Thursday, March 27, 2008

Daytona Beach to Charleston, SC

Wednesday, March 26 - We left Daytona Beach and Adventure Yacht Harbor today after almost a month's stay.

We were really very near a place called Wilbur-By-the-Sea. Wayne and I rode bikes down by the little "town center."

We really got to feel at home here! We met some of the nicest people. In particular, Leo and Mary Clavin (and their dog, Tucker)of Jamestown, RI, aboard Sea Song. We swapped boat tours and they kindly took us to the store for groceries since they have a car. They arrived in December and are leaving to go back north this week, too. Hopefully we'll get to catch up with them again along the Georgia or SC coast.

We got to know the Harbormaster, Jim, a bit better, too. Jim says being a harbormaster is like being a bartender, only without the booze. He loves his job and it shows. Jim has built a gorgeous home in Panama that he visits now a couple of times a year and will "retire to" when his daughters are through college.

This is Jim on the fuel dock as we pulled out of Adventure Yacht Harbor.

And this is the "locals" at a birthday party they had for Jim some time ago. Jim's curly blond hair is very distinctive. See what I mean about this being our kind of place???

During the last week we were there we got to look around a bit at Ponce Inlet, just south of Adventure Yacht Harbor. One of our friends from Knoxville, Joann Finchum, lived in a house not far from us and I biked down to take pictures for her. Ponce Inlet is a neat little place! I know I say this about a lot of places...but, I could live here.

After weeks of being tied up to a dock it was a little unnerving to get back out and moving again...but we were ready to be moving again! There are just so many little routines that you get down when cruising and then quickly forget with a month off. It might have taken us a little longer to get ready to leave, but we got it all done and soon found ourselves at home on the bridge, marveling at new sights along the way.

Our goal was to reach the St. Augustine area and an anchorage called Salt Run. Our 30 amp shore power plug burned up as we were unhooking the shore power cords. From St. Augustine we can make an easy day to Fernandina Beach and a West Marine for replacement parts before we hit a marina again on Friday. The trip up to St. Augustine was nice...calm winds and waters. We had the plastic curtains down on the bridge because it was still a little nippy down here, but it warmed up as the day went on. We came through St. Augustine and under the Bridge of Lions which is under major restructuring. I wish I'd taken a picture...but we were so intent on finding our way through the maze of barges and steel that I didn't think to at the time.

Salt Run is very near the St. Augustine Inlet. In fact, to enter Salt Run you feel like you're going out the inlet (hmmm_), the marked channel is so far east. The tide was low as we came in, but we had just enough water to make it. We traveled back to an area close to the dinghy dock and, after a couple of tries, got the anchor to hold. We were a little concerned about the anchor slipping (see previous entries) so Wayne stayed with the boat and I took Lucy to shore solo. Lucy has gotten used to the dinghy rides now and was still the whole way. My only challenge is to figure out which way to turn the steering stick to make the boat go where I intend it to go! Not really a big problem. Just means I get to travel around in circles sometimes. What's new?

We finally settled in at about 6:30. No slipping problems, thankfully, and we were ready for bed at our usual 9:30 hour.

March 27 – Thursday morning we woke to a beautiful sunrise. The Salt Run anchorage is located right behind the St. Augustine lighthouse. These are a few of the pictures we got that morning.

The waters were calm and we were ready to keep on moving. As we left the anchorage we were escorted by a dolphin….

Sixty miles up the road we found ourselves at Fernandina Beach, FL. We had originally planned to anchor there in the area around Fernandina Beach Marina, but on the way up we heard another boater talking about the mooring field in Fernandina Beach. We called the marina and made reservations for a mooring ball…our favorite! Of course the winds were lively while we were trying to secure the ball…but we finally made it work. Our thoughts were to stay at Fernandina for a couple of nights.

March 28 – Wayne took a taxi to the closest West Marine for a 30 amp plug while I scoped out the town of Fernandina Beach… a really cute place, in spite of its proximity to two large manufacturing plants right on the river.

Someone in Fernandina has a sense of humor...

We’d decided that morning to move on up to St. Mary’s, GA, instead of staying on the mooring ball. Unfortunately, our view of the harbor included both plants and just wasn’t the kind of place to “feed our souls.” The trip to St. Mary’s was quick…only about 10 miles away. The course took us by the southern tip of Cumberland Island where we saw some of the wild horses on the beach. (I wish they had been running. Somehow they look like "paste-on" horses...but they were real!)

