March 20-31, 2018
March 20 & 21 – Halifax Marina, Daytona, no travel (weather)
March 22 – Daytona to River’s Edge Marina, St. Augustine (55 miles)
March 23-24 – St. Augustine, no travel (sightseeing and friends)
March 25 – St. Augustine to Fernandina Harbor Marina, Fernandina, FL (63 miles)
March 26 – Fernandina, no travel (weather)
March 27 – Fernandina to Brunswick GA (42 miles)
March 29 – Brunswick Landing Marina to KilKenny Creek Marina (71 miles)
March 30 – Kilkenny to Isle of Hope Marina, Savannah (23 miles)
March 31 – Isle of Hope Marina to Harbour Town Yacht Basin on Hilton Head Is (25 miles)
April 1 (Easter Sunday) – Harbour Town Yacht Basin, no travel
Miles Traveled during this blog entry: 280
Total Miles Traveled: 4068
Add a 9th State – Georgia and a 10th State – South Carolina
We remained weathered in at Daytona for three days including two tornado warnings with rotating cells passing just north and south of the Namaste. We didn’t know anyone at the marina so it was a quiet time of walking the many docks, visiting a downtown trying to reinvent itself and observing a small, windy and cool wedding onboard a neighboring sailboat. The weather had turned from balmy Florida temperatures into what feels like Michigan in April – winds, rain, and cool temps – hence Summer turns to Spring. It occurs to us that perhaps we are moving north too quickly but granddaughter, Ashleigh, will meet us in Charleston during her spring break. These proud and excited grandparents will be there to meet her!
March 22nd we moved on to the River’s Edge Marina in St Augustine. This was a sentimental stop as Jim’s parents lived here and we visited during the mid-80s. Coming up the AICW (Atlantic Inter-Costal Waterway) we kept a “lookout” for something familiar that would remind us of where they might have lived. At some point I looked at a chart and the street Sandpiper jumped off the page at me as our answer. Because it was several miles out of town we postponed seeing the house until another time. We stayed in a funky marina off the beaten path (read as rustic and a twenty-minute walk into St. Augustine) where the local restaurant, Hurricane Patty’s was hosting their annual Rum Festival. Apparently, you pay something, get a green wristband and then are privileged to sample all the free rum you wish. Whatever the entry fee, we were sure not to get our money’s worth but Sammy managed a free biscuit and we all listened to loud music and raucous laughter well into the evening.
The three of us walked over the bridge into St. Augustine two consecutive days. St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest U.S. city, settled by the Spanish in 1565 but she also has a meticulously cared for and vibrant feel with spring flowers bursting everywhere. The Fort, located just north of town, gave Spain it’s stronghold in the new world but St. Augustine was frequently contested and flew seven different flags. There are literally dozens of wonderful galleries, delightful outdoor cafés, museums, cobblestone streets and carriage ride tours. My favorite spots were the Presbyterian Church with an old Spanish/ Catholic aura and the Flaggler Liberal Arts College, in the middle of town. Both are steeped in beauty and tradition! If I were 18 again. . .
The St. Augustine City Marina suffered damage from Hurricane Irma so had no power at most of the docks and was exposed to the Mantanzas Inlet making the mooring balls and marina uncomfortable in the high winds we were experiencing which made our choice of Hurricane Patty’s even more attractive. However, next time we pass through, that is where we will stay. Lila and Alan on Blue Haven came for an insta-pot meal as a payback we have owed since dinner on their boat in Faro Blanco two years ago. Because they are from Wisconsin we began planning our circumnavigation of Lake Superior for the summer of 2020! Friends and previous owners of Namaste Too, Jenny Lynn and Dan caught up to us here in St. Augustine and we had so much catching up to do that we shared docktails right through dinner and into the evening.
Fernandina, the last city in Florida before entering Georgia waters. We were sad to leave Florida after many months boating here but then I have already mentioned our need to keep moving. Storms were predicted for late in the day (first 10 p.m., then 8 p.m. and then 4 p.m.) and we were making our longest travel day ever of 63 miles! Well, you guessed it, the winds caught up with us as we passed through Nassau Sound (Sound is another word for expansive inlets from the Atlantic Ocean) giving us what we call lumpy water followed by a downpour. Because high winds were predicted through the night and the next day we fortunately gave up our plans to catch a mooring ball and called the Fernandina Harbor Marina getting the last slip available in yet another marina damaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. Captain Jim brought us to the dock through a narrow channel filled with boats in high winds and fast current but it was a great call! It blew and blew for the next 24 hours and those on the mooring balls were uncomfortable but safe. We were comfortable and safe.
Fernandina is a lovely example of thriving, costal, small town living. The city provides a shuttle to all the important places including a Publix. We perused the wonderful shops and had breakfast at Bright Mornings Café and Bistro – not to be missed if ever you find yourself in Fernandina! We met a British couple who had come across the Atlantic in their sailboat (wow) and a Looper couple of some fame, Eddy and Linda of Eddy’s Weather Wag! Wonderful folks all!
Before I go further I must give you a few generalities about cruising and other things of Georgia. About 1 0 years ago we were vacationing with the Namaste sailboat on Beaver Island where I met a woman in the laundry who was doing the Loop, an adventure that was only a vague notion to me at the time. I remember asking her favorite place on the Loop (cannot remember her answer) but then her least favorite part of the Loop. I vividly recall her response as “boring Georgia”. I have been curious ever since and now we are here! Well, what I can tell you is that most of the Georgia inter-coastal is marsh grasslands with up to 12’ fluctuating tides and brisk currents. We did not find it the least bit boring but rather an opportunity to once again elevate our already soaring learning curve.
