Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Welcome to Florida ICW M 716

They say that Florida is the Sunshine State, they never promised it would be warm! We are here, it is sunny, but it is really cold.

Our road trip to DC was two days each way. We made a stop in Richmond for baked goods and a birthday cake for Micah and found a great brasserie, Can Can. Shades of Paris put us in a land lover mood, we savored this treat, then ignored the traffic for the rest of the day. I actually got chills as we entered DC, feeling a city fix for a few days, and no, I didn't go shopping. It was warm and comfortable to visit with Leslie and Micah and Leslie's family, and they did a wonderful job on Thanksgiving dinner. The only drawback to the kids cooking dinner was the we didn't have leftovers when we got home. On Friday night we walked through the National Zoo for the holiday light display and ate at a cute place called Medium Rare, we highly recommend it to sailors but you'll need a cab to the Cleaveland Park neighborhood.

The Jekyll Island Club
Traveling back to Georgia over the weekend was exhausting as there was steady traffic, but it also felt good to get back to the boat. We made the most of the rental car on Monday by exploring the historic sights on Jekyll Island. There are 29 of 34 "summer cottages" remaining from the founding "club", including members like Pulitzer, Rockefeller, Gould, Crane, and Theodore Vail, (whose yacht was named Speedwell.) We indulged at the Jekyll Island Club for breakfast and dinner at the Crane Cottage. Both were deserted- how do they stay open? In retrospect, I wish we had played croquette because that's what the founding members would have done. The original heat plant has been transformed to a turtle rescue and education center; it’s a huge endeavor and we were moved to visit the sea turtles in the hospital on the grounds.
Mistletow Cottage
Summer home of the Rockerfellers
Details on Mistletoe
The water was too shallow to sail Promise
in the wake of the great yachts of the past. Sorry, captain.  
The weather kicked up again so we stayed on Jekyll another day. By Wednesday morning the winds were predicted to be down to 5-10 knots so we left the dock early and eagerly for Fernandina Beach, Florida. (Note: we'd like to fire Noah when our windex says 18 knots and when he warns us of the 33 degrees we expect tonight.) We traveled past the ruins of the "cottage" owned by the Carnegie family on Cumberland Island, 20 miles of pristine seashoreline and nature reserve they eventually gave to the state of Georgia, complete with their herd of  wild european horses Mrs. Carnegie desiganeted would run free after her passing. We are secure in Fernandina Beach for two days with a host of sailors hunkered down with stories of wicked winds in recent days and dread for tonight's Florida frost warnings. We know not to go out in those 25-30 knot winds (what were they thinking) but we can't change the temperature, just our attitude! We are grateful to have heat tonight and we are excited to be in Florida.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jekyll Island and Home for Turkey Nov. 21, 2011 Mile Marker 684

St. Simon Light from the village
It's hard not to tell you the last few days have been glorious again, temps in the 79-80 degree range. We laid over for two days on St. Simon Island where we biked into town to see the light house and have lunch. (A ten mile ride is Rick's way of unwinding, I guess.) But when we left on Tuesday at noon, we moved out into the inlet to photograph the lighthouse on the other side. The ocean was like glass- perhaps we should have gone on the outside to another stop !? 

Our late departure was calculated as this is a really shallow section of the ICW, and it was one of those days we had to travel at midtide tide to traverse the ten mile stretch and still make it under a highway bridge. We circled the opening of Jekyll Creek until 1:15 PM and when we entered the creek, we never had less than 8-9 feet of water- a perfect job, Captain! Four other boats followed our water tracks and had a good passage as well. We are tied up at the face dock at Jekyll Harbour Marina for the week. I understand we are going to a low country shrimp boil tonight, come as you are!

Yesterday we made a last minute decision to rent a car and drive to Micah and Leslie's for turkey. We would have had a rough week's layover for a pair of storms here, so . . . gobble, gobble it is.

Happy Thanksgiving, 'yall. Next stop, DC, then on to Fernandina Beach, Florida!
St. Simon Light from the inlet.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roller Coaster Weather Nov. 17, 2011 Mile Marker 590

When the water is 67 degrees and the air temp is about 80, the result is dense fog that lingers for three days! Harbor Town was a great marina to stay in under these conditions. Each day several boats left only to return. We road bikes to the beach one day, took a cab the next to another beach. What's not to like about being fogged in?

All good things come to an end so on Thursday we left for Isle of Hope, which is on the south side of Savannah. This is the home of a state park featuring ruins of the oldest structure in Savannah, GA, so we borrowed a courtesy car and dashed over to see it before the sun went down. The winds are howling now and the temp will drop about 25 degrees tonight. It's a good thing we had the generator repaired as we intend to anchor out tomorrow as a way of cutting the next 80 mile run in half. In the morning we'll head to New Teakettle Creek.
Charleton, SC
Historic homes and Palmetto trees along the waterfront.

The Big Chill House
Private residence, Beaufort, SC
Promise at sunrise
Beaufort Town Dock, November 15, 2011
A mile of Live Oak trees dripping with moss:
Entrance to Wormslow, constructed in 1736,
the oldest structure in Savannah, GA.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are we in South Carolina or Georgia? Nov. 5- 15, 2011 Mile Marker 565

This has been a great ten days, albeit a little confusing. We started Nov. 5 th. in fabulous, warm sunshine, sailing to Georgetown. By day's end we found that foul weather gear really handy as condition went from flat water to high winds and rain for dockage in this little South Carolina town. Here we learned all about the Northern War of Aggression and who's fault it was that South Carolina suffered an economic downturn after Reconstruction. Georgetown had a viable shopping area, a few restaurants and a Rice Museum, yes, rice. This is where the world got its golden rice in the early years of our country; remnants of the ingenious lock systems are still visible along the rivers that are part of the ICW, which fronts the remains of old plantations. Two days were enough here to see town, enjoy their Tasting Festival, (how many ways can you eat shrimp and grits?) and do some boat maintenance. While docked here, we had a preservice call from the marina scheduled to do work for us down the way.

We spent an uneventful night at Isle of Palms, complete with a short walk to the ocean and a glorious sunset walk on the beach. No photos, just a relaxed night. In the morning we made way to Charleston where we reconnected with traveling friends, ate every meal out- don't miss a morsel in Charleston, and enjoyed 70 degree weather for three days of sightseeing to exhaustion. This was not our first trip here or our last. Rick even took me to a quilt shop and the Gibbs Museum, their art institute, southern style. City Marina is huge and a bit rocky, but it is easy to get transportation and walk everywhere. While our friends took to the outside to get to Savannah, we had a commitment down the ICW at Ross Marine.

We are happy to report that thanks to Ross Marine on Johns Island, we have a new starter in the generator, a designated starter battery for the engine and numerous other "on the list" items installed or replaced. And thanks to all the "construction" on the boat, we had to rent a car and visit Savannah, GA, for two days. What can I say, it isn't Charleston, Paula Deane's Restaurant is highly over rated, and one should not take a trolley tour during the Veteran's Day Parade. It was also brutally cold again. We wanted to see more than we did, but we can cross this off our list. We did see enough to rent "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "Forest Gump" again to repeat our sightseeing on the big screen.

From Johns Island on Saturday we motored to Beaufort (Bew-Fort), SC, and the temperature shot to 75-79 degrees. The town is charming and has been the sight for many movie shoots, including "The Big Chill." Once again we took the tour, (count them: three in a week) and then returned on foot for photos. Military presence is the surviving industry here. On Sunday we left for Hilton Head. Thirty mile days are much less exhausting than 50 or 60!

Harbour Town is interesting because it is the first planned community in the US, built in the 60s. It is complete, self-contained golf and boating on a sound inside the ocean and it has really held its purpose and value through the years. Unfortunately our day here may be extended due to heavy fog. It was 79 yesterday, will hit 80 today, but rain will drop temps by Thursday. We plan to pass on sailing to Savannah as we are growing eager to get to Florida.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cypress Knees, Spanish Moss and Mistletoe: Welcome to South Carolina Mile Marker 402

Waccamaw River ICW SC
We scheduled our departure from North Myrtle Beach with the tides in mind for today. There were nine fixed bridges, three swing bridges and a railroad bridge to navigate. Rick really timed it correctly and we pulled off all twelve bridges with adequate clearance and timely openings.

The ICW was beautiful today. The first populated section was narrow and scenic, but once we entered the Waccamaw River, the scenery look like something from a swamp movie. It was full of cypress, moss and mistletoe. The river eventually got very wide and began to switch back on itself. We only saw three boats in eight hours over our 57 miles.

The last hour and a half we had steady 25 knot winds and rain so Georgetown, was a welcome sight. Tied up, all we cared about was being safe and warm. We'll make a weather dependent decision in the morning to stay or move on to Isle of Palm.
Spanish moss in an Osprey nest: you're not in Maryland anymore.

Welcome to South Carolina

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Rick! Mile Marker 346

October 28- November 3, 2011
We left Beaufort but it was a very tense day. We circled for an hour in front of the Atlantic Beach/Moorehead City Bridge because the water was too high and choppy for safe passage. We spent a rainy day bouncing on the ICW with plans to anchor out, but two attempted coves later, we ended up at Dudley’s Marina for the night. There we met John on Star4, hailing from Montreal. We traveled the next few days together, plotting those 65 foot bridges.
In the morning we maneuvered a tall bridge and then a swing bridge; again the day was blustery and we put all of our foul weather gear to good use. We knew in advance that we would need to anchor in Mile Hammock Bay for a few hours in order to clear the next bridge, a great plan if there are no winds. But since it is the season of 35 knot winds, our anchor dragged and our generator wouldn’t start. By noon Rick found a one slip marina at New River Marina and we pulled up our anchor and headed down the ICW for safety and warmth. We learned later that four other boats were in there that night, all dragging into each other. Good call, Rick.

Staying at New River was a cultural experience! There is an RV park at the water’s edge and the other two slips are reserved for the gas dock and sand dredge, not exactly Osprey Point. Well, the good people of North Carolina helped us dock in those strong winds and invited us to dinner- they had been roasting a pig all day. We learned it is not a pig roast but a pig pickin’ party, complete with homemade barbeque sauce, hush puppies and birthday cake. We froze around the bon fire but took in what the locals had to say.

We were off on Sunday before first light to complete a plan with John. Good planning prevailed; we cleared all of our bridges safely. We went into Seapath Yacht Club at Wrightsville Beach for three days, got some rest and networked on our generator problem. John moved on to keep a schedule. We’ll see him again, we see everyone again!
On Wednesday morning, we left Seapath for Southport, home of St. James Plantation and Marina. Bridges were not a problem today and seas were calm until we hit the Cape Fear River, aptly named by the way. We had a following sea until we got back into the ICW. It felt great to tie up early. Happy Birthday, Rick! We celebrated quietly and prepared for the morning when we have a fifty mile day ahead of us.

Lest you think we are discouraged by winds, tides, bridges and repairs, we are not in the least. First of all, Rick sets the tone that this is an adventure, not an ordeal. He always says boating is repairs in exotic places. Second, every day’s scenery is better than the last. Even on our worst days in the past month we have traveled with dolphins and pelicans, and those shrimp! This morning we were treated to a flock of terns whose wings sparkled like snowflakes in the sun. We have heard people say the Intercoastal Waterway is boring, but we think it has been absolutely gorgeous. Sunrise and sunset on the ICW and the ocean are breathtaking and the evolving architecture fascinates us both. We wouldn’t miss this for anything, and besides, this is a journey, not a destination.

Rick: Hurricane and Hero Mile Marker 284

October 24-28, 2011

Beaufort wasn’t on our list for a long stay, but stay we did. Hurricane Rick could not outdo a 35 knot gust when docking on the Alligator River; hence we were in search of repairs to our stern pulpit. Once we connected with a really nice craftsman who was willing to fit the job in, we were committed to four days in this seaport town.
Beaufort is full of 200 year old coastal homes and the people are very accommodating. For cruisers, the Town Dock is convenient to 26 restaurants and there are a few things to see and do. Each morning the Shackleford Ponies come to the water’s edge on Carrot Island, directly across from the marina. Strong winds and choppy waters prevented us from a dingy ride- it was a tease to watch the ponies so close by. Dolphins swim in the harbor; we never take their sightings for granted.
On Wednesday, October 26, a consortium of university, ecology and selvedge groups raised a cannon from the ocean’s floor about 6 miles off the coast of Beaufort. It was the thirteenth of twenty three cannons from the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, belonging to none other than Blackbeard, the Pirate. Some speculate that he actually ran his ship aground in a downsizing effort, trying to reduce his fleet of 300-400 men. Beaufort celebrated, closed the streets, and the cannon was brought into town for a quick peak before it was moved to Eastern Carolina University for a three year cleaning/restoration. the barnacles and artifacts crusted to it were as amazing as the 700 pound cannon itself.
Friday we were awakened at 4 AM by a man, well in his cups, swimming around our boat. With help from two mates across the dock, Rick pulled the man out of the water (twice, because he fell back in.) We called police, Rick suggested he needed a hospital as it was 33 degrees out, and once he was safe in an ambulance, we tried to sleep because this was to be departure day. At first light we discovered he had tried to steal our dingy!
Our serviceman came early to return the pulpit. He was very helpful in putting all the canvas back on and we managed to cast off lines by 10:30, days late but in good shape to handle the poor weather coming our way. We feel like we have had three weeks of high winds that are even unpleasant at the dock!