Thursday, April 16, 2015

St. Augustine to Carolina Beach, NC.

Tuesday, March 21 -We left Hidden Harbor Marina this morning at 7:20...with a dock full of well wishers.  Our stay in St. Augustine was great, and we came away with many new friends.

There's Stephanie and James.  Stephanie is the dock master (dock mistress??) and James, her husband, who works in the marina.  They met on the internet.  James is from Liverpool, England, and Stephanie went to England to meet him.  They "clicked," got married...and both came back over to the States.  The weekend before we left James sailed off with Cheeseburger Bob.

Bob is 83 and a long-time sailor.  He's been to Cuba over 25 times!  I met Bob in the laundry room as he was checking his email on the community computer and I was...doing laundry. Bob told me he was headed back to South Carolina where he would try to sell his sailboat to a friend...because Bob realized he wasn't as "graceful on the boat" as he had been in younger years.  He had hopes that his friend in SC would buy the boat and then let Bob accompany him on trips.  "It will be cheaper that way, too!"  When Bob left, the marina turned out for the send-off..

That's James, hat off and waving to Stephanie as they set off.

The boat, Cheeseburger in Paradise, was deteriorating under Bob's care now...

Above, my final shot of the boat that morning as it left in the clearing fog.  They'd delayed their departure because of the fog that morning...and that seems to have been an omen for the way the trip would go.  They ended up being towed into a marina from offshore because of an engine problem.  James was staying with Bob until he got "home," though.

Then there was Motorcycle Bob, not to be confused with Cheeseburger Bob.  M. Bob has gorgeous, white wavy hair and is living on a sailboat at Hidden Harbor.  He also owns a BMW motorcycle, and is planning to take it, for the second time, to Alaska and back this summer.  "This is quite a life you live," I said.  "Yes...a lot of people dream of doing this...and I am!"

Liz and Steve were working on the gorgeous, long,  sailboat, Aloha, in front of us on the dock.  Steve is an airline pilot (Hawaii is his home state) and Liz does articles for  They are getting ready to sail off and go around the world on their boat!    The last night we were there, we enjoyed an evening on their renovated boat (be-u-tee-ful!!!) with Chuck and Vicki, the x-FBI agents.  What an interesting evening that was!

Henri and Margaret have a lovely boat named Loose Goose, an Ocean Alexander.  They hail from Penetanguishene, Canada. Henri gave us some great advice about our route from the Erie Canal to Lake Superior.  We're looking forward to visiting them when we get to Canada!

What a neat bunch of people we met at Hidden Harbor!  And our whole experience in St. Augustine made us appreciate the city more than ever.  It's an eclectic, artsy town.  These are a few of our other St. Augustine memories...

A visit to the Castillo de San Marcos,  the oldest masonry fort in the continental US.  (I obtained my Senior Pass to the national parks on the way in so can now walk in free!)  We caught a talk on the for from a costumed guide, then walked around the area.

It was a bit windy atop the fort, but we decided to take a "selfie" anyway!

There were so many beautiful structures in St. Augustine,  we have an album full!  OK, just one more here....Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church.  Like many of the structures in St. Augustine, Flagler's name is either in the title...or in the history.

During our last week in St. Augustine we rented a car and drove to Orlando to visit with Dave, Heather, and the boys.  We dropped Lucy off for boarding that Monday and made it to Universal Island Adventures by noon.  We ran around, riding rides and seeing the outdoor entertainment, until almost 5:30.  I was able to put our new Selfie Stick to use for some group pictures.  Ryan loved clicking the remote while hamming it up!  Some of our photos from Universal...

It was drizzling rain that day, but it didn't seem to stop anyone from enjoying the adventures there.

Harry Potter is a big draw for the park...and one of the main reasons the boys wanted to be there.  They both purchased their magic wands, first thing, and took advantage of all the spots in the park where they could practice working the spells to make things happen.

And...the Selfie Stick that led to a string of selfies.  ;-)

It was a fun filled day!  And we were all ready for a relaxing evening when it was over!

The next day of our Orlando visit we took advantage of all the activities and playgrounds available at the Westgate Resort.  Alex and Ryan had a goal of playing on every playground in the complex.  :-). The swan paddle boats were a big hit, too.

We're looking forward already to our next visit with the family when we get up to Carolina Beach in mid- April!

Wednesday, March 25, we broke camp and drove home to Knoxville for a quick visit.  We picked up Lucy at 7:30 that morning and started up...thinking we'd stop somewhere shy of Knoxville for the night if we got tired.  Fortunately, we were able to make it all the way home…and in time to turn on the water in the daylight!  ;-)   Thursday we went down to Athens and visited with Mamaw Prichard who turned 96 a couple of weeks ago.  She’s doing great, and we got in a quick visit with Wayne’s sister, Linda, too.  Thursday evening came…and our planned departure the next morning seemed more than we were ready to do.  We decided to stay another day and wrap up some tax work, etc.  

Saturday morning early, March 28, we left Knoxville in the cold and headed for I-95 and Florida!  We saw snow in Asheville (whoopee!!).  When we made it to I-95, the fun stopped.  The traffic in South Carolina on 95 was horrible.  Lots of slowing and stops, or near stops.  We dared not get up to a decent speed those few times when it seemed possible.  Twelve hours later we pulled into our marina at St. Augustine.  We were exhausted and wired at the same time!  

Fortunately for us, we had a lazy day planned for Sunday before we took our rental car back on Monday.  We slept later…and took advantage of the car to drive over to St. Augustine Beach for lunch at the Sunset Grille, a good choice.  We then parked the car and walked out on the beach, windy as it was.

A search for ice cream or yogurt turned up a couple of places that didn’t open on Sunday until 2 or 3 PM…so we stopped at a gas station for freezer pops.  Hey.  We know how to live, right?

Monday we returned the car early and set about getting ready for our departure from St. Augustine the next morning.  We’ve plotted a few days out knowing we’ll change things on a whim.  Little did we know we’d change the plans immediately.  ;-)  We’d planned to travel past Jacksonville to Ft. George anchorage on the first day, but we’d heard so much about the Jacksonville free dock on Sisters Creek that we decided that would be our first destination.

Before we leave St. Augustine, I want to remember some of our favorite eating places here:
Tedi's Ice Cream
O.C. White's
Kyle’s Seafood Market (wonderful fish that they fillet as you order...great seafood dips, soups)
Back 40 Urban Cafe

Tuesday morning, March 31,  we stopped at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina to fuel up and get a pump out.  That done, we took off for the first time in weeks…in a boat, that is.

St. Augustine as we left, having gone under the Bridge of Lions...

It was an easy, beautiful day of travel to the free Jacksonville dock.

Remember the couple we met in Columbus, MS, from Canada who were doing the loop in a canoe??  Well, we passed them  as we were heading out of the St. Augustine area.  Go, Wild Raven!!  We also passed a sailboat named Odyssey…and we two ended up as the only boats on the free dock that evening.  We enjoyed talking with Jack and Larry over snacks and drinks and hope to see them again as we go up the east coast.  Larry was onboard for only a couple of weeks to accompany Jack up to the Myrtle Beach area where he will leave his boat and travel home to the Chesapeake Bay area.

It was a quiet evening on the dock...

Wednesday, April 1, we left Jacksonville around 8:15 and made our way up to the Cumberland Sound by Cumberland Island, GA.

During the trip that day we came upon an interesting bridge, the Kingsley Creek Railroad Swing Bridge (5 ft. closed vertical clearance).  What's interesting about this bridge is that it comes immediately after twin fixed highway bridges...and, as you will read from the Waterway Guide covering this area, the railroad bridge could be a problem:

"Although the railroad bridge is usually open trains hauling logs to the area's two paper mills can delay your journey [Journey].  The bridge gives no warning when it is going to close and it does not have a VHF radio [What???].  If you are in this area and you hear train whistles, be aware that the bridge could close as you approach it."

No where to run, no where to hide!  Guess, as Wayne says, we were living "right" because we made it through without being smashed by the railroad bridge. ;-)

It was a relatively short day of travel so we got to Cumberland Island the early in the afternoon…just in time to get anchored before a thunderstorm overtook the anchorage.  It was a great test for our new anchor, which dug in like a champ!  When the afternoon calmed down we took Lucy ashore for a walk.  We used a dinghy dock near the Sea Camp and had a look around that section of the island.  The park charges $4/person for entrance fee…unless you are lucky enough to be OLD and qualify for the Senior Pass, in which case it’s free.  There wasn’t anyone around with whom to share our senior pass…so we quietly took care of business and went back to the boat.  The next morning, we ran into a park ranger and were able to let our Senior Passes shine.  Trouble is, he didn’t ask for them…just took our word.  Ah, well, that’s where we are.  No one questions our claim to a senior rate now.  ;-)  Though…in Florida asking for a senior rate will only bring you ridicule.  Who’s NOT senior, right?

Sunset that evening...

And beautiful conditions the next morning...

Thursday, April 2, we took our time getting away from Cumberland Island and making our way towards the chosen anchorage at Lanier Island north…right by St. Simon Island.  We were going through the St. Andrew Sound and the St. Simon Sound, so were anxious to see how the conditions were in both areas.  St. Andrew was placid, much to our delight.  St. Simon wasn’t bad, but there was more wind.

Passed by some lovely areas...and some beautiful homes.

