Sunday, October 31, 2021

St Augustine - at a dock


We're in Florida! Time for flowers!

I watched the Ohio State University football game with Penn State. It was a good game and OSU won but not by as much as they should. They are currently fifth in the standings and they need to be fourth at least to get into the playoffs. We were at the Jacksonville free docks which do not have electricity so I used the inverter for AC to power the TV. I forgot to turn off the water heater and it turned on to heat the water, draining the batteries flat!

Bird of Paradise. These are from the planting around the St Augustine Art Association
If you're even in St Augustine, this is a must-visit, great local art!

I thought it wasn't so bad since I could run the engine to charge the batteries underway - however, the charger will not turn on if the batteries are less than 12 volts and mine were 11.7 volts. That was not good. We pulled into St Augustine Marina and plugged into shore power and luckily, the inboard inverter which has a built-in charger did turn on. It put 70 amps of current into the batteries for the last 6 hours and only now started to ramp down, now at 50 amps. Hopefully, I didn't ruin my three 4D deep cycle batteries.

The marina here has fully recovered from the rebuilding of the last hurricane, everything works now and the docks are in great shape. It's Halloween night her and the place is rocking - but only in town, the docks are quiet. We will be here one more day to see the sights and then move on to the Bethune Park anchorage on Tuesday. Titusville is next after that, Fleetwing's home for the next three months. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Jacksonville Free Dock on Sisters Creek - at the facedock


We passed the naval base, there was a submarine in for refitting

Saturday was a much better day to travel south! The winds were light, less than 10 kts, and the seas were flat. We left around 7:30 and made the Jacksonville docks by 2:30. We had wanted to stop over in Fernandina but they were full when we called that morning so we just made plans to travel farther. 

Two more boats came in later for a total of five boats here tonight

We had friends over for wine at 5:00 and had a great time. Ann had chicken thighs in the oven which doubled as heat for the cabin. It's due to get down into the 50s tonight, we need all the heat we can get.

Strange sunset

We will head for Ft Augustine in the morning for a two-day stay to explore the art center and just walk around. It's getting cooler up here, time to get south. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Jekyll Harbor Marina - still here, 15 to 20 with gusts to 25 today, not predicted


Sarah found the marina cat

The night was noisy (according to Ann, I didn't hear anything...). The wind never died down like the forecast promised and it kept around 15 to 20 all day long with gusts to 25. The route south from here goes out into a sound where you need to do a U-turn at the extreme end. In rough waters, that can be uncomfortable if not dangerous (when the waves strike you broadside in shallow waters). 

We were fascinated how one tree limb happened to develop such a crook

After a 15 second consultation, we decided to stay another day at Jekyll and wait for calmer winds and seas. The marina owner wasn't able to promise a slip right away. They were all taken but later in the day, someone canceled and we didn't even have to move from where we first docked. The wind continued to howl all day long. 

Now we're looking at a calmer day on Saturday - according to the forecast. If prediction meets reality, we'll head south past Fernandina and dock at the Sister's Creek free dock in Jacksonville. We should get in between 2:00 and 3:00, hoping for a space since that dock can easily fill up this time of the year. 

From the free dock, we'll head for St Augustine on Sunday for two days. Hopefully, the weather will be more settled then. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Jekyll Harbor Marina - We eat at a great restaurant


"Red sky at morning, sailors take warning"

I had to take Hoolie out early this morning to beat the coming storms. Stepping on the dock, the western sky was a bright red which brought to mind the old saying, "Red sky at morning, sailor take warning". I got Hoolie to do his thing and we were shut in by the rain until late afternoon. We even saw a sunrise rainbow! 

It's the first time I saw a rainbow lit by the rising sun - not even above the horizon yet

We all had our projects down below but we planned on having dinner at Zachry's River House right next to the marina. It was superb. If you're ever in Jekyll, you've got to eat there. We arrived at 5:00 and got a table right away since we wanted to eat inside. There was a 20 minute wait if you wanted an outside table. 

