What did the Meander crew do in 2018? Sip cocktails in the cockpit while Honey relaxed with a chewy? Or sail in calm breezes with dolphins leaping in our wake?
The truth had less alcohol. But I think real life was more interesting—filled with pretty places, a few mishaps (or adventures), and plenty of friends. Here’s what really happened last year.
The joy of this life is exploring wonderful places. Sometimes we return to the same anchorages. But I also like exploring new spots with Honey—especially if they have a beach.
Early January 2018 saw us breaking ice leaving Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Yes, really.
I can only imagine what Honey thought watching from the cockpit as I jumped up and down on the bow while Mike motored out of the fairway. Mike claimed the extra motion on the boat would break up the ice without damaging our hull. But if he was punking me to make me look ridiculous, neither he nor Honey are telling.
I loved anchoring in dog-friendly Georgetown. The town offers a great dinghy dock, making it easy to take Honey off to play. And every block has a grassy park just waiting for a golden retriever to play ball.
Best of all, while taking a solar shower in the cockpit, I enjoyed the live music coming from the waterfront restaurants. You don’t think any of the diners had binoculars, do you?
Sampit River Anchorage
N 33 21 59.96
W 79 17 11.22
While anchored in Awendaw Creek, we piled the family into the dinghy to take Honey off at the Buck Hall Recreation Area. Motoring down the ICW, I pointed out a log floating in the water nearby. Uh oh. Look closer. That’s not a log. It’s an alligator.
Sorry, Honey. You won’t be playing in the water here.
Awendaw Creek Anchorage
N 33 2 3.49
W 79 32 33.31
The May River is a beautiful place to explore the Hilton Head area. And it was easy to take Honey off at the Brighton Beach park and boat ramp. But I’ve never met another cruiser who has anchored there.
May River Anchorage
Brighton Beach, SC
N 32 12 41.72
W 80 50 36.83
One day we landed our dinghy at Palmetto Bluffs, a planned community with stunning homes. It was very nice—sort of like the National Zoo. Except instead of staring at tigers and polar bears, we watched rich people in their natural habitat.
We enjoyed visiting the town of Bluffton even more. But it was the scene of an interesting mishap adventure. Keep reading.
Is there any place more stunning and other-worldly than coastal Georgia? With the wind-swept live oak trees covered in Spanish moss and sea turtles that look like Volkswagens floating just below the surface of the water, I find it irresistible.
And Honey can’t resist free-roaming armadillos.
We’ve enjoyed two delightful anchorages close to Gascoigne Bluffs park on St Simons Island.
Frederica River Anchorage
St Simons Island, GA
N 31 10 36.20
W 81 24 38.29
That’s also where I learned a new way to “walk” the dog.
While tossing Honey’s toy, we heard someone calling their dogs. Looking up, we saw two rambunctious Labradors running all over the park. But we didn’t see their people anywhere.
Then an SUV rolled up. Their windows were open and they were talking to their dogs. Yes, they were “walking” their dogs by driving around the park while keeping an eye on their pups.
We walked three miles each way from the park to Pier Village to have lunch with Honey. Every restaurant on St Simons Island with outdoor seating is dog-friendly. And nearly every restaurant has outdoor seating.
I just wish we had room on board for bikes and a dog cart so we could explore more of the island.
Lanier Island Anchorage
St Simons Island, GA
N 31 9 49.7
W 81 25 5.94
Have you ever been to the Cumberland National Seashore?
Probably not. It’s only accessible by boat. And sadly, the National Park Service ferries are not pet-friendly.
But Honey was happy to share lovies with tourists as one of the rare dogs on the island (a few people live on the island and have their own dogs).
Honey barely noticed the feral horses. She stayed calm as the deer mama walked by with her baby. But armadillos made her insane! Who knew?
Finally, after nearly 3 years, I spotted my first manatee. Squeeee!
Mike and Honey prefer dolphins. They’re more frolicsome.
Honey and I spent a month in Titusville while Mike traveled to the frozen north to work. And although two rockets went up within sight of our slip (Titusville is across the waterway from Cape Canaveral), the highlight of our stay was hanging out with friends.
I saw the tiny chihuahua first. I asked Honey to sit down so the wee pup could greet her if she wanted to without fear of being stepped on by a larger dog.
After a few respectful sniffs, Anchor (the chi’s ironic name) and her person hung out to talk.
We quickly discovered that not only did we come from the same part of upstate New York but that Terry, Anchor’s person, was the captain of the first sailboat charter we took on Seneca Lake.
Small world much?
I can’t believe I didn’t recognize him. We even named a maneuver after him. Every time we do a 270-degree tack to avoid a gybe (for non-sailors, that means we do something slower and safer instead of something faster and riskier) we call it “doing a Terry.”
