Friday, April 24, 2009

The first photo is from our anchorage in Tom Point Creek. The second photo is what the sky looked like right after we docked in Charleston, we did not get it, but some locations nearby were getting half dollar size hail. I do not think the third photo is what I intended it to be, but it is some of the shore line of the Waccamaw River. The last two are from the anchorage in the Waccamaw River near MM375 where we spent Thursday night. This was probably our last time to anchor with Blue Max!!! Emotions are starting to become quite mixed. Excited to be nearing the point of crossing our wake and getting to see all the friends at home but not wanting to leave the new life style and many friends we have made in the past year.

We slept fairly late on Sunday morning and got a slow start. After bagels for breakfast we started preparing to get underway. Jeff and Anne got away a little before 11:00 and we got under way about 11:20. The skies were mostly overcast but it was warm, upper 70’s. This was a pretty cruise through the marshes of southern South Carolina. We arrived at our intended anchorage in Tom Point Creek about 3:45 and got the anchor set nicely in a pretty well protected area surrounded by trees on shore. I got the dingy down and it started right off and ran fine. I am sure the problems a few days ago were because I connected the gas line before I opened the tank vent and that flooded the engine. We will share drinks and snacks with Blue Max in a few minutes.
We got away from Tom Point Creek at 7:00am, some kind of a record for us, so that we could arrive in Charleston at low tide to avoid the swift current in the Cooper River while docking. This worked perfectly, we flew through Elliot Cut with a very swift current and arrived at the Charleston Maritime Center Marina at low tide with just about no current but the wind was blowing quite hard. We walked downtown for dinner and a bit of a look around. The next morning at about 5:30 we were awakened by the sound of the engine on the tall ship, Spirit of Charleston, docking just across from us. After breakfast we all walked to the bus stop and rode to the visitor center where we split-up. Bill and I took a bus to down town to tour the new destroyer but when we got there we found the line was so long that they had closed it because the ship had to leave the dock shortly after noon. The women took a horse carriage tour through the historic district and Muriel learned about a special church service at the Circular Church. The driver told them not to miss the service because part of the service would be in Gouhla, a low country dialect spoken by slaves. Muriel and I went and enjoyed the experience. The entire audience was involved in singing, clapping, foot stomping and hand waving before the service was concluded.
Freedom’s Turn had arrived in the marina in the afternoon and we got to visit with them for a while. They said they planned to leave about 7:00 in the morning. We got away about 9:15 and they were still in the marina.
We left the marina intending to anchor about half way to Georgetown and then continue to Georgetown the next day. But when we got to the area where we had thought we would anchor the wind was so strong and there was so little shelter that we just continued on and arrived in Georgetown about 4:15. While we were getting tied into the marina we met another couple who had just arrived also. They spent the winter in Florida aboard their boat and are on the way home to Cape May, NJ. After a short visit we all walked into town for dinner. We have to stop eating out so much. We will all be like blimps.
Like I said last night we are all going to look like blimps. We got up this morning and walked into town to get breakfast at Thomas CafĂ©. Freedom’s Turn told us they had good and inexpensive breakfast. They were right on target. We finally got underway about 10:00 To head up the Wacamaw River to anchor in an ox bow. While eating breakfast Bill saw in the news paper that there is a large wild fire in the Myrtle Beach area. During the day we heard the Coast Guard announce that the water way is closed in the Myrtle Beach area until further notice. We talked to the marina there and they said they expect whose homes were destroyed by the fire. After we got anchored and started to settle we saw Dean on a small sail boat converted to power boat coming up the river. We haled him and he entered the ox bow and anchored nearby. We invited him over for drinks and then dinner which we all shared. It was an enjoyable evening for all. He has been on the loop for four years, starting in Bar Harbor, Maine.
We have ordered our gold looper flag sent to the marina at home and asked Ron and Connie to pick it up for us. We spoke to them today and they will still be on their boat when we arrive on Sunday or Monday. It will be great to have them there. Their boat is probably sold and we thought they may be moved off by the time we got home. We also started to call people to let them know when we expect to be back home. It is exciting to anticipate returning and yet it is disappointing to think that this great adventure is about to end. We will hate to see our friends go on without us. Blue Max will continue on toward their home and several other boats still behind us will pass south of Wilmington and we will miss seeing them. Wander’n L&M, Golden Lily, Freedom’s Turn, and Kismet are all boats we ran with off and on and we would love to see them again.
We spent the evening and the night in a very peaceful anchorage on the Waccamaw River. It was an ox bow with enough room for several boats. There were nine boats there before the evening was over because of the ICW closing. We met Dean on Dolcimea again. We have been seeing him ever since we were in Frenandina, Fl. We invited him to come over for drinks and dinner and had a very nice visit. The nicest people play about on boats.
This morning we delayed leaving this morning because the ICW was closed due to the fires at Myrtle Beach. About 10:00 I called the Coast Guard and they said the ICW was open to all traffic so we got underway and arrived here about 1:00, Barefoot Landing. We enjoyed a burger and then walked around the shops. Tomorrow we plan to move on to Southport. The next stop will be home in Wilmington.

