Monday, October 31, 2022

Jacksonville Free Docks at Sisters Creek - at the free dock


At $3/ft, not many takers at Fernandina, FL

No surprises along the Bob423 track but I wills still modify the track for more leeway in avoiding growing shoals. Docking at Sisters Creek was exciting as always. We were able to secure the mid cleat but the forward line fell in the water. Ann powered forward and with the midship cleat secured, Fleetwing came to the dock and I grabbed the forward line. 

There’s no reason to go around at Cumberland Divides (MM 703.5), like this guy. Just follow the Bob423 track!

Everything worked out in the end and we are now securely tied up for the night. We met another couple that came in later and traded stories, a great pastime on the ICW. Later on, Terri came by who has been our weather guru for the trip. She watches all the wether reports and alerts us to upcoming weather to avoid. With her advice, we made it to Jekyll Island a day earlier than planned and weathered the high winds at a sheltered dock. 

On Tuesday, we’re off to St Augustine for  a day. We had planned on staying two days but the marina there is still repairing their docks and can’t allow boaters to occupy at slip for more than one day since the slip may need repair minus any reservation for that dock. 

After that, it’s two days to Titusville and our December home for Fleetwing until we return in January when we’ll move on to Key West. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Jekyll Harbor Marina - last day


Jekyll Island has outstanding beaches! There’re mostly empty in the off season.

We took one of the golf carts today to the mini-supermarket, the only grocery store on Jekyll Island. It’s a cross between a general store with everything and a small supermarket. The selection is quite wide with tastes to fit everybody. We stocked up on milk, eggs, orange juice, and other staples We won’t have to shop again until Titusville.

No shortage of very large powerboats!

One would think that there wouldn’t be as many large powerboats given the high diesel costs but you wouldn’t think that by looking at what’s in the marina, several huge boats. There’s always been enough diesel wherever we’ve been, albeit at a high price, currently at $5.40 here. 

I guess I could look up the name of the type of grass - it’s been planted alongside many of the sidewalks.

We saw the sun today for the first time since Friday when the storms came through. The temps peak out in the 70s and since we’re close to Florida, the lows don’t get below 60 anymore. We will leave early to get a  good start for the Jacksonville free dock on Sister’s Creek, hopefully, there will be room. We are due to meet up with friends for wine on the back of Fleetwing, fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Jekyll Harbor Marina - at a dock


There must be a world of smells that we are totally unaware of - but to a dog… 

The winds picked up today and we didn’t even see the sun, kind of a raw day. Ann painted in the cockpit and I worked on a presentation I’m making to the Great Harbor association of powerboats and to AIWA, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association, meeting in Norfolk in November. We kept the small heaters going all day to keep the chill away - it got down into the 60s!!

In addition to the free golf carts, the marina also offers free bikes

With all our homework done, Sunday will be a day of exploring Jekyll Island. We’ll take advantage of the free golf carts that the marina maintains and see what the island has to offer. We know there’s a small supermarket in town for odds and end and then there’s the beach we’ll want to see. Ann has a list of necessities we need for provisions, hopefully the “supermarket” will have what we need. 

After our mini vacation, we’re off to the Jacksonville free dock on Monday. We will be skipping Fernandina since we’re so close here in Jekyll. We plan on arriving in Titusville on Thursday if all goes according to plan. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

Jekyll Harbor Marina - at a dock

Every dog needs a good resting place after a hard day of guarding the boat!

 The marina has two washers and two dryers, very modern front loaders so we took advantage of the feature and did a laundry today. I was trying to track down a small leak but wanted to rid the bilge of stray water first. The primary pump for the bilge doesn’t dewater the entire boat. For that I use an extension from the aft shower but that decided not to work today, for some reason. I think it was just being ornery. 

A nice sunset and a pretty boat in silhouette   

I couldn’t easily fix the issue so nothing was done today. I’ll tackle the slow leak Saturday morning. I think it’s coming from the swim platform locker which is below the water level when motoring, connected to a drain that’s underwater. I bought a fiber optic scope attachment form the iPad so I can place the end of the scope to see where the leak is coming from, at least that’s the plan.

