Rockville, SC, to Hilton Head Island via the ICW: 3/8 – 3/10.
It was great to get to know Illusion again (and on the water!), after nine weeks in the boatyard. This being our first (test) leg of the trip, a leisurely motor down the ICW to Hilton Head Island, there was much to go over. Brian and I needed to make sure that all of our repairs were sound, and I especially wanted to get a feel for handling her on the water again. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Brian has a great deal more sailing experience than I and, after we moved onto the boat a year ago, we started working on projects and were unable to take her out of the slip. There is much for me to learn and review about sailing before I will be able to feel comfortable on my own – and it is important for me to be comfortable and confident in my own right so that I can handle potential situations that arise without having to double check my reasoning or ask Brian what to do.
My first impressions and indications about our upcoming trip were all extremely positive. I could not have asked for better weather. Even though we were under motor the entire time, Brian and I had a great time relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty of the most deserted strip of coastline in South Carolina. We anchored in Steamboat Creek the first night, close to a historic steamboat landing, where, in the early 1800s, Edisto residents boarded the ferry to Charleston. I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was at anchor. This was the first time we had slept on the boat at anchor in just over a year. I know that it will not always be the case, but it was so calm and peaceful the first night that it didn’t even feel like we were on the water. The skies were clear and it was quiet save one dog barking in the distance.
There were a number of reasons why we decided not to sail for the first leg. The main reason being that we need to climb the mast to adjust the angle of the spreaders, tighten the stays, and put on the last two winches. We also need to build a little confidence in our rebuilt Westerbeke and put some hours on her. In addition, it would have been nearly impossible to navigate the shallow, narrow waters of that stretch of ICW under sail, so we would have had to avoid it entirely, and wow, it was beautiful. We saw three full-grown wild boars wandering along the shore of the Dawho River next to us (check out the picture). There were also many close encounters with dolphins and so many birds in the Ace Basin. The greatest part was that it was relatively deserted. We only saw a handful of other boats, even in the Sound.
We spent the second night back in civilization, anchored beside the Lady’s Island Bridge in Beaufort, SC, where we used the dingy to hop into town for a drink and to pick up some dessert. Still, in the morning, as we waited for the bridge to open, an osprey flew over us clutching a huge half-eaten fish. It certainly confirmed my thought, that cruising is luxury camping. During the last day, we spent some quality time talking, musing about the trip, and making several lists of final projects and preparations. Some of the projects are as easy as organizing our music on one device or reorganizing our food storage, while others involve patching the floor where Brian had to cut out the mast step and installing the wind generator, etc. We will be in Hilton Head for a week to 10 days, making our final preparations, but then it is bon voyage, and if this first leg was any indication of the awesomeness to come, then I can’t wait!