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EMS to the dock rescue….

Grace, is a Chris Craft steel hulled motor yacht – and is moored adjacent to Cat Maudy. Nick, the owner of Grace – is a lovely person who lives on nearby James Island. Nick’s son, who attends the Citadel (the “southern” version of West Point) – was hosting an afternoon spring break boat party with friends and acquaintances. What started out as a college-kid boat party on Grace – Tuesday afternoon, turned quickly to an emergency situation. One of the femmes accidentally stepped thru Grace’s skylight – getting a deep cut from the glass, and her leg jammed between two metal rods (that were designed to prevent someone from falling thru).

Thus her leg was stuck….she was stuck….and had a deep wound in her calf. EMS was summoned. More like the entire City of Charleston Fire & EMS department (30+) showed up. They came out with a huge ‘jaws of life’ hydraulic steel cutter….and snapped the rod that pinned her leg to the boat. Kudos to her college friends who kept her calm during the ordeal….and of course kudos to EMS for the rescue!

Nick’s son (the party host), tho had a problem. He had to ‘splain all of this to his dad. Rumor has it that Citadel attendees were not allowed off campus that day. Oopsie!

Earl lives large on 8 remaining lives, and plans for the future.

Just 3 months ago while sailing offshore, Earl was on death row. But, he came back. With one of those 9 lives used up somewhere in North Carolina, Earl now rules Cat Maudy with a diet of 3-5 cans of wet food per day. He shares some of this with Soxy – our other cat. He also enjoys daily rub-downs, and his perch on a comforter, in the windows of the salon.
But alas, Earl was a tad concerned about the current state of the economy. A recession could limit the food supply – and of course this would be completely unacceptable. Earl is all about food.

Soooo, Earl put in all of his good vibes and wishful thinking, focused much of his thoughts on “Chicken of the Sea”…. And wanted a recession proof idea for ensuring the food supply would continue …irregardless of the value of the dollar against the euro, the fact that the stock market was crumbling, Christmas toys are tainted with poison (oh my!), a crazy man lives in the White House, no one can afford health care, and the fact that the Chinese would soon own all of the homes the Americans foreclosed on.

Wow. Earl is on top of current events. What a mess this world was in…and Earl decided it was time to do something about it. Kitty style.Earl, aka “King Earl” laid out an elaborate plan. First, he would get the “female-one” (Jane) to stock up on brown rice from the asian food stores. With a big boat pantry and lots of plastic storage bins – it would be easy to stockpile bags of rice — and have at least 1-2 years supply on hand. Brown rice mixes nicely with any of King Earl’s favorite meat dishes.

Next, Earl willed the “big-guy” (aka Captain Pat) to acquire a rod. Not just any rod, but a rod with a string attached. One might refer to this as a deep sea fishing pole. Being a savvy shopper, Earl encouraged Pat to use eBay to find a fancy-dancy fishing pole — on the cheap. Earl doesn’t mess with retail price or coupons.

Earl was thinking fish thoughts – and had me research what type of saltwater fish and HOW MANY could be caught per day. He especially liked the big quantities such as:Sea Bass – 20 per person per dayBlue Fish – 15 per person per daySheepshead – 20 per person per dayEarl liked looking at these pictures, and felt confident that we would have no problem catching the daily limits.

While Earl was pleased with the progress so far (brown rice stockpile, purchase of fishing pole) – he remained a tad concerned that we might not know what we were doing with this getup. The rod and reel have arrived – and we were proud to style these for King Earl. Observe the “fishing position” modeled by the First Mate & Captain below. Upon closer observation, no string (line) or lure exists. OK….Details. But we were lookin’ good – and Earl was well on his way to a lifetime supply of food!

Reconnecting with Cat Maudy…

Back and forth between Charleston SC and Silver Spring, MD — I packed as efficiently as possible, and still managed to have 3 large & heavy bags of stuff along with my tennis rackets. A suitcase filled primarily with Trader Joes food and specialty items only found at the local Asian food stores (gotta have my bulk dried foods and sesame oil!)…my skates and skate gear, and one last bag of laptop, books, CD’s and any item that wouldn’t fit in the other two bags. Wowie-Zow. This is packing light. I’ll be traveling south to Charleston one last time on land…on the midnight Amtrak express train – and expect to arrive in Charleston at 5AM.

