Almost July

Hello everyone,

I know it is not quite July yet but, while Murray works on re-plumbing the head, I thought I would stay out of the way and bring you all up to date on ” travels with Windswept IV”.

In company with Shivaree ( John & Kristin ), we explored Charleston for a few days. The Around Alone boats were still at the marina, so we chatted to some skippers and spent some time examining gear on these vessels. Some were very high tech looking but at least two looked like old IOR boats and more resembled the boats that we were used to seeing. The tent, where souvenirs of the race were sold, was closing up soon and the bargains were flying. Even us cheap cruisers couldn’t resist! I bought a jacket for Murray and then returned the next day and bought three more- for myself, Jeremy and Steve.

We had hoped to sail outside to Beaufort, NC but the weather report for the next few days was not favourable with strong NE winds ( guess which way we wanted to go – NE ! ). So, we girded our loins and headed into the ICW and through our first opening bridge in 7 months. The weekend is not a good time on the ICW with many boats and waterskiers and personal watercraft and fisherman etc etc. So, we hid in a creek near McClellanville. On Sunday, we dighyed to town for lunch in a converted general store. What a quaint little town and a great lunch. There was a place nearby that cultivates butterflies and had some beautiful specimens on the walls. I became entranced and chatted away to the owner. When I finally caught up with the rest, we went looking for fresh shrimp. On Sunday, in the South. But we did find someone who sold us a few shrimp for our dinner.

Up early the next morning, we caught a favourable current and traveled 76 miles to Barefoot Landing, Myrtle Beach. I thought I caught a glimse of the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the forests on the edge of the Waccamaw River. Murray didn’t see it in the binoculars, so it is not confirmed. But, the colour and size and everything was right, so I got very excited. Another early morning, and we made 80 miles to Wrightsville Beach the next day. Then, with a good wind, we sailed outside to Beaufort NC. Downwind, but better than motoring. In fact, the boats in the ICW were held up due to firing on the range in Camp Lejeune area. Murray tried his hand at fishing again and caught 2 Spanish mackerel – one 30 inches, one 36 inches! The freezer is jammed!

Beaufort was crowded as usual, but such a nice place to visit that we stayed 4 days. Shivaree had some major head problems there and spent all day buried in the bowels of the boat. The museum loaned us the car again and we re-stocked on the necessities of life – bread and beer! Murray kids me that a small shopping of bread and milk is a standard $150! Actually he is pretty close. When you get in a great grocery store, you just have to buy stuff because who knows when you will see it again!

Eventually, we moved on to make quick stops in Oriental and Bellhaven. Howard & B Goodwin, from Goodwinds, came down from their new home in Washington, NC to have a brief visit and drive us around Bellhaven. It was wonderful to see them again.

Shivaree convinced us that we had to visit Elizabeth City, NC even if we didn’t travel through the Dismal Swamp. So, that was our next stop. It was rainy and windy and cool. Sweatshirts were dug out and even sweatpants showed up briefly. Elizabeth City is lovely. There are free docks and a wine and cheese party if more than 5 boats arrive. Each woman is given a rose from the garden. And the town is very close and everyone extremely friendly.

Well, we did go through the Dismal Swamp and it is very lovely, but…. We hit submerged objects 3 times and once the object hit our prop. No damage done, but I think that was the first and last trip through. There was several free docks, the lock tenders were very friendly, and the scenery and bird-life were beautiful, so if you don’t draw 6 feet, it is a great trip. The canal itself was dug by hand in the 1700’s as a commercial shipping route. The development of the shorter Virginia Cut route and the single Lock at Great Bridge spelled the demise of the Dismal Swamp Canal. Since that time, the locks have been reduced to two only and it has become mostly a pleasure-boat canal.

Hampton, VA was as welcoming as usual and Shivaree left us here as they have many miles to travel back to Lake Huron. The two boats had traveled together since the end of March and had many adventures along the way. We will miss their company. We tried to console ourselves by visiting West Marine and spending $$$.

Now, we are anchored off at York River Yacht Haven and preparing for haul out next week. Depending on arrangements, we may leave the boat here and travel to Ontario. Meanwhile, we wash and wax and shine and paint. All the things that Ontario sailors do in the cold spring. But, it is so much easier to wax in the warm. But, not too warm, I hope!!

Hope everyone remains well and is enjoying the lovely summer weather. All the best to you.

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA