Friday, November 19, 2010

Florida Heading South

Wednesday November 10 – Wednesday November 17

We are anchored off the town of Fernandina Beach by 1:15, the day has cleared up and warmed up from its foggy start. Jan & George get a ride from some locals to the liquor store that is not close to town. Later Jan & I go in to check out town. Steve & George come into town later for a walk and to check out restaurants & pick us up. Back to the boats for cocktails and change of clothes then back in to dinner. Thursday we are underway by 7:15, no fog but everything is wet from all the dew. After an hour we are out the channel and turn south with 1-2 foot swells on the beam and wind behind us so a little rocky to start. The winds clock more east and the swells build a little but we are able to just sail all the way down to the St. Augustine Inlet. With the swells breaking it makes the entrance a little rough & hard to see the buoys but we make it in safe & sound and have a 20 minute wait for the 3:30 opening of the Bridge of Lions. A 65 ft tourist schooner “Freedom” is also waiting for the bridge opening, and keeps sailing into us as we both circle around, making the waiting interesting and irritating. We are on the mooring ball by 3:45, great !! mooring balls with new long lines all neatly folded on top of the mooring ball. Real easy to hook & run your line through and clean, as someone from the marina goes around putting the lines up after you leave. Jan & George have some old time friends (Agnes & Ed Danciger) in the area so they come & pick us up and we all go to dinner. Friday we have the use of Ed's car, drop off main sails from both boats for some repairs then off to West Marine & Wall Mart. Guys go back to the boats for some boat work while Jan & I walk through town. Dinner in town Friday night. Saturday get main sails back & more boat work we have now found some genoa sail repair that needs to be done, Steve does some of the sewing by hand but then decides to take it into the shop also. By this time it is too late to get it to her but talk to her and will drop it off Monday. Saturday night we go to the Danciger's beach house for dinner. Sunday Jan & George leave to head down the ICW for a 2 day trip to Melbourne. We spend the day ordering parts and making lists of what else we might need to get on Monday with a rental car. It is a luxury now to have access to a car so we want to make the most of it. Monday as Enterprise picks us up we drop the genoa sail off at the sail shop on the way back to the Enterprise lot since it is on the way. By 9:30 we are on our way for the short 45 minute trip over to Green Cove Springs where our mail forwarding service is located. Steve is also planning to get a Florida license since his Texas one will expire in July and they would not let him renew before we left. Since he does not plan to be back in Texas before July he thought getting a Florida license would be the easiest way to go. Pick up the mail, I am still missing 2 important pieces we have been waiting for, and over to the DMV to get Steve's license. Well he misread the instructions, and just brought his passport but also needed his original SS card. So back to St Augustine, into the dinghy, back to the boat, find where he had put his SS card, back to shore, in the car & back to Green Cove Springs. At least now we know the way. All worth it in the end as they issue the laminated license right then & there & it is good for 9 years. Stop by 2 outlet malls on the way back, looking to see if there are any stores we need to visit. Find a few then stop at Target and another small mall and the grocery store all on the way back to the boat. Like I said it is not often we have a car so we make the most of it whenever we do. Tuesday we spend the day going through mail and then into town for lunch. Getting the boat & ourselves ready for a 24 hour trip offshore down to Ft. Pierce. Wednesday morning we make the 7:30 opening of the bridge and head out the channel, in nice calm water the buoys are easy to see. We have calm seas, light winds and comfortable temperature for our 24 hour trip down to Ft. Pierce.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Sunday November 7 – Wednesday November 10

