Inquiry: Intracoastal voyage and beyond

by LJ Frank


Suffice it to say I stood on a dock in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina looking for what I thought would be a large motor yacht. A man approached me as I must have looked bewildered. I told him my dilemma and he laughed and pointed to a trawler next to a yacht.

It was a Nordic Tug, meaning it was an ocean-going tugboat (style) and in this case had a cabin customized with exotic mahogany furnishings, fixtures and the latest high-tech navigational equipment.

As I approached the tug, the owner greeted me with a certain familiarity as we had spoken on prior occasions. She wore a welcoming smile that complimented her angular face and long black curly hair and it also seem to suggest she would wait to tell me more.

As a “recruited sailor,” I was bound so to speak by the rules of the Captain. “He’s quirky but a good guy and experienced. He was born in Nassau,” and she added, “is an alleged descendant of Anne Dieu-Le-Veut, a female pirate who lived in Tortuga in the late 1600s.”


She gave me a hug and took my leather duffel bag and tossed it into the cabin.  I admit such a journey even for a comparatively short distance worth several hundreds of nautical miles gives one a sense of liberty one doesn’t have on land. The Intracoastal offers protection and shelter and has its signage, guideposts and hidden obstacles one needs to be cognizant of, where the vastness of the ocean can be breathtaking, especially from the perspective of a smaller boat.

The Intracoastal Waterway extends from Boston, MA south along the Atlantic coast and in places retains the textured relief as it waters mingle with the Atlantic Ocean and down to the southern tip of Florida and up the Gulf side all the way west to Brownsville, Texas with some substantial mixture of ingredients from the salty waters from both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

We were scheduled to head south with an ultimate destination of Fort Lauderdale. After casting off, the owner and I explored our mutual thoughts, which seemed effortless in its rhythm and flowed seamless into the sounds of nature, the caress of a breeze and the fragrance of flowering trees blooming early. After watching a few seagulls skim the watery surface searching for food and insects buzzing our head we left the small deck for the cabin and a sip of fine wine when I caught a glimpse of an alligator slipping into the water.

The Captain had a few books that he kept on a shelf: a worn copy with book marks of a 2017 Reed’s Nautical Almanac and a copy of North American Reed’s 2009 Nautical Almanac East Coast, both very useful as a sailor’s reference, along with a series of Intracoastal Waterway Chart Books, informative cruising guides – I would describe them as a basic tools, good for planning ahead.

Interestingly, there was also a copy of James C. Simmons Castaway in Paradise, which I was familiar with and in turn made me pause wondering if there was another exotic “voyage” in store.

I hadn’t given much thought to the idea we might actually consider sailing for the high seas and some remote islands – perhaps, the Bahamas my mind suggested, “It’s for entertainment value,” she said with a grin, referring to the book.

“Ah. An adventure for its own sake. And without the need for a physical or spiritual benefit or profit.” I replied.

“To philosophical dispositions. And the enigma of the Intracoastal spirit,” the owner raised her wine glass.  Our glasses clinked as we toasted.

A few hundred nautical miles later I recalled that our journeys and destinations are never precisely what we plan. And as if knowing my thoughts, the captain, under the owner’s direction, steered the boat toward the Atlantic Ocean.

An essential trait of my philosophical and writer’s disposition is adaptability. *

*a ghostwriting project.