We pulled into Lang’s Marina in the early afternoon in time to grab lunch at one of the restaurants nearby. We spent the afternoon walking and biking around the town and got back in time to welcome our friends Mary and Leo on Sea Song as they pulled in that evening. They’d left Daytona a day after we had. Here's a shot of the main street in St. Mary's...

March 29 – Cumberland Island is very close to St. Mary’s and we had reserved a couple of seats on the ferry from St. Mary’s to Cumberland Island for that Saturday. To the left are pictures of the ferry...and one I took of Segue docked at Lang's as we left on the ferry for the island.

Cumberland Island is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island and has been designated a National Seashore. You can roam around on your own or take guided tours conducted by park rangers.

We spent a nice afternoon there and saw wild horses, an armadillo, and a diamond back rattlesnake…Oh, my!! We took a tour of the south end of the island with one of the park rangers and saw some of the structures that used to be inhabited by the Carnegies. There are still some private residences on the island, though 98% is park land.

Check out the snake curled up next to the tree....A park ranger had spotted it and was "hosting" a gathering of observers. We watched where we stepped after seeing that!

Wayne and I took a guided tour of the southern part of the island.

Stone ruins of Dungeness, the Carnegie vacation home on Cumberland.

What does Lucy think about our consorting with snakes and armadillos? She's fine with it as long as we're ready to toss the tennis ball when we get home.

When we returned from the island we noticed a new boat in the marina, Free Bird. We’d met John and Pat Olson when we were in Pennecamp State Park and took the opportunity to catch up on their trip. John and Pat have already completed the loop once and are on their second go-round. They have a home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. From Pennecamp they had gone to the Bahamas for a few weeks and have now started working their way up the eastern coast.

On the trip over to Cumberland Island we sat next to a nice couple, Linda and George, who have talked about doing a trip like this. We talked the whole 45 minutes over to the island. That evening they strolled out to the dock when they returned from the island and we invited them onto the boat to talk more. It all starts with the idea…

March 30-31 – The winds picked up over the weekend and while we had planned to leave on Sunday we ended up spending an extra couple of nights. (Sound familiar? Schedule, schmedule.) We caught up on some reading, explored more around town, and visited with the people docked at Lang’s. It was chilly and rainy…and the no-seeums came out in force. Wayne tried to do some work on the boat but was foiled by the bugs!!

April 1- Three boats pulled out of Lang’s on that morning: Segue, Free Bird, and Sea Song. All of us were headed north, which meant going through St. Andrew’s Sound. The course requires going almost out to sea before you get to turn back in towards land, the shoaling is so bad there. People in the know tend to be very cautious about the time and weather conditions when going through this area. We were the only ones who hadn’t been through it before, so we were glad to hear the other two boats were up for a group trip through the sound. We left the dock first...then Sea Song and Free Bird. It was a little foggy, as you can see.

The current at the marina was fierce and it took a lot of maneuvering and help on the dock to break free and out into the river. Between the current, wind, and the tides (8-9 ft. down here) you really have to think out any boat maneuvering. We're learning.

Leo and Mary on Sea Song...
John and Pat on Free Bird....Leo and Mary leading us out into St. Andrew's Sound...

Leo and Mary led the pack, followed by us and then Free Bird. Fortunately, the trip through the sound went just fine.

We had reservations at Jekyll Island Harbor Marina that evening, knowing they supply a courtesy car and we needed some groceries. Jekyll Island is at the north end of St. Andrew's Sound so it wasn't long after we'd all made our way safely through the sound and back into sheltered water before we broke off and headed for the docks. Free Bird and Sea Song were both going further that day before stopping so we wished them safe waters and figured we might catch up with them again before our trip was over.

Jekyll Island was gorgeous. The beach areas have that natural, "ungroomed" look. But they look like the kind of beaches that might hold all manner of sea treasures. We got in around noon and ate lunch at SeaJay's Restaurant right there at the marina. I had the Brunswick stew with cornbread and it was delicious! After lunch we borrowed the courtesy car and drove to the island's one grocery store. We had a huge list of needs...but seeing the size of the store decided to cut back to the basics for this run. We still managed to have a trunk load of supplies.

That afternoon we borrowed a couple of the courtesy bikes and toured the island.

There are bike trails everywhere there. We went down to the historical district and felt a little like we were at Disney World, everything is so beautifully landscaped and clean.

