Monthly Archives: May 2017

It’s a wrap

Southport NC
Position 33 55.087N, 078 01.717W
Posted by Bill

The last post was from Beaufort SC, and we left on 5/15, anchoring half way to Charleston in Steamboat Creek. It is a great anchorage…very picturesque, but a little buggy. We got good news on the way there, we were able to get slips in Charleston! We left the next day with a beautiful sunrise:
We tied up at Charleston City Marina at position 32 46.796N, 079 57.285W. We planned to stay in Charleston for 3 nights, but the really nice weather window we had was coming to a close, and we wanted to be in Southport before the next front came through. The other factor in the decision was related to a broken engine part. In Beaufort, I had to adjust the prop shaft packing gland, as we were getting too much water leaking into the bilge. While I was in that part of the engine compartment, I checked the oil level in the transmission, and when I replaced the dip stick that screws down into the transmission, the plastic top broke off, leaving the threaded part stuck in the transmission, and an open hole down the tube…not good. We made several calls and found that the marina we were going to be in at Charleston had a parts dealer office and could get the part to us while we were there. I was able to remove the threaded piece and retrieve the dipstick, and after trying several unsuccessful attempts to glue the parts back together for a temporary fix, I settled on using 3M 5200 gooped on the top of the threaded piece. With Matt’s help doing research, we found that the transmission would be fine if we closed the hole in the top of the tube, inserted the tube with only a few threads screwed in, and leaving a pin hole in the 5200 patch to allow air to move in and out of the transmission case with the changes in temperature. If you don’t leave a hole, you can blow the seals in the transmission when it heats up. I was up all night worrying about the work-around, but it held and worked great. The new part was $25, and it should be at the marina the second or third day we were there. So, the arrival of the part was the other factor in how long we stayed. It did arrive the second day, but the price was double what they quoted, which pissed me off royally. Since the work-around was doing fine, I opted to wait until we got back to Southport to order another.

As always, we enjoyed Charleston a lot, hitting some of our favorite bars and restaurants, and getting the boats ready for the final leg of our trip home. Here is a picture of our 2 boats docked together:IMG_1934 cmp
There are some huge boats docked here. Here was a view of the marina as we approached, with some of the big ones docked right along the river:IMG_1933
I saw this power boat along the long walk we had from our slip to land, and the name made me laugh:
Along those lines, there are 2 pump out boats at the marina that will come and pump out your toilet waste right at your slip. The names cracked me up:
I also really liked this T-shirt we saw in one of the shops:IMG_1939 cmp
With weather moving in, we decided to move on after 2 nights.

You need to arrive at and depart Charleston around slack tide because of the strong tidal currents. That was a major factor in how many days it would take to get home. We left on 5/19 at about 7:54, and in spite of a later start, we still made it to Georgetown SC before dusk. We anchored in position 33 21.981N, 079 17.383W. We were starting to get pretty weary of long ICW days behind the wheel, so instead of staying in Georgetown for 2 nights and pushing on to Myrtle Beach, we broke it into 2 shorter days. And we were glad we did. We left Georgetown the next day and tied up at Bucksport Marina in Bucksport SC, position 33 39.064N, 079 05.690W. It is a bit rustic there, but dockage is $.75 a foot (a great bargain!), and there is a really good restaurant right at the marina that was having a band. We were docked right next to the stage, so after having some really good food, we went back to the boats, sat on the bow, made some drinks, and watched the band. They were outstanding, and we really enjoyed the evening. The next day we finished the run to Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, position 33 48.070N, 078 44.750W. It was bike week, and Barefoot Landing was ground zero for the bike related vendors and the temporary “longest biker bar” from Sturgis. The parking lots were packed with vendors, and it was great people watching. We tried a new place for happy hour/dinner, Greg Normans, and it will be a definite “go to” spot when visiting there again. Great food and drinks.

On 5/21 we made the trip to Southport. We all had mixed emotions, anxious to get home, but sad that our trip was ending. Matt and I were so glad to be getting a break from navigating and driving the boat. Since we arrived back in the US, the couple of days that we stopped for more than one night were filled mostly by boat maintenance required to make the next leg. Just after we passed Lockwoods Folley Inlet, we saw a familiar boat coming the other way. It was our good friend John in his sport fishing boat, along with another D-dock friend Mark. They came to give us a welcome home escort:
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That was cool!