Sat next to a delightful woman named Anna. Anna lives in the Isle of Palms, and makes frequent Amtrak trips north to Philadelphia PA to care for her 93 year old mother. We shared many stories about caring for our 90 year old parents — including stocking the freezer full of foods, ensuring they can use their computers for emails, and just enjoying simple ‘time’ with the parentals! Life is good. Anna is a retired computer geek from the Chicago area – who started her second career as a watercolor artist after retirement. Her work is currently featured at the Seagull Gallery in Mt. Pleasant. I am planning to visit this gallery on a sunny day via bicycle — a combined sporting-artismo event if you will.

Well, by 11PM, everyone on the train was snoring…not me. I remained wide awake…listening to all of the snoring ….sigh. Despite a late start out of DC, the train made up time – and arrived on schedule in Charleston. Pat picked me up at the train station, and we arrived at the City Marina just in time for sunrise. It was beautiful.By 8AM – I crashed. So much for sleeping on the midnite train….I would be catching zzzzz’s for the bulk of the day on Monday. It’s now boat-time.

The temperatures have improved considerably since the last time I was in Charleston. It’s T-shirt and short weather now. Having ‘thermal-ed UP’ just 3 days prior – to skate in 18 degree weather in Baltimore…T-shirt and shorts is a very pleasant change.

Charleston…boat repairs…and crack addicts…

North….Two weeks back in Maryland – land-based, filled with work, work, work…taking care of my Dad, family stuff, hooking up with a few friends…and a swim debut.That’s right – swim. My least enjoyable sport. But, since I am in training for a sprint-TRI – I guess I need to find my way back into the swim lane. 3 days at the Martin Luther King Swim Center — and I was up to 40 laps (sidestroke…the only stroke I know how). OK, I guess I can do this as long as I don’t have to put my face underwater. I packed my swimsuit for Charleston…just in case a swim opportunity arises.

…meets South ….My road trip to Charleston was uneventful for a change (whew!). I made 2 stops…first stop at the Welcome Center in North Carolina. Spent an hour updating a document – and sending emails. Next stop at EXIT 181 in South Carolina. Sound familiar? Yep, it is the same exit and Hess Station that possessed my VW Beetle a month prior. Had to rid the spot of bad Ju-Ju — but just to be safe, kept my keys, purse, cell phone and food on me at all times – and rolled down the windows just for added assurance.Arrived at the City Marina at approximately 3:30PM…to a beautiful 70 degree day. Decided to go on a small walk….which morphed into a brisk high-energy walk along the perimeter of the Charleston Harbor to the opposite side of the peninsula. Two hours later…I returned to Cat Maudy – completely invigorated.

It was time to do some sightseeing in Charleston – and take my husband out for exercise at the same time. With me on skates, and him on the bicycle, we left the City Marina for a cruise around the peninsula and an opportunity to view some of the historic homes that line the harbor. Words won’t do this any justice – so I’ll just let these pictures (and subtitles) do the talking…

Meet Charlie Siriski
Charlie is the high-tech welding man who fixed our rigging – and in the process became a delightful friend as well. Pat and Charlie had already made the “Italian connection” – and when Charlie started talking about food choices that he and his wife Kay make (She makes her own soy milk, tofu) – and they eat “greens” for breakfast….I knew we would get along fabulously!

We had decided to get together for sushi on Saturday night – at a place called Osaka – located on James Island — a few minute drive from the City Marina. Osaka Restaurant 100 Folly Road Charleston, SC 29412

Charlie (from Charleston area) and his wife Kay (originally from Michigan) make you feel like you’re family. We sat down for sushi at 8:30…and proceeded to hear about Charlie’s experience with FIVE GUYS ( a Washington DC based hamburger and fries chain that has recently added a restaurant to the Charleston area). Apparently, Charlie and Pat had an earlier conversation about how decadent a burger and fries are (I think Pat is tired of eating healthy!)….and sure enuf – Charlie went to FIVE GUYS to experience the burger and fries deal. He apparently loved it. So much for that healthy food conversation we had a few hours prior.
Irregardless, the sushi was phenomenal at Osaka – and very reasonably priced. We will be making another visit here.

…with gale force winds, I decided that I ABSOLUTELY MUST combine exercise with my other favorite pastime…FOOD. Being on a dried fruit “kick” – I wanted to experiment with more fruit varieties – and thought maybe I would have good luck at the Whole Foods Market located in Mt. Pleasant.

Going there… on my bicyle…was a breeze…literally. I was flying. Obviously I had an excellent tailwind carried me across the peninsula and over the Route 17 bridge. I barely broke a sweat – and was passing cars and busses along the way. I didn’t even need to downshift going UP the Route 17 bridge. Soon, I was going so fast on the descent into Mt. Pleasant – that I had to hit the brakes a ton — just to avoid going airborne when my wheels hit irregular surfaces on the bridge.

