01/03/2011, Kilkenny Creek Georgia
Last night I consulted our electronic charts and the Active Captain website to find a reasonable port for today's run. My intension was to let Bud look at the electronic charts and maybe Google Earth before we left, so we'd both have the same information and avoid an error like we made yesterday. It's a good thing I did, as I found that there are no inlets that we could reach in a day's sail that we could actually get the boat into. The notes I found said things like, "Strangers may make it over the bar on a rising tide and flat seas." Since we couldn't guarantee the tide and were expecting some waves, these didn't seem like a reasonable risk.
So it was back to the ditch (the ICW) and back to being a trawler again. As we were going along today I thought about the good and bad things in doing the ICW. On the minus side, obviously we weren't able to sail. We had to listen to the engine all day and burn fuel. The other big minus is there was no open water. We (Bud) spent all day hand steering and watching for the channel markers and the channel.
On the plus side, we didn't have to sail. We didn't have the work of setting, trimming and furling sails. We didn't have to worry about heeling and stowing things so they wouldn't slide around. We ran the engine so we had hot water and plenty of power. The other big plus is there was no open water. Fuzzy didn't need to take Dramamine. We didn't have to stow things so they wouldn't bounce around in the waves and there was something to watch besides water and clouds.
The other drawback of the ICW is navigating the bridges. I took this photo as Bud guided Earendil in the slot of the first open Bascule bridge we encountered. Happily there were only two bridges, and there are no more opening bridges between here and St Simon's Sound where we can get back out in the ocean (and maybe get a chance to visit fellow TYCer's Dick & Kathy Platt). By then I'm sure I'll be more than ready to sail again. Meanwhile, since it just about made it to 50 today and will be in the 30's again tonight I'm happy to be on the ICW.
We did manage to go another 50 nautical miles today. Kilkenny Marina, where we are tonight is just about the opposite of the Harbour Town Marina where we were last night. I put a picture of it in the album. It's very quaint and very Low Country Georgia and just a bit rough. At least it's cheaper. (And Fuzzy has now added Georgia to the list of states he's peed in, or on, or whatever.)
01/02/2011, Hilton Head Island, SC
We set out again at first light; about 7:15 today. We made the long run out the channel from Edisto Beach. Bud had conceded that we could follow the coast, in case we decided to put in for the night. We were both dressed in several layers under full foul weather gear. I had on my sailing gloves. Bud, at the helm, had on a wool knit hat and winter gloves. We were motorsailing to start because the wind was right on the nose. I went below to check for a destination in case Bud came to his senses about sailing through the night when the temperature was supposed to drop back into the thirties. I know we want to do some extensive cruising, and I know that means days on end of sailing. But sitting alone at night in the cockpit with balmy breezes caressing your skin is bound to be better than sitting alone shivering with five layers of clothes under your foul weather gear. Even the wind seems hostile when it's cold.
Bud did concede that we should probably stop for the night. The reality of sailing in the cold has hit, and he agreed with me that sailing overnight with temperatures in the upper 30's is not the retirement we planned. However, there was a little confusion over the charts and destinations. I looked at the charts and determined that there was nowhere to stop at the distance we might want to try for a day. So I told Bud we'd have to stop at the southern end of Hilton Head Island at the Harbour Town Marina. I called and they said they could accommodate us, but said it would be best not to arrive at low tide, around 1 PM. I told them our ETA was mid afternoon, so all seemed well.
The wind moved a bit and we put out the genoa and killed the engine. We were really trying to pinch today, but still making an acceptable 4.5 knots or so. Besides, Bud looked at the electronic chart at the helm and thought at our present rate we might get there close to 1, so we didn't push. We tacked around a submerged wreck. When we got back on our original tack, I asked Bud if we would need to tack back out again, as our course was taking us fairly close to shore. He wasn't sure, but as we got closer to the channel, he decided we should go out. We were discussing how far we should go before tacking again and Bud showed me some shallow areas he was concerned about. We zoomed the chart out to get a better idea of the general picture, and I saw that this was the wrong channel. This was the channel at the north end of Hilton Head.
So we tacked out, and we ended up having to go way out. And then we pointed directly to where we needed to go, pulled in the genoa and started up the iron wind again. We needed to hurry now. To confound things, there's no way to get to Caliboque Sound without going over 4 miles past it and staying about 7 miles offshore. Now the destination I had thought would be a short day, was really a challenging day, doubly so since we spent the morning just noodling along.
