Monday, November 24, 2008

Now We're Really in the South

Hello! Our ability to post photos is sporatic when we use our dial-up wireless connection. When we can use a local library, we'll try again.

The past month has been cold (36 to 42 degrees in the cabin most mornings). Our northern Michigan Cold Weather training has served us well. In spite of chilly air, we are treated to the fragrances of roses, still blooming profusely, and sweet marsh grasses. Families of porpoises do water ballets beside the boat while pelicans dive bomb waves. (They have protective air sacs that cushion their wings on impact, just like shoulder pads for football players)

We are still dodging crab pots. Shrimp boats pass, bedecked with impressive out-rigging and colorful nets...ah, we have discovered that really fresh shrimp are crisp and juicy. While crab is still $16. - $20. a pound, we buy local 16/20 lb. shrimp for about $9. a pound. They look like what we call prawns. The shrimpers boil them in beer and Gullah seasoning for no more than three minutes, just long enough to turn pink and barely opaque. They are often served over cheesy grits with onions and stewed collard greens. In an effort to be polite, we have tried to sample regional cuisines all along the way. It has absolutely not been hard.

Charleston, S.C. was a major stop. We had a wonderful reunion with Annie's high school friend, Floy Work. Her generous help with local contacts, personal sight-seeing tours, and introductions to the best food was invaluable. And we laughed a lot.

Dietrich spent several days on boat repairs and maintenance, then explored Charleston. He put about eighty miles on the bicycle and, while browsing a Filson clothing rack, came abeam of THE Jimmy Buffet. Dietrich especially liked the H.L. Hunley exhibit, restoration-in-progress of a Civil War submarine...who knew?

After five days, Dietrich solo sailed to Beaufort, S.C., along a sometimes too shallow ICW (Inner Coastal Waterway). In the meantime, Annie rented a car to visit her parents ( the venerables Lee and Gene Cavin) in Ohio. She enjoyed snowy mountain views all the way into southern Ohio. A week later, she caught up with Dietrich in Beaufort.

We spent two extra days in Beaufort, S.C. because it was such a grand place. Restored homes from the early 1700s through the mid 1800s. They were built on fancy stilts, fronted with graceful double staircases and deep covered or screened porches on two or three levels. They sat on narrow streets near the water, canopied by live oaks and Spanish Moss. Centuries of traditions were evident everywhere, including the Joggeling Boards we saw on many lawns (children's bouncing toys, unique to the Beaufort area). We walked for hours each day!

Now we're on the ICW in Georgia. It is notorious for shoaling and forceful currents. Dietrich says they are wildly unpredictable, with boat speeds varying from three to seven knots over ground. There are nine foot tides whose cycle varies by about fifty minutes daily. We study three printed guides throughout each day, as well as our GPS chart plotter. We listen to the Coast Guard weather updates and we subscribe to an XM weather service, displayed on the GPS screen. Travel days are from dawn until just before sunset and both of us are on deck most of the time. We talk to many bridge tenders (some open on the hour, others by request) and almost every passing yacht captain waves or chats on the VHF.

Tonight, we are anchored near Shellbuff Creek. Shrimp boats hurried up the creek just before sunset as Dietrich followed in the dinghy. He returned triumphant, clutching two pounds of shrimp from today's catch (at $5.00 a pound!). He beheaded, Annie boiled and a pile of shrimp soon disappeared from the cockpit table. Dinner started as the sun was disappearing, ended in darkness. Shore birds were saying their good nights in the marsh and we could hear porpoises exhaling as they surfaced around the boat. And it was suddenly cold, time to get below decks and post this blog entry. We hope you all have a good Thanksgiving holiday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

As of November 10, 2008, we're two days north of Charleston, South Carolina, still readily impressed with each day's adventure. The photos are 1) Annie and Dietrich at MOMA, NYC
2) The Dinghy Dock at the Annapolis Boat Show 3) A fella and his spinnaker and 4) The chute, the beautiful spinnaker, on the Chesapeake.

The pix will follow soon, really. Blogger is acting strangely and I may be able to add the pix in Charleston.