Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fernandina - at a mooring

Not full at Fernandina
It was supposed to be calmer today but it sure didn't feel like it. We didn't get winds above 25 kts but we had everything below that number and coming out of Jekyll Island there's a turn you have to make out in the inlet to avoid the shallows. It's always a little rough and today was no different.

The police boat didn't like you getting too close!
On the way to Fernandina there is a naval station with a degaussing station for submarines (to get rid of stray magnetism that otherwise could be used to track them). We've passed it many times but we've never seen any submarines. Well today we saw one docked with lots of personnel working on it with a guard boat patrolling nearby. With the black paint, I always thought they looked very menacing.

Fernandina is ready for Christmas!
We were surprised at how empty the marina was. It was only about 1/4 full just counting the face dock, the rest was empty. We took a mooring and when I went in to pay I saw the guy ahead of me run up a $1908 bill for fuel! We didn't need fuel yet so it was $20 for the mooring.

Ann is doing no better with her knee, she can't stand on it at all so we're going to see a doctor at our next stop in Jacksonville, the Harbortown Marina.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jekyll Island - at anchor

Note the shorts! Not cool to be warmly dressed!
The winds howled all day blowing a steady 20 to 25 kts with gusts to 28 kts. Even in our protected anchorage, it was very bouncy taking Hoolie to shore. Even in less than 1000 ft we had whitecaps on the way to Hoolie's dock. The winds didn't start to calm down until 6:00 pm and now it's "only" 12 kts, seems perfectly calm after today's winds.

There's a dock behind us that we use for Hoolie and all day long we saw groups of kids gathering at the dock, lying down on the deck and using nets to gather something we couldn't see. So when I took Hoolie in I asked the teacher and found they are from the University of Georgia doing a field trip to catalog the creatures of the creek. The students were not dressed for the 25 kts winds and 50 degree temps! Of course, Hoolie was thrilled that so many kids came out to meet just him!

Calm now but it was not like this all day - not even any whitecaps now
It appeared that the high winds we've had for the last two days came from the back end of Sandy and they are finally due to subside some on Wednesday and completely on Thursday for a return to normalcy. With that we're ready to resume our southward trek but the crew is in some distress with a bum knee so we're taking it easy. We have to navigate a potentially rough section of the ICW where we go out an inlet in order to take a turn around a shoal area before turning south again. We'll leave early in the morning to take advantage of the winds due to be less early tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jekyll Island - at anchor

They are no fools! They decided to ride out the high winds on the lee side of the trees!
Yesterday the prediction was for 20 to 30 kt winds but they never materialized. The prediction was the same for today but they hit it on the button this time. We came out of Wahoo River with the wind on the nose and waves coming over the bow for a couple of hours  before we could turn the corner and re-enter the ICW. The dodge got wet, the bimini got wet, but we didn't get wet. I can't imagine going down the ICW without a full enclosure. However, we passed boats doing just that, they were dressed in full wet gear with heavy jackets for the cold wind while we were in golf knit shirts. The full sun does wonders in warming up a full enclosure, just like a greenhouse.

Even with high winds, a nice sunset
So we bounced around a bit but made steady progress along our 50 mile route for the day. We managed to hit Jekyll Island about 30 minutes before low tide. This part of the ICW is one of the worse for shallow water and you really don't want to pass through it at dead low - but we seem to always do just that! The ICW is very narrow through here and at best you have only 7 ft at low tide but today we also had a 20 to 30 kt west wind that was blowing water out of the  bay, lowering water even more. So we approached the section with trepidation and slowed down to creep forward. We did finally make it through, barely.

Now we're at one of our favorite anchorages by the ICW at Jekyll Island. There's no fetch in the anchorage so we're very comfortable and secure. We hear that such is not the case up north with Sandy making landfall. My son in Connecticut has already lost power! It sounds like the storm of the century. Our friends worry about us and hurricanes but we seem to be doing better this time. We'll be using our webcams at home to see how our house is doing (as long as the power lasts).

