RESTART did not go exactly as planned.
Our last entry had us heading north, up the East Coast past Jacksonville FL and Brunswick GA and looking forward to Savannah. We arrived in Savannah on Wednesday, April 13. As we looked out our boat window at the ICW we could see the bend in the water just outside the marina where we would once again navigate new waterways. We were very excited to be restarting our Great Loop trip. Thursday evening we drove into Savannah to visit with friends Craig and Michael. They prepared an authentic Low Country Boil meal for us that was wonderful!! We were so happy to be able to see their newly renovated state-of-the-art kitchen, which was fully under construction last year when we visited with them.
Sadly, Thursday evening we received a call that Conrad's Mom, Doris, had been taken to the hospital and the ER doctor didn’t sugarcoat his assessment. We were up early Friday morning (Good Friday) to speak with the marina as to whether or not we could leave the boat there indefinitely. Isle of Hope was awesome and very compassionate and they were able to move a few boats and accommodate us. This is no small feat in these times as marinas are over full and as soon as you pull out of a slip another boat is waiting to move in. We secured a flight back to Madison early Friday afternoon. We did not make it to the hospital before Mom passed, but her three grandchildren (Shelly, Nathan and Tracy) were with her. The next 10 days were spent with working through arrangements and family visits. We arrived back on the boat in Savannah on Wednesday, April 27. On Thursday morning, April 28, we finally were able to press RESTART!
We arrived at Hilton Head Harbour Marina by early afternoon and hoped to be able to explore the island, but transportation was non-existent. We walked around the shops at the resort, ate at the Dockside Restaurant and climbed to the top of the Harbor Town lighthouse at sunset. Friday morning, we pulled lines and headed up the ICW to Beaufort SC (be-u-furt). We took a golfcart guided tour through this 300-year-old city and saw many historic registery homes. Plantation owners built smaller, 5000 sq ft “summer” homes in Beaufort, that were similar to their large homes in the country, because of the nearly continuous summer breezes from the ocean. We also learned about the “Secessionist” home located there where those wealthy plantation owners gathered to vote to have South Carolina be the first state to secede from the Union.
Our next stop was Charleston. We spent three nights in this historic city and it did not disappoint. Thanks to friends Jamie U. and Jerry A. who made suggestions as to what to see during our brief visit. From the bustling harbor to the history of the City it was an awesome few days. We visited the USS Yorktown and USS Laffey at Patriot’s Point. We also saw the Vietnam Exhibit. The next day we took a horse drawn carriage ride through a portion of downtown Charleston. This city was founded in 1670 and we saw many buildings dating back to that era. We learned that the oldest section of the city is about 12 feet above sea level and has experienced many floods. Following the tour we ate at Henry’s Restaurant right downtown. This is the oldest continuously operated restaurant establishment in South Carolina. From there we walked to the Battery (about a mile). This is an area that overlooks Charleston Harbor and is also the location of Fort Sumpter where the first shots of the Civil War rang out. We travelled along cobblestone roadways and learned why some addresses on residences contained a 1/2 or 1/3. Kitchen houses set back from the original home have been made into single residences and they carry the original home address with the added fraction. Land is at a premium for its historic value, certainly not for the value of the old homes which are highly restricted as to repairs and remodeling. We are still hoping to make an antebellum home/plantation tour before we leave the south.
Tuesday, May 3, we find ourselves heading to Georgetown, SC. We arrived late in the afternoon so the only thing Conrad wanted to do was have an authentic southern fried chicken dinner. We found SoCo (Southern Comfort) right behind the marina and It did not disappoint. Bright and early Wednesday morning finds us heading to the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club Marina. We are travelling approximately 65 miles a day at about 10 miles an hour, so the days start early. Thursday morning we threw lines for Southport and crossed into a new state…North Carolina. We only planned to spend a few days in Southport, but Mother Nature had other plans. With gale force winds raging just north of us, no one is moving. We hope to leave Southport on Thursday if the weather forecasts hold. Our AGCLA (Looper Association) Harbor Hosts for Southport live right near the marina and have they have a wonderful front porch overlooking the harbor. We were fortunate to be able to be dock mates with Robert and Kay Creech during the three months we spent in Ft. Myers this past winter. They are truly the epitome of southern hospitality at its finest. We have spent a few late afternoons on their porch over the past few days having “porchtails” (instead of docktails). We were also able to secure a vehicle and take an overnight road trip to Mike and Kathy’s beautiful home in Southern Pines NC (next to Pinehurst). Mike and Kathy have their boat at our dock in Sturgeon Bay and live aboard during the summer months. The trip from the coastal waters into the high country of North Carolina was exceptional and beautiful. Mike and Kathy drove us around the area and we felt like we were in northern Wisconsin.
We had a nice surprise on Wednesday afternoon, just before we tossed lines early Thursday morning...Hank and Pam on Slainte popped in for a visit and shared a bottle of bubbly with us (of course). Hank and Pam are Loopers out of Sturgeon Bay whom we've been trying to connect with for over a year. We finally ended up in the same town (Southport NC) after they passed us in Ft. Myers and we passed them in Georgia. The fun of Looping. We forgot to mention...Hank and Pam are our son-in-law's (Greg) aunt and uncle. We continue to find our Looping and boating community is really a very small world!
We are now (Thursday, May 12) located in a small community called Hampstead NC, halfway betweewn Southport and Morehead City. The 45 mile run was a bit messy with winds and rain and cool air, but it was good to move after a week of staying in one place.
Next Stop…Morehead City NC.