Jake still has no working SPOT, but since he just paddled back into cell range he thought he’d check-in. Jake camped near the Canal St (Hwy 94) bridge last night, and was awoken by a deluge of rain around 3 am. He’s currently just south of the Alligator River Bridge (Hwy 64) and plans to paddle a few more miles north today before crossing the Albemarle Sound tomorrow. He says it’s a tad breezy and the weather forecast for today was way off, therefore he’s been hugging the eastern bank and dodging stumps.
Start: 5:50 AM- Cedar Point, NC (Barrier Island Kayaks)
Finish: 3:30 PM - Core Creek, NC (ICW)
Daily dist: 30 miles
Total dist: 3000+ miles
Weather: ENE wind 10-15 (head wind) chilly temps high barely 70 late in the day
Notes: Headwinds slowed me the first five hours then I ended up working against a tidal flow the last three hours.
One could say that I have every right to change my mind. After all I’m the one that has to deal with the repercussions of the decisions I make, good and bad. After two days of considering every conceivable route from Cedar Point, NC to Norfolk, VA I had finally decided to run along the west side of the Outer Banks traversing the length of Pamlico Sound. The route would follow along one of the most remote strips of land on the east coast passing by small villages along the way. The route is not without its drawbacks however, it would wind through famously shallow and shoaly water which would require me to often paddle at least two miles off shore to be in water deep enough to ensure efficient progress. Running so far from shore would mean that the remote and beautiful islands I had meant to see would be mere strips of green separating the blue of the water from the blue of the sky. The only time I’d have a chance to see “The Banks” up close would be when I wound my way through the shallows back to shore.
Having passed through the upper Big Bend area of Florida running well off shore I know how un-exciting that kind of paddling can be. Then when it came to finding camp sites I would have essentially been winging it knowing that the mouths of inlets would provide sandy breaks in the marsh grass on which to camp. Or, as I’d been informed, often duck blinds can make good impromptu camp sites when one can’t negotiate the shallows to get to shore.
As I paddled into the wind this morning, I considered and re-considered my reasons for wanting to paddle the Outer Banks. When I finally thought it through my reason was because I’d heard so much about the area. It seems as though I’d heard from dozens of people who’d camped out there. The reality is though that those people didn’t paddle the entire length of the barrier islands. Instead they took shorter trips to the premier spots most often in the southern most uninhabited islands. Those kinds of trips allow you to see and experience the best of a place while avoiding some of the not so good parts. With this in mind I weighed my options of the Outer Banks route I’d plotted through shallow, often unmarked, water two miles from shore, to camp sites I was not sure about - verses the ICW which is well marked in deep water with spoil islands to camp on in many places.
So, by the time I reached Morehead City my mind was made up, I’d decided to run the ICW. The Outer Banks would have to wait for my return with a surf boat to frolic in the famous waves on the outside and with friends to take along to enjoy the famous camping there is to be had in the remote islands. For now I’ll be sticking to a sure route that will keep me moving toward the main target way back in Wisconsin. This “alternative” route will not be without its interesting bits. The ICW between here and Norfolk runs well inland along a mixture of long canals and large (actually huge) rivers and sounds which will offer significant challenges and sill provide natural beauty in abundance. Now it’s up to me to sort out the details of the next six days of paddling.
I’m making this a quick post in order to get back to bed and get some much needed sleep. I had intended on posting when I got off the water today but I’m not sure I’ll have a cell connection. In fact I’m not sure I’ll have a solid connection until next Thursday. I just wanted to make sure I had a chance to say Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all the moms that have to endure the worry of watching their children do crazy things like this trip.
Today I once again borrowed Lamar’s car so I could drive 80 miles round trip to acquire another SPOT. With a little help from my friend Neil in FL we got it registered and fully functional. With a couple hours spent pouring over the charts again I am finally ready to get back on the water and start heading north.
Thankfully I didn’t have to spend Mother’s Day alone. Instead Lamar invited me out to his house to share the day with his family and very close friends. At least 12 of us sat down around a pair of tables and enjoyed a wonderful lasagna dinner. Afterward we were entertained by one of Lamar’s former employees who is now a professional singer while we ate an amazing rhubarb pie for desert. Thank you Lamar, Lisa, and your entire family for helping me out over the last three days. I couldn't do it without all the help folks have given me.
