To get from our spot in the river to the marina on Factory Creek, we had to go through the Lady Island Bridge again. The earliest practical bridge opening was nine o’clock, and high tide was just before ten o’clock, so it made sense to go through at the nine-thirty bridge opening. Not only did I want to have most of the day to prepare the boat, but I also wanted high tide for getting into Factory Creek. There’s a shoal at the entrance to the creek, and the channel is not well marked. In any event, we didn’t have any trouble getting to the marina and getting into our slip. The marina was a beehive of activity. If the people weren’t tying up their own boat, they were checking out other boats and helping tie them up. We met plenty of cruisers and live-aboards. The couple on the boat directly across the dock from us, Lisa and Trip, turned out to be good friends with our new friends from S/V All In, whom we got to know in Oriental. We traded news and stories and had a great time. When we weren’t tying up boats, we were checking the weather reports, trying to figure out what TS Hermine was going to do. The wind forecast increased to 55 mph sustained, with gusts to 65 mph. Suzy and I were very glad that we had found this marina, and that it had room for us. By the end of the day, we were quite hungry. Lisa told us about Mamma Lou’s Gullah Cafe, which was a short walk from the marina. It was real home cooking. Suzy got meatloaf. I got fried chicken. It had been a long time since we’d had good old Southern soul food. We enjoyed every bite.
By Friday morning, Hermine had been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, and was predicted to make landfall just south of Tallahassee. We sent our best wishes to my brother and his wife, who live in Tallahassee, for good luck in riding out the storm. Perry and Nancy came by in the morning to make sure we had been able to move the boat and get her all tied up. They couldn’t stay long, because they had to get back home (out on St. Helena Island) to make sure they were prepared for the storm to hit. In the marina, there was a party atmosphere. All the preparations had been completed. The only thing left to do was wait. Well, no sense just sitting around. We’d have a Hurricane Party! Cruisers are masters at potluck gatherings. By the time the rain started around eleven o’clock, the lounge at the marina was starting to fill up with food. Suzy and I contributed several bottles of wine and some chips. By noon, the lounge was crowded with folks as the wind picked up outside and the rain began to fall harder. The storm was not quite as bad as we had feared — at least not in our protected location. We clocked the wind at about 40 mph maximum sustained strength, with gusts into the high 50s near 60 mph. Occasionally, one or two of us would slip out to check on the boats, but everything was fine. Around four o’clock, the rain slacked off. There was still wind, but it appeared that the bulk of the storm had passed through. Amazingly, there was absolutely no damage to the marina or any of the boats. We were in a perfect spot for riding out this particular storm. There was one injury during the storm, though — me. We left the party around six o’clock, which was right around low tide. The ramp from the fixed dock to the floating docks was very steep. I was wearing shorts and flip-flops, and had both hands full with stuff we were taking back to the boat from the party. I was being careful to make sure I had good footing on the ramp, but couldn’t hold onto the rail because my hands were full. Then, as I took my next step, my right foot slid forward and I went down hard, with my left leg bent at the knee under me. The abrasive non-skid surface of the ramp scoured off several square inches of skin just below my left knee and from the top of my left foot. The scrapes went deep into the paper-white connective tissue under my dark-tanned skin. There was very little blood, but the pain was intense — once I got over the shock. Suzy helped me back to the boat and we cleaned the wound. I had to use tweezers and scissors to remove the leg hair from around the wound. Even so, we had a hard time getting the bandage to stick to my skin. We ended up wrapping the gauze pads and tape with ACE bandages to keep them in place. Because we were still stuffed with food from the party, there was no need for us to make dinner — and I wasn’t particularly hungry, anyway. The boat was dry. The rain had pretty much stopped, but we had to keep the boat closed up anyway. The wind howled until well after midnight.
We had arranged to have breakfast Saturday morning with Perry and Nancy at the Beaufort Bread Company, just across the street from the marina. The Bread Company was packed, so we went to Breakstone’s Cafe downtown instead. We had a great breakfast, and got a report from Perry on how the town had survived the storm. We were particularly concerned about Dubhe, which was tied up at the Port Royal Marina on the Beaufort River. While Dubhe was undamaged, there was some dock damage at Port Royal, and two boats had sunk in their slips. In addition, there were at least three boats, either from the city marina or the mooring field, that had been pushed up into the marsh, near where Madge had originally been anchored. Had we not moved Madge, she might have been up in the marsh, too. Having been dropped off at the marina after breakfast, we said farewell to Nancy and Perry (again!), this time for good. We spent the rest of the day putting Madge back together. Tomorrow will be a traveling day. Time to make the last run home to Saint Marys. I was encumbered by the bandages on my left knee and foot, but we managed to get everything back where it needed to be. Later in the day, we walked back over the the Beaufort Bread Company and got one of their last baguettes to have for Happy Hour. While rearranging the crap piled in the aft cabin, we discovered some wetness under the starboard berth cushion. The water had probably been blown in around or between the main hatch boards during the storm. We got everything dried out, but took the opportunity to relocate some stuff to other parts of the boat, making the cabin much less of a mess. At Happy Hour, the baguette, with some olive oil, dipping spices and some sharp cheese, ended up being plenty for us, so we didn’t need any more dinner. Instead, we walked around the marina one last time, socializing with the other boaters one last time.