We spent the next several hours on a grey ocean, under a grey sky, listening to the dulcet tones of our Lehman Peugeot. It's strange to be so far off shore that the haze is obscuring the shoreline, and still be straining your eyes for the lines of breakers that mark the shoals! Not something we're used to from Lake Ontario, that's for sure. But we avoided all the shoals and the crab pots. And we made it to the Marina at 4:50 after 55.99nm.
And what a marina it is. This certainly is the classiest spot we have been, and you can see from the picture that Fuzzy feels he fits right in. I wish we could linger among the groomed paths, the shops, tennis courts, golf courses and the very upscale condos, but at $101 per night, we think it's best to move along.
01/01/2011, Big Bay Creek, SC
Well, the day didn't turn out entirely as hoped. We did get up before dawn and we were ready to leave close to first light. It was cloudy, so you couldn't see until the sun was just about up. We left the dock at just after 7:00 and motored out the Charleston Harbor. I tried to get a decent picture of Fort Sumter as we went by, but with the low light, the distance and the moving boat, in all my pictures the fort looks like a low brown rectangle in the water, and not much else.
There are long jetties that extend out from the harbor towards the northeast. There is one break in the jetty where smaller boats can turn southeast. Bud went through the break, but then had to keep far more east than south, and slow down for some shallow areas, so in the end we may not have saved any time.
Once we were out where it was consistently deep, we set the sails and set our course. There was a reasonable amount of wind, and we could almost point the desired course. The sun came out, some dolphins came along for a while (I even got a reasonable photo) and things were looking good. The only excitement came when something that sounded almost like a shot rang out. Turns out it was the tube on one of the folding bike tires. For some reason it just popped while the bike was lashed to the stern rail; it wasn't even rubbing on anything.
We weren't doing real well on speed, as we were pinching into the wind, but we were sailing at about five and a half knots. We set our windvane up and let it steer. For a couple of hours all was well. Then we had a strange wind change. Bud started to hand steer and when the wind settled back down we reset the windvane. It got cloudy, the wind almost died, the boat went off course. We switched to the larger, light air, airvane and tried again. The boat wouldn't stay on course. The wind picked up, we switched back to the smaller airvane. Somewhere in there we tried to take up on the control lines, which seemed too loose. We could get the boat to steer for a while, but it wouldn't hold the course. The wind was still being fluky. It was getting cold out there and then suddenly fog set in and our visibility went to a few hundred feet. Bud was trying to fiddle with something and set the mechanical autopilot. We heard an awful vibration. We weren't sure if it always made that noise, and usually the engine is running and that's all you can hear, but weren't confidant enough to just use it.
About then I suggested we find a port and head to a marina for the night. Having to hand steer all through a cold night without moon, stars or lights visible did not appeal to me. Happily, Bud agreed and I found we were close to a river that had a marina listed in our 1998 guidebook. We changed course, when we got close enough to shore to have cell coverage and internet I was able to check on the Active Captain website for the marina. It was still listed, so I called them and they said they could handle us. Almost as soon as we changed course the fog started to lift. We had no visibility problems going in.
About 2 hours later we were here. It's a small marina; they put us right at the gas dock so it was really easy to tie up. We have heat and I am very glad we didn't push through. The thunderstorms that were supposed to die down and come through tomorrow afternoon are now being predicted to come through tonight. I'm not sure if they will have died down.
We only went 44 nm today, and only about 26 as the crow flies. But we did sail most of those miles, and we are safe and warm. Tomorrow we'll see what the day brings.
This feels a bit like October 13, when we first set out. After being in Charleston since November 19, Bud and I worked today to get ready to sail tomorrow. The weather looks good so we're heading outside to the ocean. We'll see how it goes, but we may run straight through to St. Augustine.
So today we took down the Christmas decorations, cleaned the boat, filled the fuel tanks and the water tanks, did some laundry... We checked the weather, again. We worked on trimming Fuzzy, again. (After three days of intermittent trimming he's looking fairly well groomed, at least you can see his face.) We checked the electronic charts on the computer. We got the wind vane ready to go, we put away the dock lines not being used and washed down the deck.
So I guess we're ready. I've got the jitters but I know it will feel good once we're underway. I hope there's enough wind to sail. And I hope it's not dead on our nose. The weather forecast shows the winds more or less from the south, so we just have to get out there and see. It would be so nice to make good time without the engine.