Today was an exercise in frustration as well as a lesson in just how generous and giving people can be.
If you noticed the headline on the home page of this web site lately you will know that as of last Thursday morning my SPOT locator beacon has not been working. I discovered this fact when I tried to turn it on at the boat ramp Thursday and the on/off indicator light wouldn’t come on. It was already a late morning start and with over thirty miles to paddle before I could reach a campable spot I called the administrative wing of my support crew (A.K.A. my sister-in-law) Amy to see if she could contact SPOT to see what could be done.
A check in call at the end of the day revealed that Amy had essentially been unable to get anywhere because, without the device with her, she couldn’t answer the tech advisor’s questions. At least she was able to get me SPOT’s tech support number which I finally had a chance to call yesterday afternoon after I arrived at Lamar’s place. The call amounted to a somewhat frustrating time on the phone where by my English language skills were stretched to the limit while trying to explain my situation. The conversation went something like this;
- me - “Hi I’m having trouble with my SPOT, I can’t seem to get it to turn on. I push the on button and no lights come on.”
- them - “Did you do a re-boot?”
- me - “No, how do you do that?”
- them - “You need to start by turning the device off, then turn it back on.”
- me - “R..r.r.right, so how do I know when it’s turned off?”
- them - “When the green light goes off.”
- me - “R..r.r.right, I told you that no lights are coming on.”
- them - “Then you need to turn the device on.”
- me - (after banging head on wall) “That’s the problem…it won’t turn on.”
- them - “You need to do a re-boot.”
Excreta, excreta, excreta…
Long story short, what did come out of the conversation was that the device was “probably defective” but still covered under warrantee and that it would have to be shipped back to the manufacturer in order to be repaired or replaced. This process, because I registered the device using my parent’s address, would go as follows. The SPOT people would send a return package to my parent’s house back in Wisconsin. I’d then have to ship the SPOT there so my mom could put the device in their return box and ship it back to the factory. Four to eight weeks later the factory would then send a functioning device back to my parents who would then send it to whatever address I could find ahead of wherever I was by then. Essentially it could take up to two and a half months to get it all sorted out. Hence the start of today’s frustrations.
I would never put myself in a situation where I had to rely on an electronic device as an integral part of my safety equipment. Batteries wear out, things get wet, and sometimes they simply don’t work. I’d rather put my faith in good judgment, skill, and the correct gear like exposure clothing and a PFD to keep me safe. To me, electronics (including my cell phone, VHF radio, and the SPOT device) are there to be used as backup safety when I’ve screwed up bad someplace else. I never put myself in any sort of harms way with the belief that a piece of battery powered electronics is allowing me to be there. My trouble with the SPOT is case in point.
Yet I consider the SPOT to be a very important part of my equipment. Why? Because sharing this trip with others is very important to me, and the “OK” button and messages that the SPOT can send allow that to happen even when I can’t connect with anyone any other way. It’s my way to say “Hey check this spot out, isn’t it amazing.” Or “Don’t worry mom, I’m off the water and am doing fine.” With the device not functioning over the last two days on the water I was able to use my GPS and a cell phone to first let my loved ones know I was off the water at the end of the day, and secondly to call in my location so Neil “my statistician” could update my location on the website. This system isn’t as convenient as simply pushing a button on the SPOT, but it works. The problem (and reason I’m in such a hurry to get a new device) is that I am a day away from entering what will be a very remote section of coast where cell service will be hit and miss at best. No cell service means I will essentially fall off the radar for a few days. It doesn’t bother me in the least to paddle “un-covered” but it does bother me that I wouldn’t be able to share the adventure. Unfortunately, from here it will be at least eight days before I could get to another store that might carry a replacement SPOT, so I want to get it taken care of while I can.
Enter Lamar and unbelievable generosity.
