Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Of course Thanksgiving is the day set aside to express our gratitude to God for all of His gracious gifts, but it's undeniably associated with warm gatherings around the table with those we love. Even though
it felt strangely empty on the actual holiday to be one of very few boats underway, one of those that didn’t have anyplace special to go. But still we felt blessed—we were headed toward our own warm family gathering when Sean arrived on Friday.
It goes without saying that the three of us had a fantastic time, whether hanging out and talking together…sharing a belated Thanksgiving meal of roast chicken with fennel, garlic flan, and key lime pie…visiting historic Wormsloe Plantation…sightseeing in beautiful Savannah…attending Christ Church, where both John Wesley and George Whitefield were rectors…eating more delicious high-carb Southern fare than any human being should (more than twenty dishes) at Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House…or riding bikes on the beach and trails of Hilton Head Island. What a blast!
And best of all, in just a few weeks we’ll be together again at home for Christmas. Thanks, Sean, for making our Thanksgiving complete.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
~COLOSSIANS 2:7 NLT
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
With the departure of our friends from back home, we thought our lives would return to a quiet little existence, just the two of us floating downstream in our solitary little boat. But we were wrong! The very next day, sailing friends Claus and Rachael Newman from our home marina in Bayfield pulled in to the Maritime Center in Charleston on Kyanna.
They left Pike’s Bay a month before we did but traveled through the St. Lawrence Seaway rather than the Erie Canal. We’ve been watching their blog (http://kyannasails.spaces.live.com/) wondering when they would catch up with us, and finally they did.
For the past three days we’ve traveled together, winding through the low country of South Carolina where wide rivers and narrow streams criscross the seagrass marshes, rising and falling with eight-foot tides. At anchor, we have shared camraderie and conversation about our intersecting journeys over dinner either on our boat or theirs (a bonus for us since Rachael is a great cook).
Tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day they’ll stop at Hilton Head Island and we’ll continue to Isle of Hope near Savannah, where Sean will fly in Friday night to meet us for a late celebration. We're looking forward to his visit, our hearts overflowing with gratitude!
In December we hope to meet up again with Claus and Rachael and travel together for a while. Especially at the holidays we sense the distance from our friends and family at home. Traveling with friends will be like having a little piece of home with us.
Everyone seems to love the historic charm and antebellum opulence of Charleston. For us it was even better because Marty and Barb shared the experience with us.
Marty and Barb belong to a Civil War Roundtable in the Twin Cities, and though he might protest the description, Marty is a Civil War expert. It was fun to be with him on his first visit to Fort Sumter, the place where the first shots of the war were fired. He told us some intriguing behind-the-scenes stories.
We walked for miles along the waterfront and through the historic district, past pre–Revolutionary War houses and beautifully preserved mansions in a complementary blending of architectural styles. These gracious old homes have withstood wars, sieges, hurricanes, and an earthquake, and proudly line the streets with an air of elegance and permanence. We peeked between the bars of wrought iron gates to admire perfectly manicured formal gardens—and camellias blooming in November.
Steeples dominated the city skyline, and on Sunday we attended St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, one of the earliest established churches in Charleston. From the moment we approached the door until we left after coffee hour, we were welcomed with open arms. The bell-ringing was magnificent, the music glorious, the message powerful; it was a highlight of our stay in Charleston.
We not only walked our way through town, we also ate our way through: Shrimp and grits, fried okra, she-crab soup, and a fabulous meal at FIG. Thanks, Mary and Barb, for the fun and memorable weekend!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Keith’s research to track down Army Corps of Engineers waypoints paid off. In this stretch, we were relieved to transit some of the most notorious shallow sections of the ICW without touching bottom. We went through Lockwoods Folly, one of the problem areas, at low tide with an extra challenge: Scores of small fishing boats were anchored right in the channel and we had to weave between them trying to stay in the deeper water. We asked what they were fishing for, and they told us they were catching spot. We’ve never tried them, but they must be good.
The shrimp are running, and so are shrimp boats of all descriptions, from big trawlers outfitted with multiple nets to small rickety craft with one guy, one net, and a boatload of huge shrimp. We can’t wait to sample the fresh catch!
This stretch of the waterway is one of our favorites, its fascinating scenery so different from northern terrain. From the water, we enjoyed the close-up view of the changing landscapes we floated by.
On the Waccamaw River we anchored in a cypress swamp where gnarled trees grow in the water, their roots more or less exposed with the tides. The next morning a frigid dawn cloaked the cypress trees in fog, creating hauntingly beautiful images of boughs dripping with moss. Farther down the waterway, cypress swamps melded into sea grass marshes. That night we anchored in the middle of a golden sea of grass and watched a gorgeous kaleidoscopic sunset rearrange fiery colors across the sky.
For an entirely different change of scenery, we’ll spend the next week in Charleston docked at Charleston Maritime Center, a great marina very convenient to the historic district. We're looking forward to sightseeing and hanging out with our friends, Marty and Barb Nergaard, who will join us over the weekend.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
We pushed off before first light and poked holes in the fog to go
through the next lift bridge before it closed for morning rush-hour traffic. I bundled in winter layers against the 41º chill. The temperature was undeniably bone-chilling when Keith switched from flip-flops to socks and shoes for the first time this trip. Time to head further south!
We spent a couple long days on the waterway motoring and motor-sailing through straight land cuts, winding rivers, and shallow sounds. At one moment, marsh grass and cypress panoramas stretched as far as the eye could see. Minutes later, we were on the wide-open waters of a sound that extended for miles in every direction. We delighted in the gifts of beautiful scenery, our first pelican sighting (made our boat very happy), and dolphins frolicking around us. At the end of these days we anchored and turned off the engine. The wind died, the water flattened to a perfect calm, and the stillness was heavenly. The sun set, silhouetting the cypress trees on the shoreline against the red twilight.
Otherwise remote anchorages were populated each night by a few of the hundreds of seasonal transient boats traveling south in a line that stretches for over a hundred miles. We pulled in to Morehead City Yacht Basin and decided to stay an extra day, partly to rest and partly to research trouble spots where many boats have run aground south of here. The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for maintaining the ICW, but hasn’t had enough funding in recent years to dredge all of the areas that need attention. Forearmed with detailed soundings, we hope to stay afloat!
After a trip to Italy that could not have been more wonderful—followed by our trips in opposite directions—we’re happy to be back together on Pelican and underway again. First we had to wait three days for Hurricane Noel to pass by in the Atlantic.
We were glad to be safely tied up in Little Creek to sit out the high winds. And our delay gave us the chance to meet Greg and Sondra, a terrific couple who made us feel very welcome on the A dock at Taylor’s Landing. They invited us onto their beautiful Carver, Paradise Found, for a delicious dinner of freshly caught Striper Bites and Asian pears with cheese. Thanks, Greg and Sondra! I won’t describe my grand entrance when I stepped onto their boat; I’ll only say I have the bruises to show for it.
Finally on November 4, we departed Little Creek early to enter the Intracoastal Waterway at Norfolk. On the way, helicopters buzzed above to ensure that all other craft steered clear of naval vessels on maneuvers. The first stretch of the ICW contains a number of bridges and a lock on restricted opening schedules. After quite a bit of waiting for openings, we made it a short day and tied up to a free dock at the town of Great Bridge. Another history lesson along the way: we docked at the very spot where a Revolutionary War battle fought on December 9, 1776, forced the British to retreat from Norfolk.