Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Bridge Battles

Since our last post from Beaufort, Moonshadow has left Beaufort and arrived at Beaufort, with stops in Charleston and Georgetown. A little geography: Beaufort (BEWfert) is in South Carolina and the Beaufort (BOfurt) is in North Carolina. Anyway, all of this involved bridges, including our first swing bridge, whose operator was startled into action when we radioed for an opening at 0530.

We had to start very early so we could arrive at the second bridge  (this was a fixed bridge) very near the low tide hour to give us enough clearance for our stubby mast.

We need 66 feet of vertical clearance and most of the fixed bridges have just 65 feet of vertical clearance at something those in the tide world call mean high water.  The Moonshadow crew would really prefer nice low water when passing beneath fixed bridges!

We enjoyed a beautiful cloudless day and the natural beauty of the Carolina waterways as we raced to the next fixed bridge.

As we approach a fixed bridge Deb gets on forward deck with the binoculars and tries to read the tide boards to see if we have low enough water to clear our mast. Then she watches the top of the mast as we go under the bridge. John steers and listens for sounds of disaster.

The hardest part of all is reading the tide boards through all the scum... Can you read this one? (click photo to enlarge)

We guessed it read something over 63 feet. Maybe just enough to clear. We knew our guess was right when we heard no sounds of disaster.

Just before arriving at Charleston we had another fixed bridge but it's tide boards were much easier to read.

Anytime we can actually read numbers like 67, the Moonshadow crew are happy campers!

Our travels after leaving Beaufort took us to Charleston, South Carolina. As we approached the City Marina there, a striking looking boat with a stubby mast (like ours) caught our eye. As it turns out, this is Interlude, a sister-ship to Moonshadow. Interlude is more like a big-sister-sistership.  She's created by the same visionary, Steve Dashew, but bigger (74 feet vs. Moonshadow's 62 feet).  Interlude is aluminum and just out from months in the boatyard getting everything redone.  Very shiny and sparkly.

Katie and Kurt Braun have sailed Interlude around the world and are still going. From Charleston, they'll sail to Maine, then return south and proceed to the South Pacific. We took Moonshadow to the fuel dock just down the dock from Interlude and were met by Katie who took our lines. We have been anxious to meet other cruisers on our way but till now haven't met many.  Quite unexpectedly, we found ourselves having dinner with the crews of three world cruising sailboats:

In addition to the Brauns, we met Andrew and Clare Payne who are sailing "Eye Candy"...

... and Stuart and Stephanie Morton who are sailing "Matador".

 The Mortons, Paynes and Brauns all originally met in the Mediterranean, so it was fun for all to be anchored together in Charleston harbor, along with Moonshadow.  Quite a few cruisers were hanging out in Charleston while several days of strong Northeast winds made sailing north a bit less appealing. Everyone had so much fun, Katie and Kurt hosted a pot luck barbecue the following day on the dock next to Interlude. The fact that it was a fuel dock didn't seem to get in the way!

The next day, we had to press on to Georgetown, South Carolina as we needed to make the deadline imposed by our insurance company to be "not south of Morehead City, North Carolina by June 22nd".  This is intended to keep us away from Hurricanes.

We had more bridges to conquer so we elected to employ our Moonshadow Battle Flag given to us by our dear sons Ryan and Scott, whom we miss so much while we're out exploring the world.

The first bridge saw our Moonshadow battle flag and surrendered immediately! But it was a just a silly swing bridge. The next bridge was a fixed bridge and this one put up a fight.

Actually, the truth is we arrived too early so the tide had not yet receded enough. No problem, we said, we'll just anchor, wait and go through when the tide was down a bit more. When the time came and it appeared we could clear the bridge, we found we could not clear the spot we'd anchored in because Moonshadow was aground! We should have been flying the Farmer Flag!

Fortunately, we did have our Battle Flag flying so the mud surrendered without a fight and soon we were on our way through some more spectacular scenery on our way to Georgetown.

Georgetown was once the largest rice exporter in the world, but the abolition of slavery ended that. Then Georgetown exported lumber to New England on huge four and five masted schooners, some of which found the rocks along the inlet to Georgetown and were lost. Throughout time, I'm guessing Georgetownians have fished and harvested shrimp, because they sure do now!

While in Georgetown, we had a quiet two night stay, did some receiving and shipping of boat parts and a little exploring. We also watched one of the white egrets that had been vying with others for prime perching territory. This guy was staring at Moonshadow, probably wondering if she would make a good perch.

With just two days left to make our insurance deadline and a sudden end to the Northeast winds, we decided to leave very early the next morning and sail directly to Beaufort North Carolina.

The winds were southerly but now too light to sail so (again) we motorsailed the whole way in conditions that looked like so many of our trips home from Catalina: flat seas and beautiful!

What better time than this calm and peaceful day while Deb was reading a book to conduct another Man Overboard Drill.  John tossed the cushion overboard as before, but this time Deb had it back aboard in 7 minutes!  Way to go Deb!!

The leg was 173 nautical miles and we covered it in 21 hours. So now, we're here in Beaufort North Carolina and ready for a little rest. Maybe we can learn why so many homes in this part of the world have the front door on the second story!

After Beaufort, we're heading to Beaufort (just kidding -- Norfolk, Virginia) which is still close to 200 miles and who knows how many fixed bridges away.  This could take us a week or 10 days because there's lots of beautiful country to see along the way.

1 comment:

CW Bill Rouse said...

I hope you don't learn first-hand why so many homes have the front door on the second story. Experiencing rising water from hurricanes probably is not on your wish list of things to do.

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