Some of the wonderful harbors where we stayed were: Mannesquan, Barnegat Light, Atlantic City’s Absecon Inlet, Cape May Inlet (we stayed three days in Cape May for Hurricane Ivan to pass through), C&D Canal to Bear, Del, Tilghman Island, MD, Smith Point, VA, Deltaville, VA, Portsmouth, VA (Hurricane Jeanne was on its way, so we stayed in Portsmouth/Norfolk for a few days). We then moved onto NC—Coinjock, Belhaven, Oriental (we stayed a couple of days just because we liked it so much), and Beaufort.
Just before Snead’s Ferry, NC, we were cruising pastCampLejeune, the U.S. Marine Training Base. It was a gorgeous day. We were moving along at a moderate clip since we were the only boat on that part of the ICW. We heard a really loud motor noise; we thought we were having engine trouble. Then we looked up, and there were two Cobra helicopters swooping down toward us. They flew away and it was quiet again. A few minutes later either those Cobras were back or two other pilots were repeating that maneuver. It was really loud again and then they were gone. I took a lot of photos on this trip, but I was afraid to photograph these helicopters. Later that evening at happy hour, Jim mentioned the experience to a guy. It turned out he was a computer geek who worked at the marine base. He said those pilots were practicing “locking on” with their onboard weapon electronics. That was comforting!
The next day we made our way toWrightsvilleBeachandSouthportand stayed a couple of days while Jim’s brother and wife visited with us there. We then had a great reunion with friends who were inSunset Beach,NCnearMyrtle Beach. From there we cruised toGeorgetown,SC. We arrived there on a Sunday and the whole town was closed down. We finally found an outdoor restaurant/bar overlooking the marina to get something to eat. We met a guy there who had been cruising since April—North fromFort LauderdaletoCanadaand then back down through theHudson River, throughNew Jersey, ICW, etc.—he was really anxious to be home. He had had enough already. The next stop for us wasCharleston. Unfortunately, I got a call here from my daughter saying that my elderly mother was in the hospital and was very ill. I’ll quote my daughter, Mary Lou, “If you come home and spend time with her, she will live.” I flew home the next morning, and sure enough Mom lived, actually five more years. I stayed home a week until Mom stabilized, and arranged for rehab at a nursing home with my daughter overseeing her care. Jim had cruised on fromCharlestontoBeaufort,SC, docked the boat inPort Royal, thenSavannah,GAand flew home to join me. About a week later, we flew back toSavannahready to continue our voyage. The following day, we docked at Kilkenny Marina nearRichmond Hill,GA. There was a fishing tournament ending and the boats were coming back with their catches of trout. The friendly fishermen were revving up for a big fish fry. We were invited. Because of the time of day, sunset, the gnats were on the attack. You couldn’t even speak or they would fly in your mouth. Thanks, but no thanks. On to St. Simons Island, GA where the water was choppy and the weather was windy. Didn’t mind spending an extra day—lovely place.
Day 57, we set out forFernandinaBeachon Amelia Island, FL. On the way passingCumberlandIslandjust before St. Mary’s River, first there was a Coast Guard Helicopter, then Coast Guard Boats with flashing lights. They were waving us over towards the shore; we didn’t know why. Then we looked beyond the boats and saw a huge black submarine. We quickly moved out of the way. On our charts, we had noticed a “Safety Security Zone.” It had not occurred to us that it indicated a nuclear submarine base. It was impressive, to say the least.
We made it! We were at our first stop inFlorida. A marina attendant took our photo holding “The Waterway Guide” (theFloridaedition). We lovedFernandinaBeachand have been back there a couple of times since. Day 60, we arrived inJacksonville Beachas we realized we were nearing the end of our trip. Lots of surfers in and out of the ocean, last thing at night and first thing in the morning—fun to watch. St. Augustinewas next and this is another great town we had never been to. We spent a couple of days here because of high seas, heavy winds, early morning squall and heavy rain. Day 64 found us cruising toDaytona Beachwhere we started seeing very serious coastal and residential damage from the various hurricanes,Frances, Charlie and Jeanne that had hit FL. I was making calls and had a difficult time finding a marina where we could dock the boat; so many were closed because of sunken boats and docks. We began to realize it was time to end the voyage. It was so weird, as we were pulling into Halifax Harbor Marina inDaytona Beach, my brother called to say Mom was back in the hospital. Yet, it was time…