Monday, July 16, 2018

Short Legs - Easy Days - Long Post

This year we've not felt the urge to push ourselves or the boat. There's no specific plan other than to be north of Florida and we've accomplished that already. Hoping to resist complication and just be, we're patiently allowing chance to influence our travel plans for the next few months. It's said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.  So we'll stay prepared and opportunity will likely appear sooner or later. If not, we'll just keep bumping around till it's time to go back to Jupiter.

No, we'll not put a lot of distance behind us this way, but we're not sure where we're going anyway so it probably doesn't matter.


On this day we're tied up at Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown, SC. The second largest seaport in South Carolina, though it's more a sleepy little fishing village.

We've spent time here before and found the old seaport town to be a friendly place. Just off the beaten path and very quiet, there's a pretty little harbor that provides protection and relief from the strong currents of Winyah Bay. On the other side of Front St is a charming old neighborhood that's covered up in history; many of the well kept homes were built in the 1700s. Down the street we've found an assortment of good restaurants and shops.
Reckoning the whole might be better than the sum of it's parts, chances are, we'll become better acquainted with Georgetown.

The getting here has been good. We're enjoying the trip and the boat seems to be happy as well. The long run up the Florida coast was the right call, but for now we'll do a few short legs and take it easy. We've jokingly tagged this portion of our cruise, The Shrimp and Grits Run — for good reason.

Sunset over marsh grass at high tide - Brunswick Landing Marina

catching up

Done with Florida and arrived Georgia, we stay in the Brunswick area for a few days. Having been Mel's hometown and much time spent here in the past, it's familiar to us.

Over the years there were many lasting memories formed in Brunswick. Most of them simple pleasures like hanging out with family, heading shrimp, catching and cleaning crabs. Our best memories are from the many Christmases we spent here. These big holiday get-togethers always ended with the traditional Oyster Roast. At the Riverside house on a cold night, family and friends would gather around a hot oak fire, tell the same old stories, laugh, and drink lots of beer as we shucked and devoured bushels of fire roasted oysters. Mel's Dad loved putting all of this together and he worked hard at it: Sourcing the oysters, building the fire, even cleaning up the aftermath was a task he didn't mind at all.
Those were good days. Yes, Brunswick is familiar to us.

Like many times before, we shopped the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning to buy fresh peas and  boiled peanuts. Local Georgia Cracker gourmet delights.

Next, we motored over to St Simons Island and Golden Isles Marina. Borrowing the marina courtesy car, we had lunch at Barbara Jeans - Shrimp and Grits and Crab Cakes.
A St Simons tradition, a fine little southern style family restaurant. 





A little work was done for the marina then a quick weather check showed the seas were gonna be favorable. It was decided to move on to Hilton Head.

Leaving St Simons at first light on a falling tide we caught a nice ride with the current all the way out the long ship channel.


A few hours into the trip our favorable seas started changing as did the wind. Now a head sea, but not bad, just sloppy enough to make sure I washed the boat once we arrived at Harbour Town Yacht Basin. 


By the end of the day the waves had turned fairly chunky and we butted our way round Savannah into Hilton Head. 

Being the 4th of July, Harbour Town and Sea Pines Resort was swarming with lots of folks doing what lots folks do on Independence Day. That night, much to our young pup Muddy's dismay, there was a world class fireworks show.
We always enjoy our time here and particularly like the resort's restaurants. (Yes, Shrimp and Grits and a bowl of Gumbo.) This is a very well managed, award winning, marina. Harbormaster Nancy Cappelmann makes sure everything is top-notch.

A few days later we moved over to Shelter Cove Marina. Still on Hilton Head island, just further inland and up a creek.  Shelter Cove is pretty cool. many places to eat (Shrimp and Grits), a coffee shop, a French bakery, and other businesses that cater to tourist. At one time there were two different bands playing at two different restaurants and both singing different Jimmy Buffett tunes. Cheeseburger in Paradise on one side, Margaritaville on the other... - I guess some things never change. 

There was a strange weather anomaly, that soon became Hurricane Chris, sitting off the Carolina Coast and it wouldn't leave. At first we thought it prudent to hang out at Hilton Head and keep and eye on the storm, so we moved back to Harbour Town. Waking the next morning and checking the latest weather info things looked much better so we decided to take off and head North. Charleston was our next stop and we needed to be there at 4PM for slack tide. (if you've ever boated in this area you understand the slack tide thing.) 

All day long the winds were calm and the ocean was slick, but as we got within 10 miles of Charleston the breeze picked up. Still nothing harsh, however off to the west dark clouds were building up over land. By the time we reach the ship channel everything changed. Wind gusts of 25/30 were turning our nice slick ocean into angry gray seas; a full blown thunderstorm was hovering over the entrance. 

