Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Charleston Maritime Center - Laundry and provisioning

My favorite sculpture on the ICW - a flock of birds taking flight
This is our last day here so we had to get ready to move which included laundry and provisioning. The marina here has two brand new washers and two dryers, both are commercial grade and very large. Best of all, they are free to transients at the marina!

Beware of the octopus in the children's playground
We walked the two blocks to Harris Teeter, Ann's favorite supermarket on the ICW, to stock up with supplies until we reach Beaufort, NC. I was going to change the oil on the genset until I realized I didn't have the required oil filter! It was a rather obvious thing to do, to check to be sure you have a filter before planning to change the oil - but I forgot to do that. Oh well, it will wait until another day...

Ready to go!
Wednesday we are headed through a bunch of very shallow areas on a falling tide, not the best strategy but it ought to be good enough to get through Isle of Palms. We will have about two feet of tide and it should be enough, I think. To add to the confusion, SonarChart on Navionics decided to stop working. They are aware of the problem and are working on it but until they fix it, I do not have SonarCharts of the Isle of Palms and McClellanville, the two worst stretches of the ICW. However, I do have Aqua Map USACE survey charts and I'll use them in the meantime. A further complication is the opening schedule of the Ben Sawyer bridge. They do not open between 7:00 am and 9:00 am during the week so we are aiming for the 9:00 opening which puts us on a falling tide. We would have much preferred an earlier pass thorugh the bridge but it was not to be. It should be fun through the Isle of Palms on a falling tide!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Charleston Maritime Center - Hyman's and Apple Store

Rosie Phillips has a great art exhibit at a local gallery, nicely done
The art gallery is Studio 151
I had a 10:00 am an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar concerning the inability of my iPad Pro to maintain a GPS fix. My older iPad Air 2 worked fine, it was the newer iPad Pro that had the problem. After some research by the tech, it turned out that they knew about the problem was in the process of implementing a fix. I was offered a replacement iPad Pro but I'll wait until I know the gps chip has been replaced in the new unit.

How many restaurants have you been to where one of the owners comes by each and every table to thank the patrons?
At Hyman's, they do that every day.
That was progress of a sort I guess. We then headed to Hyman's Seafood for lunch which is would always recommend to visiting boaters. Sure, it's touristy but so what, it's good food at a reasonable price. I knew the regular meals were gargantuan so we just ordered appetizers. one of their signature Shrimp and Grits and one of their crab cakes. It was plenty for us for lunch. I liked the boiled peanuts served on every table and don't miss the hush puppies.

Each table has a plaque at each position
One of the reasons we like this marina is the closeness of downtown. It's only three blocks away and even closer is a Harris Teeter and a Hardware store which had the 15W-40 diesel oil I needed for my genset oil change. In addition to the best selection of groceries on the east coast are two kiosks of Redbox movie rentals. They are much cheaper than streaming a movie ($1.80 vs $5 or $6) and the DVDs can be easily returned since the grocery store is so close by.

The walls are lined with photos like these
Tuesday is a day to provision and do laundry in preparation for a Wednesday departure to Isle of Palms. We will hit the shallows with a 3 ft falling tide. Not the best situation but good enough, we think.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Charleston Maritime Center - at a dock

You see a lot of these birdhouses for purple martins in the south,
they specialize in eating mosquitoes per their legend
Today we came through Fenwich Cit, Watts Cut, Dawho River, and Johns Island. All had been dredged in the past 12 months but some of them have already filled halfway in. The ICW never rests as far as shoaling does. In Fenwich Cut and Watts Cut, about half of the dredging removed was back in the channel. I'll give a full report on the Facebook page and in Waterway Guide. All of those areas have very loose type mud and it moves around. Evidently, digging a channel through loose mud doesn't last long. I produced and uploaded a route to get through all these trouble spots that are available for download.

So you wondered what's at the bottom of all those
crab pots? That's some anchor!
One of the sticky wickets along this route is the Wappoo Creek bridge which has the most convoluted opening schedule of any bridge on the ICW. You'll have to read it three times before it makes sense. However, on weekends, it's another story - it opens on demand, easy to understand. So with this being Sunday, we had no problems getting through.

Taken through the dodger, who had the right of way? They were zooming all over the place.
The Charleston Maritime Center is my favorite marina in Charleston. It's only three blocks from downtown Charleston and two blocks from a Harris Teeter supermarket, Ann's favorite food store. We will be here until Wednesday morning when we'll head north again. Meanwhile, Ann will explore all the shops in Charleston and I'll pay a visit to the Apple store to get my iPad Pro 12.9 fixed. It still keeps losing the gps fix which is terrible for a tablet that's supposed to replace a chartplotter!

He's actually on a hydrofoil!
The marina here is not full and is not very big. Perhaps the word has not gotten out that's it's an excellent value. The downside is the exposure to southeast winds which can cause a rocky time in the harbor but we don't mind, we like the pluses.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

B&B Seafood - at their dock with shrimp!

It's not much of a marina, only two slips - but oh the shrimp!
We went through Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff today. It had been dredged over the summer and I wanted to see how it was doing. I feared that it would return to its natural state - shoaled in. The dredged depth was to 12 feet MLLW but I only found 4.9 MLLW today, not encouraging at all for the future of dredging.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day for traveling with temperatures in the 70's with light breezes. Our goal was to reach B&B Seafood. It only had room for two boats at most and the price is right at $25/night, flat rate no matter the size of the boat. All that is fine but the real attraction is their fresh caught shrimp. I called ahead to be sure that they set aside a pound for our dinner, which they did. They were selling out fast. Ann made a wonderful dinner with the shrimp, Sweet Chili Garlic Shrimp.   It was great!

It's a one counter store - but nice
We are due in Charleston on Sunday for the next three days. Ann wants to shop and I want to get my iPad Pro fixed (it's losing the gps fix). We also plan on eating out at Hymans one night. This trip north has really been relaxing with the great weather and no drama action. I could do this a long time!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Windmill Harbour - layover day due to wind

It's a beautiful area!
There was supposed to be thunderstorms all day but we didn't even get rain. However, we did get the high winds so it's just as good that we stayed around inside. The weather is predicted to be perfect for the next week so we are staged well to make it north in good stead.

Ted was our host last time, so I thought I would include a photo of his house. He's in the Bahamas. 
There were a lot of things I wanted to get done today but the only thing I accomplished was the one chore lowest on my list - washing the boat. It's like mowing the lawn, no matter how many times you do it, you have to repeat it ad infinitum.
They have a classic boat show by the clubhouse

You have to watch the tides when you come in and out of Windmill Harbour. There is only 4.2 MLLW at the entrance. There's plenty in the marina but on the approach, it gets shallow. We will be leaving on a falling tide Saturday morning but not a drain tide (less than 0.0 MLLW) so we should be okay. Still, it's never fun to only have a couple of inches between your keel and mother earth.

They are very patient, waiting for fish
The high winds of today are due to subside by Saturday for our trip to B&B Seafood. Hopefully, they will have shrimp. The last time, the guy behind the counter had his own homemade boiled peanuts. They are nothing like the mush that passes for boiled peanuts at roadside stands. We will go through many of the traditional shallows at low tide but they've all been dredged so it should not be a problem. After B&B, it's Charleston!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Windmill Harbour on Hilton Head - at a dock

The South Carolina Yacht Club
We were packed in at Isle of Hope with not a lot of room to spare so we did our backing maneuver with a fender at the aft and a line tied from the aft cleat to the dock. Ann put Fleetrwing into reverse and the bow swung out nicely with the fender protecting the aft section. When the boat reached 30 degrees out, Ann put Fleetwing into forward and I let go of the line around the cleat. We left in style, no drama. This is a routine procedure, everyone on the ICW should know how to do it. It was another perfect day but the rains come Friday which caused us to head for Windmill Harbour for a layover day.

Lunch with the Commodore and friends 
We had lunch at the South Carolina Yacht Club with Jack Wuensch, the Commodore, and his guests. The lunch was very nice and the company was great. The yacht club is a first class club, the type of place that epitomizes what a yacht club should be. We are completely protected from all winds so we will be comfortable no matter what happens Friday.

Phil and Michelle for wine at 5:00
Phil and Michelle came over for wine at 5:00 and we chatted back and forth on our sailing experiences. You meet the nicest people along the waterway.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Isle of Hope in Savannah - at a dock

Isle of Hope Marina is literally right on the ICW, you can see the channel just beyond the docked boats
We left Kilkenny at 9:00 since we wanted the tide to build up at Hell Gate. I had mapped out a new route based on the recent USACE survey and wanted to try it out. In the fall, I had pretty much gone down the middle except for the dogleg near G89 which everybody already knows about. The main difference is in the southwestern part of the cut, the part you first go through when heading north. The modified route hugs the green edge of the channel (not the green markers, just the mapped edge of the channel).  So I lined up carefully and sped through. The shallowest part of the cut was after the entrance going north, 5 MLLW. It was deeper elsewhere. That's an improvement over my track last year where I found 3.5 MLLW.

