ROCKINGHAM — Just after 7 a.m. Wednesday, Anthony Bristow hugged his mother before setting off on a 210-mile waterway journey.
The 20-year-old Eagle Scout is attempting to paddle from Rockingham to Georgetown, South Carolina.
“I had originally planned it for six nights and seven days,” he said the evening before his embarkment. “But now that we’ve had this rain, I’m going to try to do it in five days.”
Bristow said he first got the idea about two years ago when he was looking at maps and “realized it could be done.”
“I just decided this was the year to do it,” he said.
“If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it,” his mother, Beth Bristow, said Wednesday, just after he began his trek.
Anthony Bristow put in at the Hitchcock Creek access point in Roberdel and about 50 minutes later was paddling past Steele Street. His plan was to follow the creek to the Pee Dee River and take it through South Carolina, making a stop in Cheraw where his mother would meet him with his camping gear.
“The second half is definitely going to be slower, with all the side-to-side,” he said. “Following the bends of the river, it’s not a very straight path.”
He made a practice run last week, paddling down to Society Hill, South Carolina, where he encountered a 5-foot alligator.
Anthony Bristow, a business administration major at UNC-Pembroke, has only been kayaking for two years.
“The first time I sat in one was at a Boy Scout camp (when he was 11 or 12), and I went years before I ever got into another one,” he said.
After winding down the river, he plans to make it to the Winyah Bay and stop at the Georgetown Lighthouse — about a mile from where the bay empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
“I’m gonna attempt to get a picture of me sitting half in the river, half in the ocean,” he said, adding that it will depend on how strong the current is.
Anthony Bristow said others have heard about what he’s doing and have talked about joining him next year.
“I’d like to try it again with a bigger group,” he said.
But there is one advantage to going alone, his mother said.
“With him going by himself, I get to see him at a few other places,” she said.
Aside from his mother, family friends Kenny and Susan Kelly were there to see him off. The Kellys even waited at Steele Street for him to pass by.
“See y’all at the beach!” he yelled as he floated downstream.
When asked if she was nervous about her son making the solo trip, his mother said, “I’m getting there. I have not been nervous until now.”
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.