I pulled the hook at 3:45 AM, bound for Morgan Island where 4000 tattooed Rhesus Monkeys are raised then later sold for medical experiments. A humid December fog enveloped Charleston’s chop while I fussed with Sedna’s tiller pilot, coursing from waypoint to waypoint as strong currents slapped me off course.
When I entered the harbor a few days previous I noticed several semi-submerged floats just outside the marked channel, so I was careful not to stray from it’s narrow boundaries, least I become entangled. After two diligent hours I finally reached the harbor’s jettied mouth where the narrow inlet juts toward the sea. The local weather vapor reduced visibility to about a quarter mile while I plodded seaward to safe water.
Sharply and without pretense channel 16 crackled ‘to the vessel in the channel outbound, this is the several hundred foot cargo vessel inbound, about to make the turn at marker ‘R 22′, is that you near ‘R 24′ ‘? We switched to a working channel, then I responded that I wasn’t sure of what number marker I was near, but I was confident that I was to the starboard side of the channel heading about 150 degrees with a light house to my port. The captain responded his ship could use more room to his port in order to make the turn into Mount Pleasant Range (where I was). He said his ship should be visible soon. Without delay I changed my course to starboard and veered off course, but I only had so much room between safe water and the shoals off Cummings point less than a quarter mile to my SSE.
Soon after I could first feel then see a huge ship emerge from the fog as it churned along and emerged from the entrance channel. We paralleled safely while I lingered to the south of ‘G 23′, and then I got back on my course and headed out.
The night before (while I was plotting my exit from the pre-dawn harbor) I looked up Charleston’s shipping traffic and did see that a ship was inbound that day, but the time was not specified. We met on the narrowest junction, where it turns, in the fog, in the dark, with a shoal to my starboard. Hah!
Within the hour the fog gave way to both heat and light, and I turned Senda Southwest on a safe offshore track toward ‘C 1′, Saint Helena’s entrance buoy 34 miles away. My goal was to arrive at the safe water mark about a half an hour before high slack then let the currents bring me to my anchorage destination of Morgan Island, still another 3 hours away. I wanted to be safely anchored before dark.
Once in the Sound I followed the marks and had a nice afternoon by simply warming up. I ate cheese and bread, cleaned off the boat’s deck, and took care of some business (while still three miles offshore, more or less).
Sedna’s hook was set off Morgan Island’s southern shore around 4PM with no other boats in sight. I had some beers while cooking sausage, turnips, cabbage, onions, and spices, then I played some guitar for the monkeys. While the sun set and the water lapped against Sedna’s hull I could hear Jurassic Park-like sounds nearby then watched while large raptors soaring overhead as they screeched their personal beacons and spied my intrusion. I slept well.
The next morning I woke up late to the sound of crashing brush and breaking limbs. The monkey’s were messing about aloft in a few select trees in chase and ape chaos. After an hour of this they chilled out, and I watched a few of them watching me while they groomed one another. The monkeys assured me they were emotionally and mentally stable, and then they retreated back into their artificially controlled forest.
That’t the last I saw of the monkeys, about 20 of them. Where were the remaining 3980? The island is lined with bold ‘No Trespassing, Federal Government’ and ‘Don’t Feed the Monkeys’ signs.
Our human species butchers millions of animals every day for a multitude of reasons, and we all partake in this global carnivorous endeavor.
Without cause and in curiosity I spent the afternoon online researching Morgan Island’s monkey’s and concluded that I had nothing new to add, no shocking revelation or clever insight. So I made one up.
I will share the links I’ve saved at the end of this blog and let you make your own conclusions. Maybe I just want to write a horror movie.
Around 9AM after the monkeys cleared out I noticed a large bird atop a high dead tree overlook, and my camera’s zoom revealed that it was a Bald Eagle. To it’s south I saw another one perched along it’s tree crevassed nest. Cool.
Imagine that; a pair of bald eagles and their young on Morgan Island. I also noticed dozens of large vultures and ravens regularing circling near the island’s southern end. One of my links refers to the dead monkey’s end.
Later that afternoon Sedna started to heal a bit, and I went on deck to see the tide well out and her keel aground. We were stuck for about 40 minutes before moving a bit further offshore, and I could hear he monkeys making fun of me.
The next morning I noticed a large white animal jumping about at the opposite end to where I’d previously seen the monkeys. My zoom reveled what looked like a large goat, and it was busy playing with several deer.
Around 8AM I decided to leave and headed for Beaufort, SC, only 16 miles away through the calm ICW. I did my best to time the currents to either in my favor, slack, or not to much against me, and I chugged along between 3.9 and 6.2 knots, 1900 rpms.
It was a comfortable 77 degrees beneath Beaufort’s Live Oak and Spanish Moss while I hunted up a bacon cheese burger, fries, and a beer.
Today I’m going to Hilton Head Island as sort of a final destination for at least a few days. I’m almost broke and running out of food, so basically I need a job. The current challenge is to humbly re-enter some social structure and adapt to it. No one’s gonna feed this monkey.