Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hilton Head Island, SC

Saturday, July 11 - Thursday, July 16, 2009

We've anchored in Skull Creek, off the northwestern coast of Hilton Head Island, SC. Neither of us has been to Hilton Head before, but we've heard about what a great resort area this is. Hilton Head was developed in the 1950s, and quickly became a family vacation spot. With 50 miles of bike trails, sandy white beaches, golf courses, and gated communities, it's a perfect spot to bring the kids and relax. Admittedly, we initially considered Hilton Head to be a good stopover point on the way from Savannah to Beaufort - a place to drop anchor for a couple of days and then head on. Little did we know that we'd get another lesson in the incredible kindness of strangers!

First, a note about our anchorage: the area around us is mainly marshland and sandbars, and the houses are set farther back. There are islands/sandbars between us and the ICW, so we don't expect to have much traffic come through the small channel where we're anchored. Wrong! It turns out that this is the "local-use" channel, which includes anything from jet skis to motor boats to shrimp boats (with their arms down, no less). The area is also a lot deeper than we expected, which makes anchoring a bit of a challenge. More depth means we need to put out more anchor chain or "scope"; more scope means we have more room to swing as the current changes - either into the channel where we're in the way of traffic, or into the marshes where depths go from 15' to 5' fairly quickly. Not too surprising, we end up re-anchoring on Sunday morning after getting "up close and personal" with a passing shrimp boat. We make a few circles looking for a good combination of swing room and depth, and finally decide to go back to our original spot where we'll drop two anchors to reduce our swing area. It's not exactly a minor process, and we can't know if our plan will succeed until we go through another tide change. Ah, the cruising life! Anyway, Rene checks his e-mail Sunday evening and finds the most interesting message. A couple living in one of the houses behind us noticed us going back and forth, and we became quite a topic for discussion! Gary and Denise spotted the name of the boat, googled us, and found the blog. Seeing that we're cruisers, they sent us an e-mail offering us the use of their pool, laundry, car, and anything else we might need. We were absolutely flabbergasted! We met up with Gary Monday morning, who took us back to his office and then loaned us his car. He even arranged for us to get into one of the other plantations on the island, so we were able to play tourist. We had a fantastic time exploring the island, visiting the famous red and white-striped lighthouse at Harbortown and the shops at South Beach. We were also able to do some much-needed grocery shopping thanks to having Gary's car. Monday evening, we got to meet Gary's wife, Denise, and had a great dinner with them at Carrabba's. We really weren't sure how long we'd stay in Hilton Head, but Gary and Denise told us to use the car as long as we wanted to. It was so nice to have a car, and we definitely got to see more of the island than we ever would have on the bikes alone. Between the convenience of having the car and some questionable weather forecasts, we decided to stay a few extra days in Hilton Head. We managed to do more shopping, dinner off the boat, and general exploring. We can't thank Gary and Denise enough for their generosity, and hope to see them again the next time we go through Hilton Head!

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