Friday, May 15, 2009

Us vs. ICW

After making it to Port Canaveral we (mainly I) couldn't even comprehend getting back on the boat so for the first time since purchasing the little Dory, we abandoned her and slept at Pat and Jen's place in Titusville for three glorious nights. We did normal things like laundry, dinner with friends, and running the dogs (Pat and Jen's). After overstaying our welcome and feeling pretty guilty about leaving the Dory alone one night at anchor (Pat: night terrors, midnight tears) we returned to our life of vagrancy, this time however on the Intracoastal Waterway. 

For those of you who don't know, the ICW is a series of rivers and man-made canals sprawling rather indirectly along the eastern seaboard. Patrick and I usually run aground in the ICW and therefore don't prefer it, but after so many hours at sea we desperately needed a change. After regretfully parting with Pat and Jen, we left Titusville for New Smyrna which was quiet and charming. The next day we made it a whopping four bascule bridges and ten miles to Daytona beach where I blended right in with all the fake boobs and spray tans. 

From Daytona we journeyed to St. Augustine where we quickly made friends with some kids who invited us to a no-pants dance party. Unfortunately, complications with our dinghy and the exceptionally strong tidal current kept us away, and our pants on. 

Northern Florida, all in all, is really not worth mentioning. Sport Fishermen and nicotine stains are abundant and strong. For this very reason we will move on to Georgia. 

Making it to Brunswick Georgia was a good moment for us. Nothing had gone wrong in weeks and we were really gaining confidence in our navigational abilities. After making is through what most sailors call "the most challenging parts of the ICW," (mainly narrow, tedious, stare-at-the-charts channels with power boaters waking you all across the bayou, so on and so forth, et cetera et cetera)   we had our hats on backwards and our 90's tank tops on forwards. Brunswick is an industrial mega-complex that forces you to the neighboring naturalist retreat of Saint Simon's Island. S.S.I. was once the summer home of names like: Pulitzer, Goodyear, Rockefeller, Bell, and so on. 

We met up with the Moore family in Brunswick in order to celebrate my 24th birthday. Due to unmentionable circumstances that mysteriously culminated in both of our dinghy oars missing, we were forced to dock our boat at a nearby marina rather than both swim to shore. We had an amazing weekend with my family, picnicing by the water, seeing the new Star Trek film, and eating at restaurants with names like 'Spanky's'. 

On Sunday morning my family returned to Atlanta, but left behind a new crew member, Ashley. The very afternoon Patrick rowed Ashley to the Dory, we decided to sail overnight to Savannah. After listening to the weather we discovered that a cold front would hit Georgia by the following afternoon and if we didn't leave that night the coast would be inhospitable for 30 foot sailboats for the next several days. We took advantage of our window and left immediately. 

We made it to Savannah by 11am and wound our way inland to the free city dock that was recommended to us by our friends Paul and Piper. After sailing all night we crashed the moment the docklines were secured. Only a few hours later a squall marking the leading edge of the cold front swept through and obscured the Savannah river with heavy rain. That very moment, the "city" dockmaster informed us that sailboats were no longer permitted to dock overnight and we would have to go somewhere else in the middle of the storm. We were contemplating relocating to the only anchorage which was six miles away when our dinghy Houdini'd itself from its lines and starting drifting away in the swift current. As the choice was precluded from me, Patrick had no choice but to jump into the greenish-reddish-yellowish-brackish-brown water full of crocodiles, stingrays, eels, and sharks in order to save the dinghy. Soaking wet, with nothing better to do but spend 100$ on a dock, we spent the night at the Hyatt's docks and got our moneys' worth by utilizing every possible amenity, included or not.  

The following day we crossed the state line into South Carolina. We have been logging 6-7 hour days on the ICW every day since. Each afternoon we get stormed into the nearest anchorage. I have never seen weather like this. The thunderstorms form so quickly we can't keep track of them. Despite storms, poorly maintained channels, and an overabundance of biting insects, South Carolina is beautiful and dolphins still greet us every morning with British accents. 

Today we made it to Charleston. It was hard work, including narrow cuts, and shallower water. At least three times we only had two inches of water under our keel. Somehow we have not run aground since Coconut Key in Western Florida. We have decided to count our blessings and if it does happen again, no big deal, it's muddy over here. 

Ashley has quickly adapted to life onboard. She has learned the vernacular, and can already handle docklines and the tiller like a moderate amateur. She is a godsend. 

--pictures to come the next time we have internet access--  


  1. I do not have all the time in the world to read all of your awesome happenings, there are just too many. I just wanted to stop by and say that I miss you guys. I randomly told Jen the other day that I missed you, so you can check with her for validity.

  2. Alaina, your life is so crazy! How do you survive it? I love reading your adventures, as always. I was imagining you fitting in with Daytona Beach as was peeing my pants and laughing out loud. I can't even get over the picture of you and Patrick on the top right of your page. I heart you so much and think you are serious a bad-ass.

  3. Sure wish you'd loan me that yellow jacket. With a little practice I could wear it with that sallow, sea-sick face ALL the time and finally get a boyfriend.

    I'm so impressed that you can even separate all these events enough in your memory to write it all out! I still remember it all like some kind of smear on my mental concept of time...

    miss you guys! you should email me some pictures from the trip!

  4. Reading and enjoying your entire blog has made my day!... I sit at home in Miami, FL frustrated by a flare-up of arthritis on both my knees while my beautiful Cape Dory 33 Bandolera sits lonely in her slip waiting for me since Sept. 15. I am finally seeing some success with the care and therapy of the knees and can only pray that I can return to my boat soon. In the meantime, thanks a million for taking the time to write and post all the wonderful adventures you've had as you start your young lives as Cape Dory sailors! Cheers!

  5. Just heard your interview on morning edition and found your blog. We returned from cruising the Caribbean on our 27' Albin Vega a year and a half ago and sorely miss the cruising life. Very jealous to hear about you heading south on the ICW. If you ever head up to Philly feel free to get in touch (we're living on our boat in downtown Philly). Young cruisers are few and far in between and it would be great to meet you.

    Hans & Kristen