Sunday we planned to go offshore from Hilton Head to St. Catherine's sound, but were put off by the mornings predictions of 25-30 kt winds out of the north with 6-8 ft seas and 50°F and persuaded to go the ICW route instead with only 10-15 kt winds, 60°F and no waves. We left the anchorage at 8 AM, and by 10 were crossing the Savannah River into Georgia, weather is cold but better then being off shore. By 11:15 we are at the 65' bridge at Thunderbolt but due to the tide it is at 64' 9” so we put the anchor down and only have to wait 45 minutes for the tide to go down 2 feet more for us to fit under. Catch up to our traveling buddies on Wild Thing by 2:30 in time to go through the narrow/shallow passage called Hell's Gate. Other than that one little spot this is a very pleasant trip down the ICW. We are anchored by 5 just before sunset (hate the time change) in Walburg Creek behind St. Catherine's Island and have dinner on Ocean Star. We had anchored here on the way up & it is a great isolated anchorage in the middle of nowhere, where you can pick up a Wi-Fi signal & TV – life is good. Monday we are underway at 7, dressed like we are going skiing as it is 41° as we head out the channel to the ocean. We have light winds & calm seas making for a very pleasant trip down to St. Andrew Sound. By 3 it has warmed up to 70° as we take a short cut through the shoals to the entrance to the channel. We turn down Cumberland River and then into Floyd Creek and are anchored by 4:30, time to relax a little before dinner on Wild Thing. Tuesday we have an early departure even though we are just going a short distance. We leave the anchorage by 7:45 and are anchored at the southern end of Cumberland Island by 10. We go into the Island for a quick visit to the other side for a walk along the beach. Check out the conditions of the sand road to see if we can use bikes. Last time we were here the roads were like a washboard, this time they are smooth & hard enough to make bicycling easy. Back to the boats for lunch then back to the Island, taking a bike ride down to see the Dungeness ruins & the beach at that end of the Island. The weather is warming up and we enjoy the beautiful day outdoors. Dinner on Ocean Star as we talk about Florida just 3 miles away. We know that we can have some cold weather in Florida in November but also know it won't be as bad as the cold days we had in North & South Carolina. As we wake Wednesday morning at 7 it is like someone put a blanket over the boat. The fog is so heavy you can not see 50 feet away. We had planed a 9 am departure but the fog did not lift until 11:30. during that time we had the VHF radio on and there were several crazy people out there trying to navigate! It was scary at anchor, can't even imagine trying to travel in those conditions. Once the fog lifted we were underway by 11:45 and crossed into Florida by 12:15, topped off with fuel and anchored off Fernandina Beach by 1:15.

