Our sweet friends, Claire and Aaron gave us a book describing the different flags used to communicate with other vessels when we visited them in Charleston. We thought this would be a fun book to look at with the girls. Little did I know that I would be flipping through this book 2 weeks later wanting to pull out the red diamond and display it to all passing boats!!
We had just had a fabulous time with friends in Georgetown and were making our way to North Carolina. We anchored for two nights and were starting to get into the swing of things. I was starting to get into a “Boat School” routine with the girls and Bryan and I were starting to feel more confident (despite the five foot wake we took through the front cabin that drenched the inside of the boat which is another story).
Then as we were passing the Shallotte Inlet between Ocean Isle and Holden Beach…. BOOM!!! We were following the markers perfectly, but we ran aground on a sandbar HARD. The whole boat jolted forward and everything went flying. Thankfully, the girls were in their berth which is very protective and only a mess was made from everything toppling over in the cabin.
We called Tow Boat US which now tops the list as one of the best purchases we have ever made to assist us. Captain Brad from Tow Boat US arrived and pulled us out of the sand; however, in the process our rudder post bent leaving us without steering and completely disabled. The 4th of July boat traffic is absolutely insane here. Far more boats than I have ever seen in Beaufort, even during Waterfestival. Since the traffic was so heavy and another sailboat was also stuck in the same spot and needed assistance, Tow Boat US took our boat beside a dock on the ICW to drop anchor until it would be safe to tow us to a place that was yet to be determined.
I had no idea we would be here for the next 7 HOURS. During this time the tide dropped and we were getting hammered into a dock with each wave from passing boats. These hours were extremely tense, as the boat was again stuck in the sand. I eventually came to a breaking point when a large motor yacht would not slow down and proceeded to cuss us out and turn back towards us, as if to ram us into the dock….simply crazy! The girls and I exited the boat to land.
A sweet man, Mr. Billy Street, who owned the dock we were threatening to destroy, offered for us to come to his house. Mr. Billy and his wife Ms. Helen feed us, gave us water and drinks, and even ice cream over the next couple hours. Bryan stayed on the boat trying to fend us off the dock, but eventually his body suffered heat exhaustion. He barely made it up the dock before collapsing at the Street’s house. This was scary. We used ice and rags to cool his body down. After he regained strength, we headed back to the boat and waited for Tow Boat US. In this area the current is extremely harsh and we had to wait another couple of hours to be assisted to the closest safe area. We regained limited steering and we were escorted to Inlet View Restaurant in Shallotte, NC which is where we stayed the next 3 days until we could make it to a marina that could haul out the boat to assess the damage.
This experience was terrible and scary, but it taught me there are so many kind and caring people in this world. The Street family took us in as their own family and even offered up their house for us to stay for the next couple days. They came the next morning and checked on us and gave us a ride to CVS to pick up a prescription for Leslie who was sick. The owner of the Inlet View Restaurant not only allowed us to stay at her dock, but provided us with a ride to a hotel (we stayed in hotel that night in an attempt to clear our mind for what was to come ahead). The wonderful women on Women Who Sail Facebook group not only gave me tips and assistance, but also words of encouragement along the way. I have also witnessed the strength within my family of four. Avery and Leslie have been troopers, as we, their parents, attempt to figure out our next step sometimes hour by hour. I have seen more physical and mental willpower in Bryan then I ever knew existed and I feel so lucky to have him by my side leading us in this journey. We set out for an adventure and we have no doubt had one so far. Once again having very little expectations continues to make each day easier to handle and enjoy! Our next adventure will take us up the waterway to
Wilmington Southport (things change quickly) to get hauled out and we will probably be staying here for awhile! Fingers crossed there is not too much damage.