Margaret and I were so relieved to finally splash Bear last Saturday. But as soon as we started heading north, we realized just how tight a schedule we are on. As folks frequently say, and we have learned before, sailing and schedules do not mix. But, we are once again on a schedule, trying to get to Annapolis by July 8th to meet up with friends.
Heading offshore from St. Simons, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina last week really helped us make up some time. But that just managed to give us a two or three day cushion. So, we find ourselves doing long day after long day on the ICW, which is alternatively boring, aggravating, and tense. The boredom comes from the long stretches of similar scenery. The aggravation derives from the insane people using the waterway: jetskiers galore, people towing small children on every imaginable floating device, speedboats shooting off everywhere, etc. And then shallow water causes the occasional tense moments. What’s more, it is nearly impossible to use the autopilot with the narrow channels and traffic, forcing us to hand steer the entire time. I should not make it sound too bad, though; we are still out on the water.
Yesterday, we made it into Wrightsville Beach, where I had spent a couple days changing crew on my way south in late August last year. It is a cool beach town with a great Mexican restaurant and coffee shop: Tower 7. And, with Bear needing an oil change, us having to mail some documents, Margaret needing to do a lot of internet work, and both of us desperately wanting a break from the ICW, we decided to use one of our precious extra days and stay in Wrightsville for two nights. We spent the morning aboard doing boat chores and cancelling all our utilities and services for our house, which will no longer be ours in two days. Now, we are at the restaurant, using the internet.
Over dinner last night, I mapped out four sets of possible itineraries: two southern ones taking us to Norfolk and two northern ones from Norfolk to Annapolis. They are all aggressive and fairly similar, but if we are going to make it to Annapolis on time, we need to keep to one or the other schedule.
Southern Option #1
- 29th – off day in Wrightsville
- 30th – to Swansboro (55 miles)
- 1st – to Long Creek or nearby anchorage (64 miles)
- 2nd – to the head of the Alligator River (51 miles)
- 3rd – to Buck Island or Coinjock (47 or 52 miles)
- 4th – to Norfolk (57 or 52 miles)
Southern Option #2
- 29th – to Mile Hammock (40 miles)
- 30th – to Oriental (63 miles)
- 1st – to the head of the Alligator River (67 miles)
- 2nd – to Buck Island or Coinjock (47 or 52 miles)
- 3rd – to Norfolk (57 or 52 miles)
Northern Option #1
- Overnight to Annapolis (about 140 miles)
Northern Option #2
- Norfolk to Deltaville, Deltaville to Solomons, and Solomons to Annapolis
Obviously, we have chosen to take the first southern option with our lay day today. We went to bed last night thinking we would make up our mind by about 10 this morning. As I had just finished the oil change at that point, and Margaret had not even begun her work, the lay day was assured.
As for the northern options, we are both leaning towards option one. Not only would it get us up to Annapolis in two rather than three, we see little reason to stop in Deltaville and Solomons. Don’t get us wrong, we love both places, but neither has much appeal when we will be dropping the hook in the late afternoon, exhausted from a long day on the water, and needing to get underway first thing in the morning.
So, that is where we are at, struggling towards Annapolis. But for all my complaining here, things are going great. Despite the long days and frustrations of the ICW, we are often having a good time on the water and are enjoying the sights. There have been some lovely nights at anchor and some fun moments exploring. The real problem is we know just how much more enjoyable and how much less exhausting this could be if we had the time to spend a few nights in the various towns we are passing right by, to sit at a scheduled anchorage for a few days and explore the surrounding marsh by dinghy, or to simply call it a day after forty or even twenty miles, cracking a beer while there is still daylight. All of that will have to wait for the Chesapeake, sometime after the 8th of July.