Southern Hospitality

Anna Marie and I had a wonderful time exploring the Chesapeake, but it was getting cold and time to start moving south. We sailed down to Hampton, VA where we booked a Marina for a couple weeks. It had been some time since we had been in a marina and the ‘todo’ list needed tending to.

Even though Hampton, VA was only a hundred miles or so from St. Michael’s, MD, we noticed almost immediately that we were now in the South. In addition to the “y’alls”, “yes sirs”, and “yes mams”, we began to understand what southern hospitality was all about. Our Uber drivers were more friendly than we were used to, as was the wait staff at the restaurants and the staff at almost any retail establishment we visited. The owner of a metal fabrication shop we hired (Gilliam Welding) to fabricate a new block for our boom, made us a huge platter of BBQ’d ribs and delivered them to the boat. Not only were his professional talents exceptional, but so were his cooking skills. Needless to say, we enjoyed our time there while we got the RK in shape for our rounding of Cape Hatteras.

Gilliam and his Daughter Ashley – two wonderfully hospitable people

While there, our son Brendan joined us to make the passage south. Brendan had been on the boat last year while we were in St, Lucia, but he had expressed a desire to do a passage with us and the timing of this one worked well. He took a Greyhound down from NYC and we waited for a good weather window to leave. Although we wanted to go straight to Wilmington, NC, the window was a small one, so we opted to come into Beaufort, NC instead.

As Brendan has had some seasickness issues in the past, Anna Marie started feeding him Dramamine a couple days in advance. We have found that this technique works the best in getting the system used to the medicine and seems to increase its effectiveness. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for Brendan. He was deathly ill within an hour of getting into the ocean and spent the entire 30+ hour trip down below sleeping. On the bright side, when we arrived in Beaufort, NC the following afternoon, he was well rested and bounced back quickly. Anna Marie and I were certain that he would not want to join us for the leg to Wilmington, NC, but much to our surprise he said he wanted to figure out how to make it work. Brendan went to a medical clinic, got a prescription for Scopolamine patches, and sure enough, he made the passage to Wilmington without getting sick.

Brendan is up from below and feeling much better

Downtown Beaufort, NC

The marina offered loaner “cars” (although they would be more appropriately named “beaters”)

These just don’t get old

Our sail to Wilmington was uneventful except towards the end.  As we were making our way up the Cape Fear River, Brendan discovered that the Bridge we needed to pass under was undergoing some renovation and they had a 4 hr minimum notification requirement for requesting an opening.  We got our request in and made a slow journey north to arrive at the correct time. Once through the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, we only had a mile to go to the Marina.

Brendan looking up the bridge opening requirements

Cape Fear Memorial Bridge

We settled in nicely in Wilmington. The city offers a lot of history and has a beautiful river walk along the Cape Fear River. Shops and wonderful restaurants line the landscape and that feeling of Southern hospitality was everywhere we went.

Brendan returned home and Anna Marie and I explored the city by bike and by foot. We even rented a car for a day traveling to Wrightsville Beach, the Maritime Museum, and the Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

We flew home for a week to be with family for Thanksgiving and returned to meet up with members of our extended family.

Bob and Lois live in Wilmington. By chance, they had seen our son Bryan on a TV interview a few years ago. Knowing our surname is a unique one, Bob figured there was a good chance that Bryan was related to us. He found Bryan on Facebook, and Bryan put me in touch with Bob.

Bob worked, on and off, for my Dad for about 10 years when Bob was a teenager and later when he returned home from the military. My Dad had been a mentor to Bob, and he often wondered what had become of us after my Dad passed back in 1972. Turn the clock forward and we were reunited.

Bob and I communicated often via email and phone and eventually, 2 or 3 years ago, Anna Marie and I got to meet them. The emotional connection was indescribable the day we met. We sat for hours as Bob read several pages of memories about my father that he had typed up so as not to forget, stopping often to elaborate. We have stayed in touch ever since and we were able to get together once again.

