Calabash Creek, SC

11/20, 1030.6, W10-15>20, 63/41, mostly cloudy - Before we left this morning, from 6:30-6:50am, I took Murphy on a walk on Sugarloaf Trail. The woods at Carolina Beach State Park are too soothing to miss.

We cleared the slip shortly after 7am and motored southwest down the channel leading from Snow’s Cut to the Upper Midnight Channel Range. The wind was more SW than W, so the beam reach we were hoping for turned into a beat down the Cape Fear River. At least the current was with us, giving us a knot of speed boost and pointing angles we wish we could achieve all the time.

As we neared Deep Point, sailing became even more challenging with car ferries crossing between Southport and Pleasure Island, a tug pushing a spud barge following us, a tug pushing a chemical barge outbound for sea, and charter boats and ferries inbound. (Have you ever played the video game “Paper Boy”?)

We made very short tacks to stick to the west side of the channel and out of everyone’s way. I felt grateful for the many years of racing that have taught us to tack fast. Breathless, we sailed between markers “1” and “2” that are the turn into the ICW near the end of the Lower Swash Channel.

Passing Southport.

Passing Southport.

The rest of the day was spent motoring. We do 2-hour shifts at the helm. It rained and blew off-and-on and the temperature fell throughout the day. Still, the water temperature warms with every day we travel further south, so 40-degrees here doesn’t feel like 40-degrees on the Chesapeake. We pulled into Calabash Creek around 3pm. One sailboat was already anchored. This anchorage is tricky without an all-chain rode due to very limited area outside the channel with sufficient depth. Commercial fishing boats - head boats and ocean shrimp trawlers - come through after dark, so there’s great incentive to be clear of the channel. We motored around for close to an hour trying to find a spot with 105’ swing radius that met the qualifications. Eventually we picked a place to drop the hook and were satisfied.

We unloaded the dinghy and sat down in the cockpit to look out over the ICW and appreciate the afternoon sun with a glass of wine. Then I rowed Murphy to “shore”. Around here, that means oyster shells and marsh grass. Murphy was unimpressed but attended to business.


For dinner, I cooked tomatillo chicken stew and served it over rice. I made and canned the tomatillo sauce in September. Loaded with chicken, it was satisfying and delicious. All this activity in cold weather generates substantial appetites.