I’m guessing it was a 10 mile ride total to the Whole Foods Market. I lollygagged for about an hour in the Whole Foods bulk food section…before hopping onto my bike for the ride back to Charleston. As soon as I started the ramp back UP the bridge toward Charleston – I realized what a huge tailwind I must have had coming in the opposite direction. The headwind that I was about to experience was pretty strong. Digital signs were flashing on the entrance ramps “Caution – Severe Crosswinds”. I know they meant “headwind”.

I had to downshift to SECOND GEAR (I never downshift below THIRD gear)…in order to make the ascent….and then PEDAL HARD just to take the descent into Charleston. OK…I was lovin’ every minute!

Thanks Emma. I’m feelin’ like I need to RUN today. THANKS for getting me registered in a TRIATHLON. I haven’t run in nearly 9 years since the 1999 NYC Marathon….so my pace was incredibly slow – nearly in reverse (sigh). I managed to run across the peninsula – a whopping 3 miles….of course to YET another FOOD STORE….and then walked back.

The “Derrick live-aboard” situation was rapidly deteriorating. It became obvious that we had a crack-addict on board. It also became obvious that he was far LESS knowledgeable about boats, than he portrayed. We were investing more and more money to fix his mistakes… It was time for Derrick to be “set free”.

Becoming wary of repair crew….

After 6 weeks of being land-based in Maryland, I was looking forward to finally rejoining Pat and boat life on Cat Maudy. The weather on Saturday 1/12/08 was perfect for my 9 hour drive from Silver Spring MD. The original plan was to take the Amtrak from DC to Charleston – but due to a recent bout with the flu – I preferred to avoid more flu season on the train with a bunch of potentially ill people. Thus, I’m driving, solo.

My VW Beetle was loaded. Bicycle, computer, skates, food — soy, brown rice, quinoa & fruit….along with 5 bags of crew mate Derrick’s “stuff”.

Derrick, our last minute crew who joined up for the sail south in early November – was still on board. We had worked out an “arrangement” – where he did a bunch of work on the boat…in trade for food and board. He was trying to get his footing….and we thought we could help him get a fresh start – in Charleston SC.

But, all was not well with this arrangement. Captain Pat noticed discrepancies in Derrick’s stories…how he had worked on Tiger Wood’s yacht in Florida, why he left Florida, why his parents won’t have anything to do with him. I’m a sucker for a good storyline. Not Pat. Pat saw the fissures…and soon we would both be onto the “real” Derrick, the crack addict, who was living on our boat.

For now, I am southward bound on I-95….and all was going well until I decided to fuel up at Exit 181 in South Carolina at the Hess gas station. That’s where my trusted volkswagon beetle became possessed. While filling up the tank – and with keys, purse, cell phone resting on the car seat – the doors suddenly locked, locking me OUT.

This is what you call a PANIC moment. No cell phone, no keys, no money, no food, no water….nothing. I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me out. Borrowing a few cell phones…I managed to contact Pat – and he hopped in the Jeep for a 3 hour drive to Exit 181 – with a spare key for the Beetle. In the meantime…I needed food and water (a Wadsworth cannot go 3 hours without food!)… Waiting…waiting….waiting…. Now approximately an hour into sitting on the hood of my VW Beetle – I looked around for some South Carolina ex-con who might be able to break into my friggin’ car. Noticed a tow truck driver filling up on diesel. I asked him if he knew how to break into a car – in my best blonde impression. Whew….he did. Within 20 minutes of break-in magic — he unlocked the door for me (slightly damaging the door too – but hey – I didn’t care at this point!)….and I was back on my way to Charleston.

The car spent the next 2 weeks at the Mount Pleasant Low Country Volkswagon dealership – to fix the computer sensor problem that caused the doors to lock without notice. Moral of this story…don’t trust computer chips in cars…and keep your keys on you at all times!

A boat needs to REALLY go south for the winter….not Charleston SC — SOUTH. Now, I realize that Charleston was selected because it allowed me to easily travel back and forth to Maryland for work and family issues….but I can still learn from all of this. It would be nice if I was independently wealthy, retired or did not have a fear of flying – instead I need to work, and I travel only by land or water.

Sooo, going between Maryland and Charleston SC has been exhausting, and I have now lived out of a suitcase for over 2 months. The good thing, is that I realize how few items I really need in my life….a few clothes, inline skates, laptop and my health food (brown rice, quinua, soy….fresh fruits and veggies)….everything beyond that is EXTRA. The tough part…is when I’m not on the boat – I don’t really have a place to call home. Cry me a river.

