Paula and Bill Leroy on the ICW

Hi y’all is a greeting I use a lot, but it is so appropriate for sending a shout out from the South. As in the South Shall Rise Again. Sweet, inviting, welcoming people who are always shocked and amazed that we are all the way HERE from San Francisco. And with a boat named Gone With the Wind, they conjure up visions of Rhett and Scarlet, and we sadly disappoint. We let the boat and all her 50-year old history carry the day as people immediately recognize a classy boat. Bill and I are ordinary – the boat is not. Every harbor we enter has people on the dock watching, and they wonder aloud what boat is that?
If you have not done the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) then a quick lesson is to say that it is a big ditch from New Jersey to Florida which allows boats and barges to stay inland and worm their way through rivers and creeks without going into the Atlantic. A lot of it was dug out and made deep, while other portions were natural bodies of water. A lot of small insignificant towns became very important once this monster waterway came by its front door…and thus we have exciting places to visit and spend the night. It could be compared to winding your way to Tinsley, but this lonnnggg stretch of way sits at land-level , and you should see the gorgeous mansions built along the waterway…it’s where the rich and famous live, to be sure. Three-storied gabled houses with pools, docks, and rolling lawns to the water. Those same people Some believe aren’t paying enough taxes.
We started this cruise in Charleston where the boat wintered-over. We got it ready to go, while having great fun visiting our friends the Sutherlands (Bud, Eliza, and kids) and then off we went towards the north. Once you enter the ICW (and we lucked out with 90 degree weather), it was north up the ditch. We learned one thing very quickly – there are three types of boating people on the ICW:
1. Those who have gone aground (savvy survivors) 2. Those who are presently aground (gnashers of teeth, needing adult diapers) 3. Those who have not yet gone aground (fat dumb and happy)
We have been in all three categories, and prefer the first category, which we presently cling to with great tenacity and fingers crossed. In the middle of a shallow channel, oops! You are aground reading -1.0 feet below that hateful keel. How can that be? No matter, it is what it is – and as all marriages go meandering down the ICW, there is a heated "discussion" that ensues…who was looking out? Who checked the chart, GPS, or depth? No divorce court yet for us, probably because we are not in California for the doing? We have flip charts, big charts, harbor guides, ICW guides, road maps – you name it, and yet we still go aground. What??
Moving, moving, moving. Moving up the ICW each day, covering as much water as we can, and I must say North Carolina is the looonnngggest state ever. We have been sailing up this coast forever! Forever! The highlight was meeting up with Dick and Kate Robinson and Neil and Roberta Kelly on the same exact track. What a fun time to manage to all be in the same harbor at the same time, and then enjoy cocktails and dinner together. This is a great tribute to the St. Francis YC that we can all enjoy a meet-up wherever on the planet, and find boating friends of like minds (Conservatives, of course). We had two nights in Beaufort (Boh-fort) NC for the 6 of us. And then we traveled on Northwards to meet the Kellys once again where their boat was wintering over, a few miles north of Beaufort—they stayed at a motel in Beaufort for our meet-up. These yacht club people are great fun!! The Kellys are gone from SF now until October, and the Robinsons will be through cruising in September. Silly us; we are going home next week. But we will be back to GWTW sometime in August and do the wonderful things on the east coast – Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, maybe Chatham.
There is a cute story about Roberta and Neil Kelly on their big 48 foot beautiful trawler. Roberta knows she can't handle the lines and heavy lifting involved with the docking procedures, so she always takes this huge boat into port and docks the boat, while Neil does the lines. So the good ole boys in the south see this trawler coming in, and they rock in their rocking chairs with a dialogue such: Billy Bob, I think there's a woman steering that there boat.
Yeah, I think you're right Homer...and for Pete's sake it's a Chinese woman driving that there boat.
To which Roberta likes to yell out, "Chinese woman driver!!" In SF that means something extra special.
We motored the Alligator River today, and have landed at a terrific wee Marina, creatively named the Alligator River Marina. Nicest people, and home of the “best fried chicken in North Carolina”. We are talking fried chicken and biscuits at a Shell gas station that is part of the marina, but we never ever pass up good fried chicken--gas station or not. Just so you know, we didn’t dress up. We are going to dinner soon, as the kitchen closes at 6:30. Shoot, we’re hardly thinking about dinner at 6:30 in San Francisco. That’s a late lunch at 6:30, for Pete's sake! We are in the Heartland here, and John Edwards is standing trial and going backwards. We may write again when we get to Coinjock– a favorite stop over, “home of the 32 ounce prime rib”; doesn’t that just sound like a heart attack on a plate? We will have some seafood I am sure, but it is worth the stop they all say – you just have to stop at Coinjock, no matter what. **post note: we did go to Coinjock, and the riverway is quite narrow at that point, so there is no marina. There is a wooden dock, and no tide, so you just tie up to this dock, one boat in front of another, and there you are for your $85 night. Restaurant, kid's playground, great baths/showers, diesel, water, boat store, - anything you need - it's there. Returning from our fried chicken dinner just now, we noted that the dock was abuzz with some kind of “activity”. SBI agents, (State Bureau, not the Feds) and clipboards, guns in holsters, and all sorts of walkie talkies, about 7 agents in all, plus and Homeland Security. This was our dinnertime entertainment. The object of attention seemed to be a sailboat that had entered the harbor and tied up behind us. We wondered if they had people under surveillance? Did these people's dog have fleas? Do they owe back taxes? Are they Americans or aliens ? I confronted one of the agents on the detail (we were standing by the Moon Pies at the gas station) and he said it was "nothing" and I replied, of course you have to say that. Then in very good humor he said that this port was part of their AOR. "Area of Responsibility". Government alphabet soup. Nothing came of it all after a lot of kerfluffling, and the conflab ended in the parking lot at the fried chicken Shell station, and that was that. Overtime, $7,545 in our taxes for this, but I think they all got some fried chicken afterwards and kept the economy flowing here on the Alligator River.
God Bless America. Paula and Bill