Back at the dock we met a couple in a motor sailer, Sandpiper, who have done the Loop twice. They spent the winter at Jekyll and would spend the summer in Maine. We didn't realize they were pulling out early the next morning so we didn't get their names...but enjoyed talking with them about their favorite parts of the trip.

That evening as we were enjoying the sunset on the back deck we spotted about 12 guys doing the "paddle your surf board" thing. Remember the guy at Key West? Well, what was different about these guys was that they had their cooler with them. Take a good look at the fellow wearing the red shirt.

Wednesday, April 2 - Ready to head out again the next day, we were setting our course for an anchorage called Walburg Creek just south of St. Catherine's Sound and right up against St. Catherine's Island. We were looking forward to staying "on the hook" for at least 2...maybe 3 days in a row. If the conditions are right, that can be so relaxing. Reading, painting, napping. Nice!

When we got to Walburg Creek the current was fast...and the tide was high. We anchored and set the alarm. Everything was fine until the next morning when the winds were howling and we started dragging anchor. We decided to go in closer to the bank to knock off some of the wind coming in. That worked and we settled back in for another day on the hook.

Friday, April 4 - Time to move on. We had another spot picked out for anchorage, Turner Creek near Savannah. We hadn't been able to take on fresh water at Jekyll the morning we left so we decided to stop in at Hogan's Marina on Turner Creek to fill up before we anchored. That done, we picked a spot down near the fixed bridge and set anchor. And the anchor did indeed set! The wind was really blowing that night (too)! We got the dinghy down and took Lucy in for a walk at the public boat launch right by the bridge. Around 10:30PM the tide switched direction and the wind died down. As a result, we ended up floating alongside a private dock...about 3 ft away. We decided it would be judicious for us to just tie up to the dock until morning to ensure that we didn't bounce up against it all night. We did...and in the morning let go the lines and floated back to our original spot in the creek.

Saturday, April 5 - The weather forecast was calling for storms, some severe, in the Savannah area. We had planned to spend two nights in Turner Creek but decided to go on up to Thunderbolt Marina in Thunderbolt, GA, to tie up to a dock for the next 24 hours. We were only a few miles away, so we were in Thunderbolt in time for lunch at Tubby's Seafood Restaurant. Very good! As we pulled into the dock we saw some familiar faces: Bob and Vicky Riggs on Si Como No who'd helped us dock in Fairhope, AL; Charlie and Ginny on the sailboat Lady, our neighbors on the dock at St. Mary's, GA; and later that afternoon Pat and John Olson on Freebird. The weather did turn nasty that fact there was a tornado alert sounded and many of us gathered in the ship's store for a while to see the alarm through. It wasn't bad. Just rain and really black clouds. We were still glad to have been tied up to a dock!

Sunday, April 6 - The no-seeums were fierce at Thunderbolt, especially after the rain. We decide to head on up to Beaufort that day so we'd have plenty of time to get the boat straightened up and cleaned before Carla and Jay came on Tuesday. The trip from Thunderbolt to Beaufort gave us such beautiful scenery. The clouds were the highlight of the day.

Beaufort Downtown Marina has a courtesy car so as soon as we checked in that afternoon we took the car to the nearest grocery store and stocked up BIG time. The tides in this area are big, like a change of 8 feet between high and low tide. That afternoon the tide was out. When we got back with this car load of supplies and loaded up a cart we soon realized there would be NO WAY we could hold onto that cart as we made our way down the ramp to the dock. It would be hard enough to walk down the ramp! After due consideration we unloaded much of the cart and left it up top...then made several small trips up and down the ramp. Note to self: check the incline of the dock ramp before going on a large grocery run!

And who did we find already docked at the Beaufort Marina when we arrived? Leo and Mary on Sea Song. We had heard them hailing the marina as we were coming in. Leo told the dockmaster he was having trouble with his starboard engine so was hoping there would not be a lot of maneuvering to do to get into a slip. I looked in surprise to Wayne who said, "There's nothing wrong with Leo's engine. He's just being sly!" Turns out, Wayne was right. There's so much we have to learn... :-)

Monday, April 7 - Laundry day and boat clean-up. I washed the clothes while Wayne washed the boat. I think I got the better deal. I met a lady named Helen French who lives on a boat in the marina. It's a houseboat...without engines...and it looks like a lady's parlor inside. She's 89 years old and had some great stories to tell about Beaufort and Pat Conroy. She said her first husband had died early...and her second hadn't died early enough! The time passed quickly in the laundromat.