Bob and Lois join us on the RK (messy berth in the background)

We all enjoyed a fantastic meal that evening in downtown Wilmington

It was time to get moving again. Next stop was Charleston, SC. Anna Marie and I left early in the morning, made our way down the Cape Fear River, out to the Atlantic, and landed in Charleston about twenty-four hours later.

Leaving Wilmington, NC

Arriving in Charleston, SC

Anna Marie and I truly enjoyed our stay in Charleston. The city is both beautiful, full of history, and of course, Southern hospitality. Unfortunately, we only stayed a week, but we made good use of our time and tried to see as much as we could. Hopefully our next visit will allow us to stay longer.

The buildings are beautiful

…so much character

The city is full of old homes like these

…and gorgeous large churches

We took a tour of Middleton Place. Several generations of the Middleton Family called this estate home before donating the property to the Middleton Place Foundation, an educational trust. Learning some of the history of the family and their empire was an incredible experience. One generation can boast the honor of John Williams, who served as the President of the First Continental Congress; another generation, Arthur Middleton – a signer of the Declaration of Independence; while another, Williams Middleton, signed the South Carolina Ordinance of Succession.  One generation trying to unite a nation while another tried to tear it apart.

The reflection pool

View of the Ashley River from what once was the main house before it was burned by the Union Soldiers and later completely destroyed by an earthquake

One of may live oaks on the property. This one is estimated at being 800 to 1000 years old, used as a landmark by Native Americans.

This seamstress continues the tradition of spinning wool into yarn and making dresses by hand

We toured Sullivan’s Island Fort Moultrie, went to the beach, and enjoyed the warmth of the fire at Poe’s Tavern before it was time for us to head south the Brunswick, GA.

View of Fort Sumter from Fort Moultrie

Cargo ship in the distance leaving the harbor, which used to be the second largest port back in the day

It had been some time since we had enjoyed the pleasure of a warm fire. Finding this active fireplace at Poe’s was a real treat. AnnaMarie enjoyed reading the letters and endless articles about Poe on display.

View of Charleston from the RK at sunset. Dolphins often swan right up the fence to say hi.

The sail to Brunswick was much like many of our others since leaving the Chesapeake. The winds were light on the trip requiring us to motor sail and would then build just before our arrival. Nevertheless, it was a pleasant trip.

Brunswick Landing Marina

The hospitality shown to boaters at this marina was over the top. It is no wonder that many boaters come here and stay for much longer than they originally thought. We met many who were overstaying their original plans, including one who arrived two years ago and now works at the marina.

There are free happy hours in the yacht club every M-W-F where the marina supplies free wine. Free beer is available every day at the marina yacht club from 08:00 AM to midnight. Loaner bicycles are available for use, free firewood for the fire pits. A barbecue at the end of each of the 15 docks, free use of the very new and well maintained washers and dryers in the laundry room. Southern hospitality at its best and at very fair and reasonable dockage rates. We planed to spend a week. It turned into three!

We met our friends Duane and Peg from S/V Wanderer. We originally met this couple in Block Island this past summer. We were reunited in Sandy Hook, NJ, again in St. Michaels, MD for the Amel gathering, and now once again in Brunswick. As they needed to get their life raft recertified in Savannah, GA, they offered for Anna Marie and me to tag along for the day.

Life raft certification technician preparing to unpack the life raft, Duane and Peg (L-R)

We headed out to Wormsloe Plantation to see the driveway lined with 400-some odd live oaks. We ended up taking a tour of this plantation where the current generation still lives on a small section of the original property that remains private while the rest was donated to the state.

Mile long driveway lined with live oaks

Off to the City of Savannah to have lunch and explore.

Private home in downtown Savannah, GA

Anna Marie, Duane, and Peg along the Savannah River (L-R)

Forsyth Park Fountain

We enjoyed the rest of our stay in Brunswick, exploring much of the town via the marina bikes, getting to know some of the other residents of the marina at happy hour, and getting some boat chores done before our son Daniel arrived for the next leg of the journey to St. Augustine, FL.

Rob and Becky of S/V Manatee – two wonderful people

Anna Marie and me at Lovers Oak, an 800 year old live oak in Historic Brunswick


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