There's little doubt that we'll be here all day Tuesday too, the winds aren't scheduled to abate until at least Wednesdsay and there's a nasty inlet we have to cross on the way south, not something to do with lots of wind and waves. I hope everyone up north does okay!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wahoo River - at anchor

We've now run into naturally occurring palm trees!
The prediction was for winds of 15 to 25 kts but they never materialized. We had briefly considered staying for another day at Hinckley of Savannah  but decided to move on anyway. We left around 8:00 am and had a perfect day for traveling. In addition to the high tides which are very nice for the shallow spots, the winds never peaked as predicted and the wave action was minimal.

We are now anchored in the Wahoo River (some name!) and the wind has calmed down to less than 4 kts although the current is running 0.7 kts. In this area of the ICW there are 8 ft tides, almost as in Maine! This place is mud city if you take Hoolie ashore during low tide - which we had to do when we first arrived. So Hoolie got a wipe down, a common occurrence on this boat. This is the first anchorage where we've seen wild palm trees. We are finally getting far enough south to get warm! Temps were in the 70's today but on Monday the highs are only in the 60's.

Wine, warm breezes, great view, a deserted anchorage - what more to want?
We are watching Sandy develop and will be accessing our webcams at the house to see how we do there. We had a willow tree fall during Irene and hopefully no damage will be caused by Sandy, we'll be standing by via webcams.

On Monday we're headed for Jekyll Island and the anchorage there by the boat ramp, a convenient spot for Hoolie relief. It's a 50 mile trip so we'll leave early and hopefully get in before dead low tide at Jekyll - it's very shallow on the approach to the island, one of the worse stretches of the ICW.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Savannah - ready to move Sunday

Four Hinckley picnic boats, about $750k each. 
We've been here long enough. The winds did come but not all that much, only in the high teens although we did register one gust to 26 kts but only briefly. What is supposed to happen is cooler air with a high only in the 60's for the next few days, time to move further south! It looks like our home port is going to get the worse of Sandy with even a chance of snow!

Ann snapped a photo of downtown Savannah - a beautiful downtown area
Here the day was devoted to digesting all the stored up mail we received Friday from our son in Connecticut. Lots of bills to pay and even an audit from the IRS! We rightly claimed a deduction for the interest paid on our boat loan but the lending company never reported the interest to the IRS so when they compared notes between my tax forms and what they received from the loan company (nothing), they sent me a bill for the difference. We use a $35 tax audit defense service from a company associated with TurboTax and it's worth every penny. One time earlier the IRS sent me a bill and it turned out that they actually owed me money (the IRS suddenly lost interest and I was transferred to another IRS agent immediately). It took two years to collect from the IRS! The man-hours devoted by the audit protection service was unbelievable (complete with filing for stays with the tax court, they weren't interested in paying, just collecting) and invaluable for someone traveling with limited access to mail. So I just forwarded the IRS letter to them and they worry about interfacing with the IRS, I don't.

Other than that, today was just bill paying day, dull but required duty. On Sunday we will be leaving at 8:00 for the Wahoo Creek anchorage, about 41 nm south of here. We'll have a few shallows to go through but nothing we can't handle, we think. The biggest worry, if any, are the waves left over from Sandy near the inlets we pass by on our route. We don't go out the inlets but we do pass over them. Hopefully we'll be far enough inland so they will not be a problem.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Savannah - at Hinckley's dock waiting for Sandy

One of these guys broke loose during the last storm and came across the river!
With the boat tied up as well as can be, we rented a car today and took Hoolie to a local dog park. He ran and ran and ran until he could run no more! All the dogs seemed to be well behaved, they were all friends. We toured the shops in downtown Savannah for our afternoon outing, keeping an eye to the sky. Nothing much was supposed to happen until late Friday night and Saturday during the day. So with that we decided to have a hurricane party at Tubby's Tank House, a local seafood restaurant that's excellent. We used the coupon from Hinckley to get one dinner free, a good promotion for us. Three other boaters joined us for the party. Part of the fun of cruising is the people you meet along the way. They were total strangers to each other but it was great fun talking about our experiences in boating.

