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.
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.