Last Sea Soul Voyage Photos--Four days from Charleston to Jacksonville
Our final voyage for Sea Soul was hard and slow. The winds and weather were not in favor of us sailing in the Atlantic, so we slepped down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) the entire way. Now, I sound prejudiced against taking an inland route, but I am not. Doing so at a slow, leisurely pace stopping at various ports for several days for sightseeing sounds wonderful, but this trip was about getting from Point A (Charleston) to Point B (Jacksonville) so we could get to What If to finish up her work. The AICW adds miles and time to the voyage, and it is very, very hot without the ocean breezes. The South Carolina-Georgia AICW is a long and winding road. One must look out closely 100% of the time for other boats, shallow water, navigation markers, flotsam, etc. Moving out in the open ocean allows us to sail or at least motor sail enjoying the ocean breezes and autopilot. It is definitely a much more relaxing ride for making longer passages.
We left Charleston the first morning with plans to run until almost dark. We got a call from someone in Myrtle Beach wanting to look at the boat in Charleston. Well, too late. We suggested they meet us in Beaufort, South Carolina where we would stop for the evening cutting our miles short for the day but giving us an opportunity to show the boat in a town I've always wanted to visit. They said yes, and we met there about 4:30 that afternoon after we took a mooring in the City mooring field. They are both teachers preparing for retirement and loved Sea Soul, but they are just beginning to look at boats to live aboard so we will have to wait and see if she sticks with them. We had a delightful visit with them after they toured the boat and asked all their questions. There is a Beaufort, South Carolina, pronounced BU-fort (long U) and a Beaufort, North Carolina, pronounced BO-fort with a long O. We took a long walk through the main street and back through the waterfront park back to the marina. Beaufort is the second oldest city in South Carolina and has a unique historical display in their Waterfront Park with plaques placed in a circle around the flag pole giving a historical account of each historical period. Feast and famine seems to have become their destiny over their 300 year history, but at present historical tourism and the local military establishments (Parris Island, Marine Air Station Beaufort, U.S. Naval Hospital) seem to be the mainstay of the economy. There are beautiful antebellum homes along the streets near the water and the scenery from the town streets and park is breathtaking. The City has done a fabulous job integrating the Waterfront Park along the Beaufort River with the downtown businesses. The park features dozens of porch-type swings overlooking the river, playgrounds, amphitheatres, and a broad, concrete boardwalk for walking along the river. We didn't have much time, but it is definitely a place I would like to return to for a longer visit.
The next day started at daylight and took us from South Carolina into the many curves of the Georgia AICW. Sawgrass and more sawgrass with very little civilization makes for a gorgeous scenery with many marine birds and animals to view, but it was HOT, HOT, HOT! With little wind, high humidity, and high temperatures, we were both exhausted from the heat by the end of the day. The AICW along the Georgia coast runs out to the ocean in several places so we were frequently moving along nicely with an outgoing tide then suddenly hitting the wall of current when we had to make almost a 180 degree turn past the inlet. The tides are large here making the currents run fast. Going with a tide or against a tide can be the difference of 3 to 4 miles per hour. Our dumb luck that day was to have more tides running against us than with us causing us to not make the number of miles we hoped. We anchored just off the waterway after sunset in a very open area to ward off flying pests and called it a day.
Our third day was more of the same. We passed up other places we would love to spend time at--St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, visiting our cruising friends Joyce and Fred at Brunswick, Georia, Cumberland Island, and Fernandina Island hoping to get to a free public dock near the St. Johns River by end of the day. That would stage us for the ride up the St. Johns River to our final destination at the Jacksonville NAS Marina. More cruising friends, Tammy and Bruce, has stopped at the free dock earlier in the day, we hoped to join them for sundowners. Where the AICW crosses the Nassau Inlet we heard the Coast Guard warn by radio of a large and dangerous thunderstorm in the area headed our way. I checked Weather Underground and figured we had about 25 minutes before it hit so we found the first deep spot off the waterway with enough swing room, dropped the anchor with lots of rode out for a good swing, and battened down the hatches. Just as we finished, the winds picked up and the pounding rain took over. We saw 35 to 42 knot winds, a little hail, terrifying lightning and tons of rain for about 45 minutes. Then it was gone. A video of what a storm like this feels like is here
. So we upped anchor and kept going. We made it for sundowners after all.
We took it easy the fourth morning as we did not have as far to go, but I had to coordinate with one of the downtown Jacksonville bridges with construction going on to plan on our arrival at least two hours in advance so we would not have to wait two hours for an opening. Once past that bridge, we were home free to NAS. We docked up late afternoon and enjoyed the AC again. We kept the first Sea Soul here in 2010-2011 after we left the Gulf Coast because of the oil spill. They've made improvements to the docks, but it is wide open to the south winds and can get mighty bouncy at times. The price is right, however, so we will use this facility to move aboard What If and keep Sea Soul safe until we find a buyer.
Check out the photos from our journey down the AICW. Moving at five to eight knots gives one an opportunity to view the beauty and take some photos along the way. I also took a short video during the storm. It sounds horrible, but if you are safely anchored, it can also be a beautiful sight to behold (except for the lightning--I HATE LIGHTNING).
Sea Soul will stay at NAS while we work on What If in St. Augustine. Then we bring What If to NAS to meet Sea Soul and move aboard. Our new blog location for What If will be at WhatIfAdventures.blogspot.com
. It has been a short but beautiful ride on our PDQ named Sea Soul.