New Smyrna Beach, FL to Little River, SC

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Ten months? Ten months! Yes, we have been on this journey for over ten months. Some days it seems like a wonderful dream, and some days like a scary nightmare. But, all of life is like that anyway, so we figure we are living like usual, just not in the same place for very long.

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The New Smyrna Beach Lighthouse

We are finally out of the state of Florida, have passed through Georgia, and are now in South Carolina. We left New Smyrna Beach, FL, on Monday March 25, 2019, and continued northward along the Florida Coast, passing the New Smyrna Beach Lighthouse. When we see these lighthouses, we often think of my mom’s (Mitzi Stout) model lighthouse collection and wonder if this is one that was a part of her collection.

One of the first cities we passed through was Daytona Beach, FL. Daytona Beach was the preferred spring vacation location in the late 1960’s for the extended Stout family of Wellsville, NY (Louise’s dad’s side of the family). Who wouldn’t want to leave frozen Western New York for sun and fun? We stayed right on the beach, at one of those Googie style motels. Say what? Goo-gie, huh? Actually, you all know this style, just not the name of it. Googie architecture is a form of post-modern architecture, a subdivision of futurist architecture influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.

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The International Speedway Blvd. Bridge in Daytona Beach

According to Wikipedia, features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by Space Age designs symbolic of motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, diagrammatic atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as “soft” parallelograms and an artist’s palette motif. These stylistic conventions represented American society’s fascination with Space Age themes and marketing emphasis on futuristic designs. As with the Art Deco style of the 1930s, Googie became less valued as time passed, and many buildings in this style have been destroyed. As we passed underneath the International Speedway Blvd bridge, I looked in vain for some motels of this style, although the bridge color scheme is in harmony with the Googie style.

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“Izzy” the lizard joined our crew for awhile.

One of the places my extended family would visit was the original Marineland. And, we ended up staying at the Marineland Marina, Marineland, FL, on the 25th. I thought they had gone out of business, but in fact they are still around, and it looks like a nature preserve as you pass by on the water. This is a small marina, with very friendly, helpful staff, who guided us into a tricky berth, and our neighbors helped us get underway in the morning. While we were at Marineland, we discovered a stowaway: “Izzy” the lizard, who apparently joined our crew before we set off across Lake Okeechobee in mid-March. It seems that Izzy was earning his/her keep by eating bugs of all types. However, all stowaways will be put off at the earliest moment, so Izzy got extended shore leave while we were tied up at our next port of call: St. Augustine, FL.

We spent eleven days in St. Augustine, tied up at the St. Augustine Marine Center. Well, Then Again stayed there and we stayed at the Holiday Inn and the boys went to a doggie B&B. We had arranged for a variety of work to be done on the boat, including a diver, a canvas maker, and a joiner. The diver went into the water and checked our propeller, our anodes (help prevent corrosion on our propeller and other shafts) and cleaned off a bunch of marine growth that was negatively affecting our fuel mileage.

 

Left: Louise and her brother Larry in the stockades. Right: Louise being arrested by the cleverly-disguised-as-a-plant sheriff.

As part of Louise’s family’s spring vacations in the late 60’s, they went to St. Augustine, FL, especially downtown, to see all the tourist attractions. Now, in 2019, these attractions are even more tourist-y, but we couldn’t pass up the Old St. Augustine Jail. The first picture is my brother Larry and me in the stockades. The second is the one we took on our visit of me being apprehended by the Sheriff as all my mis-deeds caught up with me. The original jail was in downtown St. Augustine, where Henry Flagler built fancy hotels as a part of growing the city. The citizens of St. Augustine were all for that, but Henry Flagler had one request: if I build a new jail just a mile outside of town, will you move all the prisoners and other unsavory characters out of the view of my guests and other tourists? So, in 1891, the old jail was built, in the style of many of the ornate homes that were being erected then and it held prisoners for 60 years.

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The river view of the Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island.

We saw other sights in St. Augustine, but the most memorable one was actually in Jacksonville, FL, just a short car ride north. Kingsley Plantation is a preserved Sea Island cotton plantation on Fort George Island, which includes slave quarters and outbuildings made out of tabby (a concrete like substance made out of oyster shells cooked in lime and mixed with sand and water). The main entrance to the house is on the river. Originally, we had hoped to dock there, but that was not to be. Kingsley plantation raised our awareness of the economics of southern agriculture and also of the differences between the Spanish and the Americans as far as slavery was concerned.

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The kitchen wing of the Kingsley Plantation, made of tabby.

Zephaniah Kingsley moved to Florida, along with his African wife in 1806. He freed his wife and their children in 1811. While under control of the Spanish, freed blacks could own property and move in high society circles. Many freed blacks owned slaves themselves. They had essentially the same freedoms as white Catholics did in New Spain. However, when the US took control of Florida in 1821, they quickly enacted laws that greatly reduced the civil liberties of freed blacks, such as many of the Kingsley family members. Kingsley campaigned to keep the Spanish customs but realized by 1837 that nothing was going to change and moved his family to Haiti.

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Leaving Fernandina Beach. Bye bye, Florida!

