A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The final "letter from America"

We have spent the time since the last posting playing tourist in the Georgia/Sth Carolina area. We remained in Beaufort for 2 nights, but took a drive up to Charleston to see the USS Yorktown - yes, yet another military museum!

We had a "typical" navy lunch in the Petty Officer's mess that came served in the separated stainless steel trays used on the ship. I remember we had a couple of these at home when I was a kid, growing up at Whenuapai Airforce base. I guess my dad knicked them off the airforce, and I remember they were around for years....I wonder what happened to them? Knowing my mum, she probably kept them and they are still up at the farm with Aunty Lyn! Our meal was meatballs and rice with veges and was quite yummy. Not a bad feed for $6.99 each (plus tax, of course)!

Charlie got a turn in the captains chair, but the navigator must have put him crook, because when we got off the ship, it was aground - but that's the ICW for you!
After Beaufort we thought we would go take a look at an old southern Plantation. There seemed to be a bunch of them at Hilton Head Island, so we drove down there and stayed another night.


Hilton Head Island is a resort, and all the "Plantations" are gated communities with multi-million dollar homes. We found this out when we went to the first one and the (armed) security guy at the gate told us, with some bemusement, that it was a common misconception and there was nothing like what we were seeking for many miles around. The island is also littered with golf courses - like DOZENS of them!!! So, instead of sightseeing old plantations, we decided to go and have a picnic on one of the Atlantic Coast beaches that extend down the eastern side of the island. The first problem was that there are only a couple of beaches that have public access and the carparks are quite some distance from them. The second was that there was a golf tournament on down at the bottom end of the island where the public beaches were, and traffic was backed up for miles. The third problem was that it was blowing a 40 knot Northerly so the Atlantic was in an ugly mood, it was bitterly cold (northerlies are cold winds up here) and to try and eat anything on the beach would have resulted in the term "sandwich" being quite literal.

We did go down and take a look, but finished up having our picnic in the employee car park of the Sonesta Resort where, even though it was quite close, the beach was completely blocked off  by residential properties. The whole island was rather posh, and even the public toilets and showers showed the affluence of the area.

It was a shame we picked a hotel that didn't live up to the same standards. The "Quality"  Inn we stayed at was somewhat lacking and we ended up with Charlie and Pauline changing rooms once and me twice due to inoperative equipment -  ie they couldn't unlock the door on their first room....I couldn't lock mine! Then the smoke alarm kept going off - even after being fitted with new batteries. Then in the next room, the TV wouldn't work. 

We gave up on Sth Carolina after that and decided to return to Savannah where coincidentally, our Gulf crossing buddies Don and Freya of THE LAST RESORT were also headed. We managed to catch up in  downtown Savannah and spent a great hour or so reminiscing about our experiences and catching up with Looper gossip. Charlie and Pauline went on a Trolley tour of Historic Savannah, while I tripped around the local marinas offloading the last few surplus items from Loopy Kiwi. I can tell you, one marina owner got a very good deal on a couple of Y adaptors!!!

We are now in an airport hotel and we fly out of Savannah tomorrow, spend a night in Los Angeles then do the 13 hour trek back to New Zealand. I have done that Pacific crossing many, many times over the past 33 years and it feels peculiar that this will be the last. The trip over the last month has been interesting, although missing the "fun factor" of our earlier experiences with the Loop and certainly not quite the same without the Admiral aboard. While I am saddened to have not been able to do the rest of the Loop, particularly the Canadian bit, I can honestly say I will not miss skinny water that you are unable to see more that 6 inches into. Nor will I miss the continuous worry of grounding that the ICW can bring, regardless of how good your navigation aids are, and how careful your attention to them is.
BTW folks I am proud to say that during our time on the Loop, although I know we touched bottom in several places, we never required a tow. Also when we were hauled out for pressure washing at Hinckly's and then at the Port, I can honestly report that there is not a single ding, bend or even scratch on either of the propellors or any of the running gear. (So much for the doomsayers in the AGLCA that insist that you shouldn't do the Loop without a protecting keel to ensure you don't spend thousands on repairs to those articles).

The next post will be from home, and I hope those who have been following will continue to do so and see what Loopy Kiwi gets up to in our familiar waters (and some not so familiar). To the future Loopers, I reiterate; do it now, while you still can.

Even so - half a Loop is better than no Loop at all!

Bye Y'all (for now)

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