Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dowry Creek - at a dock

The view from the swimming pool
The winds were light on the Neuse River. It can be a really nasty piece of water with high winds but today it was tame. We had intended staying at RE Mayo for the night but when we reached the docks there at 1:30, we figured we might as well go on to Dowry Creek Marina. We made a whirlwind stop for fuel, just like a pit stop in a race and took on 40 gallons - a lot for a sailboat.


And the pool is inviting too
The wind picked up as we headed north but the run across Pamlico Sound was short and not too bad. We were headed for Dowry Creek Marina which had changed hands since the last time we were there. There are many new docks now and they look very sturdy. Ann glided us in and we were secure within minutes.

Dowry Creek has added a 7/11 type store with supplies of milk, eggs, butter, ice cream and other stores. For refreshment, they offer beer and wine, it's quite a complete shop. They have three dryers and three washers and recently renovated the showers and restrooms, all air-conditioned. Throw in the heated swimming pool and a refilling station for propane tanks and you have a great stopover for boaters. Of course, they sell fuel and pump outs are available at every slip, not just at the fuel dock. I'll cover more of what they have to offer in tomorrow's blog.

We will probably stay another day before heading to the Alligator River Marina to rest up from today's long run. We"ll get north eventually.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Homer Smith Marina - Lift bridge is gone!

Home Smith has become very popular
The lift bridge is gone between Home Smith and Beaufort. In fact, it was gone last year but we still like the "backdoor" entrance to Homer Smith. We were hoping for shrimp but the shrimp boats had not gone out yet this week due to wind. I guess the shrimp nets don't work too well in windy conditions. They will probably go out Tuesday but we will be gone by them.

Matt and Tony are here to make sure your stay is enjoyed!
Today I had to wash off all the salt that accumulated on your trip through Bogue Sound with the occasional wave over the bow. I was also hoping to finally get the parts for the genset but alas, they were not here. In a call to Hinckley, I found that they had just arrived today there. I told them to hold the parts until I can find a place for shipment, it's been a long story on the genset.

The most beautiful sight for a sailboater - a lift bridge that's been removed! It used to be right here!
We will head down the Neuse River to RE Mayo on Tuesday and hopefully, find a dock there. I'm looking forward to some shrimp and fish, although it will be frozen but it's still very good. After that, it's onward to Dowry Creek the next day, we're moving steadily northward.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Home Smith Marina in Beaufort, NC - at a dock

Social distancing at G65A, north of New River. That sand bar is encroaching into the ICW channel!
We had a long way to travel today so we left at 6:45, early for us. It was a Sunday and everyone was out enjoying the warm weather. The great thing to do here on a weekend is to take the family out and find a sandbar for the day. At least in this area, there was no crowding, plenty of room.

G65A must to be in deep water! Only 7 MLLW through there (on this side of the buoy)
We hit all the shallow areas at dead low water but still got through provided you knew the path (New River, New River approach, Browns Inlet, and others). We overhead one captain advising another captain to use Bob423 tracks on the ICW. It's kind of strange to hear yourself talked about over VHF.

Beautiful docks, as always
Homer Smith Marina here is a great place. The docks are all new with long fingers, easy to get into. The dockhands are first rate and there's no current to contend with. I need to replace my 4D batteries here and I'm hoping to buy them locally for delivery on Monday. I'll call first thing Monday and see if they can do that. I was supposed to get the parts for my genset sent here but so far, they have not arrived. It looks like I'll be completing the trip north minus the use of a genset but hopefully, I can get the deep discharge batters replaced.

Doesn't everyone have this setup?
We will be here one more day and they head north again on Tuesday, stopping over at RE Mayo for some frozen seafood for supper.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Harbour Village Marina - at a dock

The scourge of the Canadian geese reaches even this far south!
We had wanted to reach Harbor Village yesterday but it was full. Furthermore, all the marinas in the area were full too. I guess the summer boating season has officially begun. With that we had settled for a mooring at Carolina Beach which I reported on yesterday. Even the mooring field was full by 5:00 that evening and that was with a fee increase from $20 to $40/day!

The docks are very nice and well protected
We had a leisurely breakfast since we could not arrive before 3:00 or so in order to keep the fuel dock accessible for those wanting to refill their tanks. There are a number of shallow areas north of Snows Cut but if you paid attention to the USACE charts, you could negotiate them with depths to spare. However, if you just went straight through, you had better do that with a high tide. I my tracks for the day, I always followed the deepest path possible, even when I had plenty of tide. I figured we ought to have the most leeway we could in case shoaling continued, as we know it would.

After two short days, we have a long day Sunday with a trip all the way to Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC. It is a milestone of sorts since from there we start heading due north. l hope to be able to replace my three 4D batteries at Homer Smith and perhaps reassemble the genset provided Hinckley sent the genset parts as promised. I'll find out when I arrive on Sunday.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Carolina Beach - on a mooring

They have nine moorings, they were all in use by 4:00 pm
We had intended reaching Harbour Village but it was full so we settled for a mooring in Carolina Beach. Not much of a run but we did get the Cape Fear River behind us. We hit it at slack tide and less than 10 kts of wind so it was calm.

They must expect high water now and then
The trip through Snow's Cut involved a lot of quick turns to avoid the shallows, it was like a slalom course down a ski hill but we had plenty of water on the track. As we approached Carolina Beach, we made one last call to Harbour Village but to no avail, they were still full. With that, we took a mooring. There are nine moorings here and we had our pick at noon but by 4:00, they were all gone. The price remains at $20/night and the moorings have been improved with new pennants that store on top of the mooring in a well so they don't get all covered with sea gunk, nice and clean. There's a close-by dinghy dock for shore access and you pay by DOCKWA so there's no interaction with the dockmaster onshore which is good for social distancing.

Remember that the yellow icon takes precedent over the color or shape of the buoy.
This one was on the Cape Fear River where "red right returning" takes precedent over the ICW.
Saturday is supposed to be raining all day long but then that's been predicted every day this week, all completely wrong! Rather than listen to a forecast that has been consistently incorrect, we'll just look at the weather radar in the morning and make up our own forecast and then proceed.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

St James Marina - Waiting until Saturday morning

I think North Carolina is behind in boat traffic, not much here
It was actually a beautiful day today, we could have left northward but we stayed. Fleetwing will have a home for the summer at Deltaville and it seems that the marina has too many boats up on land for us to have a spot right away. Launching has been delayed by actions related to the virus but they think that will change by the first week in June. With that, we are aiming to arrive at Deltaville by June 10 or thereabouts. Leaving here on a Saturday would be to that schedule.

Not exactly and encouraging name (II no less...)
Meanwhile, Ann is catching up on her painting and I'm doing Waterway Guide updates with the info from my trip north of the last few weeks. We've no end of work to do. It's supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day but only a light rain. No matter, on anything less than a downpour, we're leaving Saturday morning to catch the incoming tide up Cape Fear River.

Also not encouraging...
We hope to overnight at Harbourtown and then on to Home Smith, we'll see. The forecasts have been notoriously unreliable so far.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

St James Marina - at a dock

Every home is landscaped nicely
Tropical storm Bertha formed and is headed inland just south of us. Mainly, it's pushing a lot of rain into the area, us included. With all the raining weather and winds, we decided to sit out the weather here in St James. It's a very reasonable area with a dockage of only $1.25/ft with BoatUS membership. 

We liked the flower bed out front
Ann is doing her pastels during the day and I'm working on Waterway Guide posts. I also have a new issue of ICW Cruising Guide due out July 15 and I'm trying to get a head start on that too. The area here has beautiful homes. They are all custom designed with no two alike once you get into the single-family homes area of the complex. They are immaculately kept up and the whole community is gated with only one entrance and it has a guard. 