I just marvel at these huge live oak trees. They are so different from what we see up north.
The USACE survey shows that route to be very narrow, just 20 ft off that track will cut 2 ft off the depth so you have to be careful but it's harder to do than you think. The wind is blowing, the current is raging and another boat is coming at you. Do you play chicken? Maybe he's following the same route but going in the other direction?! After all, it's published on my blog site.

The docks are floating concrete and they are very high, no step is needed to get off your boat
We had intended spending two days at Isle of Hope and meet up with friends in the area but then the weather forecast turned solemn with storms all day Friday. With that, we borrowed the courtesy car for groceries and did laundry (such excitement...) so we would be ready to leave Thursday for Windmill Harbor when we'll stay two days to wait out the coming storms. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock

Those amazing, long horizontal branches - you'd think they would break 
Crescent River is a great anchorage. There's lots of room and it has a nearby sandy beach for Hoolie. It's away from city lights so the night sky is something to behold. There are stars right down to the horizon, not a common sight anymore. There was only one other boat with us, a sailboat.

We didn't have any shallows today, just a few places where you had to watch what you were doing. My track is available for download which avoids the hazards. We just went to Kilkenny for the night and we're the only ones here. We like to stop here since it's an easy place to refuel.

A swing by the marina office, just for relaxing
This area used to be a plantation and they have enormous live oaks all around. To someone who grew up in the midwest, they look very strange. The limbs grow horizontally, more so than on any other type of tree. They were prized in colonial times for their strength in building boats. The wood is not suitable for furniture due to the confused grain that swirls. The structure adds strength and the wood was used for critical parts of early wooden warships. These trees survived the harvest. They are called "live oaks" since they do not lose their leaves in the winter time.

We will go through Hell Gate Wednesday and stay at Isle of Hope for two days to provision and do boat work. They have a courtesy car which we'll use for grocery shopping, convenient.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Crescent river - At anchor

It's a beautiful sight for a boater - a dredge in Jekyll Creek!
We went through lots of shallows today. Jekyll was less of a problem than I expected with MLLW depths of 6.5 ft before dredging. The dredge was by G11 but had not done much yet. I spoke to the captain and he related that they will work down to G20, about halfway to the southern bridge and then out to the northern entrance. We passed on the side with the black diamonds and within the red floating balls.

Hoolie looks longingly at his nightly beach time
Nothing had been done anywhere north of there so I followed my routes had loaded into GPX Routes and did fine although the depths dipped to 4.5 MLLW in places in Mud River. We had a 7 ft tide so it was no problem for us. The best water, such as it is, was very narrow!

In the background, you can see one of the many hammocks in the area.
There is only one other boat here tonight. We expected to see more boat traffic on such a beautiful day for traveling north, light winds and temps in the 70's - it will be a repeat on Tuesday and then it gets even warmer.

We have reservations at Kilkenny Tuesday night which will stage us for Hell Gate. We plan on going through with a 2 ft tide which ought to be enough, we hope.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Jekyll Island - at anchor

Fernandina - not done yet!
We waited an extra day to get the light winds and the weatherman came through, this time at least. It was a great day for traveling with temps in the 70's and full sun. There were no surprises through the shallow areas, I just followed the routes posted in bobicw.blogspot.com and the least I saw, in just one spot, was 7 MLLW briefly. It was a stress-free trip. Also, we didn't see any dredges today, not even in Sawpit Creek.

Nice access to shore behind the dinghy dock.
Anchoring was another matter. We had a west wind so it was pushing us out into the channel when anchoring on the west shore. We wound up pulling up anchor and re-anchoring further to the west to be sure we were out of the channel given the west wind. Windlasses are made for things like this, no big deal except for consuming time.

As I said before, nice dinghy dock
We plan on a late start, around 9:00, to get a 2 ft tide for Jekyll. It's not dredged all the way yet. We'll find out more on Monday when we pass through. Our next stop is Crescent River anchorage with a sandy beach for Hoolie.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - Still here

I just love these 65 ft bridges! It replaced a lift bridge last year at Sisters Creek.
I got up this morning and the first thing I looked at, as usual, was the weather report - particularly the wind prediction. The one I put the most credence in is PredictWind and it was projecting 15 to 20 kts winds with gusts to 30 out of the southwest. If you're running inside, it's no big deal but we would be passing through two inlets, one just north of Fernandina (on the nose) and St Andrews (on the nose too)  just south of Jekyll. Could we do it, sure, have we done it before, sure on that score too - but why? I like to enjoy our ride and we're not married to a schedule. A day or two here and there makes no difference in our getting north. We decided to wait a day and leave on Sunday instead with winds of 5 to 10 kts.

