Day 18: Barber Shop
Shorts, T-Shirts and Flip-Flops - Horray! (75 degrees and Sunny)
Nov/07/2011, Daytona Beach, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 43
Total Trip Miles:1064
After a gray day between JAX and St. Augustine, we rose from the gentle rocking on our mooring (it reminded us of home at Pirate Cove) to warm, sunny skies. There were a few clouds in the distance but they quickly cleared and next thing we knew we changed from sweatshirts and pants into flops, shorts and t-shirts! It was a welcomed change from the gray gloomy skies we've seen so far; today marked day 4 of sunshine out of 18!
So we took the standard southward turn onto the ICW and meandered through numerous manatee zones down the Florida coast with our eyes set on Daytona Beach. I've yet to see a manatee, but I'm hopeful that I can add one to the evergrowing "cool animal list" from this trip...it at least gives us something to do while we motor / sail down the ICW. Our other past time is looking at the houses, including crazy mansions, on the ICW...we'll post some photos so you can see what we mean. There are some rediculous homes in FL - definitely the most extravagent we've seen on this trip so far. The other thing that keeps us busy are the bridges. It feels like every 20 minutes your headed under another one. There are a lot at 65' which we breeze right under, but there are just as many that require opening. Luckily in FL most of the bridges open on request so they haven't really slowed the trip at all.
So one of the real highlights of today was the title of our blog... we stopped just before our marina and anchored off the ICW near one of the bridges. It was warm, sunny and we had a slight breeze. Derek decided to change the transmission oil on the starboard engine and then my hairy husband (see photos) received a "professional" haircut on the stern of our port hull... the beauty of an inverter and long extension cord is that we can hook up the clippers and I turn into a self trained hairdresser. His hair has been out of control, sideburns especially, but he's once again cleaned up (except for the beard).
After the cut and a quick rinse off to get rid of the mounds of hair, we pulled up the hook and headed to the marina. We were low on water and dont want to use our watermaker in the ICW, so we opted to stay overnight on dock rather than at anchor in order to fill the tanks and also to get some good food onshore. We hit up the Chart House, which we'd been to before for work, and we were not disappointed. Actually our plan was to get some app's and drinks, but we ended up with app's, drinks, one entree and desert! Hahaha. We could barely move on the way out, but that's the benefit of having no car...you have to walk home. It wasn't very far at all, but the stroll was nice due to the warm weather and our full stomachs! Derek pulled a "Rachel" and passed out on the couch when we got home - it was a long day of sunshine, haircuts and good food, so we needed the sleep to prepare for another early morning headed down the Floridian coast.
BTW- the weather's getting worse on the "outside", another tropical storm has developed and wave heights are growing to 10 to 14 feet within 20 nautical miles of shore, so it sounds like we'll be on the "inside" all the way to Port St. Lucie!
Day 17: Short hop and a few drinks to St. Augustine
Windy, rainy and 60's
Nov/06/2011, St. Augustine, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 24
Total Trip Miles: 1021
After a great night of sleep we slept off the feast and the night of drinks at Chris and Ash's. We got up this morning and Luke's, Ash and Sadie saddled up with us and cruised down the intracoastal to St. Augustines. Rach picked up some more navigational charts, this time for FL, as she has become highly skilled with them (lucky for us). Normally the day would have been pretty drab and Rach and I would have attempted to entertain eachother with our borderline insanity that is resulting from all the motoring on the ICW. Rach has some pretty weird dances that she does that look like a cross between the wave, boxing and the twist...its concerning, but I understand it. Even though the weather was chilly and wet most of the day, having Chris, Ash and Sadie aboard was a welcome alternative and we were pumped they actually wanted to come in this weather! Sadie was a doll and just went with the flow the enitre day and night all the way through dinner, amazing. We are set up on a mooring at Municipal Marina right in the center of town. They raised the bridge for us to get in, we grabbed our mooring and we proceeded to get soaked by pooring rain on the way in to shore on the dinghy. Par for the course lately. We are rocking around in the harbor chop tonight, but defintely no anchor alarms! We walked around St. Augustine after dinner and found it to be very eclectic and "artsy" town. Its a classic old 18th century feel with some cobblestone streets, monuments and architechture. We are not catching it in its full swing due to the weather and season, but we could defintely hang here if we had more time. Sadly Luke's and Ash cabbed it home and Sadie gave us a hug / leg headbutt goodbye. It was great to hang with them and make it part of this trip! Onward tommorrow to Daytona Beach! It is getting warmer :)
Day 16: Kicked off our last US State right with the Lucas!