With that said, I was looking forward to being “home” on Cat Maudy. Then, I stepped into our boat. And…proceeded to fall down the steps into the galley. A calamity-Jane at best.

Cutting & re-glassing the steps became a high priority project for Derrick. He needed to cut, and fix the steps so that there is enough room for a human foot before it slides off the edge. Thank you 😉

Next boat observation…the smell. Condensation, moisture, mold everywhere….temperatures outside in the 30’s and inside with 3 space heaters running in the upper 50’s / low 60’s. Monsoon style rains….wind….and wetness like you’ve never imagined. What’s up with that?(31 degrees outside…61 degrees inside)

The deal is — when it is cold and wet outside….and you are heating the boat inside….you never open it up because it’s too cold and wet outside. Then condensation forms everywhere….and eventually everything turns to mold…the walls, bedding. Clothing…everything! Now, don’t get me wrong — this is not a problem unique to Cat Maudy. Every boat owner at the City Marina that we came in contact with – is having the same problem. So, we have to just deal with it. Wipe down the inside of the boat with Simple Green or Vinegar…including all foot lockers and cubbies….and bag up everything not being used – in airtight vacuum bags to prevent further molding. A relatively monumental task.

Sadly, many items were trashed due to the mold….and on one of the 3 total dry days while I was in Charleston for my 2 week stay — I did approximately 25 loads of wash – with about a gallon of Clorox – to try to kill the mold and simultaneously turn everything we own into a tie-dye look. Oops…

A clothes drying day – everything is laid out on the hulls & bridge deck for some sunshine.After looking at ALL of these clothes…I realize more downsizing is necessary in my life!

Soaked pillows….taking in some rays and temperatures in the upper 40’s

Cat Maudy goes Healthy Eatin’
After 6 weeks of staring at land based TV in the evenings – watching the FOOD network, Iron Chef…and the Travel Channel….along with my own personal commitment to HEALTY eating….all of this had to be instilled onto Cat Maudy.

Now, I realize Pat and Derrick were quite happy with fried foods, sweets, crackers and peanut butter…eating out at 5 Guys for hamburgers and fries…but those days are over now. New foods have arrived…and they include:
Spinach, yellow squash, mushrooms, zucchini,
Tomatoes, cucumber, onions, Tofu
Fresh fish (Tilapia, wild salmon, flounder),
Brown rice, sweet brown rice, barley, lentils, and quinoa (introduced to me by my friend Meryl!), Dried fruits and nuts
Fresh fruits – apples, pears, berries, kiwi, oranges, grapefruit…

I spent my first few hours upon arrival – purging the Pantry and Refridgerator of the “got to go” foods (heavily processed, high sodium, high sugar…just about everything!)…and then made a stop at the local grocery stores (Teeter & Publix) to begin the transition toward healthy foods. My goal is to eventually rid of all processed food…but we’re not there yet.

Art…and food — aka the presentation…the aura – is my new “thing”.

Chef Jane’s new entries include:

Pan grilled chicken in lemon pepper and sun dried tomatoes, leaf spinach w/corn & orzo salad tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Slices of pears and kiwi fruit to garnish….

Spinach salad w/ fresh tomatoes, red onion and fat free feta cheese – with a yogurt dressing

Pan grilled salmon cooked slowly in a low-sodium soy sauce served on a bed of baby spinach along with red tomatoes, fresh cucumber, corn, red onion, Bartlett pears and dried Michigan cherries topped with a drizzle of yogurt dressing garnished with slices of whole wheat pita bread and eggplant hummus

total calories: 315

Years ago I was thrilled to have a dinner of popcorn…followed by m&m’s….wow…what happened???

Rendezvous with sailor friends from Germany
We met Heiko and Jutta while at port in Baltimore. Heiko and Jutta are a lovely German couple – hard core sailors (live on the cheap, know how to fix everything themselves, extremely self-reliant, and sail everywhere). They noticed our German made anchor and thought we might be German (nope…but Cat Maudy is German built)….and the friendship began. They translated all of the words on our control panel – which are all in German – to English. It helps knowing what all of the buttons on your boat mean.

Pat noticed on Heiko & Jutta’s website that they were arriving into the Charleston area – and sent them an email. We hooked up and they joined us for dinner on Cat Maudy. We got to hear about their adventures up north in Newfoundland….getting close to icebergs….and how to use iceberg ice in rum & cokes. Cool!

