Ocracoke to Charleston
The next morning the wind was still blowing over 20 knots out of the southeast. Our course......southeast of course. Not wanting to repeat yesterday's beating, I decided to motor across the shallows southeast of Ocracoke and eventually take advantage of the shelter of the peninsula. When we got to the northern tip we would be faced with the long, unprotected beat up the Neuse River to Oriental. Looking at every available option, I noticed a small canal in a marshy area, way off the beaten path, with a reported depth of 4 feet back in 1983. It would add a few miles to the trip but it could save us from another day of being beat to death. Not knowing whether it was still navigable or not, I decided to take a chance and it payed off. When we came out the other side we hugged the south shore until we were across from Whittaker Creek and made a run for it. Wind was up to 30 knots by then. There was no room at the dock, but we got the last mooring. This meant we had to inflate the dinghy. While rowing the dinghy to the dock I spotted a snake swimming through the anchorage and took off after it singing the Crocodile Hunter theme song. As we rowed up along side, it seemed to get a little nervous. Had it gotten into the boat, I would have immediately turned the helm over to him (or her) and promptly left the scene.
From Oriental to Beaufort is about a half day run. The wind was still blowing hard out of the south and we would be in the waterway for several more days. Never the less, we stopped in Beaufort for supplies anyway. We might be in the waterway, but we still anchor out instead of staying in marinas. The grocery store is not within walking distance, but the marina has a loaner car for short hops around town. The most expensive dinner of the trip was in Ocracoke. (we wanted to treat ourselves after the beating we took that day) The cheapest was in Beaufort. The dinner in Beaufort was better. I think the chef in Ocracoke was doing a little experimenting. The wasabe based sauce overpowered everything else to the point where it was the only thing you could taste. I might as well have ordered a plate of wasabe.
Traveling down the waterway between Beaufort and Charleston is pretty much like driving a big wet RV down the freeway. The speeds are slower so you have more time to gawk at the occasional oddball structure. Everytime we pass by we stare at this strange house, on its own island, with its own light house and water slide painted in stunning pink with blue trim. It sticks out like a sore thumb. It's refreshing to see something this tacky outside of Florida.
A little farther down the line the waterway winds its way through Camp LeJuene. I noticed a strange looking craft approaching flying the Dutch flag. It was either the Dutch Army or a group of car dealers on some kind of military re-enactment. (Car dealers like to fly dozens of the red-over-white-over-blue flags to attract attention. This happens to be the flag of the Netherlands, although I doubt any of them know it.)
One day we even got to SAIL....
On the way down Winyah Bay we sailed (that's right, sailed) past this steel hulled schooner. Everybody was looking and pointing in our direction. What were they looking at? We weren't dragging bumpers or lines, the boat was clean and neat, I hadn't forgotten to put on my shorts...... Then I looked over the side. Right alongside the boat was a pretty good sized South Carolina gator.
After motoring all day, the silence that follows dropping the anchor is almost shocking. The faint sounds you do hear are pleasant to the ears. It's as if you had somehow slipped into another world. Time to sit back and watch the sunset unfold. This one at Wrightsville beach just kept getting better and better until the whole sky was on fire.
The second night out of Beaufort we stayed at a free dock
in Myrtle Beach. The third night we anchored in the tidal flats just before you get
to Isle of Palms, motoring on into Charleston the next morning to meet up with a
friend and fill up on South Carolina shrimp and grits.