Sunday, March 26, 2017


    Saturday is a day of chores. I help Barbara get to the laundromat early to get our linens done. And I kill time on SummerTime working on blogs I am behind on. After lunch I crawl into the engine compartment to complete fastening the sound insulation I installed several weeks earlier. The screws I was going to use to hold up the insulation I can not get started in the fiberglass underdeck. The angle is too awkward for the driver to start the screws. Gene comes by, and I am more than happy too crawl out of the engine compartment. We get cleaned up and go to dinner with him. We go to Tom and Betty's Diner, in the area we have been shopping at. It is an auto themed diner, menu items are named after car models and parts. And there are posters and signs around that I can relate to from my earlier life.
     We are supposed to go to church with Gene on Sunday morning. But we forgot there was a time change. Gene knocks on the side of the boat, and we are still eating breakfast. We send him to church without us. He is going to the early Lutheran service. We finish breakfast, get ready, and walk to the nearby Presbyterian Church. We make the 11 o'clock service. We spend the afternoon on SummerTime looking at the route north, and staying dry from the showers. Gene comes by in the afternoon, and we go to Panera Bread with him, as hot soup seems right for this day. We spend more time talking about the trip north with Gene. He keeps his boat in York and has made the ICW trek to Florida and back several times. A wealth of info for us. And I share our travels from our log book entries of 2013 with him for the Chesapeake and going north to the Hudson. He has done most of the Great Loop, except for the Chesapeake north, and cross Canada or Great Lakes leg.
     Monday we get up and ready to leave. The OL dockhand comes by and we get a last pump-out of the holding tank. I fill the water tank. And I hike to Publix to get milk as we ran out. We get away at 10:45, about an hour later than planned. It is cool, overcast, and looks like the rain we are supposed to be getting will happen.
The RR bridge is in the right position this time, and we motor straight through downtown JAX.
We pass the shipping docks, and they are all partially occupied. Only fishermen and a few tugs are moving around.
We hit rain about an half hour before the Intracoastal Water Way. I move down to the lower helm. It is not raining that hard, but the wind is making the wind chill on the fly bridge feel quite raw. After we turn north up the waterway, the rain increases. it is actually running off of the fly bridge deck and over the side windows of the salon. The initial part of the waterway is Sisters Creek, and as such it twists and turns. As we get to Nassau Sound, I see a tug coming pushing a barge.
I move way to starboard, as it appears we are going to meet in the bend that occurs as the waterway crosses the sound. I am listening to the NOAA Weather on the VHF radio. I am thinking we probably want to stop earlier than Cumberland Sound, and at a marina, not on anchor. The evening is forecast to have strong winds, and scattered thunderstorms. We call the Harbor Marina at Fernandina Beach and get one of their first come first served slips. Matthew had ripped them pretty good, and only a small part of their docks are in service. We go into town for the balance of the afternoon, and beginning of the evening.
We shop some in the assorted shops, and eat dinner at The Marina Restaurant. We went in for seafood, but their daily specials are down home type cooking. I get meat loaf, and Barbara gets Southern Fried Chicken. And they have fresh warm cake from the oven for dessert. It feels good as the weather has gotten more raw, with the rain increasing in hardness and longer duration of showers. When we turn in for the evening, the rain is continuous.
       Tuesday, it is cool in the boat, even though the heat was on through the night. It is still damp from Monday. And it is drafty as the winds are howling, and there are large white caps on the waterway in front of the docks. We listen to the NOAA weather on the radio and decide to stay put for the day.
We have to travel several large sounds in Georgia, and they will be very unpleasant with the strong SW winds. We see 6 other boats traveling today, 2 north, and 4 south. The damp  chill makes me think the boats going south know something that I do not.
       On Wednesday, we get up and the winds have shifted out of the NW as predicted by NOAA. and they are not blowing as hard. We get SummerTime ready to leave after a warm breakfast as the outside temp is in mid 40s. We decide to shower as we will be on anchor tonight. Bad decision. By the time the showers are done, the winds are up in speed. We get the dockhand to help us get away without hitting anything, as the wind and the rising tide are both racing in the same direction. Even though it is cold, with a terrible wind chill, I elect to run from the fly bridge. Barbara joins me on the fly bridge after she has all the dock lines secured. As we cross the St Marys River, we occasionally get some spray up on the fly bridge. The rising tide is running against the NW winds, creating some sizable (2-3') white caps. We meet three USCG boats. One small one, and two 40'+ patrol boats. They are patrolling the entry channel as the US Navy's Kings Bay submarine base is just ahead. There is a small navy vessel patrolling in front of the base as we go by. After the base, we make a right turn and are on the AICW in Georgia. We are passed by a go-fast Cruiser with a hailing port of Arlington, Va. After another bend, I think I see a ship on the horizon. I think it can not be as we are on the Water Way. I have Barbara check with the binoculars. She confirms it is a ship, and  moving. I hear him contact the go-fast boat, and ask for the middle of the channel. The go-fast boat acknowledges. I then call the "American Star" and acknowledge her presence and my intentions to pass port to port. As we go by, it is a small cruise ship.