Exercise in Charleston
My exercise regimen was somewhat limited due to the inclement weather. I did manage to get in a few skate workouts at the James Island County Park…and discovered the thrill of bicycling over the Route 17 bridge into Mount Pleasant. I also hit tennis balls one day in the local park with my friend Cindy.

In addition, my stepdaughter Emma talked me into doing the Columbia Iron Girl Triathlon with her (and I dragged my skate sista Jill into this mix as well!) The triathlon is scheduled for August…I don’t know how to swim. Oh my.

James Island County Park is just a few minutes from the City Marina — tho only accessible from a car. Once in the park – they have designated bicycle paths – tho I don’t really like these – so I just skate in the park roads. The park roads are nicely paved – and the loop is just under 1.5 miles. I have to figure out ways to challenge myself here and not get too bored with the small loop. Sometimes I skate the loop doing small speed intervals….and other times I try to work on my crossover technique. Or, I just try to avoid the dogs in the park…a lot of people take their dogs here. The coolest part of the loop is the section near the pond – which is lined by palm trees.
I skip the bike path section…go straight to the park roads for skating

Ever since we first saw the Route 17 (Ravenel) bridge when we arrived into the Charleston Harbor on Thanksgiving Day…I wanted to ride my bicycle over that bridge. The bridge has great architecture, and only in slow motion (bike or walking) can you really absorb it’s design and the view of Charleston. Walking is too slow for my taste — so it was time to figure out how to bike on that thing. The bridge was built in 2005 – and was designed with a pedestrian / bike way completely separate from the traffic lanes. How delightful. So, I biked out of the City Marina…along Wentworth Ave – over to East Bay…and up East Bay until…sure enuf — the bike way for the bridge appeared. It is a pretty good haul up the bridge – so the workout was wonderful. I stopped a bunch to take pictures – so the workout got ‘paused’ frequently — and the descent down into Mt Pleasant on the other side was high speed. Got to test out my brakes!

Just getting on the Bridge bike way from downtown Charleston

Work Life goes on…and on….

Despite all of boat life duties….and attempting to explore Charleston, exercise…eat healthy…working for our clients still consumes the bulk of our days. Generally, we are up at 5am…and work until 9pm…with all of the other activities taking away little slices throughout the day.Some people dread retirement…I always hear “what would I do with all of that time?” I can assure you…I would LOVE to have all that time to fill up with all of the stuff that I really prefer to do. Being self employed, the likelihood that I’ll ever retire is slim to none…so for us, it’s all about carving in everything that you want to do each day.A little philosophical perspective…

Restoration of Cat Maudy

Cat Maudy hasn’t left the City Marina dock since she arrived on Thanksgiving. That’s right — no sailing…nada. Derrick is currently living aboard — doing a ton of manual labor for us. Thus, Cat Maudy is undergoing a LOT of repairs — and the laundry list of Cat Maudy completed tasks include:

Dingy Davits installed
Solar Panels installed & wired
Pantry area designed / fiber-glassed and painted
Forward holds sanded and painted
Topside sanded and prepped for painting (waiting for better weather to paint!)

Hulls sanded and buffedTang – welded / jib rigging restored
Anchor arm extended
Rebuilt companionway steps
Installed new cushions in salon
Re-rigged the main sheet on the boomDe-molded everything!

And the TO DO list is just as large:
Get second refrigeration unit running
Re-install electronics at masthead
Reinstalling the water maker
Paint topside
Interior sanding / painting in galley and forward berths
Salon flooring (remove carpet!)

Charleston at last – for Thanksgiving

Isle of Palms, to Charleston SC

I awoke to fisherman activity at the fuel dock. Turns out the fuel dock doubles as a bait shop. All of the fishermen down here wear camouflage hunting outfits and every boat comes equipped with 2 sport fisherman (camouflaged) and a black or golden lab. 50% of the labs are missing a limb…ie 3 legged. This scene qualifies as ‘red neck’ in my book. I’m not sure the purpose of the full camouflage – I guess they think they are hiding from the fish. Ya know, “shhhhh don’t tell the fish we’re here…”

The winds and tidal currents are considerable today. We inched toward our final 65′ fixed bridge. I spotted a measuring stick on this one — and it said 67 feet. We “should” be good – but you never know if these sticks are calibrated – so we proceeded cautiously just to be sure. Pat maneuvered ever so slooooly…..and after a few agonizing minutes….I gave the ‘all clear’.
Unfortunately, the timing of making the fixed bridge at low tide, meant we had to wait nearly an hour for the final swing bridge approximately a mile away to open. Hurry up…and wait. It’s all good.

We snaked our way thru the inter-coastal with swamp grasses, shoals and surprisingly shallow water in the channel – out to the Charleston Harbor. Dolphins appear again.


