Spartina shakes, the mizzen rattling as the cold front arrives in the early morning hours. Warm in the bivy with cool air on my exposed face, I sleep in. Sails up just before 8:00. Crisp N wind and making 5.3 up the Sassafras. Expensive homes on the southern shore, boat docks and sailboats. Rounding a point the shore gives way to farmland with an old farmhouse and creeks that would make a perfect anchorages. Along the north shore are cliffs with tall trees and a few homes tucked back in the shadows of tall trees.
It is a wonderful sailing, riding out the gusts and waiting out the lulls. Looking port and starboard I am amazed by the number of creeks that will be worth exploring someday. I counted half a dozen before I quit. Isolated and tree-lined, they would all be great spots for an afternoon, evening or night. But now I'm heading into a marina for a hot shower, good meal and a chance to resupply my drinking water.
Before 9:00 the marinas are in sight. I sail to the marina on the north shore right up against the highway bridge. I had researched it online and it looked great. Nice floating docks, laundry, shower and restaurant just across the street. I tie up in an open slip and starting walking to the marina office. Every few seconds I hear a booming noise, realizing it is gravel trucks crossing the bridge. Wow. Not the sound for a relaxing day.
I cast off and head back west to the third marina, one that appears to have a lot of open slips. It also has a lot of warning signs. Don't tie up here, boats will be towed, towing fees plus dockage fees! Restaurant docking only! Time limits on this pier, more warnings on that one. I'm sure there is a sign somewhere saying "Welcome!" but I just can't find it. It is out of season with plenty of space so I tie up anyway and begin the walk to the marina office. I come to a gate with a warning sign. It is a locking gate and if I leave it will not let me back in. What if I go through the gate and the office is closed? How will I get back to Spartina? I cast off again.
In between the two marinas is a much smaller one. Passing by I see a sign: "Transients Welcome." Now we are talking. I tie up at the end of the dock, these are fixed docks, and begin walking to the office. While on my way I notice a small floating dock with a catboat on one side and an open spot on the other. Away from the bridge noise, welcoming atmosphere, floating dock - perfect. It is called Sail Associates and it is a small family owned marina. I first meet the son who introduces me to his parents, Patrick and Patricia. Soon I'm tied up at the floating dock, life is good.
First order is a good hot shower. After that I run into Patricia and she tells me I look like a whole new man, making me wonder just how bad I looked before. Then laundry, then sitting in a lawn chair in the shade of the trees filling out the log. Late morning I grab lunch at the restaurant a block away, then pick up three gallons of water at the boat store next door. Afternoon is relaxing in a lounge chair, exploring the streets in the village and cleaning up Spartina. Dinner, back at the same restaurant - it's off season and I am the only customer - a salad with fried oysters washed down with a glass of wine, okay, I'll take a second. Then Steve, who spends a few days a week on his boat down the dock, offers a ride to top off my gas tank at a station a few miles away. Just a great, relaxing day with a lot of chores accomplished. I will be back to the Sassafras.
At dusk I stand on the pier, Spartina's boom tent and sleeping bag set up for the night. A crop duster is giving joy rides, buzzing the river, diving and making tight turns. I check the gps. Halfway into the trip and we've covered 185 statute. A beautiful evening.