On April 6, 2019, we left St. Augustine and moved to the Palm Coast Marina in Jacksonville, FL. On April 7th, we cruised to Egan’s Creek Marina in Fernandina Beach, FL. We began once again to see the effects of the 2018 hurricanes, as many marinas were not yet able to re-open. As we left Egan’s Creek Marina, we said Buh-Bye to Florida and entered Georgia at 8:13 am on April 8th. Strangely enough, Georgia looks a lot like Florida in this area. The changes in landform and vegetation are very subtle as we head north.

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Georgia looks an awful lot like Florida, especially with the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

We stayed for two nights at Golden Isles Marina, on St. Simons Island, GA. The wind was very strong when we awoke the first morning, with some white caps in the marina basin, so decided that this would be a suitable place to do laundry and eat in a high-quality restaurant. We also enjoyed a huge banana muffin and the morning newspaper delivered to our boat by the marina staff- a first! On Wednesday, April 10th, we stayed at Kilkenny Marina, in Richmond Hills, GA. The Waterway is very sinuous in this area, with large tidal swings. By the time we got there, we were a little nervous about how we were going to depart the next day. We were grateful that our boat only draws three feet, so we could leave earlier than many of the other boats tied up with us.

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White caps at Golden Isles Marina. The picture doesn’t do them justice.

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As we headed toward Savannah, GA, we admired many of the homes that are just in the middle of nowhere along the waterway, like the one pictured above. We arrived at Isle of Hope Marina, Savannah, GA, on April 11th, and began five days of exploring Savannah. The architecture here is simply stunning, as you can see from some of these pictures.

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An example of colonial architecture in Savannah.

We visited the Owens Thomas House and Slave Quarters, where our tour guide discussed the complicated relations between the slaves and their owners. Many times, small children would be given to each of the owner’s children, so, in essence, they would grow up together. As adults, many of the slaves were privy to the politics and plans of Savannah, by virtue of attending to their owners in meetings and so forth. Side by side, they lived intertwined lives.

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The Owens Thomas House and Slave Quarters – an example of Regency architecture.

Savannah claims to be the most haunted city in the United States, by virtue of having built infrastructure over known grave sites. We took an evening ghost tour that was not too scary. However, we learned that the light blue gray seen on many buildings, especially ceilings, is called “haint blue,” “haint” meaning haunting or ghosts. If you had haint blue on your home, you were supposedly protected from spirits entering your house and taking over your body. This house shows the haint blue paint scheme. It is basically the same colors used on our house in Vancouver, WA. Not quite sure what this says about the previous owner, but I am reluctant to consider a change.

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The “haint” blue paint scheme is very similar to the blue of our “dirt home” in Vancouver, WA.
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Lenny pleading with the federal agent not to jail him for having a bottle of scotch in the basement.

A great museum that we highly recommend is the American Prohibition Museum, a part of the City Market area. It’s very well-curated and even-handed in how the opposing sides for Prohibition made their case. Another museum that we thought we would spend about an hour in, including imbibing the mixed drink at the “speakeasy,” but spent about two hours instead. (And we didn’t care for the mixed drinks…) Excellent exhibits and videos all around. The video that stuck with us the most was titled “Unintended Consequences of Prohibition.” These included the rise of organized crime and unemployment, not just of people working at the distilleries or breweries, but of those who supported those industries, such as woodworkers who made the barrels. The Ku Klux Klan was fading out as an organization but was revived by the groundswell of discrimination against so-called foreigners, such as Germans, who were not only our enemy in WWI, but who controlled most of the breweries. The KKK would identify these people and then terrorize them. NASCAR had its beginning in the rum-runners of this era, as they evaded the revenuers with their precious cargo.

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As a result of his arrest, Lenny falls in with bad companions Al Capone and Jack McGurn.

We left Isle of Hope Marina on April 16th and headed north. Isle of Hope Marina is in the southern portion of the city, and we needed to traverse the Savannah River to continue on the Waterway. Savannah is a large container ship port, on a scale of Los Angeles, and the Savannah River is a straight shot to the Atlantic Ocean. We had just come around a bend in the Waterway, preparing to cross, when a huge container ship hailed us, noting that he was going 18 mph down river and we best beware. (We normally do about 7-8 mph.) We did a fast about face and did not cross the river until he was past us.

 

Left: The view out of our helm window as the container ship heads down the Savannah River. Right: A historic portion of the Parris Island Marine Corp Recruit Department.

Safely across, we headed to Port Royal, SC. Buh Bye Georgia, hello South Carolina! Enroute to the marina, we passed Parris Island Marine Corp Recruit Depot, which graduates new platoons every week. We also had to pay attention to the Notice to Mariners to determine if there were going to be any live fire exercises as we passed in the area. (Fortunately, no!) A beautiful sunrise encouraged us to leave the Port Royal Landing Marina early on the morning of April 18th and head for Charleston, SC.

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A stunning sunrise at the Port Royal Landing Marina.

