Thursday, October 31, 2019

Bethune Park in Daytona - at anchor

Yeah! The dredge at Ft Matanzas - but don't stray too far from the dredge, I did and found only 6.5 MLLW
We had another fantastic day of good weather for cruising south. We've never experienced this warmth before. Usually, we occasionally run the genset for heat but on this trip, whenever we've turned on the genset, it's been to run the A/C! Tonight it was 95 in the cockpit but on came the genset to cool off the cabin which was up to 98F. It's now a comfortable 78 and we'll turn it off when we go to bed. The big weather change starts Friday with a high only in the '70s. That's more like the Florida we remember from past trips.

Dayton Beach Seabreeze Twin Bridges - tide was at 0.8 ft
Not going to make 65 ft!
We are at one of our favorite anchorages tonight. It has lots and lots of room in 10 ft of water and a nearby sandy beach for Hoolie next to a park. The charts for the area are wrong, especially SonarChart. They show shallow water but there's 10 ft with very little tide, less than a foot and the holding is excellent.

Tomorrow is a big day - we finally arrive in our home for the holidays - Titusville Marina. We will leave Fleetwing there and drive north for the holidays, returning the beginning of January. We missed Key West last year but our plans include a two month stay this year starting 1/28/2020. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

St Augustine - We visit the Lei's Linens

Lei's Linens - a great store!
Ann likes the poinsettia pattern
One place we never miss while in St Augustine is Lei's Linens. She does her own embroidery work on fine linens for table cloths or runners. They are very high quality and Ann always stops by. The products are amazing in the detail of the work with the designs being formed by different colored threads, no prints here. Ann bought a runner for the center of the table for Christmas.

We also stop by the Spanish bakery for fresh bread every time we're in town
Ann is about 1/2 way through an amazing course on How to Draw by Great Courses.  It's taught by a professor at the University of Washington. in Seattle. Normally, the Great Courses cost $50 to $90 each for a complete set for one subject but what is little known is that most libraries offer them for free as part of your library membership. They can then be streamed with Kanopy, an app for both Apple and Android devices.

The local art center was closed but the Bird of Paradise was in full bloom
We are in St Augustine with OnSpotWiFi and we can stream the course with no problem. Ann watched one episode today. If you have unlimited data, via Verizon for example, you can stream it at anchor, we've done it many times and display the course on our 32 inch LCD TV via an HDMI cable. They also have thousands of free movies too for streaming, it's a great bargain - and it's all free by signing in with your library card. You ought to ask your home library if they support Kamopy, we haven't found a local library yet than doesn't support the service.

Ann was out taking pictures this afternoon as part of her "homework" from the course in how to better draw perspectives. Meanwhile, we are still in a heatwave that will last one more day until it turns cooler on Friday. We will leave Thursday morning for our usual Bethune Park anchorage in Daytona. Despite the four day delay at the Alligator River Marina due to the bridge problem, we will still reach Titusville as we planned on November 1st. We both look forward to relaxing a bit form the constant traveling.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

St Augustine - at a dock

The Bridge of Lions at St Augustine ws operational but only with one leaf
It was another beautiful day on the ICW. We backed out of the dock at Sisters Creek against a pretty good current but Fleetwing backs well so we had no problem. With temperatures in the 80's, we even left the dodger window open. We've never seen such heat on any previous trip south. The warm weather is due to end on Friday which is predicted to have a high of only 71.

Did someone mention Christmas?
We want to explore St Augustine on Wednesday and just have a layover day. We've been pushing given the good weather. On our present schedule, we are still due to arrive as planned, November 1st - even with our four-day delay due to the Alligator River swing bridge.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Jacksonville Free Dock on Sisters Creek - at a dock

Nothing is quite as sinister-looking as a black nuclear sub
We took the outside route in St Andrews Sound since it was so calm. We saw the usual 9 MLLW by taking the route that cuts inside the red buoy, the same route we've taken the last six years. It never changes in depth.