None of the houses show any side of wear - they all look fresh
We will continue to watch the weather but we will probably not leave until Saturday if the forecasts remain as they are today. We have to catch the tide when it goes up the Cape Fear River. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

St James Marina at Southport, NC - at a dock

The restaurant is closed due to the virus
We came through Shallotte and also Lockwoods Folly today without a problem. You needed the USACE survey charts on Aqua Map to find the safest path. It has started to turn cooler and with more rain. We will be sitting out Wednesday with the prediction of rain all day long. We don't mind a little light rain but a steady downpour is not to our liking.

Nice houses in the area - but look at the next photo!
The marina here is the one where we rode out Hurricane Matthew. The harbor area is surrounded by a 12 ft high mound from the harbor dredging and on top of that, they built three-story houses. Boats on the docks are very protected from the winds, it's a real hurricane hole. When we were here during Hurricane Matthew, the eye passed right over the top of us. We went outside during the passage of the eye, very eerie!

Nestled in among all the nice looking houses was this thing... Nice or not? 
It looks like we will be here on Wednesday riding out a day of rain. We're hoping that the next day will just be some light rain that we can travel in. There are no thunderstorms predicted, just some messy misting.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Grand Dunes Marina at Myrtle Beach, SC - at a dock

You had to watch out for downed trees on the Waccamaw River north of Georgetown
We had intended staying at Osprey Marina but they were full on Memorial Day. Our next choice was to stay a little farther north at Grand Dunes Marina. We had stayed here after Hurricane Matthew when the Socastee Swing bridge was closed due to high water.


The marina personnel were in full dress for the coronavirus - masks and gloves with a window for signing you in
It's an okay marina, nothing special but it has one redeeming factor - the closeness of a Publix supermarket. We had taken advantage of the two week free delivery offer last week and we took advantage of the same offer today. Publix has an app that you can download from the app store that's made just for ordering groceries for delivery. Ann and I sat around the table and picked out what we wanted delivered. We placed the order at 2:00 and by 2:45, we had the groceries in hand! They were delivered to the parking lot and with a cart, I took the load to Fleetwing. I could get used to this. No worries about renting a car or putting gas in for the trip or finding a parking space for the rental. The groceries were delivered in less time than it would have taken me to rent a car to shop. Once again, we are fully stocked - no more groceries needed for the rest of the trip north.

Not everyone took the No Wake signs seriously with "Make More Wake Please"
We will be in St James Plantation Marina on Tuesday and maybe stay an extra day due to the forecast for rain all day on Wednesday. The forecast will govern our plans for moving north the next day. I think we are entering a rainy period but we'll move whenever we can.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Georgetown - at a dock

Lots of shrimp boats in Georgetown - unfortunately, all the fish markets are closed on a Sunday
We've been inundated with flies the last few days and today was no different. We are going north about a month later than usual and that time delay apparently makes a huge difference in fly power. We've taken to running with the enclosure all zipped up but with the screens open. It's hotter but better with fewer flies. They still get in but not as many. Now I know why I prefer April to May for transiting the ICW.

Harborwalk Marina has very nice docks, diesel was only $1.80/gallon!!
We're in Georgetown, SC for the night and you wouldn't know there's a pandemic about. No one is wearing a mask and the marina office has business as usual, no separate office window like in Titusville and points south and even when inside, there's no plexiglass between customers and the cashier for the dock. The use of a window office or plexiglass was the "de rigueur" up until we reached this far north. We stayed on the boat except to walk Hoolie and then were careful to keep the recommended 6 ft away from everyone else.

 We would have liked to stay in Osprey Marina but they are full so we're moving on to Grand Dunes a little farther along. As long as the weather holds, we'll keep moving every day.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Awendaw Creek - at anchor

Hoolie's favorite part of the trip - going ashore
It was a very long day for us on Friday so we treated ourselves to a short day on Saturday. Since it was a weekend, the Wappoo Creek bridge was on demand. It's very restrictive during the week but fine on the weekends. On the other hand, the Ben Sawyer swing bridge is restrictive on weekends (only opens on the hour) but opens on demand during the week. So you can't win if you need to pass through both bridges.

