Category Archives: ICW – Intracoastal Waterway

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Here is what has been happening since the last post…..

Most of the time has been spent on house related stuff. We sold or donated most of our furniture when we sold our house in Powell OH (Columbus area), so we have been shopping for new furniture. Thankfully, we are only a couple of hours from Highpoint NC, the furniture capital of the east, and we were able to knock off a few things during a trip there. In addition, Tricia is making all of our curtains and blinds, so we needed to find fabric and all of the hardware items. Most of the searching was online but you really need to see the material to know if it is good for your application. Then there is the ongoing construction of the house, which we pitch in to help if we have the skills, and also all of the associated decision making. This all led up to Thanksgiving. Our oldest daughter Sarah, her husband Pete, and 4 of the grandkids, all came to Oak Island for the week of Thanksgiving. Oak Island is about a 10 minute drive from Southport and has lots of beach rentals, and since the house was not done, we rented one on the beach and had a magnificent time hanging out with them. In Columbus, we lived about 20 minutes from them and got to see them on a somewhat regular basis, but we have spent several weeks at the beach with them the last couple of years, and it amazes me that the quality of the time we spent is so much better than when we lived close by! We just wish it could be more often!!!!

By the first week in December, we were able to start to have some furnishings delivered. We had a bit of a cold snap the end of the first week, and Matt made the push to get enough done on the house that we could sleep and eat there, and get off the boat. The following week we got a permanent occupancy certificate and started moving stuff from the boat and storage unit. We did a little bit each day. Tricia was able to start making curtains, and we put up sheets where we needed privacy. The middle of December led into the holiday festivities and the remaining construction work that was needed on the house was put on hold until January. It was really strange living in the house for the first 3 weeks. We have been living aboard for 3 1/2 years and just having the space of a house had us freaking out. Then being able to cook in a real kitchen with professional appliances:
And also having a decent sized bathroom, steps away! A refrigerator that is easy to get things in and out of…fast and reliable internet…the list goes on…all the things we take for granted in normal dirt dwelling. I have also found that I miss being at the marina and on the water. We have been so busy at the house and have not spent any time back at the boat. It will be nice when things slow a little and we can enjoy both the house and the boat.

We spent Christmas Eve with our friends Larry and Diane, and Christmas Day dinner with our friends Mark and Jane, and had a great time. Even so, we missed our families! There is a group getting together for New Years Eve, and I am sure a good time will be had by all!!! Next week is going to be very cold by Southport standards, and low temps will be in the upper 20s….brrrrr. We are glad to be in our house for that crap. By the end of January we hope to have all of the construction work completed, and all of our stuff moved in, and most of the curtains and blinds done!! Then the task begins to prepare for leaving next November. We are going to take everything out of the inside of the boat and give her a deep clean, then reinventory her for another trip south.

This blog was created to document the cruising lifestyle and keep our family and friends appraised of our shenanigans. I did some of the content about the house mostly for our family to see. Given that, I was not planning on taking more blog content on house related stuff, but I did create a gallery of photos on a cloud based service for our family to see some pictures. If anyone else is interested, drop me a comment or an email and I’ll be glad to share that with you.

Have a fabulous 2018!!


Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Well…this has been the longest stretch of time between posts since we started cruising. A lot has been happening, but not much to report about from a cruising perspective. As we do each summer, we have settled into life in Southport, and we have been enjoying the lifestyle living here…a few trips to the beach (although we thought we would go there more than we have), taking the boat to Carolina Beach for several days, taking the dinghy to the sandbar/low tide island, participating in the Stede Bonnet pirate sailing regatta…etc…

In addition to that, we attended a wedding in Maryland and went back to Ohio for a few days to winterize our house at Lake Erie (which is for sale if anyone is interested…it just isn’t being used enough to justify keeping it). The balance of the time we have spent dealing with the building of the house here in Southport, which is about a month from being completed. We noticed that we are going through a transition from cruising to dirt dwelling.

Many people write about this transition, and most find it more difficult than going from dirt dwelling to cruising/live aboard. For us…at least for now…it is a bit different, since we are not giving up totally on cruising, but plan on many more years of partial year cruising. Believe me, this helps. We have decided not to go south this winter, and take a season off. After over 3 years of traveling and living aboard, it will be nice to have the comforts of a house for a period of time. We would normally leave November 1st, and we see the transient boat traffic moving through and past the marina, making their way south. In addition, most of our friends that we met cruising, are either moving or getting ready to go. A big part of us is wishing we where going, especially when we have a couple of mornings like the last 2, where temps are below 50 degrees (not normal for here). We have been living in summer conditions for 3 1/2 years, and it will be difficult for me to deal with even the mild winter of Southport! I hate being cold!!