Don't mess with these guys
As we passed by the naval station, we saw a submarine docked along with a guard boat that paced us as we motored by - complete with a machine gun on the bow! I waved but I didn't see anyone wave back.

Not done yet!

The docks at Fernandina looked good from the water. They look like they've been extended southward at least 1/3 more, perhaps 1/2 more. However, they are still not opened, the gas dock has a lot of work to do.

There are two walkways to the docks from land, one is being replaced - noisy during the day
I saw 9 MLLW in the Fernandina shallows and the least after that was 7 MLLW in the Amelia River in one spot. So if you follow my track, there's really no problem, even at low tide. We took a dock at the Jacksonville free dock off Sisters Creek.

Anybody cruising the ICW south of Fernandina will recognize this bridge
The highlight of the day was an invitation to dinner from Terri and Larry who live in the area. We went to an amazing restaurant that we've all passed by many times. For those who have been through over the years, remember the swing railroad bridge just south of the Fernandina shallows. The current rips through there and we are all fixated on watching the narrow gap that we've all missed the restaurant that is only a few feet away from the bridge! It's the Downunder and the food is so much better than you might expect for an out of the way place. If you're even in the area, be sure not to miss the opportunity to eat at one of the best restaurants on the ICW.

Have a ringside seat next to the ICW and the swing bridge 
On Tuesday, we're headed for St Augustine for two days. Ann wants to see some of the art exhibits and we always enjoy walks through town.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Jekyll Island - at anchor

After the rain, a rainbow!
We passed through Little Mud River without incident but then we had 7 ft of tide! The lowest we saw was 4 MLLW at the southern exit. It gets shallower every year. Mud River is not on the list of areas to dredge since it is so long and the type of mud there is very loose, the type not allowed by the EPA to be dumped nearby. It would have to be taken out to the ocean, too cost-prohibitive.

You can always take a dock if you want but we prefer the free anchorage with a public dock
It's a different story for Jekyll Island. USACE was able to come up with a plan to put some of the dredge material on top of the nearby marshes. They are monitoring how that goes and hopefully, they can use the same procedure for Mud River later on.

A peaceful anchorage, all alone
The weather is still cloudy and rainy but we made it through without a downpour and with no lightning and thunder. We are anchored peacefully at the Jekyll Creek anchorage across from the public dock. I don't know why more people don't use this excellent anchorage. it's true that the NOAA charts show shoal water but it's much deeper and recently, Navionics SonarChart was updated to show the correct depths. The holding is great and the protection is 360 - and you have a public dock to use!

On Monday, it's off to the free dock off Sister's Creek near Jacksonville.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Crescent River Anchorage - at anchor

Seagulls just love shrimp boats - I wonder why?
We've always liked the Crescent River anchorage since it's big enough to accommodate a lot of boats and it's right off the ICW. There's no traveling to reach the anchor site. The other necessity for us is the all-tide-level Hoolie access to shore on a sandy beach. Given those attributes, it's great for us and Hoolie. You'll anchor in 15 to 20 ft of water depending upon the tide level and the holding is very good.

We've never seen as many dredges as this year!
We didn't have any shallows today but we'll go through Little Mud River on Sunday. We will have lots of tide so depth is not a concern but I'll still try to get the deepest path possible recorded for my track which I'll upload later.

Our first sunset of the cruise! What took so long?
We are headed for the Jekyll Creek anchorage on Monday which will give us a good look at the dredged depths in the creek on the way in. I'll post my results on the Facebook page. There's some rain predicted for Sunday so we will try to get an early start to beat the worst of it.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock

The dredges are headed to Fields Cut!
As we approached Fields Cut, we were worried about getting past the dredges but then when we arrived, we discovered that they had not started dredging yet. With that, it was a clear shot through for 8.3 MLLW using the route we had from last spring. 

