Just a Squall? No, not at All!), especially considering that he had had surgery to repair torn thumb ligaments from a work-related accident the previous week and was wearing a cast on his right hand. He had enough trouble holding a fork; I couldn't imagine him trying to work the boat's many lines.
It should have been a simple trip, just a hundred miles down the coast from Charleston, South Carolina, but things started to go wrong before we even started. The plan called for my parents to pick us up at the Savannah airport on Friday evening and drive us up to the City Marina in Charleston, but Mike and I were on separate flights and his arrived more than an hour and a half late, too late to make the drive up to Charleston. We spent the night at Mom and Dad's house in Savannah instead and left early the next morning.
As we turned southwest at the second or third buoy after passing Fort Sumter, I looked at my watch and tried to figure out how long it would take us to reach Hilton Head Island, our planned stop for the night. At an average speed of five knots (according to my handheld GPS), for a distance of about sixty miles, we would arrive shortly after midnight. So much for that idea. We would be sailing overnight instead, as we had done sailing from Morehead City to Charleston, after negotiating Chesapeake Bay and the ICW from Solomons, Maryland the month before.
We hadn't planned on cooking dinner, but Mike is resourceful. He cut up and fried a sausage we had in the cooler and served it on Saltines. Washed down with a beer, it wasn't too bad, just a little salty. We watched the sun set as we finished our beers and then prepared for the long night ahead. We flipped on the running lights, put on warm jackets and checked our position using my laptop's charting software. We agreed on two-hour watches, and I took the first one while Mike napped below.
There is a line of lighted buoys about five miles off the coast, and we spent the night following them while dodging the many shrimp boats. The boat continued to pound into the waves, which worked loose the electrical connection to the bow's portside running light. I hoped the tri-color on the top of the mast would be sufficient for us to be seen by the shrimpers, who were lit up like daylight as they worked the shallow waters off the coast.
When I sighted the first lighted buoy inside the sound, I ran down to check the laptop for a position, but it would not come up. I had not planned on running it all night and the battery had run down. I checked the handheld GPS instead, but the detail was woeful. At least it gave us an idea of where we were, along with our latitude and longitude, which we could check against the paper chart, which unfortunately cut off at the edge of where we hoped to pick up Delegal Creek. The northern track through the sound looked like a narrow slot through treacherous shoals, so I opted for the southern track, south of Raccoon Island, which joined up with a dredged channel that is part of the ICW.
Almost an hour later, across an expanse of marsh, we spotted the observation tower that marks the Delegal Creek Marina. Mike and I looked at each other with expressions that said, "How could we have missed it?" We both figured we were so busy trying to get off the shoal that we didn't look in the right direction when we should have. We rounded past the signs that mark the marina's entrance and warn of a buried electrical cable, motored up the creek and found an empty slip at the marina. I called my parents to let them know we had arrived safely and to arrange a ride, and Mike and I took our time securing Whispering Jesse in her new home.
This blog is an account of the pursuit of a dream, to sail around the world. It is named after the sailboat that will fulfill that dream one day, Whispering Jesse. If you share the dream, please join me and we'll take the journey together.
For Charlie and Scout
For Charlie and Scout
Raising Charlie: The Lessons of a Perfect Dog by John Lichty
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