We are not as crowded tonight
After all, we were tied up to a free dock courtesy of Jacksonville, so we just relaxed. I changed the oil on the outboard and would have done the same on the genset except I didn't have enough oil!? Such is planning ahead on a boat, at least for me.

The harbormaster for the two docks came by to ask about a car that had been there for several weeks. We knew we had 72 hours allowed so I asked about the other dock facing Sisters Creek. He said there was a four hour limit on that dock since it's a launch area for fishing boats (that pay for the privilege) and just a few large boats would take up all the room. I couldn't find that rule posted anywhere but he did state it and it makes sense.

Time to walk Hoolie, calming down, finally
I don't know if you noticed or not but there is water on docks now. There are two faucets, one at each end. If you're in the middle, you will need a very long hose.  The wind is finally starting to calm down but it blew all day in the 20kt range. We plan on reaching the Jekyll anchorage Sunday night which has a dinghy dock for Hoolie.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - More boats, more rain and wind

It was a day for ducks!
We moved two more boats around to snug them up (like in Coinjock) to make room on the dock. It was a group effort by all those on the dock to help out boaters looking for a safe place before the front came through. We are now full although we are not rafted up yet.

It's full at the inn...There's water on the docks now at both ends of the dock (white pipes)
The front was predicted by all weather services but even so, there were still boats looking for a dock minutes before the storm. Didn't they look at a forecast? We saw winds to 42 kts when the front finally hit early afternoon. Some hail was predicted but we didn't see any, thank goodness - I link my enclosure!

Note the 72 hour maximum stay rule
Ann baked our Easter dinner tonight since we'll be on the move for the next several days. So we had a ham with all the trimmings, very nice. I think it will be ham sandwiches and other ham dishes for a while.

And, a sunset!
On Saturday, we are headed for Jekyll Creek and the anchorage there. We will be arriving on a drain tide with a west wind. The creek ought to be just about dry with all that but we'll have a high tide for the morning departure the next day. We expect to see a dredge there too.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - Sisters Creek

Substantial docks!
It was another easy day going north but that is not going to last. A rain front is due through on Friday so we sought out a secure stay for another day and settled on the Jacksonville Free Docks off of Sisters Creek. The docks are floating concrete and very substantial.

On the way, I used the Bob423 route for the exit of Pablo Creek into the St Johns River and found it to be deep and wide. One additional green buoy has been added to prevent you front taking a direct route between greens to the north and south of the new buoy, G5A. The route was perfect but with G5A in place, you could just follow the buoys and be fine too. When I ran the route in the fall, G5A was not there and I ran into a shoal by taking a direct route between the greens.

Almost a full moon, big tides and currents!
We arrived at the Jacksonville Free Docks by 1:00 pm and found a spot. Two powerboats came by later and wanted to tie up too but there was no room at first. However, by moving Fleetwing forward enough, it created enough room for a 50 ft boat behind us. Coming in to occupy that spot was not simple. Both the current and wind was pushing a boat wanting that slip off the dock. It took about six tried before they finally made a successful docking.

Now we are here for the next two days since Friday is predicted to be all rain with high winds, not good for being out on the ICW!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

St Augustine - Dinghy scraping, Outboard repair, We eat at OC Whites

Not fun! I've never seen it so thick!
The first order of business today was scraping the dinghy bottom to get rid of encrusted barnacles from sitting in the warm waters of Titusville for four months! We usually leave out dinghy in the water while we're away with no ill effects but not this time! We use Petit dinghy paint which is water based for compatibility with Hypalon and fiberglass bottoms. For the past eight years, it's been fine but this year it gave way to barnacles about an inch tall! That put one heck of a drag when towing it behind Fleetwing.

A close up of the technique for barnacle removal
St Augustine Marina has a very wide dock facing the bridge so we took advantage of the space to upend the dinghy for bottom access. I had visited an Ace hardware store in the morning and bought heavy duty which could be used with a hammer if needed. Well, I need that hammer, the barnacles are tenacious! They gave way but only after a couple of heavy licks with the hammer on the end of the scraper! It was slow going but I finished by noon.