We had dinner at Zachry’s Riverside Restaurant which was packed as usual with a waiting list. However, at 5:00 we got in without a wait. They do a good job on fish sandwiches but they have a wide variety of items on their menu. 

I’ll try out my new toy Saturday morning to, hopefully, fine the leak.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Jekyll Harbor Marina - at a dock


We’re the fourth boat from the right

There’s a storm coming on Friday and Saturday so we decided to make a run for it to Jekyll. That involved leaving at 7:00 am before the sun came up, an early start that we’re not fond of. Nevertheless, we got off on time and headed south. 

I promised Ann a night out at Zachry’s River House, a great local restaurant

We passed through Little Mud River and the shallowest I saw was 5.6 MLLW on the Bob423 track. Jekyll was a little shallower at 4.7 MLLW, less than what I saw in spring at 6.2 MLLW for Jekyll. The weather was once again perfect for traveling so we made good time, arriving at Jekyll by 3:30 pm. 

At least the lift bridge is long gone. Why are all ICW bridges this way?

We are beat! Jekyll Harbor Marina is full! We got an inside dock since that’s all that was available. I have a list of chores to do which includes tracking down a persistent leak in the aft section of Fleetwing. I got a fiber optic scope attachment for my iPad to try finding out where exactly the leak is coming from. The fiber optic extension can snake into small areas that I couldn’t see otherwise.

We’ll be here until Monday, a mini-vacation in an area that’s fun to explore with the free golf carts provided the the marina. Hopefully, I can find that leak!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock


A walk for Hoolie on a wooded lane

We were motoring along with the intention of spending the night at Kilkenny Marina, then at the Crescent River anchorage before moving on to Jekyll Island. We received a note from our weather expert, Terri, that a storm was coming on Friday so we changed our plans. Now we’ll make it a long day on Thursday and get into Jekyll late so we’re secure for the expected high winds from the coming storm.Many thanks to Terri for watching out for us. She described it as a “mini nor’easter”. 

It’s the huge trees I find fascinating - with the horizontal branches

So here we sit in Kilkenny as the only boat on the docks. Where is everybody? We didn’t need diesel but the price here is $5.30/gallon. The prices along the ICW are all over the place. It pays to shop around.;

All alone on our dock

This whole area used to be a plantation and the huge live oaks shows are still around. I marvel at the long branches that extend horizontally instead of at an angle upwards. The woods is purported to be very strong and was sought after for building ships in the early days of the Union. 

We will need to be on the water and moving by 7:00 am, before the sun is above the horizon. It’s a “get up and go” day for us.

Along the way, we saw a rare green and white buoy with a green bottom and a white top. I’ve got to look up what it means… 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Savannah Bend - at a dock

Good morning! Where’s land? (we’re on the end at far left)

 We woke up in Maine this morning! Perhaps the fog was not quite as thick as in Maine but we could barely see shore from our boat dock. We didn’t have all that far to go so we could afford to wait until it cleared, somewhat. It wasn’t until noon that it was completely gone. I turned on the radar which worked perfectly (surprise, surprise). We were all alone in the fog (no other idiots out!)

We spotted a moving bird resting place on our way

After the fog lifted, it was another fine day with calm winds and temps in the 70s. There were no surprises along the way as far as the Bob423 track was concerned. We reached Savannah Bend by 3:30 and tied up to the fuel dock. The marina here is fine. I had wanted to dock at Thunderbolt but they were full.

The Causton Lift bridge has been left in the up position - but not all the way! Be careful! 

We’ll just spend the night and move on to Kilkenny Marina in the morning, only 22 NM farther south, passing through Hell Gate in the process. 

A nice sunset in Savannah, a peaceful end to the day

Monday, October 24, 2022

Beaufort, SC- at a dock


The waterfront is lined with swings, often fully occupied, beautiful. I once heard how the locals remember to pronounce the two Beaufort correctly. The one in South Carolina is beautiful - so it’s Bew-ford. The one in North Carolina is Bow-ford. 

