Saturday, October 31, 2020

Titusville - We provision using Instacart and order a bunch of stuff over Amazon


Florida is in bloom!

So, while in bed this morning, I got out my iPad and we ordered groceries. Publix has a contract with Instcart which shows everything in the store with a price attached and you just click on how many you want of each item. Now, you do pay more per item compared to the in-store price but then we didn't have to rent a car so we came out ahead, easily. Our experience today was much better than last time. We had our groceries delivered to Titusville Marina by 10:30 am and they got everything right. The shopper came wearing a mask and washed his hands before handling the groceries. 

We have blue flowers too!

I got a cart and with a short trip to Fleetwing down the dock, we were provisioned for the next week. Hopefully, we will have our car by the end of next week so we can do the shopping ourselves (during non-busy hours). 

There are no cases of COVID-19 in the marina. We are all outdoors with the wind providing great circulation and we're staying healthy. We have Amazon for items we normally would have bought at Walmart (where we do not plan on going) so we're all set for the long haul. 

The weather is in the low 80s, the wind is light, what's not to like? I could get used to this. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Titusville - We finally arrive, at our dock


Titusville is not completely full but it's getting close

It was a great trip for our final day. The anchor came up rather muddy but came up it did. The anchorage at Bethune Park has good holding and when you pull the anchor up you will know why - thick mud. I have a washdown pump at the bow and I made good use of it this morning. 

All tied up, massive docks here

The trip to Titusville held no surprises as far as depths are concerned, the B423 track was good. The minimum I saw was 7.2 MLLW briefly by Ponce de Leon inlet. We left Bethune Park with the tide behind us and held the favorable current all the way to Titusville, a nice ride. 

Ann did a great job docking Fleetwing while I worked the lines on deck. Although there's no current, there's wind and the docks are no forgiving since they are fixed. Nevertheless, Ann brought Fleetwing in without touching. 

We are relieved to be at our home for the winter. It won't be as warm as Key West but the virus is raging down there. At Titusville, we'll have our car to explore the area and many parks for hiking along with the beach, we'll make do. It sure beats the temperatures up north! Sometime next week, we're due to get our car shipped down which will give us another level of freedom, we're looking forward to it.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Bethune Anchorage in Daytona - at anchor


The docks are very nice - but cleats only on the outside?

e left St Augustine with tide behind us and we had it almost all the way to Daytona. It boosted our normal 7.3 kts to 8.0 kts so we arrived at our anchorage around 2:00 pm. Navionics SonarChart for the anchorage is totally incorrect. It shows a 4 ft spot where there's actually 8 ft at low tide. We've been here many times so we know the way in, it's described in the Waterway Guide anchorage icon for the area and also in my Guide. We're anchored in 10 ft with good protection from the west, where the wind is today. 

There's a sailing club on shore and tonight was sailing school. 
All the participants wore masks. 
The anchorage had a nice dinghy dock but it was damaged during one of the hurricanes. It took two years but the dock has finally been rebuilt. It appears to be much more sturdy than the last one. However, they only put cleats on the outside of the docks! For a dinghy, it's nice to tie up on the inside where it's more protected from wave action. I guess they were trying to save money? Still, it's a nice dock and you don't have to get your feet wet from landing on the sandy beach. 

It hit 93 today and it's still 84 at 7:30 tonight! Florida is hotter this year than what I remember from our previous cruises south. It's supposed to cool off to the 70's for the next few days but then we'll be in Titusville by Friday. We look forward to settling in our slip for the next few months. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

St Augustine - Half Empty

Want a slip, lots of choices

 I would estimate that about half the docks are empty. We've been down here in the past when you had to call days ahead to get a slip but that's not the case now. That follows from us being the only boat on the free docks in Jacksonville. 

We took a walk towards town but cut it short, very few people were wearing masks, maybe about 1/4 of the ones we saw. There was even one store that had a sign posted that masks were not required, with the word "not" underlined! The shop next door did require masks. 

Nobody for golf? Usually, it's full of people.

Nevertheless, it was a great day with temps in the low 80s but we're due for a weather change on Friday. We'll have one more day of warm weather for our anchorage at Daytona on Thursday before arriving in Titusville on Friday. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

St Augustine - at a dock


The Bridge of Lions at St Augustine, notice the empty slips in the foreground

It was another short day and the weather cooperated with temps in the low 80s. There were no shallows along the way so it was just enjoying the ride. The marina here has a very convenient dock for refueling and pump out which we took advantage of. 