That afternoon Bob and Vicky on Si Como No pulled in and docked next to us.

Tuesday, April 8 - Carla and Jay Livingston came in that afternoon for a visit. They'd been to Seabrook for a few days and were going with us to Charleston. A local shopkeeper had recommended a restaurant in Port Royal called the Dockside...and the shopkeeper also informed me that the Lady Vols were playing a championship game that evening. He even had a recommendation for a local brewery, Brewer's Brewery, for watching the game. The evening was planned! Dockside was wonderful. It was some of the best seafood we've had on this trip. The vidalia slaw is worth the trip!

Jay and Wayne then dropped Carla and I at the boat and they proceeded to the brewery to watch the Lady Vols rack up another championship.

Wednesday, April 9 - Wednesday we went in search of bicycles. Why, Doris (you'll say), don't you have bikes??? Ah, the bikes. See...we left one of our $25 bikes in Daytona because we brought a better bike from home. That better bike blew off the dock in St. Mary's, GA, one windy night. Note to self: listen to Wayne when he says to lay down the bike and not stand it up by kickstand. The second $25 bike was the worst bike of the lot and after trying out "beach cruising bikes" at Jekyll (read: one gear, pedal brakes, comfort seat) we knew we needed to find a place to ditch it and purchase new ones. On Tuesday Wayne came in and said, "Be careful of what you wish for...lest it come to pass." The worst bike had been stolen off the cockpit during the night. One problem solved.

Anyway, on Wednesday morning we went to the local Walmart to check out the bikes and found exactly what we wanted. We told them we would like them assembled and would come back later that afternoon. Later that afternoon we called to find they had not been assembled...and the guy who normally did that work was busy on another project. We cancelled the order and decided to pick up bikes later. Instead, we walked around Beaufort in search of the Big Chill house. Not sure we saw it...but the looking was fun!

We ate at Plum's Restaurant twice that day. Both meals were very good.

Thursday, April 10 - With the Livingston Crew ready and trained, we took off for a 50 mile trip to Bohicket Village Marina on Johns Island, SC, off the North Edisto River. Again the cloud scapes were the feature of the day.

The weather was perfect so we took a brief trip out into the Atlantic Ocean at the North Edisto River Inlet. Carla wanted to keep going to Ireland, but we didn't quite have enough fuel so we turned around and headed for the dock at Bohicket. That evening we dined at Up the Creek, one of the four restaurants near the marina.

Friday, April 11 - Charleston, here we come!! We were only about 40 miles away, so we weren't concerned when we had fog that morning and delayed our departure. We motored out to the North Edisto River and saw so much fog that we dallied a while in the Bohicket Creek. The views, again, were so nice.

Another good weather day. 70's, low wind, beautiful skies and water. We got into the Charleston Maritime Center at around 2:30PM. Wayne skillfully docked Segue between two other boats alongside a long dock and we set out to see the city. This is a great location. We had planned to stay at Cooper River Marina but decided this one would be better for the week before the Looper conference. We're thinking we might just stay here both weeks. We have a great view of the Cooper River Bridge and are within 2.5 blocks of a Harris Teeter grocery store and a hardware. What more could we want???

The view from the Maritime is spectacular. We're seeing huge ships in the harbor AND the Cooper River Bridge.

After docking we had plenty of time for a stroll around the area.

Carla and Jay recommended the Charleston Crab House near the City Market and we enjoyed an early dinner there on the rooftop. We ended the day sitting on the back deck enjoying the views and talking.

Saturday, April 12 - Time for Carla and Jay to take off for Knoxville. We've had such a good time traveling with them and catching up on everything!
Carla had to help rid the boat of a bee-like varmit...

Wayne, Jay and I set out that morning at around 8:30. I stopped by the farmer's market at Marion Square while the guys went on to pick up the rental car that would take Carla and Jay back to Beaufort. We went with Carla and Jay to Beaufort in exchange for keeping the car that day for reprovisioning. We left Beaufort at around 11:00 and drove around Charleston a good part of that afternoon trying to locate bicycles. We ended up at the local Harris Teeter for supplies, then back to the boat.

There was a note on the boat when we returned. Nick Glover, the boat's former owner, lives in the condos next to the Charleston Maritime Center. He looked out that morning to see his old boat sitting in the harbor! We called Nick and made arrangements for a visit on the following night.

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