Steamboat, as always , was very quiet but last night was exceptional - you could have been on land. I ran Hoolie into the dock before the sun came up. We weighed anchor around 7:10 or so and started off. We wanted to leave early enough to catch a falling high tide at Watts Cut (4.5 MLLW minimum) and Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff (5.8 MLLW minimum). I expected less water at Ashepoo but by carefully follow the latest USACE survey, I saw the reported number. This afternoon, I transferred by track to the Bob423 track for the area and will be publishing it tomorrow. 

Help is on the way! Dredges at Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff!

We reached Beaufort by noon. During the migration months, the bridge opens on the hour and half hour. Outside that time period, they only open on top of the hour. They had originally petitioned the Coast Guard for only two openings a day at 10:00 and 2:00!! The Coast Guard denied the request. The town council doesn’t seem to much care for boaters. However, the town is great to explore but we stayed on the waterfront. 

A quiet night. That’s Fleetwing at the far left in the photo

On Tuesday, we will move on to Savannah for the night. The weather continues to be fantastic, couldn’t ask for better. I’ve never seen it this calm in the sounds, totally flat and very little wind. It’s been a nice trip south once past the storms in Deltaville at the beginning of our trip.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Steamboat Creek - at anchor


When I walked Hoolie this morning, I saw this couple out on a pier admiring the sunrise

It was a short run today to Steamboat Creek, one of our favorite anchorages. It’s very protected and a public dock is nearby for Hoolie relief. There’s almost no wind and we’re swinging with the tide. 

We were visited by the “boat next door”, no motor!

We were able to go a Zoom meeting with our family using T-Mobile so we’re happy with the service so far. I will be publishing a summary of the speed of connections all down the ICW when I reach Key West. The speeds definitely are better than I remember with Verizon.

The oyster farm is still there but out of the channel

We are only a few miles from Watts Cut and only 23 miles from Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff. We’ll get an early start so we’ll have several feet of tide passing through the two areas. The USACE surveys only show 4 to 5 MLLW. 

We’re headed for Beaufort, SC for tomorrow night as we continue our journey south. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Charleston Maritime Center - We explore Charleston


This is my favorite sculpture of all time. What a sense of motion!

We provisioned at our favorite store on the ICW, Harris Teeter in Charleston. It’s a short walk from the marina so we stocked up this morning. We’re good now until we reach Titusville. 

I wonder if this sculpture was done by the same artist?

The soccer field was full of 4 to 6 year olds. Every field was full of little kids running around kicking balls. The parents cheered each kick, everyone appeared to be having fun. I walked Hoolie around the perimeter of the six fields, we was active all the way, stopping to meet other dogs. 

The houses in Charleston have the front door on the side porch instead of on the house

Ann’s big thing is to shop at Chico’s in Charleston. It’s the nicest Chico’s on the ICW. While she was there, I walked around the sunny, warm day taking pictures. We had intended having lunch at Hyman’s Seafood but it was a Saturday and they were packed. It was a 35 minute wait at the minimum for a table. We were not about wait that long, not to mention the packed conditions inside the restaurant. 

The streets were full of horse drawn carriages for sightseeing 

With that, we stopped by Harris Teeter on the way back and picked up dinner. We had a basket of fried chicken and I got some sushi for an appetizer. The cockpit was warm, the sushi was good, and the wine made everything even better! Life is good. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Charleston Maritime Center - at a dock


Hoolie’s beach at Awendaw (minus Hoolie, he’s in the dinghy). The waves are from a powerboat that just went by.

We waited until 10:00 am to leave the anchorage in order to have a comfortable tide through Isle of Palms. Everything was as expected until we past the high bridge by Isle of Palms. In the spring, I found 4.9 MLLW water but today is was only 3.3 MLLW and I needed the tide I had waited for to get through! As I recall, the Isle of Palms is not on the list of inlets to dredge so it’s going to be a game of playing the tides there to get through.

The marina here is small and exposed to easterly winds but it’s calm for the next few days, we like it here.

Other than the excitement at Isle of Palms, the rest of the trip was uneventful. We arrived at the Charleston Maritime Center with a raging flood tide and were afraid we were going to be put into a northern dock - with the tide behind us. As it turned out, Ann docked Fleetwing into the current at a southern pier, much better! 

We’re snugged in for the night. People ask me, “Why do you put out so many fenders?” I reply “Where do you think the fenders will do the most good? On the boat on hanging over the side?”

