"When I think of all the fools I've been it's a wonder that I've sailed this many miles." -Guy Clark

Saturday, March 2, 2024

day one - rules are rules

It is cold, very cold, at the Wappoo Creek boat ramp at 5 a.m.  Forecast says 40 degrees.  And a strong, gusty wind isn't helping.  I am clumsier than usual as I rig SPARTINA, my fingertips are numb.  Every 15 minutes I get back in the truck to warm up.  Then go out again in the cold.  

By 8 a.m. the sun is up and SPARTINA is ready to back down the ramp.  Still cold and windy.  I back her down, walk her out around the end of the pier and put her on the outside of the floating dock where she won't block anyone who wants to use the ramp.  But at 40 degrees and windy, who is going to want to launch a boat save for the crabber that put on three layers of coats and headed out just after dawn.

I drive my truck and trailer to Pete's house about 15 minutes away.  As I'm unhooking the trailer from the truck my phone rings.  I don't recognize the number but it is a South Carolina number so I figure I better answer.  A woman introduces herself as an enforcement officer with the state's Department of Natural Resources.  She asks me if I know anything about a sailboat tied to the dock at the boat ramp.  I tell her it is my boat, I'm just dropping off my truck now.  She says "Please tell me that you are coming back to take your boat off the dock as soon as possible."  Yes, I tell her, as soon as my Lyft gets there I'll be on my way.  She tells me once more to get back as soon as I can.  There are rules.

Catch my ride and back to the dock, cast off at 10:00.  But before I do, I walk to a stand with ramp information.  Reading a printed sheet in a glass case I see that I had clearly violated the "no boat will be tied to the dock for more than 15 minutes" rule.  But.....it is winter.....it is windy........and it is very, very cold.  And not another boat in sight.  Oh well.  The officer was just doing her job.

Under power I raise the mizzen and motor away from the dock.  Won't have slack tide to get through Elliott Cut for a couple more hours.  I motor down the creek and look at an anchorage between a shoal and the south shore of the creek.  The tide  is racing through.  Too exposed, I think.  So I motor over the mouth of a little unnamed creek where there is less current.  Anchor down, I straighten up the boat, sit back in the sunshine and take a nap.  

Under power at noon, I motor towards the cut.  Mizzen up.  Jib and main down with a single reef tucked into the main.  12:10 entering Elliott Cut and 1.4 kts against the running tide.  Water swirls at tugs at the centerboard and rudder.  I throttle up and gps show 1.5 knots into the current.  Approaching the end of the cut our speed picks up to 2.2.  Out of the cut and on Stono River at 12:20.

12:25 raise the jib and single reefed main, 2.5 against the tide.  See that the morning's gusty winds have fallen, shake out the reef.

The north wind is on the beam, making 3.2 and then 4.3 as the breeze freshens.  1:30 the wind swings to the northwest and is lighter and on our nose.  Find we are at a standstill for a moment, then slowing losing ground to the tide.  Then a little more wind and tacking through a bend in the river.  Around the corner the wind is forward of beam.  Making 1.4 then soon 2.7.  Wind comes and goes all afternoon, but it is blue skies and finally warming up.  Just wonderful sailing.  Making better speed and with afternoon gusts the gps shows 5.0.  The wind is good and tide is now with us, averaging 3.0 kts as we follow the winding river.  The new jib is pulling very well.  

At 3:40 anchor down at Johns Island Oxbow.  Two local sailboats anchored there, one out near the channel and another in closer to the marsh.  I'm comfortable between the two of them.

Forecast call for 40 degrees again tomorrow morning.  Glad for my thermals and the new wool socks.  

8.5 NM


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