Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back on the Water Again, or Once Is Not Enough

Almost one year ago (April 10, 2015, to be exact), we officially crossed our wake at Atlantic ICW Marker R98 when we turned west into the Ogeechee River toward Fort McAllister Marina. Back to Dahlonega, back to deep immersion in all things FairTax, especially working toward getting a FairTax bill for Georgia scored, written, sponsored by a fully qualified state Representative, working on the Georgians for Fair Taxation newsletter - both Mike and Marian had plenty to do.  You can read more about it at  For our Georgia friends, be sure to let your state Representative and state Senator know that you expect them to vote for the bill in the 2017 legislative session. HB1141 was introduced on March 11, too late in the session for the necessary committee hearings, but not too soon to start building support for next year.  (It will have a different number in 2017.)

We had put the boat up for sale late in our first Loop, with no real interest and not much effort that we could see on the broker's part, so we took the advice of Dolphin Project friends and switched to another broker, with no better results. The second broker can't post the information on Yacht World, the primary site potential buyers consult, and we never learned the full story on this.  So what do we do? 

Mike:  "Why pay the marina a monthly fee for the boat to sit in the water?  Let's do the first half of the Loop again."
Marian: "Let's do it, but let's make some improvements before we go."

One composting toilet, four accordion shades to replace the old drapes, a new refrigerator, almost 100% LED lights to replace the old halogen and fluorescent bulbs, a winch instead of block and tackle to pull up the dinghy when it's time to cruise to our next anchorage or marina, one re-covered captain's chair, new boat cards with matching coffee mugs and ball caps, and we were ready to go.  Midas Touch is still for sale, now listed with Curtis Stokes, and we told Barbara Burke, the broker we liked immediately, that we'll meet any potential buyers along the way.  

It took multiple trips from Dahlonega to the boat to get everything ready and to haul all the stuff we'd need. Son Dave was a great help on our next to the last trip, helping with the LED lights and the wiring needed to replace old fixtures with new.  The galley now has a new LED light mounted on the underside of the cabinets above the stove, instead of a fluorescent on the wall behind it, and an overhead LED as well. Ribbons of LEDs in the cornices above the windows give the salon a bright glow.  Dave also drove our Honda back to north Georgia, and we renewed our friendship with Enterprise when they upgraded us from a compact to a minivan for the final trip to the boat.  
We needed every inch of the space for our last load when we headed south on March 28, with Midas discovering the fun of standing between our front seats to look out for a short time before settling on his quilt, which covered the floor and second row seats.  After two final days of packing and organizing, we were ready. The only thing - so far - that we left at home is our new camera, and Dave sent it via UPS to our next stop.  (It reached us at Leland Oil Co., a small marina in McClellanville.)
We cast off our lines on Thursday, March 31, followed from Fort McAllister Marina by fellow Looper  Bob Frederick and Midas's friend Duncan on El Nido.  Look closely at the photo below; that white speck is Bob and Duncan behind us.  
Bob had attended the Spring 2014 AGLCA Rendezvous, but we first remember meeting him at Grafton Harbor, IL. We knew he was coming up the Georgia coast and were delighted that he diverted to Fort McAllister after crossing St. Catherine's Sound through rough waves and strong winds.  Bob stayed at Thunderbolt Marina near Savannah for a few days, while we pushed on to our first night's anchorage, Daufuskie Island, SC. Active Captain, the cruisers' first source for nearly all things we need to know, shows a good anchorage in the Harbor River, with easy dinghy access to Daufuskie Landing, where there's a free dock and Marshside Mama's - home of five-star cuisine and a killer Marshside Rum punch, all in a colorful rustic setting.  
Side note, in honor of the late Pat Conroy, who died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer on March 5: Daufuskie Island and the Carolina Low Country is the setting for his first novel, The Water Is Wide (which became the movie Conrack) and The Great Santini.  If you haven't read these books and others by Pat Conroy, just do it!