BoatUS came by later and the captain got the boat off and immediately took off
Pulling into the anchorage, we saw a powerboat up on land. We don't know the story but the anchorage is excellent but the holding is not as good as most anchorages. You really must be sure the anchor is dug in. At high tide, I had to return to the ICW at a beach that is accessible at all tides, a long ride but straight forward.

There were two other sailboats in the anchorage, lots of room for more
On Sunday, we have reservations in Georgetown for the night and we hope to reach Beaufort, NC  by Thursday. The weather is nice and we want to make time northward whenever the conditions are right.

Friday, May 22, 2020

St Johns Yacht Harbor in Charleston, SC - at a dock

All of these boats don't get their feet wet while stored
Our intention was to anchor at Steamboat Creek, a relatively short ride and make a run for Awendaw Creek on Saturday, over 50 NM. The weather was so beautiful with sun and light winds, that we extended our trip today all the way to St Johns Yacht Harbor, just outside of Charleston.

Another view of the marina with the high bridge in the distance 
Now we have a short day on Saturday for our anchorage at Awendaw followed by another short day to Georgetown, SC. We tried getting a reservation at Osprey Marina after Georgetown but found that they were full! We will have to look elsewhere for Monday evening.

I published my track through Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff and Watts Creek and I will follow up with details on depths seen which were better than I expected. My genset is still in pieces and I'm having the remaining pieces shipped to Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC where I hope to arrive on Thursday and have it put back together on Friday - at least that's the plan.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lady's Island Marina at Beaufort, SC - at a dock

This guy hitched a ride on one of my finders at Windmill Harbour. I returned hin to his home before leaving
We didn't have far to go today. There were predictions of rain in the afternoon that never materialized but we had gone far enough for one day. It was a perfect day for traveling on the ICW with light winds and no wave action.

Don't ask me the name of the flower, Ann knows - but it's pretty
Lady's Island Marina is on the north side of the bridge so that's a big plus not having to wait for an opening. We were greeted warming although I didn't see anyone wearing a mask but several people had them at the ready around their neck. All of the restaurants offer take out service including the Fillin Station but we are sticking with our eating in routine as a double dose of protection. At this rate, we would reach Deltaville the first week of June but there very well may be more delays due to weather.

Wine on the back of the boat at 5:00, perfect!
On Friday, we are aiming for the anchorage at Steamboat Creek followed by a long day to reach the Awendaw Creek anchorage. On Sunday, our plans are to overnight at Georgetown and rest a bit. We are doing fine going north


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Windmill Harbour in Hilton Head, SC - in front of their clubhouse

Hidden Harbour is a gated community behind its own lock
The genset was still not fixed by 1:00 so we decided to leave anyway. There were seals on order that the supplier left out so Hinckley had to reorder that parts. They were supposed to come Tuesday, then Wednesday but both days came and went without the last of the parts. At least the heat exchanger was cleaned and reinstalled. It was definitely the problem, it was completely clogged but now it's clean as a whistle. All that remains is to replace some of the seals and fill it with antifreeze. That's going to be a job for someone else, not Hinckley. They will send the parts to a marina I will be at in a week or so and I'll have someone bring the genset back to life.

The South Carolina Yacht Club is a beautiful facility, best to be enjoyed inside but it's only take out for the present
It was an easy trip to Hidden Harbour, only 21 NM and a good staging area for reaching Beaufort, SC. We have a facedock here directly in front of the South Carolina Yacht Club, a beautiful facility which, unfortunately, is not open due to the virus. They do offer take out but it's not the same. Ann made turkey burgers for dinner and they were delicious.

Here we are, right in front of the Yacht Club
From here we plan on anchoring out at Steamboat Creek and then a long stretch to Awendaw Creek for another anchorage, sure wish we had the genet - oh well. We should wind up in Georgetown, SC on Sunday night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hinckley at Savannah - Genset parts on Wednesday

One more wine visit kby Ann Mullett
The plan now is for the genset parts to arrive Wednesday morning and for us to leave Wednesday afternoon. If the parts do not arrive on time, we told Hinckley to just put the parts that they have ina bucket and we'll take them with us. The rest of the parts, whenever they arrive, can be sent to our home in New York. We'll have them installed later, we've spent enough time in Savannah.