We passed the Coast Guard Station as we turned up the Ashley River to tie up at the Charleston City Marina. It was very windy and a strong current as we made our way in, and we were glad that we would be spending 10 nights there. We were on the inside of the Mega Dock. Huge yachts are tied up on the outside, along with a small passenger ship that cruises from Charleston to Jacksonville on 6-day tours. There was quite a bit of stormy weather the first two days we were there, but we ventured out on a city tour on the third day.

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The Coast Guard Station as we turned up the Ashley River towards the City Marina.

We have found that taking an overview tour of a city allows us to hear about the history, culture and notable sights. We then decide where we want to return, if at all. Again, the historical architecture is stunning, and we also were able to drive through The Citadel, one of the South’s most distinguished military schools. We had always assumed that Charleston was only prominent in the Civil War, but learned that there were a great deal of American Revolutionary War activities, with South Carolina providing signers of the Declaration of Independence, militias, who we would call today the masters of guerilla warfare, including Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, so named for his and his troops ability to fade into the swamps after engaging the British.

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The Circular Congregational Church, surrounded by its historic graveyard.

We celebrated Easter in the Circular Congregational Church, which was first built at this site in 1681. Shaped by its independent mind and goaded by a colonial government that treated “dissenters” (non-Anglicans) with contempt, the church became a greenhouse for revolutionary sentiment in the colony. Prominent members of the Meeting House, and its distinguished minister, William Tennent (1772–1777), were frequently heard speaking for political and religious freedom. Tennent took his life in his hands when he made a wide tour of the Carolina back-country in 1775 to gain subscribers for the cause of independence. We imagined the Declaration of Independence being read from the original church’s pulpit on this site. When the British captured Charleston, it was used as a British Military Hospital and left a shell upon their evacuation. A new church was built in 1804, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1861. The building that we worshipped in was the third version, built in 1892.

One of the sights we spent time at was the exhibit of Charleston’s first railroad train, My Best Friend. The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company built a train line from Charleston inland to a place called Hamburg (near present-day Aiken, SC) in the late 1820’s and early 1830’s, with the intent to divert commercial traffic from Savannah, GA, and to service the inland plantations. The SCC&RR holds several historical distinctions such as being one of the first railroads in North America to be chartered and constructed. The railroad also featured the first steam powered, scheduled passenger train to run in America, pulled by their first locomotive, the Best Friend of Charleston.

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A replica of the My Best Friend train.

We spent almost a full day at Magnolia Plantation, just outside of town on the Ashley River. Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870 to view the thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous “romantic” gardens. Romantic gardens strive to blend into the natural landscape, as opposed to formal gardens which are very stylized and have a distinct boundary between the gardens and the surrounding landscape.

 

Some of the abundant wildlife at Magnolia Plantation: birds and an alligator sunbathing on a custom-built platform.

We opted to take the Nature Tour, which took us around the perimeter of the estate, and showed us where the former rice fields were. They are now wildlife habitats, not only for birds but for alligators as well. The Slavery to Freedom tour showcased restored slave cabins with artifacts from different eras in the Plantation’s history, from slavery to the Civil Rights movement. After the Civil War, many of the freed slaves opted to stay employed on the Plantation, even though it ceased growing rice due to high labor requirements and difficulties farming the crop.

We also visited the Slave Mart in downtown Charleston, a very sobering experience. We imagined the hundreds of slaves that passed through what was an open courtyard auction block. There were some points in the exhibits where we were moved to tears at the inhumanity of the system. Our final tour was of the Charleston Tea Plantation, located on Wadmalaw Island, SC. What was most interesting is how tea cultivation has become so mechanized that what used to take hundreds of workers to do is now handled by a total of four people and a specialized tea harvester. The tea bushes are grown in rows, with the proper spacing to drive the harvester through the fields. It was a muggy day and we enjoyed some iced tea on the porch, just rocking away, as has been done for hundreds of years.

 

Left: Tea bushes are grown in rows to accommodate the modern harvester. Right: Louise rockin’ it out with some iced tea at the Carolina Tea Plantation.

We stayed at the Charleston City Marina until April 26th, then on Saturday April 27, 2019, we headed up the Atlantic Coast to Georgetown, SC. Unfortunately, we arrived after the maritime museum was closed, so we missed out on that experience. This was a disappointing moment.

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Enroute to Myrtle Beach, SC.

On Sunday, April 28th, we headed up the Waterway to the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, in Little River, SC. An overnight stop turned into a 9-day visit, when Lenny’s back spasmed as he was handling lines coming into our slip. It took two visits to the ER to determine that only muscle spasms were the cause of the pain. We waited it out until he was able to taper off his meds. A big shout out to the marina staff for all their care and concern for us. We boarded the dogs for a week to give them time off the boat and didn’t really do any sightseeing.

As we said in the beginning, we are just experiencing the ups and downs of life, just in many unusual places. We continue to be blessed with angels that appear at just the right time to help us out.

Our Trip So Far

As of Sunday May 4, 2019…

  • Days: 321
  • Locks Passed Through: 60
  • Miles Sailed: 4330
  • Engine Hours: 550
  • Gallons of Diesel: 1794

One Comment Add yours

  1. judith k allen says:

    Love reading about your trip. We used to have a boat on the Columbia, but for skiing not for such a distance. This trip opens up a different way of travel. Enjoy

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