I'm not sure if we'll get to St. Augustine Sunday, or have to wait it out until daylight on Monday, so it's possible there will be no update to the blog until Monday. If we have cell service out there I'll update as we go, otherwise I'll check in with you when we reach the next port.
Happy New Year everyone!
12/29/2010, Charleston City Marina
Today started out chilly again, but not as cold as it's been. As the day went on it got warmer until by noon it was pretty nice. You could be outside with only three or four layers on, and no gloves. That's a great improvement, and the weather was good enough that we decided to tackle some boat work.
Bud had bought a radar reflector while I was in Detroit, but it wasn't installed yet. We didn't have a good way to get it up high enough on the backstay to be effective, so we decided to hang it. Bud had made a bridal out of light line so it could be hung from the halyard where we fly our burgees. The only problem is that the line needs to be led through a second pulley, so there's room for the reflector, which is round (more or less) and about 16 inches in diameter. So we needed to install a second pulley on our spreader (one of the arms that sticks out from the mast that the metal cables, or in our case rods, that hold the mast in place hook to).
In short, some one had to go part way up the mast, and that is my job. It's Bud's job to hoist me up there. So we hooked up the boatswain's chair and up I went. I used to be pretty nervous going up, and we used to do this with one or two other people to help. We've had to do it on our own, so we have a routine that I feel pretty comfortable with. I tie two sail halyards to the chair, one is the main lift line and the second is the safety line. Bud puts the main line on a winch on the mast and leads the second line to a cleat, also on the mast. He then winches me up about 5 feet at a time, and then tightens and re-cleats the safety line. That way, if either line breaks I'll only fall about 5 feet. That's the theory anyway.
Going up is not a problem for me. Being up high is not a problem either. What I worry about is dropping things. Today I wasn't working that high up, but I needed to attach the second pulley near the outer end of the spreader. That meant I had to work away from the mast and couldn't use my legs on the mast to hold the chair steady. That in turn meant that I had to pretty much do everything with one hand, while hanging on to the spreader with the other. It took a little doing but in the end I got the holes drilled, the washers in place and the pulley riveted to the spreader, and thankfully, I didn't drop anything. I added a picture of our new radar reflector installation to the gallery.
Once the radar reflector was up, we even spent some time just sitting in the cockpit, enjoying the sun. I could get used to that! The day ended with a nice sunset, and I added a picture to the gallery of the sun setting across the Ashley River and the marina.
12/28/2010, Charleston City Marina
Christmas morning was cold. I woke up well before dawn and decided to make the trip to the bathrooms here. It's about a 12-minute walk, even at a pretty good pace. I had my hands in my pockets to keep them warm and was sliding my feet a bit, because it felt like there was some frost on the docks. Suddenly I slipped and went down on the dock. My hands flew out and I caught myself with only a couple of bruises, but when I stood up I felt that the bathroom key was no longer in my pocket, nor was it on the dock. It was still dark, but I leaned over and saw that there was a lump on the water. I grabbed it, and happily it was the float on the key. It's an electronic key, so I wiped it off immediately. It still works!
After that the day got a little better. We did go to our friends' house for Christmas dinner, and that was nice. I would never have guessed when we started this journey that we'd be having Christmas dinner in Charleston with the Wollabers!
The day after Christmas started cold and rainy and ended colder and snowy. The snow didn't stick, but Monday morning we woke up to some serious ice on the docks. I took this picture on my way to the bathroom (this time the key was in the pocket that Velcro's shut). I wore my boat shoes. I really didn't buy them in anticipation of needing traction on ice. I guess I shouldn't complain, the Northeast was getting a blizzard. And it's supposed to get up to 70 degrees by the end of the week. Yeah!
I can't say that life on board is boring though. Even stuck here at the City Marina it's fun to look at the boats. I am also amazed at the tide. Today I took pictures of high and low tide to show the difference. It's about a 6-foot tide here. I also took pictures of one powerboat that has what must be a bargain slip. It's about a 30-foot boat and at low tide it's completely aground. I thought maybe it was abandoned, but it had Christmas lights on it. Today on another of the long trips to the bathrooms I saw a big dolphin surface in the lanes between the boats. (Pictures of the tide and the boat are in the gallery; I didn't get a shot of the dolphin, even though I had the camera.)
Things are looking up. Our mail has been sent and the days are getting warmer. With any luck our business and the weather will come together so we can head on out on Friday or Saturday. I'm looking forward to moving south again.