Our trip has taken us 2,798 statute miles since we left last November 1st. It was great fun. This was our 3rd year of cruising, and since we left our marina in Lake Erie we have traveled 9,419 miles. We will take the summer to build a house here in Southport, get the boat back in order (with many maintenance projects), and sell our house on Lake Erie (it is only getting used 1 month per year). Then we may head south again in the fall, or we may take a year off, enjoy our house, spend more time with our family, and do some shorter trips along the coast. I want to do some blog posts to share information about our travels that would benefit people that are going to take off on their boat. We have met several who are just starting. Otherwise, the blog will likely focus on our house building project. We are very excited about it. Thanks for following along!

Back in South Carolina

Beaufort, SC
Position: 32 25.742N, 080 40.757W

Sorry I have not been keeping up with the blog. We are in travel mode along the ICW, and it seems like after a couple of years of posting of the same places in both spring and fall, it is hard to come up with something new, unless something crazy happens. On top of that, we have been putting in some very long days of travel, and it is more difficult to find the time it takes to keep up the posts. Here is a recap of our travels since New Smyrna Beach.

We left New Smyrna on 5/5 at pre-dawn. We had slip reservations at Marineland Marina which was a 10-11 hour trip. We were getting hit with high winds again (again!!!!), and they were forecasting gale force winds out of the west for just about the time we were going to arrive…not good for docking, especially at Marineland. We decided to make a short run up to Daytona Beach and stay at the Halifax Harbor Marina, and leave the next day for St Augustine since the forecast was showing light winds the next day. It was a really nice marina, and we tied up at position 29 12.221N, 081 00.834W. We got there before noon, so we decided to explore Daytona Beach. It was Cinco de Mayo, so we went to a really good authentic Mexican restaurant for lunch and celebrated! We walked to get some provisions and then went to happy hour at the Chart House right next to the marina. It was really windy, and we were glad we held up.

On 5/6 we headed out pre-dawn and made our way to St Augustine, one of our favorite stops. The forecast was wrong, as usual, and we had strong winds all the way until we arrived and picked up a mooring next to the Bridge of Lions in downtown St Augustine, position 29 53.671N, 081 18.536W. Here is a picture of this cool bridge opening for some sail boats:
We took a long walk and hit some of our usual stops for drinks, music and dinner. The architecture in the city is very cool. Here are a couple of pictures of Flagler College, that are typical of other buildings. In the early 1900’s Henry Flagler had the vision to build the first railroad through Florida all the way to Key West. They would build a section of railway for about 50 miles and then he would build a resort for all of the rich people of the time. It is pretty cool history if you haven’t checked it out. The Flagler College building pictured was the resort hotel he constructed for St Augustine.
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We spent 2 days in St Augustine and then started the tough part of the trip…going through Georgia. If you have followed the blog, you may remember that there are 3 major shoal areas along the Georgia ICW, a couple in northern Florida, and several in South Carolina. You must time the tide for adequate depth, and also work out how the substantial tidal currents will affect your arrival at these spots. There are 8 and 9 foot tides, and currents greater than 2 knots. You may also remember that we have named Georgia “the horsefly state”. We left St Augustine at pre-dawn and made it all the way to Fernandina Beach, where we grabbed a mooring ball at position 30 40.267N, 081 28.145W, a 61 mile trip, which is pretty long day for us. We had fantastic weather finally, except it was record heat in the 90s. We were going to stay for 2 days, but the timing for the shoal areas restricted us to a 1 night stay.

We departed on 5/8 at pre-dawn (you see the pattern here?) and worked our way into Georgia. Just over the Florida border we encountered smoke from a wild fire in north central Florida. They have been having a drought, and nasty wild fires. The smoke was moving east. Much like fog, It was so thick we could not see 100 feet in front of us, and it was not fun to breathe. This lasted for more than an hour, and thank goodness we didn’t go aground or hit anyone. This is a picture of us first getting to the smoke bank:
We timed the tides perfectly for the first 2 shoal areas, and anchored in the Crescent River close to sunset at position 31 29.397N, 081 19.786W…another long day. We also started to encounter the horseflies, this year starting south of Fernandina Beach Florida. They come, many dozens at a time, and land on the underside of the bimini and dodger canvas. They they dive bomb you in the face, and bite exposed skin, leaving welts. We swatted them all day, leaving a cockpit full of carcasses. Not fun a bit! We tried several things to ward them off, including spraying the canvas with deet, which worked for short periods of time. This onslaught lasted all the way through Georgia and into South Carolina.

The next day we departed at pre-dawn, destined for Turner Creek in the Thunderbolt, Georgia area. We weren’t moving fast enough to transit the next shoal area (Hell Gate) and make it to the anchorage before dark, so we held back and anchored in Kilkenny Creek at position 31 47.521N, 081 11.945W.

On 5/11 we departed at pre-dawn again. We didn’t have to go very far to get to Turner Creek, but we needed to make a bridge opening so we were up and going early again. We arrived in Turner Creek and anchored in position 32 00.851N, 080 59.363W. We could have kept going, but we really like the anchorage. It is quiet, and has a Publix grocery store and a really cool dive bar right next to where we anchor. We wanted to provision for the final leg home, and also take advantage of the really cheap and strong drinks at the dive bar, so we made a shorter run for the day. This part of the Georgia ICW is one of my favorites, with very picturesque estates along the river system.

On 5/12 we departed at pre-dawn and made the push into South Carolina, through 2 shoal areas, past Hilton Head, and up to Beaufort. We got a mooring ball at the downtown marina at position 32 25.742N, 080 40.757W. It was a long and tiring run through Georgia, which we are glad is done. On a positive note, the landscape of the Georgia ICW is very beautiful, mostly marsh land and wide open sounds (which can be nasty in bad weather). We had great weather finally, and we saw tons of dolphins every day. We didn’t go more than 30 minutes without seeing pods of them swimming and feeding, and we saw many mothers swimming with their babies. We are staying in Beaufort for 3 nights to wait out the weather system we are getting today, and to relax a few days. Normally we would push to get to Charleston, our favorite stop along the coast, and spend the extra days there, but the marinas are booked solid with waiting lists, and we couldn’t get a slip. In addition, the anchorages are not very good ones, with holding issues and debris on the river bottoms, and really strong currents. So, we are taking an extra day in Beaufort.

For now, I leave you with some pictures Tricia took along the way, one of a cool sailing vessel in St Augustine, and several good sunsets:

Checking out New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach, FL
Position: 29 01.635N, 080 55.233W
Posted by Bill

We spent a few days in Vero Beach and after some high winds blew through we left on 5/2. We stopped in Cocoa/Cocoa Beach and anchored at position 28 21.118N, 080 43.219W, really close to where we have anchored in the past. This is a standard stop going both north and south. There is not much to do there, at least for us, and the restaurants are not the best, so Tricia made homemade gnocchi, Matt made jalapeno popper dip, and Shirley made a salad. We had an outstanding dinner on the boats!!! The next day we made our way north to New Smyrna Beach, just south of Daytona Beach. We have never stopped here before but have heard so much about how nice of an area that it is, so we planned it as a stop this time. Motoring in the ICW can be boring at times, but it was nice to have calm seas for once, but not so fast. We got hit by a nasty squall that lasted around 40 minutes, with 35+ knot winds, blinding rain and 4 foot seas in the ICW!!! It was crazy! Fortunately, waves were on the bow and not on the beam. We saw tons of dolphin and manatees along the way. Here is one of several dolphin that swam beside the boat for about 20 minutes…something we always get excited about:IMG_1899 cmp

We pulled into New Smyrna Beach City Marina and went ashore for happy hour. There are some really good places to eat here. Today we hit a great place for breakfast, and great place for happy hour, and a great place for dinner. All were in a short walk from the marina in the downtown area. Another round of storm fronts moved in, or we would have walked to the beach, where we hear there are some really good places to go as well. We’ll save it for next time. The downtown area reminded us a lot of Fernandina Beach, with many shops and restaurants. We will stop here again for sure. It looks like we have a couple of days of high winds again, and we would stay here if we could for another day, but the marina is booked and we have to move on, so we will take a whopping perhaps. The next stop is Marineland and then on to St Augustine for a few days.

Here is a picture of the marina, and of the downtown area:
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We can’t seem to get a decent break from the weather this year, but next week is looking really good! We are excited!!