Doing Nothing

We get three days of mediocre weather – cloudy, foggy, and misty – after leaving Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach. We want to spend a day or so in Beaufort, SC. That’s at Mile Marker 536, 163 miles from Myrtle Beach. Going against the tides, we cover 40 miles in a day. Going with the tides, we make 60.

I’m the trip planner. I pick out two anchorages, one 40 miles away and one 60 miles away. I place the waypoints in the chartplotter and highlight them on the chart. We spend a quiet night in Five Fathom Creek at Mile Marker 430, south of McClellanville, SC. 57 miles.

I pick out a 40 mile anchorage and a 60 mile one for day two. Waypoints are placed and highlighted. Steve gets us to Church Creek at Mile Marker 487, south of Charleston. Another 57 miles.

This was the extent of our sightseeing in Charleston.
This was the extent of our sightseeing in Charleston.

I pick out a 40 mile anchorage and an anchorage in the Beaufort River for day three. Waypoints are placed and highlighted. Steve gets us to Factory Creek in Beaufort, SC. 49 miles.

The tides were good to us. We made good time but we travelled hard and long.

The next morning, we pull into Ladys Island Marina. Since marinas don’t have check-in and check-out times like hotels, we’ve learned to get the most bang for our buck by arriving early and leaving late. The little we see of Beaufort is cute and quaint.

Enjoying a bike ride in Beaufort, SC
Enjoying a bike ride in Beaufort, SC

The rest of the time is spent cleaning up the boat, doing laundry and provisioning. We plan to sleep in and leave around noon the next day…until we look at the weather forecast.

Whaaaaat? More wind and rain?? Where did that front come from??? The Dockmaster asks if we are staying or going. He has folks wanting to get out of the weather and needs our slip. We decide to stay. If folks are trying to get off the water, no sense in us getting on it. We spend the next two days watching the rain. I’m glad we’re at a marina but we’re still stuck on the boat doing nothing. Steve does nothing very well. I do not.

The rain stops and we set our course for Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. It is uninhabited and only accessible by water. There are deserted beaches, maritime forests, wild ponies and tons of other wildlife. We are going to anchor out in Cumberland Sound, dinghy ashore and spend the day exploring.

Beaufort is at Mile Marker 536. Cumberland Island is 175 miles away at Mile Marker 711. We travel hard and long for 4 days. Traveling is harder on me than it is on Steve. He’s at the helm all day. Yes, that can be stressful at times but he’s in his element, and he is doing something. Me? I do a lot of nothing. It’s hard to read. There’s no internet. No TV. I can’t really exercise. I just sit there doing nothing. And since, I don’t do nothing very well I am really, really, really ready to get off this boat and explore Cumberland Island.

Anchor down 5:15. Herb River in Georgia. MM 585.
Anchor down 5:15. Herb River in Georgia. MM 585.



Georgia Waterway1
Georgia’s shoreline
Georgia Waterway2
More of Georgia’s shoreline
This is what happens when you anchor at high tide in Georgia. And no, it wasn't us.
This is what happens when you anchor at high tide in Georgia. And no, it wasn’t us.

I’d had good luck picking anchorages. Good holding, calm water, light winds and no traffic make for a good night’s sleep. My luck runs out in the Cumberland Sound. A screeching northwest wind makes for a LONG night. Halyards bang and clang. The mainsail moans and groans. The anchor rode stretches and squeaks. Waves crash against FNR’s hull. Steve sleeps. I don’t.

Steve’s up early. I have a headache and desperately need to sleep. No such luck. Steve shakes me and tells me to get up. The anchor is dragging. The wind and the tide are pushing us across this narrow, crowded anchorage toward the shore. Steve cranks the engine and once he has control of the boat, I take the helm so he can reset the anchor. But, instead of resetting the anchor, he pulls it up on deck. I am so busy trying to figure out what he is doing that I don’t keep an eye on the depth gauge and bump! We’re aground. Disgusted with myself, I throw my hands up in the air. Steve takes the helm, gets us back in the water and heads toward the waterway.

He tells me we are not going to Cumberland Island today. The water is too rough and we’ll get soaked trying to get there in the dinghy. I nod. My head is still killing me so I sit there doing nothing. Luckily, our next stop, the Fernandina Beach mooring field, is not far away. I should be able to get off this boat soon.

M: How much further to Fernandina Beach?

S: We’ve passed it already.

M: Why didn’t we stop?

S: Water’s too rough in the field.

M: So where are we going?

S: You tell me.

I sit there but I’m not doing nothing. I’m thinking.

I’m thinking that I’m not the only one who really, really, really needs to get me off this boat. I’m thinking we’ll go to Jacksonville for a visit with my Aunt Glo and Uncle Doug. I’m thinking that will be a nice place to get off this boat.

I take two ibuprofen, open the Waterway Guide, log on to Active Captain.

M: I’m thinking we should go to The Marina at Ortega Landing. The first night is free.

S: Tell me how to get there.

The trip up the St. John’s River is interesting. It’s industrial. It’s commercial. It’s residential. There’s a red bridge, a green bridge, a blue bridge, a couple of railroad bridges and even a football stadium.