Weighing the options of circling around out in the ocean and waiting for the storm to pass or pounding our way up the channel, straight into a threatening squall — we chose the latter - hoping for the best when we arrive on time with slack water. Damn the lightning, full speed ahead.

And... that worked out well. In drizzling rain we eased into the marina at exactly 4:00 and tied up. Then the skies cleared.            Yes, all's well that ends well.  ☺︎
It was interesting tying up at a marina with an Aircraft Carrier - Patriot's Point

Charleston Harbor was full so they put us out on the far edge. It was rough. All night the boat would rock and heel over from the wakes of big ships passing by. We woke the next morning, finished doing what we came for, made the necessary calls, and moved a few miles up the ICW to Isle of Palms Marina.

Isle of Palms Marina isn't really anything exceptional, however on a sunny Saturday afternoon it's the center of the universe. Hundreds of small boats use the ramp to load and unload. There was a band playing outside and 2 restaurants (one serving Shrimp and Grits with Alligator Gravy) and a nicely stocked tackle/grocery/deli. It was incredibly busy, but not in a bad way. Everyone was friendly and courteous and a good time was being had in bulk. It was fun to watch.
Putting a double finger slip to good use, I was able to get to Istaboa's port side and easily do a badly needed cleaning. It's disturbing to find what happens to the forsaken side of an asymmetrical salon boat. Out of sight, out of mind.



We stayed here for 2 nights then left mid-day to run the skinny ICW to Georgetown. McClellanville is the snag on this stretch with a reported 4' water depths at low tide, however I  believe this is falsely reported. (Boat geek stuff) We went through 2 hours after low tide and never saw less than 3.5' under our keel — (which by my calculations would make it 7' MLLW.)  We were fortunate to be leaving on a rising tide; the current pushing us all the way to Georgetown. When we hit Winyah Bay, we were clocking 12 knots. Got in at 6:30.


So here we are, Georgetown - livin' easy.  It's a cool little town and we're thinking we should to get to know it better.
So far every restaurant has been better than the last. (wonder if they have a gym)
The best to date— Shrimp and Grits with Pork Sauce — The River Room.


Harborwalk Marina is new (still being built) with floating docks; a nice clean little marina and Harbormaster Chris Carroll's intent is to make it even better. 

Taking a walk across town looking for a pharmacy, I took the scenic route. This old town is lovely.  



Old Antebellum, Low Country Charm





No, we're not sure when or where we'll be heading next. Mel would like to visit Bald Head Island at Cape Fear, she has a knack for picking good places  - so that seems likely.

In the meantime, life's pretty good.

Something worth reading: What's the hurry?
Something else worth reading: Georgetown History

Adios















Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Bypassing Florida


 It's been a while since we've done an all-nighter. Several reasons why, but a couple in particular stand out.
Number one: Radar, our senior pup, has apparently developed sea-sickness in his old age. He's a smart dog so this all could be a show of protest, however he becomes distressed and his old heart does race; that's not good.
Secondly, me, my old ass. At one time pulling all-nighters was just how it was done and I was quite good at it, but that was long-long ago. These days, the appeal of the all-night run has faded somewhat. We've enjoyed and/or endured many sleepless nights at sea so a nice tie at a friendly marina sounds pretty relaxing at this stage in our life.

We enjoy running our boat alone; no crew, no friends aboard, just two dogs and two folks on a boat. This way our unplanned/wishy-washy cruising lifestyle inconveniences no one. While this tack does indulge our desire for independence, it also means we must do everything and that can sometimes be wearing.

So, yes, running all night will be tiring, but after adding up the pros and cons; bypassing the Florida ICW and running outside in the ocean under a full moon with clear skies and flat seas was the logical choice.

== == == == == == == ==

Leaving Ft Pierce was easy. Out the inlet, the forecast flat seas were as predicted so we turned north and stayed close to shore. Catching a happy current, we enjoyed 10+ knots all the way up to Brunswick.


Rounding the point  at Cape Canaveral there's a shallow spot called Chester Shoal. To get around it, one can either stay offshore or run in close to the beach and Kennedy Space Center. Choosing the latter, it was cool to see the Space Center from this perspective.

Obviously no rockets were teed up for launch, we'd have never been allowed so close, but the historic significance of the place whetted my imagination.





Once past the Space Center, other than a another stunning sunset, there wasn't much remarkable.

Staying within a few miles of shore allowed the use of cell phones and internet; both worked well most of the way and a little work was done. Almost zero traffic once darkness fell, though there was a tug out a couple of miles making about the same speed. He was heading north as well so we ran a parallel course with him all the way to up Jacksonville.