Shopping by the river in Savannah
Meanwhile, we're keeping an eye on the hurricane. It looks pretty certain that it will miss us completely but not so for further up north. However, we are due to get some serious wind tonight and Saturday but then only up to 25 kts at most, mostly less. Our current plan is to continue our trip south on Sunday when the winds abate but along the ICW there are several places where you have to go out an inlet part way to get around shallows and we're concerned  about incoming waves from the back end of Sandy causing problems.  We'll keep looking at the weather and may very well have to sit out some time at anchorages down the line until the seas return to normal so we can cross inlets without a problem. I also have the webcams active at the house so I can see what happens there (snow?)

Saturday is a layover day, time to go through our accumulated mail which I just picked up at the marina (sent from Connecticut where it was forwarded). Oh to have so much fun...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hinckley Yacht Services in Savannah - at a dock for Sandy

To an artist, this represents an interesting challenge
Sandy is making ocean passages difficult - impossible for us - but you can bet that somebody is out in it! We didn't want to stay at Hilton Head, too close to the ocean, so we headed further inland to Savannah. We had stayed at Hinckley Yacht Services before when we needed work done on our engine so we were familiar with the marina and it's well protected. This time we don't need any work done, thank goodness, but we do need a dock.

Ready for the storm!  I added the 17 inch ball fenders later and more lines
We studied the wind direction predictions and chose to dock so the bow would be pointed towards the source of the highest winds, northeast. The storm winds are not supposed to peak until Friday night and Saturday, gradually falling off on Sunday. With that we reserved the facedock for three nights and on Friday we're renting a car to do laundry, take Hoolie to an outstanding dog park, explore Savannah in the afternoon and then go out to dinner at Tubby's Tank House. Hinckley is running a special for marina guests where you get a coupon for a free meal when you buy one at full price, two meals for the price of one!

What will tomorrow bring?
Meanwhile, Ann is feeling better. She stopped taking the prescription cough medicine which had a narcotic base, it was making her sick. Hopefully she's getting over it. The rest of the crew is doing fine, especially Hoolie who goes to bed when the sun goes down and sleeps most of the day when we're underway. He ought to be fully rested! Nevertheless, he's fully alert and ready to protect the boat if anyone is foolish enough to come close! Watch out for the attack Brittany...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hilton Head Harbor RV Resort and Marina - at a dock

A very nice pool is to the right
I think some of the cold meds prescribed caught up with Ann today. The ones requiring a prescription are pretty strong and I think they interacted today so Ann didn't feel so good although she is better tonight. It was actually very calm crossing the inlet today but the Ashepoo Coosaw cutoff was worse than I've ever seen it. We had a 3 ft tide by the time we reached it and we still only had 7.5 ft of water which would mean 4.5 ft at low tide - thin but we made it through okay.

Whatever happened to the small RV's?
Now we're docked at the Hilton Head RV Resort and Marina. This place is very upscale. Most of the RV's look as big as Greyhound buses and some even come with push out sides to expand the living space. Personally I think it's too far north, it gets cold here in the wintertime, not like Key West. We had planned on anchoring out tonight  but with Ann not feeling so good, we decided to take a dock.

Nice sign for our fuel dock!
Well, we're tracking Sandy as it heads north. All the spaghetti tracks (the predictions from 12 different tracking programs) have Sandy heading away from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina although it may turn west and hit the mainland north of Virginia. It's due to miss us. Regardless, we'll get some high winds and anyone going down the coast will see some serious wave action but we'll be inside the rest of the way. We plan on holing up in Savannah Thursday through Saturday to avoid the winds. Maybe I can catch up on some boat projects (ha!). We'll dock in Savannah so we're facing north to get the winds on the bow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

B & B Seafood - at their dock

A dog, a seafood store with fresh shrimp - what more to ask?

