Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Swansboro - at anchor

Nice seeing the sun after yesterday

North Carolina has two very annoying bridges. The two only open once per hour so if you miss the opening by just a few minutes, you have to wait around for a long time. It plays havoc with your scheduling. On top of that, another bridge that was supposed to open on the hour and 1/2 hour was down for maintenance and only opened on top of the hour - more delays!

The dinghy dock is right next door, very convenient
I supposed we should be lucky that Cape Lejeune, a marine training area on the ICW, did not have live ammunition practice today so the ICW which goes through their area was open. Nor did we have any thunderstorms today or rain of any type, much more pleasant without the rain!

You can see how close we are to town
We rolled into Swansboro around 2:30 and dropped the hook. The town has an excellent anchorage and a dinghy dock for taking pets ashore. Looking at the diesel I discovered a seepage near the fuel injectors that I need to look into. I called my expert in Connecticut, Brian McDonnell of McDonnell Marine with the result that I'll take a photo tomorrow before wiping off any seepage so Brian can see the problem first hand. There's nothing that Brian doesn't know about Volvo engines, he's the Northeast Dealer for Volvo and does all their warranty work.

All the storms have passed us by and it's perfectly calm now. Our next stop is at the Cedar Creek anchorage and then on to the anchorage out in front of the Zeisings. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Good protection, nice fuel dock and the only stop near here since Surf City closed its marina

We awoke to the sound of a heavy rain on Fleetwing, this is not good we thought. We really didn't want to burn another layover day since we knew we would need them on the trip up the New Jersey coast. We used up a whole week last year waiting for weather for the outside trip. Looking at the radar, it appeared that we would get rain in the morning but that it would clear in a couple of hours. Based on that belief, we headed out in the light rain - boy, were we ever wrong!

Entering Cape Fear river, we had the tide with us for a combined speed of a little over 10 kts! If you don't hit it right, the river can flow out at speeds of up to 4 kts! However, we had planned ahead and timed out passage with the tide. The rain subsided somewhat as we made our way up the channel.

At least they have floating docks - narrow getting in though
In the river there's a narrow passage between the river and the ICW cut to the coast. It's only about 200 ft wide with shallows on either side. Well, that's where the heavens opened up! Thunder and lightening commenced and visibility was cut to 50 yrds or so. We couldn't even see the next mark. Luckily, the chartplotter still had our crumb trail from the fall stored and displayed on the chart so we just followed the path we had taken in the fall which we knew was good. Thank goodness for modern technology! The heavy rains and limited visibility continued for over an hour and now the windows in the cockpit were fogged in from all the humidity. Ann wiped the windows every few minutes and we finally resorted to unzipping the top window so I could see out - which let in a lot of cold air (low 70's, burrrr).

After forever, the rain finally stopped and I wiped everything down, opened up the cockpit and we could see. We were never in peril but it was disconcerting not being able to see along with the thunder and lightening even though we had the radar going and the chartplotter for navigation. I found about 2 inches of rainwater in the dinghy that I pumped out while waiting for the Wrightsville Bridge which only opens once an hour, talk about inconvenient! Now we're safely at a dock in Harbor Village Marina. another condo complex but it can't hold a candle to the one we just left, St James Plantation Marina. Still, any port in a storm...

We'll be anchoring out now for the next six days, reaching the Zeisings on Thursday as planned if the weather holds. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock

Do NOT stray out of the channel!!  There's more ledges just under the surface.
We left Barefoot Landing Marina with some trepidation, as always, since from there we enter the Rock Pile. It a section of the ICW where the original construction teams that dredged the ICW route ran into rock ledge. It was unexpected and very time consuming. They were still expected to meet their target costs so they compensated by making this section of the ICW relatively narrow. It's deep enough in the middle but if you stray to either side, you encounter very unforgiving rock ledge. There are many stories of boats that moved slightly to one side or the other to avoid oncoming boat traffic with disastrous results. The rock ledge takes out props very easily on power boats without a keel.

Ann does all the piloting now when coming into a marina (which leaves me on the bow to take photos like this)
So when we were about to enter the Rock Pile, Ann called ahead and announced our entry and asked for any comebacks on other boats also about to enter from the north. Receiving no replies, we proceeded north. It appears that most boats no longer announce their intention on entering the Rock Pile, too bad, it was a good practice, especially if there's a commercial vessel coming in the opposite direction. They easily take up the entire width of the channel!