After I decided that I’d be staying around an extra day to talk to Lamar’s friend about what to expect along the Outer Banks it also gave me an extra day to track down a new SPOT. West Marine is the only store in the area that carries the device so Lamar and his wife Lisa graciously offered up their Jeep so I could drive to the store in the morning. So, bright and early I made the thirty mile drive to Morehead City to pick up a new SPOT only to discover that they didn’t have any in stock. The salesman there was extremely helpful and managed to track down another device in a different location sixty miles away in another direction. By this time Lamar’s friend Thom had arrived at the kayak store so I zipped back over there to re-group and go over the maps of the area with him.
While Thom and I talked Lamar made a few calls of his own and tracked down a SPOT device at a different West Marine thankfully only forty miles away. So after a couple hours of pouring over the maps with Thom, exploring the different routes that can be taken through and around the Outer Banks, I climbed back into Lisa’s Jeep and made the drive to New Burn North Carolina. There, in the birthplace of Pepsi Cola, I found the West Marine bought a new SPOT locator and headed directly back to Cedar Point to get the Jeep back before Lamar and Lisa had to get to a wedding.
At the kayak store I borrowed a desk and jumped on the internet to activate the new SPOT. It was then that I learned that in order to swap my already existing service to the new device I’d need the serial numbers off the old one. This would normally be no big deal, however, I had just mailed the old one out to my parents three hours earlier before the post office closed and I missed my chance to send it. I called SPOT’s tech support number to discover that they’re not open on the weekends and wouldn’t be open again until 8:00 AM Monday morning. I had every intention to be back on the water by Sunday morning so I found myself in a bit of a pinch. What I decided to do was activate the new device under a new service plan (paying another $100) and sort out a way to swap and rebate my money later on. Certainly the SPOT people will be able to help me there…right?
Moments later when I put the batteries in the brand new (straight out of the box) SPOT my new service plan and such was a mute point because
IT DOESN’T WORK EITHER!
I could have screamed…
By now it was 5:00 in the evening and I had already spent three hours driving 120 miles to two different stores and spent over $250 on devices and service plans and $20 on gas only to end up exactly where I started. With a SPOT device that won’t turn on. I quickly called the West Marine in NewBurn and asked them to please hold the other SPOT they have so I could exchange the defective one I have. Of course, because I “activated” it they won’t be able to take it back because it now can’t be re-sold. Of course for some the fact that IT DOESN’T WORK might be reason enough to not re-sell it.
Without wheels to make a second eighty mile round trip drive to pick up a third SPOT device (which I asked the guys at West Marine to put batteries in to test by the way) I was stuck for the rest of the night. I did call Lamar and leave a message on his cell phone to let him know what was up. Moments later (after the wedding ceremony) he called me back and offered up the Jeep again so I could drive out to get the new SPOT. By then I’d already decided that it was a sign that perhaps I should stay a second day to get myself sorted out before I continue on. As it was with all the time I burned running around all day I didn’t have much of the blogging and map work done that I’d hoped to on a full day off.
With a second full day off ahead of me and my head swimming with the frustrations of the day I decided that I needed time away from it all so I made my way to a local theater and escaped reality for a couple hours while I watched the new “Iron Man II” movie.
Tomorrow (Sunday) I will once again borrow Lamar’s Jeep to drive out to pick up a third device for another $140 and hope to get it activated so I can finally get back on the water very early Monday morning. I wish I could talk to a customer service person from SPOT before I get back on the water but I have to take advantage of a break in the weather and keep moving. I may have cell coverage Monday night so I’m sure then I will be able to talk to someone at SPOT to get this all sorted out.
Start: 6:15 AM - Sneads Ferry, NC
Finish: 11:00 AM - Cedar Point, NC (Barrier Island Kayaks)
Daily dist: 14 miles
Total dist: 3000+ miles
Weather: Clear with highs in the 80’s
Notes: A short run that took longer than I expected to Lamar Hudgen’s store Barrier Island Kayaks.
