Don’t ever give up. 

It’s hard to write updates when things aren’t going great. Our diesel engine is acting a fool and so we are stationary in Beaufort, SC while Clay tries to get a handle on it. Lucky for us, this town is one helpful person after the next, mostly retired cruisers who remember what it was like to be us: just a couple of kids having an adventure on a shoestring budget. We were welcomed with open, understanding arms by Steve at the Lady’s Island Marina, where he offered us a close anchorage, free dinghy access to the marina facilities which include a workshop and showers (amen, hallelujah), and unlimited smiles and spirit lifting jokes about cruising life. We are forever grateful for Steve and his hospitality. 

  
 “Living on a boat is just working on your boat in more exotic locations.” – Steve  

It’s been awhile since you’ve had an update and for the longest time I contemplated telling you about our last couple weeks starting from the present and going backwards or from the beginning and working forwards. I think I contemplated this so hard I gave myself a migraine which still lingers and is another reason our stay in Beaufort has been a good one: I finally ran out of procrastinating excuses and am forced to write, bad news and all. 
My last post left off at the end of our window fiasco and we were waiting for the next big rain storm to see if our windows would hold dry. THEY DID and have continued to hold steady, even through hard and cold downpours. It’s a huge victory to know it can rain at night (or while we are away from the boat or while we are on the boat cooking dinner) and we will stay dry. It’s a victory hard to understand by those who haven’t experienced a leaky boat – those who have and hear of our success, smile generously and applaud our efforts. That feels like a victory too.  
 
  
From Belhaven, NC we sailed (literally) down the Pamlico River while listening to the Redskins game (intermittently, because signal was spotty). It was a wonderful afternoon, with sunshine and snacks, football and favorable winds.  

 We anchored just north of Morehead City, a bit more industrial than the creeks we’ve been used to anchoring in. Feeling exhausted and unsure about our anchor set near a major bridge, we were discussing a very short list of far fetched alternative options when Clay yelled “Look! Dolphins! What a great omen! We are anchoring here.” I was so excited I almost fell off the boat, we anchored and had wine and cheese on the stern. It was a good night. 
From Morehead City, we made an early run to Swansboro and decided to anchor early in order to provision, send postcards and pay bills, as well as get out of the torrential downpours that kept rolling through. We motored up to Swansboro’s town dock, a very well maintained floating dock that is available to transient boaters who want to come ashore for a few hours to eat or shop. Approaching the dock was our first experience of how crazy ridiculous the currents are in this part of the ICW. We had to approach twice after our first attempt saw us a few feet short of the dock with a first mate who’s legs are too short (or fear is too great) to make the jump from bow to dock.  
 
 

Clay washing dishes

 
Provisioning is not convenient to the waterfront so we started towards the grocery and hardware stores, hand in hand. While in line at the post office, Clay sweet talked a gentleman into giving him a lift to the hardware store, about a mile further. The kindness of strangers has truly been a gift during our trip. Groceries were bought, postcards were sent and just as the sky really opened up, we arrived back at our boat. Anchoring in the rain is not a fun activity so we milked our time at the dock with a few beers at the waterfront bar. Our anchorage in Swansboro was in a fairly commercial area surrounded on three sides, like being cradled with a “[” of civilization. The top “arm” was lined with a small row of waterfront restaurants and bars, the backbone a low clearance bridge, and the bottom “arm” a small jut of land on which a shrimping operation sat. A shallow but steadfast anchorage. Just before sunset, I saw a sailboat set anchor not too far from us. I watched as a young woman hoisted the anchor from its locker and heave it over the side while a man at the helm backed down on the anchor line. I smiled, thinking, “That’s what we look like.” Eventually, these two sailors made their way over to our boat and we had the pleasure of meeting Emma and Casey, the owners of a lovely sailboat named Stout. A few drinks while sharing our experiences rounded out nicely an otherwise damp but productive day. We’ve been running into these waterway friends often; it’s been fun to see how their adventure is unfolding! 

