Looming Decisions and Popping Shrimp

“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened.”– Mark Twain.

We are not going to make it to our destination. The miles flow by pleasantly and we finally have sunshine, clear skies and cool breezes. There are dolphins, eagles and vast acres of marshlands. On our way south to Charleston, we meander through marsh grasses as high as a person. There are no houses for miles and the waterway branches out into wandering creeks on either side. We pull in to Georgetown for gas and see a bald eagle on the marker. He is not as much of a tease as the dolphins, so here is his portrait.


A bald eagle perches on the marker just outside Georgetown, SC.

Later, We drop our anchor in 12 feet of water in a small inlet just off the waterway. There are no lights around. Phil checks us in on Facebook “in the middle of nowhere.”

“It’s not really the middle of nowhere,” he comments. “But you can see the edge from here.” We are the only humans for miles. The stars are brilliant and close. Before the moon rises, the Big Dipper seems to reach down to us alone.

Our original plan was to take Catmandu from Annapolis to Ft. Lauderdale in 5 weeks. It was an ambitious plan that would have required long hours and perfect weather. Friends from Annapolis are wintering in St. Augustine, so that became Plan B. But as the days wind down, and we have yet to reach Georgia, Plan B looks unlikely, too. We are looking for a stopping place where Phil can work for a couple of weeks and I can get to an airport to fly home–maybe Savannah; maybe Jekyll Island.


We pass mile 500 on the ICW, traveling in a 27-foot sailboat. (And we still like each other).

We are seeing dolphins every day, even in unlikely places that seem too narrow and shallow. These dolphins are gray, not black as the ones farther north. They surface and then disappear, too elusive for pictures.

There have been some wonderful surprises on this trip. One surprise is the number of unspoiled wild places. Living in New England, I thought these were rare treasures in the world. But traveling by water through the Carolinas gives me hope that we still have some of the natural world left, unspoiled by traffic, industry, and strip malls. We travel through days of marshlands where birds and dolphins make their homes, unbothered by humans.




We reach Charleston Harbor early in the afternoon on Wednesday, October 23. The wind forecast was 5-10mph, so we were surprised by the white caps, heavy winds and wild water that greeted us in the harbor. Catmandu bobbed and splashed into the waves, occasionally soaking us with cold salty water. I can’t help but laugh; it seems so deliberate. Cut it out, Catmandu!


Charleston, from Charleston Harbor.

Charleston, from Charleston Harbor.

When we arrive at the marina, Bob and Lester greet us at the dock. He heard our radio call. Our friend and writer, Jaye Lunsford (Life Afloat) is right: Cruisers form fast friendships quickly. Bob is on a layover, waiting for boat parts and visiting family. We hope to see the Bonnie K down the line.


Palm trees in downtown Charleston.

Charleston is a good place to settle down for a day. Phil puts in a work day while I take the courtesy van to a supermarket. I do laundry and talk to locals. At night we hear strange clicking noises around the boat. It sounds like the popping of small-scale bubble wrap. Phil posts a link on Facebook: “We have been hearing the sounds of snapping shrimp through the hull of Catmandu since arriving in Charleston. Sounds like Rice Krispies┬« and we are in the bowl of cereal.”



The view from our restaurant in Charleston, where we treat ourselves to dinner.

It’s dark morning in Charleston and I am awake. I look up through the forward hatch and see the bright half moon directly overhead. I hear the crackling of popping shrimp all around the boat. They will snap this way until daybreak and then we will be on our way, destination unknown.


Leaving Charleston through the Ladies Island Bridge.

One thought on “Looming Decisions and Popping Shrimp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *