Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Georgia’ Category

In 2011, our first year cruising, we got what we thought at the time was a late start moving south; we left North Carolina in early November and putzed our way south, making it just south of Charleston SC by the beginning of December.  The following year we were delayed leaving the Chesapeake Bay when my father passed away rather unexpectedly, but still managed to make north Florida by December 1st, as we did for the three years that followed.  This year would be a different story.

Friday, December 2nd — We were still on the hard, but the Red Queen and Cheshire were finally reunited.  The reinstall went smoothly, or so we thought at the time.

Saturday, December 3-4th — Cheshire hung in the slings of the travel lift for the weekend while we touched up the bottom paint on the spots where she’d been blocked.

Monday, December 5th — After a bit more than 6 weeks, Cheshire was back in the water.  While we were in the well with a cherry picker accessible, Cheshire also got a couple of new spreader boots, had her screecher halyard re-rigged and her wind instrument tightened up.  The rest of Monday and Tuesday were spent getting things put back together, the dinghy back on the davits, the sails back up, essentially undoing all of the hurricane prep we’d done pre-Matthew.  In anticipation of some cold days on the water, we also put our eisenglass cockpit enclosure up, which we almost never use but are thankful to have when when it gets cold.  After topping off water tanks and some final provisioning, we bid farewell to our friends in Oriental and were ready to go.

Wednesday, December 7th we finally got off the dock.  The 16 days/15 nights that followed would prove to be some of the coldest we’ve experienced since moving aboard 5 1/2 years ago.

Our first few days out were cold, but uneventful.  We were up before first light most mornings, and underway before sunrise.  With the engine running, we’d have engine-driven heat, and with the sun shining, our full cockpit enclosure behaved a bit like a sun room.  Don’t get me wrong… we were still wearing layers, wool socks, hats and gloves, even inside, but it was manageable.  We’d stay on the water as long as we dared and still manage to have the anchor down before dark.  The latter was easier than we thought, as we didn’t have much competition for anchorages this late in the migration season.  Our evening routine was to cook a hot meal, then huddle under fleece blankets reading until bedtime.  The following morning, we’d get up and do it again.

Instead of hoping offshore, we opted to stay inside (in the ICW) at least to start with, partly due to the cold, but mostly because we wanted to give the engine a good solid test.  It ran well, the weather was cooperative, we had anchorages to ourselves and the bridge tenders were most pleasant (translate: it’s their slow season).  We opted to pause in Holden Beach at their new “courtesy dock” which, contrary to the info we had, was not free.  It did have power however, and after three days on the boat, provided a nice chance to walk a bit.  And of course, the Captain found chicken wings.  And we had heat overnight.

The couple of days that followed took us into South Carolina, along the beautiful-even-in-December Waccamaw River.  We made a stop at Osprey Marina, a favorite of ours, where we scored another jar of their yummy hot pepper jelly and again warded off some freezing overnight temps.

 

Then things got interesting.  As we started to close in on the end of day 5, we were deep in the marshes of coastal South Carolina, surrounded by lands designated as national wildlife refuge  and national forest lands, translate: beautiful and the middle of nowhere.  Looking ahead, the following day would put us in the Charleston area, and we talked of maybe taking a lay day.  It was just after 4pm, daylight was fading quickly, and we were headed for a familiar-to-us anchorage, having calculated we’d just make it before dark.  Mike was at the helm when he noticed that the engine temperature gauge was not right… like reading that the engine was not hot, which is better than too hot, but still…  I took the helm while he popped open the engine compartment in the back of the cockpit, only to find engine coolant spewing.  Not good.  After a few minutes, he figured out that the bracket that holds the coolant hose onto the engine block was missing a bolt, and in its loosened state, had been too close to the alternator belt which had chafed a hole in the hose.  In the middle of nowhere…  With dark fast approaching…

While I stayed on the helm, “steering” our Cheshire without power in a wicked tail current down a creek lined with marsh grass, punctuated with the occasional wooden dock, Mike managed to jury-rig a fix, first with so-called Rescue tape (which didn’t work on a messy hose), then with heavy-duty duct tape (my Dad would be pleased).  He then sat on the cockpit floor for the next 35 minutes, which seemed more like 35 hours, with a fiberglass pole jammed into the engine compartment to hold the hose off the alternator belt, while we fired the engine, held our breathes and motored into the nearest anchorage.  We were anchor down right at dark and on the phone with TowBoat US before the night was out.

For those who are not familiar, TowBoat US is like AAA, except for boats.  There are a couple of companies that provide the service, but in 5+ years, we’ve never had to use it.  Until now. It saved our butts, and is worth every penny.  I don’t even want to think about what the tow would have cost without it.

We made arrangements for them to collect us from the anchorage the next morning.  Jason, our towboat operator couldn’t have been nicer.  He showed up even earlier than expected and towed Cheshire and her crew without incident to Tolers Cove Marina, another familiar-to-us spot near Mt Pleasant SC.   Tolers Cove is mostly a sportfish marina with not a lot of room for transients beyond a day or two, but they were kind enough to let us hang out on the backside of their fuel dock for a few days.  Three hours under tow, including some skinny water and a restricted bridge, and we were safely tied to a dock mail ordering parts.  At least it was a Monday.

Mike found a replacement bolt at a local hardware store, but the funky shaped hose had to be mail-ordered.  We opted for expedited shipping, but weather in Michigan and a “mechanical problem” with a cargo plane delayed things a bit.  Our parts finally arrived mid-morning Thursday.  The hose replacement actually went fairly smoothly.  Then we decided to go ahead and do that earlier-than-usual oil change our mechanic in Oriental had recommended.

Mike started the engine up to let it warm up… except the engine didn’t warm up.  Apparently the low temp reading on the gauge wasn’t entirely about the coolant hose leak, rather a weird coincidence of timing.  Mike decided to pull the thermostat and take a look. (See photo below which in my humble opinion doesn’t resemble any thermostat I’ve ever seen).  Apparently it’s a pretty simple open or closed devise that got stuck in the open position by a tiny piece of debris. At least we were fortunate that it didn’t get stuck closed, which could have resulted in the engine overheating!  In any event,  Mike was able to dislodge the rock, reinstall the thermostat and all was well.  Given the late hour, we opted to skip our planned grocery run and instead walked down to Sullivans Island for a splurge meal at the Obstinate Daughter where the martinis were most delicious.

Another 2 1/2 days on the water brought us to the Savannah area where we’d arranged to meet up with cruising friends Dawn and Paul who were road-tripping up to New England for the holidays.  They gets bonus points for flexibility, messaging back and forth regarding timing, location options, etc.  We were tied up at the dock at Bahia Bleu Marina before noon, allowing for some much needed laundry.  Mother Nature even sent us a freaky warm day so I was able to wash our few, much worn cold weather clothes.  We had a great albeit short visit, including a much needed/much appreciated grocery run.

Our final push, 3 1/2 days, brought the cold weather back, along with some damp rain and occasional fog.  The Captain resorted to taking a pair of scissors to a perfectly good pair of gloves, cutting out the thumb and index finger of the right glove, enabling him to use the iPad we keep at the helm for additional navigation assistance.  We wound our way through the marshes and across the sounds of coastal Georgia, and were disappointed that the sun remained hidden even as we crossed into the Sunshine State.  A bit south of Jacksonville it finally cleared, and our last morning at anchor for this stretch was lovely.

The numbers:

This run from Oriental NC to St Augustine FL was approximately 600 statute miles or about 522 nautical miles, and took us 16 days.

Of those 16 days, we were underway for 12, plus 1 under tow.  We had only 3 lay days where we stayed put, but for repairs, none for weather, the latter of which is remarkable given the season.

Of our 15 nights out, we spent 8 of them at anchor, and 7 at a dock… which is more dock time than our usual, but we splurged a couple of times for dock power on the particularly cold nights (dock power = heat overnight), spent 4 nights on the dock for the engine repair (which included a couple of cold nights as well), and another to hook up with friends for an afternoon/evening.

In a nutshell:

It wasn’t our most pleasant cruise; the engine issue was particularly challenging, but not as bad as it might have been.  I was reminded once again how much I appreciate that Mike is scary smart and able to fix so many things.  We managed to survive the cold, but were reminded that we really are fair weather cruisers. We so missed our usual slower, more relaxed, stop and explore along the way pace.

In the end, we made it to north Florida/St Augustine in time to grab a rental car and spend Christmas with my Mom in the Florida panhandle.  Now we’ll hang here for a few weeks, appreciate the relative warmth and sunshine, catch up with some friends,  and regroup/plan for what comes next… which hopefully isn’t another boat project.

As always, stay tuned.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In the days before we left Florida waters, we finally reconnected with a group of cruising friends I’ve come to call “the Flotilla”, Bob and Diane on s/v True North, David and Jane on s/v So Far… So Good, and Gregg and Judy on s/v Cantabile who are buddy-boating north.   We met them all in Boot Key, crossed paths again in No Name Harbor and have been leap-frogging one another up the Florida coast over the past month.  We connected again in Fernandina Beach for pizza ashore, and again off Cumberland Island where we were also joined by Brian and Tara on s/v Scout who we’ve connected with a number of times over the last year or so.

DC 2016 05 IMG_1846

cruising friends in Fernandina Beach

Come Monday morning, while the Flotilla moved on, Mike and I opted to spend another day/night to do some hiking about on Cumberland Island.  We’ve been here twice before, (for the history check out my previous posts here and here), but it never gets old.  At dinner the night before, Tara shared of having seen a pregnant mare, and a couple of days later, the mama and her foal.  Armed with camera, lunch and water, we headed ashore with fingers crossed.  We started our trek south, enjoying the canopy of live oaks and the soundtrack of plentiful birds.  We spotted a few and captured photographs of far fewer, with the exception of a Summer Tanager.

Upon our arrival at Dungeness Ruins, we found plentiful horses, including the mare and foal Tara had tipped us about.  The Cattle Egret were plentiful as well, apparently not particular enough to distinguish horses from cattle.  Remember, you can “click” on any of the photos for a larger image.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hiking the trails on the lower part of the island, including a stretch along the beach.  I’m always amazed at how deserted it always seems.  There were a variety of shore birds here as well, though only these Royal Terns cooperated for the camera.

After 11+ miles, we declared ourselves whipped and headed back to the dock to dinghy back to the mothership  Much to our surprise, we found that we were one of two dinghies on the dock, Portland Pudgy twins!  Weirder yet, the other one also sported an electric Torqeedo engine.  We’ve seen less than a dozen in the 3+ years we’ve owned ours, but we’ve never been the only two on a dock.

LS_20160509_162440 Portland Pudgy twins_01

Pudgy twins on the dinghy dock, Cumberland Island

Although we love the winding creeks and marsh grass anchorages of Georgia, it’s a slow trip.  And as much as we love returning to favorite places, we’re also looking forward to exploring some new territory as well.  So we keep moving.  Next up: another offshore stint.

 

Read Full Post »

When we arrived in St Simons Island, we had a plan to stay for a month.  The first 2+ weeks would be spent on my Driving Miss Rita adventure as I’ve come to call it.  I flew from Jacksonville, FL to Indiana and drove Mom and her car to the Florida panhandle where she’ll spend the winter… yay, Mom!  Mike joined us in Panama City Beach a bit later and we had a blast with my youngest brother and his crew who we overlapped with for the better part of a week.

After our return from the FL panhandle, we figured we had a couple of weeks to knock out some small projects (we always have at least a short list of “next time we’re at a dock” projects) and still have plenty of time to play and explore a bit.  We’ve actually been to St Simons Island a couple of times before, but for fairly short visits.  Read about one of our previous visits here.  This time we could be a bit more leisurely.

So leisurely in fact that I did some reading, including an interesting little book, Voices from St Simons  (thanks, Terrie!), a collection of narratives by descendants of both plantation owners and slaves of the area.  It’s an interesting read actually, if you’re into oral histories as I am.  I’ve written in previous blog posts of some of the other islands of coastal Georgia… Cumberland (two visits actually, here and here), Jekyll, and Sapelo.  St Simons it seems moved pretty quickly from plantations to upscale vacation destination to over-developed when so many vacationers decided to relocate and live here permanently.  Still, a bit of civilization is nice from time to time… restaurants, grocery stores, etc., particularly for us cruising sorts.

This was actually our second visit to MorningStar Marina, having paused here briefly last year to meet up with road-tripping friends.  This visit we reconnected with some cruising friends Curt and Cindy whom we’d met this past summer in Oriental.  It’s a beautiful spot, surrounded by marsh grass, and has a great staff.  It’s actually across a small bridge from St Simons Island proper, so there’s very little that’s walking distance, but most all of the roads on the island also have bike/pedestrian paths, and in a pinch, during daytime hours, the marina has a courtesy car… which we borrowed twice, once to return our rental car and later for a couple of unscheduled runs to West Marine in Brunswick.  We did a lot of pedaling, and in fact found an awesome bike shop on the island, Monkeywrench Bicycles, where we were able to do a much needed replacement of tubes and tires on our Stridas, our little fold-up circus bear bikes.  (They also provide rentals of non-circus bear bikes for those who may be interested.)

Our longer stay also allowed for more exploring of the culinary.  We made return visits to a couple of gems we’d discovered on previous stops, including Palmer’s Village Cafe  (a breakfast favorite) and Southern Soul BBQ (yummy Brunswick stew among other things), as well as a splurge meal at Coastal Kitchen and Raw Bar which is on site at the marina.  New finds this time around were a great Vietnamese noodle shop called Island Pho, a fun little deep dish pizza joint called CJ’s Italian Restaurant, and last but not least, a new-to-us beer and wings spot called Locos Grill and Pub.  (Mike has decided with these additions to our list that he could stay here for the winter… I however have vetoed that plan, holding out for lower latitudes.)

yuck from the starboard fuel tank

yuck from the starboard fuel tank

Lest you think that we did nothing during our time on St Simons Island but eat, I should mention some of our projects, both the scheduled and the unscheduled.  We’d developed a bit of an issue with fuel pick-up on our trip down from Oriental… water/condensation and other crap that accumulates in the bottom of the tanks and gets sucked up and chokes in the separator causing the engine to die at the most inopportune times, mostly when we’re getting tossed about by waves or whomper wakes.  We/Mike had pulled/de-gunked/reinstalled both tanks a while back, but they’re apparently in need again.  This stop we managed to pump some junk out of the bottom of the starboard tank without actually having to remove the tank altogether (see photo… the brown is junk, the pink is good diesel); on our list for next stop is doing the same to the port side and upgrading the fuel filter system on the engine.

in the "foot locker"

in the “foot locker”

I also finally tackled a much dreaded project… cleaning out and de-funking a storage area we refer to as our “footlocker” as it’s at the foot end of our bunk.  It’s a decent-sized but awkward space, kind of a giant wedge, that extends underneath the front deck up to the anchor locker, has marginal air circulation and is completely uninsulated… in short, it gets funky mildewed from time to time.  I’ve tackled this particular project once before, which literally requires crawling in through a 10″x 20″ opening up to my waist, repeatedly, with spray bottles and brushes and sponges and such.   There was much swearing involved.  This time was no different.

stripping teak

stripping teak

We also replaced a bent stanchion (the upright stainless poles on the sides of the boat through which the lifelines run).  This would have been a simple project, except that it required removing an 8 ft teak shelf and peeling back the vinyl headliner to access the bolts on the underneath side.  And as long as we had the shelf out anyway, maybe I’d just do a bit more of my ongoing strip-and-refinish-the-crappy-varnish-job-that-our-previous-owner-did project.  Even a bit at a time, it’s a multi-day affair and very messy.  Even so, we were on schedule for a month-end departure.

temporary door latch

temporary door latch

A couple days later however, we returned from an afternoon of pedaling about, put the key in our companionway lock/latch, and heard a not-what-that-usually-sounds-like click.  Busted lock.  I managed to break into the boat by removing a screen in a window we’d left open, fetched Mike’s tools and he proceeded with much difficulty to dismantle the lock from the cockpit side… which then left us with a door that would not even latch, let alone lock.  (See Mike’s creative stop-gap fix in the photo.)  Of course the part had to be ordered, then installed, and by then some nasty weather was in the forecast.  So we stayed put for a couple of days hiding out from the wind and cold, and appreciating our little space heater that we can only use at the dock/on shore power.

This morning we finally got off the dock.  Except that the Garmin chart plotter is apparently now not playing nicely with some of the other instruments, and the built-in cabin heater (which only works when we’re under engine power), which we almost never use and weren’t even using this morning, is now leaking.  And so, we start the maintenance/project list for our next stop, St Augustine.  Cruising has been defined as working on your boat in exotic places.  We’re certainly living that dream.  No worries though, it’s all good, and we’re sure to find a good balance between work and play… it is St Augustine after all.

As always, stay tuned.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Sometimes, when we’re on the move, we pause at a marina only briefly.  Other times we stay a bit longer.  Our stay at Morningstar Marina – Golden Isles would be a bit longer.  I (Lori) was here for only a couple of days before my Driving-Miss-Rita trip… flew to Indiana to drive Mom and her car to Florida where she’ll spend the winter… bonus points for a visit with my brother Steve and his crew who were in Panama City Beach for the kids’ fall break.  Mike joined us for part of the visit as well, when he wasn’t getting into trouble trying to single-hand projects (see previous post).  But I digress…

Every marina has its own quirks, things that make it a little bit different from the rest.  Our slip for the month for this stop is at the end of a long dock, 270 yards or so from shore, over the gorgeous marsh grasses that give the Golden Isles their name, through a gate, down a short ramp (floating docks) and then a long stretch lined on either side with various kinds of boats, mostly unoccupied during the week.  It’s a long walk to the heads (bathrooms), which I normally don’t mind, but at night, it’s a completely different experience.

Turns out there is a sizable population of Black-crowned Night Heron here.  Just as in St Augustine where my habit was to look for the Great Blue Heron that stood majestically on a piling near our boat, every morning like clockwork, here nighttime brings the calls of the Black-crowned Night Herons.  Walking up/down the dock at night, one can’t help but startle and be startled by these creatures who fish from dock lines and take flight with a raucous call when startled.  At first, I about jumped in the water at the sound.  Now I take a deep breath and look for them, but even so, sometimes they see me before I see them.  From our cockpit though, with and without binoculars, it’s quite a sight.  One evening I counted 5 birds, 2 adults, 2 juveniles and a Great Blue Heron, all within a few boat slips of us.  Our first night here, I was a bit concerned about our proximity to the marina office on the fuel dock;  there is a fair amount of activity, and at night, security lights.  Well, it turns out that these heron, particularly the juveniles, like to fish from our neighbor’s stern lines under the lights.  I was pleased to return from my IN/FL trip and find that our juvenile friend was still visiting.  It also gave me a chance to play with my new camera, a Panasonic FZ200  (Big thanks to our friend Bob for the recommendation.  See his awesome blog on the beauty of central Ohio here.)

Black-crowned Night Heron, adult

Black-crowned Night Heron, adult

I’m still very much figuring out the new camera, but dark is still dark.  Even so, I think some of these photos, albeit a bit fuzzy, came out OK given the conditions.  The adults tend to stay hidden, hence the very dark shot.  This one hangs out on the bowsprit of our neighbor, occasionally visiting our solar panel off the stern.  The juveniles however tend to take advantage of the light to make the fishing a little easier.  I’ve been captivated, watching one in particular from the cockpit most every evening.

This gal/guy makes a habit of balancing on one of the stern lines of a sizable motor yacht and has done some rewarding fishing in this fashion, mostly small things about the size of my pinkie.  Last night though, very late, s/he managed to snag a quite large fish, hopped up on the dock and showed much determination getting it swallowed.  Not a pretty sight, but fascinating.  Turns out though that her/his gluttony may have gotten the better of it though, as Mike saw a feathered creature belly up in the water today, very near where we’d watched this show last night.  I’m expecting we may not see our friend out fishing tonight.  It will be interesting though to see if another juvenile gives this honey hole a shot… at least one has been watching.  (Note: Click on any of the photos for a larger view and/or slideshow option.)

the catch... now what

the catch… now what

working it around...

working it around…

lining it up...

gulp…

down the hatch...

down the hatch…

Read Full Post »

So Lori is gone for a few days shuttling her mom from Indiana to Florida for the winter – we rented a car and I dropped her at the Jacksonville airport yesterday. I’ll drive over to Panama City Beach in a few days, spend a week there, and drive us back. In the meantime I have a couple easy but time-consuming projects I figure I can do while she’s away.

One is to rebuild the frame for the awning I made months ago for over the helm station. It’s a functional but ugly PVC thing. It has three legs instead of just the two that would work if it were made of stronger material. The middle leg is visually distracting and its guy line is in the one most in the way. I’d bought a length of stainless tubing and a couple PVC Ts yesterday in Jacksonville, so this morning I’m ready to go.

I tear apart the old helm shade frame, measure and cut a new stainless horizontal bar and legs. I cut off one end of a T to make it fit the aft end of the handrail, grind out the inside of both to fit the legs (the stainless tubing is larger diameter than the PVC) and pound the legs into the Ts. This took a couple of hours but so far, so good. I loosely fit the horizontal bar and legs with the stainless elbows I already had, snap it onto the handrail and pull the shade over it to check leg length. Not bad but the forward leg could be an inch shorter. Go to take it all down, but it’s breezy and this really might be a two person job, so things fall apart. The aft leg, which was snapped onto the handrail, pops off anyway and goes overboard. Damn! I’m steaming, but I have more stainless tube, the old PVC swivel Ts (which I thought fit a bit too tightly, but not anymore), and one tube needs to be shorter anyway. So I cut a shorter piece of stainless, pry the old T loose from the old aft PVC leg, grind it out to fit the shorter stainless tube and and pound the leg in. Go to fit it together and realize the shorter leg was supposed to be in front. Aargh! Double damn! So now I pry the other old T off its PVC leg, grind it out, pry apart both the stainless legs (a pain, remember “pounding” them together?), match up the fore and aft legs and Ts, and pound them together again. It’s mid afternoon by now and I’m frazzled and hungry, so I have a “deconstructed” sandwich – stuff a couple slices of lunch meat in my mouth, followed by a slice or two of cheese, then a slice of bread. Yum. I dry fit the thing together again, snap it onto the handrail, and try to stretch the shade over it – stupid idea but I was determined to get this finished. It’s windier now, this is still a two person job, and things fall apart again. The legs are now firmly snapped onto the rail and I’m holding onto the long bar, but one of the stainless elbows slips off and goes over the side. Don’t have another one of those. To quote George Carlin, “sh*t p*ss f*ck c*nt c*cks*cker motherf*cker”. I left out “tits”. I didn’t throw the rest of the parts and all my tools overboard. I didn’t start drinking. I drove to the West Marine over in Brunswick to see if they had 7/8″ stainless elbows, a very common part. I get some half-wit never-seen-a-boat won’t-shut-up clerk who acts like I’m looking for a left threaded foreign motor thrust bearing or something (“You’ll probably have to order that through your vessel manufacturer”); anyway they don’t have the elbow I need. I go back to the boat, order online an elbow and a couple other little things I need, and give up for the day.

Its about time for a drink and I figure I’ll go up to the marina bar and see who’s there, but it starts pouring. I break out the box of red wine and the cheese and crackers, have dinner and go to bed early.

Fast forward a week or so. We’re back from Florida, my stainless elbow came while we were away, and it’s a nice calm morning. I get out the parts, fit them together, pop the frame onto the rail, stretch the awing over, tighten the set screws, all done, no problem. Didn’t even need Lori’s help. Even took some pictures.

IMG_0059.JPG

IMG_0060.JPG

IMG_0058.JPG

IMG_0057.JPG

Read Full Post »

Having spent a month exploring the Georgia coast on our way north last spring, our intention was to buzz through more quickly on our southbound trip, bound for the warmer climes of Florida. Alas, this is what happens when we plan.

As you know from the Captain’s last post, following our most recent offshore adventure, we came back inside (to the ICW) around Hilton Head. After arriving safely at Skull’s Creek Marina, we decided to pay dockage for the night and be done with it. That gave yours truly a chance to do some “nest clean-up”, including giving Cheshire a fresh water rinse and getting a bit of laundry done, and of course, Hollywood showers. Beat as we were, the Captain decided he wanted a meal off the boat. Such it was that we dug out the bikes and set off in the near dark on the bike paths of Hilton Head Island to find Ruby Lee’s Sports, Blues, and Soul Food. Took a bit of finding, but it was well worth the search. A little food, a few beers, a bit of Motown (Motown Mondays) and we were back on the bikes, retracing our steps and getting acquainted with the security guard at Hilton Head Plantation who was kind enough to let us back in despite the fact that the dock master at Skull Creek had failed to give us the all important pass that would apparently allow us to wander freely and legally about the Plantation.

The following day, mostly recovered, we opted to motor a short distance to an anchorage off Jekyll Island on Broad Creek which we chose specifically for access to shore, including a “full service” marina and a grocery store within walking distance. That afternoon, Cheshire got a little TLC, including what we refer to as a “full service” oil change, which includes a number of extra checks and filter changes, etc. It’s quite a production actually, but we’re getting pretty good at it. The good news/bad news is that we discovered that our rebuilt-2-years-ago raw water pump is leaking again… time for a replacement. Good that we caught it, bad that it won’t be an inexpensive fix. The following day we dinghyed in to Palmetto Bay Marina who kindly allowed us to tie up the dink while we had breakfast (Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe) and walked to the grocery. Unfortunately, neither the marina nor the adjacent yard sold marine supplies (replacement oil, filters, etc.), nor had hazardous waste disposal. Should have called ahead.

