14 June 2013 | Hilton Head, SC
I can't believe that it's been a month since I wrote my blog. Where has the time gone? Where have we gone? I am writing this blog while side-tied at Skull Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Quite a distance from Key West, in both flora fauna.
We left Key West with Heidi and Bill on Act III, but quickly out-paced them as they decided to sail and we stayed with using our engine. We are still constrained by needing to be in port in time for work on Monday, so we hurry from one spot to another while our boat buddies are able to meander at will. No complaints though, as John's work allows us to do this at all. In Key West, we talked to Larry at West Marine who told us that he once was in the Gulf Stream and it gave him 6 extra knots of speed. We were awestruck and assumed that it was his lucky day. But as we passed Miami, we got into the Gulf Stream ourselves and saw three knots. About 50 more miles out, we were shocked to see that we were getting five and half knots extra. We were going 13 knots...way better than our usual seven or eight (see picture at the top showing both speeds. Top gauge shows our speed over the water and the one on the bottom right shows our speed over the ground...or with the Gulf Stream help). We were thrilled to be making such great headway and hoped that we could stay in it for a long time. On Sunday morning, we had to calculate where to start heading for shore in order to get to a marina by nightfall so that John would be available for work on Monday morning. We chose the entrance to Jacksonville and headed that way all day long. We entered the St. John's River and found a marina perched right inside the jetty and decided to stay there. Supremely bad idea! Apart from the rocking and rolling from huge cargo ships passing by, we had our first introduction to tidal currents. Because the tides can fall 7-10 feet every 6 hours, water rushes by to keep up with the schedule. Most of the week that we were there, we saw enough of the current racing past us that waves were breaking over the bow of the boat. So, we're rocking fore and aft with the current and side to side with the ships. We actually experienced some sea sickness working at our computers. Ugh! We were so glad to leave there at the end of the week as we headed for Brunswick, GA. One good thing though was that we rode our bikes to the beach and found waves. Okay, they were pretty small, but we were able to body surf them just fine. First body surfing since leaving San Diego in October, so we were blissfully happy. Re-sets the wah, if you know what I mean.
Brunswick, GA is at the 31st Parallel and is the requirement of our insurance that we stay above that latitude during hurricane season (June 1 to November 1). Whoo hoo! We are now legal. We anchored in a lovely bay between St. Simon's Island and Brunswick. It is so picturesque with marshes and forests and very little civilization. We took an adventure dinghy ride over to the town of Brunswick, about 8 miles away. Of course, we left at high tide and returned at lower tide. Well, we only dragged our prop through mud once, but it was a good drag. John envisioned having to surfer paddle our way out, but the oars were just barely usable. Fortunately, the mud was soft and did no damage to the propeller. Whew!
The next move took us to Savannah. We did an overnight trip and could not find accommodation in the town of Savannah. We found a marina about 8 miles before Savannah where we stayed for a couple of nights before moving out into the Herb River to anchor for a whole week. Oh, it was so lovely there. Mariah sat in the middle of this little river with houses and their docks on one side and marsh and trees on the other. Quite "Great Gatsby-ish." It was quiet and just wonderful. We swam, dinghied around to check out other rivers and marinas and even had a couple of other boats join us in the anchorage. Thunderbolt Marina, where we stayed for the first two nights and the last two nights, was so kind to let us park our dinghy there to go to town. We rode the bus into Savannah and spent a wonderful day being tourists. Savannah is just beautiful...gentrified is the word I would use. Beautiful old trees, parks everywhere, a huge river with container ships going by and incredibly friendly people.
While in San Diego last summer, we bought a used life raft for $500 from someone at the yacht club thinking we got a great deal. Then we learned that they have to be Certified every 3-5 years and this one was out of compliance. Well, you don't want to rely on a life raft that hasn't been certified because by the time you need it, it had better work. Within a few blocks of the marina, we found a company that certifies life rafts. Amazing find in that we contemplated having to ship our life raft off and it weighs about 70 lbs. River Services even came to pick it up at the marina. Sad to say, when they inflated it, it would not hold air for the required 24 hours and could not be Certified. All we could do was trash it. Very sad and a waste of $500. A new one costs $3000! Sigh...there's always something, eh? Anyone wishing to contribute to a worthy cause...
From Savannah, we went to Hilton Head Island and stayed two nights at the South Carolina Yacht Club, which can only be reached by going through a Lock. Incredibly, when they built the yacht club 25 years ago, they decided it would be better to build and maintain a Lock rather than dredge the harbor. So, every boat that comes and goes (including the kids' Opti sailboats) has to douse sails and come through the Lock. I've included pictures of this lock in my emails. The harbor inside is surrounded by huge houses and a small gated community. Very posh...and then there was Mariah docked right in front of the yacht club. Hehe!
So, tomorrow we set off for Charleston with the possible plan to stay there for a month or two. The weather is getting severley hot and humid and unless we are plugged into a marina power source, we can't run our air conditioner. Marinas can be very expensive if paid at a nightly rate ($75 per night), but are manageable if paid at the monthly rate ($800). If we keep "marina-hopping" we are tied to the nightly rate, so we may stay in one place for July and August, the hottest months. Then travel in September and October. Stay tuned as the saga continues.....