Looks like a nice sturdy piling to tie off to in a storm
Ann Mullett came over once again for wine at 5:30. She had the surveyor over this afternoon and the big decision is whether to total the boat or get it fixed. Ann is much in favor of getting it returned to seaworthy condition not totaled. The decision is still up in the air on that score.

Here's the same piling at low tide - Oops!
Meanwhile, we're due to get the last of the parts for the genset Wednesday morning and we hope to push off north in the afternoon for Windmill Harbour. You also might want to rethink tieing off a sturdy looking piling if you don't know the condition of what lies under the water. See the two examples of a piling nearby here.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Hinckley Savannah - Wine with Ann

The two Anns having a relaxing wine party
We had Ann Mullett over again for wine this evening. It was her boat, Meherio, that hit the bridge yesterday. She needed company and we were glad to see a fellow boater along the ICW. She single-hands her boat to the Bahamas and back and routinely does overnighters. That's more than the two of us want to tackle, all the more power to her!

She had talked to the bridge tender but he was very hard to understand and she received no warning that only one leaf was up. She approached from the south and saw both leafs open but then did not see that only one leaf on the northern side was up. She ran right into the down leaf. It has to be one of the most trying experiences you can have on a sailboat, to have the mast come down.

After five hours of washing the top deck, getting rid of the ICW mustache, doing a pump out,
taking on water, storing excess gear, with Ann cleaning the cabin - we are now ready to go. 
She's tied up on Hinckley of Savannah for now and awaiting the insurance estimate of whether to fix the boat or total it. It was good to chat with her for about an hour this evening. As for us, we are still waiting for parts that are supposed to arrive Tuesday and hopefully have the genset repaired then for a Wednesday departure. You can rest assured that we will pay close attention to that bridge!!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hinckely at Savannah - Boat parade and dismasted sailboat

The Trump parade of boats passed by
We heard this noise passing by and looked out to see what was happening. There was a flotilla of about 100 boats slowly going by. About half of them flew flags supporting Trump for 2020. It was evidently some kind of political parade but with boats instead of marching. It was quite a sight. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water with temperatures in the 80s and no rain. The tropical storm passed Savannah way offshore so we saw no effects from the storm.

That's the mast in the water. Note the mask stub left on the boat
Later in the afternoon, we heard that a sailboat had hit the lift bridge just north of the marina. It's a double lane bridge and one of the lanes only has one side operating which narrows the opening considerably.  We talked later to the captain and she said that she entered from the south where both sides opened but the second set lanes only had one leaf up which she did not expect. She hit the one side not up. It took her mast down and the boat came into Hinckley later this afternoon.

She has a major repair job to do. She was not injured which was the first priority but now all her plans are disrupted, what to do? She came over to Fleetwing for wine around 6:30 so we offered her solace. She sat on the stool on the dock while we were in the cockpit, social distancing. We invited her over again Monday evening, she needed some wine. It has to be one of the most upsetting of experiences to hit a bridge, we feel for her. She is single handing her boat and she has been to the Bahamas.

We will see on Monday where we stand for parts. Most likely, we will be waiting until Tuesday to get the parts we need. At least that lets the tropical storm time to get well off shore but we look forward to going north again.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Hinckley Marina in Savannah - on a dock

The ICW is just off our starboard side, lots of traffic but they all showdown nicely for the bridge and us
We are awaiting parts which arrive early next week for the genset. Meanwhjile, we're enjoying the fabulous weather and it appears that the tropical storm will go out to sea, at least as it passes Georgia by. The track may take it over the outer banks of North Carolina but that's far away from us.

