Friday, January 05, 2007

Cape Fear, NC, to Little River, SC

28.4 nm
Wind: S 10-15 knots
Maximum speed: 7.6 knots (with current)
Average speed: 4.4 knots
Latitude: 33°52.27’N
Longitude: 078°34.23’W

So it’s my birthday today, and as a present, God sent me more dolphins. Today they were just frolicking along as we motored down the ICW. We saw them at least three times. I don’t want to become jaded about them, because I know it’s a huge gift, the best one I could get for my birthday. I’m just in awe.

We even went for a walk today on the beach and saw them surfacing in the anchorage around Secret, as the sun set. They make this little muted “pboh” sound when they surface, and I’m beginning to recognize it enough that I can spot them right as they come up for air.

So my birthday was uneventful, like Thanksgiving and Christmas were before it, but I could still ask for little more. Dolphins and a walk on the beach are enough.

Though it’s not quite as romantic as it sounds. I spent an hour and a half doing all the dishes that had piled up since Oriental this morning, because Karl thought it was too dangerous to try to boil water in the swell we had offshore. Then it started pouring down rain, and although it was warm inside, Karl had his full raingear on outside, steering so I wouldn’t have to on my birthday. At least we got to South Carolina, a huge milestone, but we pulled in to the first anchorage we found, way earlier than we would have otherwise.

We ran aground again, this time on shoaling in the channel, and Karl powered us out of it, so that we could run aground again in the place where we were supposed to anchor. It was low tide again, so only to be expected. As long as you run aground at low tide, you’re all set.

Then, on our romantic beach walk, we pulled the dinghy up onto the tidal flats covered with generations of oysters and clam shells. Everything was picturesque and beautiful, until I tried to walk up the beach and ended up sinking into the thick, sulfurous, suppurating mud to my knees. I’ve never understood how quicksand works, but now I do. I’d try to pull one foot out and sink the other one in deeper, then try to lean over and pull myself out with my hands, only to begin to sink my hands in too.

It was the funniest thing that’s happened to me in a long time, and both Karl and I were laughing hysterically as I simultaneously tried to pull myself out and panicked. I was panicking and laughing and begging for help all at once. It was so ludicrous to not be able to pull myself out! But I couldn’t! So Karl finally yanked me out, absolutely covered in this fishy black mud. I left a West Marine boot behind, which Karl had to dig out with the dinghy oar while it made a desperate sucking sound.

Luckily, it was warm enough that we could rinse ourselves off in the water, and the walk on the beach still progressed as planned, and I’m only slightly damp and dirty now. If only we had had the camera. It would have been a picture for the ages.

But Karl made me a nice Polish dinner of kielbasa and cabbage, what we happen to have left, and we drank the bottle of wine we’ve been saving. I also tried to eat the pomegranate that I’ve been saving since Virginia, only to discover that the bottom half was rotted. Big surprise there. Luckily I was able to salvage a couple of berries, and they only made me slightly woozier than the wine.

So a good birthday. I was trying to explain to my mom and my sister on the phone why it had been such a good birthday, when nothing much had happened, but I couldn’t. It all felt very eventful at the time. And this is the third birthday I’ve spent with Karl, almost one-tenth of my life. I can imagine few greater gifts than that.

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