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A Week of Coastal Adventures

(And Mishaps)



Our week of vacation started like most - an hour late getting on the road due to an exhausting workweek that resulted in a lack of planning and foresight, running about at the last minute collecting sunscreen and beach towels. We made short work of the road trip this time - interstates all the way, packed sandwiches for lunch, a single hasty bathroom break. Our minds were united in focus on the mission at hand - taking possession of our brand new, fresh-off-the-line Boston Whaler Montauk 190, an "Unsinkable Legend." We ordered it at the beginning of June in a moment of pandemic madness after a precarious lake outing on our 1973 speed boat. Over the ensuing weeks, Calvin found a multitude of reasons to call Chet Porter, our phenomenally patient contact at MarineMax Savannah. Part salesman, part therapist, part educator - Chet reassured us repeatedly that the boat would in fact be in Savannah and ready for pick-up on August 7 and that he would make sure we weren't going to die before he sent us out on the seas alone. Chet was true to his word and had this beauty waiting for us in the showroom upon arrival. We named her Accipiter, for the hawks that frequent our Upstate yard - small, nimble, adept at navigating the trickiest canopies.

Image Above: Boston Whaler Montauk 190 in the MarineMax Savannah Showroom

After an hour or so on the water, learning controls, engine break-in procedures, and a little bit about local navigation, we said goodbye to Chet for the evening and headed down the Wilmington River to our favorite dockbar, The Wyld, for a delicious dinner with a view. We returned to our slip in the marina around sundown, greeting a friendly Georgia river otter along the way.

Image Above: Docked for the night at Savannah Bend Marina

Our AirBnB accommodations (View the Listing Here) for the Savannah portion of our journey could not have been more elegant, thoughtfully curated, or convenient. As we crossed the threshold with our luggage, we were greeted by a cloche of fresh cookies and a personal welcome note.

Image Above: The Savannah AirBnB



Today, we set out for the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge at first light, fortunately encountering only a little chop in the Calibogue Sound as we learned our way around the new boat. We planned a short outing in an attempt to ease into our sea legs and return in time for dinner reservations. The day was full of excellent wildlife - Eagles, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Wood Storks, Dolphins, and one especially surly creek Alligator.

Image Above: Wood Stork

The night was full of excellent cuisine at The Grey, my favorite Savannah restaurant. We started with incredible cocktails followed by the seven course chef's tasting - including scallop crudo with lemon, watermelon tartare with a canary melon gazpacho, poached cobia with grouper mayo, and New York strip with smoked eggplant. Chef Mashama Bailey serves up elevated Southern cuisine like no other and is an invaluable thread in the tapestry of modern Southern culture.

Image Above: Watermelon Tartare and a "Feet Don't Fail Me" Cocktail at The Grey



Our mantra for the remainder of the trip shall be borrowed from Kurt Russell's title character in 1992's Captain Ron (our one and only resource for boat related wisdom), "If anything is going to happen, it's going to happen out there." The goal today was to head South, as far as we could go, with the reasonable hope of returning to the marina before dark. This landed us in the creeks around Ossabaw Island Wildlife Management Area at lunch. We enjoyed sandwiches on the boat and a swim in the creek, watching over our shoulders lest one of the island's feral hogs decide to join us.

Image Above: Dropping Anchor off of Ossabaw Island

As we returned to the swim ladder, there was a darkening of the skies, the first signs of an impending Summer storm. We decided to weigh anchor and test the limits of the boat's higher speeds on the way back to Savannah. The boat moved fast but the storm moved faster. We found refuge, again, at the Wyld and enjoyed drinks and some crispy okra until the storm allowed us to return to the city.

Image Above: Summer storm bearing down on us.

Image Above: Crispy okra at the Wyld



Today, we said goodbye to Savannah and trailered the boat to its new slip at Safe Harbor Marina, Beaufort. We checked into our AirBnB, a beautifully renovated example of the cottages of Downtown Beaufort's Northwest Quadrant, outfitted with everything you could possibly need for a fantastic vacation (View the Listing Here).

My mother arrived with our pups in tow around supper time and we enjoyed a crab cake feast "at home" before an evening cruise on the water to watch the jets from the nearby military base practice maneuvers in the sky above us. Ando was extremely excited about the boat. Zoe was cautiously optimistic.

Image Above: Zoe's first new boat ride.