The Causton Bluff lift bridge will be no more in the spring
We had no problem with the Causton Buff lift bridge. The bridge tender told us that they opened on demand between 9:00 and 4:30. After that, it's only on the hour. The new high bridge is proceeding apace and is supposed to be completed by the spring. 

There was dry land a short distance from the dredged channel
The big event of the day was a passage through Hell Gate at dead low tide - but after it had been dredged! It was no problem at 12.1 MLLW! The one fly in the ointment was the discovery of an electrical power cable crossing under Hell Gate. The USACE can figure out who owns it. They had to avoid dredging over it for fear of causing damage so that left a 7.1 MLLW spot where the cable passed over the ICW. Still, it's a lot better than it's ever been in the past. 

Kilkenny used to be a plantation. The live oaks are huge!
We are headed for the Crescent River anchorage on Saturday. We are making headway!  

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Windmill Harbour - at a dock

There's a big regatta this weekend and there are receptions tonight, lots of activity
We are now just north of Savannah on Hilton Head at Windmill Harbour. This is a first-class marina. The South Carolina Yacht Club is located here and the clubhouse has a great restaurant. This is the only marina I know of where you enter through a private lock. With the lock system, there's no variation in water level in the marina, even during storms. On top of that, it's surrounded by three story houses so it's well protected from high winds. It's a great hurricane hole.

This heron had its own ideas of dinner
We had dinner at the yacht club which I highly recommend, they have a good chef with his own spin on things. The members of the yacht club we knew were away on their boats so we just stayed one day instead of our planned two days.

We will pass through Savannah today and take a dock at Kilkenny Marine for the night. We are still on schedule for a November 1st arrival at Titusville if we have no further weather delays.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

B&B Seafood - We take a dock

It's just a dock, nothing extra
A convenient stopover for us is B&B Seafood. It is not for everyone. It is not a marina, it's only a dock and not a very good one at that. There are boards stuck out at odd angles, missing planks, falling off rub rails, etc. However, if you put up with those failings, they have excellent local shrimp. It is not frozen and you can buy a pound for $7. Needless to say, we had shrimp for dinner tonight! Oh yes, the dock is only $25/night for any size boat but there's no electric or water.

It been the same for the last 10 years
Previously today, we passed through Dawho River and Watts Cut. I altered the northern route to closely follow the most recent survey by the USACE of the area. The route is now much straighter than before and the track I uploaded today is the same path. At Dawho River the least I saw was 10 MLLW and for Watts Cut it was 7.2 MLLW. You can see the same numbers if you download and follow today's track.

As I said, nothing special about the docks...
We are only staying here one night and we are aiming for Windmill Harbour for Thursday night. There's rain in the forecast for later in the week so we may only stay one night at Windmill Harbour.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Charleston Maritime Center - Last day

Always an attraction in Charleston
After using the free laundry, our goal was to do all the things we like to do in Charleston. The marina is within 10 minutes of the downtown area. It's the main attraction of the marina location. it's unfortunate that they have all the construction but today it was no problem. They only pounded away for less than an hour all day and they stop by 5:00 pm anyway. 

Ann gets her Chico's fix at the best Chico's store anywhere on the east coast. Meanwhile, I visited the Apple store but didn't see anything more I needed. I had just bought the iPhone 11 but I was up to date anyway. 

We always eat at Hyman's
The last stop was at Hyman's restaurant which is actually more of an institution in Charleston. They've been around since the late 1800s and there's a reason they have been so successful. Do all the tourists go there? Sure. But the food is good regardless. Where else does the owner personally greet every patron at their table? If you're not satisfied, you can tell the boss yourself! We had the shrimp and grits, of course, preceded by an appetizer of fried green tomatoes - a southern staple. Of course, they also served boiled peanuts, done right - not over cooked and soggy like some places. Topping that off with hush puppies made a great meal. We just had the appetizers portions, the full dinners were way too much!