Thursday morning, with our Cheshire freshly lubed, nearly full of fuel (+ 2 jerry cans), the crew well rested and the fridge re-stocked, we were off. Alas, about 11 miles later, the Captain took a peek in the engine compartment to check on our recently troublesome fuel separator, which was OK, but found the bilge full of diesel fuel… very much not OK. We dropped the hook in the nearest anchorage (Wright River), and quickly determined that we’d not gotten the on-engine fuel filter (the one you have to stand on your head and use a hand-held mirror to replace) seated correctly. We remedied that, and spent the next hour or so mopping about a gallon or so of diesel out of the bilge, Mike in the back section (long arms required) and yours truly in the cockpit access (small hands). Messy to say the least. We ended up spending an extra day here to avoid some rain/weather that never came.

Finally, we made it across the Savannah River, officially in Georgia, only one more state to go to make Florida. We found a lovely new-to-us anchorage on Lincoln Creek off the Kilkenny River, and the following day decided to take a bit of a detour up the South Altamaha River to find an anchorage near yet another fish camp/restaurant we’d read about. It was a bit of a detour, but again, worth the wander. Our new electric outboard is not a powerful thing, but held its own against the wicked Georgia currents to get us to/from MudCat Charley’s.  Can you say Jalapeño Hushpuppies?  Yum!

By now, we’re done fooling around and are headed south… beating feet… ’cause it’s getting cold. That is until NOAA / National Weather Service issued a “gale force winds” warning, which for those who don’t know, is even worse than the more common “small craft advisory” that usually gives us pause. So we and about a half-dozen of our closest friends opt not to cross St Simons Sound in that mess and tuck into an anchorage on the north side of Lanier Island, dig the hook in and wait it out for a couple of days. This is why we carry plenty of paperbacks with us.

In any event, by the time that mess passed through, it was apparent we would not be in St Augustine 2 days hence to meet a couple of our land-based friends who had planned to visit us on their way back north. Phone call to them to propose a new rendezvous point, then took a spot amidst the mega-yachts on the face dock at Morningstar/Golden Isles Marina near St Simons Island. We had a productive afternoon of “marina chores” including defrosting the fridge, another freshwater rinse for Cheshire, more laundry, a run to the grocery, hardware store and liquor store for provisions, a propane refill, and more rum. Sharryn and Graham (who get points for flexibility) arrived the following afternoon. We had a lovely visit, including a wander about the village of St Simons Island and dinner at Coastal Kitchen and Raw Bar (at the marina).

Now we’re off again… off the dock at first light this morning to beat some more windy/small craft advisory weather that threatens to keep us in Georgia for the rest of the season… OK, perhaps I exaggerate a bit. We opted for an alternate route to the ICW’s magenta line (per one of our cruising resources, recommended only for boat with a 5′ or less draft and only on a mid-and-rising tide”, translate: skinny water), which let us bypass St Andrews Sound. This afternoon we’re tucked into one of our favorite anchorages, Plum Orchard, just off Cumberland Island. I saw a couple of horses, and a couple different wading birds (squirrels!) from the bow even before we dropped anchor. It’s a pretty afternoon. There is of course still a small craft advisory in effect through tomorrow morning, which might make for a less-than-pleasant run through Cumberland Sound, but we’ll see what the morning brings. With any luck, we might make Florida tomorrow. Here’s hoping.

Interesting math.  From Little River to Jekyll Island, we did 160.1 nautical miles in 32 hours.  Since then we’ve come 151.67 more miles, except that it’s taken 11 days.  This, my friends, is why many folks opt to go “outside”/offshore instead of down “the ditch”/ ICW.  Either way, it’s all fun.

Read Full Post »

Wandering a bit off the beaten path so to speak, we decided to take a detour off the ICW up the Medway River to Sunbury, GA, having heard about a small marina there with an interesting restaurant…  since we’re all about the food.  The Sunbury Crab Company Marina and Restaurant turned out to be not so much marina, a very tasty restaurant and not much else.  We arrived mid-day, took on some fuel, got Cheshire secured at the dock and went for a walk.  We found an interesting old cemetery, but not much else.  Turns out the marina has fine docks, power as expected, but no showers, laundry, etc.  Hmm, not quite as advertised.  Actually we were told that the pool house showers could be made available… apparently the owners’ son, also an employee, is living there currently.  Don’t get me wrong… very nice people, they just need to review their advertising as a marina.  The seafood however, is every bit as tasty as advertised, a seafood feast!