The next order of business was to get the dinghy motor back which arrived at 5:15 from the repair shop. They picked it up at the marina and returned it too so all I had to do was get it to and from the boat. The problem was a gummed up carburetor. He had to clean it out twice to get it working.

But we topped it all off with a nice dinner at O.C. Seafood
With all that out of the way, it was time for a little R&R. On the advice of our friend Terri, we tried O.C. White's Seafood and Spirits which is right next door to the marina. We both ordered the shrimp which was fresh and cooked just right, recommended.

On Thursday, we're headed for the Jacksonville free docks right off Sister's Creek, hopefully, there will be room for us. Friday will most likely be a layover day since the chance of rain is 100% along with high winds. We'll start out again on Saturday when a spell of good weather is predicted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

St Augustine - at a dock, Ft Matanzas no drama

Yep, we're in St Augustine, pirates abound
Aqua Map Master with the USACE survey chars makes it ridiculously easy to pass through the shallow spots of the ICW. I already had a gpx route for Ft Matanzas but it was nothing more than plotting the exact deepest water per the USACE survey. It's a help in keeping focus on the best path but the real hero is the USACE survey.  I went through Ft Matanzas with a -0.3 ft drain tide but I had no worries since I knew the survey showed a way through. In fact, I didn't see anything less than 10.5 ft even with the -0.3 drain tide! Of course, you had to carefully follow the gpx route but if you did that, you had no worries. 

Laura and Gail paid a visit this afternoon. They spent the winter in the Bahamas.
They also have a Beneteau 423
I found a shop that would come to the marina to take your outboard back to their shop for repair. They came by at 5:15 and picked up the outboard and will look at it Wednesday. Hopefully, it's only a cleaning out of the fuel lines and nothing more major than that. I'll find out tomorrow. 

We're tucked into the northwest corner of the marina, easy to get in, exciting to get out
I will also tackle the dinghy bottom too, I found some heavy duty tools I had for scraping which I'll use for the scraping. Most of the barnacles are on fiberglass so it's not too bad, I will have to be very careful on the Hypalon.  

The St Augustine marina has fully recovered. All slips are in place and everything works. It was always the best marina for nearness to downtown and we intend to enjoy that on Wednesday. Whether we leave as planned on Thursday will depend on whether the outboard has been repaired or not. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bethune Park - at anchor, windlass jams, dinghy motor won't start

The iPad Pro 12.9 makes a great chartplotter! Here it shows both Navionics SonarChart and Aqua Map,
try doing that with any chartplottrer. 
We got off in good season from Titusville just by backing out all the way to the entrance. There was no future in trying to turn with a strong north wind but backing out was fine. Our dinghy with all the barnacles slowed us down. The dinghy was new this year and I used the usual bottom paint formulated for dinghies which I used before. What I think happened was the new fiberglass bottom still had mold release on it and so my bottom paint did not adhere. Without any protection, the barnacles grew wild!

Rockhouse Creek is open for business
Next came anchoring which resulted in a jammed windlass. It seems that the manufacturer lined the opening where the rope and chain descend into the locker with a plastic lining - to aid in a free fall of the rode. After 15 years, the plastic lining deteriorated and partially blocked the opening, causing the rode to jam. After a couple of hours of sawing at the tough plastic lining, I finally got it out. The opening is larger without the lining and the rode drops more easily.

Bethune Park dinghy dock is still not repaired after two years! I used a nearby sandy beach.
Then it came time to take Hoolie ashore. Pull, pull, no motor start. Pull some more, same thing. The spark plug looked dry when I removed it for inspection so there was no gas reaching the cylinder. Plenty of gas was coming in from the tank but it wasn't reaching the cylinder. Fuel filter? Carburetor?  It's my next project, fun, fun. I had lots of practice rowing the dinghy tonight.

A peaceful evening, St Augustine Tuesday
Ponce de Leon had been dredged so there were no problems there, at least 11 ft MLLW. Aqua Map Master with the USACE maps is a joy to use, super clear on the depths. If you have a route in, it will display the next lift bridge distance and ETA. It was handy today in not getting to the George Munson Bridge in New Smyrna Beach, Florida too soon. With a 2 kt current, you wanted to arrive just in time and not have to do donuts waiting for the opening.

Tuesday is St Augustine for two days to explore the town and, now, to get the dinghy back into shape and perhaps shave a few barnacles off the bottom too.