strange pink house with UPS truck stuck in boardwalk driveway

  

From Swansboro, our goal was to make a run to Wrightsville which in Clay’s words would be “the longest distance a man has ever traveled in one day.” This is not entirely accurate although after leaving in the predawn darkness and running for thirteen hours, it felt exactly like that. A more than full day of missing all four bridge openings by mere minutes, in the wind and rain, ended with us climbing into a super fluffy bed in a gorgeous beach front house. One of Clay’s childhood family friends graciously offered their beach rental for us to use and what a incredible treat it was! We woke up Christmas Eve morning and decided that since we weren’t going for gift giving this year, we would make an inspired Christmas Eve dinner. We took inventory of the things we needed for a blowout dinner and caught a ride into the mainland.    

before

 

after

 
  Christmas morning we woke up cozy and comfy and to two stuffed stockings. Buying gifts for each other is difficult when you live on a boat with your partner and all trips are usually joint trips. That meant we got creative with the little sentiments we did gift each other: Clay found a homemade jar of pickles at the hardware store, organic sunscreen and silicone wrapped wine glasses {no spills, I love them) from West Marine and chocolate caramels from the grocery store he popped into for the rack of lamb. I found a redskins koozie at a grocery store and regifted my sunglasses case for his pair that really needed it. What’s more than the gifts though were the memories we made on Christmas: Clay waiting patiently for me to sweat my way into several different wetsuits, Clay putting me immediately in where the big dogs surf and telling me to paddle fast and jump up quick, me taking a face full of water and surfboard and declaring I was too afraid to continue, Clay realizing I needed more instruction and less “getting pitted”, me finally catching a petite baby wave on all fours. Our little Christmas was a success.  
    
    
  
From Wrightsville, we made a run down to Little River, where my grandparents have lived for as long as I can remember. It was surreal coming into town by sail when I’ve seen it from the road for so many years. Our stay was full of home cooked food, lots of laughing and equal amounts of my grandpa swearing at the iPhone and Clay figuring out there were such things as “beer sheds”.   

Bike riding tradition I almost got left out of. 🙂

 

 

Little River Swing Bridge

 

Veg soup warms even the most frozen of sailors

   

   We left Little River on New Years Eve with a batch of homemade veggie soup, $20 worth of fireworks and hope that the sky would clear and the temps would rise. Those things didn’t happen. Instead, we found ourselves in the strangest anchorage we’ve seen yet, far from civilization. With the winter weather in full swing, all of the trees in our little nook of an anchorage had lost their leaves and all that was left behind were patches of grey Spanish moss drooping off of twisted and knobby tree limbs. The trees in that area grow right up out of the water, creating an echo that went for miles and a very eerie environment where all we could hear were the slight movements of the water. Although far from seemingly everything, we were not alone. When we first entered the bend, we saw a large white cross coming up out of a moss covered tree stump. Around the second bend, we found a partially sunk vessel caught in a ticket of vegetation. We saw there was writing on the cross but couldn’t make out what it said so with just a handful of minutes before true dusk set in, we climbed into Chad (our dinghy) and paddled across the creek to investigate. We were able to get enough information off the cross to find a news article from early summer and discovered that a man had drown there after jump off his boat into the water. We took a moment of silence for his soul and paddled back towards the boat in a contemplative silence. The water can be such a wonderful place to play and travel but demands constant respect and proper safety measures. Any activity or simple task can turn deadly, quick and without warning. This was a sobering reminder of that.   

   
  
From our desolate and kind of scary anchorage, we made a run for Charleston, SC. Our experience of Charleston was clouded greatly by the onset of a three day long migraine for me coupled with super rough wind and wake conditions. We were happy to leave port and look forward to seeing the city again in a different light soon.

Finally, we are caught up. Thank you all for keeping up with us!  

 

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