Leg 42 - Brunswick Landing Marina
We were up around 7 to be sure to get underway by 9. We had a quick breakfast of toast and cereal with hard boiled eggs and coffee. I took the trash out, purchased some ice and started the process of getting underway. The wind blew us off the dock and we went motoring out into Jekyll Creek. The tide was going down so we would be fighting it for the first part of the trip. This was the most crucial part as depths at low tide would be around the 5’ mark. So, since we were leaving just after high tide all went very well. The winds were very strong from the NE at 15-20 knots under a sunny sky and temperature of 72 so it was a bit chilly in the shade but just right in the sun. This trip was only about 8 miles so I called ahead to be sure we would be able to check in and since the office person said yes, we picked up the pace and headed up the Brunswick River. It is a very nice marina in very deep water right on the north edge of town. There are wide floating docks with full length finger piers so it was not very difficult to dock – even though the winds were still in the 20’s. We got settled and then took a stroll over to the Dockmaster’s Office. They gave us the intro with all the places to eat and go and see and also the amenities of the marina. There was a northern and southern lounge and bath house. I took a walk over to the northern one which was the larger of the two. It had an extensive library of used books, very large clean functional laundry, great showers and a very large lounge. Apparently they have a free happy hour MWF. Rats, I almost wanted to stay here an extra day just to enjoy that. I spoke with some folks doing laundry and they just love the place. The southern lounge was just as nice but not as big. By the time I got back to the boat Sue was ready to head into town so I changed a bit and followed along. We walked around the town exploring the sights reading about the history of not only the town, but the state of Georgia as well. We found the restaurant folks recommended for lunch and after a great leisurely lunch we had to continue exploring to walk it off. So we checked out the many outdoor squares they boast about and even went into a antique store. It saddens me when I go into an antique store and see many things that are actually in my house. After some more exploring about we walked back to the boat and just relaxed in the sun. Still full from lunch we decided to just snack for dinner. Tomorrow we head out for our first of four anchorages. We plan to stop short of Little Mud River so that we can get up early the next day and go through at high tide. Right now it will be all about the tides and where we are for certain areas.
Leg 43 - Dolbow Island Anchorage
The outside temperature this morning when I awoke was 67 degrees. This will be nice as we head our for 4 nights on the hook in the marshlands of GA. Breakfast was simple as we wanted to motor over to the fuel dock for a quick pump out. After a successful operation, we headed out on the Brunswick River where we encountered a very large grain ship guided by two tug boats coming towards us just as we converged on the passing point under a tall bridge. After discussing our options with the ship’s captain, we agreed on a plan and all went well. Sue got some nice close-up pictures of the ship while I was naturally focused on maintaining the proper course. That was our excitement for the day. We then passed by the St. Simons inlet and headed towards more serene travels through the Mackay River in southeastern GA. Motor sailing with the jib out, we meandered up the river taking advantage of the ESE winds of 16 – 20 knots under a mostly sunny sky. We arrived at our planned 4 star anchorage around 3 pm. We thought about continuing on, but decided to just stay here as the next stop would force us to set the anchor at night. Anchoring at night in a strange location is not recommended. Sue turned the boat into the current, slowed down, and we anchored successfully on our first try even with opposing winds and current. Hooray! I had a beer and we waited for the current to change direction while monitoring our position. So far, we have not moved. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing in the warm sun while enjoying the serenity of nature. Dinner is going to be grilled asparagus, grilled marinated salmon, and saffron rice – all on the grill. This way we don’t have to warm up the living space down below and keep it cool for sleeping. Perhaps we will have room for some chocolate pudding for dessert. We will have an early boaters midnight tonight because the tides demand that we get underway early. We need a high tide to clear our 5’ 3” depth while going through the Little Mud River. Planning is all important in order to avoid running aground.