The transition to dirt dwelling has been interesting. For us, it started with having a car. Last summer we brought our 1994 Jeep Wrangler to Southport. After having lived here the first summer borrowing cars or riding bikes in less than desirable traffic, we realized we needed our own wheels if we were going to “park” ourselves again for a full summer. The Jeep is in good shape and is great for running around Southport/Oak Island, but it is not great for longer trips, like Wilmington or Myrtle Beach. Certainly not good for anything over a couple of hours. Having the Jeep gave us the ability to live what most would consider a more “normal” lifestyle here. We got used to driving again, which is a big transition! This year, when we decided to build the house, we figured we had better get a more practical vehicle, and bought a new Toyota Tacoma (I missed my Tundra the last couple of years…lol). This has given us more range of travel, not to mention, air conditioning…a must for summers here…and something the Jeep does not have. The introduction of each vehicle has enabled a further transition away from a true cruising lifestyle. We spend more and more time away from the dock with each transition, and working on the house as much as we have, has also resulted in less time at the water. This results in less time doing the things that we enjoyed so much in our transition to cruising…like sitting at the end of the dock each night to watch the dolphins and pelicans and watching the sunset EVERY day. Our focus and attention has shifted from nature based to mankind based. Fortunately, the boat will only be a 10 minute walk from the house, and once we get through building, I expect we will have more time to keep in tune with the natural world around us. This was one of the most stark revelations when we started cruising. In “normal” life, we spent so much time and attention to man made life, and so little time was spent immersed in the natural world. Immersion in the natural world has its challenges, but is so much better than man made, and most of the people in the US will never gain the experience to know the extent of the difference. I never want to lose sight of that again. Our transition has been gradual, but many just up and quit cruising…sell the boat and move back on land. For them, the transition is much more challenging, and I can see why so many people struggle with it.

As for the house…we are getting close. Since the last blog post, the walls are completed, the inside has been painted, we have gone through one iteration of fixing knot holes and imperfections in the wood walls, the counter tops are installed, the bathrooms have been tiled, the lot has been graded, and bushes have been planted. A brick walkway to the back of the house, and patio is being installed this week, as well as the wood floors. Appliances are on order. After the floors, the final electrical and plumbing work is completed, and we will be ready to move in. We promised our family members that we would post pictures during construction, but I want to wait a few more weeks before we post any more.

Transitions can be difficult, but at least ours has been gradual, and we are transitioning in a fantastic place to live! We absolutely love it here!!!

Here we were, anchored at Carolina Beach:
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Note about the older blog posts:
I noticed that blog posts from 2014 up to 2016 have lost the links to the photos. During the first years, I tried to save money and use a free photo site to store the pics. They have since removed the ability to directly link to the pictures via a URL, thus breaking the link to the blog. Maybe over the winter I will have the time to fix those link errors. I do have each month of posts saved in printed format in PDF files. If anyone would like to see those posts with pictures, just contact me and I will send the files to you.

Fretting the hurricanes

Posted by Bill

There has been a lot going on since the last post. A couple of weeks ago, we along with Matt and Shirley on Sofia Jeanne, and John on Annali, took our boats south to Myrtle Beach to watch the eclipse. Myrtle Beach was in the 99% viewing zone. We stopped first at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club in the North Myrtle Beach area. We had never rented a slip there before. Really nice people, and a nice pool! We came in with winds over 20 knots and a strong thunderstorm closing in. The wind caught us when we turned into the slip and a concrete pier clipped the wind generator pole and dinghy. Dinghy was fine, but the wind generator pole got jacked up…nothing serious, mostly just embarrassing! We didn’t get to enjoy the pool because all hell broke loose with the storm, but we checked out some local dining options. The next day we went to Barefoot Landing and proceeded to have an two day eclipse party. It was fun. 20 minutes before the eclipse started, a giant black cloud moved in over us and it didn’t leave until 20 minutes past the eclipse…lol! Oh well, we still had a good time and a good party.

Those who know me, know that I am a weather geek/fanatic. Weather fascinates me, and during hurricane season I watch every tropical disturbance, no matter the probability of becoming a storm. When Irma was approaching the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, it was first forecast to come directly into the Cape Fear River inlet, which is where Southport (our home) is. The path shifted around a bit for a week, but we were still in the “cone of uncertainty”, which means we could get our asses kicked. Last Thursday and Friday had very calm winds and we were still in the cone, so we took the sails off the boat in preparation for the worst. The storm wasn’t supposed to hit us until Monday (today), so I delayed taking all of the canvas off, stowing the dinghy, and all of the other prep.
On Saturday, the path shifted far enough away from us that we were not in the cone, and all of the forecast models were starting to show the same path. Winds were only supposed to be in the high 30 knot range (mid 40s MPH), and we have been through plenty of that type of weather, so we decided to leave the dinghy and canvas on. It has been blowing from the mid-20s to the mid-30s today, and just a little rain so far. We have many friends in Florida and feel terrible for everyone that is suffering from the devastation. We are hearing that many of the places that we cruise to each year have sustained severe damage. One friend in Marathon posted that Boot Key Harbor has been devastated and half the boats are gone (there are several hundred moorings in there). This is the mooring field that we stay at, and is the place where the locals take their boats for hurricanes. Our hearts go out to those that have been affected. We are so fortunate to have been spared the brunt of Irma.

