I got so close that it leapt off the mud bank in our direction splashing Sam and his camera. In fairness to the alligator, we were so close that he had to move toward us to get off the bank.
We had been looking forward to visiting Charleston, SC, and the city did not disappoint us. We took a walking tour of the city on a clear, warm day. Highlights included St. Mary’s Church (the mother church of the Carolinas), the Exchange/Dungeon (where famous pirates and three signers of the Declaration of Independence were, at various times, kept prisoner), and a delectable (and 100% kosher) lunch at the Pita King (be sure to order the chummous).
Then on to another great town, Beaufort (Be-you-fert), South Carolina. These Carolinians have the best possible taste in housing and extremely high home prices. Even ugly houses are pricey. We saw an add for a double-wide trailer far from the water for just under $200,000. We attended last Sunday mass just outside Beaufort at St. Peters which even though a new church was beautiful and was home for a large and apparently vibrant spiritual community.

Last night (11/15), we tied up in the marina in Fernandina Beach, Florida (yes, Florida) after a tough day of motoring into a stiff breeze across the St. Simon’s Sound, the Jekyll Sound, and the Cumberland River. Toward the end of the day the engine was overheating and our charts were at odds with reality. Charts are very comforting when they correspond with the land and water around the boat, but discomforting when they influence the boater to direct the boat toward shallow water and run aground in a 20-knot breeze and choppy seas. (As Eric is reading this, he is thinking, “You should know by now that “the map is not the territory.”) At any rate, Sam helped me sort it out, and we docked in Florida before 5:00 PM. Fernandina Beach has tasteful architecture, a charming business district, a foul-smelling paper mill, and the nearest grocery store is three miles away.