Day 39 Wednesday October 17 – Reaching South Carolina

Early this morning, I packed up the tent, clothes and other camping gear and walked back to Katie, whom prior to going asleep, I had pulled high up on the beach using the cart, and tying her to a tree.  And there she was, half floating in the high tide.  The water must have come up the beach 40 feet.  I made sure that everything was put in the right place, and started out in the cool weather but clear skies.  My next challenge according to my chart, and the guide, was going to be a couple of inlets to the ocean, the first one being Lockwoods Folly.  At mile marker 320 I came around Howells Pt. and immediately saw major tidal waves on the water surface, with the tide still coming in towards me at a very fast clip.   There were numerous cuts where the incoming current was ripping towards the right, and which I had to cross.  Usually, I try to go close to the shoreline or marsh were the current is slower, but this trick was not working.  As soon as I passed one rip tide, I could see another coming up.  I counted a total of 7 of these rip tides, and each one had my heart pumping.  The fastest I can paddle is around 5 and 1/2 mph, and there were a number of times where I just made it past these tidal surges.  Soon I was past the actual inlet – I could see the ocean waves crashing – and the current now was leisurely going my way as I proceeded west.

Within a few miles, I passed mile marker 325 and the current changed course, and was again somewhat impeding my progress.  I continued to paddle on the mainland side, passing as before house after house, most of which had docks coming far out to the water from the shore.  Some of the private docks, and nearly all of the public docks, had people on them fishing.  I have never seen so many fishermen as I have seen in North Carolina.  Some asked what I was doing, and I usually got the amazed reaction when I told them.  In fact, one boat came up behind me and slowed down, and the driver said he was one of the persons that I had spoken to earlier, and he had brought out 4 couples to chat with me.  So we all slowed down and talked.  They offered me, beer, water, Pellegrini, but I told them I was fine.  I did tell them, before they continued on their boat trip, that their stopping by would give me a boost for hours, and with genuine waves, they were off.

The next inlet called Shallotte was coming up, and I hoped that we would not have a repeat of the  Lockwoods Folly tidal currents, and my wish was granted.  As I came up to Bowen Pt.  the tide was strongly opposite my direction, and I saw a number of fishermen on the dock.  In answer to my question, they said there was a very good restaurant right behind them.  Since I had not had anything to eat since getting up, I decided to stop and take advantage of a fine meal.  After securing Katie (pulling her up on a beach of oyster shells with the cart, using my left hand), I walked to the tall blue building called Inlet View Bar and Grill, and had what a fisherman recommended, broiled sea scallops with sweet fries and a side salad, with ice tea to drink.  What a great meal. The owner came over when she heard what I was doing, and she arranged for me to take a zip lock bag of their famous hush puppies.  I also took the leftover fries. We then checked the weather on their TV – some dark clouds had been moving in – but it looked clear for the night.  She also confirmed the choice of the marina that I had picked out in lower North Myrtle Beach.

Back in the kayak, we immediately passed mile marker 330, and I thought that since I was only 11 miles away from South Carolina, that I would try to sleep that night in that state.  The tidal current was now with me, and we made up for some slower times earlier in the day.  The terrain was the usual – houses with docks, and the afternoon slid on by.  I did not want to get into the heavy development of North Myrtle Beach before having found a suitable campsite, so as I approached the state line, I started looking intently at possible sites.  As soon as I crossed the state line, according to my detailed chart, the houses stopped.  They were replaced by mud and sand beaches with pine woods behind, and I picked one of these out.  I tested the mud level, and it was about 2 inches deep (acceptable), and after placing the cart under the stern, I pulled Katie through the mud up onto the oyster shell beach.  I walked into the woods, and immediately found two small pine trees that would support my tent, and was attacked by no seems.  I had to get long pants and shirt on quickly, but my feet were covered in mud.  I walked back to the kayak, and found some seawater in the back of the cockpit, and used that water with my boat sponge to roughly wash the mud off my legs and feet, putting on my spare sandals.  In no time, I had the long clothes on, and my head net, so the bugs had little to attack.  but it was only 5:15, and too early to get to bed, so I decided to help the cause, and assemble a bonfire, which I did.  That kept the spirits up and the bugs away, and was a pleasant place to sit next to and have my dinner of fries and hush puppies. To the south I could see some very tall buildings in the distance.  That night, I wore my warm clothes, but it was not as cold as the prior night.  I told out load to any alligators that might be in the area to stay away, but there was no sign of anything that night except for the deer.  I kept checking during the night that the stars were still out – I did not want to be caught with rain.  I could still hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore, and several times, I heard barges going by one waterway from where I was sleeping.

It had been a decent day – weather ok, decent miles (24) some clear blessings along the way, new things learned, and a good night sleep, so I rated the day a 3.  It would be, as it turned out, the only day this week that I paddled the whole day.

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