April 1-5, 2018
April 1 – Easter on Hilton Head Island, no travel
April 2 – Hilton Head Island to Beaufort, SC (29 miles)
April 3 – Beaufort to St. Johns Yacht Harbor (63 miles)
April 4 – St. Johns Yacht Harbor to Charleston Harbor Marina (13 miles)
Miles traveled this blog entry: 105
Total Miles traveled: 4173 miles
We spent a beautiful Easter Sunday walking the beach on Hilton Head, both of us agreeing that being away from family today was sad and particularly because everywhere we looked there were extended families enjoying the day together. We had a lazy morning remembering Easters-gone-by and then rode the Trolley to the Atlantic Beach for a long, luxurious walk. The trolley driver, Blue, with a personality bigger than the Trolley itself, watched and proudly shared a face-time call with her grandson all dressed up for church. (See quote below.) The remainder of the day we read and ate a traditional Easter ham dinner complete with deviled eggs.
The next morning we rose early and left Hilton Head for Beaufort, SC. This had been one of my highly anticipated stops that didn’t live up to expectations. First of all, they (or perhaps I) messed up the reservation so that we didn’t have a slip so had to tie onto a mooring ball. In itself that is never a bad thing at about ¼ the cost. However, the fuel line (from the outboard motor to the gas tank) on the dinghy gave up the ghost and the engine, of course, couldn’t run without gas. Jim had to row us and Sammy into town and back several times a day. One direction was always against the current making a strong captain a plus in so many ways. We did enjoy a carriage ride explaining the civil war history and beautiful homes of Beaufort, and had a great lunch at Plum’s. Along with Savannah, we will return to Beaufort for a more relaxed visit next time.
The final leg of the journey to meet Ashleigh in Charleston began on Tuesday. Since the most frequent question I am asked is, what is an average travel day like on the Namaste Too, I decided to record and write about April 3rd regardless of what happened, no matter what. So here we go, Beaufort, SC to Charleston, SC. . .
6:00 a.m. We arose in the pitch of night as we planned to go 63 miles today and anticipated bucking a current; made the coffee; got dressed and tidied up the cabins.
6:30 Jim rowed Sammy into shore not only in the dark but against the current coming back to the boat. Meanwhile I made a small breakfast.
6:45 Got the navigation tools ready, turned on the electronic instruments and started the engine. I email Curt our float plan for the day. This has two purposes, one is that someone always knows where we are and when we are expected to arrive. Two, at the end of our Loop, we will have a running log of exactly where we went and when.
7:00 Before sunrise but in enough light, Jim released the mooring ball as I navigated the Namaste through the mooring field toward the swing bridge just ahead on the AICW. Captain Jim took over the helm as I usually manage the deck by bringing bumpers onboard and coiling all the lines, making certain everything is ready for the next port. Sammy loves to help but any time we are working on the deck she is leashed up on the fly bridge, safe and out of trouble. She is immediately freed to roam when we are underway.
8:00 Jo at the helm. We usually change “watch” every hour or so on long travel days. This morning we were heading East into a blinding sun. The dilemma is that it is miserable to look out at the water without sunglasses but it is next to impossible to read the electronic screens with polarized lenses. I wore my glasses on my head and my sunglasses on a chord around my neck, switching them back and forth as needed. Jim checked the engine room for any visible problem spots – there were none. In bright sunshine, we will likely have a warm and calm day.
9:00 Jim on watch. All is well in boat-world until the auto-helm lost its tracking ability. This is a GPS device that steers the boat on a set course under the watchful eye of the helmsman who makes adjustments as needed. This means one of us will have hands on the wheel all day which is not a huge issue but a nice convenience lost. Another thing to add to the Captain’s fix-it-list, says he’s on it.
10:00 Jo on watch. A couple of things to know here. We have three navigation aids going at all times – two electronic and one paper chart. My favorite helper is Navionics on the iPad. This is the electronic version of the most recent charts available and has a magenta dotted line as the suggested route through narrow channels and wide rivers. While following this line is absolutely not foolproof as the deepest water route, it is a good bet. I must also watch the depth gauge, rpm’s, oil pressure, and engine temperature constantly.