It always seems as though when I have a short day of paddling planed it takes forever to get to my destination. It must be the excitement of having a partial day off, or perhaps just the break in routine that disrupts my rhythm and thus my ability to sit in the boat for even half as long as I would on a normal day. Today with a 14 mile run to visit Lamar at Barrier Island Kayaks, I figured an average pace would get me there in about three and a half hours. The tides did work against me a bit and I may have calculated the distance incorrectly, either way it took an hour longer to get here than I planned and I was getting quite squirmy in my seat by the time I arrived.
When I started planning this trip last summer I placed a pin in Swansboro North Carolina very early on. After meeting Lamar at a symposium at Sea Kayak Georgia the previous year and working with him to get NDK boats shipped to Aqua Adventures in San Diego, I knew that he was a great guy and could help me sort things out when I came through his area. He was actually at the Sweetwater symposium down in Florida in February but I didn’t have much of a chance to chat with him. Mostly just a how’s it going… I’m on my way. Over the last week or so we’d been playing phone tag but had never actually spoken to each other. Just the same, when I crawled off the water and wandered up to his door he greeted me with open arms and a big hug. He truly is as nice as everyone says.
Lamar is just now in the midst of gearing up for the upcoming busy summer season. Yet he made time to take me to lunch and help me track down some fresh lithium batteries to hopefully cure what ails my SPOT device. After I sorted my gear and got organized I had a chance to query Lamar on what he knew about the route(s) ahead. Information that I desperately need in order to figure out just how I’m going to get myself to Norfolk.
When he realized that he couldn’t help me beyond a certain point, Lamar put in a call to a friend that runs shrimp boats up and down the Outer Banks and is a kayaker. Thom the shrimp captain has a unique blend of experience that allows him to not only have seen much of the area but also know how it relates to a kayaker’s needs. From the phone call we learned that Thom was happy to give me some advice however he couldn’t make it over today but probably could in the morning. I had intended to stay for only a half day but with an opportunity to get valuable local knowledge, and with a need to track down a new SPOT device, it was worth sticking around an extra day. So as long as I was going to be here for more than just one night, Lamar invited me home to his house to grab a shower and sleep in a real bed. He also invited me to join him and his wife Lisa at their friend’s (and former employee‘s) rented vacation house for some dinner and good company.
Start: 9:00 AM - Wrightsville Beach
Finish: 5:30 PM - Sneads Ferry
Daily dist: 34 miles
Total dist: 3000+ miles
Weather: Warm and mostly clear with SE 10-15 wind
Notes: This morning I discovered that my SPOT device wasn’t working.
Today started out at Robert’s house with a fantastic breakfast of Cheerios (anything but oatmeal is heaven now days). Then, before he had to hustle off to work, Robert dropped me off at the Wildlife Boat Landing in Wrightsville Beach. The weather promised tolerable winds so from the boat launch I ran about three miles north out the next cut to the open coast.
I must admit that over time the open coast in the Southeast US starts to become a little, shall we say, predictable. As I paddle north the scenery on my left “varies” from developed beach houses and condos to undeveloped tree lined shores all fringed by sand beaches. On my right is… well… water. Don’t get me wrong it’s thrilling to feel the energy of the ocean via the swells pulsing under me and see all manner of marine life from dolphins and sea birds to sea turtles (of which I saw seven Loggerheads today).
However, after a full day of feeling the ocean’s energy it can start to wear you out. For this reason I often find running up the inside on the ICW to be more stimulating. While I don’t stand as much of a chance to see things like sea turtles, there is much more to see overall. The protected water of the ICW, which often mixes with fresh water rivers, seems to hold much more wildlife in a more compact area allowing for more up close encounters. On the inside I still see dolphin but also see, herons, gulls, pelicans, small turtles, occasional gators, and several other animals, not to mention PEOPLE! Many folks don’t care to bump elbows with other folks while they’re out enjoying the outdoors. I on the other hand, after being on the trail for five months, don’t mind at all. It’s fun for me to paddle past people’s docks and backyards and see them mowing their lawns or reading a book while swinging in a hammock. It was a goal for me to paddle around the US through people’s “backyards” and on the ICW I’m often doing exactly that.
