This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

South Carolina

Daufuskie Island

The southernmost island along the South Carolina coast was once covered with plantations, later had a large oyster processing plant, and is most famous as the setting of Pat Conroy's The Water is Wide.  Conroy taught in a two-room school for black children.  The other school on the island, from the same era, is named The White School.  The island natives tell a quite different story than the one portrayed in Conroy's book.

Much of the island remains in a native state with a few dirt roads and one paved road for exploration.  Evidence of a few homes from the oyster processing days remain.  Today, grand homes on golf courses are being built as part-time residences, even though the island is accessible only by water.  Daufuskie continues to be a contrast in cultures.

Daufuskie sunset from the bankrupt marina where Last Dance received a few nights gratis.


The quaint, historic downtown area of Beaufort is an easy walk from the waterfront city marina.  Beautiful old homes, wonderfully landscaped yards with huge, old live oaks, and historic churches fill the town.  Yes, there are some good restaurants, but the beauty of the town is the attraction.

Distant Island Yacht Club

Beaufort is separated from the ocean by a large group of multiple barrier islands, collectively referred to as the Sea Islands.  One of them is Distant Island, where Last Dance joined Odyssee at the Yacht Club docks.  Well, there really isn't a yacht club, just Chuck and Claria Gorgen's home dock, to which they refer to by that title.

Distant Island recently began development with Beaufort style homes, naturally landscaped yards, large trees, and quiet, winding roads.  It is a peaceful and beautiful place to reside, one where the residents do not play golf; they all own boats.

Chuck and Claria Gorgen have completed the Great Loop, the Downeast Loop (around Nova Scotia), and over 30,000 miles of adventures on their 43 Hatteras, Odyssee.  They have hosted many Loopers at the protected dock behind their home.

Distant Island Sunset.

Bennett's Point, Mosquito Creek

Mosquito Creek lies off the Ashepoo River, north of Beaufort.  Bennett's Point, at the mouth of the creek, is a small community of 16 full-time families and a shrimp dock.  It must be one of the most remote places along the east coast, but is filled with wonderful people.

Larry and Christine Hayden are among the newer residents of Bennett's Point. They completed the Great Loop aboard Blue Skies, during the same time period as Last Dance.  They are downsizing to a C Dory, a trailerable trawler, giving them access to waterways across North America.

Lee and Jerry Baldwin were shrimpers for many years before beginning a marine construction business.  Jerry was born at Bennett's Point over eight decades ago, attending a one-room school located where his house now stands.  During the fall trip to Mosquito Creek, Jerry and Lee hosted Last Dance at their dock during Hurricane Sandy; a most protected place made even better by welcoming hosts.

A Hurricane Sandy sunset at Mosquito Creek.



This small town welcomes cruisers with a free day dock along the waterfront, which is lined with a harbor walk and is a block from Front Street.  It is often promoted for this main street, which is filled with shops, restaurants, the Maritime Museum, and the Rice Museum.  During the days of the plantations, 50% of the world's rice was grown in the South Carolina marshes.

The aspect that held the most interest for the crew was the beautiful old homes of Georgetown, some built before the Civil War.

One of the homes has the South Carolina champion live oak in their backyard - over 500 years old.

Waccamaw River

The Waccamaw runs from interior South Carolina, through Conway, past Georgetown, and out to the Atlantic.  It is a large river, mostly undeveloped along its shoreline, and a peaceful place filled with wildlife.  Pairs of Osprey have made many of the Coast Guard markers their homes.  A young couple beginning their nest have claimed G 77.

The pace around the Waccamaw is slow, both on the water and land.  There are few bridges, and some of those are old swing bridges, creating pauses for those both on land and the waterways.

Thoroughfare Creek

There are many creeks feeding the Waccamaw River, providing numerous, natural anchorages.  Thoroughfare Creek is a good example of these beautiful creeks.

The spot chosen to anchor had a large beach, part of a state wildlife refuge.  Jill enjoyed the opportunity to assist some lost, newly hatched turtles find their way to the water.

Osprey Marina

Though the crew prefers to anchor, there are times that a stop in a marina is needed.  Such experiences are not usually noteworthy, but Osprey Marina is an exception.  The new docks on the canal leading to the marina provided an environment not unlike an anchorage - quiet and natural surroundings.

Critters seem to be involved in the more enjoyable experiences on this journey.  Next to the marina was a field of goats.  A trip to feed the baby goats brought this billy to the fore.

Friends along the way expand as you cruise the waterways.  At Osprey, Liz and Jim Strong parked Vagabond next to Last Dance.  It was soon learned that these Texans had cruised with other DeFevers and that cruising styles and interests were similar.  Sharing an anchorage at Bird Island, right on the North Carolina/South Carolina state line, followed.