60's and still windy!
Nov/05/2011, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Nautical Miles Travelled: 58
Total Trip Miles: 997
We set out Saturday just before sunrise leading a pack of boats away from the Morningstar Marina. No one keeps up with Soul...we have found that other sailboats just can't keep pace. Kind of unfortunate because we are never with the same group from one stop to another. Then again I just like to be faster. We headed out into St. Andrew Sound and were in open water for a bit, revealing a taste of why no one can go out of the intracoastal right now. Waves are anywhere from 7 to 24 feet depending on distance from the shore right now. Winds have not settled to below 30 knots for days. Fortunately they are Northeast so we can still sail or motorsail directly downwind in the intracoastal. Its pretty cool passing all the intracoastal communities with all kinds of varied houses from trailers with $200K docks and sick boats, to mansions that rival hotels. The great part is that when cruising down the waterway you are just feet from the docks. We covered 58 miles between Georgia and Jacksonville and we pulled into a Marina right next to Chris and Ashley's house around 4pm. We made great time averaging over 9 knots. Chris and Ash set us up in their sweet canal side house and Chris naturally grilled up some massive meat...man mode. By the end of the night the kitchen counter was covered with empty bottles, a beat down bottle of jack and empty bags of chips. Some cool neighbors dropped by and hung with us for most fo the night too. Great neighborhood - everyone's a similar age mostly, with kids and all hang out together. Good spot. The highlight however, was meeting and playing with Sadie, their (nearly) 3 year old. What a sweetheart! Not only adorable but amazingly smart and calculating. She even slept through a full volume dance party in the living room! We conked out in a real bed and got a stable nights sleep with no unwelcome anchor alarms. BTW Chris gave me a time out in the corner, as shown in the picture attached, but he let me have my Jack and coke.
Day 15: From the blownout Bayou to Sal's Pizzeria
Overcast - it was awful, but now it's pretty nice!
Nov/04/2011, St. Simons Island ,Georgia
Nautical Miles Travelled: 53
Total Trip Miles: 939
How to begin to discuss today...Well since we learned not to underestimate the Atlantic...its only fitting that last night we also learned that the Bayou can get pretty wild also. We anchored in a beautiful spot as discussed in our last post and went to bed full of steak, rice and a few pops in our stomach. The weather was warm, the sun was shining and dolphins were swimming around our boat for hours. Things looked pretty different around 1:30 am when the winds shifted as predicted, the anchor drag alarm went off, the rain started pouring and the winds kicked up over 24 knots. The bayou is pitch black. You hear me say that along with contempt because pitch black gives no reference points. Try anchoring a big boat with marsh within 100 feet on 3 sides of your boat with no visual reference point with winds and current pushing your boat in all different directions. Not easy, especially 2 minutes after waking you from bed. Long story short we reset the anchor (twice actually) and laid out a ton of chain to make sure the boat would stay put. The wind kept increasing to the point that the bayou had 2 foot waves shaking the boat. The anchor alarm falsly went off every 20 minutes or so as the boat literally did circles around its anchor due to the strange currents in that area. Tired as hell we woke up and sailed the Georgian ICW. Nothing in sight except 3 boats all day. We made good time and arrived in St. Simons Island around nightfall. We grabbed a slip instead of anchoring so we could sleep and avoid the high winds expected tonight. BTW waves offshore of Georgia are expeced to reach 12 to 24 feet tomorrow! No thanks! We met another couple sailing a Cat tonight and they asked if we could cruise together tomorrow. Theirs is a 34 footer, but it made it through an open ocean sail last night in crazy conditions and came out ok. They were both extremely sore today and described the experience as "getting whooped".
