We are fully in boat delivery mode with the end in sight. From Jekyll, we made it to an anchorage past Jacksonville which set us up for a run to St. Augustine’s mooring field on Sat, Nov. 23. Conveniently that was the last good weather day so we spent it wandering St. Augustine and generally enjoying the warmth and sun.
Part of Flagler College
St Augustine at night
Sunday was very windy so we never left the boat. Monday we drove the boat to an anchorage near New Smyrna and tonight we are here in Cocoa Beach awaiting thunderstorms after a day of wind. But tomorrow we should end up in Vero Beach with an invitation for Thanksgiving.
Merlin arrived at Isle of Hope early on the 18th, settled in and then we headed into Savannah as tourists. Stops in Savannah included the Telfair museum, SCAD and we had a nice lunch and then ice cream at Leopolds. We were back in the city the following morning for a Civil War walking tour, lunch at The Pink House, and another visit to SCAD before heading back to the marina. We have decided to pick up the pace since the weather is looking a bit dreary and moved down past Sapelo Sound and anchored in the Crescent river. We had a nice Italian dinner aboard Onward even though the dinghy ride over was cold. Tonight will be spent at Jekyll Island. We will fill in some photos soon when we have better connectivity. Photos have not been well attended to on this trip. I suppose one reason is that we take more on our phones than we have in the past and we haven’t figured out how to get them into the blog yet. Hopefully we will get it sorted out soon.
We left Beaufort quite early Sunday to handle bridges, tides and shoaling. Unfortunately the high tide was at 8:30 so the rest of the day was spent on a falling tide. We successfully negotiated the windy ways and very foggy area around Hilton Head Island and were in the home stretch when we hit Fields Cut. Literally. The cut came to us quicker than we were expecting and we were unprepared for when the depth numbers started descending. So we ran aground and stayed stuck until the tide came back up, about 3 hours on. The boat heeled over a bit and we provided a lot of amusement for passing boats but no issues with the boat. We made it through the rest of the cut and across into Georgia and found a creek in the reeds to drop the anchor.
Today we went into Savannah and wandered the museums, shopped and ate. Savannah is looking quiet but fine even in November. The SCAD museum, shop and students are all quite lively and the squares are full of folks. The waterfront was much emptier.
After a nice quiet evening anchored in Tom Price Creek we left for Beaufort on a high, but falling tide. It gave us enough water to get by shoaled areas along the way, but just barely. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the Lady Island swing bridge to open and then we anchored just outside the mooring field at Beaufort At around 1:30. We will be here 2 nights so we can explore the town. Dinner was at Emily’s tapas and bar. The food was tasty, but could have been hotter as it was only warm when it arrived at the table. The salads were excellent.
St. Helena Episcopal Church
What a Crepe Myrtle!
The Baptist Church.
Merlin went back in the water today with a new cutlass bearing and dripless shaft seal. The excitement came about when the boat was lowered into the water and Ed went on board to make sure there were no leaks, but this time there was. When the boat was pulled from the water the lifting sling was on one of the external transducers and although the sling was moved quickly it seems to have broken the seal and water leaked in. So the boat was lifted back out, the transducer removed and rebedded and the boat put back in. As you can see, putting a 30,000 lb boat into the water is not a trivial thing.
That seemed to have solved the problem…..for a while. Anyway the sealant leaked and water started flowing back into the boat. Fortunately we were able to tighten the transducer and the sealant held. Now the sealant has pretty much cured and still no leaks, Phew! The new cutlass bearing and seal have quieted down the engine noise significantly so we are happy. We are now about half way between Charleston and Beaufort anchored in a creek off the Edisto River and should be to Beaufort, SC by around noon tomorrow.
Today we moved the boat 12 miles up the Wando River to the boat yard where Merlin now sits on the hard. It is strange living on the boat on the dirt, especially climbing up the 9′ ladder to get onboard. It also sits tilted toward the stern. Inspection of the suspect cutlass bearing reveals it is shot. There is way too much play in it. So the parts are on order and hopefully tomorrow will end with a new cutlass bearing and a new dripless shaft seal. We are hoping the combination of these items will quiet down the engine and drive train a bit and make motoring more enjoyable. Even if it doesn’t quiet things down it is a necessity to get this repaired before damage is done to the boat. We will continue to do boat chores and explore the surrounding areas and with a bit of luck we will be underway again on Thursday.