Leg 44 - Cattle Pen Creek / Walburg Creek
We were up at 6:30 in order to get underway early so that we would hit The Little Mud River around high tide. Otherwise it has depths of 2-3 feet at low tide. So, after a quick breakfast we were moving along with 4 other boats like ducklings in a line. Obviously, we all had the same idea. We arrived as planned at high tide and never saw less than 12 feet of water – thanks to the 8-10 foot tide in GA. We maintained the formation with the other sailboats heading north. I raised the jib after we left The Little Mud River which allowed us to run the engine at a slower speed. Running with both the current and the wind, we were moving along at 8.5 knots with only 1,500 RPM. Normally, the engine would have to run at almost 3,500 RPM to achieve the same effect, so we were doing quite well. We reached Cattle Pen creek anchorage around noon, a bit early. After seeing how narrow the creek was, we made a decision to move on to the next possible anchorage. We ended up deciding on an old favorite from our trip south – Walburg Creek. We arrived at the southern entrance of the creek where there is considerable shoaling. Slowly, feeling our way in with the forward looking sonar, we made it to our desired anchorage. Sue turned the boat around to anchor into both the wind and the current. Unfortunately it took us a few tries, but we finally managed to stick the landing and call it a day. We cleaned up and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit relaxing in the warm sun. Today the temperature was in the mid 70’s with winds from the SE 10-12 knots and, of course mostly sunny sky. I fell asleep, and Sue listened to the bird calls and songs from the marshlands. She also watched flocks of Tree Swallow dive to through the air in their pursuit of bugs. We cheered them on! Dinner was grilled steak, roasted potatoes and a garden salad. We spent some time in the cockpit, enjoying the cool evening air, while looking over the sunset change the colors of the marsh cord grass. There is no need for an early start tomorrow. High tide is later tomorrow morning and there are no major challenges except Hells Gate, a narrow shallow cut.
Leg 45 - Skidaway River
After a restful night we slept in until a little after 8 am. We sat in the cockpit watching nature and sipping coffee. After one cup or so, I prepared a full breakfast of bacon and eggs along with a side of coffee cake. While Susie began cleaning up, we were pleasantly surprised with a phone call from Katie. It was so nice to catch up with our respective lives. Susie then attacked the dishes, as I went topside to deal with the anchor. Because it was almost high tide, there was hardly any current. This made recovery of the anchor quite easy. We left Walberg Creek behind us and headed out for our next adventure. Once in the river, I let out the jib to help fight the current. Winds were from the S to SSE and predicted to only be 7-11 knots. Nevertheless, we experienced 18 to 20 knot winds during the day. Temperatures were a bit warmer today in the low 80’s, so the wind was welcomed. There was basically one ‘drama’ spot today appropriately called Hell’s Gate. The drama was heightened because we were passing through the cut at low tide. We passed through successfully, with the shallowest point at 7 feet (we draw 5’3”). Of course we have gotten used to the 20 and sometimes 40 feet of water in the rivers, so 7 feet does raise some alarm. Our next issue was now concerning where we would anchor. We ended up passing Possum Point and choosing a wide open area off the Skidaway River. It is a bend in the river with a large open area that has great holding. Also, we were searching for an open area with a breeze for bug control. Susie is allergic to every bug bite imaginable, hence the concern. We nailed our anchorage attempt on the first try. This was immediate cause for a celebratory cocktail in the cockpit. As winds have been gusting over 20 knots, I am glad I let out adequate anchor chain. Tonight for dinner the menu calls for grilled chicken, roasted green beans, and noodles. All with a nice red wine and a fruit cocktail for dessert. Hopefully, we can do some star gazing tonight. It may seem that all we ever do is, get up, eat breakfast, get underway, motor sail, have lunch underway, anchor, relax in the cockpit observing nature, have dinner while watching the sunset, do some star gazing and then go to bed. Oh wait, that IS all we do. Seriously, except for the dramatic moments, it has been a very relaxing, enjoyable and educational journey. A true adventure.