After we arrived tonight the dockhand, Buck, recommended a place on the island called Sal's Pizza ( http://salsneighborhoodpizzeria.com/ ). Sal is a Jersey boy born and raised, was a pro boxer and had one hell of a run. Defintely the kind of guy you love to meet and hang with, true salt of the earth. The food in his cozy, energentic restaurant is authentic NYC / Jersey / Italian, exactly what we needed tonight. The pizza we got, Margherita with sliced meatball and fresh garlic was excellent and a solid 18". For all those reading this blog who are Sailing South that Rach and I have met along the way, grab a slip at Morningstar Marina, snag an Island Cab ride to Sals Pizza and grab some dinner and drinks (make sure to sit at the bar)! Sal and staff are a blast and if you are lucky enough to get Jackie as your waitress / bartender, she is a sweatheart! BTW, I made the mistake of walking in with my Sox hat and paid the price! J/K all in good fun, Sal enjoys the rivalry with the rest of us! Check out the pic attached...Sal with me and Rach after we had a few drinks and chatted it up for a while. On the house Sal gave Rach and I a Stregga? Look it up, a first for me, but a good after dinner sipper in my opinion. There were some other couples there too, actually one was Football / Yankee team player and I think the girls were pro football chearleers at one time. Loud and fun bunch. Reminded me of the Cali crew when things are getting out of control at the bar. We kind of hung out with everyone and had a blast doing it. Great night. Off to Jacksonville tomorrow early morning. If we are lucky we will be hanging with Lukes, Ash and Sadie tomorrow!
Day 14: All alone.
70 degrees, sunny... t-shirt and flip-flop weather, finally!
Nov/03/2011, Cane Patch Creek, GA (aka the middle of nowhere)
Nautical Miles Travelled: 52
Total Miles Travelled: 886
So after settling in last night around midnight, checking the SC/GA Atlantic Coast forecast and reviewing our route options both inside and out, we decided to wake around 7:30 AM and head out around 8 down the ICW. As usual, we had a hard time pulling ourselves out from under the warm covers, but it was warmer this morning than what we've been used to and we had to move down the coast to stay on track. So I threw on some slippers, lit up the stove and started to brew some coffee.
With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, we pulled up the hook and headed for the ICW. The outside forecast was nasty, so we opted for the more liesurely stroll down the ICW through the last bit of SC into GA. Derek steered the boat along the magenta line (the ICW on our chartplotter) while I booted up my computer to catch up on some work. We meandered through swamp lands, forests and past some ginormous Hilton Head estates. The sun was out, finally, and it heated up steadily all morning. We both had a different kind of chipperness in our attitudes today. After 20 or 30 miles, we realized that we had only seen one other sailboat, one trawler and one megayacht; there were only a handfull of skiffs along the 50 miles and us - we were alone... it's strange to be a sole catamaran navigating on natural, untamed rivers through the marshlands with dolphins swimming along side. If you're wondering what the effect of that soledome is...let's just say there was a lot of random laughs, some home-grown songs on top of a few (many) beverages and ultimately, just a real sense of vacation.
We moved farther down the interlacing rivers and are now anchored in the Cane Patch Creek, just off of the Ogeechee River, with no houses, no boats, nobody in site. There are fish and dolphins litterally jumping out of the water around us as feeding time arrives and all we hear are the chirps of the numerous birds in the marshes; we just heard a shotgun, so I'm assuming someone is hunting for deer or wild pig...which I of course hope to see and add to the long list of wildlife (btw - yesterday we saw another sea turtle and today a single butterfly along with the myriad of dolphins playing inland). I hear there may even be alligators in the area, so we'll see if we get lucky to spot another one this trip.