At around 4AM, somewhere out from St Augustine, we did encounter a fleet of shrimpers. The darkness certainly wasn't going to give up a photograph and the shot below is as good as it got.

The shrimp boats working slow figure eights with their bright flood lights against the dark of night created a visual that was surreal and otherworldly; it would have been an interesting photo.


Then the fat moon that had been lighting the sky all night dropped below the horizon and everything went completely dark. It took a bit to acclimate to the black night - which brought about a renewed interest in the radar screen - , but after a couple of hours the sun made an appearance and all was well once again.

After a long night, the comfort that a sunrise brings is always soothing and always welcomed.

Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right


After a while we made the long approach to St Simons, turned, and once again motored under The Lanier Bridge to Brunswick Landing Marina. Ralph was waiting at our slip and after tying up and shutting down, Mel made one of her famous celebratory Bloodies. My tired old ass hosed some salt off the boat then caught a few Zzzzsss while the boys enjoyed their well deserved walk on dirt.



Just before falling asleep I was contemplating my weariness and calculating where we'd be if we had run the inside route.
N Palm Beach - Ft Pierce, Cocoa Village, then Daytona... then St Augustine... then a long day just to be where we are now. 4 days - Long, winding, skinny water — not to mention the fuel and marina costs.

So in hindsight; yes, we're fortunate to have the range, to be able to go damn near anywhere we'd like, and there is no better rest than that after a long sleepless night. And, yes, we're glad we did it, however — the ease that comes with a nice tie at a familiar marina can be mighty restful.

We're fortunate to be able to take advantage of either method ...  just not at the same time.


No binary thinkin' aboard Istaboa.




Radar? He did alright, though he'll never let on.



Adios,







Sunday, June 24, 2018

North -

To?  -


As I'm writing this we're tied up at Ft Pierce enjoying the company of those darn Kiwis aboard 'Southern Star'.
It's always fun to catch up with Jenny and Ted. They've just finished a pretty extensive run of the Bahamas so plenty of island stories were exchanged.
Their intentions are to cruise up to the far Northeast this year so we hope to see them again on their way back down.

For us, life's been good in Jupiter; a few projects at the house, lots of walks on the beach, and a fair amount of business has been taken care of.



Little Muddy loves the beach.








With a few new electronics added the boat was made ship shape again, the time to cast off arrived.

We left Old Port Cove at first light and made it to Ft Pierce at slack tide. The approach to the marina here is most times exhilarating and tying up can be as well; slack tide takes the drama and stress out of our arrival.

Sunrise at OPC


We thought it prudent to do a little shake out run to Ft Pierce before completely leaving our hood behind. It was a short ride in flat seas and very enjoyable. The boat seems up to par so now we're puzzling over where to next.

Though evening thunderstorms are prevalent, there's a full moon coming up and the seas are forecast to be favorable.

As is our usual M-O; there's no long range plan other than work our way North in order to please the insurance man. We need to be above Florida until November so with that in mind we'll take this year's trip in increments and see what happens.

It sure is nice to be back aboard.

ps: throwing this in just because they're so damn good.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Peep Show


Marina Cam at Herrington Harbour South Marina. One of the many cams the good folks at HHS had onSpot install. Watching these birds build their nest is fascinating.
Thanks Herrington Harbour - Very Cool





Link to other onSpot wifi Marina Cams  http://onspotwifi.com/marina-cams.php

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Winding Down - Brunswick, GA


Brunswick, GA — Tied up at St Simons; a Golden Isles sunset reflecting off the sound, pelicans and gulls ending the day doing what it is they do, all appears peaceful. Though, just a couple days ago, Thanksgiving Day, this was a different picture all together. A damp northerly wind was blowing hard and there was no sunset to be enjoyed, just gray, grayer, then darkness and cold.

In several ways, this trip is winding down.

Leaving Beaufort: With the winds blowing and seas in the unsettled state they were in, the choices were to run the ICW or stay put. Staying put was no longer an option, so it was decided, the long plod down the ICW with all it's bumps and curves was the way home.
When piloting a deep drafted boat, motoring south and winding down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, one must contend with the many twists and turns, there are shoals around every ocean inlet to be taken seriously, and almost every mile of the way is some obstacle to cope with. Most are not as precarious as reputed (ActiveCaptain), but all bets are off, you're compelled to give these complications your attention or one of them could make for a very bad day.  Stress.
(Hindsight is 20-20: Unless there's an unusually low tide, if you stay in the center of the channel there's little to worry about.)
The stretch between Beaufort and Cape Fear is crossed with low hanging bridges that must be lifted up or swung open to pass through, all these spans across the waterway are seemingly set up on schedules that are timed to penalize any boat requiring an opening—of course a fierce current is always pushing as you approach them and the incommunicado bridge tender's watch invariably runs 5 minutes slow.