We left Charleston on a rising tide, always a good thing! With a rising tide we went through Elliot Cut with its 4 kt current, no problems, went through Watts Cut with its shoals, no problem, Fenwick Cut a breeze, amazing what 6 ft of tide will do for the nerves! However, after 40 miles we were ready to quit for the day and the B & B Seafood dock presented itself for use. The place is just a seafood outlet, not a restaurant but shrimp boats come into the dock and fresh shrimp is always available. I bought 2 lbs for $7/lb so we had a fresh shrimp dinner tonight! You can't get any fresher than right off the boat!

Our rather basic dock - but at $25/night, a bargain!
The dock here is used as a fueling dock for the shrimp boats but they let transients stay over night for a $25 flat rate fee (not by the foot). Theoretically, there's electricity and water if you want to run the lines about 200 ft which we could from all the extensions we bought when cruising Maine several years ago (kind of raw up there too) but we didn't bother. We'll just live off the batteries tonight and perhaps run the genset some in the morning for coffee.

There is nothing around here, talk about the boonies! But it's a pleasant stay for the night at a mooring ball price and with the fresh shrimp, we're certainly happy with our choice. We are the only transient here at the dock for the night.

On Wednesday we're headed for the Hilton Head Marina, a place we've never been to so we'll give it a once over inspection. The weather continues to be very pleasant with temps in the 70's during the day and low 60's at night, perfect for going down the ICW!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Charleston Maritime Center - Ann goes to Urgent Care

Bob & Nina Huether - sold their house to live full-time on their boat!
Ann has had a bad cough now for a week and a half. She had no fever and no runny nose but a hacking cough. Given that it wasn't getting any better, she gave in and went to an Urgent Care center nearby. The doctor examined her and listened to her chest. No pneumonia symptoms like last time in Key West, just an irritation of the  bronchial tubes. For that he prescribed several medicines to lessen the inflammation and she's on them now. She sounds better already.

There're used to unload the ocean going boats - towering over other buildings
Along the way we met a taxi driver that was a New York policeman for 20 years and retired back to his home town of Charleston. He gets a kick out of the cop shows centered around NYC that always show the policemen speaking either non-accented English or with a Bronx drawl. Nothing could be further from the truth according to the retired cop. The locker room was full of dialects from all over the country. He had a definite southern turn to his own words!

Speaking of meeting people, a couple dropped by this afternoon that sold their house and are now living full time on their Island Packet 38 ft boat. Whenever we had fantasized about doing that we could never figure out what to do with all our stuff of 45 years?? Our kids have their own furniture already and we sure wouldn't want to pay for storage for stuff we'd never use again - and yet there are memories we could never part with. So we've just put off any thought of that path and continue to maintain, in effect, two households. The couple we met, Bob & Nina Huether (in photo) have solved that problem, hummm.

On Tuesday we're off to the Steamboat Creek anchorage. It's another Hoolie stop complete with a dock for easy on and off for the dog. It's the beginning of the grasslands part of the passage - as far as the eye can see - wilderness, pretty.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Charleston Maritime Marina - at a dockkk

We really have a beautiful view - rocky at times however
We survived the skinny water today but it was no contest since we timed the passage with a 5 ft tide! Nevertheless, it was non-eventful which is fine with us. We also survive the Ben Sawyer swing bridge which has an operator who is rather sticky. We heard over the VHF of a sailboat approaching the bridge that was going to be about a minute late and they asked the bridge attendant to open the bridge for them since there was no other traffic. The reply that got was that the bridge will open on top of the hour if there's traffic and not later (technically, not 30 seconds later!). The bridge attendant told the sailboat captain that he would have to wait for the next opening an hour later! Give a bureaucrat some minor power and they think they're God. So the sailboat captain and the bridge attendant stared at each other for an hour before passing through.

Some ships can  be really ugly!!
Charleston Maritime Center is one of our favorite stops since we can provision at the Harris Tetter supermarket and use the free laundry provided by the marina. Plus, they have an interesting downtown within walking distance to explore which we plan on doing Monday. If you're ever in Charleston you ought to visit the aquarium next door which displays the local flora and fauna.

