Personal Bests Page 3
Like most of us, I try to do my own boat repairs, but sometimes you have to use the pros. My choice, provided I’m close enough and there is no water coming into the boat—at least at a rate the bilgepumps can’t handle—is Eau Gallie Boat Works, in Melbourne, Florida.
Owner and consummate Irishman Finnbarr Murphy is known far and wide for his unstinting honesty and a peculiar (among boat-repair people) willingness to speak the usually unwelcome truth about your particular boat problem. You may not like what he has to say, but you will always know where you stand—or float, as the case may be. He also stands behind his work, unlike far too many who serve transient sailors. In the very unlikely circumstance that your job wasn’t done right the first time, it’ll be corrected.
The category for the most intriguing individual on the ICW can go only to Richard (Dick) Jones (again with many close seconds), of Jones’ Fruit Dock at mile 945.7 (Indian River, Florida). Although he is closing on 90 years of age, Dick still ambles down to his dock each evening, often with fresh citrus as a gift, to collect his $10 dockage from transients stopping by. Dick is an ICW long-timer who has seen it all and isn’t averse to talking about it, usually on the picnic bench at his dock over a cold brew. I’ve spent a couple of marvelous evenings listening to him and always eagerly anticipate my next visit.
Sure, the docks aren’t the caliber of, say, Charleston’s megadock, although they’re far more colorful, and you won’t get even 30-amp power, much less cable, but Dick is a reminder of a simpler, more honorable time. Like me, you’ll cherish the memories of your layover.
The most charming waterfront, you ask? That has to be a four-way tie if I hope to avoid being lynched: St. Augustine, Florida; and Georgetown, Charleston, and Beaufort, South Carolina. Each has its enchantments, chief among them the stately old homes within easy walking distance of their waterfronts.
Architecturally stunning St. Augustine is far more commercial than the others, Charleston far more “gracious,” Beaufort an exciting mix of invigorating downtown waterfront renewal and old-fashioned charm. And Georgetown—well, super-friendly Georgetown is quiet only on the surface; behind the scenes, the downtown is reinventing itself. It bears watching as a soon-to-be must-see destination. For those in the crowd yelling out “Savannah,” yup, I agree, but it isn’t technically on the ICW.
And finally, the loveliest single stretch of the ICW? It has to be the Waccamaw River, in South Carolina. Wild, lonely, lovely, secluded; all these words and more fail to describe the peace that most sailors feel while transiting this all-too-short section. I dislike the endless meandering of the South Carolina/Georgia ICW as much as anyone, but the Waccamaw makes it worth the aggravation. Tucked between Myrtle Beach’s frantic commercialization and the often rugged Winyah Bay passage, the Waccamaw is proof that the trip’s highlights often occur in the midst of it. I challenge you to leave the Waccamaw with a pulse rate much over comatose, it’s that relaxing. And, as an additional bonus, the Bucksport Marina on the Waccamaw sells the best homemade sausages on the entire ICW.
Have a wonderful trip! I hope I’ve opened your eyes to enjoying it even more. And don’t forget, SAIL would like to hear about your own ICW ten best; send your notes and nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A habitual ICW commuter to warmer climates from his home on the Canadian Great Lakes, Wally Moran has transited the Ditch seven times in the last 16 months aboard his Dufour 34, Gypsy Wind.