October 21, 2009 by Bethany
We made it to GA a few days ago. What a good feeling. I can only IMAGINE what it will feel like to make it to the Florida border.
So here’s what happened from Charleston to Tybee Island:
We left Lance and Tracy’s house to paddle from James Island to the end of Folly Beach. It was a gray and gloomy day but we made it there with smiles. Lance picked us up near the bridge and we stayed one last night with them. The next morning we left from Folly Beach and headed out oceanside to Edisto Beach. It was a really nice day to paddle. The seas were calm and we enjoyed paddling the whole time. We arrived at Edisto Beach State Park tired but happy. Normally we are hesitant to land at State and National Parks due to past experiences BUT this place was great. The ranger who we met helped us carry our boats from the beach to his pickup truck, (already amazingly kind and helpful in comparison to other experiences) and he even went and got a different pickup when he realized just how LONG our kayaks are. We were dumbfounded by the kindness since it hasnt been like that since WAY back in Maine at Reid State Park. He set us up in a campsite very close to beach access. Our neighbors and another couple from the campground were cooking up a huge meal and they invited us to join them. We dined on steak, pork, onions and potatoes, cornbread, and fresh caught shark. It was an all around great evening.
The next morning we woke up to MORE food from our neighbors. Jason and his family are from Augusta GA and he owns a custom motorcycle business, Southern Cycleworks with really really REALLY nice handmade custom choppers. He has no website and seems to be against the internet altogether but if you are interested in sweet bikes, find him in Augusta. I doubt you’d be disappointed. We were enjoying the campfire and breakfast and new friends when the sky opened up and the entire Atlantic Ocean seems to be pouring down on us for a long while. Dan and I ran for our tent and waited it out. We were crushed to see little puddles of water sneaking in our wonderful tent. Apparently, after using our tent as a HOME for the past 4 months since we got it last May, the waterproofing had weakened (combined with a awful campsite selection) and we were in a wet tent. Not good. Ill forgive the tent of that since its been wet in a kayak more than its even been dry and these things happen. It was a pretty depressing blow though at the time. We had wet clothes, wet sleeping bags, wet thermarests and so on and so forth. I needed a full hour at least to come to grips with it all. Finally the rain let up and we dried our clothes at another neighbors campfire and talked with him about life and everything else under the sun. The rain continued all day. It was pretty hard to stay positive. Atleast we got to dry a few things out before we went to sleep that night.
The next morning, our friends from the Shark dinner two nights before were on the beach to wave goodbye to us. It was fun. We left Edisto Beach and headed to the St Helena Sound. It was a really wide sound and we had to work to get across it. The currents were annoying as well as the fact that it was STILL gloomy outside. We paddled all day long and when the sun was setting we were still 10 miles away from our destination on a deserted island. We were hearing booms all day too coming from Paris Island but we didn’t know that was where they were coming from at the time. We decided to find a backup plan since we didn’t want to accidentally camp in a military bombing range… nor did we want to paddle 10 more miles. From the marsh, we called the Fripp Island Marina. Nate answered the phone and said “Let me call you back.” We waited and he called back and said “Come on in!” Relief. We paddled to the Fripp Island Marina and when we arrived, the Fripp Island Patrol arrived with us. Apparently Nate found out that it was absolutely NOT ok for us to camp there but since we were already there and the sun was almost gone, Fripp’s Island had to find something to do with us. Oops. The Patrol officer, with his brown leather belt and shiny gun, decided the best thing to do with us was take us to the fire station. We camped out behind the station for the night… trying not to think about what had happened only a week earlier to a man there: Gator bites off man’s arm on Fripp Island!
We survived the evening and got to the boat launch by 6:15 am thanks to the Fripp Island Patrol. Unfortunately it was still pitch black dark outside. We hung out until around 7:30am and then paddled on towards Hilton Head. We had suspicions that our nephew was going to be born that day for unknown reasons and called Dan’s older brother William from the marshes. We found out that Jamie was in labor and Charlie, (our nephew) was on his way! I have never wanted to be back home more than that moment. The rest of the day we were checking our phone for a text message or a call letting us know we had a nephew born. It was so STRESSFUL! The paddle was wet, cold, rainy and long NOT to mention we were on pins a needles about the action back home. A we crossed the Port Royal Sound, we had to fight the whole way. Wind and waves and current were all not in our favor and it took us almost an eon to get across that thing. Exhausted! We pulled up to the Skull Creek Marina and asked if we could keep our boats there. Unbeknownst to us, Hilton Head is FULL of gated communities and Skull Creek turned us away on the grounds that it was nearly impossible to get to the place by car unless you lived there. That’s a good reason. They did give Dan a donut. The next place we stopped was simply because we saw 3 kayaks headed there, and then we saw kayak racks. Turns out it was the storage for Outside Hilton Head. Sarah, who was guiding a trip that cold wet rainy day called her “higher ups” and they gave us the go-ahead. Sarah even helped us load our heavy boats on the racks and offered us a place to stay if our planned place fell through. (Which it most definitly did not as you will read about in a moment). Cold and wet, we called Sally and Danny and they came to pick us up on a moment’s notice.
William Charles Cox the III was born that night around 10:00 pm. 6lbs, 1 oz. Totally Rad.
We stayed at Sally and Danny’s for 2 nights. It was wonderful. Talk about resting and relaxing…. we ate like kings and queens. We enjoyed a tour of Hilton Head. We watched a funny movie. We seam sealed our poor tent. We read books. We planned for our GA leg of the trip. We enjoyed good conversation. We got to go shopping for warm clothes and more since it was so darn COLD. We also stopped by Outside Hilton Head to thank them as well as get some beta for paddling in FL. We were really surprised when they gave us each a camelback water bottle for free! I’ve ALWAYS wanted one and Dan has always said “Im not paying that much for a water bottle!” Ha. They are really expensive as far as water bottles go and we were really overwhelmed. SO…. clearly…. we had a great time in Hilton Head with Sally and Danny.
Danny dropped us off at the water near 8:00am and waved goodbye. As we stood in the cold after he left, we realized that the 20-25 knt wind combined with the 40 degree temps did not make for a good day to paddle. We only had long underwear and rain gear since we had mailed all of our cold weather paddling gear home in NYC. We had some trouble deciding but we finally chose to call a cab and stay in a hotel for the night. It just made sense and everything is much cheaper now that it is the offseason! We actually got a ride from the same guy who turned us away at the Skull Creek Marina 2 days before! It was a good day of doing absolutely NOTHING.
The NEXT morning, take two, we left from Hilton Head and paddled on to Tybee Island, GA. Since it was still a bit windy, we went the conservative way on the backside rather than out on the ocean. It made our trip MUCH longer but we just aren’t dressed for immersion right now in the colder weather. (YOU BETTER BE WARMER FLORIDA!) The paddle was rather non-descript other than an alligator sighting and… crossing the Georgia border! Good times.
Dale picked us up and we had a yummy dinner with his family and then long talks over GA charts about the best way to approach the paddle.
We are actually here on Tybee the same time as a seakayak symposium. Dale offered to let us stay a few days and meet some of the paddlers. Even though we aren’t participating in the event, due to the cost of participating it is still fun to hang out with fellow paddlers! Fun! We leave to paddle south again tomorrow morning.