We've also discovered Redbox which has movies for $1.30, a bargain for recent showings. It's a kiosk where you select the movie, swipe your charge card and out pops the movie of your choice for $1.30. The movie can be returned at any Redbox kiosk, not necessarily the one where you first rented the movie, very convenient.

So on Monday we'll provision at Harris Tetter and do some exploring before preparing for the real skinny water further south on the way to Savannah where we plan on arriving on Thursday for a couple of days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Awendaw Creek - at anchor

Out for a Saturday sail!
We looked on the way down but still didn't see any alligators - but we know they are there! This part of the trip is through the grasslands, as far as the eye can see. We had some skinny water but we came through with a 5 ft high tide so we had no problems. The real challenge ahead is Mud River but that's not for several days yet.

A photo for Ann to paint
In the anchorage here we can see the horizon 360 degrees! There are no trees, no highs, nothing to interfere with the sweep of the eye. We also have a clear sky tonight and the moon sets early. The Orionid meteor shower is due tonight and with a dark sky (no moon) it ought to be ideal. Unfortunately, it doesn't peak until the wee morning hours, specially between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am. I'll probably get up sometime during the night and see if it lives up to its reputation. By the way, a meteor shower is considered huge if it shows a meteor every 2 minutes. That's not exactly like a rain shower but for astronomers it's a lot. At home in New York we're surrounded by trees and the only patch of sky we can see is directly overhead, here it's different and I intend to make the most of it.

No clouds but still a nice sunset
We like this anchorage since there's a place to take Hoolie nearby - except when we happen to hit the anchorage during an extremely high tide like last year. Today was fine, Hoolie had enough - not a lot - but enough.

Sunday we're headed for Charleston for one of our favorite marinas, the Charleston Maritime Center. The main attraction is a Harris Tetter supermarket about a couple of blocks away plus free laundry machines (reality intrudes again...)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Georgetown Landing Marina - at a dock

Mile upon mile of trees to the water - dense undergrowth, alligators?
We left Barefoot Landing Marina intently looking for alligators. We positively knew they were in the area since we saw so many during our boat tour in the spring at Brookgreen Gardens. However, we didn't see a single alligator! Perhaps it's just as well but even so we still aren't about to anchor out in this area with a dog to get ashore in the evening.

Very common - a marker and a nest
As I mentioned before, we had intended to get a dock in Georgetown but this was the weekend for the Wooden Boat Show so we looked around and found a slip at a marina just out of town, Georgetown Landing Marina. It's the home of a fleet of charter fishing  boats. In fact, the South Carolina record marlin was caught by a boat at this marina (see photo).

Largest Marlin ever caught in South Carolina
We're at a dock and the current is running wild. I'm looking at the knot meter and it shows 3.9 kts presently!! Wow, that's some current. I'm glad we're tied up to a dock for the night. I wouldn't care that much otherwise but getting Hoolie ashore in such current is a challenge - not to mention looking for "red eyes" in the dark in an inflatable dinghy that suddenly doesn't feel so secure.

Their proud sign
Saturday we're headed for Awendaw Creek which opens to the ocean so there's plenty of salt water, stuff that alligators aren't supposed to tolerate well, still...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last Day at Barefoot Landing - We celebrate our 45th anniversary

The sunset right in front of Greg Norman's restaurant (the famous golfer)
Another perfect day dawned with temps in the 70's so we just browsed the shops in the area. I found the classic kitch, two pink flamingos lawn ornaments! We plan on using them during our Christmas sojourn up north before returning to Stuart, FL in January to continue our trip south to Key West.