From Daufuskie Landing, where we paused briefly on Friday morning for Midas to "get busy," we turned north again toward our second planned anchorage, Fishing Creek, passing Parris Island and Beaufort (pronounced Buford, like the north Georgia town). 
We reached Fishing Creek by late morning and decided to keep going. As we motored along, weather alerts warned us that there was a tornado watch for the area, and the strong winds and choppy water of Saint Helena Sound confirmed the forecast.  It was time to look for a closer anchorage than we had planned, and with nothing suitable for Midas nearby, we turned back to Brickyard Creek, where there's a boat ramp.  
The sky was ominous as we set the anchor in water we thought was deep enough to allow for the outgoing tide.  We fed Midas, loaded him into the dinghy, and zipped back to the boat ramp, where he made friends with a husky yellow Lab and we chatted with a friendly local until the no-see-ums drove us back to the boat.                                                                                              
Much to our surprise, the anchor did not hold, which we discovered when Marian looked out the window after we enjoyed a reprise of our excellent Marshside Mama's dinner and saw that we were far too close to the shore.  Mike admitted (after the fact) that he had heard the
anchor drag alarm go off but thought little of it. In pouring rain, we moved the boat, again thinking that we had plenty of depth even with a seven foot tidal swing. Boy, were we wrong. After we went to bed, the boat began to list to port, slowly at first, then faster and faster until we were at a 45 degree angle, items toppling over and onto the floor, drawers sliding out, sheets sliding off the bed, and Midas whimpering as his world tilted. Mike managed to get him down the steps to the aft cabin and into his safe spot on the floor/cabinet door of the head (bathroom), where he settled onto one of the couch bolsters as a cushion. The back cushion of the settee became Mike's bed, pushed into the V between the floor and the side of the bed, and Marian propped her feet on the side of the nightstand, using the wedge Mike usually sleeps on for support.  Finally, about 11:00, the tide had turned and the boat was nearly level.  We woke up long enough to put the sheets back in place and fell into an exhausted sleep, with MIdas in his usual spot at the food of the bed between us.  
Saturday brought more adventures in anchoring at the John's Island Oxbow just before Limehouse Bridge, where there's a boat ramp and dock - great for taking Midas to shore. For the first time, the information on Active Captain was confusing. We found ourselves in water much shallower than it should have been, according to the notes, and had to use the dinghy to push ourselves off another high spot while Marian manned the helm. Mike returned to the boat, tied the dinghy to it to come back aboard and take over the helm while Marian operated the windlass, but the dinghy broke loose.  With Mike back at the helm, we chased the dinghy, snagged it with the boat hook (losing our Luci light in the process as the dinghy bounced against the hull), and finally anchored closer to the channel than we normally would to keep us in deep water.  
The rest of the night was uneventful, and we reached the excellent St. John's Yacht Harbor Marina early Sunday afternoon, welcomed by two able dockhands and Marina dog Roxie. We accomplished one of our two reasons for stopping in Charleston - eating the renowned duck sandwich at the Tattooed Moose, again joined by Bob Frederick who had arrived several hours after we did.  Marian was folding clean clothes in the laundry room when Mike and MIdas came by to say "Guess who's here!"  They had been on their way back to the boat when Midas suddenly dragged Mike left, toward the dog walk area, where he had sniffed out his friend Duncan.  Bob and Duncan left for McClellanville Monday morning, and we just might catch up with him there -- or maybe in Georgetown.

Meanwhile, our second reason for coming to Charleston - Mike getting his long-awaited dental implant completed - was all for naught.  The tooth, which had not reached our home dentist by March 28, didn't reach the Isle of Palms dentist Monday morning, but that's another story for another day. Mike did get a great shot of the bridge from Charleston to the other side of the harbor and his destination.   We were thrilled that Burke and Stel Lee, our Charleston friends from Loop One, were able to come by SJYH - bringing appetizers - for a great visit Monday evening.
Our next stops (and our next blog post):  our first visit to the historic town of McClellanville and a return to lovely Georgetown, where we'll no doubt meet more fellow Loopers.  Stay tuned.