All this being said, I have to say that today, while I paddled along over 20 miles of Topsail and North Topsail beaches watching a parade of nearly cookie cutter beach homes pass by, (dare I say) I got a little bored. Part of my problem was due to the fact that my head wasn’t really in the game because I was worried about the fact that my SPOT device decided to quit working this morning. I had a hunch that it wouldn’t be an easy thing to sort out and when I checked in with my sister-in-law Amy who was contacting SPOT to see what could be done things didn’t look good. Perhaps I was just more frustrated with that trouble than anything else.
The day did have its highlights such as the seven sea turtles I saw along with several dolphin feeding on dozens of huge and dense bait balls (schools of minnows) that I could see in the clear cool water off the coast.
The end of the day brought me back inside to a sandy island just inside Chadwick Bay across from Camp Lejune Marine Corps Base where I was lulled to sleep by the low tone rumble of bombs exploding in practice maneuvers the marines were running somewhere in the distance. Ah yes… CIVILIZATION!
Start: 6:30 AM- Carolina Beach, NC
Finish: 10:30 AM - Wrightsville Beach, NC
Daily dist: 12 miles
Total dist: 2900+ miles
Companions: Virginia from Carolina Beach, NC
Weather: Partly cloudy, calm, glassy water, warm
Notes: A great day of paddling followed by running around doing errands.
The generosity people have shown me on this trip has been incredible. Yesterday with Virginia and her family, and today with everyone I met last night, are humbling examples. I can’t believe I somehow don’t pictures of everyone that helped me out.
As I said on yesterday’s post Chris had volunteered his car for Virginia and I to use to shuttle ourselves around after our paddle in the morning. To make it work everything hinged on Chris’s car being at the take out waiting for us when we arrived. With faith that there would be a car waiting for us ten miles north Virginia launched into a beautifully calm morning and headed on the open coast toward Wrightsville. After enjoying an amazing paddle on glassy smooth water we arrived at the “wildlife ramp” in Wrightsville and Chris’s car, with two sets of kayak carriers was there in the parking lot waiting for us (complete with a key in a hiding spot). What was also waiting for us was a reporter and photographer from a local newspaper.
While Virginia and I sorted gear and loaded our boats Amy the reporter chatted to me about the trip. She hadn’t exhausted her questioning by the time we were ready to go so she followed us down to Carolina Beach where I dropped Virginia off and bid farewell. Amy and I then went to a local restaurant for lunch and finished chatting about the trip.
From there I drove back up to Wrightsville and spent the rest of the day running errands in Chris’s car. One stop included the Outdoor Provision Company where Robert works where I picked up a new lightweight sleeping bag. The heavy (20 degree) bag I’ve been carrying has gone un-used for the last two weeks as the temperatures have steadily warmed as summer draws near. That stop was followed by a run for groceries then a stop for a second lunch at Subway. Before I knew it the day was over and it was time to pick Chris up from work and to have him drop me off at Robert’s house where I’d be staying. By the time we got there Robert’s girlfriend Melissa was expecting us for dinner and treated us to an amazing meal, my fourth of the day.
After Robert returned from his closing shift at the store we chatted about paddling and ACA vs. BCU kayak training until I could no longer muster the strength to keep my eye lids from drooping.
It was a great day with fantastic new friends that I can’t wait to paddle with again. That time may come sooner than later with Chris as he’s trying to sort out some time away from work, and a car shuttle, that would allow him to join me for a couple days. It would be great to have more company on the water so I hope he can work it out.
Start: 6:30 AM- Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Finish: 2:30 PM - Carolina Beach, NC
Daily dist: 32 miles
Total dist: 2900+ miles
Weather: Fog, Rain, Calm winds, Warm
Notes: A fun day running up the ICW with rain showers. Thankfully headed toward a night with new friends.
The spoil island I camped on last night was ringed by marsh grass. So, today started how yesterday ended with a wet and somewhat muddy 30 yard drag. Because oysters live amongst the marsh grass I had to protect the hull of the boat from their sharp shells. What I did was scoop up arm loads of dead marsh grass that previous high tides have deposited in large mats on top of the new grass. I then laid the straw-like mats along the drag trail padding the boat from the oysters and me from a bit of the mud below as well. It worked quite well and I was on the water in a hurry.
