Saturday, December 7, 2013

Dark places that are too small

During all the years spent on Lake Carlyle, particularly after the Long Island and Bahamas Bash trips, we talked of “Big Water” vs. our little lake. The Chesapeake gave a hint of big blue, but the ICW has thrown a twist into those thoughts. This is TINY water; a seemingly endless ribbon of it for sure, but unnervingly tiny. For days it has seemed I could feel branches brushing both shoulders even when square in the middle of the channel. The view ahead is measured in parts of a mile and the view behind hints of a bowling alley. Waiting on the opening at the Socastee Swing Bridge I swear it looked like Kintala had been air dropped onto a farmer’s fishing pond. I have never helmed a boat in quarters this tight, never been so endlessly in a place where the horizon is so relentlessly close.

We had a late start this morning since I took the time to tweak the Wester-Beast’s idle speed and strain the contaminated fuel out of Mr. Honda’s generator. Both are much happier now. We also got a tour of a Grand Banks 37 power boat this morning. (Wow … not sure that is my thing but still … wow. Nice people too.) It was getting close to noon when Kintala collected her dock lines and shoved off into the mist and falling temps.

With the short days and a late start we only made about 20 nm today. Tonight finds us on the Waccamaw River, anchored up by a little island, and on a short rode to limit the swing. It is actually kind of pretty; or it would be if it was sunny and warm. Mist, cold, and grey; hemmed in by trees, surrounded by water hyacinth plants; it looks about as far from big water as is possible to imagine. With the sun long set and the sky obscured in wind driven mist, this place is also as dark as a mine shaft with a chill that goes straight to the bone. Tonight it is unfriendly, uncomfortable, and a bit foreboding. The kind of place one ends up in only to get somewhere else.

I know people spend their years going up and down this stretch of water; spending time at the little towns, visiting different marinas, enjoying the bigger cities. This is part of the “Great Loop” sailing adventure and anyone who has done it gets nothing but kudos from me. We have certainly had our share of thrills. But we really can’t enjoy this as it was meant to be enjoyed. Kintala, with her tall mast, nearly five foot keel, slow motoring speed, and outside only steering option, simply wasn’t built for this. We never stop to smell the roses, only to fix the broken things and then move on. The cold drives us still, forcing hours at the helm, bored and tense at the same time. Conserving water while standing in a hot shower at the end of another cold day will test your self-discipline; but nothing will feel as good as burrowing into the v-berth.

I never thought much about the ICW when making our cruising plans. I’m not sure I think much of it now. But it can’t be avoided and will forever be a part of our adventure.


The Cynical Sailor said...

I just wanted let you know how much I am enjoying your posts of your travels on the ICW. It is nice "seeing" it through your eyes for the first time and a good taster for when we head down that way ourselves. Cheers - Ellen

Unknown said...

I can understand your frustration with traveling in "the ditch." However, I'll trade that for the hard, crusty water that encompasses the "Lou" today.

Safe journey

Deb said...

@Scott - Glad to hear you're enjoying the blog. I can't imagine that you would have any desire to transit the ICW after seeing New Zealand. I've heard it's the most beautiful country in the world.

@Ray - while we don't have snow on the ground, it's only 42 outside the boat and it's only 7:30pm so it has a ways to go colder yet tonight. We actually are running the trusty Honda generator for awhile tonight just so we can run the space heater long enough to thaw my toes :(