We spend THREE HOURS trying to anchor our boat. THREE HOURS! While a lovely couple from Canada watches. And offers tips. Just shoot me.
Start: Georgetown, SC, 0648
End: Anchorage, Calabash Creek, NC, 2001
Total Distance: 61.2 nm
Average Speed: 4.6 kts
The quote of the day was from the Motor Vessel (M/V) Shunda, who observed us off and on for three hours while we tried to find and anchorage and then anchor our boat: “Ain’t boating fun?” Not today.
We will get to that.
We had planned a long day today, and as a matter of fact, we have a couple of long days planned over the next week or so. There aren’t a lot of anchorages that we can find that are pet friendly, and the ones we can find are quite a distance from each other. Today we are going 60(ish) nautical miles (~66 statute miles) and given we have no earthly idea what the currents will do to our mighty 6mph (5.5 knots) speed, we need to get up and out early to get in a full day. Alarm off at 6am, Dog walked (Jim), boat readied (Jan) and by 0630 we are shoving off the dock and heading north up the ICW. It is a bit foggy this morning, but visibility is over 2 miles. It is the first fog we have seen since the rivers, hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.
The day is actually pretty good. There are two bridges that need to open for us and they are on demand/request (demand if you are the boat, request if you are the bridge tender). The scenery starts off similar to the rest of South Carolina up to now–marshes and creeks sprinkled with decrepit docks and fishing boats. Then we start to get into a part of the ICW that reminds me of the Jungle Ride in Disneyworld. The canal narrows in a bit and has huge trees growing right up to the waters edge. We kept looking for alligators, hippos, lions or other wild vermin to stick their head out of the undergrowth and give us a ‘what’s up?’ but saw nothing other than birds of prey. It was absolutely gorgeous. And like all good things, came to an end as we approached Myrtle beach.
Quickly nature was tamed. Or rather eradicated. Nuked. Wiped off the face of the earth. Replaced with manicured golf courses and mansions/small palaces spouting elaborate landscaping, enormous patios/verandas/terraces, docks at the water with polished/buffed and shining speedboats (with 2-3 outboard engines per boat) on a lift, and infinity pools. Almost every one with infinity pools. Must be a thing. We didn’t actually see any residents in ‘the wild.’ None sitting on the chairs on their meticulously manicured lawn. Not sipping cocktails by the infinity pool. None watching us gape at their house from their 100’ long window on the side of their house. But we did see a lot of people working on the homes/lawn/patios/pools. We bet it gets packed on the weekend.
After leaving Myrtle Beach, we again get back in the wilds–more flat marshlands and creeks and get to our proposed anchorage site, Calabash Creek. The east side is in North Carolina. Our new state. We arrived at about 1700. Daylight. Time to anchor, get dinner, get dog into shore and relax.
The chart shows a fairly narrow anchorage in a side channel leading up to the town of Calabash. There was a trawler already in the creek (Shunda) and he calls us as we enter the anchorage to tell us that he had issues getting his anchor to stick and that the crab traps in the anchorage were taking up a good portion of the usable space. M/V Shunda wanted to know if we had knew of any other alternate anchorages. Our alternate was down the creek towards the Little River inlet. Since he had trouble, we decided to head two miles to that anchorage and check it out. He would follow us and see if he could anchor off the channel at some point.
Down the river we go to Bird Island just pro to exit in to the ocean, and there are three boats at anchor. It is now 1730. There is quite a bit of wave action coming in from the ocean and the wind is about 15 knots in the opposite direction of the waves. We pooter around, find a place turn into the wind and drop the hook. And the boat doesn’t move. Like it doesn’t back up–it just sits over the anchor and worse, it is 90 degrees to the wind, so the waves from the ocean our rocking the crap out of our boat. Apparently the wind and the current are working exactly against each other. So we pull up the anchor and try again, this time lining up against the current, drop the anchor. Same result…we sit over the anchor. We force the boat to back down on the anchor, but we return to over the top. We look at all the other boats and their orientations are all over the map. We decide to try one more time but are just as frustrated with the results of the first two times. So we decide to head up to the creek and try there. It is now 1830.
We call Shunda and tell them our plans. They had been checking out another anchorage site, but it was shoaled, so they joined us back at the creek. We both arrived at 1900. M/V Shunda having been there once already, moved to a position, dropped their anchor and were set. They then got a front row seat for our show. The ‘Donnelly drop and redrop the anchor’ show. Soon to be a YouTube hit. And possibly a Jerry Springer episode . Every time we dropped the anchor, our boat would ride up over the top of the thing. We have been on this boat for a freaking year and not seen this. The problem was that because the anchorage was so narrow, we had little swing room. So we wanted to drop the anchor close to the channel and then have the current push us out of the channel. Which it refused to do, so we ended up sitting in the middle of that stupid channel. When we dropped it out of the channel, we, of course, were pushed back into shore which was deep enough now (hight tide) but damn sure wouldn’t be deep enough in six hours at low tide. And we don’t like sitting on the ground. For an hour we dropped, picked up, moved, dropped, picked up, moved. And there were no shortage of frayed nerves. We were, across the board, frustrated.
Finally at 2000 we dropped the anchor and ended up sitting in a place that was out of the channel and that didn’t appear that we were in danger of falling back. M/V Shunda called us on the radio and said that if we had any issues during the night we could raft up with them. Good lord, there is no limit to the depths of the shame and humiliation of this day.
We get the dinghy down without killing ourselves, I get Lucky to shore while Jan and AJ make dinner in the dark. On the way back I stopped by to see the crew of M/V Shunda and to say hello. The captain stepped out on deck with a glass of red wine in his hand, a shit eating grin on his face and said the memorable words “Ain’t boating fun?”
We both laughed, though perhaps mine was more a ‘sitting on the edge of sanity’ laugh. He did provide us some insight to the whole top of the anchor. After he backed down, the wind/current mix pushed his boat over his anchor as well.
Back to our boat for some dinner and then immediately to bed to put an end to this day. Tomorrow is another long one and if it ends like this, we may have a mutiny! We also remind our selves that sometimes you get to watch the show and sometimes you ARE the show. It was our turn to be the show.
“Ain’t boating fun?”
It certainly is. Just not today.