Love these Hinckley picnic boats, the 40 ft model goes for $1.4 million 
I spent the day putting my tracks into a table for publication on the web so boaters can access the tracks and know what to expect for depths in the shallow areas of the ICW. The depths are always changing due to the movement of sand and mud from the constant currents of the channels. Knowing that, it's always handy to have the most current information when passing through known shoaling areas, that's what my table shows along with what track to follow.

So we are content to wait out the storm and the arrival of parts for the genset at a very comfortable marina with not much traffic on the weekend since it's a service yard mostly, not just a marina, and they don't work on the weekends. On Sunday, we have two Zoom meetings; one with our kids up north and another one with friends back in Poughkeepsie, Leathem and Ann. It's nice to be able to see faces on Zoom instead of just voices, it's a great app that works on Apple, Android, and PC products.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Hinckley in Savannah - at a dock

The Hinckley yard is full of boats like this, very beautiful, good lines.
In contrast to last night, at Hinckley in Savannah, I have a 40 Mbps WiFi speed. I could not locate a signal at all in Kilkenny. Like many other marinas, Hinkley contracted with OnSpotWiFi to provide internet service. I have always found them to be spotless in getting a connection. I've found no other internet installation to be anywhere nearly as good.

Nice docks
I docked at Hinckley to get the genset worked on. I had tried several things that didn't work in trying to get the raw water pump to draw water. Feeding water directly into the strainer and attaching a hose to the outlet of the pump, it spewed forth water just fine. That left the only possibility to be a blockage of some kind downstream of the pump. A plugged heat exchanger came to mind but that was something I didn't want to tackle.

The mechanic came aboard, wearing a face mask as did all the Hinckley mechanics and proceeded to take apart the area around the heat exchanger. He had a fiberoptic probe that he used to look inside the head exchanger before he did a removable - to be sure it was, in fact, the problem before accumulating labor hours. I looked at the probe screen and sure enough, the heat exchanger tubes were completely blocked. There was no way any coolant was going to get through that!

With confirmation by the probe, he removed the heat exchanger for cleaning. Of course, that disturbed all the seals so they had to be ordered in order to reassemble the heat exchanger unit. That will result in ordering parts which probably will not arrive until Tuesday. With that, we have several layover days.

The marina just installed new heads, showers, and a laundry room but they are all locked out due to the virus exposure.  However, they do have new docks and on the dock pumpouts valves, very nice to have. I'll use the layover to catch up on updating alerts and tracks. We just use Publix's home delivery service which was free for the first two weeks, that's enough to get us home as we continue our 'no contact" regime.   

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock

I'm still fascinated by the live oaks, huge trees with long horizontal limbs
(I had no internet last night at Kilkenny, here's yesterday's  blog)
We went through Jekyll with a 2.5 ft tide and we needed it. When I transited Jekyll last fall, I saw 6.7 MLLW but this time I only saw 4.5 MLLW. It has obviously shoaled in some. Be sure to sue some tide if you go through yourself.

Next on the list of the day's adventures was a passage through Mud River. I expected about 4.5 MLLW but saw 7 MLLW, a pleasant surprise but to get that depth one had to carefully follow SonarChart and the USACE survey in Aqua Map. There were plenty of spots off that track in the 4 to 5 MLLW range. I'll upload the track as soon as I get an internet connection again. We are at Kilkenny Marina tonight and there's no Verizon connection here.

The marina is more of a camp than a marina but it suits us fine
Kilkenny Marina is not for everyone. It's not really a marina, just a small boat facility with camp-style bathrooms and showers, not to be confused with a regular marina. However, we like it for a convenient stopover location. It's located in an old plantation area with huge live oaks, some of the biggest trees I've ever seen.

I have an appointment with Hinckley Marine in Savannah to work on the genset. Hopefully, all that is needed is to clean the heat exchanger, it could be the problem if it's plugged up with crud. Aside from that, we're concerned about the developing storm off the east coast that could develop into a tropical storm or even a hurricane. It's not projected to make land but nothing is certain when it comes to storms. We will be getting up at the crack of down to reach Hinckley by 10:00 so he had enough time to work on the genset before the weekend. We hope for the best.