Madcap Sailing

20 April 2017 | Ocean Isle Marina, Ocean Beach, NC at Mile 335.6
17 April 2017 | Dewees Creek, near Charleston, NC
14 April 2017 | St Simons Island
12 April 2017 | Fernandina Beach, FL
11 April 2017 | St Augustine, FL
07 April 2017 | Vero Beach, Florida
03 April 2017 | Ft Pierce, FL
30 March 2017 | Ft Pierce, Florida
28 October 2016 | Madcap in Ft Pierce, Florida and crew in Halifax, Nova Scotia
06 April 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
23 March 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida
20 March 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida
16 March 2016 | Vero Beach, Florida
12 March 2016 | Key West, Florida, USA
07 March 2016
06 March 2016 | Key West, Florida, USA
06 March 2016 | Key West, Florida
05 March 2016 | Key West, Florida

Moving on up the ICW

20 April 2017 | Ocean Isle Marina, Ocean Beach, NC at Mile 335.6
Beth / jacket in the morning, T-shirt in 27 degrees by afternoon
Moving on up the ICW, Golden Isles Marina, Ocean Isle Beach, April 20, 2017 Post 9

We've been moving steadily on northward in the ICW - no easy feat with a 6 ft draft, and there have been many times when we have said, "What were we thinking?!" But the wind is not favourable for an outside run from here, and frankly, we have decided we like stopping at night. We were very worried about the stretch south of McClellanville - from about mile 435 to 430 - notorious for shoaling, but we looked up every source we could find and planned to get there at mid to high tide. We kept the Navionics chart up on the iPad and followed it closely - it has much better detail than our chartplotter. Aaaand - we made it! The lowest we saw was 9 ft, but we needed that rising tide to give it to us.

The wind came up as we came out into Winyah Bay, the skies darkened and we could hear thunder in the distance. I was sure we would be in the middle of a storm as we entered the harbour at Georgetown but we were lucky and we didn't even get a bit of it. Georgetown is a pretty place but horrid for anchoring. There is just a narrow strip of 8-10 ft water off the channel along the waterfront - and there always seem to be lots of boats. We tucked ourselves in among them and hoped for the best. And got it. Whew - 2 successes in one day! We had a minimum of scope out, and we sat on the bottom for an hour or so at dead low tide, but there was no current and no wind to dislodge the anchor, and as the tide rose, so did we. We were very tired still and didn't even lower the dinghy.

It was a great relief to have a day of deep water and no stress as we left Georgetown and headed up the Waccamaw River. It is lovely, deep and lined with trees, and we anchored near the top at mile 375, just past the Bucksport Marina. It was the most wonderful anchorage - tucked just off the channel in a pretty little oxbow. Madcap was the only boat there - plenty of swing room and ospreys on all sides. We dinghied back down the river a mile or so to Bucksport Marina for a couple of jerry cans of diesel and were told that their transient berth price is a very reasonable 75 cents per foot for Boat US members. But - we were very happy with our peaceful little anchorage as we zoomed back up the river. We finished off the Easter ham, rice with cranberries and steamed veggies, washed down with a nice cold chardonnay from Washington State. The ospreys chirped, the green nav aid flashed its light in the channel and there were NO bugs. Bliss.

This morning we enjoyed another stress free day as we motored along past many new developments with huge houses - some attractive, some downright ugly - that lined the banks of the ICW as it paralleled Myrtle and North Myrtle Beaches. We had an easy trip through the "rock pile" - a narrow passage with rocky ledges that boaters really do not want to bump into. We hadn't seen any barges in the ICW so far and that is one place where you don't want to meet one, so when a huge one appeared in front of us just north of there where there was good passing room, we breathed a great sigh of relief. We got a wonderful lift from the current, making 7 kts most of the way to tonight's destination of Ocean Isle marina at Mile 335, in North Carolina. We're knocking off those states!

We decided to get through Little River Inlet at high tide (there was lots of water so it wouldn't have mattered) and we were beginning to feel the need of proper showers (Our shower is filled with the dehumidifier, fishing gear, varnish cans and cleaning supplies) and another top up of the diesel tank. Ocean Isle used to be called Pelican Pointe and is a very nice little sport fishing marina with towering racks of small boats, a fuel dock and a lovely floating face dock where it was easy to tie up. They don't monitor VHF but they are very helpful on the phone (910-579-6440) and with assistance on the dock. It's a short walk to restaurants and stores and we had the offer of a lift if we wanted one. (We don't need anything so we didn't go.) And oh - the bathrooms are wonderful! We met friendly folks on the dock and as we sat on a bench by the office, updating our apps. It was fun to chat with a family about our adventures, and we laughed when the woman commented, "Wow - you spend all that time together and you are still sitting on the same bench." I loved it!!

