We left Beaufort for Wrightsville Beach on Monday October 21. Along the way we were passed by many high speed military vessels….they don’t do “slow passes”!
It was an 82 mile run so we arrived later in the day but were able to wash the salt off the boat and get a walk in before dinner. And dinner was such a pleasant surprise! On our walk we discovered a small fish market only a few blocks from the marina. We bought fresh shrimp, scallops and grouper. So good!!
This marina apparently knows they are in the middle of migration season given the $180 we paid for one night on the face dock. This is about double the average price we usually pay for a transient night. But it was a nice stop with friendly and helpful staff.
Tuesday we left for Myrtle Beach, the Barefoot Marina, about 70 miles down the ICW. We had to traverse the famous "rock pile" area of the ICW and we did so without incident!
Just exploring a bit, no meals or shopping there for us. Really just our exercise for the day. One can see how busy this place would be in the summer tourist season but pretty quiet on a Tuesday in late October. But it was a beautiful day for walking with temps in the mid 70’s.
Next stop was Georgetown, the Harborwalk Marina. We have stayed here at least 4 times now and always enjoy Georgetown. It was a very calm day so Julie decided to practice her docking skills. She did her normal well done docking. We visited the grocery store and took a nice walk including visiting another fresh seafood shop for some more shrimp and scallops.
We even found a local parade and the theme was all about prevention of bullying in schools and the community.
And to continue to keep her skills fresh, Julie backed at an angle to get out of the slip, down the fairway between boats on each side and around the corner into the harbor in the morning as we left. Both of these practice sessions were performed from the upper helm, which she had never used for docking, only anchoring situations. We believe this is a safety requirement for each of us to be able to operate the boat, so these practice sessions are good. As Julie gains more confidence we will have to consider having her captain into slips all the time, thus Tom can handle lines with a longer reach and more strength. We also saw fellow Gold Loopers Daryll and Cindy (Nectar) at the docks here.
On Thursday we departed for Isle of Palms. Arriving at the marina.There was a very nice Harris Teeter for groceries and we took a neighborhood walk on Friday morning before leaving for our next anchorage as well. Nice island.
The Togoodoo Creek anchorage was only about 40 miles so we did not leave isle of Palms till around noon. Along the way to our next anchorage.
So we always set an anchor alarm with a reasonable tolerance (we use anchor rode length X 2, plus 50 foot drag/reset allowance) to awaken us should it not reset. Fortunately, in all our anchoring our anchor has reset within the tolerance, usually with only a short drag/reset distance. The only anchor alarms that have awakened us were for low battery or lost GPS signal. The salt marshes are beautiful to anchor in with sunsets, sunrises and often feeding dolphin and other wildlife to entertain you.
Next stop was Beaufort SC (BU FORT, SC, not BO FORT, NC). We stayed at the city marina and enjoyed our walks around the historic houses. We like the historic architecture sites here. Much less crowded than Savannah, but much the same. Lots of quaint shops, nice restaurants and a solid marina. Always a great stop for us here. Our friends Steve and Debbie (Gypsies Palace) were on a mooring ball there and stopped by to say hello as well.
On Sunday we went to Shelter Cove Marina on Hilton Head, only a 30 mile trip. We have never stayed all the way up Broad Creek as the miles of no wake into the marina seemed “out of the way” in previous years. But we had great recommendations from many to try it and we did like it very much. Our automatic routing suggested a short cut over a charted 4 foot area and given we had an additional 5 foot of tide we used it. Well, I’ll confess, a local 50 footer had just gone that way so we were confident and yes we had 9 feet of water over the area. And it cut over two miles of regular speed and two miles of no wake travel out of our day, probably a 45 minute short cut in all.
A Whole Foods and a Kroger were in easy walking distance and we were able to restock the pantry so to speak. Great bike trails (although we walked them) are all around the area. We too would recommend the marina and its location, very protected, great folks and reasonable fees including free laundry.
On Tuesday October 29 we anchored in the Wahoo River. It rained in the afternoon as we were arriving, in fact we slowed down to let lightning pass before we (Tom) had to go out on deck to set the anchor. It was still raining when we anchored, but the lightning had passed.
We had quite a bit of rain so no star gazing but a peaceful night with a couple well lit shrimp boats anchored nearby as well.By the way, the alarm built into Aqua Map that we run on the iPad is the best. Easy to set the anchor location, does not lose the GPS signal, takes very little battery power and plots your track within the tolerance you set displaying location relative to anchor. Very nice.
On October 30 we arrived at Jeckyll Island, one of our favorite stops. Along the way, we passed the beached and overturned freighter that has been in the entrance to St Simons Island and will be for some time while they dismantle her and remove it. This picture does not do it justice as it is a huge ocean going car transport vessel on its side.
We always try to see our old neighbors John and Becky who live on Saint Simons Island nearby when we come to this area. And we were lucky that they were available for dinner at the Driftwood Bistro on Halloween night. It was great seeing you John and Becky, thanks for providing the transportation and great company! Sunset as we returned from our great dinner and conversation.
Our boat insurance requires us to be north of 31 degrees North latitude from June 1 to November 1 each year for hurricane season. Jeckyll Island is just barely north of 31 degrees so we were poised to go further south on November 1. We had made a reservation at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville for the month of November so off we went on November 1. It was an 80 mile trip and we had tidal currents to deal with along the way. We were fortunate that most of the currents were with us, including the strong currents in the St Johns River which we rode with all the way to Ortega. We did have two delays along the way. One area we had to travel through was the King’s Bay submarine naval area near Cumberland island. We have previously seen a sub way in the distance coming in from sea, in fact we were asked to keep moving along that time. Actually we were “escorted” to keep moving along. Well today, one was outbound and it was right ahead of us! They are certainly large and the photos do not do it justice. It moved along around 8 MPH so we had to slow to stay behind it for 3 miles or so. But it was worth it to see it so close up.
The second delay was the railroad bridge right in downtown Jacksonville. It is open except when a train is coming but that was today, a slow moving train came and took a good 15 minutes to clear the bridge. We motored in circles as the current was pushing us toward the bridge. No complaints though, the current behind us was welcome.
Upon arrival in Ortega, many hands were on the dock to catch lines. Fellow Gold Loopers Tom and Carol (Destination??) in the next slip and George and Rachel (Rachel) who we met in Longboat a couple years ago all greeted us. We were able to wash the boat and get to Publix before dark. We even got our flu vaccines done at the Publix pharmacy . Ortega is a very convenient marina location.
We know our month here will be a good one. We have some travel scheduled to see our children and celebrate Thanksgiving with Mom, have some friends scheduled to stay aboard for a few days and will enjoy walking the neighborhoods here.
We have travelled over 3000 miles this year since leaving Grand Haven, MI on May 30. We will go to Longboat Key in December and use it as “home base” to cruise the west coast of Florida perhaps visiting as far north as Tarpon Springs and south to Marathon or Key West. We have plenty of friends to visit and waters to explore there. We do not intend to go to the Abacos, Bahamas this year due to the devastation from Hurricane Dorian. It is so sad to see phots of our favorite cruising grounds in ruins. We pray that all the wonderful families we met over the years there are safe and can rebuild their homes and businesses in short order.
We promise to update again soon.