Hunkering down in the Sassafras

When we woke up the next morning the boat was covered in bugs, and we were unable to get internet connectivity on our phones. Since we needed to be able to get online daily to teach our online classes, we decided to pull up the anchor and look for a better location up the Sassafras. While we hoped to find a quiet, empty anchorage with just enough access to the ethers to keep us working, we ended up in quite a different place.

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Blue dots left behind by the invasion of unknown insects

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S/V Bear was literally polka dotted from bow to stern

We zig zagged down the river from anchorage to anchorage, with me at the helm and Jeff checking the bars on his phone to no avail. Finally, just before we came up to the Skipjack Marina Resort we hit pay dirt. But the location posed the question – did we want to ditch our previous plans to escape the 4th of July madness holed up in a quiet anchorage in exchange for what was sure to be party central? With no other boats yet anchored the area, and the impending remnants of hurricane Arthur on the way, we decided to take a chance and drop the hook.

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S/V Bear at anchor, just off Skipjack Marina Resort

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S/V Bear at anchor, just off Skipjack Marina Resort

But before we could settle in for a few days, we needed to get a pump out and some water, so we pulled up along the dock at Skipjack, and took care of these chores. We also asked the dockhand if we could bring our dingy to the dock so that we could have access to town, and he said that we were welcome to do that. This is the type of place cruisers dream about. Free access to a dingy dock, awesome, unlocked showers and laundry, and a great outdoor space high above the water to sit and do work…I mean watch the sunset.

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The pavilion at Skipjack Marina Resort

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The pool at Skipjack Marina Resort

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The newly renovated women’s showers at Skipjack Marina Resort

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The laundry room at Skipjack Marina Resort

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The women’s restroom at Skipjack Marina Resort (Jeff wants it to be known that the men’s room was not nearly as nice)

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The travel lift at Skipjack Marina Resort

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Tennis courts at Skipjack Marina Resort

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Jeff relaxing under the pavilion at Skipjack Marina Resort

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The restaurant deck at Skipjack Marina Resort

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Another morning at the office

Skipjack Marina Resort is situated at the convergence of Georgetown and Fredricksburg. There are at least three marinas in this short span of water as well as a great marine shop, a deli/café, and an ice cream counter all within walking distance.

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This marine store was very well-stocked and reasonably priced. In addition to boat parts and gear they also stocked some basic provisions, clothing, and souvenirs. I should also mention that they were open on the 4th.

If, however, you need a library, do not be tempted to walk to Galena, the next town over. It is a long walk, along a busy road, with many trucks and little shade. The library is a tiny one-room joint that caters mostly to kids and has snail-paced internet service.

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On our walk to Galena, we saw the Kitty Knight house, famed for surviving the burning of the town when the British invaded the Eastern shores during the War of 1812. Kitty Knight, noted to be a beautiful and strong woman, pleaded with the Admiral Cockburn to spare these two houses.

The air grew hot and stagnant on our walk back to the marina, so rather than suffer in the heat, we decided to hitch a ride. After getting passed by 3 or 4 dozen cars, a friendly, young woman pulled over and offered us a ride. After introducing us to her cute dog, whose water bowl was on the floor of the back seat, we realized that she grew up in Oxford, MS, the same town where Jeff taught at Ole Miss. The world is a small and peculiar place.

On July 3rd the area was still a ghost town. We assumed that most boaters had thrown in the towel for the holiday weekend, choosing to avoid the predicted wind and rain that Arthur was ushering our way.

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The sky looked ominous on more than one occasion while we were anchored in the Sassafras, though we only saw short lived storms and distant lightning.

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In anticipation on the coming storms Jeff spliced us a new anchor snubber

However, around 1 pm on the 4th, boaters began to crawl out of the woodwork. Slowly, but steadily, the marina began to bustle. Some boaters set up at their slips for the weekend, enjoying being “on the water” but still plugged into power and cable TV. Others joined in enormous raft ups in the river, creating a townhouse-like structure, where they could traverse from one boat to the next, surely to steal beer if they were running low. The largest raft up we counted was 14 powerboats.

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Motorboat raft up

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The raft up reminded me of a mullet – business in the front, party in the back

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Raft up party

At about 5pm, the Boat Parade came through the marinas and turned around just in front of our anchorage. While we did not see too many boats, the ones that did make it all the way down the river were pretty great. We even had two celebrity sightings – Elvis and the Duck Dynasty folks.

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Duck Dynasty boat

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The “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” boat

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Is that the King?

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Do I see some pelvic thrusting on that boat?

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Thank you, thank you very much

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I am more patriotic than you

Once the parade ended, the real partying began. Four sailboats rafted up right off our stern and three pontoon boats spent about two hours trying to set multiple anchors off our port side, literally throwing their anchors as far as they could and then reeling in like it was a fishing line. On a couple of occasions their skipper swam with the anchor in hand to try to set the boat. The funniest part of the experience was watching from afar and knowing that they were not dragging anchor in the least. Check out a short video of the anchorage here.

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Pontoon raft up

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Sailboat raft up

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Dusk before the fireworks

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Off our stern on the 4th

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Peoria has a much better firework display, but they do not have 6 months of summer

We ended up really enjoying our time on the Sassafras, despite it being the opposite of what we had planned for the holiday weekend. This experience is the perfect example of how it pays to be flexible when cruising, as you never know what great space you will find or people you will meet when you ditch your plans and let the weather (and internet) dictate your travels.

Our next stop was Still Pond, a rather inappropriate name. More on that irony in the next post.

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One Response to Hunkering down in the Sassafras

  1. Dale says:

    Those bugs are called ‘midges” and those spots they leave behind are a challenge to clean but apparently just fade away over time with exposure to sunlight.

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