Little boats. Big boats. There's room for both on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville
Little boats. Big boats. Sailboats.  Room for all on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville
Jacksonville Landing
Jacksonville Landing
View from the Ortega Bridge
View from the Ortega Bridge

We’re on the T-dock at 4 PM. I’m thinking about a walk, a shower, electricity, Wi-Fi, and a good night’s sleep. I’m thinking it’s amazing that Steve hasn’t put me on a train back to North Carolina. I thinking life is good once again.

Thankfully, Steve thinks life is good once again, too. We talk – yes, we’re still talking – about what we’ve learned since leaving Oriental 6 weeks ago.

We’ve learned that we don’t have to travel long and hard every day. It’s okay to go slow.

We’ve learned that we should look for anchorages where we can dinghy ashore so I can get off this boat.

We’ve learned that warm and happy is good but warm, happy and dry is better.

We’ve learned that we really don’t know how to live on a boat but we’re doing it anyway.

Most importantly, we’ve learned that we are incredibly committed to our adventure. These waters are charted but our journey is not. We are grateful. We are humbled. And that, dear friends, is Zen on this Boat.

Biding Time

Arrive Oriental: Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Depart Oriental:  Thursday, October 29, 2015

That was one LONG month.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  The time we spent with friends and family just flew by.  I enjoyed every moment.  But the rest of the time?

It rained.  I was plagued with a cold that would not go away.  It rained.  We tracked down a fresh water leak.  It rained.  We flawlessly installed a hot water heater.  (No kidding.  It really was a flawless installation!)  It rained.  We got stranded out in the harbor when our dinghy engine went kaput and we had to row back to the boat.  It rained.  We spent $600 to repair our dinghy engine.  And, it rained!!

How much time am I going to have to spend doing and enduring things I’d rather not be doing or enduring until I get to do things I want to do?  Biding time is terribly exhausting.


Luckily, good things do come to those who wait and we hop out of bed Thursday morning before the alarm goes off, anxious to get on the water.  Us and a gazillion other snowbirds who had holed up somewhere waiting for the latest batch of rain to clear.  The Neuse is full of boats.

Oh, looky, looky!! It’s a Snowbird Flotilla on the Neuse!
Oh, looky, looky!! It’s a Snowbird Flotilla on the Neuse!

Day 1:  We set our course for Swansboro, a 57 mile trip.  At 6 knots per hour, it’s anchor down by 4:30 or 5:00…unless you lose the battle with the tides.  At 3 PM, we’ve gone 37 miles.  No way we can cover another 20 before the sun sets.  I open the Waterway Guide and log on to Active Captain.  Not many anchorages south of Atlantic Beach.  We head up Peletier Creek but come right back out after running aground in the channel.  The only other option is Spooners Creek Marina.  Staying in a marina on Day 1 is an unbudgeted expense but, oh well.  It’s a nice marina with good Wi-Fi and clean bathrooms so one of us isn’t disappointed at all.

Day 2:  We anchor out in Mile Hammock Bay with about 25 other cruisers.  Nice and peaceful.

Mile Hammock Bay - THE place to be on a Friday night
Mile Hammock Bay – THE place to be on a Friday night

Day 3:  We’re east of the ICW in Motts Channel at Wrightsville Beach.  It’s a busy area and on Halloween night, there are lots of folks on the water.  We rock and roll late into the evening.

Motts Channel at Wrightsville Beach...beautiful but way too busy!
Motts Channel at Wrightsville Beach…beautiful but way too busy!

Day 4:  It’s a busy day on the Cape Fear River.  Ferries, tugs, and all kinds of boats to keep an eye out for.  Racing Steve gets a little miffed as he passes a tug on port only to have another sailboat pass him on starboard.

Passing a tug on port...
Passing a tug on port…
...only to be passed by a sailboat on starboard.
…and then getting passed by a sailboat on starboard.

We pull into St. James Marina in Southport for the night.  Right off the ICW, it’s a pretty, protected marina in an upscale, gated community but they don’t really cater to transients.  Weak Wi-Fi signal.  Bathrooms are clean but no privacy.  Folks are friendly enough, just not very welcoming.

Days 5 and 6:  There is more rain, lots more rain in the forecast.  I’m not real keen on traveling in the rain but how else am I going to get comfortable with being uncomfortable if I’m never uncomfortable so off we go.  We plan to anchor out in Calabash Creek today but we’re winning the battle with the tides so we keep going.  Osprey Marina is next on the itinerary and since staying there is a budgeted expense, getting there a day early to get out of the rain makes perfect sense to me.  Steve is happy once he sees the complimentary Krispy Kreme donuts.  They don’t have a courtesy car but the marina manager takes us to Wal-Mart so we can provision.  Someone feels bad about forgetting our anniversary and he tells me I don’t have to cook.  Pizza Hut is delivered promptly at 7 PM.

Day 7:  We wait for a band of thunderstorms to pass and are on South Carolina’s Waccamaw River by 9 AM.  We talk about stopping in Georgetown and then in Charleston, but we’ll pass them by.  Besides, we’re 250 miles closer to warm and happy.  We don’t know where warm and happy is yet and I’m not sure we’re ready to admit it, but I suspect we may be biding time until we get there.