On Wednesday, we're off to B&B Seafood and hopefully, some fresh shrimp. Then it's on to Windmill Harbor the next day. We are heading south!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Charleston - at the Maritime Center

An early morning start!
We left just as the eastern sky showed light but before the sun came up, it was 7:00 pm at Georgetown. We were headed to Charleston through the notorious shallows of Minim Creek, McClellanville, and Isle of Palms. Now we knew that the Isle of Palms had been dredged and that part of McClellanville had too but Minim Creek had not been touched.

We were due to arrive at Minim Creek at exactly dead low and we (I had another boat following me) had to hit a very narrow slot for the best water. There were many such narrow spots where the difference of 30 feet laterally could mean 2 feet less water. Even hitting the slots exactly, the low water I recorded was just 6.1 MLLW. So if you had a 6-foot draft, you could have gotten through at low tide by paying careful attention to the USACE surveys. Or, you could just download my track and follow it for the same result. By the way, the USACE surveys shown in Aqua Map matched my depth sounder within a few inches.

0.8 miles to go! (to McClellanville)
We found the dredge was within 0.8 Nm of reaching McClellanville! The notorious shallows of McClellanville are almost behind us! That last 0.8 Nm still contained 5.2 MLLW spots until you finally reached the dredged part. There are still sections between Minim Creek and Isle of Palms not dredged and you need to be on your toes and follow the USACE charts (or my track).

Our reception at the Charleston Maritime Center was the pounding of this steel beam, all day long
The reason for our early start was to reach the Ben Sawyer Bridge before 4:00 pm when it closed for 2 hours. With our early start, we were there by 2:00 pm. So it was onward to the Charleston Maritime Center which we thought would be crowded with boats. We were surprised to see we were one of only five boats in the marina, there were many empty slips. Then we learned of the reason for the scarcity of boats. They are pounding in the steel foundation pilings for a huge, new museum next to the marina office building. They work from 8:00 to 5:00 and it makes a terrible racket, very loud. I didn't know of this when I made the reservations and I would not advise anyone else coming either until the foundation is laid - which may take months. They have a lot of pilings to pound in.

It's quite a project. It seems expensive to build a raised structure for a museum.
We will be here another day and then head south again if the weather holds.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Georgetown - we see the wooden boat show

The boats were just beautiful to behold!
The trip down the Waccamaw River was uneventful, lots of water. That is, until we reached Georgetown and only found 6.0 MLLW on the approach into the harbor. It was the shallowest water we saw all day. We had 4 ft of tide at the time so it was no problem.

The one would be nice to own but we wouldn't want to get it dirty by putting it in the water
We arrived in time to walk through town and see the wooden boats on display. They were beautiful but not practical for our use. The hours spent in building them does not compute for me but I can see the attraction for some. They are works of art.

The Harbor Walk here is nicely presented with restaurants, shops and hotels.
Our challenge on Monday will be reaching Charleston in one day, about 55 Nm away. Since the Isle of Palms has been dredged, that's no longer a concern but we still have to get through Minim Creek at low tide and then through whatever part of the McClellanville shallows not yet dredged. We will start out at 7:00 am in order to have a cushion on the 4:00 to 6:00 closing time on the Ben Sawyer bridge. By leaving at 7:00 am, we hope to reach the bridge by 2:30, at least that's the plan.

We plan on a two day stay there before continuing our journey south.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Osprey Marina - at a dock in rain, Aqua Map Tutorial

Gathering for the Aqua Map Tutorial on a rainy afternoon at Osprey Marina
Saturday was the day of the storm. Mostly, it's just rain but lots of rain. It started around noon and is due to continue until Sunday morning at 10:00 am or so. We are just waiting it out at the fuel dock but we do have electricity so we're nice and warm.