The weather predictions showed showers and possible thunder storms all day so I had my heavy paddling jacket out and ready. One little downpour put me in the jacket for about a half hour until I was just as wet from overheating than I would have been in the rain. So took the jacket off and for the rest of the day I enjoyed an occasional cooling fresh water shower while I paddled north.
Thankfully with the rain, my destination for the night was the home of a local paddler named Virginia. She had heard about the trip from a local paddling club and a gentleman I had met when I visited the kayak festival in Charleston. Her husband Curry and Tomas her son teased her about inviting home a man she had only met on the internet. When I reached the “wildlife launch” in Carolina Beach I called Virginia and she came over with her car to take me home. It had only been a few days since I stayed with Ronnie and Sylvia from the marina but a hot shower, warm meal, and company felt great.
I can’t believe I don’t have any pictures of the evening, but Virginia invited over a few local paddling friends to join us for dinner who included Robert (whom I’d met in Charleston), Chris, and his girlfriend Laine. While we dined on exceptionally good fish tacos we sorted out the details of how to coordinate a paddle for Virginia and I from Carolina Beach up to Wrightsville Beach ten miles up the coast. The tricky part was sorting out transportation once Virginia and I reached the take out. Amazingly Chris volunteered his car for us to use to shuttle ourselves around while he was at work. In the end it only took two hours to sort out the details for the four hour paddle but the plan was hatched.
Start: 6:30 AM- Myrtle Beach, SC
Break time: 12:00 to about 4:00 PM
Finish: 6:00 PM - North of Sunset Beach, NC
Daily dist: 33 miles
Total dist: 2,932 miles
Weather: South wind about 15mph, partly cloudy, warm
Notes: Hello from the Bridge Grill in Sunset Beach NORTH Carolina!
A special hello to all of Jen's family that I've been with here before.
I miss you all and wish you were here.
Hello from Sunset Beach North Carolina.
I crossed the state line at about 11:30 this morning.
Today was a great day!
By some wonder of hydrology that shouldn’t have happened, I managed to ride the tide on the ICW all the way from Myrtle Beach, SC 22 miles across the state line to Sunset Beach, NC. Sunset Beach I know after vacationing here with Jen’s family for a couple weeks in summers past. From those vacations I knew there was a mini golf course and pizza restaurant just inland from the Sunset Beach pontoon bridge. So to celebrate the end of one state and the beginning of another I landed the Ikkuma and walked up to the Bridge Grill and ordered a medium pizza.
The girl at the bar allowed me to plug I my computer and use their internet connection while I wait for my batteries to charge. So I’m able to get caught up on some e-mails and today’s blog without worrying about running my batteries down. I’ll probably hang out another hour or so then put two or three more hours in on the water before finding a camp site on one of the many spoil islands along the Intracoastal in this area. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Start: 7:30 AM - Heritage Plantation Marina (near Pawleys Island, SC)
Finish: 3:00 PM - ICW on the back side of Myrtle Beach, SC
Daily dist: 28 miles
Total dist: 2700+ miles
Weather: Sunny, breezy, HOT and humid
Notes: A long hot day on the ICW, never sure where I would be able to camp.
It seems as though in this phase of the game most of my days on the water are just that, (days on the water) whatever conditions Mother Nature throws at me I simply have to deal with. Be it wind, rain, tides, swell, there is no point in stressing over it, I just have to do what needs to be done to be safe and hopefully put a few more miles behind me. Of course I wouldn’t be out here if I couldn’t appreciate the experiences I’ve had and the natural beauty and wildlife I am exposed to on a daily basis. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come to realize that what seems to make a break the day for me is where I manage to find a place to camp at the end of the day.