11:00 Jim on watch. For entertainment we are listening to NPR on a radio installed to the dash just like in a car. We are passed by three faster boats (Scandia, Final Approach and Rho Jo). This can be more complicated than one might think. The passing boat is required to hail the boat being passed on the VHF radio and request permission to pass on either port or starboard. Generally, the boat being passed requests a slow pass and then slows down so that the passing boat can get by more quickly. The problem is that the wake of the passing boat can tumble the boat being passed if he is going too fast (huge wake) or is so close that the boat being passed cannot turn into the wake quickly enough and takes the large waves on his beam (side). Usually all goes just fine, as it did with these three boats traveling together. However, there is lots to say about those who do not honor the slow pass, usually sport fishing boats but also big, expensive, go-fast boats. Recently we were passed quite close, without notice, by an expensive and beautiful Sabre whose name was No Rules – go figure. This is not necessarily dangerous but is mighty uncomfortable and can cause injuries to those on the boat being passed and can make a mess of the cabin if things aren’t meticulously stowed away. You can imagine what this is like for a small fishing boat anchored at the side of the channel or river!!! Anyway, we get over it and I make lunch of turkey and cheese sandwiches, cold veggies and lots of water. Maybe a cookie or too as well. We are about halfway through today’s route to Charleston.
12:00 Jo on watch. We hear on the VHF radio that a boat ahead, Final Approach, is experiencing a dripping leak. He goes back and forth with his boat buddy in Scandia finally deciding that it is a hairline crack on the intake manifold. What he needs is “magic tape” which holds anything and everything together until a permanent fix can be made. No one nearby has any such tape but since his bilge is keeping up with the slow leak, he pushes on to his next port – kind of like continuing to drive when an idiot light comes on. BTW, magic tape is on our list to purchase. When this all settles down, Captain Jim takes a nap in the comfy chairs behind the helm.
1:00 Jim on watch. While we have great conversations about everything under the sun during these trips, we also read; take notes for the blog; catch up on email and FB; clean the boat; cook; or mostly just watch the scenery go by. We have a system that if one of us needs the other up on the helm we give one quik honk the horn.
2:00-2:30 Jo on watch. We are nearing our destination of St. John’s Yacht Harbor where we have a reservation. This is a beautiful new marina near the mouth of Elliott’s Cut, a place to stage for going through tomorrow morning.
Have I been mentioning about the really swift current? Well, Elliott’s Cut is only about 25 yards wide in one place and when the current is running in either direction it can reach 6 mph. This makes going slow, steering or meeting another boat a challenge so selecting passage at slack tide (least water movement) is advisable.
2:30-3:00 Jim on watch. He calls on the VHF radio channel 16 to the marina to get a slip assignment and some assistance with docking. There is a lovely woman on the other end of the radio with perfect directions of which boats to pass on what sides to reach our assigned slip which she reports is a port-side tie. This is important as by now I am on the deck attaching lines and bumpers at the appropriate spots for a perfect docking which we manage in a 3+ mph current and winds gusting to 23 knots on our beam and then stern as we approach the dock. Again, our confidence is building but getting complacent would be beyond foolish. We get the Namaste all nestled in her slip (adjusting and readjusting the lines and bumpers), take some deep breaths and head to shore to check in and find some grass for Sammy. Thanks for coming along on the ride with us!
We managed Elliott’s Cut the following morning and crossed Charleston Harbor in some pretty stiff winds to reach the Charleston Harbor Marina where we will ready ourselves and the Namaste for Ashleigh’s visit tomorrow! Stay tuned.
Good Boat Name: Who Knew (on a lovely old Albin just like ours)
Bad Boat Name: No Rules (traveling at top speed up the AICW making everyone’s life miserable)
Quote of the day: Blue, our Hilton Head trolley driver, “they make it look so hard,” while shaking her head and smiling as she stopped for the out-of-practice bicycle riders on island rental bikes.