As far as the house goes…work continues on the inside. Almost all of the walls are now covered. In keeping with the historic time period that the houses in our neighborhood were built, we are doing ship-lap wood walls, which takes much more time than sheet rock. It also generates lots of nail holes, which Tricia and I have been covering with putty. We have used over 9 thousand nails on the walls so far, so we have our work cut out for us! We also have many “built-ins” that take quite a bit of time, and we still have a couple of months to go until the house is done…still shooting for November. Here is the latest round of pics:
Master bedroom:
Entry way and partial living room. The opening on the far right side of the picture is an office area that will have sliding doors hiding all of the mess:
Built-in above the fireplace for a TV:
Kitchen cabinets:
Pantry cabinets:

A few weeks ago we hauled the boat and had the bottom painted. It had been 3 1/2 years since the last paint job and it was badly needed. I waxed the hull and did some below the waterline maintenance while she was out.
Slime bottom at haulout:
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Nice, clean, fresh paint at launch:
While working in the boat yard, we had a visitor crawling out from under the boat:
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Thankfully, he wasn’t interested in us!

Where has summer gone?

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Wow…mid August already! The last 2 weeks have been crazy busy, mostly with selections for the house, but we have gotten a lot done. They are painting today on the outside:
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We went with a gray exterior with white trim, and a dark blue color for the exposed rafters around the house and porch. The porch ceiling is a special light blue color that is used to deter insects, and it is amazing how well it works:
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Inside, all of the rough ins are done, and this week the ceilings were completed and they got a start on the walls:
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Master bed room with rafters (looks amazing!):
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Master bath with rafters:
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Again…the fit and finish of the work is incredible. We have a TON of light fixtures, switches, outlets and vents, that all of this wood has to go around, and the workmanship is fantastic. The front steps and walkway were also completed this week:
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It is really coming together and it fits right in with the historic homes in the neighborhood…very cool. We have most of the vanities and plumbing fixtures picked out, the kitchen cabinets have been designed and ordered, a copper gas lantern has been ordered for the front porch, a historic style door bell was ordered, a special spice rack door has been designed and ordered, and we have finalized the counter tops. Lots of agonizing over options!!!!

Thankfully, we finally spent a day at the beach and a day at the “low tide island”. The beach is so close, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t spent any time there!!! The “low tide island” is a shoal in the Cape Fear River that is exposed at low tide. Lots of people go and hang out with beach chairs, and we took the dinghy over for an afternoon:

We need to do more of that!!

This weekend we are going to take the boat to Myrtle Beach for a few days and run down the Waccamaw River to Butler Island to see the eclipse. It will be the first trip we have taken since we got back into Southport from our trip south, and we are really looking forward to it. I’ll try to get some pictures to post.

Long time…no blog

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Wow! A lot has been happening! Since my last blog over a month ago, we have made significant progress on the house, have been settling in to a “dirt dweller” mode of living, and made a short run to Ohio to get our lake house ready to sell, and move all of our crap in storage to a storage facility in Southport. As a part of all of that, we realized we needed a more practical vehicle than our 1994 Jeep Wrangler and bought a new pick up truck. We also rented a 26 foot U-haul truck and drove it from Ohio to North Carolina…that was a trip I never want to repeat! Many thanks to Pete and Sarah for helping us load up in Ohio, and to our friends Larry and Dianne, and Matt, for helping us unload in Southport. I think I am getting too old for this crap!!!!

As for the house…..
Around mid June, they finished the foundation:
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Then a few days later they laid the trusses for the first floor:
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From there, it didn’t take long to frame the rest of the house:
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This week, they got the exterior doors and windows in, and Matt is working on the front porch:
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We selected Marvin Integrity windows and mahogany wood doors, and we are very happy with the quality of both!

This week, the heating and air, plumbing, and electrical guys will be here to do their thing. The bad news is…we need to have our plumbing and lighting selections completed, and decisions made for where everything is going to go…yikes! In the past month we have visited several showrooms and spent countless hours on-line looking at all of this stuff, trying to narrow down our options. Matt and Shirley have been a tremendous help, and have great taste and ideas, which has made the process less stressful.

I have had 3 other homes built in the past, but I have never seen anything close to this level of quality of construction. Matt and his crews have done an excellent job. The construction is tight and solid, and they have used top notch materials.