The trip is uneventful for the next several hours. We eat lunch as we pass by Jekyll Island. We plug the small electric heater into the inverter powered receptacles to start putting heat into the sleeping area. It is supposed to get near freezing tonight. We are passed by two fast moving sport fisherman traveling together, with hailing ports of Manteo, NC. And then we are by St. Simons Island. We are pretty much alone on the waterway now. We enter the Front River, and it is almost dead low tide.
The mud flats on each side leave no doubt as to why this straight stretch is called "The Narrows" on the chart. We come to our planned anchorage just before the Sapelo River at about 5:40. Our first creek choice is too shallow across the entrance. We nudge onto a sand bar trying to enter the mouth, and back off. We move to the Ridge River Mouth and anchor. There is a 25' deep pocket in the mouth. It must have been the anchorage for a dredge at some time, as it is right off the waterway. We run the generator to cook dinner, top off the batteries, and run the furnace some before retiring.
      I got up before 5 this morning to start the generator. It is cold inside the boat, 45F by the thermometer on my portable clock. I need to start the generator so the furnace has power to run. The boat is up to 72F inside when I get up again at 7. Barbara cooks oatmeal so we have a warm breakfast. It is about 9 when we weigh anchor to continue our trip towards Savannah. It is fairly straight forward. No shallow areas to surprise us today. We come to the area called Hell Gate. We pass through this approximately .5 mile long channel connecting two rivers and I am dumbfounded. I do not see what all the fuss is about. There are cross currents. The channel is well marked. And while not deep, it is of adequate depth for all but the deepest draft sailboats. We continue on and eventually get to the Burnside River. We hit the first of a "speed/no wake" zone we have been cautioned about. It is fairly long, and as we leave it, we cross the mouth of the "Moon River" that Johnny Mercer penned a famous Andy Williams song about. It is not wider than a mile as Barbara and I both sing the parts of the lyrics we know. We get out of the speed zone, and about a mile later we are in another speed zone. We had some time saved as a comfort zone to get to the marina for the evening. But the speed zones is eating that time up. We get a fast section, and then a slow section. In one of the fast sections, I decide it is time to exercise Mr. Perkins before giving him  a few days off. With current pushing us, and some wind help also. SummerTime gets to 17.4mph at 2700rpm. We eventually get to Thunderbolt Marine in Thunderbolt, GA close to our appointed time late afternoon. We are given a slip on the back side of the face pier, and between two other boats. Getting in there test my skills and the ability to use the stern thruster and forward motion at the same time to kind of "crab" into the vacancy. We contact my sister and her husband who are driving to Savannah to meet us for a mini vacation together. They are encountering detours, and are running late. We agree to meet on Friday, and Barbara and I cook and eat on the boat.
      Thunderbolt Marine, true to their word, delivers Krispy Kreme donuts to the boat a little before 7. It is a decades old tradition for this marina to deliver fresh Krispy Kremes to their transient guests. Barbara and I wolf the donuts down, and then head up to the bath house to get a bath before my sister and her husband get to Thunderbolt. The four of us are going to downtown Savannah. This mini vacation was to be an historic area tour. But we learned that Savannah has the second biggest St. Patrick festival in the country, only behind NYC. We know we will not find parking downtown due to the size of the parade and number of spectators. We go to a nearby mall and catch a bus to the downtown parade area. It is free to ride the bus today. But it takes over an hour to get downtown. It is worth the ride. We are an hour and a half late for the start, but the parade is still going strong.
The spectators around us are a show to themselves. We enjoy the parade, and after about two hours, we leave to catch the bus back. There is still a half hour of parade left to pass according to the CofC promoting the size of this festival in Savannah. Officially they make it a 3:45 length parade. We get back to the car, and find a fast food for lunch. As my sister has never seen an eagle in the wild, we decide to drive to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. When we call up the Refuge's website, we discover there were 5 eagle sightings earlier in the week. It takes us about 30minutes to get to the entry. There is a dirt road that winds about 5 miles through the refuge. There are lots of birds in here.
Mostly wetlands birds as this refuge is mostly marsh grass with some solid areas to support some tree growth and stands. We are rewarded for our efforts. About half way through we see a solitary eagle sitting in the top of a tall tree. He is quite visible in the bare tree. And on the road ahead there are cars stopping. When we get to this area, we discover why. It is not a bird, but a reptile they are all looking at. There is a gator about 8' long laying on the opposite bank. A little farther down this road, between the two bodies of water, we see another gator, longer still swimming.
He is very close to the car up on the road. We leave the refuge with my sister able to check off two of the animals she wanted to see in the wild. I have to eat crow. As we see eagles almost every week while traveling by boat, I did not think that we would ever see one by car. 
       We get back to Thunderbolt, Ga where SummerTime is tied up. We stop on the way in and go to Tubby's to eat. The food is very good with good desserts. This mini vacation with my sister and her husband is starting out very good.

1 comment:

  1. I'll have that last drop of coffee Rodney left behind.