Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Duck Day

Near Charleston, South Carolina, N 32 46.998 W 79 49.505

At last. Yesterday's weather forecast for an additional day of gales was wrong. We woke this morning to nearly still winds and temperatures 10 degrees warmer than yesterday, but it was raining. We were able to leave and work our way 40 miles down the ICW to Charleston. Tomorrow we plan to put to sea again and work our way toward Florida. We're very impatient to find a warmer climate.

We saw dozens of boats filled with duck hunters this morning. It must be the first day of duck season. Or it could be that many hunters promised to bring back a big fat duck for Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps both. We were amused at the speed at which they zoomed up and down the rivers. It seems like 50 mph is the minumum speed for a hunter. They were all regaled in camouflage. Not just the hunters, but their boats, the outboard motors and even their shotguns were covered in camouflage. They would stop by the side of a river, put out a whole bunch of decoys, and push their boats into the weeds. One even had an electronic decoy that flapped it's wings. We waved at them as we went by but that seemed to annoy them. They didn't wave back, I assume because they were supposed to be invisible. However we could spot them 1/4 mile away by the size of the decoy flock and by the clouds of cigarette smoke coming out of the weeds. I saw only 16 ducks flying by all morning, but I heard dozens of shots. I suspect that these guys just like shooting.

The hunters made me think of the birds around us. I saw 16 ducks, a dozen or so cormorants, countless sea gulls, countless pelicans, a dozen hawks, and one great horned owl. We also had thee dolphins following us for a while.

Around noon we stopped for fuel at Leonard Fuel Company in McClellanville. The man who helped us was very charming. I had a nice chat with him about hunting and modern life. He said that when he was a little boy, nobody had decoys, nobody had camouflage colors. In fact, he said that ducks are color blind and can't see the difference between camouflage and other colors. The secret to duck hunting is to stay very still. "Today," he said, "you can't buy a decoy in any store. They're sold out of decoys and out of three inch magnum shells. Those guys aren't duck hunting, they are duck shooting." Another treat: the cutest canal boat we ever did see was docked there as a transient. I'll post our picture of it. Fellow cruisers: I recommend a visit to Leonard Fuel Company.

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