Even better was “meeting” a former blogger and her pup who stayed with us on the boat. (Yes, I love visitors—even pop-ins. Why do you think I put the map in the sidebar to show you where we are?)
Any longtime dog blog readers remember Beth and Gizmo of Terrier Torrent?
Of course, not all our encounters with famous blog pups are planned.
While traveling south, we anchored in the Ashley River of Charleston for two weeks to get caught up on work. While walking to the grocery store, I said to Mike, “Y’know Cathy of Groovy Goldendoodles lives near here. I wonder if I’d remember where her house is?”
I looked up to scan the streetscape and found two handsome white goldendoodles sitting on the porch. Yep, I’ve become a blogger stalker.
Brittlebank Park Anchorage
N 32 47 13.94
W 79 57 48.52
I wonder how many other S’waggers live within walking distance of popular Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) anchorages. If you do, you better watch out. Honey and I might talk you into joining one of our adventures.
Mishaps (or Adventures?)
After nearly 3 years captaining Meander, I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding mishaps. But if you live on a boat, you need to think of an event as less of a mishap and more of an adventure. Believe me, you’ll feel happier.
A Bad, Good Day in Bluffton
We visited lovely Bluffton, South Carolina for the first time. It was dramatic.
We waited for the wind to calm down before planning a long dinghy ride up the May River. But it was still blowing around 15 miles per hour. And with the wind blowing against the current, we got a bit damp on the way to town.
But it was farmer’s market day! And once we tied the dinghy to the dock, we set off to explore the town.
I remember walking around the farmer’s market. I have a faint recollection of taking Honey for ice cream somewhere. And I’m sure we had lunch at a pet-friendly restaurant.
But nearly everything we did that day was wiped out by what we found when we returned to the town dinghy dock.
As I looked down at the water, I saw our life jackets, oars, and fuel tank sitting on the dock. What I did not see was the dinghy.
It had sunk. At the dock. Tied to the cleats.
With the wind opposing the strong current, wavelets blew over the transom, slowing filling the boat.
Poor Honey. This was going to end up being a long day. And she didn’t complain once.
I tied Honey’s leash to a park bench out of sight of the dock and hoped for the best while Mike and I worked to retrieve our sunken boat and engine from the drink.
The good news is that nearly the whole damn town of Bluffton turned out to help us over the next two days.
I wrote all about it but never published the post. Do you want to know how the police, a charter boat captain, a tour guide, and a bunch of NASCAR mechanics helped us get back to the boat? Ask me in the comments and I’ll post the whole story.
Our only plan for the day was to hang out at the beach at Fort Matanzas State Park. Suddenly we felt a jolt that shook the whole boat.
The captain of the catamaran anchored near us decided to snap a few pictures of the fort while leaving the anchorage. Sadly, he forgot about the current. When he noticed he was drifting into our boat, he shifted into forward, snagging our anchor rode on one of his propellers.
Several hours and one cold, professional diver later, we gave up on getting our anchor free of the propeller. After tying a float to one end of the line, the diver cut our anchor free. And off we headed to St Augustine to get a new anchor rode.
Honey Gets a Boo Boo
In July, Mike traveled to eastern Pennsylvania to work for a month while Honey and I stayed on Meander in Hampton, Virginia.
I struggled all month at getting Honey off the boat in a slip with short, fixed finger piers and a three foot tidal range. But it became even more challenging when Honey injured a nail playing.
In the course of getting Honey treated, I learned a lot about visiting an emergency vet (click the link to see cute pictures of Honey making a fashion statement with a saline bag boot). I also learned that some cab drivers are really impatient as I saw mine pulling away as I carried Honey across the parking lot at a brisk run.
I thank the universe every day that Honey is only 50 pounds. And never more than on that day!
Would it surprise you to know that when I put Honey down to catch my breath, she immediately started wagging and limped over to greet the dock master? Yep, I thought not.
It takes a lot more than a hurt and bleeding paw to keep Honey from greeting a friend. And everyone is her friend.
Looking Back at 2018
Many sailors hate the ICW. For them, it’s just a shallow, challenging route that gets them to the clear, blue water of the Bahamas.
I hope to find time to write about our visit to the Dismal Swamp (more beautiful than the name suggests) and to share more dog-friendly anchorages with fellow cruisers.
If you want to follow our travels in 2019, ask the universe to send us good weather, continuing work, and freedom from hurricanes and boat repairs. Share in the comments what you want to know about Honey’s life as the first mate of Meander.
Just don’t ask for more mishap tales. I only want to sink a dinghy once.