Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rolling Down the Rivers

We have made great progress on our journey over the past few days - covering 90 miles on Monday and 80 miles yesterday(Tuesday). That might not sound like a lot, but on the ICW it is like working double overtime.

On Sunday night we stopped in Georgetown, SC -- a beautiful southern town with tree lined streets, graceful homes with porches, and a church on every corner (or so it seemed). Georgetown, founded in 1729, is South Carolina's third oldest city (after Charleston and Beaufort) but it is also the probable site of the first European settlement in North America in 1526. Unfortunately, Sunday is truly a day of rest in Georgetown and no shops or museums were open. We had hoped to visit the Rice Museum -- this was major rice growing area until the Civil War and several devastating hurricanes wiped out most of the industry. I look forward to returning to Georgetown to take a walking tour of the city, visit the Rice Museum, sample the Hog Maw at Aunny's Country Kitchen Restaurant, and enjoy the chocolate chip cookies (rumored to be the best on the ICW) at the Kudzu Bakery and Mercantile.

Christine and I had hoped to be able to stop in at the Kudzu Bakery at 9AM Monday morning but the Captain and the tide had other plans.So, we were off, following September Rose, another Selene from Annapolis, through the cypress swamps along the Waccama River. This was the most remote and beautiful stretch of the ICW I have encountered. For most of the day we had no cell or internet service. While doing my TRX in the cockpit, I spied several bald eagles in their nests - some tending to their young. Leaving the swamps we grasped the steering wheel and entered The Rock Pile. When the ICW was established a cut needed to be made at Pine Island, SC. Undeterred by the granite ledge they discovered, the Army Corps of Engineers simply detonated the rock, leaving the rocky debris along the shore. At first, the ICW was wide and deep, but over the years, shifting tides have moved the rocks closer and closer to the boat traffic. If you go through at low tide you can see some of these errant rock piles, but at high tide they are submerged requiring diligent attention to the depth sounder and remaining on the "Magenta Line" -- the color of the line on paper charts depicting the path of the ICW. One false move and you are heading in for repairs. After a long but scenic day, we settled into a slip in Southport , SC where we enjoyed dinner aboard and girls vs. boys round of Catch Phrase.
Just before bed we looked out the window to see a row of three tugs pulling a minimum of 5 connected barges carrying dredging equipment -- quite a sight in the dark,and a convoy we would not want to encounter during the day in the narrow and shallow passages of the ICW. A long, busy and varied day --and I still haven't told you about Tuesday!.
Here is what one of the barge dredging convoys looks like in daylight. We came to realize they stay put during the day to avoid pleasure craft, and travel the ICW at night when folks like us are safely at anchor or at a dock.

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