We chose a comfortable anchorage already inhabited by three sailboats (always the sign of a good anchorage).  It wasn’t as close to the park landing we’d chosen, but the water was so deep in this anchorage that we had to move further away from the dock to get a good depth for anchoring.  Our trip into the park dock was a little long, but the park was perfect for our needs. the boat was a good ways away from the dock.  Here's a picture of the boat's location (circled) from the dock.

It was a pretty spot.

Just when you think you've seen the prettiest sunset or cloud formation over water, you see another.

Friday, April 3- Left St. Simon's anchorage at Lanier Island North around 9:30 AM.  Good day of travel through some beautiful areas.  Headed for Sapelo Island, GA, and an anchorage on the Duplin River.  Our friends the Birdwells had visited the island and loved it, so we were anxious to see it for ourselves.  

The anchorage reviews indicated there was a dock by the ferry dock that could be used for dinghy access.  Now, however, the University of Georgia has a research facility there and the use of the dock was restricted.  That evening and the next morning we just landed on one of the shelly shores by the entrance to the river and walked Lucy.

Saturday, April 4 - Left Sapelo Island and traveled to Cane Patch Creek anchorage, mile 608.5.  We traveled up and around the creek looking for a good spot to weather the 20mph winds predicted that evening.  Hard to do in the flat Georgia coast...but we got as good a spot as we could manage behind a stand of pines.  The spot we'd picked for Lucy's walk looked good from the boat as we passed...but up close, well, let's say it was a little muddy on the approach.  I was able to lift Lucy across it, but my water shoes may never be the same.  That mud stuck like glue!  

Sunday, April 5 -  Next morning, there was no shore!! The water was at high tide, nearly, so we explained the situation to Lucy best we could and took off.  During the night we had twisted and turned with wind and current, often ending up crosswise in the creek.

Hell Gate was our next challenge: a narrow, shallow passage between the Ogeechee River and the Vernon River on our way up to the Savannah area.  

"This is one of the most notorious sections of the ICW for shoaling, and it may not improve any time soon....There are extremely strong side-sweeping currents at Hell Gate, especially on the ebb when entering from the north (Vernon River)." Waterway Guide

It was a windy, windy day and the waves were high on the Ogeechee River as we approached Hell  
Gate from the south.  We took on water in the bridge from a few of the waves that soaked my head and neck!  The boat handled it all well...better than Segue!  Water was swirly through the passage, but we had plenty of water.  

The rest of the trip was uneventful, though the wind kept up a steady blow.  Because of the wind, we had planned to anchor in Turner Creek rather than try to get into a slip at Sail Harbor Marina.  We needed to stay at the marina a couple of days to get the Y-valve changed on the sanitation system.  We'd called the MTOA port captain and he had recommended this marina (his boat stays there) for such a repair.

When we got there that afternoon we realized that the wind and current would actually HELP us get onto the assigned spot on a long dock!  It was nice to be tied up to a dock for a change. ;-)  We were tired.

Sail Harbor is mainly a boat yard and sailboat dock.  It's located on Wellington Island, Savannah, GA.  When we walked off the compound we were pleasantly surprised with the surrounding area.  A golf/country club was located just across the street and had a lovely walkway winding through.


Our neighbors... you see the monkey?


See no evil!!!

During our stay we walked to the Publix grocery, which was about a mile away, and reprovisioned.  Our plan was to get a taxi back to the marina...which we did, eventually.  It was late in the afternoon when we pushed our cart, loaded to the rim, out to the curb and called what looked to be a nearby taxi, Island Taxi.  We had tried several taxi companies in Savannah and they all estimated a wait of 45 minutes or longer to get to our location.  Island Taxi said they would "be right there."  Half an hour later, I called back for a status report.  No answer.  Hmmm.  Could it be there was one taxi in the fleet and it is operated by the lone driver/dispatcher?  We decided to try another company and this one indicated it would take 25 minutes to get to us...but that they WOULD get to us.  

We must have looked the part of "boaters" as we sat outside with our Tilley hats on, walking shoes, and a cart load of assorted bags and bottles.  A fellow, who turned out to be a boater himself, stopped and offered us a ride to the marina.  He'd seen us when he left the store...and when he had come back to the store for a product he'd forgotten the first time.  We'd committed to the last taxi company and declined his offer...but it's just like a boater to do that.  ;-)

Tuesday, April 7 -  The Y-valve part came in today and it's fixed!  We washed the boat this morning before the winds started up...but that meant that we had gnats all over us and the boat by the time we were through!  We're leaving tomorrow, headed towards Charleston by Thursday.

Wednesday, April 8 - Left Sail Harbor at 7:30 AM.