This marina os one of our favorites due to its convenient location to downtown and the nearby Harris Teeter supermarket for provisioning. Saturday, we’ll explore downtown Charleston, only three blocks away, and have a late lunch at Hyman’s, another of our favorite restaurants. We both get a shrimp and grits appetizer which is plenty for a full meal for us. 

So it’s time for a layover day and then we’re off to Steamboat Creek for an anchorage there on Sunday. It’s starting to warm up but the nights are still cold!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Awendaw - at anchor


There’s always a nice sunset at the Awendaw anchorage

We came through McClellanville today and saw more water than anticipated on the Bob423 track. The lowest we saw was 6.7 MLLW at one spot, deeper elsewhere. I can’t vouch for off the Bob423 track but on the track it was fine, no problem in the other areas.

The Awendaw anchorage is one of our favorites. It’s conveniently located at a halfway point between McClellanville and Isle of Palms which allows you to time your passage through the shallow areas no matter of the timing of tides. The anchorage has Hoolie relief at a nearby beach which is above water at all tides. It satisfies Ann’s criteria of having plenty of room so you never feel crowded. You can figure that she’s not a fan of anchoring in the Marathon anchoring field. We’ve done that and met our neighbors in the early hours several times. 

Ann took thus view through our cockpit. There were six boats here in all

We will spend a lazy morning on Friday to give us time for a rising tide at Isle of Palms. McClellanville is mud but Isle of Palms is sand. You can plow through mud to some extent but that strategy does not work for sand, we’ve tried. 

The Ben Sawyer bridge opens on demand during the week so we will not have to wait for top of the hour (on weekends, it only opens once an hour on top of the hour). We’re headed for the Charleston Maritime Center for the next two days. We’ll provision at the nearby Harris Teeter and have lunch at Hyman’s, two of our favorite places. We’re just taking our time going south. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Georgetown - at a dock


I’m no one to judge bars but it looked nicely done

We only had 25 NM to go so we were lazy and didn’t leave until 10:00 pm. The trip down the Maccamaw River is always a beautiful ride. The wind picked up some but the water was smooth. We docked at Harborwalk Marina which is right downtown. The marina is first rate, nice docks and laundry facilities. 

Even I can appreciate a fine chandelier 

We are still getting Fleetwing in sailing order with today’s project the adjusting of the back tube of the bimini to we could snap the enclosure down to avoid winds on the aft section when docked. It was a study in just which slider to adjust to loosen the tension, not always obvious but trial and error conquers all. 

Since we plan on anchoring Thursday night, we fired up the outboard which had not been started since the spring. I learned to empty the fuel tank by letting the outboard idle until it shuts off after bills of $200 and $350 on two occasions to repair a non-starting outboard. Up until then, I had just let whatever gas was in the outboard to remain until I used it next, even if it was next year. After the second bill, I finally learned my lesson. It’s easy enough, just let the motor die at idle with the gas tank removed. 

A view of the paper plant at Georgetown, eerie 

We ordered take out at the Corner Tavern in Georgetown. They have a pub menu with lots of sandwhich choices which suited us fine after a day of boat chores. It’s on to Awendaw on Thursday, timed so we have a few feet of leeway through the McClellanville shallows. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Osprey Marina - at a dock


I took the blue dotted line route - 8 MLLW. The straight through route runs into a shoal by G47A

We passed through both Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte on the way to Osprey Marina from St James Marina. I took the Lockwoods Folly shore route for better water, at least 8 MLLW and mostly deeper. The straight through route shows severe shoaling by G47A. Someday, the Coast Guard will move G47A so boaters won’t run into the shoal extending into the channel there. Meanwhile, just take the shore route.

Good as ever, Osprey Marina

Osprey Marina is the same as always. They haven’t received their recent order yet for more mint jelly so the goodie bag was lighter than usual.  The price is still right thought at $1/ft! I filled up and had a pump out. It’s due to be cold tonight so I’m grateful for electric. 

Tonight it’s due to get into the 30s here! We have a short day on Wednesday to Georgetown so we’ll wait until it warms up a bit. The full sun still warms up our enclosure to shirt sleeve weather as we travel, no problem there. The real test will be on Thursday when we anchor out at Awendaw with a low predicted in the 30s. That Genset better work!