A few of St Augustine from the docks, we'll explore tomorrow

The big news here is how empty the docks are. I've never seen St Augustine Marina with so few boats. I would estimate they are about 1/4 full. Usually, it's almost full and you have to be sure you have reservations in order to be guaranteed a slip. 

We will layover here for another day and then move on to the Bethune Park anchorage in Daytona for the night. Nobody is wearing a mask here, we are the only ones with the exception of other boaters. You'll see a few with masks dropped down around their neck, ready, I suppose for when they enter a store? We plan on a short walk tomorrow just to stretch our legs but we plan on avoiding all crowds. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Jacksonville Free Docks in Sisters Creek - at a dock

Nothing quite like a nuclear sub - looks menacing

It was a dead calm night at the Jekyll anchorage. The charts only show 4 MLLW of water but there’s actually 12 MLLW if you know the way, SonarChart from Navionics is pretty accurate for this location. We left and headed into a fog bank waiting for us partway out to the turn in St Andrews Sound so I switched on the radar again – which worked again (two out of two! I’m on a roll).

You can see the two cables that attach to the saws

With the calm winds, St Andrews was tame. One of the reasons we like the Jekyll anchorage is the closeness to the turn south in St Andrews, you can catch the turn in the morning before the winds pick up. 

Fernandina is empty

Coming into Fernandina, we saw the way blocked by the huge saw boat used to cut up the Hyundai ship that ran aground earlier this year. It actually has two huge saw blades that do the job. The floating saw was attended to by several tugs and we had to carefully find our way through. Fernandina was empty. We saw only one boat on the outside docks and we heard the fuel dock was close due to a leak. The facedock appears to be longer than I remember - but it's empty at the moment. 

All by ourselves on the Jacksonville free dock by Sisters Creek

We wanted to reach the Jacksonville free dock in good stead since we expected a crowd in prime migration season but we found it empty, not a single boat, where is everybody? Terri and Larry came over for a chat, it was great to meet only friends even though we still had to observe social distancing. 

On Tuesday, we're headed for St Augustine for two nights, then the Bethune anchorage in Daytona followed by Titusville two days earlier than planned. We made better time than we thought with this excellent weather!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Jekyll Creek - at anchor


One other boat with us at Crescent River anchorage

The day did not start out well. We had a heavy rainstorm, complete with thunder in the early hours and when that finally passed, I jammed the anchor chain in the windlass when pulling it up. The anchor was up but it was locked tight and couldn't be moved. The tide was falling at Mud River so I let it be and headed out. We were greeted with a rainbow as we turned to the ICW. 

View to the ICW at Crescent River anchorage

Our first challenge was Mud River with a 2 ft tide but it turned out not to be a problem - but I needed that 2 ft! I only found 3.9 MLLW at the southern exit! Only the last couple hundred feet were a problem, the rest of the cut was 8 to 9 MLLW. 

Always nice to start the day with a rainbow! (a double?)

After that excitement, it was on to Jekyll Creek but first we had another gift from the skies that lasted about 1/2 hour. I hadn't used my radar in over a year but I needed it today when the visibility was reduced to less than several hundred feet. It wasn't as bad as Maine where you could not see the bow at times but it was a shock here on the ICW. At least I now know my radar is still working! 

Our neighbor for the night

We arrived at Jekyll Creek with a 2.5 ft tide and it wasn't a problem. Corrected for tide, we saw a minimum of 6.3 MLLW provided you followed the Bob423 Long Track for the area. It's very narrow since they only dredged a channel 75 feet wide. 

We are now anchored across from the Jekyll Marina with one other boat. There's a public boat ramp across the channel I use for Hoolie relief, very convenient. I put an anchor icon down in Waterway Guide Alerts for the exact best spot for anchoring and I've yet to come here but where there's been a boat already at that spot! Still, there's plenty of room for 2 to 4 boats if you know where the shallow spots are at. 

We're headed for the Jacksonville free dock on Monday for one night, hopefully there's room for us. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Crescent River - at anchor


Every shrimp boat has its admirers

Except for one day of rain, the weather has been phenomenal. It was another great traveling day and we made it from Kilkenny to Crescent River., another of our favorite anchorages. There's plenty of room, no wave action, and a place to take Hoolie with a sandy beach even at high tide. There is only one other boat here so it's practically empty. 

