Yes we did leave it a little late to join the snowbird exodus, so now we’re tagging along with the stragglers, feeling that icy chill at our backs (and most other places). Cold nights and the wind chill factor at the helm aside, there are some advantages in being a tail-ender, in particular the lack of crowding in anchorages and on the ICW itself.
Our last few days have mainly been spent negotiating canals and creeks down the east coast of North Carolina. Miles of waterside mansions, condos and a golf course every mile or so (I’ve seen this area advertised as the ‘Golf Coast’). We saw the other side of things when we anchored in Calabash Creek and dinghied into the fishing village of Calabash to have a look around. We bought fresh shrimps and flounder at a dockside stall and were offered a ride into town by a very generous local chap named John Brown (as a dedicated Confederate sympathiser, he was a little embarrassed about his name!) He seemed to know everyone we saw and was quite forthright in his opinions about what ‘Yankee money’ was doing to small communities like this.
Calabash Creek was a beautiful anchorage, by the way, with cypress forest and marshes providing habitat for dozens of different bird species, and a resident family of four dolphins for entertainment.
The South Carolina section of the waterway is generally less developed, with much of it still forest, marshland and vast acres of abandoned rice plantations which have not been cultivated since the end of the nineteenth century, when the end of slave labour meant that they were no longer economically viable. After a long cold day on the water we opted for a night at the Bucksport Marina, a friendly and pleasant stop where hot showers, great home-made burgers and power to heat the boat were very welcome. Ralph, the owner, told us that the site of the marina used to be a busy port for the export of cypress to England, and that the bottom of the canal here is filled with 300 year old ballast.
The next day was a big one – up at dawn to catch a strong tidal current up the Little River, alongside Myrtle Beach and past historic Georgetown, through Winyah Bay, the Minim Creek Canal, McClennanville, up Harbor River to an anchorage in a maze of marshes here in Awendaw Creek. It’s perfectly quiet and a half moon and thousands of stars are mirrored in the dark water. It’s hard to believe that just thirty miles away is the big city of Charleston. We should be there by noon tomorrow.