5 December 2021: The Great Migration
5 December 2021
Stono River, SC, USA
Beaufort, SC, USA
Cumulative Mileage (NM)
Crew on Board
Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!
GENERAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
12 to 15 knots, gusting from the perfect angle right when I needed it!
Not a cloud in sight!
Working on my base tan!
Dry, thank goodness!
Today was really about moving south and that had me thinking about migration. There was a point during the day as I was crossing a sound with two other boats ahead of me, the feature photo for this post, and more boats behind me that I really felt like part of some nomadic migration.
I think so many people on land who have not been exposed to the sailing and boating world do not realize how may people are out here doing this. I certainly did not until I dove right in and the reality that this way of life is normal for a lot more people that I ever would have imagined before. There are so many boats every single day: boats that pass me on the waterway, boats that I go past, boats going the other direction (why!?), boats in a marina where they might stay, boats in a marina staging overnight and boats sharing anchorages with me.
Everyone is on a different timeline and everyone’s boat travels at different speeds so it is funny how you may overlap with someone now and then they get way ahead of you. Yet a few weeks later while they were taking it easy, you catch up. And so on!
All with the common goal of moving south with the seasons.
I have to say this thought of migration was also amplified by the incredible bird life in the Intercoastal Waterway. Now I have never been a bird watcher, at all really. But maybe it is pure exposure to the herons and pelicans and the proximity that is fascinating me. They look so graceful and wild and are always set in front of some incredible sunset backdrop it seems like. I have spent a good portion of my time trying to capture a few of my favorite beautiful moments on film (mostly disappointed in myself so far) such as a pelican gliding along the water or diving for a fish. Wondering if these birds also migrate and while I am seeing them in the Carolinas are they also commonly found up in New York and Rhode Island earlier in the year. Are they following me to Florida, or I them? Or am I just passing through their home where they will remain?
That’s nearly enough about birds, but as a final thought – if you have not yet seen the movie ‘A Big Year’ with Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson – please do. It has humor, life lessons, bird watching and more. Quite cute, pretty sure it is on Netflix. Just in case you need something to watch while I get together my first video!
This captains log has really started out with my ramblings on human and animal migrations. But I guess I could give you the general summary of the sail as well. Though I cannot help but feel not much crossed my mind as it as a slow day and these thoughts persisted throughout the day. However, I will do my best!
I was trying to get miles in today as I wanted to be based out of a place where I could jump outside if the weather allowed to stop with the winding and meandering through the ICW. Hilton Head was my top goal, but I knew it was unlikely so Beaufort was my backup. Though Beaufort was still ambitious and with the way the currents had been lately (felt like an uphill both ways type of situation, always against me or at least 80/20), I did not expect to make it.
Well waking up at one of my earlier times, I was disappointed to find I got out of bed for FOG. So instead of the incredibly early barely light start, it mostly light and still a little foggy by the time I left. That did mean that I got a good breakfast but I was off to a slow start already (and the day before fell 8 miles short of the anchorage I wanted to go to so I was starting out today at negative 8 miles plus the route to Hilton Head; essentially Hilton Head was, aside from a miracle, not an option today).
But luck was with me most of the day, I hit the shallowest section two hours before low tide so was able to make it through with teeth clench and always at least a foot to spare underneath my keel (often a lot more). The wind seemed to come up just when I needed it most to battle a current against me, so I pulled the jib in and out regularly as I was able to and when the current was with me it was really with me – sometimes hitting up to 8 knots.
I had to decide near the end of the day if I would go all the way to Beaufort or stop a few miles short. But I knew if I stopped short that half of tomorrow would be wasted just moving anchorages so I was pretty determined to make it. And it was so close, would I have sunlight or not on arrival. The last swing bridge right before Beaufort would open on request on a Sunday, so I did not have to wait hardly at all (slowed down, never had to shift into neutral) and the last light of the day got me within a mile of Beaufort before it was pitch dark. Another nerve wracking approach, like Carolina Beach, NC except without friends ahead of me to tell me it was all clear.
But I made it with only one near miss with a crab pot and dropped the anchor with a good set!
Teeth unclenched and a GREAT 57 miles on the winding intercoastal with crappy currents during essentially daylight hours! GO ME!
Feeling pretty good, but tired! Going to sign off and go dream about animal migrations now.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”
– Sylvia Earle