Isle of Hope to Beaufort, SC

Ben and Jerry's in Charleston had free ice cream the day we were there. The second photo is what we saw as we entered the river to cross at Savanah. The third photo is from Savanah. That must be us at another ice cream parlor!!

We arrived at Isle of Hope just after noon so we got a courtesy car and made the necessary Wal-Mart run and returned to put the groceries away. Then we went back out to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant which some others had said was good. We enjoyed the dinner but mine was not as good as expected. The others, Muriel and Bill and Eileen were very impressed with their meals, an excellent chef.
We were up early this morning and out to catch a bus at 8:00. We rode into downtown Savannah and took a tour of the old historic district. We were very impressed with the old buildings and the quality of the restorations.
We plan to get underway about 8:00 in the morning and run to Beaufort, SC. This will be the longest run we have made in some time, a little over 50 miles.
The forecast this morning was for winds at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 25 mph from the northeast. We were a little apprehensive about the day’s trip because we had to cross Port Royal Sound to get into Beaufort, SC. We decided to head out and if the wind was too strong when we got to the sound we would turn back a few miles and anchor but the forecast for tomorrow was the same. We left Isle of Hope with fairly strong winds but they decreased as the day progressed. We crossed the sound with only a moderate chop and arrived in Beaufort at dead high tide so that docking was as good as it gets in Beaufort where the marina is notorious for strong currents. As we were tying up Judy walked up. They stayed an extra day here to say hello. They have been running a day ahead of us for some time now. As soon as we got settled, and registered, we all walked into town for an ice cream treat and a chance to visit.
On Friday morning I got up early and checked the engines so that would be done whenever we start to move again. Then Muriel and I walked into town for breakfast. We walked into a restaurant and found Les and Judy already seated so we ate and visited with them. Soon after breakfast they left. They are going to do the down east loop this summer so we will probably not see them again any time soon. This afternoon we walked around some of the old homes in Beaufort and decided to take a narrated carriage tour. We enjoyed it and learned some about the old homes here.
Jeff and Anne arrived before noon on Saturday. So we walked into town to the bagel shop and had bagels for lunch. We enjoyed visiting during the afternoon and then decided to enjoy happy hour at a couple of the local pubs. Muriel and Anne really enjoyed the happy hour. Bill and Eileen were with us and we all had some good laughs and plenty of snacks. We finally got back to the boat about 8:00 after also visiting with some of the local boaters who were having a pot luck on the dock. Muriel insisted on fixing a dinner. It was very good but we were all already full from the snacks and drinks. Later, after dinner, Muriel and Anne used the excuse that they were going out to walk Carlie and they went back to the pot luck to get some of their banana pudding.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jekyll Island to Isle of Hope via one anchorage and Kilkenny Creek

The first photo is the dock at Kilkenny Marina. The second photo is the old village hotel at Kekyll Island.