Barefoot in Myrtle Beach

No, that is not a description of the footware chosen by the crew (although that would be accurate), it is the name of the marina and town where the Silver Boots crew had invited Last Dance for a visit.  Food and drink seem to always be involved in shared activities with Jim and Pam, and this invite was no different.  The marina was having a pig picking on this date.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Georgia Coast


The southern Georgia town of Brunswick is a shrimping town - one of the reasons to stop here.  But, for cruisers, there are two larger reasons: Ocean Petroleum which has the best diesel fuel prices on the east coast and the great protected harbor which has almost no current.  Georgia has tides of 7 and 8 feet.  With that much water moving in and out, most rivers and creeks have fast currents.

Many cruisers stay at Brunswick during the summer because their boat insurance will not cover them in Florida during the hurricane season.  Here, they are close to Florida and still have insurance coverage.

The downtown area is working hard to remake itself into an attractive and vibrant business, shopping, and entertainment area.  They have worked to preserve some of the history of the town.  One example is at left, the Brunswick City Hall.

St. Simons Island

Crossing the bridge from Brunswick, across multiple rivers, leads one to St. Simons Island, and a whole different world - large live oaks, winding roads, golf courses, grand homes, upscale restaurants and shops.  Two communities, close but so far apart.  There is a nice marina in St. Simons, and while not as protected, it does provide access to this barrier island community.  St. Simons became one of the Georgia barrier islands to be developed because it is located close enough to the mainland to make a bridge practical.  While the island is filled with magnificent homes, this quaint cottage was found to be more appealing.  Below, sunset at the marina.

Frederica River

Running through the marshes and along the west side of St. Simons Island, the Frederica River has a number of areas suitable for anchoring, including one next to Fort Frederica.  This British fort, site of a large battle victory over the Spanish, is now a national park with great informational displays of the history that occurred here.


A long way up the Darien River, the small town of the same name welcomes cruisers with a free dock.  Darien has a large shrimping fleet and multiple shrimp houses.  Interestingly, the best place to purchase fresh shrimp is the hardware store.

Blackbeard Island/Blackbeard Creek

Sapelo Island is a barrier island with much history and no bridge/road access.  There is still a settlement of Gullah living on Sapelo, speaking their own language and retaining many of the blended customs of their various backgrounds.

Just to the north of Sapelo, separated only by a creek and some salt marshes, is Blackbeard Island, named after the pirate who chose this island as his base of operations.  All of Blackbeard Island is now a National Wildlife Refuge.

Blackbeard Creek is still very tricky, probably one of the reasons for Blackbeard's selection decision.  This very windy creek has many shallow areas preventing passage.  However, the tides in this area range 6 to 8 feet, so at high tide, even shoals can be passed over by deeper draft vessels.

A spot with trees protecting from the predicted high winds was found for anchoring and serving as the base of operations.

The explorations led to Blackbeard Island beach.  This image was made during spring break week - a private beach during the height of the season.


There are three large barrier islands to the east of the historic city of Savannah:  Skidaway, Wilmington, and Tybee.  All three were visited either during the October/December cruise of Georgia or the new leg of Loop Two.  And, while there are many interesting aspects on each of these islands (including a wonderful restaurant on Tybee - Sundae Cafe'), the beauty and history of the old city on the mainland made for the most interesting images to share.

Spring was still on display in Savannah, with both azaleas and camellias in bloom.  This church is famous for being next to the house where General Sherman set up headquarters and, more recently, for having a scene in a movie.

The varied and beautiful architecture of the homes, churches, and public buildings, with easily walked streets and lovely landscaped squares make Savannah an enjoyable, entertaining place to visit - particularly in the spring.

Friends Along the Way

Jean and Mel Thomason first anchored Dovekie next to Last Dance at Benjamin Island, North Channel, Canada. Paths of cruisers continue to cross.  At right, an image taken when they visited St. Augustine, and the crew of Last Dance.

Anchored together again, this time along Cumberland Island.

Steve and Beth Westgate completed the Loop aboard Gemini during the same time frame as Last Dance.  Many good times were shared together as paths crossed along the journey.  They live on Wilmington Island near Savannah and have hosted Last Dance and crew at their home dock on numerous occasions.

Ned and Mary Sommer, previous owners of a DeFever 44, and still DeFever Cruisers in membership and spirit, hosted the crew for conversation, lunch at an amazing Savannah Restaurant, and a walk through town.  Mary shared the historical fact that the famous Savannah fountain in Forsyth Park (just behind in the image) was purchased from Sears Roebuck.

During the fall Georgia cruise, Pam Shipp realized that there were four DeFevers in the St. Simons marina and organized a progressive dinner for an impromptu DeFever Rendezvous.  Image of the candlelight main course at right, with Pam and Jim Shipp, Silver Boots; Ron and Janice Walton, River Girl; Chris and Dorcas Sommerhoff, Dorcas Ann; and the Last Dance crew.

The Shipp's land yacht transported the crews to enjoy the breakfast buffet at the Millionaires' Club on Jekyll Island.  Glen and Jim took advantage of the rockers afterward.

Visiting friends along the waterways is another rewarding benefit of cruising.