We're at the left on a face dock
At any rate, we encountered no other boats coming in the opposite direction. The rock ledges on either side were most intimidating! We made it through two very shallow places but with having 5 ft of tide under us, they were no problem - but they kept the adrenal level high nevertheless.

We are now in the St. James Plantation Marina which is part of a 6000 acre, 2000 home development. The area is absolutely first rate. The homes are immaculate in design and plantings. I can see why it attracts people but we're not interested - we like our Fleetwing too much. We plan on leaving Monday morning but the forecast is not good. There is rain predicted all day long with 100% certainty. If the forecast holds true, we'll delay a day and leave on Tuesday instead which is supposed to get clear. If we delay, they our trip north will also be delayed day for day so stay tuned.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Barefoot Landing - Last day

Barefoot Landing is one long dock - very long!
There is a Walmart about 3 miles south of here that the marina will take you to if you ask. So we scheduled a visit and had a long list of things we needed. Going north from here there is not much shopping available until we reach Hampton so we needed to provision for the trip until then. As it turned out, the Walmart proved excellent in selection and pricing so I bought more than I originally intended. We will certainly not be deficient in wine or Pepsi. We already had a freezer full of meat so that was not a priority.

The grilling area in Greg Norman's restaurant - the timing is down to a science
The morning was spent in shopping in the outlet stores and some good values can be found if you're patient. Later, I filled the forward 90 gallon water tank (we still had 60 gallons in the aft tank) so we don't pay much attention to water usage.

Right along the dockage area is Greg Norman's Australian Grill restaurant. He used to live in the area and started the restaurant way back then. It specializes in steaks and we've found the steaks to be outstanding. We always make a point of stopping by on the way north or south, we've never been disappointed.

Sunday morning we'll head out for St. James Plantation marina. The docks are for condo owners but there's always a few open for transients like us. It has 360 degree protections and is always perfectly calm, ideal for a stopover.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Barefoot Landing - A visit from the Martins

The wildlife in the area is very used to humans - they don't fly away
The boat had not been washed for several weeks so it was greatly overdue, plus we had visitors in the afternoon and we wanted Fleetwing to look ship-shape. The anti-ICW mustache treatment (two coats of Fleetwax) is gradually wearing off after 8 months of motoring up and down the ICW but it has held up pretty well until now. So a treatment of On/Off on the back got rid of that brown stain and a regular wash of the topsides finished the job (a Sharman 3 or 4 rating out of 10 I would imagine...) Fleetwing hasn't looked this good since Key West.

Hoolie is always the center of attention when we go out walking
Walking Hoolie always results in admirers gathering to pet him. When we visit places we've been before, the comments run, "Oh I remember now, you're the couple with the Brittany" We feel second fiddle. Hoolie is more memorable than we are!

On another note, when we met the couple many years ago who owned the previous boat we had, the first Fleetwing, a 38 foot Ericson sailboat, the standing joke was, "What are you having for dinner?" The reply from the previous Ericson owner's wife was , "Reservations!" The conversation with Dan Martin and his wife turned to what we typically had for dinner. We have a freezer the equal of what we have at home but the refrigerator is much smaller. Ann enjoys cooking a fine meal and I enjoy eating it!

I walked within a foot of these two - no flinching at all
Ann is a fan of Jacques Pepin and his two best sellers, "Fast Food My Way" and the sequel "More Fast Food My Way" The recipes are relatively short but always tasty - I love everything Ann cooks from the books. As a supplement, she also uses "Cooking Light" which has a monthly magazine format. As a backstop, she uses "The Essential Pepin" which has hundreds of recipes. With those resources, she puts out fantastic meals from the galley that includes a three burner, propane stove and an oven. A microwave supplements the cooking requirements (usually rice) and an ample supply of spices.

Typical meal prepared by Ann for the Captain 
For example, for dinner tonight Ann prepared Panko-Crusted Cod with Tomato-Basil Relish from Cooking Light. We had green beans on the side along with a potato salad with red wine vinegar, parsley and red pepper. When we eat in, most meals are like this, it's better than I can get at most restaurants. We had fresh grouper the other night and a fish sandwich with all the fixings the night before, great eating.