We got a fairly early start for us, underway from Jekyll Island by about 7:40. The winds were light and we had a good beginning. The forecast was for 15 to 20 miles per hour from the NE. We figured this would not be too bad in the ICW. Before long Muriel said she was seeing gusts to 49 mph on our anemometer. Crossing the sounds was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be with that much wind. We intended to anchor in Back River but when we got there we found virtually no protection from the NE winds and the water was too deep to anchor where there was slight protection. We decided to move on and look at a couple of other possibilities further along the way. We selected New Teakettle Creek. The water depth is better for anchoring and the wind gets very little fetch to produce waves however the wind does keep the boats in constant motion dancing before the wind. This is Easter and Muriel has prepared ham and potato salad. We are looking forward to dinner.
We have reservations at marinas for the next couple of nights because the forecast is for thunderstorms Monday evening and 60% chance of them continuing into Tuesday. Hopefully we will be able to get into a marina tomorrow before the weather turns bad.
We got underway Monday at 7:30 to try to get passed the two inlets and on to the marina before the weather turns too bad. The wind was already coming into Sapello Sound off the ocean by the time we ran down the sound. We had three to four foot waves in the sound on our bow. We were able to get into the lee of the north side of the inlet before we had to turn broadside to the waves. This worked well for us. In St Catherine’s Sound the wind was not nearly so strong but we still had some fairly large waves coming in from the ocean. From there we had a short run up a narrow channel to get to Kilkenny Marina. Shortly after we got secured at the marina, about 12:30, the wind started to pickup and a little after that we had tornado watch issued for this area. There is a line of heavy rain on the GPS weather radar moving toward us. Glad we are in the marina, even though it is not much of a marina.
The tornado watch became a tornado warning and the wind blew and the lightning popped and it rain hard for a while then steadily for several hours. On Tuesday morning the weather was still forecasting a chance of more rain and T-storms but it looked pretty good so we took off at 9:00 to arrive at Hell Gate with a favorable tide. This worked for us but we had to idle along for an hour to arrive at Isle of Hope near high tide so we could approach the dock for a starboard tie. This is a beautiful facility. We have signed up for the courtesy car to make the inevetable Wll-Mart run. It has been a few weeks since we have been to a Wall-Mart. Tomorrow we plan to ride the bus into Savannah and spend the day touring the City.

