Southport Marina to Casper’s Marina, Swansboro, NC — April 28, 2013

The weather was cloudy this morning but as we moved North the sky cleared and it was sunny until mid-afternoon.  The rain held off and we are expecting the rain to start sometime tonight.  They are predicting 1″ of rain tomorrow and another 1/2 ” on Tuesday with thunderstorms.

The morning did not start great as when we were on the water I called the marina we were going to stay at and found out they were closed, permanently.  They were about 50 miles away and with the possible rain delay I looked thru the guide and we found 2 possibilities in Swansboro, approximately 30 additional miles up the ICW.  Between the two we decided on the floating docks because it is easier on Lenore and Candy getting on and off the boat.  We made reservations at Dudley’s Marina.

Lot of boats moving North.  A good number going to the Looper Rendezvous in Norfolk.  Talked with one boat that just started the Loop last month from Fort Lauderdale.  They said they enjoyed the side trip down the St. Johns River.  I am sure we will see them again because they are pretty much going  the same route we are.

We had 2 12′ clearance swing bridges today.  I called the first bridge and asked about his clearance based on where the tides were.  He said the tide was falling and he thought the clearance was 12′.  I know the tide was rising and the chart clearance data is usually based on high tide.  Anyway we ended up waiting with 4 other boats.  The bridge only opened on the hour and we had a 15 minute wait.  The second bridge I called the bridge tender on the radio when we were within 2 miles and he said the depth board are hard to read at the bottom but he felt there was 13′ clearance and I know we were on a falling tide.  We cleared the bridge with about 1′-0″ to spare.  Save us about 15 minutes minimum.

The ICW for the first 40 miles today or so was pretty well developed.  Homes ranged from little old shacks to quite nice homes probably built within the last 10 years.  We passed one for sale sign that must have been put up by the homeowner.  The sign said “MILLION DOLLAR LOR FOR SALE AT 40% DISCOUNT.  HOUSE INCLUDED WITH THE LOT.  NO TAXES AND NO HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION FEES”. The house was an older one that was nothing special but he was asking $600K.

Again we saw a lot of condos on the Ocean side of the ICW spread all along the ocean front.  We took some pictures of this. Everything seems to be built right on top of the units next to it.

We passed thru the Camp Lejeune area just south of Swansboro.  They sometimes close the ICW to boat traffic because of live fire exercises by the troops. As we passed thru we could see where they have used old combat tanks as targets for the live fire exercises.  At first they were hard to identify but we passes one that still had the wheels and track on one side.

When we arrived at Dudley’s it was a dud.  When I called and made the reservation I had asked if they had floating docks.  Well they did but they wanted to put us on the fixed face dock and I asked if we could go on the floating dock.  As they were working things out I got onto the fixed dock and it was in need of serious repair.  I looked at the floating dock and realized there was no power and the floaters had seen better days.  I got back on the boat and called Casper’s Marina which we had passed 1/2 mile back. They had one slip left so we took it and I told Dudley’s we were leaving.  Wow, almost a major mistake.  The diesel at Casper’s is $3.21 per gallon, best price yet.  I may have to top off before we leave.

Barefoot Marina, SC, to Southport Marina, NC — April 27, 2013

Well we tried something different this morning.  Lenore had not slept well so I suggested she go back to bed and I would get underway.  Everything went well from my perspective and I was cruising up the ICW going to no wake speed when necessary and coming back to 1000 rpm when we could.  A little over an hour after we were underway, Lenore came up on deck dressed and ready to get on with the day.  Part of the issue was that she was mostly awake when we talked and she characterized the forward line being tossed on deck “sounding like breaking fiberglass” and the engine rpm changing change the sounds.  It did not work, she did not get back to sleep.

The weather today was cloudy and warmed to about 70.  We cruised the ICW with a lot of other traffic.  A lot of small boat traffic in spite of the fact that most of the boat lifts along the shore are empty and the season is just getting underway down here.

We crossed from South Carolina to North Carolina today so another milestone has been reached.  The scenery is not much different other than I think there is more development along the ICW.  We were able to see the condos along the ocean because the distance from the ICW to the ocean is less than 1/2 mile and some areas it is maybe 1/4 mile.  The condos are a very concentrated development with row after row of buildings with no trees visible from our perspective.  Most of the condos appear to be 3 story, frame construction with aluminum siding.  Not a very attractive site but plenty of people must have bought them.

