Monday, July 28, 2014

A Bird's Nest On The Ground

Morning at Bull Creek
"Finding a bird's nest on the ground" is a saying used by Texans, and maybe folks from other Southern states, that means something that is rewarding and easily done.  It is a fitting description for our current situation as we have truly and serendipitously landed ourselves in a little bird's nest on the ground here in Beaufort, SC.

Our day began much like many others.  Today we would be traveling in the ICW to Beaufort.  There wasn't much in our way other than one fixed bridge and an unrestricted swing bridge later on.

We rolled out the jib as we turned into Calibogue Sound.  It was plenty wide enough for sailing and deep, but unfortunately the wind was light and from an unfavorable direction... so after a bit, we gave up and rolled it back in.

Bruce worked on some maintenance projects while I guided us along the ICW, enjoying the morning sights and sounds.

As we approached that fixed bridge I mentioned, I asked Bruce to read the meter boards to make sure that we had enough clearance to pass.  It was near high tide, you can't be too careful...

There were no meter boards to read!!!  Ok, no need to panic.  I slowed the boat a bit but the tide kept urging us onward.  At some point very quickly, a little voice in my head said "just do it", so I increased throttle and... what else?  I got out the camera.  If there's going to be carnage, I'm getting it on digital!

We closed the gap between us and the bridge as I cringed in anticipation of that sound... you know... bump bump bump indicating that your wind instrument is playing the bridge substructure like a banjo...

Whew!  Made it!  With no contact...

Entering Port Royal Sound
The tide reversed and began to give us a boost as we approached Port Royal Sound .  It was very tame today as we looked towards the Atlantic for signs of danger.  There were none.  All was calm on this huge body of water and we reached our mark on the other side without incident. I can imagine this being a very formidable stretch in rough weather...

Oh, and that little boost we got from the reversing tide... that was now against us.  We went from speeds in excess of 7 knots down to barely managing to hit four as we entered the Beaufort River.

We weren't complaining though, we've enjoyed good fortune in the weather and tide department for some time...  and we didn't have far to go today so it wasn't important to make good time.

But where exactly ARE we going?  Our original plan was to take a mooring ball at the municipal marina for a week.  We would check out the town and have another mini-vaca.  A couple of days ago, one of my WWS friends asked us if we wanted a free slip for a few days...  Free is good!  But we have a difficult time imposing on people and so were hesitant.  "What's the deal" I asked her.  No deal.  Just a couple of CLODS (Cruisers Who Live On Dirt) who have a slip behind their home and they like to let Cruisers stay there.  I guess they get to meet a lot of nice Cruising people that way.  She said their place is a short distance beyond Beaufort's Old Historical District, but the people let you use their car!

So, we contacted Rick and he invited us over.  He gave us directions to getting to the slip and even would even meet us at the dock to help us get situated.  Our decision was made!

We proceeded past the Beaufort Historical District.  There were boats with brightly colored flags parading around in the river.  We learned that there had been some sort of celebration earlier in the day.  Missed it!

There was an anchorage FULL to the brim with boats of all sorts.  What a fun place to hang out!  Maybe we've been too hasty in our decision...

But noooo.... They're just weekend revelers.  They'll all be gone back to work tomorrow.  Besides, we aren't really all that big on crowds...

We hailed the Ladies Island Swing bridge to arrange for an opening.  She was very nice and got it opened right up for us.  It is awe inspiring to watch these huge things just quietly pivot on one central point  They are an engineering marvel...

In no time, we had reached the turn off and made contact via VHF with Rick.  As promised, he was waiting on the dock and talked us in through this narrow old section of the ICW.  It is no longer in use as a new, more straight channel has been dug out, diverting traffic via a more direct route.  Rick assured us that there was plenty of depth...

We tossed the dock lines to a gentleman with a big smile and got things tied off securely.  I stepped off of the boat with my hand held out for a handshake, which Rick rejected in lieu of a hug!  And so... we were "home"

Rick gave us the run-down on the place.  They would take our trash, we could plug into electricity and there was all the fresh county water we could use right here on the dock.  We have full use of this neat little boathouse with table and chairs for sundowners...

There is a swim ladder at the end and a freshwater shower to rinse off when you get sweaty or after a swim.  The current can really rip through here, so only swim at or near slack tide... there's an indicator on the side of the dock.  Oh, and there's a truck we can use to run errands, do laundry and provision.  Everything a Cruiser could want is right here.

Our host disappeared down the long dock and left us to get settled.

WOW!  We felt so lucky to be here.  What amazing people the Butlers are to open their home to random people.

So now what?  Do we stay a couple of days and move on?  Or should we stay here and get some things done on the boat that we've been putting off for so long?  It was such an unexpected development in our lives that we were having a hard time wrapping our brains around it.  Maybe we're just tired and we can think more clearly in the morning...

So, we enjoyed our sundowner and relaxed in the glorious damp free interior of our air conditioned home, tied up securely to the dock... and we slept on it.

With the morning came clarity.  We would ask the Butlers if we could stay for a month.  Our vague plans had always included stopping for a month or two in a marina when it got hot, so that we could do some sewing and other boat projects that take a little time.  This seems like the perfect place!

Bruce and Rick came to an agreement and voila!  We're home for a while.  It's a strange feeling... switching from travel mode to home mode.  My mind was spinning as all of the possible projects began to pop up.  I had to make a list... and the list keeps growing.  Suddenly a month doesn't seem long enough!

Note:  The Butlers are an SSCA Cruiser's Station.  If you aren't a member of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, you can still stay here, because that's how SSCA is.  We've been members for several years and the Cruising Stations are just one of many benefits we enjoy through our membership.  Please consider joining.

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