Friday, May 19, 2017

An Alligator, a Jerk, and an Angel

Friday, April 28, 2017

Got a leisurely start at 8:15am and left Charleston, bound for McClellenville, a distance of only 36 NM.  Got there about 2:30pm and anchored again in Five Fathom Creek, where we had stopped on the way south last fall.  This deep creek is just off of the channel used by the commercial shrimp boats to get to the ocean, and they sometimes anchor there overnight.  We went far enough into the shallows to be well away from them.

The hundreds of acres of marshes look very different from the way they did in fall.  Then, they were all golden brown, as far as the eye could see, but now they were all vibrant green.  A little buggier than in the fall, but nothing our screens couldn't handle.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

After leaving McClellenville we continued to head north.  While crossing through a cut through the Santee Swamp, we encountered a 6-foot alligator swimming along the shore, headed for the reeds!  Joan managed to get a photo of it.  It's the only alligator we've seen from the boat on the entire trip!
Our day's travel took us into the beautiful Wacamaw river, where we were planning on anchoring once again in Thoroughfare creek, just off the main river.  Those of you who have been following this blog may remember that last Fall, this was the site of our anchoring fiasco that ended up with our anchor line wrapped around the prop, and me having to go diving in the pitch-black freezing water to untangle it by touch alone. 

I really wasn't happy with this location, but there are few good choices on the Wacamaw, as the water tends to go abruptly from too deep (35 ft) to too shallow.  So we carefully surveyed the depths back and forth, and found the one spot that that was good.  We set up just downwind of it and I hovered in place for a minute to give Joanie enough time to set the proper line length on the trip line float.  While we were doing this,  a big trawler named "Traveler" came around the bend, ignored the fact that we were getting ready to anchor, motored right past us and dropped their anchor right in the spot we had just picked out!  I was furious!  We then tried to work around them, but downstream of them it was too deep, and upstream we would be too close!  Holding my tongue, and following the philosophy that the only person whose actions I can control is me,  we proceeded upstream to look for another anchorage.

But it was fruitless.  The water was either too deep, or the depth was ok but the creek was too narrow to allow for swinging room with a proper amount of scope out.   After a half an hour of this, we gave up.  I turned the boat back downstream, gave the helm to Joan, and got out the charts in another hurried attempt to find a spot that looked usable before dark.

We spent the next 3 hours hunting.  The first spot I found on the charts wasn't workable at all in reality.  The second spot looked promising, but a large steel ketch named "Steel Away" was already anchored there, and there wasn't enough good water for a second boat.  The third spot was just barely usable, but it was a poor choice being just outside of the channel and close to the shoreline.  We decided to make the best of this, as we were running out of both time and river, as just North of us the ICW narrows into a canal that doesn't have any possibilities until north of Myrtle Beach!

As we were slowly going back and forth to find the best spot, a trawler passed us by, then hailed us on channel 16 to ask if we were having trouble.  Yin and Yang.  For every jerk, there's a good guy to balance out the universe!  Anyway, when we told him we were just looking for a spot to anchor for the night, he told us that if we could hold on for an hour more, there was a a real sweet spot just an hours travel north of us!  He said the depths ranged from 10 to 20 feet.  10 feet would work for us!  So, after thanking him profusely,  we crossed our fingers and headed north once again.  Now, we were committed, as daylight would be running out when we got there, and there would be no more spots north of there.  We would have to make this one work!

The location we were heading for is of a type called an "oxbow".  Its where a small branch of the river goes around an island and rejoins the main river.  Its ideal, as there should be no traffic on it.

When we got there, we found that there was room for about 5 boats, but 3 of the spots were already occupied.  We went into the first available spot and everything looked good!  The depth was great and there was plenty of swinging room.

But the anchor wouldn't set!  As soon as we started to pull back on it, tremendous amounts of bubbles started boiling up above the anchor, as it released gasses from tons of decaying leaves on the bottom.  The consistency was like mush, and the anchor just plowed through it without holding! :(

After two failed attempts, we retrieved the anchor and went to the last available spot.  This one was less desirable, as it was right in the mouth of the side creek where it rejoined the main river, so it was closer to the traffic in the channel.  But it was all we had left, and the depth and swinging room were both good.  Crossing our fingers, we dropped the anchor and trip line and paid out chain and line.  Once we had it out, I put the engine in reverse to set the anchor ... and it held!

Life is good.

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