After 45 years together, we're still having fun!
I made reservations at Greg Norman's Austrian Grill for our 45th anniversary dinner. The restaurant specializes in steaks and has gained a reputation in the area for fine dining. In this case it was well deserved but not inexpensive - we had a great time and talked of how time flies. For those not as far along as we are, savor your years, especially if your kids are still at home - you are living in the golden years that pass much too soon. We are past that stage but enjoy our time together going down the ICW which has its own attractions. After a few trips, you meet old friends, see new sights and the view changes most every day as you work your way south. Tonight we were surprised by a news reporter that interviewed us for the Sunday edition of their local newspaper. We look forward to her write up and the pictures taken by her photographer.

On Friday we are entering perhaps the most beautiful portion of the trip. When we leave Barefoot Landing we enter the Waccarnaw River in South Carolina. It's where the early rice plantations were founded due to the advantage of the 4 ft tides in the river. The tides were all fresh water from the river flow and allowed the rice plantations to regulate the irrigation of the rice fields by opening and shutting the tide gates to the fields depending on the tides. The area is also infested with alligators who are fresh water reptiles. They can't tolerate salt water for long (crocodiles can but they are very rare!). That's why we are relatively safe along anchorage areas adjacent to inlets. During one tour on a river boat in the spring we were told the major fear during the rice plantation era was not the alligators but rather the snakes with their deadly bites. To keep the rice vertical during the summer before harvesting in the fall, the rice fields were left flooded for several months to help support the rice stalks - and that resulted in a terrific harvest of mosquitoes! I'm glad I didn't live in those times.

On our trip through the region Friday we'll be on the lookout for alligators. We know they're in the area, we saw them on our boat ride last year at the sculptor gardens. We'll be staying at a marina for sure, we're not anxious to anchor anywhere near here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Barefoot Landing - we see a show at Alabama Theater

Nice staging at the Alabama Theater
The Alabama Theater is the largest in attendance in South Carolina and hosts many of he big names in touring bands. Tonight they just had their variety show performance and on a Wednesday night during the off-season I didn't expect a crowd. Well, the place was packed in a Broadway type theater. It was a musical revue with energetic dancing, not bad.

I did water works today on the boat. I installed a new water pump hoping to increase the water pressure on the boat but the new pump didn't do the job. Tomorrow I'll start separating the variables (input constricted or output constricted or manifold clogged, etc.) Somewhere there's a problem, such fun having a boat. Meanwhile, the repair on the dinghy is definitely holding. The two part adhesive for hypalon is the way to go for a permanent repair. After four weeks of tea colored water and constant traveling, there's no ICW mustache - the double application of Fleetwax did the trick!

The lights at night at Barefoot Landing
We plan on celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary with a night out at Greg Norman's Grill next door to our boat. Our anniversary was actually in August but we wanted a more relaxed time for our celebration. So we'll take is easy Thursday and have a good time at Norman's.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Barefoot Landing - at a dock

Add caption
We didn't have far to go so we eased out just before 9:00 am. Ann backed Fleetwing while I managed the lines and pushed us off the dock. Ann is very comfortable at the wheel and she can handle most anything. Once underway we had a few shallow spots reported by other boaters but they turned out to be boaters who had not followed the charts correctly. I've often said to follow the markers rather than the charts but it has to be applied intelligently. In one case a red marker was followed by a green one with another red one in the distance. Some of the boaters immediately turned and headed for the next red marker since the course included a dogleg to the left (greens on left, reds on right in ICW when heading south). The trouble with that strategy is that the chart showed the channel continuing quite a ways before turning left so if you turned at the green towards the next red you would find shallow water! After awhile you learn to take both the markers and the charts into consideration before navigating a course. You can be misled and run aground if you don't consider both sources of information.

The next challenge was "The Rock Pile", a section of the ICW where the builders unexpectedly ran into ledge when they expected sand and mud. In trying to operate within their budget, they compensated by narrowing the channel so the costly process of excavating rock could be contained in budget. The channel is plenty wide enough for one boat but risky for two. There are numerous examples of boats losing their props, holing their bottoms, etc. when trying to get to one side to make room for a passing boat from the opposite direction. The ledges lie only a foot or so under water, deadly. So when you are at the entrance to the "Rock Pile" you call ahead on channels 9, 13 and 16 announcing that you are about to enter and ask any opposing traffic to identify themselves. If someone else is already in the channel, just wait until they exit before proceeding. In our case today, I did the 9, 13 and 16 procedure and got no reply. As we were just about to entrer I saw a huge power boat heading north. He never replied to my alerts. Later on I heard him ask the bridge behind us to open so I know he had his radio on! Nice guy?!

