Monday, November 11, 2013

St. Catherines Sound, Ga to Jacksonville, Fla

The morning of Oct 24th started out as a very peaceful morning with winds forecast to be NW 20-25 knots, so off we went under full sail out onto the ocean for a leisurely sail down to Brunswick, Ga. We quickly passed a fellow Gulfstar owner (Gulfstar 37) and continued on our way down the coast. This pic was taken by Jon, on Jessie Grey.

The winds were perfect and under blue skies the pelicans got a wonderful lift off our main sail.
 This pod of dolphins consisted of over a dozen mammals who were having a great time entertaining us. There were about 12 in all.

We were having a great day until mid morning when the wind piped up to NW 30, then quickly built to 35 then 40 knots. We were getting gusts to 50 knots with four foot waves coming from the land. After deciding to head in towards the 10 foot contour on the chart and staying about 2 miles off the land, the seas subsided quickly to about a foot and a half and we had a comfortable run down to Brunswick.

Once at the approach to the ship channel at the entrance to Brunswick Harbor we had to turn to the east and stay about 5 miles off shore to stay in deeper water. As such, the winds piped up again and the seas increased to about 3 feet. No problem….. put on the life jacket and safety harness, go forward and take down the mainsail. OK…. That wasn’t so bad. Now it was time to turn into the shipping channel and the outcoming current from the Brunswick River.

I’ve never seen a buoy travelling at 6 knots before……. Well, at least that’s what this one appeared to be doing even though it was chained to the bottom.
Once inside we got out of the shipping channel and went over to the Morningside Marina where we got topped up with fuel and water and spent a comfortable night. The next morning we had a long day ahead of us as we planned to run “inside” again on the ICW to avoid the strong winds and large seas forecast. We would be running down inside Cumberland Island to Fernandina Beach….. a route that was reported as very shallow in places. We avoided this area on our last trip south. The trip down this part of the waterway was uneventful and actually quite pleasant. As we approached the Georgia/Florida border, we rounded a bend and discovered these HUGE buildings. It turned out that this was a Trident Submarine Base for the US Navy and housed 7 very large submarines.
Our next stop would be Fernandina Beach which is the first landing in Florida. YIPPEEEEEE !!!! we made it to Florida in just under 5 weeks. We stopped at the town marina for the night to cheer our arrival. While making our approach we came across this fine example of a sport fisher.

Oops, there’s something wrong here. It’s blue on one side and yellow on the other.
…. And catch a look at the power plant on the stern…… twin 150hp Yamaha outboards.
Ron finally got to display his “Catch of the Day…… NOT !!
…… While Jan got to make a new friend!

The next morning we were off again before daylight as the planned trip was to go all the way to Jacksonville then on to Green Cove Springs Marina before dark…… a trip of some 75 nautical miles. Ron explained to the other boats that we were going on ahead so as to get there before dark. Unfortunately, as we were about two hours ahead of the other boats we arrived at the Jacksonville Railway Bridge, AND IT WAS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE. And wouldn’t be opened for approx. 2 hours. So much for that!!
We turned and went back to Jacksonville Landing to wait and the other boats caught up to us.
ALAS, at the advertised time, the bridge re-opened and we continued on. We had the last 25 miles of our trip to go to arrive at the Green Cove Springs Marina.
Along the way up the St. John River we were escorted by yet more dolphins.

The boat is now safely riding on a mooring at Green Cove Springs Marina. Jan & I have flown home to Halifax to spend Christmas with our friends and family until the end of December when we return to the boat to continue our 2013-2014 trip to the Bahamas.

Stay tuned……. It’s going to be a blast as we explore the outer islands, Ragged Islands and the Jamento Islands. Ron wants to stand in the footprints of Christopher Columbus on San Salvadore Island where he first made landfall in the western hemisphere, and Cat Island where the beaches are the finest in the world.

We’ll be meeting new friends, and re-aquainting with old friends.

We’re also hoping to share this adventure with family and friends when they come for a visit.
Merry Christmas from both of us on Wind Warrior 1.

Oct 20th, 2013 Georgetown, SC to Beaufort, SC

October 20th, 2013 Georgetown, SC to Beaufort, SC.

6am came early and it was time to get going as we had a long trip today down to Beaufort, SC.

We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise as we departed Georgetown and entered the ICW to continue our journey.

After a quick jaunt down the Winyah Bay we departed the main channel to head down the Western Channel towards the narrow entrance to the ICW.

 Everyone was putting on a Happy Face that day as we were finally making some mileage and the weather was turning warmer. Jan had made up some fresh cinnamon buns for breakfast.
 Here we go again, but now we have pretty well passed the Carolina swampland and are transitioning into the South Carolina marshlands.
 After a quick stop at the Isle of Palms Marina for fuel and a nights rest we are off again to cross Charleston Harbor…….. but  first….. a few more bridges and more barges to watch out for as they have right of way in these narrow places.
 Another bridge opens up for Jon as we passed Charleston enroute for Elliot Cut and the 5 knots of current that we had to defeat. This was the first time we had to run the engine full speed to make a measly 1.2 knots. The strong head on current made it very hard to steer the boat.
 All three boats survived that one and continued on to our destination for the night at Tom Point Creek where Jan & I had anchored before. It was very well sheltered and at 17 feet deep it made for a nice anchorage.
 We arrived in Beaufort,  on October 21st. The day before Jan’s Birthday.

 Our tour of this civil war town took us through quiet streets, huge live oaks coved in Spanish moss and the many well preserved homes.
Our “wagon master” told us of a story where he had a group of folks from New Jersey. One woman told him that the city should get  its act together and clean up all this Spanish Moss from the trees.

Here our guide prepares to pick up his next load of tourists. 
October 22nd, 2013 – Beaufort SC - HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAN !!!!

The weather was fine and we had a great day. Jon,  Joan and Asia got together with Ron to set up a surprise birthday party for Jan on their boat “Jessie Grey”.
We snuck a cake onto the boat during the afternoon and at that special moment we all brought out our gifts for her. From Ron……. A glass lighthouse….. from Asia and Bob ….. a new watch, and from Jon & Joan…. A special glass Christmas ornament.

What a great evening!!
It’s been a great trip so far with many new stops with new friends.

Even though we’d done this trip before, it’s the trip that makes it fun….. not just the destinations.

Tomorrow, we leave the Carolinas and enter Georgia.

See Y’all later

Southport to Georgetown, SC

October 16th, 2013 - Southport to Georgetown, SC

Our trip today took us outside on the mighty North Atlantic Ocean for a 40 nautical mile trip down to the Little River Inlet on our way to Myrtle Beach. This treacherous piece of water has taken the lives of so many........ fish, grasshoppers......Oh OK. The weather was perfect. We only had 6 inch waves and no seas. We had a little fog for the first couple of hours then it was perfect.... and hot.
The colourful homes along this stretch were quite "interesting" to say the least.
 Did I mention that we had more bridges to go under? Jon will never make it to Florida. He's a nervous wreck already....... DING, DING, DING!! Whew, he made it under this one OK.

                                                                       Now that's close!!
The VHF antenna was bent right over at a 90 degree angle each time it hit the girders.
Now that we've passed the golf capital of SC at Myrtle Beach, we're back in America's swampland until we reach America's marshland a little further south.
As we proceed through this mixture of swampland, forest and civilization, we see a lot of very long docks protruding out into the waterway.
 You meet all kinds of different types of boats on the ICW. Here's a relic that's been given a new life as a yacht.
You find advertising signs nailed to trees everywhere. 
I guess you'd get your arse wet here if someone was passing by at a fast speed. Well, that eliminates the need for toilet paper, I guess. Even the swamp folks have to go sometime.
With Haloween rapidly approaching, even the trees are looking a little "goolish". Man this place could be really spooky in the evening.

So, on we go to our next destination........ Georegetown, SC. The town that was saved from the ravages of the civil war by General Sherman as they burn't every town in site. Why did they save Georgetown...... because he liked it there. The only trouble now is that, as Sherman approached from north, the townfolk moved all the records and land deads to an adjacent town that they figured would be bypassed....... Oops, wrong move, that town was raised and Georgetown was spared. Even today, no-one has legal title to their land as all the records disappeared in the fire.


Tomorrow we continue on through Charleston to Beaufort (pronounced BEE YOU FERT!), South Carolina.

See Y'all

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Snows Cut to Southport, SC

After an early start from Wrightsville Beach we passed by Carolina Beach and entered Snow's Cut.

We passed by the Wrightsville Beach Cut and noticed that even though this was a Thursday, nobody seemed to be at work. They were all at the beach or out fishing.

The currents in this cut can be treacherous and reach speed of 3 knots with whirlpools. You really want to be running with the current when passing through here.

Snow's Cut looks very narrow as you approach from the north and is lined with huge sand dunes and pine trees.

It is very picturesque and the locals their chances on fishing in here as well.

I told you earlier about Jon's Hunter 41 with the 63 foot mast....... well he was really going to be nervous when he saw this bridge sign on a bridge that was advertised at 65 feet.
At the Cape Fear River end of the cut things got a little confused as there were three channels all crossing at the same place and going in three different directions. You really had to pay attention to the navigation marks so you didn't end up aground.
After passing through Snow's Cut and into the Cape Fear River, with the tide ebbing we were very quick to pick up speed and sail down the river at a speed of 10-11 knots. You gotta love those currents when they're working in your favour.

We finally arrived at our destination for the day...... the Provision Company Wharf at Southport, NC. This gem has always been a favourite for us. The docks are adequate and as long as you buy a delicious meal here you get to stay the night for free.

Did I say "DELICIOUS"?  This $14 meal certainly made my day.

 One thing we weren't quite prepared for was the huge tides that they were experiencing here. As you can see, when we arrived at the dock it was an easy step straight across from the deck of the boat. At high tide you practically needed a ladder to step down to the dock as it appeared that the boat would soon be sitting on top of the dock.
Our fenders certainly weren't doing much to help out. At one point it looked like the boat was going to come right inside the restaurant.
         During our meal we noticed a change in the dress of the staff at the counter and in the kitchen...... THEY WENT FROM WEARING SNEAKERS TO DAWNING RUBBER BOOTS ! As they explained to us, it was a regular occurance when the tides are high like this.

                                         The kitchen floods and so does half the restaurant area.
Even the parking lot and local streets were under water.

So ends our stay at Southport, SC at the bottom of the Cape Fear River. With all the severe silting going on in the next part of the ICW, it's outside we go for a run down the coast to Little River Inlet and up to the marina at Barefoot Landing, at Myrtle Beach.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Elizabeth City to Wrightsville Beach, NC.


Today we're at sea for some 30 miles to make the short run down from the Cape Fear River to Little River, SC where we'll re-enter the ICW and keep going down to Myrtle Beach. But going back to where we left off .....
Oh yeah, for those chronic complainers about the fine marina system we have at Dartmouth Yacht Club .... try docking at these every day ... and the folks here are just glad to have a marina. Water and Electricity..? Forget it!!

After leaving Elizabeth City it was back to transiting through the swamplands of North Carolina.

Man the unemployment rate down here must be very high as every day we see people out fishing ... instead of working
We passed the Coast Guard Station at Hobuken before getting into "shrimp country" and the shrimpers started lining the shores.
Passing through the Albermerle Sound to make our approach to Oriental, NC these creatures from the deep loom up over the horizon.

You can't focus all your attention on them as you also have to keep a look for the local ferries as they speed by you enroute to the communities on the Outer Banks.

As this is prime migration time for boats heading south, we decided that Oriental would be full so we found a real jewel further up the sound called River Dunes at Grace Harbour. Did I say "jewel"?? This is the nicest marina facility that we have ever docked at, at $1.50 per foot it was a real bargain.
The entrance was very small but as we approached we could see the paver stones that lined the channel.

The clubhouse was first rate as were the associated facilities such as the pool, hot tubs, spas, exercise rooms, and fantastic showers. Now this is a Marina!!
Oh yeah .... IAN!!! We found CLANCY's twin down here !!
Next stop was Swansboro, NC for an overnighter at Dudley's Marina and at $0.75 per foot you got a dock, great help from the staff, free WIFI, water and electricity. The dock wasn't so great but the hospitality more than made up for it. Just up the river there was excellent live entertainment at Casper's Marina that could be heard at the boat ... The reason ???? It was the Annual Mullet Festival !!
Next stop along the route was to be Surf City, NC which was one of our special stops on the trip south two years ago. Unfortunately, when we arrived they had gone out of business so we had to wait for the swing bridge to open at it's scheduled time before heading onwards. As you can see, the migration is really starting up.
The sites along this stretch of the river are a little odd to say the least. From the bright pink houses that are "way out there" ....
To the gian lawn ornaments .... 
The Goddess of whatever the heck it was .... 
To Smurf houses ....
We also came across this deal on a house ... too bad the lot wasn't a little cheaper.
Continuing on to Wrightsville Beach you still had to keep your eyes open for tugs and barges. The channel is very narrow and very shallow at the sides. This guy had 4 barges connected together and came right over onto our side of the channel........YEP.......! WE RAN AGROUND!!. It was only mud so we had no problem powering back up and getting into deeper water.
Our last stop for the day was an anchorage in Wrightsville Beach. We had 15 feet of water and great holding. We spent the early evening at a sports bar with friends and a great time was had by all. We all had an early evening because 6am came early for our departure and arrival at Snow's Cut before heading down the Cape Fear River to Southport .... Another Jewel.