link to pictures:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

South Carolina

Friday October 29 – Sunday November 7

We are away from our dock in Bald Head at 5 AM Friday morning, there was one very tense moment getting out through the very narrow (50 ft wide) marina entrance. We were leaving at nearly low tide to catch the outgoing tide in the inlet channel. We knew there was going to be a strong outgoing current combined with a North wind that was going to push the bow of the boat south (left) just as we exited the entrance, so we went to max speed to punch through into the clear channel before the wind and tide pushed us south. Everything went to plan, the bow of the boat just cleared the entrance bulkheads, and WE RAN AGROUND in the inlet. NOT GOOD. The bow of the boat promptly went south with the wind and tide and we were crosswise in the inlet. In seconds. Steve quickly reversed, and fortunately we backed off the shoal right away, but the wind and tide were too strong to bring the bow back north with the bow thruster, so we were backing crosswise in the inlet channel, threatening to bang both the bow and stern into the rocks or bulkhead on either side. Just a few feet from disaster on either side, Steve slammed the boat into forward gear at max speed, the bow went north, stern south, and we blasted through the inlet again just a few feet south of where we went aground a few minutes before. That was an adrenaline moment, and we were both shaking for the next hour while it burned off. Our traveling buddies on Wild Thing were on a dock further into the marina and couldn't leave since they were in the mud. They will wait for the tide to come in and take the ICW route down to Georgetown. We have an easy passage out the jetties into the ocean, and as we turn south we are triple reefed in both sails doing 8.5 – 9.5 knots in 20-25 knot winds with 4 foot following seas. Watch the sun rise and enjoy a beautiful day on the water with several birds joining us for part of the trip to rest. A yellow breasted bird who was so exhausted kept trying to fly and would get blown back. I was wishing him to just stay and rest until we got closer to shore but he kept flying off. After 4-5 tries he did not make it back to the boat even though we could see him trying, not sure of his fate. The other bird was glad to stay put and made himself at home even flying down below for a minute before I could get him back up on deck. By 2 we are turning into the channel leading to Winyah bay. Pass by the place we anchored at on the way north, but this time we are continuing up the bay to Georgetown. By 4 as we go up the Sampit River to Georgetown the place we were going to try to anchor is pretty crowded and shallow so after a few attempts to find a good spot we give up and go to Harborwalk Marina. We take a walk through town between 5-6 and the town is doing a city Halloween night out, so the sidewalks are filled with kids in costume along with a few adults. Back at the marina Steve talks to another boat with the same mast height we have that had come down the ICW route & the last bridge before Georgetown had all the wind instruments knocked off as he went under the bridge. Glad we took the outside route! Saturday we talk to Wild Thing and they let us know that they should get there by noon, we tell them about the anchoring problems and about a free dock that they can tie up to for the day. Once they are tied up we move out of our marina, that wants to charge us extra by the hour to stay past noon, and raft up to them. Go to lunch then Jan & I go check out the shops. Back to the boats and we leave Georgetown to go to the anchorage just off the ICW & inlet form the ocean to be ready for our Sunday morning departures. Steve & I are underway by 7:30 doing another jog offshore while Wild Thing leaves at 9 to go down the ICW where we will both meet up in Charleston at the end of the day. Wild Thing is just ahead of us as we travel in the jetties fighting the current. Have trouble setting the hook, but finally get anchored in the Ashley River across from the Mega Dock & City Marina we stayed out on our way up that is now full with boats moving south. Dinner on Wild Thing. On Monday morning we go over to the Charleston Maritime Marina over in the Cooper River--better rate and closer to the downtown area. After docking & lunch we get to see a cruise ship come in and dock just up from our marina. Steve & George do boat work and Jan & I head into town to see the shops. Charleston has a lot to see & do and many great restaurants to choose from. Monday morning we wondered why our boats were rocking so much in the marina, only to see 2 car carriers (Ro-Ro's) came in & were unloading just down the way. Monday night we dine at the rooftop restaurant of the Market Pavilion Hotel looking out at the cruise ship all lighted up and ready for their evening departure. Jan & George are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. Tuesday a trip across the river to visit the aircraft carrier Yorktown. I come back early as junior high & high school best friend Nancy & her husband are driving down from Charlotte NC to visit. We have kept in touch through the years but our last visit was in 1999. We have a great time catching up and go to Hymans for dinner. They spend the night on board and the next day Nancy & I hit the open air market as they are opening. After lunch they leave for the drive back home. This marina has A free washer & dryer (one each) so we are taking advantage throwing in a load whenever we can. In the evening we walk to King street to have dinner at a great Thai restaurant called Basil. Thursday Jan & George are leaving for the 2 day trip down the ICW to Hilton Head where we will meet them after our overnight trip Friday night. Friday afternoon we leave a little earlier then we wanted but the marina has another boat coming into to take our slip. We are under way by 1, 4 hours earlier than needed but we are planing a slow ride down to arrive at sunrise. Well the predicted 10-15 knot winds turns out to be 20-30 making the 50° feel like 30°as we beat into 2-4 foot waves. We are more then triple reefed trying to keep our speed down to time our arrival to sunrise so it is a long cold, bouncy night. We are anchored in Broad Creek by Palmetto marina where we stayed on the way north by 9 am. Unlike on our way north, there will be no bike rides along the beach as it is too cold & windy! Our friends on Wild Thing spent Friday night at the marina but now come out to anchor nearby as we make plans to keep going south to warmer weather. We go in by dinghy all bundled up to have dinner. Sunday we plan to go off shore down to St. Catherine’s Island, but the weather prediction is for a high of 60°, winds 20-25, and 6-8 foot waves so as with many boating plans they change and we take the ICW route. Georgia here we come.