- All trips must be carefully calculated to go through the many skinny water spots (Jekell Creek, Hell Gate, etc.) at high or rising tide.
- This can lead to some pretty early morning departures or evening arrival times with occasional anchoring to wait out the tides.
- The goal being not to go aground but if you do, plan it for the rising tide meaning a shorter wait to get back on your way.
- In any 24 hour period there are two high and two low tides meaning that there are approximately 6 hours between the highs and the lows.
- All of this moving water causes currents that can literally push you around in small spaces and greatly varies the speed of your vessel. Our cruising speed is 7 knots but often found ourselves running at 5 knots or as high as 11! Makes timing things difficult.
- Slack tide or the lowest currents happen for the twenty minutes before and after each high or low tide, maybe. This is the easiest time to try to land your boat at a dock but often is not the case.
- There are charts and online resources informing you of the daily tide time changes, thank you to our Aye-Tide app!
- Many folks “go outside” into the Atlantic to miss all of this fun but we found the scenery and people to be perfect and welcoming. The Georgian Golden Isles as they are called, are one of the most pristine coastal areas of the Atlantic.
OK, so now back to Georgia. We made it almost through on four long travel days. The entire trip consists of grass salt marshes which at high tide look like huge expanses of water but at low tide the winding path of the AICW is absolutely clear. In other words the experience is different depending upon the tide cycle. There aren’t any big cities along the coast of Georgia except Savannah and hence is sometimes called the Land In Between – the land in-between South Carolina and Florida.
Our first stop was Brunswick Landing where we left our Tiguan a couple of weeks ago. This is a mile-long marina hosting some of the prettiest and most unusual boats. They have free beer on tap 24/7 and beer/wine happy hours on MWF for everyone. The laundry is free (a first) and town is a quick walk away. We got a great reception and then caught lines for 6 other Looper boats. Because we had a car we provisioned and did several errands over our two day stay.
Leaving early on March 30 for Kilkenny Creek accompanied by Horizons, Lady D, and Houlegan, we set out on our longest travel day yet at 71 miles. The day was warm but the navigation tedious. Once again the winds were predicted to kick up to 25mph and we were tired so we opted for the Kilkenny Marina instead of nearby anchoring fields. Kilkenny is a fish-camp style marina that at the moment can accommodate 2-3 boats for power and the third (us) had to split a power line with Lady D.
I digress, there are three different marina styles so far on the Loop. First and by far most usual, are the city or privately owned marinas that make their money selling fuel. The facilities are usually adequate and friendliness/services are usually outstanding. Second, are the resort marinas which offer all the luxuries inherent in staying at places like Captiva or Hilton Head. Third, are the fish-camp marinas that serve fishermen but also have dock space and an amenity or two: sometimes power, sometimes showers, sometimes a restaurant. Hoppies and Bobby’s Fish camp are other examples along the way. Kilkenny falls into this final category. We had dinner in the local restaurant eating shrimp looking out at the shrimp boat that delivered today’s catch bringing back images of the Forest Gump and Bubba adventures.
Next day we were on to the Isle of Hope Marina. Delightfully this day would be only 23 miles and a respite from the long previous days. Isle of Hope is just south of Savannah and the most convenient place to stop when visiting Savannah. The other option is to navigate several miles up the Savannah River in heavy commercial traffic and stay in a marina unprotected from the freighter wakes. It is a brief Uber ride into Savannah but we decided to forgo this stop and pick it up on our return down the coast next Fall. We needed a rest and some slop days to make it to Charleston.
So instead of Savannah we set out the next morning for a short day into Hilton Head Island. Again, this was a bit of a trip down memory lane for us. In June 1986 we vacationed here as a family in celebration of Pat’s graduation from high school. As it turned out it was 100 degrees every single day and Pat was diagnosed with mono on our departure day. While I am not sure of the boy’s memories of this trip, my stance is that we made the best of it by spending much of our time inside with air conditioning watching Pat sleep. Good food, a play and a little golf were also involved.
We arrived in the Hilton Head Harbour Town Yacht Basin, truly a resort marina where we will stay for two days. Jim is reading or asleep up on the fly bridge. Last night we went to dinner at the Crazy Crab and caught the U of M Loyola final four basketball game.
Today is Easter so we have rested and enjoyed this beautiful spot but are also missing home and family.
This has been a fabulous leg of travel. We have increased our skills and confidence by ten-fold with this boat. Our only regret is that we didn’t anchor more due to the cold, winds, tide, and currents. Beautiful anchorages will be our goal for next time through here.
Sammy Sayz: My preference would be to live permanently in one of those lovely Resort Marinas but short days without wind are OK too. Cold, windy days are the worst and every now and then the captain and other crew seem to think it is necessary to travel. I hate being down below in the noisy cabin close to the engine where it is warm so mostly sit by the captain on the fly bridge in my sweater and wrapped in a matching blanket. The best times are when I get to go run, run, run which I heard a lady call the Bishon Romp!
Good Boat Name: Grande Finale on a Grand Banks Trawler
Bad Boat Name: Flatline – I am pretty sure there must be a meaning other than the medical one, does anyone know?
Quote: “God willing and the creek do rise, ” with regard to navigating Georgia!
Happy Birthday to: Sharron
Rest in peace: Linda