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House Bound Due To Ian; Hurricane Names; Eye Splices; Menhaden and Reedville; Battleships! ICW Cruising; A New Swabbie! Shallow Waters; O-RE-Os! Windmill Harbour; Marines; Chick-fil-A

So, it’s been awhile since my last post, but because we are house-bound (thank you, Hurricane Ian), I am back to jotting down my thoughts about Life As Ty Sees It….

Speaking of “Ian”, as most of you know, I am an “Old Guy”…. what does that have to do with hurricanes, you may ask… well, here’s the answer: when I was a kid, hurricanes were only named after females. Why? Tradition has it because women are much more unpredictable and dangerous than men. (Hey, don’t throw bricks at me! I didn’t invent that tradition!) Well, in 1978/79, following pressure from feminist groups, men’s names were added… and Hurricane Bob (couldn’t they get any more clever than “Bob”?) was the first named Atlantic hurricane. I personally preferred Camille, Irma and Betsy over Hugo and Charlie, but no one gave me a vote. 

So, as Ian was clobbering our old home state of Florida (and our hearts go out to everyone affected by any hurricane or typhoon), we were preparing here in South Carolina. Suzanne brought in all our lawn furniture while I was getting more lines ready to secure our boat, Gratitude. Here I am tying an eye splice in 3/4 inch three strand nylon line to make additional dock lines (we already had six holding the boat in her slip, but more is always better!). 

And here is the final product (one of three before my arthritic fingers gave out). Back in the days of sail, every sailor could tie eye splices like this. As technology developed, machines started taking the place of “iron men on wooden ships”, but as I have owned a series of sailboats since 1977 (before going to ‘The Dark Side’ with our first power boat, Gratitude), I had learned to splice my own lines. Maybe in my next life I’ll return to the 18th or 19th Century aboard a sailing warship like Bon Homme RichardConstitution, or Alabama.

We brought Gratitude down from Cambridge, Maryland, in August. It’s a time that very few boats are moving north or south, so finding a slip at marinas was pretty easy. Diesel prices were insane ($6.00/gallon), so I had Suzanne row whenever possible. (Just kidding.)  Reedville, Virginia, is a charming bayside town that is home to the menhaden fishing fleet. These small fish  (Brevoortia patronus), also known as mossbunker, are processed at a local facility to make fertilizer. In fact, these are the same species that the Native American Squanto advised the Pilgrims to plant with their crops.  We passed this menhaden ship on Chesapeake Bay.

The menhaden factory emits a unique smell that one prefers to be upwind of, but the town is delightful, with a main street full of Victorian homes that originally were built for sailing ship captains, such as this 1919 Queen Anne home.

A stop in Norfolk, Virginia, saw us on a walk near the bow of USS Wisconsin (BB-64). I had served as Operations Officer aboard her sister ship, USS Iowa (BB-61), here in Norfolk back in the mid-80s, so it was like going home.

Traveling down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is always a pleasure, albeit sometimes a slog as well. We travel about 60-70 miles per day, and we had about 720 miles to cover.  The water in Virginia and North Carolina can be high in tannin, so you get a brown color as your propellers stir up the water.

We were fortunate to have excellent weather for the trip south, although it was pretty warm. We saw very few boats on this stretch south of Coinjock, North Carolina, but we were also far from any big towns or cities.

Have you ever wondered where your seafood came from? Hopefully, you are buying local shrimp, fish and oysters harvested in the US; well, these North Carolina shrimp boats go out at the crack of dawn, in bad weather as well as on fair days, to bring you the freshest seafood you could ever hope for. It’s a hard life, especially when these working folk have to pay for other people’s college loans… just sayin’…..

Georgetown, South Carolina, was another good stop; this used to be a sleepy place, but lots of retirees and young people fleeing high taxes and crime up north are moving to the South.                                                                                              

Myrtle Beach is a busy beach town where vacationing golfers find a bit of paradise. The owners of this mansion must have invested well!

We were looking forward to arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, because Lynette Setzkorn, Suzanne’s Scheduling Princess, would be joining us for a few days. Donna Jenkins, Special Projects Assistant, also met us on arrival, and we had a nice dinner and catch-up together.

We got underway with Lynette learning about driving and navigating a big trawler. Her previous boating experience had been on much smaller skiffs in Oklahoma. She is now qualified on the helm (ship’s steering wheel) and is a Designated Swabbie!

Due to a long day’s travel from Charleston, to Beaufort, SC, and to catch a favorable tide before it ebbed too much, we left port at first light (0615). After a few hours, we had a very tense passage through a narrow, shallow channel with a falling tide. The Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff is portrayed here; Gratitude draws 5 feet… we passed over these orange and red areas with just 2-3 inches below the keel. 

Tense moments were followed by relaxing with an Oreo. Lynette and Suzanne gave me a hard time about my twisting the top off and eating the pieces very slowly.

We arrived at our new home port, Windmill Harbour on Hilton Head Island, right next to the South Carolina Yacht Club. It had been a fun trip, particularly with Lynette aboard, but after 11 days on the boat with little time other than moving from Point A to Point B, we were ready to really relax, go for walks on the beach, and go for bike rides.

Friends from our sailing days visited recently. Jim is a retired Continental Airlines 757 senior pilot, and Diane was a Continental flight attendant for 30+ years. They were traveling in their RV and visited for a few days. We visited the Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, and got to watch many young recruits training to become Marines. 

The Memorial to the Marines (and one Navy hospital corpsman serving with the Marines) who raised the flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi is always an emotional stop.

The Purple Heart memorial is another must see. Jim was a Patrol Boat River (PBR) skipper in Vietnam, earned his medals the hard way, and never talks about it. We owe a lot to men and women like him.

Suzanne has been doing a lot of traveling lately…. here she is before heading out to Arizona for the Helping Parents Heal conference.

I had one recent rip, when I drove our bus down to Tampa/Clearwater, Florida, for some work. I flew back, and this was the scene in the food court at the Tampa airport … I asked a shop clerk if Chick-fil-A was always this crowded. He said, yes, except on Sundays, there are always 15-20 people lined up there. And yes, I had just eaten my Spicy Chicken Sandwich! YUM!!! No wonder they are the most popular restaurants in the USA!

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