We will be off at the crack of dawn on Friday because we have another worrisome depth day. Shalotte Inlet and Lockwood's Folly have been dredged, but the locals still say we are better off to avoid low tide.

Outside and In Again

17 April 2017 | Dewees Creek, near Charleston, NC
Beth / 3 layers and socks last night; 1 layer and bare feet today
Happy Easter everyone!

The time was right for us to celebrate with an outside hop, so we exited St Simon's Sound on the seemingly endless channel – it took a full 2 hours to go from our anchorage off Lanier Island at St Simons to the waypoint offshore that would put us on a straight tack to Charleston. It was a pleasant night passage with a nice bright moon and lots of stars. We had to motor sail because although the wind was E ( not on the nose for once!) it wasn't strong enough to move us along under sail alone. I'm not complaining though – we’ve spent enough time on overnight passages with too much wind!

We saw surprisingly little boat traffic – a schooner with all sails up just sitting still – maybe practicing heaving to? – a couple of big boats sitting far off the Charleston channel. We had expected more activity around Savannah. And pleasure boats moving north out there? Just little old Madcap. It’s always an eerie feeling to be the only boat in a huge expanse of water. Land was only 20 miles away, but it was out of sight. We have 90 cm (about 3 ft) from our toe rail to the water – so as we sit in the darkness, looking down at the water swooshing by so closely, and high high up at stars overhead, we feel pretty small and vulnerable.

We decided to come in at Charleston and move right along up the ICW to our little anchorage here in the marshes of Dewee’s Creek. Charleston is an interesting city, but we have visited several times before and this time, we just want to keep going. Time will tell if we should have stayed outside till Georgetown, but it felt good to drop the anchor and have a sleep, and right now the wind is up and we are glad to be stopped – 148.8 nautical miles north of where we were 26 hours ago.

Familiar Friends and Towns

14 April 2017 | St Simons Island
Beth / warm and sunny
The main dock at Fernandina Municipal Marina was badly damaged by Hurricane Matthew, the fuel dock is closed and the marina office has moved to the boaters lounge. The old dinghy dock is high and dry at low tide due to increased silting, and many of the slips are unusable. But there are still 12 good mooring balls available (and they take same day reservations), and the bathrooms/showers are still among the best around. The big ugly mills still dominate the skyline on the east side, and the gentle marshes filled with bird life provide a welcome contrast on the west.

Centre Street is still lovely, Bright Mornings on 3rd Street is still the very best place to enjoy coffee and delicious food and cheerful servers. Felix Jones, in his colourful shirts and perky straw hat, still pedals his bicycle through town, selling bananas and pineapples and boiled peanuts.

We gave our legs a good stretch as we walked to Publix on 14th, and, laden with more groceries than we had thought we'd buy, took a cab back to the marina. Our evening at the Salty Pelican on Front Street with Tina and Dick was the crowning glory of the day. What a wonderful time we always have with these friends, and how odd it feels to know that this is most likely the last time Madcap will be moored out front when we come to visit.

With a satisfying and relaxing day behind us, and a north wind blowing on the sea, we set off up the ICW once more. This time we kept Jim's iPad with the Navionics Boating App right beside the chartplotter. When we once again ran into skinny water near Jekyll Island, he zoomed in close and said, "It's better to starboard." I think that app will be well worth the price as we continue on. And thank goodness for cellular data plans!

We joined 3 other boats anchored near Morningstar/Golden Isles Marina on Lanier Island just off St Simons Sound and called our friends Sandi and Steve. By the time we got settled, and dinghied to the marina, they arrived to pick us up. We made a stop at Harris Teeter to pick up wine (how could we pass up a 15% off sale?) and drove to their home on St Simons for a lovely evening and delicious meal of asparagus risotto and BBQ'd pork tenderloin.

These two days of peace and friendship remind us of the joys of our cruising life, and distract us very nicely from the increased stress we seem to be feeling about plotting our northern journey.

Onward and upward!
Vessel Name: Madcap
Vessel Make/Model: Bayfield 36
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: James D Bissell (Jim) and Elizabeth Lusby (Beth)
About: Beth and Jim have spent the last several winters sailing southern waters on s/v Madcap. They love Halifax in the summer, but plan to spend the winters exploring warmer places - currently the Guatemala, Belize, Honduras area.
Extra:
The Madcap crew left Ottawa in 2007 to go sailing in the Bahamas. After a highly successful year, they returned to Canada, settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the fall of 2009 they left to do it again! Journey #3 (2010/11) took them back to the Bahamas and then on to Cuba for several weeks [...]
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