Meanwhile, Sarah got driving experience on a cart (yesterday)

The prices are very reasonable, $10.50 for a Mahi-Mahi sandwich with french fries. Ann had the fried oyster sandwich. There's a technique for doing fried food and if you get it right, it's very good - and they get it right all the time. 

Snug setting for the marina office

On the way out around 6:00, we saw a line of people waiting for a table, inside or outside. It's a very popular restaurant on the island. We're headed for Fernandina on Friday and a dinner at Pepper's, a Mexican restaurant that is also one of our favorites. It's not far so it should be a nice trip. 

The restaurant is in a beautiful setting too

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Jekyll harbor Marina - at a dock


Ann found a cat!

The Crescent River anchorage was calm as expected. The island was nearby for pet relief so for us it's a perfect anchorage and the location is good for a stopover between Savannah and Jekyll. Another good thing about the anchorage is that the anchor comes up clean, no mud.

How many marinas come with a pool like this?

We had plenty of tide going through Little Mud River and Jekyll Creek so neither one was a problem and I actually could have gone through both a low tide with my 5 foot keel. I will be issuing a new track that includes tweaks to the Little Mud River track to allow a 5 MLLW passage. 

It was boater appreciation day - to make up for the restaurant being closed on Wednesdays
That's the owner grilling the hamburgers and hotdogs

The storm is due through Thursday with rain and wind all day. With that, we chose to stay at Jekyll Harbor Marina for Thursday and leave Friday morning after the storm passes through. The restaurant here is excellent but is only open Thursday through Sunday due to a shortage of staff. There's plenty of demand but not enough staff to serve them every day of the week. 

We all enjoyed the sunset

Jekyll Harbor Marina has a new owner and it's not a conglomerate. It's a mom and pop team that's very boater oriented. He felt so bad that the restaurant was closed today (on a Wednesday) that he grilled hotdogs and hamburgers with all the extras, chips, cookies, water, etc. There was no charge for the meal! Somebody, later on, passed a hat around and we all contributed but the owner wasn't asking for it. If it had been bought out by an outfit like Safe Harbor, do you think they would have served a free meal?

The walk back to Fleetwing gave us this view - with Jupiter high in the sky

Thursday is storm day and we are secure with no fetch in any direction. On Friday we hope to reach Fernandina and a night out at Pepper's. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Crescent River anchorage - at anchor

Hoolie has a high interest in this beach. He goes there three times a day.

We were against a facedock with the wind and current pushing us against it so we used the backing out technique described in my Guide. It works under all wind and wave conditions, easy. We had a long way to go, about 50 NM to reach Crescent River so we got an early start for us, at 8:00 am. 

So what do you do when you meet one of these guys in the middle of a narrow channel? 
(you get out of the way, maybe softly touching bottom)

Today included Hell Gate just south of Savannah and we saw 6 MLLW through there. In the spring it was 7 MLLW so it's filled in some. Now we had a strong north wind so it could have resulted in less water than normal since that wind directly will blow water out. 

Sarah was the cook tonight! Yummm. 

It is very hard to figure current since you pass by so many inlets. Sometimes it's with you and sometimes it's against you. All told, we averaged our cruising boat speed - it all evened out. We took a long day (50 NM) so we could read Jekyll by Wednesday. There's a front coming through on Thursday with high winds and a 100% chance of rain, heavy at times. We wanted to be snug in a marina for that event. 

A peaceful sunset a the Crescent River anchorage

We hope to make Fernandina on Friday so we can eat out at Pepper's, one of our favorite restaurants. It will just be a one night stay there, then it's on to the Jacksonville free dock. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Savannah Bend Marina - at a dock

A lone heron is still looking for dinner with Saturn in the sky above his head

We were placed on the inside of the facedocks at Beaufort city docks. That can be a challenge due to the swirling currents and fast currents. We carefully prepared our exit and Ann backed out against the incoming current without a problem. The one thing you have to be careful of it to grip the wheel firmly., If it slips out of your hands, then disaster can strike with the wheel hard over. 

