Dead End Road

Kingfisher had a major addition, or replacement, on this day – a new daggerboard. True, I felt nostalgia for the old board of fine mahogany, extensively weathered, cupped, gouged, oyster-impaled, repaired, sanded, and varnished over and over. The new board was of modern, synthetic materials, a gleaming chunk of white symmetry, with a fine, even sharp, trailing edge. daggerboardsIt looked out of place on Kingfisher’s old, weathered, discolored hull. But it was well past time for the upgrade, and I knew it would make a big difference in sailing to windward. Unfortunately, it was not on board after arriving at the landing, and I headed home to pick up the essential piece of gear.

The sail over to the island with the northeast wind was like many others in the past, leaving the creek and crossing Bulls Bay.deadendroadmore01

deadendroadmore02deadendroadmore03I’m not sure I could ever be bored in this familiar passage, and on this day the presence of a bald eagle, and a group of five white pelicans, were wildlife highlights on the way across. It was a dry trip, thankfully with the 40 degree start; layers, sun, and an observing mind helped in buffering the cold. My start was later than planned, but I made fast to the dock prior to the ferry also arriving at the island.

I walked south, heading for a less traveled path. Summerhouse Road took me through the maritime forest, colored brightly on this winter day. Cormorants had a small roost in the Upper Summerhouse Pond, and other birds were in the impoundment. deadendroadmore12deadendroadmore14Just past here the road joined with Mills Road, and continuing south a sign provided an ironic message “DEAD END ROAD”.deadendroadmore15 I understood why it was there, indicating that the road would not loop back on another road. Mills Road continues south on the island until it ends at Price’s Inlet. I had discovered a loop of sorts a number of years ago (2003, in fact). Continuing down the road, marveling at live oaks and palmettos in the maritime forest, I wondered if this could be the finest Dead End Road in America for naturalists. (View map to see Mills Road).  deadendroadmore17deadendroadmore18Perhaps just standing by itself, it was, but certainly with the access to the beach ahead and the return north on the beach, most assuredly.

Turning off Mills Road toward the beach, I passed sweetgrass plants, faded from their pink glory on my past visit, and peeked into a tiny pool in a slough. deadendroadmore20deadendroadmore19From the top of the dunes, the view south stretched to the condominiums on Isle of Palms, and north along the beach’s curvature to the Boneyard. deadendroadmore21deadendroadmore22Off the beaten path, I mainly saw deer tracks, and the many animals or their shells stranded by the high tide. I only picked up two shells, and instead captured many with digital images, enjoying their beauty where they sat.

A group of ferry passengers congregated at the entrance to the Beach Road, and we talked about the day and their first trip to the island. I left a shell of the day, a fine tun, with one of their party.deadendroad09

Returning to the dock, we were soon sailing on the return, retracing the passage out Bull Creek and across Bulls Bay. deadendroadmore04The wind had nicely veered more to the east, and the sail was routine. Casually taking photos before the bay, I cut a point too close, and my new daggerboard found an oyster bank. On later inspection, I discovered the new board was not impregnable – it had two new dings. The new board earlier had passed a critical test when picking up speed on a reach – it was silent, unlike the old board which would begin to vibrate setting up an annoying vibration running through the entire hull. It was quiet coming through the creek, and I sailed the edge to feel the tide beginning to roll out of the many small channels running through the marsh’s expanse.deadendroadmore07

8 thoughts on “Dead End Road

  1. Beautiful pictures, Bob. I miss the ocean. It’s been so rainy and miserable here in Atlanta. Nice to see the sun shining somewhere.

    • Wish you could have been with us for our walking the complete length of the island on Saturday. A spectacular day of sun and very clear skies.

  2. It is a wonder poor ol’ KINGFISHER even knew how to sail with the beautiful new daggerboard! Bet you could tell a difference in handling.

    • Ol’ Kingfisher accommodated the new board very well, as she has the new mast, sail, rudder, etc. Just repaired the new dings in the board from that very first time out.

  3. Hi Bob,
    Really enjoyed seeing these wonderful pictures of cape romain.
    I miss being on the islands everyday!

    • Yes, I miss the islands when I am not able to get out. Winter is a wonderful time in the refuge. Looking forward to hatchery building on Cape in April. Hope there will be enough island left for another big nesting season!

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