My days would be simpler, more enjoyable, and much less stressful if I knew exactly where I’d be spending the night and that the spot in question was at least good enough to be comfortable. Even though things have worked out for the best, what I dealt with over the last three days include; Friday) Cape Romain a spot I feared getting harassed (and possibly thrown off of by the authorities. Saturday) having no clue where I might find dry land before dark and luckily connecting with Ronnie at the Heritage Plantation marina. Sunday) Today, running on only what I could ascertain from Google Earth images on a long ditch of the ICW in a heavily developed and populated area, I thankfully found an awesome spot near a municipal water treatment facility that, with luck, I won‘t be found and booted out of before morning.
As if paddling 30 miles every day isn’t enough the stress of not knowing what camp is going to be is quite a drag. The “where on earth am I gong to spend the night?” question is like a grey cloud looming over the entire day. I long for the days on the Mississippi River where decided how long I wanted to paddle and when I reached that hour I simply grabbed the first beautiful sand bar that I passed, no questions asked. With what I believe to be dredge spoil islands along the ICW (similar to what worked so well in Florida) things are looking better for the next few days.
All that being said I scored a great spot today. The Intracoastal around here is really not much more than a thirty mile long ditch a hundred yards wide lined on both sides by steep tree covered banks from when the ditch was cut. On a hot Sunday like this one it is jamb packed with boats of all types and sizes all trying to outdo one another for who can go the fastest in such a crowded and confined waterway. As I paddled early in the day I watched the shore line for clues to what might indicate a good spot to camp. It broke down into a few requirements. It had to have a place to get the kayak out of the water, a way to get to the top of the 20 high bank above, and a relatively clear flat spot to put the tent. As I passed some sort of concrete structure housing an intake pipe for a water treatment facility of some kind, I noticed there was a seemingly seldom used boat ramp leading out of the water and running up to what looked like a flat grassy spot tucked into the woods on top of the bank above. It was about an hour before I was planning on stopping but I was in no position to pass up what looked like a great spot. So I landed and, sure enough, I had found the perfect spot. Easy access off the water and a secluded little grassy area above that even has a great view of the water below.
What a find!
Start: 6:30 AM - Cape Romain, SC
Finish: 3:30 PM - Heritage Plantation Marina (near Pawleys Island, SC0
Daily dist: 35 miles
Total dist: 2700+ miles
Weather: Sunny, very windy, warm
Notes: Big winds were being predicted so I decided to come back inside to the ICW
Last night I had plotted a course to be run on the open coast over the next couple days that would have taken me as far as the North Carolina border. However this morning big winds blew me off the open coast and back into the Intracoastal waterway. This sudden change of course had me navigating on the fly in an anxious search for high ground on which to camp tonight. By 3:00 after almost nine hours on the water I made up my mind to not pass up anything that looked like it would work however marginal it might be. About then I was paddling past a marina and a gentleman was leaning on the railing of the deck above. Remembering a conversation about staying at marinas I had the other day with the young couple that is paddling up the coast, I figured it couldn't hurt to at least find out what it might cost to tie up.
Luck was with me (or call it magic trip carma) and the gentleman on the dock was the dock master and he said for me it'd be free. More to the point I could put my tent up on the far side of the parking lot. I quickly landed on the adjacent boat ramp and introduced (and explained) myself and this trip. The dockmaster (Ronnie Ham) helped me get my boat out of the water and as I pulled my gear out he returned to the marina office to attend to his work. A few minutes later he re-appeared and asked if I'd be interested in coming home to spend the night with him and his wife rather than fuss with my tent. I couldn't believe my luck and quickly accepted his offer.
It turns out that Ronnie and his wife Sylvia had lived on their sail boat for almost seven years. They are very grateful for all the help they've received in the past and love to take advantage of opportunities to help folks out themselves. Over dinner (cheeseburgers!) we talked about their past cruising days and watched the Kentucky Derby on TV. Afterward I took advantage of a bit of civilization and Ronnie's computer to get my head around the next few days of travel on the ICW. Consequently it's already late and I have to keep this post short. As it is my own computer, once agian, has no solid internet connection, consequently there are no pictures right now.
I'll be around lots of populated areas over the next few days so I hope to finally have a good connection on my computer and get the blog up to date. For now I'm off to bed to rest up for a long run north on the ICW tomorrow. With a good tailwind and favorable tide flows it should be a good day.