Poor little guy got run over by a car
Meanwhile, since nobody had pressing business during this rainy day, I decided to give a tutorial on the use of Aqua Map Master at the helm. I had about a dozen attendees for the 1.5-hour session. Aqua Map is much more powerful with many features that most people are not aware of. We had a lively discussion. There is tremendous inertion against trying anything new in the age group typical of boaters on the ICW. However, with the demonstration of great, new capabilities, it is attractive.

Holding still for the operation...
After the presentation, I noticed the dockmaster at the welcome desk with a turtle in hand. Upon a closer look, he was repairing the shell of a small turtle that had been run over by a car. Evidently, this has happened before and they have a proven procedure for the repair. It consists of using JB Weld adhesive.  The desk manager held the turtle as the dockmaster applied the adhesive. Hopefully, it will work as in the past.

The operating materials...

The rain is due to stop later Sunday morning and then we will move on to Georgetown. From there we are planning a long day on Monday to reach Charleston for two days. We will pass through McClellanville on a rising tide but it will only be about 2 ft, it should be enough. We have to make the Ben Sawyer bridge before 4:00 pm when it closes for two hours to ICW traffic due to weekday traffic.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Osprey Marina - Cool nights

It really is a nice marina, calm and protected by high trees on all sides
The marina here is full. All the fuel docks are occupied, all the slips have boats - it's time for more expansion. I'm told the area used to be a quarry that was later connected to the ICW and then flooded and made into a marina. It's also a freshwater marina, not brackish so it doesn't encourage salt water vermin on your hull.

We had visitors off the back of the boat - no doubt looking for a hand-out
I spent the day putting a presentation on the status of the ICW for the Snowbird Rendezvous seminar session scheduled for Saturday night. It has all the latest news for those heading out for points south on the ICW. It's been a great year for dredging but there are still shallow spots to avoid. There are ways around the shallows but you have to know how to navigate them.

Notice the weld, they had to add height
to the pilings when Florence raised the water
level above the old pilings
Saturday looks like a rain and wind day. The storm that started out in the Gulf of Mexico is headed north across the Florida peninsula and then up the east coast, right over the top of us. It's not a hurricane but it will bring high winds and heavy rains. Oh well, we'll sit it out here at Osprey. We have electricity, so far, and it's nice and cozy. We plan on reaching Georgetown on Sunday and then try to make it all the way to Charleston on Monday, a 55 mile trip! For the next day, we'll just watch it rain in the comfort of a heated cabin. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Osprey Marina - at a dock

This is Barefoot Landing where we used to dock and explore the shops, but no more.
The dock has been converted to small boat slips - does not look like a very smart move, some people never learn
There are some marinas that are icons on the ICW and Osprey Marina is at the top of the list of places you want to stop at. The first attraction is the price, only $1.00/ft! Furthermore, if you stay more than three days, then for the fourth day on, the price drops to $0.26/ft! Pump out is free and the price of diesel was only $2.649/gal, taxes included.

You get a welcome package upon arriving - and this at $1/ft!
The docks are new ipe lumber, first-rate and they even have a welcome package consisting of locally made pepper jelly, a clip for closing opened bags, an insulated holder for drinks, pecan twirls, honey bun, and even a whistle. They have well-kept showers and two washers and two dryers with a table to fold laundry on. The WiFi is free, of course, and I've measured 10 Mbps at my boat.

Make your own coffer and partake of the free iced tea, already made
On top of everything else, it's surrounded by trees that give the best protection from storms as anywhere on the east coast, zero fetch and very little wind action. Honestly, is there any better marina for the value on the east coast? I can see why the place is always so full.

This is not hard to take
Meanwhile, we passed through Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte this afternoon with no problems following the GPX routes, at least 8 MLLW in the shallowest spots. I uploaded today's track for others to follow if they want.

There is a storm coming and it's due to hit us on Saturday with gale force winds along the coast. We'll be very snug here and move again on Sunday after the storm passes by. We hope to reach Charleston by Sunday night.