And now, the best parts of the waterway:
Late afternoon at Wally’s Leg off the Mackay River in south Georgia. We were isolated from civilization by miles of salt marsh. Georgia’s marshes haven’t changed much since I used to fish them with my father in the ‘50s.
A neighbor came calling during cocktail hour in Awendaw Creek, in South Carolina’s Cape Romaine Wildlife Refuge. This dolphin and several others dropped by to say hello as we were anchoring.
One evening years ago, Leslie and I were anchored in this spot at low tide, and we gathered enough fresh oysters from public oyster beds for dinner. The beds are closed now; back then they were open for recreational harvesting.
Sunrise over the marsh the next morning at Awendaw Creek as we raised our anchor -- the beginning of another beautiful day in the low country.
Cowhouse Creek, off the Waccamaw River in South Carolina.
Incredibly, this is only a few miles south of the out-of-control development in the Myrtle Beach area.
A couple of hours north of Cowhouse Creek, we stopped in another favorite spot on the Waccamaw. This oxbow is near Enterprise Landing, even closer to Myrtle Beach. Over the years, we spent many nights here in solitude, listening to alligators and bullfrogs at night and woodpeckers during the day. We were sad to see the beginnings of a gated community on the opposite bank of the Waccamaw.
Early morning on the Dismal Swamp Canal, near the state line between North Carolina and Virginia.
George Washington surveyed the route for the canal through the Great Dismal Swamp before the Revolutionary War, and he was one of the shareholders in the company that built it. The company was formed in 1784, and construction started in 1793.
Opened in 1805, the canal carried commercial traffic between Virginia’s Tidewater and the Albemarle region of North Carolina. By the early 20th century, other forms of transportation diminished the commercial importance of the canal. Today, it’s maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is used primarily for recreational traffic. We’ve traversed it many times, always amazed at the natural beauty, even though we see a highway paralleling our course a few yards to the east through the trees.
We'll be in Hampton, Virginia tonight, where we'll meet some friends who live in Suffolk, not far from the canal. We're debating whether to sail straight from Hampton to our destination in Annapolis or take several days, working our way up the Chesapeake. Both are tempting; it's a 20-hour run up the center of the Bay to Annapolis, but there are lots of pretty places to stop along the way. In our years of cruising the Chesapeake, we've enjoyed both options several times. We'll see how we feel after a day in Hampton.