We got a fairly early, 8:30, start from Six Mile Creek so that we could arrive at Ortega River before low tide because the water in the marina is quite shallow at low tide. It was the prettiest morning we have seen on the St John’s River. It seems a shame to be in the marina this afternoon but we need to get organized before we continue on up the ICW. We all showered and Muriel did laundry then we went out to eat, what a treat!
We discussed moving on to Ferdandina today but decided to stay here and finish the shopping and get some odds and ends serviced on the boat. The forecast yesterday sounded like today would be stormy in the afternoon. Naturally, it has been another beautiful day. We all walked back to the shops and got our hair cut. If the weather looks decent tomorrow we will go.
We ran to Fernandina Beach and arrived about 2:00 pm. At the last bend below Fernandina I began to bump the bottom rather solidly while in the center of the channel. We managed to bump through and found deeper water just to the west of our course. About the same time the wind began to pickup and with the tide being low and the wind blowing again getting docked inside the harbor at Fernandina was interesting. Soon after we got settled we boarded a “trolley” tour bus for a tour of “historic” Fernandina. The wind settled down about midnight and we had a good night’s sleep.
Thursday morning we move on to Cumberland Island and anchored out of the waterway near the island and dingyed into the Island at the National Park. From there we walked through a forest of live oaks draped with Spanish Moss with the ground covered with Palmettos and ferns and out to the beach which was one of the prettier beaches we have visited. We were amazed at the number of campers and day visitors on the island. This is Easter weekend and spring break for many schools. The wind was rather strong from the south as we crossed St Mary’s inlet and we briefly considered by passing Cumberland Island because we thought the anchorage might be too exposed to wind from this direction. The wind was not bad in the anchorage, the current was quite swift but we had a pleasant anchorage and we are certainly glad we stopped to visit Cumberland Island. When I put our dingy down and put the motor on I noticed that when I connected the gas line to the motor it had quite a bit of pressure on it because the weather had warmed since the last use and the tank was expanded from the pressure. I opened the vent and thought nothing of it. However, the motor never fired or tried to start. I finally gave up and Bill came and picked us up and we rode to the island with him. While laying in bed that night it dawned on me that the pressure in the tank had forced fuel into the motor and had totally flooded it, so badly that I could not start it. I feel sure it will run fine next time we need it.
We got up this morning and got a fairly early start for us, underway by 8:00, to use the tide to arrive at Jekyll and beat the winds on crossing St Andrews Sound. This worked fairly well, the wind began to pickup as we crossed the sound but we made it without much discomfort. We got into Jekyll in time to borrow the courtesy car and tour the island with Bill and Eileen and another couple we just met at Fernandina. This is another beautiful Georgia coastal island. The old buildings are very interesting and pretty. Right after we got back with the car Muriel and Shelly and I walked back to the beach so Shelly could pick some more shells. We were shocked at how muddy the ocean was. I think Muriel properly guessed that the cause is probably due to the flood waters from the rivers in the area dumping silt laden water into the ocean and the wind was blowing from the sound up the coast. We plan to stay here two nights and maybe three.
On Saturday we messed around on the boat and on the dock visiting with other boaters. Muriel fixed a breakfast of pancakes and bacon. Several people up and down the dock remarked about how good it smelled. In the afternoon Muriel and I walked back into the old Jekyll Island Village and looked around at some of the buildings and wandered through the hotel. Most of the buildings were built around the turn of the century and are still in excellent condition. The weather forecast looks decent to move on Sunday so we will probably get on up the waterway a little and anchor for the night.

Monday, April 6, 2009

St John's River

The first photo is our two boats on the long floating dock at the Outback Crab Shack. It is the longest floating dock on the river. The second photo is a gingerbread house on the river. The third photo is the aligator which Bill enjoyed playing with between our two boats while anchored just above Lake George.