Leg 46 - Cowen Creek
Skidaway River was another great anchorage. The winds kept any bugs away and we held tight through the tide changes. Our plan for star gazing was interrupted, no, cancelled, by an impending storm. You know, the orange blob on the weather map. It was headed directly for us so we closed up everything and waited for it to hit. We got the rain and some wind but thankfully not anything more. In the morning, we ate a simple breakfast in the cockpit enjoying the pleasant breezes. As Sue cleaned up and prepared the boat for travel, I raised the anchor and got us underway. As we headed towards the ICW route we saw an historic, wood embellished motor vessel heading our way. I let them go first mainly because she was a 136 foot yacht, but also so we could get a better look. The name on the stern was Marie from Newport. These Newport Yachts never include the state (RI) with the town of origin. Being from “Newport” says it all. (Sailing capital of the world and home to America’s Cup) Anyways, we googled the name and found that this boat was built in 1930 and has quite an interesting history. Here is a link here - https://classicyacht.org/boats/marie .You should check it out – she was used by the military during World War II. Sue wanted to get some pictures as it reminded her of the boat in “Death on the Nile” with Agatha Christie’s character Hercule Poirot. I suspected that there was something wrong with the boat because it was being escorted by a TowBoatUS boat into the nearest full service marina: Thunderbolt Marina, GA. They were flying the yellow (quarantine) flag, so I hailed them on the radio to inquire from where they were returning. They responded the Caribbean Island of Antiqua and that they were checking into customs at the Marina (out of Savannah). We also saw a small trawler named “Mickey” that looked like a bathtub toy (red hull). I radioed them and it turns out they are pulling their boat out of the water in Savannah and putting it on a trailer and driving it to Alaska. We waved goodbye as “Mickey” headed up the Savannah River to Savannah as we continued onward up the ICW. We were becoming a bit uncomfortable because the temps were in the low 80s and only a few knots of wind to provide a breeze. As we arrived at the Calibogue Sound, an inlet that leads from the Atlantic Ocean at the southern end of Hilton Head Island, Sue suggested we pop out and go around Hilton Head Island. So, we donned our life jackets and I headed towards open ocean. On the way out we had to maneuver around some fishing trawlers dragging nets so that Sue could get some good pictures. They were covered with flying pelicans, seagulls and terns. Even the dolphin were trailing the nets. Everyone wanted to feast! Once past all the obstacles, I pulled out the main sail and deployed the jib and killed the engine. We were sailing for real! We started out on a starboard close reach – almost a beam reach – and were moving along at over 8 knots in 15-18 knots of wind with waves on the quarter at about 2-3 feet. We maintained that course for about 2 and a half hours. It was certainly a lot cooler out there (about 10 miles off shore) and we were enjoying the ride. I headed back towards land at the inlet to Port Royal Sound. So, that meant we would be on a run with the waves on our stern. It was a very rocky point of sail, so Sue went below for a nap (Runs can make you lethargic and sleepy). After about 30 minutes of that I did turn into the wind for more of a broad reach, but the waves were building and making it continually worse so I pulled in the sails and motored to out new anchorage. One nice thing about anchoring out is that the location is easily changed. That is, versus docking where you need to make reservations well in advance. We headed up Cowen Creek adjacent to Parris Island, SC, past our spot that we had picked out on the chart, turned around into the wind and current in order to anchor. We let out a lot of chain and called it a day. Since our day of travel was over 9 hours long, we had a light dinner of grilled shrimp for Sue and a hamburger for Mick. We then sat in the cockpit star gazing (no storm predicted) until Boaters Midnight.
Leg 47 Beaufort Safe Harbor Marina
Sorry this was a day late but we were too tired to write up the short log. We were up normal time, ate breakfast, weighed the anchor and got underway by 9:45. I don’t know why, because the marina was only 90 minutes away. So we slowly motored out of the creek and into the Beaufort River. Finally around 11:30 we tied up at the fuel dock to take on fuel and pump out the holding tanks and then they led to our slip. We plan to stay here today and tomorrow to check over the very picturesque and historic town.