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Spring Break
Text and Photographs by Michael Doster

Local Sailing Club in Church Creek.


I left Raleigh about 9:00 AM Friday morning driving south. Dan and the Marian Claire were just south of Charleston and I was to meet him at the St. John’s Yacht Harbor early that afternoon to spend a few days on the water. It has become something of a tradition. Just after New Years I get the call. “When is your Spring Break this year?” I check the calendar and the planning begins. In previous years we have done parts of Florida, Shackleford Banks, and the Pamlico. This year we were going to head south from Charleston towards Georgia and potentially northern Florida, all things weather dependent of course. I had made arrangements with the marina to leave my car while we were gone, and would pick it up on my way back home. I arrived about 1:30, checked in with the dock master and located Dan and the Marian Claire at the end of one of the T docks. After a welcome aboard cocktail we unloaded the car and settled in for the evening. One of the benefits of my catching up with Dan by car is I can provision the boat before our departure. You have already heard about Dan’s affection for SPAM. This is not a characteristic that we share, so while I travel light otherwise, I try to be sure ships stores are well stocked before we leave. Our plan was to get underway the next morning, taking advantage of favorable tides. The wind was forecast to be fairly strong as a consequence of one of the several Nor-Easters that have played havoc with the North Eastern US this Spring and we wanted to get off the face dock before things got too rough.

Oyster Beds in RockCreek.


The forecast winds arrived overnight and were howling. Tied up on the end of the T dock we were fully exposed and the Marian Claire was hobby horsing to beat the band. As soon as the current dropped to the point we felt we could safely maneuver the boat off the dock, we pulled away aided by two extremely helpful dock hands from the marina and headed down river. Just as a side note, the folks at St. John’s Yacht Harbor were as helpful and accommodating as you could ask for. If you are ever in the area, give them a try.

Conditions improved immediately upon getting off the dock and we were able to travel without incident to an early anchorage in Church Creek. The winds subsided over the course of the day making for a cool, but pleasant afternoon and evening. Turns out one of the local cruising clubs was having a raft up in the creek that evening. The event was hosted on a large trimaran and we were graciously invited over for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. I had brought Dan a supply of my famous venison jerky, and he generously shared some with our hosts to rounds of applause. After a dinner of Bambi Burgers on the grill, we called it quits for the evening.


The day broke clear and cool with winds about 15 -20. We got underway a little after 9:00, letting it warm up a bit and take to take advantage of the tides. We spent most of the day on the Southern Edisto, putting about 28 statute miles under the keel before dropping anchor in Rock Creek. Very pretty water once we got clear of the developed areas. Dan spied a number of oyster beds lining the shore of the creek and we decided to take advantage of nature’s bounty. There is just nothing better than oysters straight out of the water. Along with Bambi Kabobs on the grill for dinner, it just don’t get no better than this.

Nature's Bounty.


We awoke to a calm and beautiful morning and got underway by 8:00. Conditions were perfect all day, with dolphin surfacing close enough to the boat to nearly splash us in the cock pit . We arrived in Beaufort (SC) by noon, and our original plan was to drop the hook near Lady’s Island for the night. However, the forecast was calling for degrading conditions for the next couple of days so we decided to push on and get as much “big water” behind us as we could while the winds were favorable. We made it south of Hilton Head and dropped the hook in Bull Creek at around 6:00 PM. Bull Creek is a bit narrow, but we had plenty of water and this is a great place to get out of harm’s way. A pair of dolphin swam leisurely by the boat and I was finally able to get a picture. Cooked up the rest of the Bambi Burgers for dinner and we called it a night.


We awoke to a gorgeous sunrise. My old buddy Vic Copelan says there is nothing more beautiful than sunrise and sunset on the water, and I tend to agree with him. I never tire of taking pictures of them. The weather forecast was calling for rain in the afternoon, so we decided to try and make it to Thunderbolt by noon. Weather was going to be iffy for the next couple of days, and beyond Thunderbolt there would be limited opportunities for me to arrange transportation back to my car for about 130 miles, so we decided this would be a good place for me to get off the boat. We pulled into Turner Creek with the intention of staying at Hogan’s Marina which had gotten good reviews on Active Captain. After failing to hail anyone on the radio we learned that the marina was closed on Tuesday’s. We tied up to a dock right next to Hogan’s in what turned out to be Sasser’s Marina. This place is bare bones. No fuel, no electricity, no bath house, no wifi, limited water. However, as is Hogan’s, it is conveniently located next to a Publix, a Walgreens, gas stations, etc. Since we were not in real need of other amenities it served our purposes just fine. My original plan was to arrange a one way car rental to get me from Thunderbolt (Savannah) back to Charleston to get my car. Turns out there were no one way car rentals to be had. Since Charleston was just two hours by car, I arranged a one day rental with Enterprise. They picked Dan and me up at the marina, we drove back to St. John’s Yacht Harbor where I recovered my car, back to Thunderbolt where I returned the rental car, then back to the boat. Though seemingly a lot of trouble, we were back at the boat by 7:30, I had my car and could leave from there the next morning to head home and would be able to use the car to get whatever Dan needed to continue his trip. All in all, it worked out just fine. There was what looked to be an abandoned bar/pool hall called Cheers that shared a parking lot with the marina. When we got back with my car, we noticed lights on and folks inside, so we decided to spend our last night playing pool. The place turned out to be a fairly popular local’s bar and we had a pleasant evening shooting pool, drinking a few beers and socializing.

Thunderbolt Dive Bar


Dan’s plan was to leave the dock after I headed home and anchor in the creek while waiting on better weather before continuing his trip. After coffee, we put all of the gas from his spare cans into Marian Claire’s fuel tank and used the car to replenish his supplies. We said our good byes and I headed north to Raleigh and home, arriving safely that afternoon. As I relaxed comfortably in my living room that evening, I had time to reflect.

Another year, another one for the log books. Something of a tradition.

Text and Photographs by Michael Doster
Motor Vessel Annie Belle

Dolphin in Bull Creek

Bull Creek Sunrise