SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
With Chris Parker calling for a "stronger than usual" front, we considered our options for the evening carefully. We had anchored comfortably in Pipeline Canal over a decade earlier, but a lot can change in that time.
We dropped the main and nearly drove past the entrance to Pipeline Canal, it was so much bigger than we remembered. Entering what we remembered as a "cove" we were again surprised by our faulty memories. Instead of a cozy, safe anchoring spot, we saw a giant, mostly exposed body of water, nearly filled with permanently moored boats. The only anchoring we could find had too many problems to overlook: it was too close to the boat ramp, there were too many moored boats whose attachment to the bottom was of questionable tenacity, and there was no lee since even our shallow draft wouldn't allow us close enough to the sparse trees to windward to provide any protection. Time for our backup plan: find a marina.
(Later on, after the front passed, we did find a comfortable anchoring spot. We motored past the boat ramp, past a few boats moored in the middle of the creek until we found a bar where a spring had deposited so much sediment that even Walküre couldn't pass. Hanging from two anchors, we spent a pleasant evening alone in the trees. In the morning we had coffee on deck, watching the small fishing boats throwing cast nets for bait and running aground on the bar directly in front of us. So for a shallow draft boat in calm weather, there is a pleasant anchoring spot. At other times, may I suggest a backup plan.)
Any port in a storm is our only defense for why we spent several days at Southport Marina. The rates were not spectacular, the amenities were basic, and the exposure to wakes along the ICW made staying at the dock downright dangerous. But at least we weren't dancing around on the hook during what did turn out to be a strong front.
When we first pulled into the marina we were assigned to the fuel dock. Knowing that the front would push us onto the dock, we asked to move to a slip around the corner, away from the wakes and in the lee of a spit of dirt to protect us from the worst of the coming winds. Dockhands told us that those slips were all reserved for annual slip holders. The best they could do was the back side of the fuel dock. The No Wake sign was largely ignored and huge wakes caused Walküre to yank on her dock lines. We were seriously concerned about her kevils and wrapped the lines around the tabernacles instead. (Dave also invented a free way to dampen some of the motion and quiet the incessant squeak of dock lines. I'll share it next week.)
Before the front arrived, we felt comfortable leaving the boat long enough to explore downtown Southport. A short, pleasant walk along streets lined with older homes led us to a highly recommended dinner location: Mr. P's Bistro. Once our initial shock at the prices wore off, we were able to enjoy an excellent meal in a slightly more formal environment than we normally are comfortable in, but Nick was with us and his "don't care what other people think" attitude is contagious. By dessert we were as comfortable as those wearing suits and ties.
The following morning we again walked downtown, stopping in several antique stores and even finding a few treasures--old boat building books that Dave hadn't been able to find anywhere. We found the "grocery store" (a gas station with a few basics) and then wandered to the waterfront where we spent hours in the free Maritime Museum. The pleasant walk extended to lunchtime which is when we discovered Thai Pepper. We have become great fans of Thai food and this was a spectacular example of it at a reasonable price.
We made it back to the boat in time to tend lines during the front and spend a bumpy night. The following morning we tucked up in Pipeline Canal, glad we had finally gotten to explore Southport after all these years, but determined to find a more comfortable place to stay next time. Any suggestions?
MONDAY we'll share Dave's line dampener and quieter trick.
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