So we made it through okay and now we're docked at Barefoot Landing Marina. The area is a collection of outlets, restaurants and entertainment venues. On Wednesday we'll explore the shops and see a show at the Alabama theater, tough day planned...

Monday, October 15, 2012

St. James Plantation - at a dock

St James Plantation Marina - well protected
There was the threat of thunderstorms all day today and we had two bridges to pass through. One only opened on top of the hour so you had to time it right or you circled around for an hour waiting for the next opening. None of the bridges in Florida are like that but apparently South Carolina doesn't care all that much for boaters passing through regardless of any economic benefit. I'm sure that if it was legal for them to charge a toll, they would.

So we left at 8:30 am in plenty of time we thought to make the first bridge but found a 2.5 kt current against us which I didn't expect. There are no current tables for the ICW. In general an adverse current is canceled by a favorable current as you pass on either side of an inlet but not in this case! It was adverse all the way to the first bridge by rev'ing the diesel to top speed we just barely made the bridge. When we called the bridge tender, he was skeptical that we were going to be able to make it - but we proved him wrong. If you're late by 30 seconds, he won't open the bridge!

despite the economy - they are still building here!
We had planned ahead so when we reach the Cape Fear river we had a 2.5 kt outgoing current in our favor. We reached top speeds of 10.4 kts! However, as luck would have it, you don't get something for nothing so we had 15 kts on the nose (wind against current) which produced entertaining waves over the bow to keep our interest up.

Finally we turned the corner and were back in the ICW and the waves calmed down. We made the whole trip without running into a thunderstorm but we see a line of them approaching us from the west so we'll get hit eventually - but at least not when we were on the water.

St James Plantation is a marina where all the condo and house owners have a slip per their contract but they will rent out empty ones to transients. It's fully protected with no wakes and no way for any wave action to reach us and also very little direct wind action. When a line of thunderstorms is approaching, it's good to be here. On Tuesday we're headed for Barefoot Landing Marina for a rest, some shopping and a night out at Greg Norman's restaurant. Wish us luck negotiating the "Rock Pile"!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Harbor Village Marina - at a dock

View from the south - normally the greens are on the right, not the left. Not so here
We had some really shallow spots today. Several  boats went aground at a spot where the Coast Guard eventually moved the buoys to deeper waters. For most of the ICW on the way south, the reds are on the right and the greens are on the left. For the troublesome section, you had to make an "S" curve through the red and green buoys to avoid the shallows. At some point they will hopefully dredge the channel but for now you have to follow the buoys.

We hurried to make this bridge that only opened on the hour - 8.8 kts we reached! Just barely made it!
We used to always stop at Surf City to enjoy a walk along the beach, eat at a local restaurant, shop for provisions at the local supermarket and, best of all, get fresh seafood at a unique, outdoor market where all the fishing boats come in. But no more. The marina was closed by the local bank that was owed money they couldn't pay. It seems a shame that the town will lose the business of the transients down the ICW since there is no other marina nearby. So for the first time we tried out Harbor Village Marina. It's similar to St. James Plantation since all the slips are privately owned by either a condo or house owner. They will rent out slips as they are available to transients. It's a beautiful location with 360 protection and a convenient fuel dock right where you're put up for the night. We ordered out pizza that was delivered to the boat by a restaurant where the owners used to have one in Brooklyn - real NYC pizza!
Nice, protected docks! Top rate facility.