We also passed several inlets along the way and we were literally just a short distance from the Atlantic with a great view. A lot of sand bars visible just outside the ICW.  A little disconcerting at one point to have a sign in line with the edge of the channel that said “ROCK – DANGER”.  We did have 15′ of water and I was in the middle of the channel.

A good portion of today we were traveling almost due east.  We are at the Southport Marina that is just off the Cape Fear River.  When we get underway we will make a left turn onto the Cape Fear River and be headed north, northeast.  This marina is a pretty classy place with lots of big boats and all the boats are in good repair and maintained well by their owners.

Not exactly sure when we will post next because we are going to get socked in by the weather for 2 or 3 days.  We may be able to travel tomorrow is the forecast holds and then have to sit it out.  We are trying to make Portsmouth/ Norfolk VA by May 8th.  We are about 300 miles away and doing 40 to 60 miles everyday we are underway. Stay tuned.

Georgetown to North Myrtle Beach SC — April 26, 2013

After last nights rain this morning dawned bright and clear.  We were able to get underway by about 8:00 and the water was fairly smooth and very little traffic.

The traffic picked up as we got into the Myrtle Beach area.  We also saw probably 12 different golf course along the way and if you look at the gondola pictures close, you can see they are outfitted to carry golf bags.

We made a stop along the way and purchased diesel at the lowest price we have seen so far on the trip.  Including the Boat US discount, diesel costs $3.38 per gallon.  Last night in Georgetown at the Harborwalk Marina their diesel was $4.15 per gallon.

The ICW was a broad river to start the day and progressively got narrower as we went along.  The character of the waterway has changed from the low country grass areas to tree lined with many trees in the water when it is near high tide.

After last night’s heavy rain we saw quite a few floating branches and mangrove type branches floating in the water.  Not to dissimilar to the floating debris that happens around home after heavy rains.  Most of the floating debris was gone by the time we had gone about 25 miles.

The last 1/3 of the trip was in the Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach area.  Lots of homes with the ones on the south end the less expensive type with larger homes toward the North side of Myrtle Beach.  The recession hit this area about as hard as most other areas. Many, many subdivisions where there are a handful of homes and they are scattered thru the development with huge open areas between the homes.  This is for the medium and high priced homes.  Many high priced homes on the North side of Myrtle Beach. One subdivision had quite a few homes with all the homes having a “Spanish” character to it yet each home was different.  Not sure how that were able to get all of the buyers to agree with the style type.

The marina we are staying in is the Barefoot Landing Marina which is a long dock on the East side of the ICW.  It is open for business but has changed ownership once already this year and will change to new owners again the 1st of May.  The large yacht basin across the ICW also has a new owner because it had been in bankruptcy.

Right next to our marina is a shopping center with 102 stores.  There are a number of restaurants in the shopping center.  Next to it are several more restaurants including a “Greg Norman Australian Grill”.  We went to a restaurant tonight, The Flying Fish, that had Happy Hour from 4 to 7 and the drinks and food on the Happy Hour Menu were 1/2 price.  Nice way to have dinner for two for less than $30.

We will be back on the water tomorrow because there is rain and thunderstorms headed this way for Sunday thru Tuesday and we may not be able to move for several days.

Charleston to Georgetown SC — April 24, 2013

Another great weather day for traveling.  You can see from the pictures there was no wind when we left in the morning and we had a moderate South wind when we arrived in Georgetown.

This section of the ICW is fairly straight without a lot of the bends and twists we have seen.  Some areas are pretty shallow.  We were behind 2 sailboats as we approached a tow that was heading South.  The lead sailboat indicated to the tow captain that he would like to pass port to port and that it was pretty shallow could the tow move over.  The Tow Captain said no.  He explained that he was technically aground. The water depth was 7 to 7 1/2 feet and he draws 8 feet of water.  The sailboat said they would pass on his starboard side.  Once we were by the tow, the water was a black color from all the mud the tow had pushed around.  A couple of miles later, I had passed the sailboats and the depth alarm went off and we scoured the bottom slightly with the props and I was just slightly left of center on the ICW.