We left St Augustine on the high tide at about 9:00 this morning while there was very little current to contend with while getting out of the marina which is crowded in by the construction underway on the Bridge of Lions. We had a little current boost for a while and then as we moved on up the waterway we gained boost from the ebbing tide moving on toward the St John’s River Inlet. We arrived at Beach Marina at Jacksonville Beach about 1:00 as the tide was ebbing. The marina is very nice, floating docks which are in excellent condition and the people are super helpful. They agreed to drive Muriel and Eileen to the Publix fro grocery shopping. Bill and Shelly and I walked over the 65 foot high bridge above the ICW to get ice cream and there was a Taco Bell nearby so Shelly and I had to stop for a taco. We are forecast to get some heavy weather tonight with fair weather in the morning, deteriorating to storms tomorrow evening. We will look at it in the morning with the idea of going on into the St John’s in the morning to find a place to hide from the weather.
With the forecast calling for severe thunder storms with damaging winds and hail, we decided to stay put today. Naturally, since we stayed here, the weather missed us and went on to the north of us. It has still been windy and overcast most of the day. I finished our income tax this morning and we walked to the nearby shops and spent most of the afternoon. We hope to move on up the river tomorrow.
Late in the evening and over night we got the strong thunderstorms. The lightning was poping very close to the boats and the winds were very strong. Sunday morning’s forecasts were for 20 to 25 mph winds with gusts to 40 mph. We stayed put again and worked most of the day on cleaning around the boat. We did walk into the Panera store for lunch and some final shopping at Publix. I stopped at the West Marine for some black caulk and re-caulked Shelly’s hatch. The winds did blow during the afternoon. We will leave here this morning after the marina office opens so that we can settle our bill for last night.
And leave we did, about 10:30 we finally got underway moving up stream in the St John’s River. We told the dockmaster that we would probably stop the first night to anchor in Black Creek. His advice was to just by pass Black Creek because it was all developed these days. As we got down toward the creek I told Bill I thought I would just stick our nose into the creek to see what it looked like. We were happy we did. There were a few houses but very few. We put the dingys down and explored a little and then enjoyed five o’clock together. There were a few boats up and down the creek but that stopped well before dark and we had a peaceful night.
We got underway again this morning to go to Murphy Creek, also described in the cruising guides and pristine and full of wildlife. It was a grey, overcast day with occasional showers but still a pleasant cruising day. We arrived at Murphy Creek about 2:45 and were greeted at the mouth of the creek by a large alligator. They were strung out all along the banks of the creek. As soon as we got anchored Bill and I got into the dingy to try to get closer to one to get some good photos. Just as we approached a large one the only boat we have seen came roaring past and spooked the gator. The sun pokes through the clouds occasionally this evening to make the clouds look darker. The forecast is for thunder showers tonight and 80% chance of rain tomorrow. We may hang out here a couple of days until the weather improves. This place has excellent protection.
It rained with lightning all off and on all night. We still got a good night’s sleep. The rain had mostly quit by morning, just a few showers left. We had a good breakfast of bacon and pancakes and finally got under way about 10:30. We had decided to head down to the north end of Lake George and anchor and then visit the springs which feed the lake and then head back north. We saw lots of alligators this morning even though it was overcast and not sunny. Just above Welaka we saw the largest alligator we have ever seen. When Muriel first pointed him out I told her I did not think it was an alligator and if it was we were probably not safe even in the big boat. When we looked through the binoculars it was certainly an alligator. We could even see the huge teeth sticking out of his mouth. Both boats circled back for another look and he stayed put. Bill said that he began to swim out toward them. He said he wandered if he thought Bill’s dingy might be lunch.
We decided to anchor in a body of water just north of Lake George because it might offer more protection from south winds which is what NOAA was forecasting with afternoon and evening thundershowers. As we were anchoring together the winds built suddenly from the north and Bill’s anchor dragged so that his line was under us. We broke up and anchored separately at least until the weather changes.
We talked about taking the dingys through the shallows between us and Lake George to explore the Salt Springs but decided the wind is probably too strong to be comfortable in the dingys. We will either Springs and then perhaps take in the Salt Srings on the way back north. This all depends on what the weather does.
On Wednesday morning we took the boats down to Silver Glen Springs and anchored in the Lake outside the small channel leading into the springs and dingyed into the springs. The water was the clearest I have seen anywhere we have been. We were amazed by the large boats which were anchored in the springs. The wind was fairly strong from the south as we ran down the lake and it was stronger as we ran back north with the wind on our sterns. The ladies were not too happy with the ride but it was not really bad. We anchored in the protection of Seven Sisters Islands. It took a little shuffling to get settled on the best location to anchor and then we could not get our anchor to set. After several attempts we decided to just anchor separately. Our anchor set on the first try. It was probably for the best because the wind really got strong during the night with thunder storms. When we got up in the morning Muriel turned on the TV and learned that we had been under a tornado warning for a couple of hours but it was just being lifted.
We have seen alligators in each of our anchorages on the St John’s River and numerous sightings along the River proper. Today, Thursday, we ran north, down the river, to Six Mile Creek in rather strong west to northwest winds. When we turned to cross the river to enter the creek the wind as on the beam and the ladies got uncomfortable again. We ran up the creek to the Outback Crab Shack which has about a quarter mile of floating dock which is free if you eat dinner with them. It is far enough up stream that it is protected from the winds and waves. As soon as we got docked we went into the Crab Shack and shared a pitcher of beer and followed that with a dingy trip up the creek. It was very pretty. We sighted many turtles and one alligator. This place just “hit the spot” after a week on the river. We are looking forward to dinner. We have called for a reservation back at the Ortega Yacht Club for tomorrow. We will probably spend a couple of nights there and get wash done and reprovision and start up the Georgia coast on Monday.