As we’ve been making our way back to the US and northward home, we’ve timed – or tried to time – our journey to coincide with the arrival of full-fledged, bona fide, spring. I have NO interest in being cold. But spring has been elusive, even in Florida, as cold fronts have had us chilled in our bunks at night, and wearing unaccustomed layers of clothing during the day.
Yet despite the weather, there are places which in my mind are emblematic of spring. Perhaps it’s because I’ve only visited in the spring. Or because my mental image of them is inextricably tied with spring.
This just looks like spring!
Unlike a lot of first-time ICW cruisers, we’ve not had the luxury of dawdling because of personal deadlines (various commitments, including work). So we’ve had to prioritize. While I’d have liked to visit several more of the Georgia Sea Islands such as Brunswick, St. Simons and Jekyll, we limited ourselves to Cumberland.
As we were leaving Cumberland, we had to share the channel with a submarine being escorted into the river. You don’t see that everyday!
We chose to go offshore, overnight, to skip the rest of Georgia. The miles we did in the ocean were far more efficient than the distance we could have covered on the ICW.
Just look at the twists and turns of the ICW we missed in Georgia by going offshore.
While we were out on the ocean, we found ourselves in unexpectedly excellent sailing conditions, and actually had to keep shortening sail to slow down.
The Coast Guard also thought it was a good day, doing training exercises offshore.
We toyed with using the wind to our advantage and going as far as Charleston, but decided that we would rather enter the Port Royal inlet at night and NOT miss Beaufort, South Carolina. (Pronounced Byoo-fort; the one in NC is pronounced Boe-fort.)
To me, Beaufort IS spring.
The view as we make our way up the Beaufort River.
My first mental image of Beaufort is from the movie The Big Chill, which I saw very early in college. While I joined my little clan of friends in trying to figure out which of the characters each of us was, or would be, I was also trying to figure out how to end up living in THE HOUSE! Later, when I read Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides, his descriptive (if somewhat overblown) prose transported me there. Rick and I finally got to visit when we came to Hilton Head for one of our spring tennis trips (which have since been replaced by a yearly pilgrimage to New Orleans for Jazz Fest).
I was smitten. The azaleas were in full bloom and life in this exquisite tidewater town moved as if captured in golden honey. Our arrival here, after 20+ hours at sea yesterday, was no less pleasing – though the azaleas were perhaps a week past their prime. The juxtaposition of gracious neo-Classical southern architecture, salt marsh, and rioting vegetation make for an intoxicating combination.
Salt marshes and flowers in bloom. Wish I could bottle it.
We were docked at the Downtown Marina, sharing space with replicas of the Nina and Pinta.
That resulted in quite a bit more foot traffic past Calypso than I would have liked. But the weather was mild and sunny, so who could blame the visitors for enjoying a waterfront stroll. Our location couldn’t have been more convenient for walking around town.
As well, we caught up with our friends Ed and Tina of Merlin, who are also making their way north to Maryland. We had dinner with them at a terrific restaurant (Saltus River Grill) that featured small plates with a lowcountry twist and, yes, another great facet of spring: soft-shell crabs!
You’ve got to love a place that preserves its live oaks!
We’re on our way now to another classic – to me – “spring” town: Charleston, where we hope to spend a few days. Hello shrimp and grits!