We're on the fuel dock for the night, very convenient to come into

The rains cleared around 10:00 and the rest of the day was fine with little winds. We had no problems with the shallows of Watts Cut and Ashepoo- Coosaw Cutoff since we went through with 5 to 6 feet of tide. Still, reduced to MLLW, it was around 4 to 5 feet MLLW at both areas. 

We called many of the marinas in Savannah but they were all full! I then tried the Savannah YC but in addition to a $4/foot fee, they wanted a letter of recommendation from my yacht club stating I was a member in good standing before they would consider allowing me to dock. It seems like they were rather full of themselves and certainly not very welcoming. 

We are on a mission to reach Jekyll by Wednesday night so we can ride out the coming front on Thursday with predicted 20 to 30 kts winds and a 100% chance of rain. Friday is predicted to be better so we'll continue on to Fernandina and dinner at Pepper's!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Beaufort SC - We visit with friends

The sunrise at Steamboat Landing anchorage

I took Hoolie to shore this morning with the second great sunset in a row! We are really enjoying the spat of good weather but it's due to end on Thursday with a cold front coming down from the north. We are going to rush along faster than we planned to make Jekyll by Wednesday night to ride out the storms. 

It will be a beautiful house

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a visit with Scott and Cathy who are building a new house. We toured the construction, it's going to be beautiful. It's due for completion by January. We look forward to visiting on our way north and seeing it all finished. 

Do drop by if you're in the area and have a chat

We often get visitors along the way that drop by to say hi. It's fun to meet people that enjoy the water life as much as we do! If you're around, drop by too.

We will leave early Monday to make for Savannah, then the Crescent River anchorage, followed by Jekyll Island on Wednesday to beat the front headed our way. We plan on two days there to let the winds die down some before heading south once again, this time to Fernandina. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Steamboat Landing Anchorage - at anchor


The famous octagon gazebo is still there! It's been a landmark forever.

We have two choices we like from Charleston: one is Steamboat Landing and the other is B & B Seafood. We called the second place since we love their fresh shrimp but they would not accept us until 5:00 or later. We would have arrived around 2:30 and we couldn't see waiting around until 5:00.

A big reason for stopping is the convenient public landing!

With that, we chose the Steamboat Landing anchorage which is one of our favorites anyway. It has a nice public dock which makes it easy to take Hoolie in and the depths where we anchor are in the 10 feet MLLW range. However, this time of the year, it's ferocious for nats but the visit with Hoolie was brief. On the boat, there are a few nats in the cockpit but we have nat proof screens so we're comfortable down in the main cabin. 

On Sunday we are headed through Watts Cut and Ashepo-Coosaw Cutoff. Both are in the 4 MLLW range so it ought to be interesting although we will have 3 to 4 foot of tide when we go through. We plan on taking a dock at Beaufort, SC and visit with friends during the day. It's off to Windmill Harbour the next day. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Charleston Maritime Center - Last day


"Will he make it?"

Today was a day of relaxation although I did work on the horn and finally got it to sound off. The switch in the binnacle had disintegrated which I discovered after cutting the line to the horn on top of the bimini. I made unnecessary work for myself since the problem was the push switch in the binnacle and not the connection to the horn. I had a spare switch which I wired in, sounds simple but nothing is simple on a boat. It took two hours for the "simple" repair. 

There are certainly container ships unloading in Charleston - and cars too!

We would normally eat out in Charleston but we're still careful with COVID exposure so we stayed on the boat. The rate per 100,000 is now about 1/2 the level in New York. The numbers are way down in Florida. I guess that's one way to get immunity - everybody gets it and the virus has no one else to infect. 

We will strike out Saturday for the Steamboat anchorage, one of our favorites and then it's on to Beaufort, SC. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Charlestown Maritime Center - At a dock


Early for us but I was greeted with a great sunrise

We had our first sunrise photo today. I was up to take Hoolie to shore and saw the sunrise over the ocean. I went back aways to get Fleetwing in the photo and one other boat that came in after us. The water was flat calm and with Just Hoolie and me, we got up on plane for a rapid trip.