We crossed the harbor, and headed up the Ashley River to the City Marina docks. We repeatedly hailed the City Marina — but no response. It’s Thanksgiving after all – and everyone is home with family eating turkey. I suggested that we just grab any old space that we see along the dock – and tie up. The tidal currents are strong here, and I was somewhat in a rush to get Earl to yet another emergency vet (he has stopped eating and drinking now). We tied up on the “mega dock” where all of the super-sized yachts are moored. It’s Charleston SC. We’re here. We made it.

I carefully placed Earl in a cushioned box….and ran off the dock with him – to catch the first available cab. No time to get familiar with Charleston. Earl is very sick. It’s Thanksgiving – and there is only one vet clinic open. The lovely cab driver drove me to the emergency vet – and waited for Earl and I. Again, the vet found nothing wrong with Earl. She gave him more fluids, and antibiotics, and special food. I had to feed him via syringe, until he starts eating on his own. I will gladly nurse my buddy back to health.

We set out on foot to find thanksgiving dinner. It is 6PM, and nothing is open in downtown Charleston. Except for 1 pizza joint that caters to college students. Pizza it is. And Thanksgiving dinner never tasted better.

The race to save Earl

Waccamaw River to Isle of Palms SC

I spent the night wrapped up tight with my ailing cat, Earl. He is going south faster than we are. His respiratory is not sounding good…I’m just trying to keep him warm now.

Awoke at 6:15am…to the sounds of shotguns – everywhere! Ok, it’s a bit freaky to be out in the middle of the Waccamaw River, anchored, with no other boats or humans around – and hear shotguns everywhere. Fingers crossed that Dick Cheney wasn’t here with his hunting friends. At first I thought they were shooting at us – as we were the only boat anchored. We finally decided they were shooting bird…probably tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner. Please don’t let any bird fly over our boat. Time to pull up anchor and leave the Waccamaw.

We left anchor at about 8:15am…with 5 miles to go before reaching the 65′ fixed bridge. Winds started kicking up, and the current was tricky too. Glad Captain Pat was working his magic at the helm. We inched VERY slowly toward the bridge.

Scanned the bridge pilings for ANY sort of measuring stick. None. Nada. OK, it’s Russian roulette time. This would be a tad trickier than any of the other bridges so far, due to winds and current…and of course no measuring stick to guide us. We were exactly in between the highest and lowest portion of the tides. WHEW….a collective exhale now….we made it under this bridge with about 2 feet to spare.

The goal for today is to get to the Isle of Palms Marina – approximately 60 miles from our anchorage on the Waccamaw. Not sure if this is do-able – but if the currents are in our favor – we can make between 7-8 knots.

We have to pass thru 3 very narrow land cuts. The first cut is 5 miles….then the North Santee River….followed by the second land cut which lasts for 10 miles….and the last land cut is 28 miles. All narrow passages, and lots of swampy sea grass lands.Most of the terrain looks like this picture to the left, swamps on either side of the channel. The channel is only about 9-12 feet deep. Venture too far to starboard or port, and you’ll find yourself in 2 feet of water.
Sunset on the approach to Isle of Palms.

I found the hurricane regulations fairly amusing along the ICW. Basically, if a hurricane shows up and you are unlucky enuf to be in the vicinity of this sign – then you should know that the bridge tender has gone home – and no one will open the bridge for you. OK….got it. I’ll try to remember to avoid navigation in narrow shallow channels during a hurricane when the bridge tender has gone home to be with his family. Got it. Thank you.

This is now the 2nd time this Coast Guard boat has passed us (first time on the Waccamaw). We have to hold onto all of the dishes now b4 they fall out of the cabinets…he makes a rockin’ wake.
We pushed to get to the Isle of Palms Marina – which made it a 60 mile trip along the ICW. Tied up at the fuel dock at approximately 6pm. Exhausted.

