Friday, October 30, 2009

An ICW Alert

I almost forgot to post this warning to fellow boaters: We had a tense hour yesterday in the Dawho River, as we left the North Edisto River. It began at Red 110 and ended at Green 143. The narrow Watts Cut to the South Edisto river was the most intense as a barge pushed by a tug came into view at a bend at the narrowest part at the end of the cut. Yikes, which way will the tug turn? Do we have time to move starboard for a traditional pass. Unfortunately, it was also mean low tide. NOT the best time for this to occur. We certainly will wait for a rising tide on the way north—whenever that is.

We tried to stay at the edge of the channel, as the tug churned up LOTS of the bottom as it passed by VERY closely—closer than we’ve ever been to a barge! Then the depth sounder went from 3 feet under the keel to .2, then to ,1 foot. That’s just more than an inch! We like to set it to water under the keel instead of true depth, to save us the seconds it would take to add 4 feet 11 inches for the draft of MicMac. One theory we came up with was that the chunks of mud affected the depth sounder reading.

Then we heard lots of chatter on the VHF from boaters just entering the Dawho River. They were also finding VERY shallow water. The funds for dredging have been very inconsistent during the past few years, and it may get worse.

"I can see your anchor light!"

That's what Susan Stevens called to tell us on Wednesday night after we anchored in Toogoodoo Creek. Don't you love these Indian names?

We didn't know that Pete's Clemson fraternity brother, Bill Stevens, and his wife, Susan, lived on this beautiful creek. We could see a few homes further up the creek, but all that surrounded us was marsh, egrets, and dolphins. Then we saw their porch light too. Susan invited us to "come to supper," but Pete already had the chicken on the grill.

Pete then remembered that he was actually in this home in 1968--for a barefoot blacktie fraternity party. But he had no idea what body of water it backed up to at the time. Now ain't that a coinkydink and small world story?

We met up with Bill and Susan at the Edisto Marina dock last night, and then went out to dinner with them. Susan and Bill entertained us with lots of tugboat stories (Bill's family has run a tug business for 4 generations now) and of course fraternity stories. They invited us to visit on our way north. I really love this "Southern hospitality" that we've experienced so far.

We're leaving MicMac later day at the Edisto Marina as we stay at Laurel and Arthur's beach house from tomorrow on. Lots of shrimp boats and gulls keep passing by.

More krill nibbled on our hull here last tonight. It will be SO nice to sleep on land after 3 weeks. Plus my back "went out" a few days ago, so I need some R&R time. Some rum "Painkillers" might help too.

I'm writing my newspaper column for next Saturday. Pete just returned from a round of golf. He was paired up with a guy who graduated from Pete's high school--only 2 years earlier. South Carolina is providing lots of small world stories.

I'll be on sabbatical from blog postings for a few days. I'll be too busy being a Grandmom (Mimi).

A Nice Way to Spend a Rainy Day

On Tuesday, we rented a car and drove in the rain to Columbia, where we enjoyed a nice, relaxing lunch with Pete's parents. Mother's appetite is strong, even if it does take her a long time to finish a meal. She seemed very happy to hear that Julie and Rob would introduce her to Brody (now 7 months old) next week, after our long weekend with them in Edisto, SC. Dad's reading Frank McCourt's Teacher Man and entertained us with his LIMITED Irish background.
Then we drove back to Charleston in heavy rain to visit Jim and Susan Brinkley, who built a fabulous home off the Wando River a year ago. Pete and Jim were good friends in high school in Columbia, went to Clemson (where they roomed together for a while), and then dropped out of USC Law School (again together) after 6 weeks. No torts for them!

But they certainly reminisced a lot. Susan and I hadn't heard some of these tales! We hadn't seen the Brinkleys for 6 years--after a Clemson game. After lots of laughs and a great dinner at Shem Creek Grille in Mount Pleasant, they drove us back to Charleston City Marina. It's also called Megadocks--for a good reason. It's about a quarter mile hike from the entrance to our dock. Not a bad marina (although I can hear those blasted krill on our hull again), but a long way from downtown Charleston. They do have a courtesy van if you need transportation. There are MANY great restaurants in town. I wish more of them served krill.

I was at the wheel all the following day (down the Stono and Wadmalaw Rivers) since Pete was "enjoying" a 4-hour TRCC board meeting by speaker phone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Into the salt marshes

We enjoyed a short day (only 15 miles), heading to one of Sista Suggs' favorite little towns, Georgetown, SC. where we tied up at Hazzard Marina. We bought 2 pounds of shrimp right off the shrimp boats nearby. While I visited all the shops and looked at cool historic homes, Captain Pete walked 3 miles round trip (he said he wanted some exercise) to the Piggly Wiggly ( a southern grocery chain--really!) to buy some cocktail sauce.

We opted to eat out at GOG (Goat Island Grill) and save the shrimp for tomorrow.

After we left Georgetown, SC, we saw another new vista--lots of salt marshes and few homes. The best way to describe it is to say that it feels like you're sailing through Kansas wheat fields. But an occasional dolphin swims by. Now I know how "Low Country South Carolina" got that name.

Googads of power boats passed MicMac today. While dealing with the wakes of these power boats, I cooked the shrimp we bought yesterday (for a low country shrimp boil) on the way to a secluded anchorage in the marshes at Graham Creek. That's why we have gimballed cooktops on sailboats. It does a decent job especially with the screw-down-gizmos that hold the pots.

This anchorage was the best so far with no light pollution from ANYwhere. LOTS of stars really are out there. But we need our sailor buddy, George Jones, to identify them for us.

Today we motored across busy Charleston Harbor, where we got a slip at Charleston City Marina for two nights. Little time to be a tourist, but we did that (by car) a few years ago. We rented a car and will drive to Columbia tomorrow to see Pete's folks. Dad will be 91in December and Mother is 88.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"An ode to a paper mill"

Too long at sea? Perhaps you'll think so. With apologies to Joyce Kilmer’s “I think that I shall never see, A poem lovely as a tree,” I composed a few verses at about 2 a.m. last night in Georgetown, SC. Then the wind finally shifted again! ZZZZZZZZ

I think that I shall never sniff,
On land or sea, a stronger whiff,
As paper mills make grocery bags,
A shifting wind can make me gag,

But menhaden plants win the prize,
For bringing tears to my eyes.
Then of course there is the head,
For raising sailors from the dead.

“The smell of money” they always say,
As if that sends the smell away.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only man can make sailors flee.

Paper doesn’t stink. Trees don’t make me gag. Cut pine has a wonderful holiday smell. Even sawdust has an agreeable odor. So why do paper mills, especially those making Kraft paper, usually emit such unpleasant aromas? It’s the chemicals they treat the wood pulp with that produces that awful sulfur gas smell.

The EPA finds these odors are a "nuisance" but not a health concern at “normal levels.” But when you’re anchored out near either a paper mill or a menhaden plant, and the wind shifts, it can make for a restless sleep—and an early departure before breakfast.

Now I discover that SC has more than 40 paper mills! I remember well the scent in Hilton Head on many of our visits there with the "kids" and my parents--when the wind was blowing from the "wrong direction."