We'll be here one more day and see if we can stock up on some bargains before heading north again on Sunday through the Rock Pile.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Barefoot Landing at Myrtle Beach - at a dock

Along the Waccamaw River
We've really had some great traveling days and today was no different. Georgetown is next to the Waccamaw River which is the way to Barefoot Landing. It is a tidal river and you do not want to try going north on a drain tide when the current can reach 2 kts! As luck would have it (since we didn't plan it this way), our departure time out of Georgetown coincided with max flood of the Waccamaw River! As anyone knows who have sailed on the Hudson River, you can carry a flood tide all the way home when going north. Likewise for us, we had a flood tide behind us all 42 miles to Barefoot Landing. The extra knot or 1.5 knots makes a big difference in arrival time (as opposed to 1.5 to 2.0 knots against you on an ebb tide).

We saw this girl paddleboarding! Now this area has lots of alligators, I wouldn't want to fall in - or be anywhere near
As I've said before, this part of the ICW is right up there as one of the most scenic. We passed osprey nests where we could see their young peeking over the edge. There were turtles and all kinds of birds. It was a cypress swamp much of the way. The one thing we didn't see were alligators - but we know they are there, we saw them just off the ICW at the rice plantation we visited the last time we came south.

Just standing on the bow - taking in the views
We met up with Marty Silverstein, he's at Barefoot Landing for the night. He has a crew he met off Sailnet and the four of them are headed outside as much as possible, depending upon the weather. For us, we'll stay inside until Cape May. The last we heard, John Kwak was still in Charleston looking for crew - but he may have moved north by now, we lost touch when we left Charleston.

Onward to Barefoot Landing - wonder what's hiding on the sides...
Barefoot Landing is a great collection of shops, restaurants, theaters and just relaxing walking around that we always enjoy. We'll stay here for three days before moving on north again.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Georgetown - at a dock

A fresh fish market in town, great fish

We had a nice ride to Georgetown. The night had been calm and we started out with a high tide to help us through the shallows. As it turned out, we probably could have made it through yesterday afternoon but then we're in no particular hurry anyway so we enjoyed the anchorage and the rest.

Shrimp boats operate out of Georgetown - so it's fresh!
Since we had a high tide in the morning, I had to take Hoolie out the mouth of the anchorage to a shell bank by the ICW to gain dry ground for Hoolie relief. It was no big deal since I can plane with just Hoolie and myself on board, about 13 kts - a short ride at that speed.

Coming into Georgetown we took on fuel and took a walk along Harborwalk and found a seafood market where Ann picked up a fillet of Grouper for dinner. There are shrimp boats that operate out of Georgetown and they had an ample supply of shrimp but we were in the market for fish that tonight - but I would recommend it to any and all cruisers, the shrimp is guaranteed fresh!

Quiz - what are those dual propellers for??

Part of the fun of cruising is meeting people along the way and several stopped to talk to us as we were tied up. Unfortunately we didn't get their names or phone numbers but we gave them our boat card for future communication.

Shades of Key West - free running roosters!
On Thursday we're headed north to Barefoot Landing, one of our favorite places to stop along the ICW. We have mail waiting for us there and we'll be meeting a friend and his wife for the first time on Friday who have followed our blog for a year or so but we've never met. Part of the fun of traveling the ICW is meeting new people who share in the excitement of boating!  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Awendar - at anchor - we hit bottom!

See the moon (upper right). It looks like we're in the middle of the ocean but it's an inlet
The winds finally subsided and full sun was predicted for the day so we set out from Charleston. Ann has been spending a lot of time a the helm when coming and leaving docks. There's only so much you can learn from discussions, you need to get a feel for the boat and how it responds with various shades of current and wind. This morning we had  2.5 kt current from the aft and a 10 kt wind at almost the same angle. We had a relatively narrow opening to exit the marina and limited space for any turnaround maneuver. So I cast off and held the forward line until the aft of the boat swung out into the current and hopped aboard. Ann backed it out the marina entrance and we were off, she did well!

The section of the ICW from Charleston to Georgetown is one of the most shallow areas of the ICW. It is a requirement that you transit at near high tide unless you enjoy white knuckle adventures. So while I was tooling along with a falling tide and near one of the many inlets, I was swept towards the ocean side (green side) and ran aground. Looking at the chart, I was only about 35 ft to the green side of the ICW recommended route line but that was enough to find a 4 ft shoal even with a 3 ft tide! Luckily, I was able to back off and swing over to the red side for deeper water. Now, fully alert, I paid better attention to the currents near openings in the ICW channel and stayed in the middle with no further incidents. Even so, I was on a falling tide and didn't want to test the second half of the shallow passage to Georgetown so we anchored at Awendar for the night.