The day started with a leisurely breakfast. Afterwards, we all announced that we were going to get ready for the day. My mom got ready and then exited her suite to find Calvin and I asleep on the couch - still in PJs. (In our defense, we had been doing A LOT of boating before she arrived.). On our second attempt, we successfully got dressed. We ate a lovely lunch at Plum's on the water while Zoe got mauled by every mobile toddler in a one mile radius. She loved it. We went for a midday cruise to a swimming spot where Ando could test the swim platform.

Image Above: Ando's first swim of the trip. (If you're wondering why Zoe wears a life jacket and Ando doesn't, it is because Ando can swim and Zoe absolutely cannot.)

Mom and I visited a fantastic shop, Cabana 22, on Bay Street where we stocked up on fancy pajamas and linens and then met Calvin for a decadent dinner at Saltus River Grill, where Zoe made friends with an extremely polite Greyhound.



If this day had a title it would be, "Too Much Adventure for Us." It started with an early morning cruise with Mom to the waters around Morgan Island (aka Monkey Island), famous for its many primate inhabitants and the signs that warn boaters to stay far offshore. Unfortunately, we spotted zero monkeys on the beach - pelicans that looked like monkeys to a hopeful eye, stumps that looked like monkeys to a hopeful eye - but alas zero monkeys. We hit a sandbar as we tried to circumnavigate the island. Chet warned us, "If you don't know, go slow." We didn't know (the charts warned of "possible" shoaling in the area) so we were going slow and the jolt of contact only threw Zoe from her feet, a task I've seen accomplished by a bumblebee. Calvin jumped in the water to give us a shove. Other than his right leg's encounter with a school of jellyfish, the mission was a total success. He launched us off of the sandbar and we decided that was enough of a visit to Monkey Island.

Image Above: Warning signs on Morgan Island

Mom left for the Upstate around lunch and we hit the water again bound for the ACE Basin. When we started to encounter four foot waves in the St. Helena Sound, we probably should have turned back. In stead we pushed through to the calmer waters of the Ashepoo River. The ACE Basin was incredible - creeks calm, quiet, and still; long legged waders fishing around every corner; birds of prey hunting from the skies.

Image Above: Osprey in the ACE Basin

As the sun fell and we again approached the St. Helena Sound to make our way back to Beaufort, we hoped that we would find calmer waters. In stead, we found a real batten-down-the-hatches situation. Three to four foot seas occasionally climbed their way to five and a sky blackening storm stood between us and our destination.

Image Above: Calvin, after we finally reached the home stretch

Zoe was catching air with every other wave so I held her with one hand while holding myself on the boat with the other. Ando was behind us surfing the stern like some sort of storm-crazed, drunken sailor while I yelled for him to, "Sit down! Lay down! Behave!" We made it back to Safe Harbor Marina, an apt name on this particular evening, with thunder and lighting cracking all around us. When we got back to the AirBnB we opened a wonderful bottle of wine from Idlewild Wines to celebrate our survival.

Image Above: Idlewild Wines Flora & Fauna Rosé



I'm beginning to think Calvin can't read a weather radar. The day started sunny and beautiful with calm waters as we traveled past Parris Island to the Port Royal Sound. It might have been a piece of foreshadowing when we stopped at what looked like a good swimming sandbar only to discover that the waters were shark infested moments before taking the leap. We instead visited Freeport Marina on Daufuskie Island and then figured that we would run on down to Savannah, not yet ready to end our time on the boat.

Image Above: Clinging desperately to those last hours of boating bliss

The storm hit as we were leaving Savannah - thirty or so nautical miles from Beaufort. On the Port Royal Sound, we were consistently meeting five foot waves. On an otherwise extremely dry boat, Zoe and I were taking on astronomical amounts of spray across the Starboard side while Calvin laughed maniacally and steered us expertly. Ando napped - yes napped like an 85 pound sausage rolling around the boat deck. Once again, our captain got us safely to shore. I don't think Zoe is terribly interested in doing any more boating with us.



We reluctantly said goodbye to the coast but were unbelievably happy to settle back into our Upstate home. For dinner, we perused the cellar and selected a bottle of Pinot Noir by Longboard Vineyards, a surfer owned Sonoma County winery. It seemed like an appropriate choice to commemorate the end of our first week of adventure, terror, learning, and discovery onboard the Accipiter.

Image Above: 2017 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Longboard Vineyards

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