D just turned on the anchor alarm as the sun sets in the distance; with a glass of wine, some cheese and crackers we're hoping for a quiet, relaxing night in the bayou. This is true seclusion...not a soul for miles and literally marsh land on all sides of the boat within 100 yards...places you just don't know exist unless you venture out to see them.
Day 13: Enlisted!
Beautiful, sunny, 60's and moderate winds
Nov/02/2011, Charleston to Hilton Head
Nautical Miles Travelled: 84
Total Trip Miles: 834
"Calling all vessels, all channels, all vessels all channels, this is the United States Coast Guard Charleston South Carolina, break. We have a Search And Rescue emergency distress beacon that has been energized at coordinates...all vessels are advised to proceed in this area with extreme caution, report anything if seen and assist if possible." "Roger that Coast guard this is sailing vessel Soul Purpose, we are currently transiting that area approximately 6 miles west of the reported SAR signal, please advise if you need our assistance, we show an unidentified vessel on our radar approximately 4 miles South East of the reported SAR coordinates..."
More on that later.
Today marks a day that was unusual, exciting, unplanned and adventurous at the same time. It's funny how a simple event can change the course of the rest of your day... We rose from a great nights sleep with relatively low ambitions for the day. We joined a parade of boats out of the harbor where we waited for a 9 am bridge opening (opens after rush hour). After proceeding through, about 30 minutes later we had passed all of the boats in the parade, yet another reason it's great to have a catamaran, 2 engines! We put the sails up and were enjoying some brisk cruising through the sunny SC countryside along the protected intracoastal waterway. Because we blew away the other boats heading down the waterway today we completely missed a turn that would have kept us on the intracoastal. I was obliviously sailing along while the ships navigator (Rachel) was on the phone trying to fix her computer with corporate IS. By the time we realized we missed the turn we were already headed towards an outlet that would take us back to open water. We did some research, checked the coastal weather and decided it was safe and would actually put us ahead of schedule. We rode a narrow channel out and had an amazing few hours of sailing directly downwind. We had 6 to 8 foot waves but we were travelling with them and in fact surfed them up to 13.6 kts! We had the Gennaker (big sail) out and the sun was blazing. That's when we heard the Coast Guard transmission. We were the only boat in any direction even remotely close to the SAR signal. We informed them of our position and all kinds of details about ourselves and boat and then they asked us if we would alter course and investigate since they were a couple hours away from having a boat on scene. Before we knew it we had the Coast Guard, a tug boat and a freighter all talking about Soul Purpose and coordinating efforts with us. We worked to triangulate a search area radius and calculate potential drift based on wind, waves and current. I can just imagine what all the people we have met along the way this trip were thinking hearing the whole ordeal over the calling channel 16 (what everyone monitors) and Coast Guard Channel 22A. Unfortunately both our search and the Coast Guard's was unsuccessful which means the boat may have sunk with the SAR beacon. Later that afternoon a boat was reported missing so one can only assume from there... We felt good that we did all we could to help, but now had to face the reality that it would be dark before we even reached the outer channel to Hilton Head. We called around but no one had dock space available or they had already gone home for the day. As usual Rachel devised options. We decided against another night sail as conditions are supposed to be intense tonight, no thanks, not again. We ended up glued to our GPS, Radar and Thermal night vision screen yet again while we made our way into the Chechessee River. We are currently parked 100 yards off someone's front yard. Their porch lights were invaluable in helping us keep the boat oriented during anchoring in the blackness. You can see the river shoreline in the night vision camera video in the photo from today's blog. All in all a great day and certainly exciting. Time to grill up some grub and get a bit nice with a bottle of Jack!