Having spent most of our 3 weeks of meandering up the Georgia coast on the hook or at free docks, we decided to splurge on a few marina days in Thunderbolt, which is about as close as the ICW comes to Savannah.  We opted for Morningstar Bahia Bleu Marina, which despite its proximity to Savannah, was not much more expensive than Sunbury had been, plus had great showers, free laundry and lots to explore.  Just after Cheshire touched the dock, while I was topside, literally with my arms full of power cord,  a most impressive yacht motored up the river past the marina.  Alas, not enough time to grab a camera.  A quick internet search provided the details on the famous and recently restored Honey Fitz.  Turns out she was in Savannah for a few days on a fund-raising gig before continuing up the coast doing more of the same.  Presidential yacht to several presidents, most notably JFK, she’s recently been restored to her previous grandeur and has a new life, on a goodwill tour to raise awareness and funds for a variety of charitable organizations.  Very cool;  I think JFK would approve.  Heads up to our friends in North Carolina, she’s scheduled to be in Beaufort, NC the end of this month.

The afternoon of our arrival, in addition to laundry, we grabbed a bite of lunch at a nearby spot called Tortuga’s Island Grille, very tasty, then headed off on bikes to scout the area and find Bonaventure Cemetery.  OK, so it sounds like we have an obsession with cemeteries lately.  They are just often such scenic, peaceful places, and full of history.  In the case of Bonaventure, it was also a location from one of my favorite books, (the movie’s not bad either), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon we had.

Though originally we’d thought we’d bike into Savannah for the day, after scouting the route, we decided that while the distance would be doable, the route was not very bike-friendly, particularly on what Mike refers to as our “circus-bear bikes”.  There’s also apparently a bus that runs to/from Savannah from Thunderbolt, but only into the mid-to-late afternoon which is not conducive to dinner plans in the city, so we decided to splurge on a cab.  As Mike so eloquently put it, it’s cheaper than our hospital ER co-pays would have been.  We  had breakfast at an OK little diner called Henry’s and met our group for a walking tour I’d booked with Savannah Dan.   Turns out Dan is quite the character and provided us with a wonderful overview of Savannah.  We’d been here before, 17 years ago, but were overdue for a return trip, and it was just as delightful as I remembered.  After the tour, we had an ice cream at the famous Leopold’s and continued exploring on our own.  Savannah’s cobblestoned Riverfront has some cool old buildings that have been refurbished, but frankly I found the buildings more interesting than the content of most of the shops, “t-shirt shops” as Mike refers to them, selling tours and tourist junk.  After getting caught in a heavy but brief downpour of rain, we decided to check out some more of the squares, only a few of which had been part of the walking tour.

Savannah’s squares are quite lovely, bits of green space scattered about what is now the historic district.  Originally numbering 24, 22 of the original remain (including a couple that were lost and later restored), as do many of the buildings that surrounded each of the squares.  When Savannah was founded by James Oglethorpe, the squares were intended to be places for military practice, as well as to serve as fire breaks.  Today they are amazing green spaces, graced by the most stately live oaks, dripping with spanish moss and covered with resurrection  ferns, and are full of history.  Wikipedia has a nice piece on the history of the design and layout, as well as the squares themselves.  I especially love the combination of residential and public buildings, such a far cry from so much of today’s development via suburban sprawl.  For those who might share my obsession, check out this site for some photo/essays of all of the squares.  There are plenty of “indoor sights” in Savannah as well, including tours of many of the historic mansions, some of which we visited on our first trip.  This visit though, was all about the squares.  My thanks to the Captain for indulging me.

And lastly, we indulged the Captain his obsession with chicken wings and other misc “bar food”.  Ordinarily we’ll plan a “splurge dinner” when visiting a place as restaurant-rich as Savannah, but after a long day of walking, getting rained on, drying out, and more walking, a more casual meal was on our horizon.  Crystal Beer Parlor was Mike’s pick;  a fine ending to a fine day, complete with some very tasty beers on tap.

We spent one more day in the Thunderbolt area, taking care of business so to speak, with visits to the Kroger, Home Depot, Target, and a marine supply place, as well as time for a haircut (mine, obviously) and an oil change (Cheshire’s of course).  And now, running out of Georgia coastline and barrier islands to explore, and finding ourselves in need of some “stay put time”, we’ve made plans to spend the month of June in Georgetown, SC where we’ll relax a bit and tend to a long list of boat chores in need of attention.  We’ll take a leisurely week or so to get there, hopefully avoiding some of the holiday weekend on the water craziness, and then settle in for a bit.  Until next time…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: