Please don’t tell her I said this, but I’ve been a little disappointed by what my mom has given me for Mother’s Day over the past few years. THIS YEAR, though, this year she really outdid herself and gave me the best Mother’s Day gift a son could ask for – a new edition of Mom’s Corner! Check it out!
Since my last post, I’ve transited south Georgia, north Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. I’m currently in the Dismal Swamp, which is not nearly as depressing as it sounds. It’s actually quite lovely. The odd name dates back to when the area was discovered by a female European explorer. In a cruel twist of fate, she stumbled upon this beautiful marshland during “that time” of the month, and the rest is history. Wait whoa! I don’t mean THAT time of the month! Get your mind out of the gutter – I mean it was a crescent moon, so at night it was very, very dark and dismal. I’m pretty sure I read that in a book.
Anyway, the last few weeks have been filled with action. I met up with my friend Steve in Savannah, GA, who came aboard for the trip to Charleston, SC. We spent a full day & night in Savannah, which is known as one of the most haunted cities in America. We did have quite a few dark encounters with dangerous spirits, but the spirit was always rum, and the encounters were both dark and stormy. We woke up early the next morning (although not as early as we’d planned…) to launch on a 2-day trek to Charleston, with a stop in Beaufort, SC, in the middle.
The intra-coastal waterway does quite a bit of winding along the coastline, and passes by a lot of inlets of varying sizes that carry ocean water in or out depending on the tides. The result is that the currents (i.e. whether the water will be moving with you or against you) can be funky and tricky to predict. What I’m trying to get at here is that I have an excuse – I know, I know what they say about excuses – for the fact that I did a bad job of trip planning and we were basically fighting against the current the entire way from Savannah to Charleston. When your boat goes 5-6 mph, and the current runs at 1-2 mph, it makes a big difference…and we had some long days on the water. The weather was occasionally nasty too (this was during Tropical Storm Ana a few weeks ago), but Steve handled it all well. For the most part. He did get seasick during one particularly wet & wild stretch, which raises my rate of visiting friends puking to about 60%. And people are impressed by Ted Williams hitting .400 one year? Please.
Once we got to Charleston, we acted as aristocratic as we possibly could, and fit in pretty well for the most part. I saw my first alligator of the whole trip! It was captive in the Charleston aquarium, and it was an albino alligator – totally white body with red eyes. Pretty creepy. And yeah, I still haven’t spotted a wild gator…unless you count the University of Florida spring breakers who made me get a UF tattoo on my butt cheek. I guess it’s better than an FU tattoo? Just kidding mom, none of that actually happened.
Steve flew out of Charleston, and I’ve since continued to meander up the ICW. As I inch closer and closer to home, I’ve noticed something dangerous happening. Various small holes have been developing in my boat. But that’s just because I’ve been doing some interior decorating and drilling holes to hang pictures, so it’s not the dangerous thing I’m talking about. The dangerous thing I’m talking about is that I’m starting to let my guard down. For the first few months of the trip, I was terrified at all times because I was still figuring out how the boat worked, how to navigate, etc. And then the riskiest part of the trip was traveling offshore around Florida and through the Bahamas, so I made sure I was on my A-game for that too. But now that I’m back stateside, traveling on mostly protected ICW waters, it’s easy to get lazy and go into mental auto-pilot mode. And I’ve had a few mishaps, partially as a result of that mindset. And partially because I may have wronged Poseidon.
Let’s break this down courtroom-evidence-style.
Exhibit A: Back when I was way down near Daytona Beach, FL, I was motoring along the ICW, in all likelihood listening to a Katy Perry song. Having returned from the Bahamas not too long before, I was very happy to be back on American soil. Until the boat came to a sudden halt and I realized that I was actually on American soil. I had been making sure that I was staying between the red and green buoys, but not paying much attention to my charts…as it turns out, the visual markers sometimes don’t tell you everything you need to know, and I’d plowed right into a shallow muddy shoal. I tried to put the engine in reverse and back out, but had no luck – I was stuck in the muck. Fortunately, about two minutes later, another sailboat came by and called me on the radio, asking for the name of my vessel. I said “Chiefly Driftin’,” and the guy said, “you’re not chiefly driftin’ at the moment – are you?” (I’ll admit I deserved that one). I thought about getting him back with a YO MAMA joke or something along those lines, but he kindly offered to help pull me out of the mud, so I refrained. And he was able to yank me loose – crisis #1 averted.
Exhibit B: A couple of days after leaving Charleston, I pulled into a little town called Georgetown, SC and dropped anchor in the harbor. Georgetown has a pretty narrow harbor, lined on one side by a mostly deserted island, and on the other side by the town waterfront, with a scattered mix of public and private docks. About 20 minutes after I anchored, a guy yelled over to me from an outdoor bar/patio and said that he’d buy me a beer if I rowed in, hung out, and told him how a boat from Connecticut had ended up in South Carolina. Sounded like a good deal to me, so I took him up on it and had a fun night chatting with him and a few other local charter captains. I went back to the boat, fell asleep, and woke up at about 5am to a gentle thud, thud, thud on the side of the boat. When I poked my head out, I found that the wind had picked up overnight, and my anchor had dragged across the harbor. This was NOT where I parked my car! The boat was now resting broadside along a few wooden pilings at some random private dock. Whoops. The situation could have been much worse (dragging aground, or into a concrete wall, etc.) or much, MUCH worse (hitting somebody else’s boat). I had read that the anchor holding in the Georgetown harbor was shaky, so I should have been more careful and set a couple of alarms throughout the night. I was lucky it didn’t turn out worse – crisis #2 averted.
All things considered, the boat is still in one piece and I’m in pretty good shape. Well I’m actually not in shape at all, but you know what I mean. I’m planning to reach Norfolk tomorrow, spend the weekend rocking out at a beachside music festival in Virginia Beach with my friends Andrew (who is flying down from NYC), Peyton (who lives in VA Beach), and Lynyrd (who is performing, last name Skynyrd) and then start moving up through the Chesapeake Bay next week.
I should be home about a month from today, which means it is almost time to start turning into a real person again. As somebody who always likes to be prepared, I’ve recently spent some time studying society and trying to figure out how the scene has changed since I left civilization last July. The most important thing I learned is that there’s an election coming up on the horizon, and candidates are beginning to emerge. I don’t want to sound like a dim-witted numbskull when somebody asks me who I’m voting for, so I’ve been doing plenty of research. And in spite of his scandalous past, his advancing age, and the fact that many people don’t think he was born in America (news flash: he was), I’m planning to vote for Alex Rodriguez to start at DH in the MLB All-Star Game. Sure, call me a partisan Yankees fan, but the guy is hitting over .275 with 11 home runs so far this season. You may agree or disagree, but I’d encourage all of you to get off your butts, exercise your right as an American League fan, and vote for somebody.
Oh, and one more piece of news – I added a bunch of new photos! As it turns out, I’d been neglecting the “reel” portion of the blog since like last August. Huh, who knew. So you’ll now find pics from Canada all the way through the Bahamas. I had neither the time, energy, nor initiative to add captions for all of them, so it’ll be more like a self-guided tour of the Loop. Don’t get lost in there.