The wind was out of the south and with us moving north at about 8 mph, the apparent wind was about zero.  We started to get these large flies in the cockpit.  I found out the locals call them mayflies.  They are about 3/8″ long and if you swat them they keep on flying even if you stunned them.  The longer we tried to get rid of them the more that came into the cockpit.  We finally went up on plane and at 22 mph we were able to get them out of the cockpit.  Once we were on the large river leading to Georgetown we did not see them anymore.  The locals said they are only around for about 3 weeks in the spring.

Georgetown is a great little community that really invests in their downtown and most of the stores have businesses in them.  It is nice to see that Walmart drive the downtown businesses out of town.  They have built a river walk and many of the restaurants are on this walk with some type of open air dining.  We went to an Italian restaurant, Portofino, last night and they had live entertainment in the bar that was very good and the restaurant was about 1/2 full for a Wednesday night.  Most of the dishes had butter and a cream sauce but we did get something worked out for Lenore.

I called the Piggly WIggly market today and they came and gave me a ride from the marina to the market and back.  Some what of a small market but they had most of the things we had on the list.  They even accommodated me with a courtesy Piggly Wiggly card to give me the special prices.

Right now it is raining and we have had several thunderstorms roll thru but it is supposed to be all over by 8:00 tonight.  Candy is hiding even though she has her thunder-shirt on.


Beaufort to Charleston, SC — April 22, 2013

Started late this morning. Lenore slept in and we finally decided to leave at about 9:00. It was cold, cloudy and moderate winds. The weather did improve as we moved north and we had sun for most of the afternoon.

We were on the water for 8 hours so it was approximately 5:20 when we arrived in Charleston.

For the most part the ICW along this section is undeveloped.  There are large stretches that are the really low country with grassy islands and no trees.  The last 20 miles had quite a few homes along the waterway.  Some of the homes needed a dock several hundred feet long to get to the river.  We did pass one dock that had a sunken sailboat in front of it.  You will need to look closely at the picture to see the mast and what appears to be the radar dome sticking above the waterline.  The tide was coming in so the radar dome would probably be covered at high tide.

The last cutoff from the Ahsley River to the Charleston River had about 3.5 mph of current against us for the first mile. Fortunately this cutoff is not to long and it widens out a little for the north portion.

First impressions are that Charleston is a busy town and the marinas seemed full. We originally called the City Marina and they were full. They suggested that we call the Harborage at Ashley Marina and they did have room for us.   We did not hear any of the other boats having any issues finding a slip at the other marinas on the radio, so maybe it was just the downtown marinas.

The harbor front has probably 1/2 dozen mega yachts moored. The marinas appear to be about 50-50 between sailboats and power boats.

The Marina is a modern facility with floating docks and the Trex type wood for the dock surfaces.  Docks are wide enough but I do not like the way they did the anchor posts thru the walkway.  It does keep the slips open but the walk is interrupted by the posts.

I noticed 4 or 5 Looper Burgees on the boats last night so a representation for the Loopers.  Many of the Loopers are headed North to the Rendezvous in Norfolk, May 6th to 9th.  We are not attending but we are still headed North.  Still 470 Miles to Norfolk area.

Bahia Blue Marina to Downtown Beaufort SC Marina — April 19, 2013

The forecast for the day Friday was thunderstorms in the PM with some possibly strong.  I checked the weather radar first thing in the morning and the weather front was 300 miles west so we left.  It was a great ride along the ICW with no issues.

We passed Hilton Head Island and saw the lighthouse at the Hilton Head Marina.  The PGA is playing the Heritage Open there this week at the Harbor Town Golf Links.  We were less than a mile from the lighthouse but the clouds were heavy and the visibility was not great but we have a few pictures.

A nice resort area along the way with many nice homes along the ICW.  Lenore was able to get some good pictures as the visibility improved later in the morning.  Most of this area is known as low country and many marshes in the area.  Large areas look like islands but really are just marsh grass areas that the land is water covered during high tides and mud during low tides.

The winds started getting stronger as the morning went on and the weather front got closer.  By the time we arrived at the Beaufort SC Downtown Marina the winds must have been blowing 25 to 30 mph.  My first attempt at docking did not go well and we then tried at another dock a little further into the marina.  The second time was a charm and the dock master has two of the regular boaters to help and everything went well.  The rains arrived about 6:30 and we had quite a storm with lots of rain throughout the night.  The weather on Saturday was cloudy and cold to start but improved as the day went along.

