We had a beautiful morning to continue our journey south. I mention this, as we have had so much wind and rain, that to depart under sunny skies, with calm winds and 66 degrees was a huge treat! We were thrilled! Our destination was Topsail Island Marina, a 60 mile trip. The further south we get, the more visible and active the dolphins have become. We had our first experience with them riding our wake and jumping out of the water! Amazing! (see Nancy’s facebook page for more videos & details). I should probably upgrade my WordPress account to accommodate video, but for now, you can see the dark spots in the water.
We continued to see the lasting effects from Hurricane Florence, with docks washed away, roofs blown off, businesses closed, homes abandoned, and power trucks hard at work!
One of the areas that can be a challenge for boaters is passing Camp Lejuene, as they close the waterway when conducting drills. It’s well marked and the Waterway Guide gives detailed information. We were fortunate to sail through without having to stop and wait out a closure!
We left Beaufort, N.C. at 7:20 am and arrived at the marina in Topsail Island at 2:00 pm, so we had ample time to explore the area after fueling and pump out. We were greeted by the amazing Captain Dee, who is very knowledgeable, super friendly and helpful.
The marina is just north of Topsail, but does have a small market, a few cute shops and a couple of restaurants, recommended by Dee. There’s a fishing pier a short walk away, so we headed over. It’s an incredibly popular spot!
Topsail Island Fishing Pier
We took Dee’s suggestion and walked over to Shakas Tacos for dinner, and enjoyed a cheap and delicious meal on the deck. Months later, we learned from fellow Loopers that this is a favorite stop for many, and everyone knows about the tacos (and wings)!!
We left bright and early the next morning, at 6:45 under overcast skies. Gee, what a surprise. The bright spot was Dee, up early with her coffee, helping everyone release lines and provide guidance!
Despite the weather, it was a pretty run.
Our destination that morning was Southport Marina. We had heard nice things about the town, and the marina is known for their nightly waterway presentations helping boaters navigate the tricky waters between Southport and Savannah during the transient seasons. We arrived in Southport at 12:30, so we had time to wander around the charming town before the evening presentation at 6:00 pm.
The sight of Fort Johnston is along the water front, but only the officer’s quarters remain. There is a lovely promenade with swings where you can relax and watch the boat traffic.
The waterfront and Fort Johnston
The T.M. Thompson House on Bay Street was built around 1868 as the home for Captain Thomas Mann Thompson, one of the most successful of the 77 licensed pilots who guided blockade-running steamboats through the Cape Fear Shoals during the Civil War. This beautiful home is the only house in Southport with both a cupola and a widow’s walk.
T.M. Thompson house
The waterway presentation at the marina was amazing. The presenters are volunteers, all of whom work in the boating industry, are boaters themselves, and have a deep knowledge of weather, and the tricky waterways between Southport and Savannah. Hank Pomeranz spent an hour and a half walking a group of us through the hazards reported by boaters. Current information on tides, shoaling, missing markers and waterway hazards are shared with all of the charts and details. All of the information is provided through weather and boating apps, along with real time information reported by the boaters currently traveling the ICW. We all left with a copy of that presentation (about 40 pages worth!), and it was an invaluable tool for our travels. All that is asked of those who attend the presentation is to report back on your experience so that they can update their information for those behind you.
The next morning we had a fairly short run to North Myrtle Beach, S.C., just over 37 miles.
Talk about location! Yes, a trailer park right on the water!
We tucked into the North Myrtle Beach Yacht Club at 12:20 pm, and grabbed lunch at the marina restaurant. Other than a walk around the marina at dusk, we stayed on the boat for a lazy afternoon.
North Myrtle Beach Yacht Club
The next morning we departed North Myrtle Beach at 8:15, waiting for the fog to lift a bit before we left. We made a 70 mile run to Minum Creek to throw an anchor for the night. Despite reading about several alligator sightings in the area, we didn’t spot any. Maybe because it was so COLD??? We woke up in the morning welcomed by 37 degree weather! BRRRRR! The good news….CHARLESTON IS OUR NEXT STOP!!!
Charleston has been on our bucket list for a while. We enjoyed a brief overnight here on our way down to Trawlerfest in March, and have been looking forward to getting back. It was only a 55 mile run, so we had plenty of time to check in at Charleston City Marina and then bike into town. Coming into the harbor by boat was a real treat, but due to the largeand busy shipping channels, we needed to be careful. Fortunately, the water traffic was light, we just needed to watch the currents and the traffic flow in and out of the marina. (which was enough!).
This was our first visit to Charleston by boat. It was such a pretty approach and the marina staff was great about getting us in, and having plenty hands on deck to help us tie up in the wind. We were on their “megadock”, which is exactly what you would imagine. Huge. Long. Busy. Lots of boats tied up. Big ones. Staff on golf carts, zipping up and down the dock, taking customers to the dock office, laundry or even the courtesy van in the main parking lot into town. The facilities are great…new and clean, with a friendly staff.
