Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Friends Along the ICW

     Cruising sailors are a motley crew of individuals, a veritable stew of personalities and avocations. The sailing migration south tends to be somewhat isolating unless cruisers set off in pairs from their places of origin. Joe and I prefer to take an individualistic approach to traveling because it gives us more opportunities to meet and connect with new people. Recently, while transiting the Camp LeJeune area of the ICW a passing boater hailed us on VHF channel 16. SV Moonraker hailing port Annapolis, MD remarked that they'd spotted Simple Life a couple of weeks ago entering the channel into Solomon's Island. We remembered Moonraker as well. They asked our destination and we were both headed to the Mile Hammock Bay anchorage for the night.
Donna and Bill of SV Moonraker
     After negotiating some tricky and stressful, shallow areas in the Camp Le Jeune section of the ICW I think we all looked forward to bit of rest and relaxation and hoped for enough room in the anchorage when we all arrived that afternoon. The Onslow Beach Bridge (a scheduled opening bridge) was the last bridge for the day and Mile Hammock Bay was only a short distance away. At final approach I counted over twenty boats already in the anchorage! Joe decided that we should drop our hook as soon as we cleared the channel marker. He said, "This is as good as anywhere else," and I heard the anchor chain ratcheting out of the windlass. Moonraker was directly in front of us and had just dropped their anchor, too. I suppose we were all feeling anxious about securing our spots for the night especially while monitoring VHF16 and listening to a couple of other boats who were hard aground awaiting assistance from Boat US Towing in the Camp LeJeune shallows. We felt lucky to have made it beyond that tricky area.

Pierre and Jessy from SV LOL
     Within a short time after settling into the anchorage the crew fromMoonraker had deployed their dinghy and were making the rounds of the anchorage stopping at a few boats including ours. They thought it would be fun to have a sundowner party aboard Moonraker. They'd invited a charming couple Pierre and Jessy from SV LOL who had sailed their boat from France, a young couple Riley and Allison aboard a 30 foot C&C and us for a 5:00 PM party!
First time cruisers Allison and Rielly from Roanoake, VA

     Everyone was genuinely appreciative of their efforts and kind hospitality. We'd all been traveling for a number of days, anchoring in remote areas and stressed from the anticipation of numerous shallow areas along the ICW. Sometimes it's days before having an opportunity to get off the boat and take a walk onshore. The party was just what we all needed at that particular point in the trip. We shared stories of our individual journeys, frustrations, anxieties and most of all everyone had the opportunity to...LOL!
Michele and Joe enjoying the company of new friends.