The Beaufort SC waterfront is very nice with a park all along the seawall and restaurants and clubs on the inside edge.  The downtown area has a lot of stores with art galleries, clothing stores, jewelry, and more.  Candy and I have walked most of the downtown area and downtown was actually very busy on Saturday afternoon.

The marina does have a courtesy car that can be used for an hour at a time and is 1st come 1st served.  This was more than enough time to go to the local grocery store for provisions.

Lenore has a cold so I think we will be staying in Beaufort at least one more day before moving on to Charleston.


Kilkenney to Bahia Blue (Savannah) — April 16, 2013

We had Lady K-K as a buddy Boat again today. We started the day a little later than planned after we had some discussion on water depths at an ICW area called Hells Gate.  We ended up calling Sea Tow and asked for the local knowledge at Hells Gate and he told us to stay in the center of the manmade channel and we would be ok.

We went back to the ICW and there was quite a bit of traffic moving South on the ICW, both power and sail boats.  Some of the sail boats had their jib sails up but were still motoring along.

This was not a long day as we only had 32 miles to cover to reach the marina in the Savannah area.  We spent a total of 4 hours on the water and it was really pleasant with sun and some wind.  No fog today.

The marshy areas started to disappear as we got closer to Savannah and there were some nice homes along the shore along with many marinas.  It does appear that the boaters respect the no wake at the marina area pretty well.

We are in the Bahia Blue Marina in Thunderbolt Georgia on the East side of Savannah. Lenore talked to Katie the other evening and Austin is on a deployment so we will meet with Katie and her 2 little boys,  Evan and Lucas.

We are going to stay here for 3 nights to try and let our mail catch up with us.  I am trying to find out from the Fernandina Marina if the mail was forwarded from them to Bahia Blue yet.  Boy I hope so.  We have had only one other mail snafu and that was the Chicago post office did not deliver the mail to the marina because the marina was not on there routes yet even though it had been open for 4 months and the marina staff had visited the post office three times.

We had dinner at a local icon place, Tubbys last night.  We dined with Larry and Sherry from Lady K-K and Ed and Sue from the Allergretta.  Ed and Sue are from Boston and are on their way home.  They are reformed sail boaters who just purchase a very nice Sabre Yacht in Florida.  The food was good and the company was excellent..

Golden Isle Marina to Kilkenney Marina — April 15, 2013

I did not post this last night because the internet service was slooooow, at best.

It rained most of the day Sunday so it was a good day to watch the Masters Golf Tournament. Fortunately the rain breaks came at the same time as Candy’s walk times. I slept thru it but Lenore said there was quite a wind around 11:00 Sunday night. Later on the radio we heard that wind gusts were clocked at the marina at 63 mph.

The trip was a good one that we started with a buddy boat, the Lady K-K with Larry and Sherry. THe fog from the dock did not look bad with visibility about 1 mile. Once out on the water we had visibility down to about 1/4 mile but after about 6 miles of crawling along using the radar and chart plotter the visibility increased to about 2 miles and then just got better from there.

We had a couple of boats that started out but decided to return to the marina because there was no guarantee when the fog would improve. One of them was a trawler that appeared right in front of us and was going way to fast for the conditions. I stopped and he did a hard starboard (right for the non-nauticals) turn and a collision was avoided. The other guy that returned to the dock was a unique story in that they had read about the Loop and decided to do it even though they had never boated before in there lives. This was their 11th day on the water in a rented boat and he was a little stressed out to say the least. We did see them outside Savannah today so they made another 100 miles without losing it.

This part of the ICW in Georgia is probably 80% wide open marsh area with some scattered National Parks and some areas of really nice homes. We were crossing one sound yesterday and I commented that in some respects it looked like areas in the Georgian Bay north of Parry Sound.

We took somewhat of a chance with the Kilkenney Marina for the night because there is only 2 marinas located centrally between St Simons Island and Savannah. It is 2 miles off the ICW on Kilkenney Creek and had a lay along dock probably about 400′ long. I thought it had a rustic charm and Lenore just thought it was rustic. It was a nice peaceful night with no trains or road traffic.

We had a longer than usual day making better than 68 miles and not getting into Kilkenney Marina until 4:00.  Candy is a real trouper and had no issues going that long.  The walk to the grass area was short so that made it nice for her and it was more of a village setting with grass all over the place.