Monday, October 17, 2022

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock

We’re at one of the 40 ft docks in St James marina, very secure.

 A layover day is not a day of rest on a boat. The list of “to dos” was piling up and I worked my way through most of them today, but not all. We’re actually starting to look like a boat again instead of a traveling gypsy wagon. 

Hoolie came down the stairs last night and slipped and crashed into the seat by the companionway stairs. he howled and cried for a minute or so but then settled down. We’ve taken to holding him by a harness to help him down the stairs gently. He also needs help now getting off Fleetwing. He’s 14 years old now and he’s starting to slow down some, not a lot, but some. In dog years, he’s older than us!

It’s a busy time in the mornings and evenings

Like many marinas along the ICW, St James Marina has a large storage building for small boats. They stack them 6 high on racks inside, well protected. It has the advantage that you never have to paint the bottom since they are hauled out after each use. It also saves a lot of dock space for boats that can’t be easily hauled. 

Our destination on Tuesday is Osprey Marina, 50 NM distant. We’ll see how Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte are faring as far as shoaling is concerned. I don’t anticipate any problems, I haven’t even looked at a tide table today. There’s no need to if you follow the Bob423 track along this stretch of the ICW. After that, it’s off to Georgetown the next day.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

St James Plantation Marina - We visit with the McKays


An early morning start from Harbour Village Marina

What a great day! There was no fog this morning so we got off around 7:30, timing our departure to make the top of the hour opening of the Figure 8 bridge. The distance to the next bridge is 4.4 NM which we cannot make in 1/2 hour so by reaching the Figure 8 bridge at 9:00, we can make the 10:00 opening of the bridge at Wrightsville. 

I’m sure there are other fine restaurants in Southport but the Provision Company is our favorite

Along the way, the weather continues to  be extraordinary with wind less than 10 kts and temps Ins the 70s with full sun. The enclosure was toasty. We did have a foul tide going down Cape Fear River but with the flat water and little wind, it wasn’t a problem. 

A welcoming smile!

For those that have followed my blog over the years, you’ll remember that the McKays took us in when we were caught at St James during hurricane Matthew. We had nowhere to go when the eye of the storm was projected to pass right over the top of us. They offered us a place for the night of the storm, Hoolie too! We went outside when the eye passed over, eerie.

I’ll have one of everything

Since that time, we’ve visited with them on every trip north and south. Tonight we returned to The Provision, a great and inexpensive restaurant overlooking the harbor at Southport. Everything is made to order in the kitchen right as you come in. You order first, take what you want for drinks, and pay on the way out. There are many good seafood restaurants in Southport but we like The Provision the best.

The menu is very reasonably priced!

Monday will be a layover day and we have a list of chores to do on Fleetwing before moving on to Osprey Marina on Tuesday. There were no surprises on the Bob423 track, just follow it for good water. The only thing of note is that R172A at MM 298 is missing but it’s of no consequence since the Bob423 track takes you around the shoal it marks. 


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Harbour Village - at a dock

A foggy morning and a late start from Homer Smith marina

We were ready to go early since it was a long hike for us but there was dense fog. Since it was a Saturday, there would be many small fishing boats in the harbor between us and the ICW south of Beaufort. With that, we waited until the fog lifted top proceed, costing us about an hour and a half on arrival time.

Work is proceeding on the Onslow bridge - hope it keeps working until it’s done

Our destination was Harbour Village which is just south of Surf City. We used to love to dock there but the marina went bankrupt and the new owners now do not allow transients. The marina we’re at now has excellent docks but there’s nothing nearby. They have fuel and good showers but we needed neither. 

The sand bar by G65A is still there. You can shake hands as you pass by

The trip was uneventful except for 5.7 MLLW next to R66B at mile marker 242 just south of New River. There’s a narrow gap between R66B and shore that you must follow - the Bob423 tracks shows the way. All other parts of the Bob423 tracks was as expected and is covered in the Waterway Guide Alerts.

On Sunday, we’re headed for St James Marina to meet up with friends for dinner that night. It will be another long day but the weather is supposed to be good for Cape Fear River, we hope.