Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Little River Inlet (N Myrtle Beach), Waccamaw River and Cape Romain National Wildlife Reserve

Joe happy with the warm up in Cape Romain, SC
     Our stay in Carolina Beach was brief and necessary. Winds had been forecast to be in the high 20's and a gale was off nearby Beaufort, NC. It seems there's always a gale off Beaufort. Temperatures were in the 50's during the day and high 30's at night. It was a bit chilly to say the least. We'd hoped to go offshore to Charleston, SC from the nearby Masonboro Inlet which is just south of Wrightsville Beach. We'd even consulted weather guru Chris Parker on SSB for a weather window on the passage. After mulling it over I suggested to Joe that temperatures in the 30's during the night were just too darn cold and that I couldn't stand watch in those conditions. My body and mind shut down after certain low temperatures. We agreed to take the inside route which would set us back only one or two days. The decision felt right and gave us the opportunity to explore Carolina Beach.

     This beach town is similar to visiting any resort town after the "season." Very few restaurants or shops were opened, but we did walk by one that looked inviting. The brightly, blue painted raised second story restaurant aptly named the Hang Ten Grill was one block in from the beach. In this area of the south many buildings are raised with pilings due to the possibility of flooding from hurricanes. The interior decor of the grill was heavy on the surf side without being over the top. Jack Johnson (surfer dude musician) was playing on the sound system and a mellow glow permeated the atmosphere. Our laid back server told us that the place was slammin' in the summer months. There were a few young patrons in booths and we felt content to have a warm, relaxing place to enjoy our lunch. We both agree that it's fun to venture off the boat and meet the locals and sample the local cuisine. After lunch we met a couple who asked us if we were new in town. They somehow guessed that we were on a boat and said, "Oh you're just like us, only we travel on land." Joe assumed they traveled in a motor home, but was quickly corrected. They lived and traveled in a conversion van. They sleep in Walmart parking lots and at casinos. A discussion about cold temperatures ensued and we compared notes on the best ways to keep warm. They had a heated mattress pad and we have a 12 volt heating blanket. I said that I wished someone would invent a heated toilet seat for those chilly mornings! They were shocked that we had a toilet and explained that they peed in a cup...I felt much like a spoiled kid after hearing their story. I vowed to never complain about the cold again.

     Our goals and objectives have changed somewhat lately from touring mode to travel and distance mode primarily due to cooler temperatures. Our next overnight stop was at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Laundry had been piling up since the hurricane and we hadn't stopped anywhere. As soon as Simple Life was tied to the dock laundry bags were packed and ready to go. The marina had three washing machines and I was able to get the wash in and take a very long, hot shower at the facility. The dock master also gave us a pass to the Officer's Club Restaurant on site. Joe had already checked the daily specials and planned to try the shrimp and grits which were delicious. The specialty in the   Carolina's is gulf shrimp and we usually order it when dining out.

Joe's favorite section of the ICW the Waccamaw River was on the trip itinerary the following day. The best way to describe it is to imagine traveling to see fall's colorful foliage, but instead of driving a car the mode of transportation is a boat in a winding river with eerie, Spanish moss laden branches.

The pristine Waccamaw River is a wildlife refuge and there is little to no development along its shores. The anchorages are directly off the main branch of the river behind islands. Sunrise along the river is magical with mist rising a few feet off the water filtering the morning light.

We planned a 40 mile day of travel which would take us beyond Georgetown, SC to an anchorage in the South Santee River near my favorite section of the ICW the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Just before sunset we ducked into Price Creek off the ICW. I spent over an hour taking photos of eagles and dolphins catching their dinner in the creek. Watching wild animals at work is fascinating.
Dolphins fishing in Price Creek, SC

     The dolphins worked as a team corralling fish close to the marsh grass. One dolphin jumped out of the water much like the "trained" dolphins at Sea World. That particular dolphin seemed to be in charge of operations.    

     While I was preoccupied with my quest for the perfect image, Joe began calling marinas in Charleston, SC for a reservation for Monday. Nothing available! All booked up. But, one marina could take us on Tuesday. He began looking for possible anchorages beyond Charleston. One had access to a Piggly Wiggly to replenish our grocery supply. In the end it will probably work out in our favor. We'll get the shopping done while anchored and move to Charleston on Tuesday and Wednesday for some much needed R&R.

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Location:South Carolina