CHAPTER 23 OCTOBER 2009
DISMAL SWAMP and ICW NC & SC
We finished the CHESAPEAKE BAY and cruised through Norfolk VA – navy warships all over the place. Next up is the DISMAL SWAMP (see picture) which spans both VA & NC. In 1728, Colonel William Byrd led surveyors into the Dismal Swamp where they were almost devoured by flies, chiggers and ticks. Byrd called it “Dismal” and the name stuck! Tannic acids from bark of Juniper, Gum and Cypress trees make the water amber colored, but it is also unusually pure – bacteria cannot grow. Before days of refrigeration, water from the Dismal Swamp was a highly prized commodity on sailing ships because it was chemically pure. At Deep Creek Lock, one of two locks on the Dismal Swamp, Lockmaster Robert (see picture) played a conch shell from his collection for us
Continuing on the ICW in NC now, we anchored in the Alligator River at Deep Point, ICW Mile 102.2 (ICW Mile 0 starts in Norfolk VA). Then, took a side trip up the Pamlico River to visit two towns. The first was Bath, the oldest town in NC, founded in 1696, population is 150. We stayed on the free state dock, saw many lovely old homes, and had a delightful dinner at “Blackbeard’s”. Next stop was the town dock in Washington, founded in 1726 and named after President George Washington. More than 30 buildings in Washington date from 1780. Many nice shops, delightful Mexican bakery, and a nice Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. We visited the “North Carolina Estuarium” and were very impressed by the displays . A must stop in Washington is “Bill’s Hot Dogs” in business since 1928. People line up for the famous 98¢ hot dogs and order them “all the way” (mustard, white chili, and onions) – simply delicious!
Back on the ICW in NC after our side trip on the Pamlico River, our next stop was an anchorage at Eastham Creek, ICW Mile 154. The following day we had a perfect crossing of the Pamlico Sound – which can be very nasty when the winds are wrong. Many homes on the ICW in NC are up on stilts, have tin roofs and very long docks (see picture). And of course, there are many shrimp boats (see picture). Next stop was Oriental NC (another of my favorite towns), ICW Mile 182. There’s a nice marine consignment shop where Ray always finds something, and the very popular “Inland Waterway Provision Company” where I always find something. At a new gallery in town, we found a wonderful painting called “Peeking Pelicans” (see home page under “Photos of Summertime”). We passed by some big freighters (see picture) on our way into our next destination, Morehead City NC, ICW Mile 206. We stayed on the town docks, had a wonderful dinner at “Sanitary Restaurant & Fish Market”, visited lots of antique shops, stores, galleries, and the terrific “Ace Marine Store”. Next day we passed through Camp LeJeune and anchored at Mile Hammock Bay, ICW Mile 244.5 where we saw military Osprey V22 Tilt Rotor helicopters (see picture) practicing landings and takeoffs right over us – very impressive! The following day we stopped at New River Marina and bought 175 gallons of diesel for $2.13 a gallon – a very good price! We anchored that night in Wrightsville Beach NC, ICW Mile 283.
Our next destination in NC was a side trip up the Cape Fear River to visit the town of Wilmington. We stayed on the city docks (see picture). During a trolley tour of the town, we learned that before 1900 Wilmington mainly produced turpentine, after that it was cotton, and today its wood products. In the historic district, the streets are paved with bricks, and the proud home owners don’t like it when the city mends the brick streets by paving over them – many home owners come out at night and chip the concert off the bricks! We loved the food at “Dock Street Oyster Bar”, and really enjoyed the “Wilmington Railroad Museum” (see picture). There is also a great Farmers Market Saturday morning on the waterfront – I bought a beautiful gourd birdhouse (see picture) painted like a cat! Finishing our side trip, the next day we head back to the NC ICW, and anchored that night in Pipeline Canal, ICW Mile 310. Here, as in much of the south, we see lots of mullet fish jumping one to two feet out of the water – quite a strange sight!
The following day we entered SOUTH CAROLINA – land of golf, and beautiful low country. Our first stop was “Osprey Marina” in Myrtle Beach, ICW Mile 373. Super nice people, and I love their goody bag with cheese, crackers, and other goodies! During our five days there, Ray caught a big catfish (see picture), and we saw lots of 10 inch turtles called Cooters swimming around our boat watching what we were doing! We also biked to the small local “Waccatee Zoo” (see pictures). Jim and Joan (live at the marina) invited us to a real Texas BBQ – awesome food! . Next, we stayed a few days at a marina in Georgetown SC, ICW Mile 402, where we attended the 20th annual “Wooden Boat Show”. In addition to viewing beautifully restored antique wooden boats, part of the show was several teams of two people that had 4 hours to build a 12 foot skiff, then put it in the river and compete in a race (see pictures). It was a HOOT! As you can imagine, the levels of skill greatly varied! While in Georgetown, we also had an incredible lunch at the popular “Rice Patty Restaurant”. Next stop was an anchorage in Awendaw Creek SC at ICW Mile 436. After that, we spent a week in Charleston SC (another favorite) ICW Mile 467 at the “Charleston Maritime Center”. We walked all over the historic district and by the famous Rainbow Row houses. I especially admire a style called the Charleston Single House (see picture) - 1 room wide, 2-3 rooms deep, door from the street leads to the piazza on the side of the house. We spent time walking the Charleston boardwalk on the waterfront and all through “Battery Park”. Also, went to Charleston’s “City Market” (arts, crafts & gifts) several times. I bought a locally crafted sweet grass basket (see picture) and Chinaberry necklace (another local craft). We explored the shops and galleries on King Street, visited lots of great restaurants, but especially enjoyed the “Hominy Grill” – best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had! Also, we visited the “Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon” and the “Charleston Aquarium”. I really enjoyed the weekly Farmers Market on Marion Square. It was huge, and had all kinds of foods and crafts. A travelling train promoting the new Jim Carey movie “A Christmas Carol” (see picture) was in the park opposite the marina. It was great fun looking at the exhibits on how the film was made, and we got to see a 10 minute 3D preview of the movie in a portable blow-up IMAX building. Outside, there even was realistic looking snow (tiny foam bubbles)! Next destination was Beaufort/Port Royal SC, ICW Mile 536. We stayed at the “Port Royal Landing Marina” (super friendly and helpful) for the last week in October. On our way here, we hit 12,000 miles cruising on SUMMERTIME! During the week here Ray worked on the boats teak. We had use of the marina’s courtesy truck to provision, and we spent some time in historic downtown Beaufort. Our last day here Oct 31st was Halloween (see picture), and the marina had a pot luck party on the big outside deck overlooking the ICW – we had a blast!
So far, we’ve travelled 12,003 miles aboard SUMMERTIME.
We look forward to hearing from friends and family – please keep the calls and emails coming!