We had no plans for today…it was Veteran’s Day, and we rightly assumed it would be busy in town, so we wanted to get there early. We unfolded the bikes and meandered through the beautiful neighborhoods towards central Charleston. Along the waterfront, we were rewarded with a beautiful flag display.
Veteran’s Day Flag display along the Charleston Waterfront
Charleston. There really are no words. Just bike, wander, experience it, as it’s just lovely. And the food….!
We first thought that would grab a quick and early bite to eat at The Rooftop, as we had heard good things about it. We were fortunate enough to get a table, but sat, looked at their somewhat limited/”bar foodish” menu and waited (and waited) for service, and decided to think about other options. Our suggestion…go for a drink and small plates, but have dinner elsewhere. So, we followed the recommendation of our friend Mike Perry, and our instincts, and went around the corner to Blossom.
Blossom is owned by the same folks that own and operate Magnolia, a few doors down, and where we were set to have dinner the next night. We didn’t care. Blossom is adorable, a bit more casual than Magnolia, with great ambiance, service and food! We left with lots of leftovers, which we were grateful for when the rain came the next afternoon!!
It was a dark, but pretty bike ride home!
The next morning, Nancy took the courtesy van (which was AWESOME) to Harris Teeter in town. It was wonderful to provision in such a great store. Just sayin’. I was, however, startled by these inflatable critters. They moved around a bit from the air circulation and traffic around them. A bit creepy. I have to admit that they scared me when I turned the corner and saw them wiggling on the floor!
No sooner did I get back to the boat with the groceries when the skies opened. It absolutely poured. And, we were on the “MEGADOCK”, which meant that getting anywhere (on land or even to the laundry room), was a distance. Our scheduled carriage tour of the city called us to cancel. We were stuck…it was REALLY raining. It made sense to also cancel Magnolia. So, we made the best of it. I had, after all, just returned from Harris Teeter, and we had leftovers from Blossom! Good food was on board! We cleaned and organized, and got ready to head south the next morning. We have vowed to return again in the spring for a “do over”!
Just down the dock from us, was the spectacular British sailing ship, Adix. She was just magnificent!
We wanted to get an early start the next morning, as we had a 65+ mile run to Beaufort (Beau-fort), as in “Beautiful”), but there was a good fog hanging around after all of the rain the day and night before. We sat tight until 8:00 am when the Wappoo Creek Bridge appeared through the fog! We were able to leave the dock at 8:30 am.
Immediately after passing under the Wappoo Creek Bridge, we heard shouting. A lot of it. Having just left the marina, Nancy was still busy on the deck storing the lines and fenders. When she looked up at the bridge, she saw that it was lined with emergency vehicles with lights flashing, and there were rescue workers shouting and signaling for us to turn around. There was something in the water. Unfortunately, someone had jumped off of the bridge. We were able to reach him within minutes. He was conscious, and willingly took hold of the life ring thrown to him. We were able to pull him around to the back of the boat, where Rob got a good hold on him from the swim platform, but his lower body mobility was limited and we couldn’t get him up on the platform. Fortunately, the Coast Guard arrived within 5 minutes. We can not say enough about the amazing crew that came to rescue this man. They were kind, calm and extraordinarily professional, both with the man in the water and with us. Our hearts were racing, but we’re happy that we were there, and to know that all of the reading and training stuck with us. We knew what to do and stayed calm.
Wapoo Creek Bridge, and our life ring with blood stains
The day remained overcast and drizzly, but we were visited several times that day with the dolphins playing in our wake. It was just what we needed after our morning! By the time we got to Beaufort, it was pouring. And, we couldn’t get a slip in the town marina. It seems we are trailing a sailing club heading south! So, we threw an anchor outside of the mooring field and stayed tucked in until we could slide over to the marina in the morning.
Approaching Beaufort, S.C., and BOOM, it started to pour just as we were setting the anchor! Of course.
We moved over to the city docks bright and early, and ventured into town. While it was still soggy, it wasn’t raining! We just loved Beaufort. The people are lovely, and so proud of their city! There is a wonderful self-guided walking tour we got at the Chamber that gives you a real flavor for the history and charm of the city. The chocolate store even gives you a free chocolate sand dollar if you complete the tour at their shop!
As you know, Nancy loves small town, independent bookstores. NeverMore Books in Beaufort is one of the most interesting and beautiful bookstores we’ve ever set foot in!
Huge oak trees with drooping boughs, Spanish moss and air ferns growing on their branches, stately homes with porches on every level, and gardens abound. We loved wandering the streets of Beaufort, and the shops in town.
Scenes around Beaufort, S.C.
We’re continuing on our way to Savannah for the weekend, to celebrate Nancy’s birthday and meet Braendon and Kathy/Papillon for lunch on Saturday. We loved Beaufort, and would make a stop here again! Today, the 15th, we took a short run of 20 miles to Bull Creek, where we threw an anchor for the night. Beautiful spot with plenty of water, but it got pretty cold overnight…37 degrees at 6 am! Looking forward to warmer climates as we continue south!
Enroute to, and Bull Creek, S.C.