Tides and Bridges
06 May 2018
After 20 nights on a mooring in St. Augustine, we left the city marina heading north through the Bridge of Lions at 9:00a.m. It was sunny and cool with light winds. We motored to Jacksonville, arriving at Sisters Creek at 2:20 p.m. The current was ripping past the dock. Lucky for us, the people on the two boats already at the dock came out to catch our lines. After we were secured, two other boats arrived and we all helped them on to the dock. Our boat neighbor's three year old son brought us some cupcakes. Lucas has lived aboard with his parents since he was three weeks old. We had french toast and sausage for dinner, with cupcakes for dessert, and turned in early.
Wednesday 5/2-Thursday 5/3
We untied our lines and left Sister's Creek at 9a.m. We left the ICW and motored out the St. John's inlet to the Atlantic. The winds were still out of the NE, but predicted to shift to the SW. The weather was beautiful. The waves were 2-4 ft. with unexpected swells. The NE winds made the ride a bit uncomfortable. We unfurled the sails, listened to Sirius radio and took turns at the helm. Carl made some adjustments to our course to make better time, but it also meant the direction was wrong for sailing, so we pulled the sails in. Before nightfall we ate a light supper, turned on the navigation lights and brought our gear up to the cockpit. The sunset was beautiful and as I was taking pictures a dolphin came up and swam along with us. The bright orange, full moon rose about 9 p.m. There were only two other sailboats within radio range. We talked with Mad Romance periodically and Bojangles once when our AIS looked like we were on a collision course. There were a few tankers and offshore stationary rigs of some sort. It was a long night. Neither of us was able to get much sleep. After daybreak, we saw a fleet of seven shrimp boats. It was cloudy and the sun was up well before it broke through some of the clouds. We never had sight of the other sailing vessels and lost touch. The clouds burned off and it was a beautiful day. The winds never shifted south. We arrived at the Charleston Harbor Inlet at 2:30 p.m. as the tide was coming out. We had to really push to make it to the Ben Sawyer Bridge before 4p.m. There are no bridge openings between 4-6p.m. We were so happy that we made it by 3:45 and got an opening. We knew it was low tide because the tide was coming out as we entered the inlet and we knew that there were shoaling spots on the ICW after the bridge. I was at the helm. I thought I was in the channel, but I ran aground. We weren't hard aground, and the first few power boats that passed by us, waked us enough to move us a little, but not enough. I called towboat US. Really?! We had gone offshore to bypass the shallow areas in Georgia, only to come into S.C. and run aground! We waited an hour and a half for towboat to come pull us off. In the meantime dozens of boats blew past us, waking us, oblivious to the fact that we were aground. We dropped the anchor so that we would not get pushed farther aground. Towboat pulled us right off. We decided to go back through the bridge to the city marina for the night. It was a little before 6, so Towboat called the bridge for an opening and went ahead of us, along with another Towboat towing a sailboat the other way. I called the marina and thankfully they had room for us. It was 7p.m. by the time we got to the dock.
The next morning, Jeff from S/V Mad Romance came to our boat in his dinghy. They were anchored off of the marina and saw us come in last night. We decided to stay another night because a possible tropical storm was headed our way. We took showers before we had to move the boat to make room for a cruise ship. The marina was full. There was an upcoming J24 North American Championship Regatta. They moved us next to a 40 class racing boat with a dragon painted on the sides that we recognized from Key West. After we were settled, we had a late breakfast, did a load of laundry and hopped on the marina shuttle to Harris Teeter. We were back by 5 o'clock and Jeff and his wife, Mindy came over on their dinghy to share a bottle of wine. They are planning to leave their boat in Deltaville for 3 months while they travel to Europe, so we hope to see them again.
Everyone is watching a weather system south of us that has a chance of developing into a tropical storm. We decide to stay another night. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and took the shuttle to the Saturday farmers market. The produce was amazing. Carl bought a jar of pickled beets. People were in lines at a row of tents cooking and selling food to rival the best food trucks. There was a row of tents selling arts and crafts. It looked like an art show. After we had seen everything at the farmers market, we walked to the City Market. We met a nice young man selling flowers made of palm leaves. He has family in Hampton, Va. that he will be visiting this summer. Carl bought a flower for me and then he showed us how he makes them and gave us that one too. At the City Market I found my favorite dried okra chips and some pralines. We called the marina shuttle and he picked us up and took us to Martha Lou's Kitchen for dinner. It really is a "hole in the wall" place. Jeff and Mindy told us about it. They learned about it on Sara Moulton's cooking show. The restaurant is owned and run by a mother and her daughters. The daughters told us that their mother is 88 and she still comes in to do some of the cooking. It is a tiny place with about 8 tables. There was only an old pickup truck outside. Every one there were tourists that came by Uber. They have been voted the "best soul food in Charleston". The fried chicken ims the best I have ever had. Carl had the fried fish. We both had collard greens and cornbread. Carl had bread pudding and I had the mac n cheese. Yum! The daughter serving was having the best time joking with people and singing and dancing. She was so happy when someone ordered her sweet tea and were able to eat all of their food. So, after we cleaned our plates and drank the last sweet drop of tea, we called Uber to pick us up. It was a fun day!
What is left of the weather system that we were watching has moved offshore.
Now we are living by the tides and bridge schedules. High tide is not until 1:30 p.m., so we left the dock of the city marina at 11:45 a.m. The Ben Sawyer Bridge only opens on the hour between 9 and 6 on weekends. We arrived about 10 minutes early for the 1p.m. opening. We made it through all of the shoaling spots without any problems while the tide was high. The tide will be going down before we can get through the next shoaling area, so we have to anchor early and wait for high tide tomorrow. We are in a marsh here and at the first sight of a horse fly and a few no seeums, I quickly put the screens in. We are anchored by 2:40 p.m.. We spent the afternoon planning our course for the next few days and I caught up on my blog. We had chicken and rice for dinner and we will watch a little Netflix before retiring for the night.