It's a full house tonight. We made our reservations a week ahead of time.

We had a four foot tide most of the way south so we didn't have any problems although the least water I saw was 4.9 MLLW in Isle of Palms. It was dredged a couple of years ago but as always, it has shoaled again to some extent.

We like the Charleston Maritime Center due to the nearby Harris Teeter. We are now provisioned for the rest of the trip south to Titusville except for milk and fresh vegetables and fruit. We're in the home stretch and hope to arrive in Titusville around November 3 if the weather holds, always a variable.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Awendaw Anchorage - on the hook


The start of our first sunset photo!

We came through Minim Creek and McClellanville without a problem since I had a 3 foot tide. Minim Creek was no problem but McClellanville could have been at low tide. I saw 4.9 MLLW at one point. It has definitely shoaled in after the dredging to 12 feet last year. The Bob 423 track follows the deepest water and Navionics SonarChart is pretty good too through here. 

We had some nice color just as the sun reached the horizon

Ann picked out her favorite spot, right in the middle of the anchorage with tons of room around. We don't like to feel crowded and Awendar fits that criteria every time. There could be a hundred boats in here and still not be crowded. 

Hoolie relief is within a quick dinghy ride if you can get up on plane. There's a sandy beach that's steep to at all tides that I use by the entrance to the anchorage. So now we're relaxed after a taco dinner cooked by our granddaughter who's with us on this trip south. It's very calm, with no wind and no wave action. We look forward to a calm night although it might be a little cool in the morning. Autumn is coming!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Harborwalk Marina at Georgetown - at a dock

The cruise down the Waccamaw River is always scenic - here we're seeing autumn colors already

 It was another great day for traveling! We will take advantage of the good weather as we get it. The Harborwalk Marina here is located downtown with excellent ipe docks and OnSpotWiFi. We refueled and had a pump out.

Georgetown is the home of a shrimp fleet - lots of good fish to be had

You can walk a block for your pick of restaurants but we like to go next-door and pick out our fish dinner at Independent Seafood. I always chose a local fish, this time it was flounder. Ann had an excellent recipe, delicious. 

We do not have Live Oaks up north - they are very scenic

I met the crew and captains of the four nearest boats docked here. They all followed the Bob423 tracks and most had my Guide. We will probably be playing tag with them all the way south. 

You don't see many of these around

On Tuesday, we're headed to one of our favorite anchorages, Awendaw which is between McClellanville and the Isle of Palms. It's a big anchorage and I can speed Hoolie over to a sandy beach for relief. McClellanville was dredged recently but it's already shoaled in some so I'll go with a 2 to 3 ft tide. After that, it's on to Charleston!

Turtles and the sun, what more is needed?

Monday, October 18, 2021

Osprey Marina - at a dock


Little River Swing Bridge - why keep it when the 65 ft bridge is next door??

We made the 50 mile run today to Osprey Marina from St James Plantation Marina in Southport. It was a perfect traveling day with temps in the '70s, full sun, and no wind. The only area of concern was Lockwoods Folly where I took the route by the northern shore, bypassing the straight-through route which had shoaled to less than 5 MLLW. I saw 7 to 8 MLLW along the "shore route". The Bob 423 track for the area takes you close to the northern shore - which I followed. 

The famous "Rock Pile" section of the ICW. You do NOT want to stray outside the markers!

The only problem with the shore route are the numerous fishing boats. They are anchored in the current and don't move. I'm sure they wondered why I came so close when to their eyes, there was lots of water to use for a less close approach. While that's true, all that other water was much shallower. 

A bargain price in the flood plain

The rest of the trip showed no surprises. The two swing bridges we pass by all had perfectly good 65 ft bridges within a couple hundred feet downstream. It defies logic as to why they wanted to keep both bridges!