End of the day, nice!
Yesterday we had chicken wings as an appetizer and Ann dropped one in the cockpit. Quicker than a flash, Hoolie scooped it up and gulped it down. Ann tried to find it in his throat with her fingers but Hoolie had already swallowed it whole. Now chicken bones are not good for a dog, they can splinter and cause problems so we're watching Hoolie carefully over the next few days. So far, so good.

We'll leave Wednesday morning at high tide to take the teeth out of the shallows north of us and come into
Georgetown. This area is not good for inland anchorages, it's alligator country. We're okay here since we're so close to the ocean but along the ICW further inland, it problematical. It wouldn't be a problem if you didn't have to go ashore but as you know, we must.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Charleston Maritime Center - We survive 35 kt winds!

At last the sun! The main bridge into Charleston
This marina has many advantages with Harris Tetter being so close by as well as an Ace hardware store and within a short walk to a free trolley for access to all of Charleston. However, being protected from wind and waves from 35 kt winds out of the east is not one of the assets! It was rock and roll all day long and much of the night. Once the winds drop below 20 kts, it's as good a marina as any in the area. The morning dawned grey and overcast with 20 kt winds but gradually the winds abated and the sun appeared. Ann treated us to a harbor tour on a large boat moored right behind us and as we boarded, the sun came out and warmed everyone up!

This is where the Civil War started, Fort Sumter
I'm in the throes of replacing the shower head in the forehead. You would think that would be a simple task but nothing is simple on a sailboat, especially one made to French specs even though the one I own was made in South Carolina. I turns out that the shower connections are metric and I can find no adaptors after visits to a plumbing supply hour and two, large department stores! In frustration, I just screwed an english connection into a metric one (only part-way, it wouldn't screw in all the way) and wrapped the result with tape. It sort of works, good enough until I get the proper fittings. It's a boat fix.

Sailboats, always sailboats around here.  USS Yorktown is in the background
The wind has died down to only 10 kts and it feels like there's no wi nd at all. We'll start out for the Awendaw anchorage in the morning for an overnight stop and then on to Georgetown. You have to watch where you anchor along here, it's thick with alligators. Usually an inlet with the added salt water is safe enough.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Charleston Maritime Center - 36 kt winds today!!

No matter how you take the photo, it never looks as bad as it actually is! 
The storms were not so bad but what we were not prepared for was the back side of the front with gusts reaching 36 kts! The winds blew steady today at 30 kts without interruption. Now, the difference between 15 kts and 30 kits is huge! The pressure generated on the boat is proportional to the square of the wind speed. So 30 kts is four times more pressure on a boat than 15 kits. In fact, whenever the wind lulled to 20 kts for a brief time, it felt like there was no wind at all. It's currently blowing 20 kts and it feels like the wind has died.. 30 kts is a whole nother range. This was race weekend and some of the boats had to return to port so their captains could go to work on Monday (work? what's that?) I took a video of a trail of boats being pulled out of the harbor, they couldn't leave under their own power. Winds were still in the 30 kt range with plenty of whitecaps.

So we mostly sat in the boat all day, bouncing around as the 35 kt generated waves rolled into the marina, not very comfortable. This marina is exposed to the east winds. What we should have done is move to a marina on the other side of the bay where the wind has to come across land first before reaching us and where there's no wave action generated by the wind. Live and learn.

We are safely tied up here and the marina personnel helped us tie an additional line across the slip to the opposite side  to help keep us off the dock where we were being pushed into by the wind. The two 18 inch ball fenders are a big help in situations like this, some added security.

The forecast for Monday is not so good. Winds are still predicted to be in the 20's although not as bad as today (30 to 35!). We have to pass through the Ben Sawyer bridge which will not open if winds are above 25 kts. So we'll take Monday carefully and it looks like we'll be staying an extra day for the winds to die off some and leave on Tuesday instead of our planned Monday departure. That would put us in  Barefoot Landing on Thursday afternoon instead of Wednesday. Oh well, the weather is never a certainty.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Charleston Maritime Center - we weather the storm

Looks like a wedding, the main office is in the building to the right
We had a severe thunderstorm come through last night with the cold front with winds up to 33 kts and the temperature this morning was only 58! It didn't even reach 70 today, cold, cold, cold! We've been advised by the usual ICW crowd that we're about one month ahead of the snowbirds heading back north. They wait for warmer weather before starting the return trip. However, we're committed now and barring any long term wait for weather, we should be home in time for the Anchors Aweigh Ball at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. We missed the event last year by one day;.