78 miles later (that's right, 78!!!) we pulled into our chosen anchorage at mile 513, Mosquito Creek.  Really?  Who would choose to anchor in a place called Mosquito Creek!?  But we were figuring it was still a little early for mosquitos.  It was.  Instead, we were assaulted by gnats!!!  Our trips to and from shore (B & B Seafood had a dock we used to land) found us waving and batting the critters, to no avail.  Aside from the gnats, it was a good anchorage.

Thursday, April 9 - Left at 8 AM after taking Lucy out in the gnatty morning air.  

Today we passed through areas very familiar to us near Edisto Island, SC.  We have vacationed at Edisto since the mid-1970's and still need an "Edisto fix" every other year or so.  The bridge you see in the distance is the bridge we've passed over many times (in fact, we passed over the previous bridge many times before the new bridge was opened).  This is only the second time we've passed under the bridge, though.

50 miles later, we were tied up in Charleston Maritime Center.  It's a rocky-rolly place, but so conveniently located downtown Charleston.  That afternoon we had time to walk around town and gather supper from the nearby Harris Teeter.

Of course, there are pictures warranted from Charleston!  First, the spectacular image of all the boats as you approach the Charleston peninsula...

And the Battery...

And the Cooper River Bridge from our perspective at the Maritime Center...

Oh, and you've heard of the saying, "turn at the fork?"  At last, I see what is meant!

Friday, April 10, I picked up a rental car at the downtown Enterprise location and headed back to Tennessee and Virginia for a quick visit.  I needed to check in on my sister, Nadine, in Abingdon...and try to visit with our dear friends Lindsey and Lynne who are going through a medical crisis right now.  I spent the night at Nadine's, enjoying dinner with Jerry, Nadine, and Amy.  Then left early on Saturday morning and caught a good visit with Lynne and Lindsey.  Left Johnson City at 10:30 and arrived in Charleston at 4:30.  Easy day of travel!

While we still had the rental car we made a grocery run...carrying our goods out in a deluge of rain!  We took only a few things we could carry back to the boat that evening and loaded the rest of the groceries on the next morning when it wasn't raining.

Sunday, April 12 - We eased out of our spot at the Charleston Maritime Center this morning at 9 AM after returning the rental car and getting a nice walk in the process.  We had a Windy day of travel today!!  20 mph +!!!  Arrived at Leland Oil Marina in McClellanville, SC, at around 3 PM.  OK little marina, but the town is the cutest place ever!

We asked the fellow who helped us tie up how to get to the town area of McClellanville.  "Step off the dock and you're there!" Downtown McClellanville.  

They have a labyrinth!

Dare I say we didn't take the time to meditate on this plot, pretty as it was?

LOVE this little church!!!

Dock neighbors were having a celebration that Sunday night.  Lots of visitors passing by.  Orderly, but definitely a celebration.  One guy passed by with a 12 pack of beers, offering one to Wayne who was sitting on the back deck.  "Thanks, I have one already," says Wayne.  "Need a sidearm?" offered the guy? ;-)

Monday, April 13 - Traveled from McClellanville to Bucksport, SC, and the Bucksport Marina.  Awkward dock situation.  We chose the floating dock rather than fixed...and ended up having to pass our power cords up over the water to nearby restaurant for hook up.  Nice location for views, though...

Tuesday, April 14 - As we left Bucksport we figured we might be in for some rain....

And we got rain on the way....

We were aiming for Ocean Isle Marina that day but the current was so favorable we made it all the way to Southport, NC.  We docked at a restaurant for the night, the Fishy Fishy Cafe.  Docking was free (no power or water, but a floating dock) so we took advantage of the opportunity and had dinner in the restaurant.  I had fish tacos and Wayne had shrimp and grits.  It was the first time (shock!) we'd had shrimp and grits...I think it's because of the grits part...But we really liked it!  The meal was good and the weather pleasantly cool.

Wednesday, April 15 - Though rain was threatening, we decided to take time to walk around town and look for some take out breakfast.  We've been to Southport several times, but always enjoy looking around...

We found a neat little market/deli open and ordered a sandwich for the "road."  Artsy little decor...

The trip to Carolina Beach State Park Marina is only 13 miles from Southport, but with a 5 mph current on our nose that morning, it took 3+ hours to do.  You can tell by the water flowing past this marker that we were fighting the tide!

As we docked, the winds kicked in...sound familiar?  Fortunately one of the boaters on the next dock came over and helped us tie up.  We took the rest of the day off.  A much needed down time! ;-)

Thursday, April 16 -  We're settled in, doing laundry and getting the boat ready for our visitors arriving tomorrow...Alex and Ryan!  The family is driving over tomorrow from Wake Forest and will be here around 6 PM.  Alex and Ryan will be our guests for a couple of nights while Heather and Dave spend a little alone time on Carolina Beach.  Looks like the weather will be good, and we are excited about having the boys with us for a while!!

From Carolina Beach...until next time!