We made it into Charleston Harbor Marina at Patriots Point by 1:00 after having to slow down to allow the tide to come up a bit on the way to get through some shoaling. Then after the tide came up the water was too high for our buddy boat, Onward, to get under the Isle of Palms bridge. While Joe dropped anchor and waited for the water to fall we went ahead to the marina. The current was running pretty well by the time we got there so we ended up crabbing into the fairway and then turned into our slip. It was uneventful, but could have been with any little glitch. Joe came in a couple of hours later and they put him into a slip on the same fairway (F dock) which was really too narrow for a 47′ boat in current and 15knots of wind. His dingy hit a boat on the E dock, but he made it into the slip without other issues. Since it was Tina’s Birthday we took the trolley into Charleston for a nice fish dinner at Hymans. Saturday morning we found a diver to make sure there were no lines wrapped around our prop shaft. It was clean but he told us what we were sort of expecting ….. our cutlass bearing (the bearing that holds the propshaft in place) was worn out and causing excess vibration. We could still run the engine, but not for the entire rest of the trip. He put us in touch with Sean Carroll Yachting and Charleston City Boatyard and after some independent research about both we made arrangements to have the boat pulled out of the water and have the repair done on Monday. It will likely take 3 days. Then it was off to Boone Plantation for a tour and see a reenactment of a Civil War Battle. In this particular battle the South won…surprise, surprise. It was a nice afternoon seeing the reenactment with lots of cannon fire and then touring the slave quarters and house at the plantation. Then it was back to Onward for a stir-fry dinner. Sunday morning required a trip to Starbucks for Cappucino and then off to Middleton Plantation. Sunday evening we were dining with other Annapolis boats that had just made it into Charleston and were leaving Monday for Florida on the outside. The weather windows for travelling in the ocean (outside) have been short and infrequent so when the opportunity presents, lots of boats go. We are still enjoying wandering through the marshes and little towns.
We left Grande Dunes this morning around 0730 with the intent of heading to Georgetown, but with a forecast for moderate winds and a limited anchorage area we kept on going and anchored in (supposedly) alligator infested waters at South Santee River. So here we sit in the cockpit watching the sunset. So far it is nice and quiet, but the Mosquitos found us before we got the cockpit enclosed. An early start should get us to Charleston in time for lunch. Today was mostly winding along the Waccamaw River with plenty of depth and few bridges. A sharp contrast to all the stress of yesterday. We did hit a crab float but no damage.
Sunset in South Carolina
Who knew? Who knew there was so much math in sailing? First there are the distances to the bridges and the times they open. The first bridge we need 2 hours to get to but the second bridge is 45 minutes away in distance with the opening either 30 minutes away or 90 minutes. We find we are going a million miles an hour or just inching along. All to make it through a bridge. Then we have our draft (6.5 feet) and the tides. North Carolina has 3+ feet tides. So that is welcome water for the parts of the “ditch” that are now too skinny for our boat. We passed through two famous shoal prone areas today at high tide and were confident we would have been stuck at low tide. However if your mast just barely fits under the fixed bridges, extra water isn’t helpful. Our buddy boat has had to wait out some of the high water anchored off to the side of the bridge. And going through the infamous rock pile (part of the ICW with submerged rock ledges on either side of the channel) is harder when you can’t see the dangers. However we are now safely tied up at the Marina at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach with all the golfers. We are in South Carolina and it is sunny!
We had some lovely days at River Dunes which is a real hurricane hole. We ate at the restaurant, biked, toured the new homes, took the spa showers and enjoyed the resort/Marina. Also accomplished laundry and grocery shopping. The only downside was the really poor cell phone coverage so we felt very out of touch. We left early this morning and drove right past Beaufort, North Carolina to tackle shoal ridden Bogue Sound. The sands have shifted in the ICW, especially in the inlets. We passed two sailboats grounded and heard more calls on the VHF. The high point of the day was the dolphins. We were the lead boat and had dolphins right beside us for almost 15 minutes. Almost close enough to touch. We ended anchoring at Mile Hammock, a part of Camp Lejeune. Luckily there are no live firing exercises this Sunday.
Last chance for sailing before entering the “ditch” (ICW)A pack of 6 dolphins swam right beside the boat. Close enough to almost touch.