(This labor of love is per request of Mr. J.K. Fisher. Sometimes JK, when he sees me, asks me to do a sailing piece. So, JK, this piece is for you, it’s not sailing but it is yachting.)
At this writing I am on the Intercostal Waterway between Figure Eight Island Swing Bridge and ICW marker 120. This adventure began in Charleston, S.C. and will terminate in Washington D.C. for the Memorial Day festivities. I have been told I am an adventurous soul and always have been.
My friend and yachting buddy, Chris Day, called me and asked if I wanted to help him deliver a 73 foot Outer Reef Motor yacht to Washington D.C. I said yes and we agreed on price for my navigation skills. Having never done this section of the ICW, I can understand his problem since he is the Captain and he cannot afford to pay for any mistakes out of pocket. I told him, “You can make payments for the rest of your life and not pay it off.” Thinking about it, neither could I.
I drove to Charleston to meet the yacht Sea Star, at the Harborage Marina up the Ashley River. The owner, his wife and Chris had come up from Ft. Lauderdale. I understand the yacht had left late from Lauderdale and the owner had to get to Washington D.C. before the yacht would. That prompted the call to me. All I could say was yesssssss! Just another adventure for me!
We left Charleston harbor with the owner’s sister, her husband and a friend who boarded after the owner and his wife departed. The five of us motored north on the Intercoastal Waterway at first light. We went under the swing bridge at Sullivan’s Island, which has a clearance of 31 feet, and hit the antennas as we went under it.
We traveled up the ICW all the way past Murrells Inlet until we reached the Waccamaw River and anchored. We proceeded to head up the Waccamaw River passing several beautiful country club resorts, houses and small marinas.
We were listening to the NOAA radio for the updates on the storm. I felt some relief when the storm looped back to Florida. Sea Star spent a beautiful evening on the hook and we cooked prime rib on the gas grill. It was rare and wonderful.
After listening to the weather radio, we pulled the hook and left the anchorage around 5:30 a.m. and progressed up the Intercostal passing Myrtle Beach, enjoying the scenery of the waterway. We tried to outrun the storm but it passed back over Florida and jumped on the frontal boundary and accelerated, increasing the wind.
We got to Oak Island and pulled into to the St. James marina because of the tropical storm, Beryl, and its winds. It just was two windy to anchor out in the Cape Fear River at Southport. We had been outrunning Beryl since we left Charleston Harbor.
After a well-deserved rest, we resumed our trip northward on the ICW and onward towards Swansboro to an anchorage and set the hook. Still outrunning Beryl, we waited until late the next morning and let everybody sleep in. Since the run to Moorhead City was short, anchor was pulled at 10 a.m. and slipped the anchorage and again went north to Morehead City and again set hook just north of the City.
The next morning there were a few miles to cover to get across the Neuse River and the Pamlico River. We were able to kick up the r.p.m.s on the 1,001 horsepower diesel engines, and up to the Alligator River to dock for the evening at a new marina. The only problem was the restaurant closed at 6:30 p.m. so we missed dinner, so we had shrimp on the barby.
After a great night’s sleep, Sea Star left the dock and proceeded to Coinjock, NC. This was the best place we docked for the night and dinner at the restaurant was at least a five star dinner. There were at least 15 yachts docked at the marina and a big boat party broke out. The party went yacht to yacht. Sea Star was not the largest boat. Freedom, a one hundred and four foot 1926 Trumpy, took honors. She was wood and maintained in a pristine condition.
After the great evening we pulled away dock and headed north again to Norfolk, VA where we docked at Ft. Monroe. The trip through Norfolk Naval Yard was an interesting event, with a new carrier being built and all the frigates and the other warships and leviathans lying in dry-dock. Security was pretty tight.
The next day anchor was pulled and Sea Star left the Norfolk Navy Yard and proceeded northwest up the Chesapeake Bay and then headed to the Potomac River. Again in an open body of water, we advanced the throttle on the 2002 hp engines and moved along until we entered the Potomac River and started toward Washington DC. In the river, we came along some river kill, a big buck who had drowned trying to swim the river that George Washington threw a silver dollar across, yea right…
We anchored at the Highway 301 Bridge just shy of the National Harbor Marina in Maryland at the I- 95 bridges across the Potomac. The next day we proceeded to the marina and docked to be met by the owner and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The Senator was docked at the marina and lived in a condo there. I fixed his canvas and showed him how to maintain the fabric.
It took two days to clean and wash the Sea Star, during which time the Senator and I got to be friends. His wife was out of town and he and I spent three days enjoying the evenings and local cuisine before his wife returned.
Ps. For anyone interested: 73’ Sea Star cost $9,500,000 new! Pocket change?