So we had a perfect day with good sunshine and warm temps, wine on the back of the boat followed by a pizza delivered (very hot!) to the dock. On Monday we're headed down the Cape Fear River and the 2.5 kt current will be with us all the way - good timing! We'll dock at St James Plantation for the night before heading to Barefoot Landing Marina the next day through the Rock Pile!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Swansboro - At anchor

We just wanted a quiet anchorage - oh, a party!
We were the last ones to leave the anchorage, we just like to take it slow in the morning. As it worked out, we passed almost all of the boats that left ahead of us on the way to Swansboro, NC anyway. So leaving at 9:00, we reached Swansboro by 2:00 pm. Many of the boats kept on going but we were comfortable with our schedule and stopped at 2:00.

If you drag, you'll get a chance to inspect this bridge up close!
The Swansboro anchorage is a place where you have to have faith in your ground tackle. There is a low bridge just to the northeast of the anchorage that will catch your boat if you drag. It's rather intimating for first time boaters who anchor here. However, the holding is good and we've never had a problem. The good thing about the anchorage is the free dinghy dock for Hoolie relief provided by the town. We anchor right by it for quick service.

Lot of these around, why stand on the platform??
As luck would have it, Swansboro was having its annual Mullet Festival - of all things! The place was packed. I don't even know what a mullet is - I've certainly never had one. With that the dinghy dock was full of boats that weren't dinghies but we squeezed in. We're due to be serenaded until 10:30 tonight if they quit on schedule.

On Sunday we're headed for Harbor Village Marina, a place we've never been. Our usual stop at Surf City folded and is out of  business so we found a marina just a little further along. We have to contend with the bridge by Surf City that only opens once per hour, ugh!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cedar Creek - at anchor

There are shrimp boats in the creek where we're anchored
We were in no great hurry this morning as we only had 31 miles to go, a 4.5 hour run at most. It was perfectly still and we weighed anchor around 9:00 and started south again. The anchorage at the Zeisings is still little used by boaters so I made another entry into Active Captain with the waypoints for entry to make it simpler.

Sitting on the back of the boat - watching the sun go down with a drink in hand - what a life!
I don't know whether we happen to be in the midst of some flotilla headed south or there's really more boats going down the ICW than the last two years. There are 12 boats in the anchorage and in previous years we've only shared it with a couple. However, there's lots of room, the anchorage could handle 50 boats easily. The depth is 6 to 7 ft, no problem for our 4' 9" draft. There is a nearby beach that Hoolie likes which is another requirement for any stop by us on the ICW. The repair on the dinghy with two part adhesive appears to be holding up so I'm hopeful it's finally fixed.

I've added a few more things to consider going south on the Page "ICW - Some Tips". One is how to prevent the occurrence of the "ICW Mustache" on the bow, a fix I just discovered this year and a few additional hints.

On Sunday we're headed to Swansboro for the anchorage there. It's right in front of a low bridge so you'd better have confidence in your ground tackle.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Zeising Anchorage - at anchor

Good winds!
We left Pamlico Plantation heading east and found a 10 to 15 kt wind off the port forward quarter, perfect for making time to our next anchorage. With that luck, we sailed about 3/4 of the way and only had to motor the last few miles into the anchorage. Wind power is a lot cheaper than diesel!

Zeisings' House on the ICW - Hoolie loves it!
The official name of the anchorage is the "Lower Spring Creek" anchorage. It lies right in front of Bill and Pat's house on the ICW. They are away for a week or so in Europe but they let us use their dinghy dock for Hoolie relief and even gave us homemade crab cakes!! Pat catches the crabs off her dock and prepares the crab cakes with no fillers, just crab meat, nothing else! Boy are they good!

After days of gray clouds, a beautiful sunset!
I don't know why more people don't use this anchorage. It's perfectly protected from all points of the compass except the east and tonight there's no wind from any direction. The charts don't show enough depth for sailboats but the charts are wrong. I sounded out the entire area and there's plenty of depth if you know the way in (average of 7 to 8 ft) - which I posted on Active Captain.

We're off to Adams Creek tomorrow, crossing the Neuse River with favorable winds per the prediction. We'll anchor out again with a nearby beach for Hoolie.