Once it warmed up into the 60's, we walked into town to explore the artisan shops in the main street mall. A resident can rent a booth in one of three, long buildings and sell their wares. It makes for  an interesting mix of offerings. You get jewelry, spices, hand woven baskets, beads and many, many items too numerous to mention.

The current can run 2.5 kts through here, notice the fender I have out - the fuel dock is next door...
One of the main attractions of the Maritime Center is the nearby Harris Tetter supermarket which also sports a Redbox kiosk. So we've been renting movies and catching up on what's been playing recently. At $1.30 per DVD, it's very inexpensive. Unfortunately, we hit some real bummers the last two night, perhaps tonight will be better! We did call John Kwak who's up the river a ways. He's not sure when he'll be leaving. We're due to shove off on Monday for the Awendar Creek anchorage. It's out in the middle of nowhere but we've been there before and enjoy the scenery.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Charleston Maritime Center - at a dock

Threading our way though 
We passed successfully through some one the shallowest water yet on our trip north but since we timed our passage with a high tide, it was no problem. Plan ahead I always say (somehow I didn't do that last year..., I'm trying to be better). Going at high tide means the difference between 4ft at some spots vs 11 ft! The tides in this area are much greater than you might think.

No quarter given to the high winds, everything up!
Coming into Charleston harbor, we were met by hundreds of boats. It turns out this is the weekend for Race Week and although the winds were in the 20 kt and higher range, everybody was out practicing. We had to turn the corner to go north to our marina and skimmed over shallows to avoid the racers. I had one eye on the depth meter and one on the boats but finally made the turn.

We were due to dock at the city marina but I thought I'd call the Maritime Center just in case they had a cancellation - and they did! We are now docked where we wanted to be and provisioned at the nearby Harris Tetter, one of our favorite supermarkets before the storm line came. We are under a severe thunderstorm watch and on the radar we can see the approaching line storm, very impressive with a lot of red.

We'll be here for three days  before moving on north again.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Steamboat Creek - at anchor

This anchorage is know by cruisers as the one by the "Octagon house", unique
We decided to do a 54 mile run today since the day was fair and the tides would all be in our favor. We would go over the shallow spots with a rising tide around 4 to 5 ft, that's an important advantage in this part of the ICW where the low tide can reach less than 5 ft! With the rising tide, we had no problems! 

Sunset, stark and pretty
The temperature gauge continued to behave so I'm certain that it was just a faulty ground connection to the engine that was the source of all our problems in high heat for the last 12 months. Now we're moving on to other problems (there are always problems to solve on a boat!). We haven't run the new genset for several days, it will get the next test Friday morning after a night on the hook. 

We're due to arrive in Charleston Friday afternoon and we'll stay for three days before moving on north. We can't stay at our favorite marina due it being "Race Week" of all things. We're familiar with such events from Block Island and we're told that the Charleston event is just as big. We're also due for a severe temperature drop with the high only being 60 on Saturday with lots of rain, oh well, at least it will warm back up by mid week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hilton Head Marina - at a dock

Casting for shrimp - quite an art form, to do it right

It was a joy to watch the temperature gauge in the cockpit stay right where it's supposed to, at 185F! I'm sure it's hard for those who do not spend a lot of time on their boats to appreciate the satisfaction of that but it's a relief for me!

We usually get 20 to 30 channels of TV but on nights when there's nothing on that we want to watch, we revert to TV miseries. They offer a lot of viewing time for not much money and so far we've seen Pillars of theEarth and 3/4 of the Rome series by HBO. They are much more cost effective than a movie and are done just as good. We are currently in Rome II and where Antony just entered Egypt and met Cleopatra. We have a DVD player connected to our 32 inch LED LCD TV which is the equal of our setup at home.

Sunset at Hilton Head
Meanwhile, we're making our way north and we are currently at Hilton Head. We're aiming for a long day on Thursday to reach the Steamboat Creek anchorage by late afternoon, about 54 miles away. We'll pass through some of the shallowest water on the ICW along the way so wish us luck. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Savannah at Hinckley - a nice sail

Three dogs on board! 

