I left the preoccupations of home improvement, and the routine of dinner preparations behind, arriving at our landing to an uncommon August atmosphere. In fact it did not resemble August at all, despite heat and a familiar wind from the southwest. Humidity felt like it was on vacation, and clear skies prevailed.I was sailing around 6:30, and beating up toward the entrance to Andersonville Creek, the tide opposed to my intention of heading out to Bulls Bay. There was no obstacle to Kingfisher‘s progress – once in the creek we cruised along toward the open waters beyond. We shared the creek with no other boats, but the inhabitants – pelicans, egrets, gulls, and a small shark working the edge of the oyster intertidal creek bank, predator seeking prey. Past a familiar point we cruised over the Shark Hole: the Bay and the Island lay ahead.
Recalling past run-ins with the Bay’s muddy shoals, I went beyond the opening of the creek into the Bay and then bore off, setting a course northward, Kingfisher running before the southwest wind. It was reassuring crossing these shallow waters to know that the tide was coming in, and would be there to float us if we fetched up on a shoal. I sounded with the paddle on our northward course, and found the muddy bottom consistently at around three feet, no problem with the board up half way. I was seeking the mouth to Venning Creek, our planned course back home. I searched for the tall pole and flag marking the entrance, but despite the air’s clarity it did not appear. Finally, about the same time as I saw an outboard ahead steaming toward the marsh, I spied the pole and entrance, close to my estimated course. Prior to my jibe we surged close to leeward past an unspotted pole, festooned with oysters: it would have been a nasty encounter.
Once inside the creek waters were tranquil as I contemplated a landing on the southwest point. The main issue was the banks were completely covered with oysters, but on the second try I was able to land without undue crunching and abuse of Kingfisher‘s hull. This shell-covered place protruding into the Bay provided a fine vantage point for viewing the glorious panorama presented by this magnificent day, and the late light within an hour of sunset. Marsh… creek…Bay… Bull Island distant. Looking further into the distance presented the marsh and mainland distant, the Northeast Point of Bull Island with some boats remaining, the details of the Island’s maritime forest and tower clarified, the Bay waters sparkling, and beyond the northeast point of Venning Creek’s opening the shimmering of Lighthouse and Cape Island in the northern sector of the refuge. I lingered, walking along the shelly ground, and marveled at the homemade navigational marker, a creation surely motivated by someone’s difficulties in finding this entrance to the creek.
Shoving off without difficulty I soon was blinded by the lowering sun directly in our course. At the bend to the southwest the sun presented no problem of glare as it continued to sink in the west toward the tree line of the mainland, and we concurrently began beating between the creek banks against the southwest breeze. As anticipated the flooding tide pushed us along, and brought slowly the sail’s profile up relative to the marsh beyond the creek’s banks. The light continued to change and illuminate the creek, though seemed to finally dim. Yet this darkness was temporary, caused by the stand of cedars on a hammock between the creek and the Intracoastal Waterway just beyond. Past this feature the late light returned in all its glory, and we left the creek’s confines to what I considered a mini-sound between the substantial marsh to the southeast and the mud flats and shell rakes separating the these waters from the ICW. On we sailed, tapping our sun’s final rays, and a persistent breeze.