Grog Island ~2004

Growing up my father worked with the local Kiwanis Club and they would take kids out in Rainbow 24s for an overnight camping trip to a little island called Grog Island. I was a bit young while these adventures were going on, but I always knew I’d make it out there one day. In 9th grade I bought a 1977 Sunfish and after getting a bit of sailing experience I decided my first long daysail would be to Grog Island.

Grog Island probably in the 90’s (Source)

Unfortunately in 1999 the storm surge from Hurricane Floyd accelerated the slow erosion of the island by killing the pine trees holding everything together. When I arrived it was a sandy island just a few feet above the water with a couple sickly pines still hanging on. Most of the larger trees had fallen over like a large game of pick up sticks. By 2010 or so Grog Island had washed away entirely.

I’m pretty sure my trip was in 2004 or possibly 2003.

I grew up near Mosquito Creek although we weren’t on the water ourselves. I did yard work for a neighbor and he let me use his dock to launch my canoe and sailboat. He even let me take his Boston Whaler Super Sport out if I wanted.

My trip was about 20 miles over 8 or 9 hours and the wind was southerly all day.

On the day of the trip I launched from his dock around 8am and headed down the Mosquito Creek to make a left at Mosquito Island. I remember I stayed close to shore and cut through the shallows halfway to Windmill Point before rounding the point and heading north west toward Grog Island.

I think I had a little trouble finding the island since it was low lying and blended in with the background. I know I had a military surplus lensatic compass my father had given me and a map I’d made from screenshots of a USGS topographic map painstakingly put together in Microsoft Paint. I doubt I really knew how to use the compass and I probably just tried to keep sailing in the same direction of Windmill Point’s shore. I do remember this leg was idyllic downwind sailing.

I’m pretty sure I got the screenshots from a website called MapTech that had an online viewer to show map samples. I found a modern version of the same map here.

Eventually I found the island and beached my Sunfish. I remember walking around looking at the huge dead trees that had fallen over and eating a soggy ham and cheese sandwich I’d packed that morning. After scooping up some sand in a plastic bottle to prove I’d been there, I headed home.

This leg was upwind and rougher since the wind had picked up, but fortunately I could make it to the point without tacking. I remember feeling a bit overpowered with that big lateen sail… The waves at the point were pretty short and steep since it’s so shallow through there, but eventually I made it around to a beam reach back to Mosquito Island. The wind had gotten stronger with scattered white caps and just as I was about to turn right and head for Mosquito Creek I saw my dad and neighbor speeding out on his cabin cruiser. They gave me a wave and turned back. I later learned mom was terrified I was lost and sent my unconcerned dad out to look for me.

I made it home worn out and pretty sunburnt, but I guess this trip was the start of looking for a better boat to do similar adventures in! Moga has surpassed my expectations and I’m looking forward to 2022 to see where I go in her.

A different trip many years later, but this was my view home.

2 thoughts on “Grog Island ~2004

  1. Very nice memory bump. I know that area so well. My grandparents lived in a cottage on the water about a mile west of the tip of Windmill Point. For a while my grandfather owned an old oyster shucking house on Mosquito Creek. I spent summers there as a kid, until after college, sailing a little Blue Crab all over that big river. (Sometimes going places I had no business being.) Those experiences stuck with me, and led me to build my own boats much later, so the adventures could continue.

    • What a small world! I used to row my canoe out to Mosquito Island a couple times a week and explore the cuts in the marsh and look at the old engines from workboats that have long since rotted away. One time I rowed all the way to the bridge and back with a stop at an unnamed creek just east of Taft. My mom wasn’t too impressed with that trip either! I think I’ll make a section on early adventures and write some of them up before I forget them.

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