Today was a day of revelation. For the past year I've been fighting what I thought was a higher than normal temperature of the engine. Last year, as readers of the blog recall, I has the engine descaled, the heat exchanger removed and cleaned, the thermostat replaced, the temperature meter replaced (in the cockpit), the temperature sending unit replace (on the engine) and new antifreeze put in. When in Key West later that year, I also replaced the exhaust elbow which had one of its two ports clogged. All this seemed to help but did not return the operating temperature to what I remember when the boat was new, around 185F when under load.

Emma Rose's first turn at the wheel
In discussing this with Bob, the Hinckley mechanic, he put an IR meter on the engine as we ran it at the dock at 1800 rpm (securely tied down) with the result that the temperature gauge in the cockpit read higher than the IR meter Bob had directed it on the engine at the point where the temperature sending unit was located. Furthermore, it was sensitive to changing the rpm, the gauge would vary almost immediately as the rpm was changed. Bob suspected a bad ground and so I checked the main ground to the engine and found that it could be easily turned with the wrench, not good!

Hoolie's in the dog house, he left the boat to explore the countryside - not appreciated! He was caught and put downstairs alone...
So I took everything off the engine ground, sanded all surfaces and put it back together with a much more tightened nut. We took the boat out for a spin this afternoon with the result that the gauge never read higher than 185F! That was a great relief! Now I can motor north with a peaceful mind and not have to worry about over temperature readings from the cockpit gauge. Through all of this the backup alarm never went off which operates off a bimetallic strip which is independent of any ground resistance changes. Getting all that behind us is a great relief. Now I can worry about other things.... 

Hinckley's travellift operates by remote control - the guy in the orange shirt is driving it
Lee and Emma Rose left today after a wonderful sail. We had blue skies, 10 to 12 kt winds and no wave action, a great introduction to sailing for the first time. So now Fleetwing is once again empty as we head north again on Wednesday, arriving in Charleston on Friday. We'll be at the city docks this time since our first choice is full due to Race Week at Charleston, groan!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Savannah - Hinckley Yacht Services

All lined up for racing!
I've known Lee Fry since we first met at OTS (Officer Training School) for the Air Force in Lackland, Texas. We've been out touch for years but we occasionally get together during one of our trips up and down the ICW, usually at Savannah. Fleetwing gained two more dogs for the night since Lee brought his two along with him. Everybody seemed to make friends okay with two up in the cockpit in cages for the night and Hoolie down in the main cabin. Peaceable kingdom.

So we went out tonight to a well known restaurant in Savannah, Tubby's Tank House. They specialize in seafood where they have their own supply. It's a great place nearby for good seafood. We plan on taking everyone out in the morning for a ride on Fleetwing, hopefully there'll be some wind although none is predicted.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Savannah at Hinckley Yacht Service

A nice sunrise in a deserted anchorage

There was rain and thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon so we got up in good season and off the anchor by 8:30, early for us and in the process saw a sunrise. The night was absolutely still and the stars were out in force since there were no nearby towns to light up the sky. Our new genset started up on time and we appreciated the convenience of the new power supply.

The winds died off later in the day and the trip to Savannah was a welcomed calm ride. Even Hell Gate was calm and no problem. All the trips through the shallow spots were with a 6 ft tide so there was no anxiety at all! Usually we hit those spots at dead low! 

Hinckley's docks are not fancy, they are noted for their excellent repair services
We're meeting up with Lee Fry and his wife Emma Rose on Monday afternoon. We first met Lee out in Colorado when we were 2nd Lieutenants in the Air Force, so long ago and yet not so far ago in memories. We'll have some catching up to do and Hoolie will have some playmates, Lee's bringing his dogs so Hoolie will have company!

Coming into the dock here, there was nobody to help us since Hinckley has nobody around during the weekend. Ann manned the helm as we slipped in with a following tide to an inside dock, she can maneuver Fleetwing like an expert now - nothing like experience. We'll be here until Wednesday morning when we'll head out for Charleston.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wahoo River Anchorage - at anchor

Nothing is quite so beautiful as a sunset in an isolated anchorage on the ICW
We had to cover 50 miles today so up early we were. The trip out of the Jekyll anchorage is always an adventure since the water is only 5 to 6 ft deep at low tide. However, we left with a 2.5 ft tide in our favor so we had room to spare. You have to get used to shallow water if you go down the ICW!

The water was flat and the trip uneventful, even the passage through Mud River since we passed through with a 6.5 ft high tide! We could have floated over land that was dry during a low tide! Still, you have to watch what you were about, the channel is narrow, even at high tide.