PAC Man with the Tram golfers

Myrtle Beach to Waccamaw River, SC

Today we would try to make it thru a total of 10 bridges — six of them fixed height 65′ bridges. If we’re lucky, we’ll finish the day in Georgetown SC – with only 60+- miles til Charleston. Shortly after leaving the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club we were upon our first fixed bridge for the day, followed immediately by a swing bridge that fortunately opens “on demand” (i.e. you don’t have to wait for an “on the hour” opening)

In about 10 miles, we would be upon a series of 4 fixed bridges, a 67′ cable tram and multiple swing bridges. Wow. Busy morning. As we would approach each fixed bridge, Derrick would take the binoculars and try to find the “measuring stick”. The measuring stick would tell us how high or low the tide was in relation to the height of the bridge.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my 2 days on the ICW. Some bridges have a dysfunctional measuring stick (i.e. it tells you you’ve got 68′ clearance — but it’s really more like 64′)….other bridges seem to have a well calibrated measuring stick (65′ = 65′)…and yet others want you to just play Russian roulette – i.e. no measuring stick. The bridges we came under today were either well calibrated…or of the Russian roulette vintage. Here’s the routine. Once a measuring stick was sighted, I would lay on my back in the forward most portion of the hulls – staring up at the mast…as Captain Pat sloooooooooowly maneuvered the mast to a position just before the bridge. I would then have to decide if we thought there was enuf clearance for the boat to continue forward. Technically, you should see the mast…and not the bridge…and then you know you are clear. Pat is back at the helm…sweating bullets….until he hears the “all clear”.

What about the 67′ cable tram. It’s a tram alright. What is the tram for? Well of course – it’s for sending golfers in Myrtle Beach from the east side of the golf course on the intercoastal – to the west side of the golf course. Now, when these trams go across the intercoastal, the tram cars drop FAR BELOW the 67′ cable….so, it’s like a PAC MAN video game for sailors with tall masts – trying to miss (or take out) the trams. The task is to get beyond the tram cars without taking them out with your mast. Seems like a bit of a design flaw by the Army Corp of Engineers….but hey, not nearly as bad as the New Orleans levee system. I digress.

Government Secrets:Forget everything you are about to read and see. It’s just an illusion.This is a ‘beam me up Scotty moment’. I was surprised that the picture even came out — fully expecting it to be automatically erased by ET (the Extra Terrestrial). But, here it is — just beyond Myrtle Beach proper and the golf courses — the Starship Enterprise.

* South of Myrtle Beach, cookie cutter homes and more lawn ornaments, we entered the
* Waccamaw River – which snakes thru 30+ miles of untouched swampland.
* Scenes from the Waccamaw
* And a huge tsunami wake from this Coast Guard ship

Within 5 miles of our final fixed bridge of the day, we realized that it would be precisely highest of HIGH tide at the time of our attempted passage. Hmmm….a bit risky. Considering our very limited clearance at low tide….we decided against trying to make it to Georgetown (just on the other side of the bridge) – and ended up anchoring on the north side of a small island on the Waccamaw.

For some reason, Earl is going ‘south again. Not sure what is going on with my little buddy – but he won’t eat…and barely moves. I’m forcing him to take some juice from a can of soup by putting it on his gums – and then he has to lick his gums and the soup juice on them. Don’t know what else to do. He keeps sneezing so I’m hoping it’s a virus that he can eventually beat. The vet said his vitals were normal. Stay with me Earl buddy.

Bridges…bridges…and a snails pace on the ICW

Wrightsville NC to Myrtle Beach SC on the ICW

We departed Wrightsville NC at 6:30am, with the goal of making it under the first fixed bridge 10 miles south at low tide around 8am. We arrived at the bridge at 8:20….eased thru…as our mast cleared by at least two feet. Whew.

Some of the notable sights for the day include:
-sea grasses along the North Caroline coastline
-a happy Captain Pat after getting thru the first fixed bridge of the day
-Fisherman hunting for oysters and crabs along numerous inlets

The next fixed bridge was in a narrow ICW stretch…and had no depth markings. Thus…it was pure guesswork if we would get under it successfully. The height of the bridge looked short to me…but miraculously we cleared this one too.

Now we are traveling along the Cape Fear river. I keep checking to see if Robert DiNiro is hanging under our bridge deck. All of the ICW reference manuals noted big currents, rip tides and rough navigating through the Cape Fear River. Guess they were referring to some other Cape Fear River…because we got to Southport NC (exit from Cape Fear) in no time…with no problems. I’m not complaining. Now the dilemma is deciding if we should stop for the day (11am) or keep going and try to get under the next fixed bridge when the tide is coming in. We decided to keep going. I’m feelin’ lucky today.

The next fixed bridge turned out to be higher than 65′ and we cleared under this with no problemo. With…one more fixed bridge to go. I hoped we weren’t pushing our luck today. It would be practically high tide for this one. Technically, the bridge clearance of 65′ is for high tide…but don’t always count on it. Better to be safe with $30K in rigging…to just travel under these bridges at the lowest of tides. Here we go…our last fixed bridge of the day…and it’s high tide.