Needless to say, if one has taken on the mindset to get home, this is a chore, and this portion of the ICW is not much for stopping and smelling the roses so...  Push.

Past the Cape Fear River and back into the ICW, St James Marina is just a short distance past Southport. A nicely manicured marina with an excellent restaurant onsite.


The Southport to Georgetown, SC run is not nearly as dreadful as it's reputation. The ICW water's fairly deep and there are fewer shoals to overthink. Once pass Myrtle Beach, other than strong currents, this bit is not bad at all. It's nice, actually.
Osprey Marina is a good stop. Tucked back into a forest of moss draped low country cypress trees is a little sanctuary of a marina. A pleasant stop that's out of the current and staffed by nice folks who are happy to give you a hand tying up.
Back in the ICW and a full day's run in deep water is Georgetown, SC. Harborwalk Marina is the nicest and closest marina to the restaurants and shops that Georgetown has to offer. A charming little town that's at least worth a couple of days.

The next morning, looking across the harbor at a stack towering over a nearby mill, the winds have settled, the smoke bellows straight up towards the clouds.
The run out Winyah Bay and into the ocean is uneventful as is the run into Charleston and all the way  up to Ashley Marina.



The winds were relenting and the seas stayed somewhat still. Leaving Charleston Bay and easing out the inlet, all remains calm and the next leg down to Hilton Head is an easy day.






Passing by the 140' Sailing Vessel ~ Athena



Soon however, the blow's back and the affected seas have picked up considerably; the pleasant days in the ocean now turn less than so, but still better than working the ICW.

The next run, Hilton Head to Brunswick, offered up quite a bit more texture.


Plowing away from Hilton Head's Calibogue Sound and out Tybee Roads, the approach was rough and busy. Turning south, the northerly winds and the following sea brought on nice speed; St Simons Sound got closer sooner than expected.

That same strong north to south wind created continuously tall nasty breakers that were crossing the channel all the way past St Simons Island. About 7 miles of contending with beam bashing seas makes this a less than pleasurable approach.

Though once it's done - It's done


Easing under the Sidney Lanier Bridge you'll find Brunswick Landing Marina. A nice community of a marina that's quite large. - Free Beer 24/7 - Nirvana for many.

= = = = = =

We stayed at Brunswick Landing for a few days and had a nice time while getting a bit of work done. We've tied up here before but it was a long time back. 14 years ago we brought the original Istaboa, an Offshore Yacht, to downtown Brunswick and celebrated Melonie's mother's 80th birthday. The place hasn't changed much since then... just the names and faces.

 Thanksgiving was aboard. Excellent Roast Beef for dinner then a few episodes of the Netflix series, Alias Grace. Brunswick Landing did put on a nice Thanksgiving feast for the boaters, but it was rainy and cold out so we decided to lay low with the pups and enjoy ourselves.
We've now moved over to Morningstar Golden Isles Marina to stage our departure for Florida as soon as possible.

Brunswick marks the end of a long nautical business trip. A campaign to visit the increasing number of marinas that we do business with as well as those we'd like to build a relationship. We've caught up with many old friends and made several new contacts. It's time to stop for a while and take stock of our labors.
This little marina WiFi company is a win for all those it touches; we're proud of onSpot and it's service.

This trip is also winding down for Mel and me.
Personally, I'm ready to be back home in Jupiter. To walk with my dogs on the warm sunny beach and sleep in a king size bed, to spend all the time I want in a large hot shower and have a car at my disposal; all the trappings that Mel and I happily left behind last May.
Mel is not quite as pleased as I am about tying up Istaboa, but me thinks she'll enjoy all these things as well ... in time.

This life is in our DNA, it's not a hobby, nor an item to scratch off a bucket list, but sometimes, stepping away makes it all just that much better.

Something I wrote a few years back:
And, yes I know, there are those who feel there's no better life than full time living aboard our boats, however we've been doing this cruising thing for many years and we like to think of the boat life as a dream being realized. Though sometimes, for us anyway, it's fun to hop on the bus and say, "there's no place like home", and our dream remains floating somewhere awaiting our return. 

So yes, we're happy to be heading home and now, conveniently, the boat is just minutes away and we see it almost every day.
There are a few projects needed to be done; a radar that blinks, electrical gremlins, but all in all, since the start of this trip, Istaboa's been as kind to us as we've been to her. She likes to be run and enjoyed; we've been doing just that.

Like us, she also enjoys warm weather and Jupiter's pleasant winter is getting closer each day.

There are Palm Trees in our future.


Adios,