Good morning, everyone. I do apologize for the absence.
At last writing, my wife Pam and I were on the dock in Southport, North Carolina, waiting for ideal conditions under which to depart for our next major destination in Charleston, South Carolina.
We found them. And we had three days of travel in which we overlooked only a few channel buoys; fought only a few crosscurrents; ran aground only twice and only (presumably) in the most luxuriously soft, comfortable sand; caught every bridge opening we were aiming for; and stayed off every rock ledge we wanted to avoid. (Needless to say, that would be “all of them.”) The only experiences we had were pleasant ones, and I hope to write about one of them in particular soon.
Meanwhile, Meander landed here in Charleston on February 13. And it is here that Pam and I finally committed to a decision that, notwithstanding my stubborn desire to march through this lifestyle just as I had imagined it, had already been half-decided between us for the previous two weeks.
We decided that this is not the season for us to push on to Florida and the end of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).
It comes down, mostly, to this. After six months, we are still not fully ready and able to anchor Meander on a regular basis. And our trip south is effectively being shortened by the costs and delays associated with this situation.
Regular anchoring is an important capability for us to pick up for two reasons.
The first reason is simple. Anchoring often costs nothing or next to it, while overnight rates for transient boaters at marinas are expensive drains on our shrinking cruising kitty.
The second is also simple, but introduces a frustrating sidebar into our current situation. Honey the Golden Retriever has a solid five-year record of thorough housetraining, and the chances are therefore slim that she can be retrained to relieve herself on the boat’s foredeck. So it is important that we be able to throw down Meander’s anchor somewhere and use our dinghy to get Honey to a suitable landing on shore.
But the edges of the ICW generally alternate between private property and marshland no one is interested in owning. Landings suitable for canine relief and exercise are therefore rare, often beyond our capacity for rowing and best reached by a motorized boat.
We have a brand-new outboard motor for our dinghy. But it has been sitting on its stern pulpit mount for nearly three months now, devoid of gasoline or motor oil, because dinghies with motors generally must be registered in their home states.
And although we sent in our application to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about two months ago, this hasn’t happened for us yet.
It must be Obama’s fault
The first delay, caused by our misunderstanding of what the DNR considers original boat documentation, was our fault. But the second is on their end, the result of a new computer system that somehow is not programmed to accept the dinghy’s Hull Identification Number.
These delays, in turn, forced us to spend many more nights at marinas than we had expected. And now the cruising kitty is really beginning to show it. And one way we can control the financial bleeding until we can anchor regularly is to commit to marinas, such as the Charleston Maritime Center, for longer stays that allow us to forego the pricey overnight rates in favor of considerably less expensive weekly or monthly rates.
So we have developed both an administrative need and a financial need to slow down a while.
And our boat insurance policy requires us to be north of Norfolk, Virginia between June 1 and November 1 to keep us, in actuarial theory, somewhat less exposed to the risks of the hurricane season.
So at the rate we can now afford to travel, we would probably finish the long journey to the end of the ICW just in time to have to turn right around and come back.
To heck with that. Decision made.
Change of plan
And, in a way, it’s a relief. I am averse to rapid change, largely because I cannot maintain my natural rhythm in it.
Not that the boat is to blame, incidentally. In truth, I never had any natural rhythm to maintain. If I had, it would have revealed itself quite nicely in the pleasant, routine-inviting workaday life I led before Pam and I bought and boarded Meander. But I believe my wife and the three bosses I’ve had in the past twenty years could testify that it never turned up.
In any case, the chance to stay put in Charleston awhile has been a blessing. We’ve found warmth here both in the climate and in the people, and I’m getting a chance to catch my breath.
We’ll stay until mid-March, taking care of small boat projects, seeing the city, and turning our attention to ways to bring in some income. Pam will be contemplating new directions for her blog, Something Wagging This Way Comes, and I am thinking of trying to become a freelance proofreader. (I think I would make an ekscellent proofreader.)
After that, we may decide to travel to Beaufort, South Carolina, and spend a month at a marina that advertises free shop support for do-it-yourselfers working on bigger things.
And after that, I guess we’ll see; but I expect our bow to be pointing north once again soon. Florida has done without us until now, and I imagine it can afford to wait for us one more year.
Meanwhile, wherever we go, there we are.
Pelican: Pamela Douglas Webster.
Honey the Golden Retriever: Pamela Douglas Webster.
Pam and Honey on East Battery: Mike Webster.