I took a few pictures of the marina and the large oaks with Spanish Moss hanging from the branches and the trees were huge, 4′ and 5′ in trunk diameter..  This is typical Georgia.

Fernandina Beach, Florida to St. Simon Island, Georgia — April 13, 2013

The day started fairly cloudy and cool.  We had not received our mail but they said the marina was full for Saturday night so we could not stay another night but they would forward our mail.

As we moved up the ICW the sky cleared and it was a nice day on the water.  Traffic on the ICW was pretty much one way, headed North.  We travelled with a boat registered out of Houston, Texas but the couple now lives in Minnesota.  We first met them in Green Turtle Bay Marina in Grand RIvers Kentucky in October.  The Boat is the Lady KK and its crew is Larry and Sherry along with their poodle Peaches.  It was nice to have company on the water and the radio.

A couple of sections of the ICW were fairly open as we crossed inlets to the Atlantic.  There was a lot of wind in these areas so there was some chop but not a big issue.  We crossed into Georgia just north of the 1st inlet and I guess that is a milestone.  We had been in Florida since the Panhandle on December 7th, a little over 4 months.

We motored up the ICW to the St Simon Island area and are at the Golden Isle Marina.  They do have a courtesy car available.  That is the 1st courtesy car we have seen since Alabama.  It is only available for 1 hour at a time but that is better than having to take a cab or walk.

The marina is very nice and has probably 50% sailboats (in water boats) because it is very near an inlet to the Atlantic.  They have a restaurant and lots of dry storage which is almost all center console outboards.  The only drawback at this time is limited grass available for Candy and a real long walk to get to the grass.

The restaurant at the marina was good last night and we had dinner with Larry and Sherry.  We almost did not eat there because they would not take a reservation after 5:30 because it was prom night.  We had a difficult time getting a cab so Larry was able to talk his way in, especially when we saw how many empty tables they had at 7:00.  Everybody ordered a different fish entre and they were good.

We did see one Coast Guard boat on the ICW today.  It was one of the large hard bottom inflatables with a small cabin.  Not long after we arrived at Golden Isle 2 US Army boats came in.  They were similar to the Coast Guard boat except they were inboards and a lot noisier.


St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach — April 11, 2013

We left early from St Augustine because of the mileage to get to Fernandina Beach (62). The sky was cloudy during the early morning and from the TV weather forecasters you would have thought there would be showers in the afternoon. Well as the day went on the sky went to partly cloudy and we had some sun.

The wind was light in the morning but got stronger as the day went on and caused us two problems or potential problems. The first was about a mile from Fernandina Harbor. We were following a catamaran and he followed channel around the buoy and then started to straighten out and head directly for the marina and not the next marker. He slowed and started to back track and while all this was going on I slowed and waited to see what he was going to do. He finally got over to the right of us and I started to proceed and go around him. Well it is a good thing there was a Tow Boat US in the channel because he hailed us on 16 that we were headed for a shoal and I was able to make a hard right and get back to the channel without a problem. What I had not realized was while we were waiting to see what the catamaran was going to do, the wind blew us out of the channel and although I was headed to the correct marker I was not in the channel.

The second item was the docking. The wind was out of the southeast and the dock runs north-south. They told me to go to the inside of the dock and they did caution me that the wind would blow us onto the dock. Well it certainly did and unfortunately we bumped the dock hard. We had 2 dock hands trying to do everything they could do to help but there was no damage and that was good.

The overall trip up the ICW was fine. We passed a few slower boats but there was not a lot of traffic. When we left St. Augustine we had about 3 miles to the inlet and the tide was coming in. Instead of the 8+ mph speed we have been normally traveling, we were at 6.7 mph going against the incoming tide. After we passed the inlet, the tide boosted us to about 10 mph. We were up and down with the speed all day but the tide helped us more than they hurt us.
We passed thru the Jacksonville area. Never really get into Jacksonville because it is on the St Johns River and the ICW crosses the St Johns near the inlet. Jacksonville is a couple of miles inland. North of Jacksonville the ICW is predominately marshes along the shoreline. The Amelia Island area has some very nice homes but it is not continuous along the shore of the island.  Fernandina Beach is on Amelia Island.

Well, Fernandina Beach is the last stop in Florida and we will be headed into Georgia tomorrow.  Still waiting for a weather front to pass but hopefully that will happen this afternoon or tonight.