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South along the Intracoastal Waterway

By Anne Clement

While there are a few high powered places like Baltimore and Annapolis in the Chesapeake, much of the coast line is still country retaining charms of a quieter life style especially the remote communities up the smaller rivers where shallow draft boats can go. My earlier estimate of 1000 anchorages only scratches the surface and the local folks paddle out to invite us for rides or home to supper. Southern Hospitality.

We had the royal treatment (grocery, gasoline, cold beer, etc) from the delightful family aboard a famous wooden old boat called Gaucho anchored near us behind Deltaville. She is the well maintained home of a special cruising family. And then we went up the York River and old friends from Bristol, England came to take us home to see the good life they have made for themselves here in America. They bought a small cottage that was truly falling down and rebuilt it into a lovely home. Their own fancy carpentry and an eye for design have made it totally charming.

The next day they brought us loads of wood and clear plastic offcuts, fastenings, and other useful boat building materials and completely overwhelmed us with their thoughtful generosity. Remembering with them the years spent in or near Bristol was a rare treat and hearing about old friends was lovely.

As we head south we are now seeing serious damage to property from hurricane Isobel. Homes destroyed, walls missing, foundations undercut and the loss of old giant trees that were the pride of the community just begin to tell of the devastation. Inside the hurricane there were embedded tornados and some trees were stripped on one side. I do not think I would want to live beside the water here. I am glad we waited before sailing south this year and made certain the hurricane was far away.

Oct 27 Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The eye of the hurricane passed through this small city known for its extreme kindness to boaters passing through. Free docks, wine and cheese parties, folks from town who just drive up and offer rides to grocery store, laundry, post office, and even to their health club for shower, steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi. The first time I got into the jacuzzi, the pain from my irritated sciatica was halved. And the second time it was halved again. I now walk without a limp and the relief is wonderful. Thanks to Nora!

In spite of the hurricane, the welcome was unchanged. There sure is a lot of amateur boat building going on. We met a young man (young is anybody in their 40s) building a house barge in pine. This ark is built for the ages using olde fashioned honest methods like caulking and tar rather than epoxy fibreglass. Again we see the artist's eye making something simple and affordable quite special because of the thoughtful design and careful positioning. Two other boats were built by the same man and I will never forget the sight of a graceful wine glass stern of his small Herreschoff cat boat gleaming in the headlights as we went around for a peek just after sunset. A vision!

© Anne and Neville Clement, 2003