Hoolie always likes a sandy beach

The river here has a number of shrimp boats that use the passage and when they go by, they carry along a huge contingent of "passengers". I guess everybody's out for a free lunch if possible. I wonder how much shrimp winds up in the bellies of the passengers?

Hoolie's beach from afar

We are headed for Mud River and Jekyll Island on Sunday with a little bit of tide in both places, about 1 to 2 feet, enough, I'll report back on what I see the next day. At this rate, we'll reach Titusville before our reservation date so we'll see if we can arrive early or we'll spend the time at the Bethune anchorage in Daytona. We should reach the Jacksonville free docks on Monday afternoon if our present progress holds up. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock


The famous Causton Bluff Bridge - with the inoperable leaf down
It has claimed at least three sailboats so far - dismasted

We had a short run today to Kilkenny Marina on the south side of Savannah. On the way, we went through Hell Gate which is no longer a problem since it's been dredged. However, it is beginning to shoal in again with depths to 7 MLLW when the original dredged depth for 12 MLLW. Still, it's a pleasure not having to worry about getting through at low tide. 

I remain fascinated with the Live Oaks - we don't have them up north

The other cuts were easy, no changes from the spring. The Causton Bluff bridge was on demand but you had to be careful about that leaf that does not open. When going south, it's easy to see the leaf that is still down but when going north, it's not so easy since there's a sharp turn to starboard to get through - which can swing you into that down leaf. There's a bit of sideways current that adds to the excitement. We made it through without a problem. 

As I said, the docks look homemade but sturdy enough

Kilkenny is the same as ever. It's really just a facedock and fuel. They technically do have restrooms and a shower but I wouldn't use them. If you have three boats or more using air conditioning, the voltage drops to a little over 100v. As soon as evening comes and everyone turns off their A/C, then the voltage is back to 120v. The docks are homemade but seem sturdy enough. For us, it's a convenient stop along the way to the Crescent River anchorage, our next stop, which is staged for Mud River. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Windmill Harbour - at a dock


Out for sailing class!

Today was in great contrast from yesterday - no rain, no wind, great moving along. We have a traditional stay at Windmill Harbour to see friends and to enjoy the company of other boaters. Of course, we do things differently with the virus about but we still get to enjoy each other's company. 

Great flower from Rick and Elizabeth!

I used to give talks here as part of my visit but that's no longer a good thing to do with the virus around - no gatherings. We refueled and had a pump-out so we're good to go for Titusville for sure. Ted Arisaka and Patti paid us a visit and in this era, brought their own chairs to sit out on the dock by Fleetwing. It's good to meet friends along the way, even if it's with social distancing! 

The modern way to socialize during the pandemic

We also ran into Rick and Elizabeth who gifted a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Italian wine, always welcomed, we do love our wine. So with all the important stuff done, we're ready to move again Friday morning. We're headed to Kilkenny for the night and then on to the Crescent River anchorage. We are making good progress south!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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


Photo courtesy of Geoff & Jenni McClure - at Awendaw Anchorage

The forecast said a chance of showers around noon but clear the rest of the day. The "chance of showers" turned out to be a solid five hours of heavy rain! So as I negotiated my why through Watts Cut and Ashpoo-Coosaw Cutoff, I had the added entertainment of heavy rain and poor visibility, such fun. I had review weather apps awhile back but only as they predicted wind, not rain. I think a new round of evaluation is due. 

Just to make matters more interesting, as I pulled up to Lady's Island Marina - I got no answer on either Channel 16 or their phone number. See nowhere else to go, we pulled into a fack dock with the ominous warning posted of "Dock closed, no tie-ups, no letting people off". We pulled in any way given the heavy rain at the time. 

In going to the office, they had no record of the reservation I made last Sunday afternoon (the call was listed on my phone). The lady in the ship store was kind enough to make calls to the marina owner and eventually, someone appeared to sign us in. As it turned out, the owner was on duty Sunday and he took the call but forgot to log it in so they had no record of my reservation.