We are settled in for the night - pictured is the Osprey Marina office

We are snug in here at Osprey Marina and there are empty slips still. The price remains at $1/ft, the best bargain on the ICW, especially when it comes with a gift bag that includes pepper jelly! We'll leave in the morning for Georgetown and a dock at Harborwalk. This stretch of good weather is not to be wasted!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

St James Plantation Marina - Dinner with the McKays

Southport Marina is coming along but there's no docking in this area

The McKays were kind to lend us the use of their car for completing our provisioning. We had left out a bunch of stuff when we provisioned at Homer Smith using their free car. Today we filled in the holes and we should be okay until we reach Titusville. 

On the other hand, to the west, there are slips being used and more open in the distance

I made a stop at Southport Marina to see how they were coming along. They are still putting in new docks but they are taking in transients. There seemed to be a lot of empty slips, some were roped off but others were open, call ahead for details. 

What better way to spend the evening than conversation with friends over cheese and wine!

At 5:00 we headed over to the McKays for dinner. Their house overlooks the ICW and they have a dock for a small boat, too small for Fleetwing! We had cheese and wine on their upper porch which was delightful. Dinner and dessert followed but the best part was in catching up since the interruption by  COVID problems, my - how the world has changed in the past two years. 

Monday morning we head for Osprey Marina and through Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock


Our first sunrise of the trip

I took Hoolie out early and was treated to a great sunrise. It's been cloudy so many days this fall that sunny days have been rare - but we had one today! The only problem was that everyone else had the same idea, it was a weekend. 

I include photos like this so you can see the docks, there are full length, nicely maintained

All of the Bob423 tracks are still good down to Southport, no problems. I was passed by a large powerboat and I saw that he was going straight across a shoal where I had a track taking boaters out of the channel to the red side. He went straight, he stopped - it was low tide. It was less than 5 ft where he was going. I guess he plowed through, who knows the damage to his unprotected props. I'm amazed at why people still do this? The Bob423 tracks are free, they work - and yet there are boaters that don't use them? Is it an ego thing? Ego can be costly when a prop is damaged that easily could have been avoided. To some people, the only teacher is experience (and sometimes not even that!)

On the way into St James Marina, we lost a ball fender overboard. We went out in the dinghy to search later but it was nowhere to be found. Someone must have picked it up?

We will be here for two days and tomorrow we're invited for dinner with the McKays. They're the couple that took us dog and all during hurricane Matthew who passed directly overhead. Since then, we've become great friends. Meanwhile, they've loaned us the use of their car to finish provisioning for the things we forgot when we ordered from Walmart. 

We will start out again Monday morning, headed for Osprey, a great place to stay. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Harbor Village - at their fuel dock


The Onslow swing bridge - we missed the opening by 8 minutes - no forgiveness here

It was a perfect day for making time. For a change, we had full sunshine all day long, light winds, no wave action - we motored right along. We covered a little over 50 NM but it was easy with the weather and wind. We made it to our dock by 4:30. 

Sarah is enjoying the sunshine - notice the massive pilings. 

Marc and Ruth dropped by to say hello. They're going south too and will also be leaving in the morning. There's some concern about the reported 5 MLLW at the east entrance to Snows Cut so they will probably try to avoid low tide. 

Ruth from the powerboat in front of us to say hi. 

The dockmaster here is great, the WiFi is good, the docks are first rate, plenty of ice, what's not to like? We will be leaving first thing in the morning which for us is around 8:15. We have to time our departure so we reach the Figure 8 Bridge at the top of the hour (10:00) since the next bridge only opens at the top of the hour and it's 4.5 miles away. I can't make that in 1/2 hour so I have to time the first bridge for the top of the hour to give me plenty of time to make the 11:00 opening at the Wrightsville Bridge.

Our destination is St James Plantation Marina where we will meet up again with the McKays who took us in several years ago during Hurricane Matthew when we sought shelter there during that storm. We will be there two days and then head south again, this time to Osprey Marina.