Crew Blog | Starr Johnson: Voyaging Up the ICW

Starr JohsnonWritten by Starr Johnson

The morning we pulled out of Charleston, South Carolina had lighter winds than we came in, which was a relief, but today it was much colder! It felt like 40 degrees until about noon when it really warmed up to the point where we had to shed our layers of outerwear. It turned into a beautiful and productive day! We fixed the cleat that broke coming in a few days ago, we cleaned up the unraveling loose lines, rethreaded the canvas, did some general “spring cleaning” and enjoyed the most beautiful scenery we have seen since departing Titusville.


Traveling up South Carolina’s Intracoastal Waterway sometimes feels as if I am transported to another reality – one in text books or storybooks. For the most part the ICW shows few signs of humans (little to no people or rubbish other than the occasional shipwreck). We stare into the thick old looking forests coming right into the water with Spanish moss hanging from the branches and enjoy spotting the osprey nests sitting atop the dead trees, but for much of the time my mind wanders to my own stories playing out along the banks or beyond the thick marshlands. I imagine Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn sitting on the bank of one of these many creeks, or think of the soldiers fighting off the “enemy” from Fort Sumter, or picture the huge homes connecting to vast plantations and the slaves that once were forced to work them.


Occasionally my imagination stops as we wave to a couple older men wearing overalls and fishing with a confused look and give a soft wave as we go by. One person even said in a thick southern accent, “What kinda pontoon is that?!”  What probably surprises us the most is when we hear an “Aloha!” coming from an individual or family standing at the end of a long dock seeming to be in the middle of no where.


It is amazing to think of the people that Hōkūleʻa has touched, taught, and inspired. It is also powerful though to think of the people of this place who have touched, taught, and inspired our crew: from the children at the CREECS charter school who have goats, chickens, and bees at their school, to those from NOAA and Surfers Healing who hosted us for dinner, or those who brought us sweatshirts, hydroflasks and soup at night and donuts at sunrise, or made peace flags at James Island  Outdoor Festival, or talked about their own journey to aloha ʻāina, mālama honua, or aloha kekahi i kekahi. The mo’olelo continues as we travel north along the ICW.

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