Cumberland to Fernandina Beach

Anchored outside of Cumberland Island.

Anchored outside of Cumberland Island.

Our final destination on this leg is only about 10 miles away, so we slept in this morning and I worked and we didn’t weigh anchor until late morning. This is a stretch of the ICW we’ve not traveled before. Always have gone on the outside.

Our last anchorage at the north end of Cumberland Island before arriving at Fernandina Beach.

Our last anchorage at the north end of Cumberland Island before arriving at Fernandina Beach.

Cumberland Island is a beautiful place with great hiking trails, nice beaches and many wild animals, including horses. The island has an interesting history having been the playground for the rich, and almost turned into a fancy resort before it became a national park.

While it was nice to view the island from the western side, I’m reminded why we opted for the ocean on previous trips around the island. The ICW here has strong current, many shallows and very confusing navigation in some spots.

At one point, we ran hard aground in what seemed to be the middle of a channel. It was about an hour before low tide. We struggled to pivot and rock the boat out of the mud. After about a half hour, we finally inch our way into deeper water and found the real channel. Goodbye paint on the bottom of the keel.

Motoring into the harbor at Fernandina Beach was like coming back home again. We’ve spent a lot of time here (five months back in ’07, and about every year since) and have a bunch of good friends here. We found our slip and settled into the berth where the boat will stay for a month.

Nice to be back.

Wild house on Cumberland Island National Seashore

Wild house on Cumberland Island National Seashore

 

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Savannah to Cumberland Island

Good to have Julia back on board.

Good to have Julia back on board.

When I mentioned to people in Savannah that I was headed to Buffalo for Thanksgiving they looked at me like I was from outer space. Buffalo had just gotten socked in with four feet of snow.

Unfortunately by the time I arrived there, it had all melted. Anyway after a fun four days with family from the northern climes, it was nice to be back aboard — especially with my co-captain who had been away for nearly a month.

Heading into the sun in motoring out to the ocean.

Heading into the sun in motoring out to the ocean.

We left Turner Creek at 6:45 a.m. and headed down the Wilmington River out to the Atlanta. It was a beautiful, bright, clear morning with a little fog on the river banks.

We rode the tides out to the ocean and headed southward. Wind in the morning was near zero. Been a long time since I’ve seen the ocean this calm. It was an easy motor-cruise down the coast. Arrived at Cumberland Island at 6 p.m. Anchored on

Pond-like conditions five miles off the coast of Georgia.

Pond-like conditions five miles off the coast of Georgia.

the inside and threw some snow crab on the grill.

Another fine day at sea, which reminds me of a new favorite saying:

It’s better to be on a boat thinking about God
than to be sitting in church thinking about sailing.

 

Dinner

Dinner

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Beauford to Savannah

An uneventful and somewhat uninspiring excursion winding around Hilton Head and up into the fast-moving and commercial-laden traffic of the Savannah River. There’s some pretty scenery along the way, with salt marshes as far as you can see. But I find this stretch of the ICW a bit tedious.

Plus, there were extreme low tides most of the way, with several reports over the radio of boats hard aground.

Low tide or no tide? I can see why these folks don't have boats at their docks.

Low tide or no tide? I can see why these folks don’t have boats at their docks.

Was planning on finding an anchorage near Savannah, but with a favorable current, I still had a couple of good hours of daylight ahead of me. Decided to put in at Turner Creek off the Wilmington River at Sail Harbor Marina.

On Saturday morning I picked up a rental car to do some errands and also learned friends Rob and Bob from Kindred Spirit were berthed at a nearby marina. Had drinks on their boat Saturday evening and then took them to dinner at Driftaway Cafe on Isle of Hope. What an outstanding restaurant. Food was outstanding.

I will hang out here to work on the boat until Tuesday when I fly to Buffalo to visit my mom and family (and meet up with my co-captain) for Thanksgiving.

Be back in a week.turner-creek

 

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Charleston to Beaufort (not Bow-ferd)

After a week’s hiatus away from the boat, I return, albeit with a heavy heart after saying goodbye for the last time to my wonderful mother-in-law.

The cold weather of the northeast doesn’t miss South Carolina. It’s in the 30s as I shove off in the morning. The deck has a cover of ice. Yet it’s a bright, sunny, mostly no-wind kind of day, so it’s still fun to be on the water.

The fun doesn’t last long as I remember all the twists and turns in the rivers and inlets of this section of the ICW. Then there’s the strong tide. At times, I’m powering only at 3.9 knots – a tough slog to head just a few miles southward.

Lady's Island. Actually just a pretty salt marsh.

Lady’s Island. Actually just a pretty salt marsh.

After nine hours of motoring, I arrive just outside of Beaufort (that’s bew-ferd, not bow-ferd) and anchor in Factory Creek, next to Lady’s Island. The dockmaster from Lady’s Island Marina (a fine place where we stayed on our 2011 voyage) motored out to welcome me and invite me to “pork chop” night at the eatery next door. I’m grateful, but as a vegetarian, I declined.

Where I am. Factory Creek, across from Beaufort, S.C.

Where I am. Factory Creek, across from Beaufort, S.C.

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Winyah Bay to Charleston, where sometimes timing is everything

Sunrise at Winyah Bay this morning

Sunrise at Winyah Bay this morning

A glorious and beautiful morning waking up in Winyah Bay after a quiet and restful night. This is a desolate anchorage without many signs of human existence. So dark at night I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

Left anchorage at 8:30 a.m. and headed out to sea. It’s a long way to get out before making the cut to the south. But it was a beautiful, warm and sunny morning, so who cares?

The ocean was flat with little wind, so a perfect day to motor-sail the 45 miles or so to Charleston. I set a course and estimated arrival for 3 p.m., plenty of time to get into a marina before dark.

About an hour out of Charleston, I checked the route up into the chosen marina, and found that there’s a drawbridge that closes from 4 to 6:30 p.m. It would be tight, but I thought I could still make it. Peddle to the metal time.

I entered Charleston inlet and my speed dropped by a couple of knots. Damned current!

Sun was intense just before it set in Charleston.

Sun was intense just before it set in Charleston.

No way was I going to make the 4 p.m. bridge, so I floated around Charleston harbor for a couple of hours, enjoyed the sunset and then headed up into the Wappoo River. By 6 p.m. it was pretty dark. Made my way through the drawbridge at 6:30 p.m. only to realize that between me and the marina in the Stono River was one of the most feared stretches of the ICW — Elliot Cut.

It’s not long, but a very narrow passage that has current that can run 6 – 7 knots. Tough in the light of day. Not fun at night. But I did it, and partly because the timing was perfect — exactly at slack tide. Water was smooth as glass.

Elliot Cut — a lot of water pushing through such a small inset.

Elliot Cut — a lot of water pushing through such a small inset.

Made my way up the Stono River and tied up on a T-dock and fixed myself a strong drink. Exhausted after 13 hours at the helm.

Delta Blues will be parked here for a few days while I fly back to Maryland tomorrow.

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Myrtle Beach to Winyah Bay

Didn’t leave the marina until 8:30 this morning. The trip was uneventful except the weather finally turned nice — sunny and mid-70s for most of the day. Finally peeled off the long underwear.

SOG-9.1

When the winds and tides are in sync, everything is right with the world.

The interesting part of this stretch is the Waccamaw River, a winding body of water where you don’t see any signs of human life for what seems hours on end. For the first four hours, Delta Blues fought the tides, barely making over 5 knots. But then the tide changed and it was a downhill slide the last two hours (see photo).

Anchored in Winyah Bay. This is rather exposed to the elements, but a fine anchorage nonetheless. Grilled a tuna steak and potatoes.

Winyah Bay

Winyah Bay

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Beach … beach … beach. Wrightsville to Myrtle.

Still overcast and chilly today, so I decided to head down the ICW instead of going outside. It’s been many years since I’ve done this section of the ditch. The biggest difference is all of the tall bridges that have replaced the draw bridges that could kill a schedule. A lot of federal stimulus money was put to good use here.

Don’t think I’ve ever done 10 hours continually at the helm. Truth be told, Julia usually is at the helm on these legs while I’m below working. It’s a good system that I miss. :). Anyway, I will never take her helm time for granted.

After a full day and a lot of great scenery, I deserved a break, so I pulled into Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, got a slip for the night, topped off the fuel and had a great meal at a restaurant next door.

And an even bigger treat — I used the yacht club’s wifi to download the last Pink Floyd LP, “The Endless River,” which was released today. Seemed apropos for this trip.

Scenery in southern N.C. is quite nice . . . and then there's this.

Scenery in southern N.C. is quite nice . . . and then there’s this.

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