In addition to all of the house activity, we had visits from our good friends from Ohio, Jim and Laura, and also our youngest daughter Jessica, her husband Eric, and four of our grand kids. It was really great to see them, and show them around Southport. We weren’t able to get them out on the big boat, but they really had fun riding in the dinghy:
Over the 4th of July, our good friends and traveling partners from Byrd Ketcher, Kurt and Sharon, along with Kurt’s sister Kim, and husband Mark, all came to visit. A good time was had by all!!!! There was a lot of activity associated with the 4th, as the North Carolina 4th of July festival is held here every year. As you can see…we have had a busy month and a half!!!

Settled back in Southport

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

It has been nice not having to drive the boat almost every day! We got settled back in to our summer home on D Dock at Southport Marina. The boat got a good washing for the first time in months, we have been working on deep cleaning both the inside and outside. The stainless steel on the outside was looking particularly bad, and I have been working on it a little each day. The first week back we also had to make several decisions about the house we are building…roof pitch, finalizing floor plans, exterior colors, exterior doors and windows, width of the porch, second story porch or not, brick column bases for the porch…and we spent lots of time walking around town looking at what looks good in the historic area of Southport and in the building materials stores. It has been wonderful having Matt and Shirley building for us. They are so good at what they do, have good taste, and an eye for what looks good as well as what saves cost when building. They have been a tremendous help as we struggled with all of the options we had to consider so far. I am going to make separate posts for the house construction project as most readers may not be interested in that.

It has also been awesome reconnecting with our friends in Southport. We had the usual dock parties over the holiday weekend, which are a blast:
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We have also had a visit from a resident alligator:
Needless to say, we are going to give him a wide berth! It has been nice having a car again, and we made our first run to Myrtle Beach yesterday to Costco and Sams club for general provisions and liquor. It is only about an hour away, and the liquor prices are 35% less than here. We are looking forward to visitors from Ohio in the next few weeks. Jim and Laura, good friends from Columbus are going to stop by for a couple of days on their way home from vacation, and our youngest daughter Jessica, her husband Eric, and 4 of our grandchildren are coming for a week at the beach after that! We are excited to see them all! Then we are planning a trip to Ohio to see family and friends and put our Lake Erie house on the market. We sold our house in Powell (Columbus) before we left on the boat, but kept the lake house thinking the family would use it, but everyone is too busy to enjoy it. We are tired of dealing with it, so we are going to sell. If anyone is looking for a great summer house, let us know!

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!!

Back in the USA

Manatee Pocket, Port Salerno, FL
Position:27 09.267N, 080 11.703W
Posted by Bill

Well…we made it back safely.

Our good friends and traveling partners, Kurt and Sharon on Byrd Ketcher, joined us in South Bimini the day before we left. It was a great reunion and a good time was had by all!! We had a 2 day window of good weather and sea state, and we picked the best sea state forecast. It was supposed to be seas around 2 feet and light winds until the last 1/4th of the trip, and then just over 2 feet with winds in the low teens. We left on 4/26 at first light and had a great passage for 3/4ths of the way…just as forecasted. However, the last three hours sucked bad. For that period we were in the Gulf Stream, which is a 3-4 knot current that runs north. Our one rule that we will never break, “don’t travel the Gulf Stream with any kind of wind with a north component (N, NW, NE)”. The reason is that a wind opposing that strong of a current creates steep, tightly spaced, waves that kick your ass. Winds were supposed to be SE so we thought we were good to go, but they ended up being NE when we got there. We also had a N to NE swell running which was amplified by the NE winds, which were 15-20 knots, and whipped up by the stream. So….once again we had 6 foot BEAM SEAS, short wave period, and steep! You guessed it…ass kicking. It amazes me that we have not be able to count on any forecast data this year. We use 5 different sources and interpolate, but they have all been wrong when we have counted on them.

Needless to say, we made it to the Lake Worth Inlet and ended up anchoring in North Palm Beach at position 26 50.268N, 080 03.326W. We were so beat up and exhausted that we just collapsed on the boat and crashed early. If you are a blog follower, this is the same anchorage that we pulled up the remnants of a house boat with our anchor a few years ago. I was a little nervous this time, but we stayed away from the spot that we anchored before. Yesterday, we went ashore, had a great breakfast and hit the local grocery store. It is always a culture shock coming back to the US from the Bahamas, especially at the grocery store with all of the options available, and fresh produce. Just to give you a general idea, you go from this:DSC_0439 cmp

To this:DSC_0241 cmp

Yesterday we motored the ICW to Port Salerno, and Manatee Pocket. We enjoyed dinner and drinks at the Twisted Tuna. It was fun, and nice to have the options and prices that the US offers at its restaurants. Here is a shot of the anchorage:DSC_0053

We are starting the trek back up to Southport, and expect to be there before Memorial Day weekend.