After that unpleasant experience, the owner came by to apologize and said he was taken ill that day with a temperature of 102 but was okay now. Moving along, we will be leaving Thursday morning for Windmill Harbour for a day. At this rate, we'll reach Titusville before our scheduled arrival date of Nov 1.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

St Johns Yacht Harbor- Provisioning and Laundry


A quiet time in the morning as we headed to pick up our courtesy car to provision

What makes a good marina? For me, it's not the bathrooms or showers since we prefer the convenience of doing all that aboard Fleetwing (why leave the boat when not required?). After many years of living aboard, we want easy access to laundry facilities that actually work, preferably at a good price per load. Another of our requirements is a courtesy vehicle so we can provision quickly. Equally important is good WiFi with a dependable connection to at least 3 Mbps in speed. Not many marinas meet the first three of my requirements. Bonus points go to marinas with a dog park and let's not forget a reasonable price per foot. Oh yes, I much prefer floating docks for easy tie-up but I can get around that if the other requirements are met. 

This is only a dull photo if you never
 do launndry while underway ($1/load too!)

So how does St Johns Yacht Harbor stack up against those requirements? First off, they have a free courtesy car (no charge for use up to two hours) and it can be reserved in advance so you can plan your day, not all marinas offer the reservation feature if they have a car. Secondly, the laundry facilities here are second to none with four spin washers and four dryers at a $1.00 per load price - and they all are fairly new and they all work. 

Next comes the WiFi that delivers a solid signal, no problem there. They have floating docks with ipe wood at $2/ft. However, if you have BoatUS, you get a 10% discount and if you're a veteran like me, you'll get another 10% discount on top of that which makes for a very reasonable price. As gravy, they have a dog park advertised with a fence but it's not all there - nevertheless - Hoolie had a good run. 

Nice ipe floating docks

Personally, I don't think any marina deserves a 5 star rating unless they offer a courtesy car, the other points can be debated perhaps but a courtesy car is truly a step up. On the downside, the marina is in a river and the current can run 2 to 3 kts. For us, it was not a problem since we're used to such current from our days at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club on the Hudson River. Here, we even had a face dock which can always be approached into the current, not a problem. 

Given all of the above, we'll be coming back here on our way north, it's a fine marina. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

St Johns Yacht Haven - at a dock


Awendaw Anchorage sunrise

The day started out with a great sunrise as I took Hoolie ashore for his morning institutional. The anchorage has a great place for Hoolie for his shore leave and the anchor came up clean, no mud. It's one of our favorite anchorages. There are usually 3 to 6 boats when we've been here in the past but this time there were only two, counting us. 

Out by the ICW, there's a sandy beach for Hoolie

With a 6.5 ft tide, there were no shallow spots to worry about but even without the tide, it was fine for boats with up to a 5.5 ft keel at MLLW. I took a photo of the Isle of Palms high bridge, it was just a little over 61 ft at high tide today. During the week, the Ben Sawyer Bridge opens on demand (on weekends, it only opens on top of the hour) which was convenient. However, the Wappoo Bridge only opens once an hour at the bottom of the hour, we missed the opening by 3 minutes! 

We had really high tides today!

We bucked a 4 kt tide running through Elliott Cut but eventually made it. The current is not as bad as the turbulence caused by the current interacting with the narrow passageway. You had to be on guard all the way through. 


Isle of Palms high bridge

We are now ensconced at St John's and will provision on Tuesday and do laundry, then it's on to Lady's Island Marina on Wednesday.  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Awendaw - at anchor


One of three dredges working the area

We left with a foul tide but it wasn’t far to Minim Creek and that’s when we ran into dredges. There were three working in the area but that’s good news! They were finishing up and the entire stretch had been dredged to 12 to 14 MLLW! No longer did you have to worry about staying right in the middle and staying off all marks, it was a wonderful passage.

This guy was right at the entrance to the creek, I had 
no problem going around at high tide but at low tide, another story!

McClellanville was dredged earlier this year but they had left a short section just outside the town that for some reason was not dredged. Well, they came back in the fall and dredged that section too. I can remember scraping the bottom at low tide but that’s a thing of the past, at least for a few years until it shoals in again.

We are now anchored in Awendaw which is one of our favorite anchorages. There’s tons of room and a place to take Hoolie ashore, even at high tide. There’s only one other boat anchored nearby which support the observation that there are fewer boats going south this year.

We will bypass Charleston and take a dock at St Johns Yacht Harbor for two nights. We need to provision and do laundry and the marina has excellent laundry facilities. Then it’s on to Lady’s Island Marina on Wednesday and Windmill Harbour on Thursday. We are moving right along.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Georgetown - at a dock

We had the docks all to ourselves after the big guy left (he was taking on fuel)

 It was another glorious day for traveling south. We arrived in Georgetown by 12:30, refueled, did a pump out, and docked. We expected the docks to be full but we were the only ones at the Harborwalk marina on the face dock. They did charge $10 for a pump-out which I thought was more than they should but we had a pump-out anyway. 