We are now in one of the most isolated anchorages on the ICW. There is nothing around us but a couple of other boats. No buildings of any kind, no houses, nothing. With no sources of light, I'm looking forward to seeing the stars tonight if it's not too hazy. Sitting on the  back of the boat, it's anchorages like this that really make the ICW so attractive! We love it!

On Sunday we're headed for Savannah and the Hinckley Yacht Services yard where we have reservations for the next three days. We'll meet up with friends we've known since our days in Colorado when I was a Captain in the Air Force right out of college. Talk about memories!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The shores are shallow, requiring a loooong walkway to dry land - Hoolie relief

Around 2:30 am last night we noticed the boat was in an odd direction relative to the wind and waves. Going up on deck I discovered that the mooring line was hung up on the keel resulting in the boat being sideways to the current. With storms predicted for later in the night, this was not good. So I got Ann up and she went to the helm with the intention of me letting go of the mooring and then picking it up again - in the dark, not something to look forward to. As it turned out, when I released tension on the mooring line, the mooring ball popped out and the boat was free of the entanglement, whew! I then shortened up on the length of the mooring line and secured it with lines leading to both forward cleats (I had only put on line on the mooring ball initially). We were okay for the rest of the night, such excitement we really didn't need.

There were thunderstorms predicted for this afternoon and high winds so we left at 7:30 for Jekyll Island anchorage. On the way north, there's one spot where you have to go out an inlet and make a right angle turn back in to avoid shallows. It has always been exposed to wind and waves which can make the passage very difficult. There's always a current unless you happen to hit it at slack tide and with the rollers coming in from the ocean, it makes for steep, blocky waves, very bouncy.

Inbetween storms, the sun popped out for a  brief sunset
However, this morning we timed it just right and made the turn before the wind and waves kicked up. Soon after we got in and anchored, the wind increased to 20 to 25 kts but we were secure and comfortable behind an arm of land between us and the wind. We had known the wind direction for the afternoon and picked our anchorage for the best protection from that direction, it pays to plan ahead.

On Saturday we're headed for the Wahoo River anchorage before heading to Savannah the next day. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fernandina - last day

One of Ann's favorite trees...
I started the genset up this morning and I was somewhat concerned that it didn't start instantly but took a couple of seconds, but it did start up. The controller is fully automatic, you just push the start button and it feeds the starting sequence to the genst, three times if needed. You don't have to hold it down to start like on the Panda, it's all automatic. If it doesn't start after three tries (via one push of the start button), then you get an error code to call the nearest Kohler technician. So far, so good.

Ann's new haircut
Ann had wanted to get her hair done for the past two weeks but couldn't find a suitable place but she found one on main street, Magna's Full Body Salon.  It was a great place and Ann's very pleased with the results. She just had a haircut, not a perm or anything else.

They like their dogs here, even a bakery just for them
We have storms coming through tonight and will be looked carefully at the radar on the internet to see how the situation will be in the morning. There's a passage we have to make which requires going quite a ways out  an inlet and then making a right angle turn back to land (to avoid shallows if you took a direct route). That turn can be very challenging in high seas, especially with winds against tide. You really do want relatively calm seas for that part of the passage, we'll look at that in the morning (toss chicken bones, we don't have any entrails available, dice perhaps or listen to the Morning Lies....) All this is so scientific, how can we go wrong?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fernandina - at a mooring

To transport a sailboat, you need one of these, brightly lit!
Today was a day of shallows. There are lots of opportunities to run aground between Jacksonville and Fernandina but we didn't take advantage of any of the opportunities! We followed the advice of others before us on Active Captain and knew where the deep water was. If there's just one thing you do going down the ICW, be sure to read the Active Captain hazards for your area!

Typical southern home in Fernandina - dating from 1860
Coming into Fernandina we called for a mooring but was told there were none available. That was a surprise! We never had that problem in the past but then we've always been a little earlier. It seems that we're not ahead of the crowd going north but rather right in the middle of it. Although the moorings are gone, there's lots of room on the docks but they want too much as far as we're concerned. Later on we were able to get a mooring when one boat didn't show up.

So it's a calm night and we're sitting on the back of the boat watching the sunset and will spend Thursday just resting up and exploring Fernandina before heading out again on Friday, tough life.

PS, we don't need the genset tonight, we'll start it up Thursday morning.