Derrick first spotted the depth markers along the bridge. These markers indicate how many feet clearance you have – based on the tide. This one shows 68 feet. Should be plenty of room. We slowly approached the bridge to be sure….and we did have about 1 foot of clearance. Note to self. Do NOT trust the bridge height markers along the ICW.

Our final bridge of the day to get by – was a pontoon barge swing cable bridge. This is a fascinating contraption. The bridge keeper only opens the bridge on the hour…and we arrived at approximately 2:10. We would idle and do circles for 50 minutes until the 3PM opening. 3PM finally arrives. The bridge is actually a barge on pontoons with a bridge tender house, and cables to hold it together with the fixed part of the bridge. Once it opens, you have to wait for the cables to drop to the bottom of the channel Once the cables have dropped, the bridge tender hails you thru.We finally crossed into South Carolina.

Today’s destination is the Myrtle Beach YC marina. It is a bit upscale….but at least a place to tie up, get heat…(tho the temperatures are warmer here)…and take showers. I’m trying not to look scraggly anymore. At an “upscale” place such as the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, I thought I might be able to find a decent restaurant, pizza or even grocery store within walking distance. To my dismay, there is nothing but 4 lane highways with lots of billboards and a few convenience stores selling cheese whiz & chips. Seemed like everyone in this town was a sport fisherman high on testosterone. It was creepy, redneck, and I was ready to get right back onto Cat Maudy. Yes, I’m ready to be in South Carolina, but not Myrtle Beach. We ordered out for pizza – and luckily they deliver to the boat.

Tranquility of the ICW

Sneeds Ferry to Wrightsville NC

We left the Swan Point marina in Snead’s Ferry NC at 7am…and made it under the fixed bridge at low tide with about 1 foot to spare. It’s a bit unnerving when you consider that a sailboat’s rig could come crashing down, smashing your boat and more frightening thoughts — should you make contact with the top of a fixed bridge. My gut was knotted – and this was my first fixed bridge. Captain Pat navigated every so slowly. We crept up to the bridge…despite the winds and currents trying to move the boat in every direction. At the point of no return, I grimaced. It was hard to look….but I did. We were “clear”. We could navigate under this bridge without the rigging coming down. This is one of the most stressful events for a sailboat owner, with a tall mast – navigating along the ICW.

Traveling along the ICW….unlike driving Interstate 95 at high speed, is a slow motion event. The beauty of slow motion — is watching the schools of dolphins, playfully swimming at your bow, or stern, and jumping thru the wakes of powerboats. The landscape changes from rural and natural, to urban….and back to rural. And unless you fall asleep, you don’t miss a thing.

In addition to navigating UNDER fixed bridges, we also experienced waiting for draw bridges to open. 10 miles south of the last fixed bridge, is a “swing” bridge – which we waited for the bridge tender to open. As we go thru, the bridge tenders make note of the name and hailing port of your boat. I surmise they report this back to the NSA.

How often have you given any thought to how bridges operate? From the vantage point of the water, the swing bridges are a fascinating operation. They pivot in the middle…and all of the southbound and northbound boat traffic hi tails it thru before the bridge pilot decides you have to wait for the next hour. Cat Maudy had pedal to the medal….and we navigated through before the bridge tender closed the bridge.

I’m not sure who started the idea of placing very large objects on their front lawn overlooking the Intra Coastal, but more than one person decided this was a good idea. Scary. I’ll just call this the land of lawn ornaments.

We went thru 2 swing bridges.and one drawbridge. We lose a good deal of time waiting for the bridges to open, but it’s all good. More time to absorb the scenery. Along the intracoastal, there are various inlets to the ocean. Most of these inlets are too shallow to navigate (unless you are in a rowboat). You can tell when you are nearing an inlet, as the water changes color to this beautiful blue-green. More dolphins appear too.

After a full day of ICW motoring, we ended the day at the SeaPath Yacht Club…in Wrightsville NC. It’s a bit upscale here – looks a tourist ocean side town. We walked a few miles to get to the ocean….have a coffee….and grab some dinner. On the walk back to the boat…a couple walked by us and said “hey – you look like sailors”. When I inquired “why would you say that?”, he responded that we looked ‘scraggly’. Ok, I’ve only been on the boat for 1 day, motoring along the ICW – so not sure how I looked ‘scraggly’ – but decided after we got back to the marina – I needed to take a shower. Pronto.

Kitty update: Earl seems to be much much improved. not his 100% self…but he is interested in food again…and drinking…talking and purring. i’m feeling much better too. Back at the marina now. Slight diversion….the shower can wait temporarily. First…I need a dose of endorphins….aka skate of loops in the marina parking lot…