A great display of seafood and a typical layout down south
All the fish was individually packaged in clear warp due to the virus concerns

The first stop was mandatory - had to get seafood at the Independent Seafood Company. As is the custom down south, the fish is laid out on ice, not in refrigerated cabinets. I guess they have so much ice for the shrimp boats that a little more in the store makes little difference. 

Part of the fleet located in Georgetown - you know it's fresh

I found some good looking grouper and bought a pound for Ann to prepare. Needless to say, it was excellent. We always stop off at the seafood market here for whatever looks fresh, it has never been anything less than outstanding. 

We are headed for the Awendaw anchorage for Sunday night. I spent the day ensuring the outboard motor worked (it did) and starting up the genset to check for leaks (no leaks!) so we're all set for anchoring out. From here south, we will be anchoring out as much as being in a marina. The anchorages are convenient and it fits in with our social distancing strategy. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Osprey Marina - at a dock


Greg Norman's steak house, it used to be our favorite place to eat on the ICW
before they got rid of overnight dockage

We had two shallow areas today, Loockwoods Folly (at 4.5 MLLW) and Shallotte (6.4 MLLW). Both have less water than I expected. They both will have to be dredged over the summer to keep them open. On the downside, we had a foul tide against us all the way to Osprey Marina. Our speed dropped down to 4.5 to 6.0 kts all the way! 

The worst use of taxpayers' dollars - a high bridge to replace the old swing bridge
but wait, let's keep the old bridge too!! Who thought this was a good idea?

On the trip through the Rock Pile, we met our first barge, although it was a very small one. We passed without incident. Barefoot Landing used to be one of our favorite stops until they did away with the marina there. They put in small boat docks at right angles to the current hoping for a lot of day traffic I suppose. It's never been busy anytime that we've been through. We did notice a new sign this time of an offer of free dockage which I'm not sure is overnight or not - see the sign in the photo. 

Photo by the side of the ICW - how would you like this for a day job?

We eventually made it to Osprey Marina even with the foul tide by 4:30 pm, a long day for us. At least we have electricity (some docks do not) and good WiFi. We will head out for Georgetown on Saturday and see what the fish market has for our dinner. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock


We played dodgeball with this guy down the Cape Fear River

From Harbour Village, it was only 42 NM to St James Marina, not a bad run. Once again the weather was wonderful with temperatures in the 70s and light winds. We had the good fortune of hitting all the shallow spots at a drain tide, 0.2 feet less than MLLW. Even with the drain tide, the shallowest spot I saw was 7.3 ft which would translate to 7.5 MLLW. However, there were lots of opportunities to find less water which the Bob423 Long Tracks avoided. 

The Southport tornado passed right over the top of the Provision Company,
a restaurant we ate in one year - looks okay to me

We had the McCays over for wine in our cockpit with everything open for good ventilation. They were the couple that took us in, dog and all, when Hurricane Matthew hit the area and we had nowhere to go but our boat. We spent the night in their condo as the eye of the hurricane passed over us. It was great fun catching up.

The Southport Marina is still barren

On Friday we will be passing through some of the more notorious trouble spots such as Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte. I'll take good notes and post what I encounter as we continue heading south. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Harbour Village - at a dock


The main facility at Harbour Village - great docks and they have fuel

The weather has turned really nice this year in going south with temperatures in the 70s every day with little wind. We're in a stretch where there's not a lot of choices for anchorages so we've been hitting the marinas for our nighttime rests. It makes for a relaxing day and, why not, it's fun heading south. 

Here's the view back after passing through Browns Inlet heading south
The red and greens are quite close together now.

Getting off the dock this morning at Caper's Marina was a chore. It's a big leap to get ashore with Hoolie. I helped another boat leave so he didn't have to do a similar leap to undo lines. I think they are going to see a big decrease in dockage and will not know why. 

The trip today was uneventful even though we passed through Browns Inlet (8.9 MLLW) and New River. I just followed the deep water as shown by the Aqua Map USACE survey and didn't have a problem. Harbour Village here is very protected and the docks are first rate. We're all set to leave early Thursday so we can reach St James Plantation Marina for the night and wine date with the McKays who took us in during hurricane Matthew several years ago. We will practice social distancing in the cockpit with good air flow so it should be fine.