Friday, November 18, 2016

The southern migration in Jacksonville in our home state!! November 6-17

We left Beaufort as planned on Sunday morning Nov 6. As we reported in the last post it was going to be a little tight.  It was a bit of a "three point turn" to clear the catamaran that was on the wall. And the bow thruster was certainly appreciated for this maneuver.  But we made it out just fine and were joined by many boats heading out of the channel early in the morning (including a brand new Fleming....what a beauty!).  And an inbound ship too!
So our trip "outside" to the Masonboro inlet was pretty much as planned.  Maybe a bit rougher than expected, but a nice ride.  As we left it was so nice to see MANY AIS targets.  While it was expensive to replace the old AIS (should have done it myself) it does work great.  Targets as far as 30 miles now show up and we don't intermittently transmit...we transmit regularly now!  A live shot of Marine Traffic showing we are visible now!

We overheard VHF transmissions on the ICW from time to time.  Glad we were outside with all the "thanks for the large wake sport fish" and "watch the shallows here" type transmissions.  It is so nice to just set a way point and let the boat find its way there!  (with an appropriate look out of course).
We entered Masonboro Inlet and proceeded to Southport. What a cute town! It warrants another visit next year. Here are some shots of our walks around town and dinner one night.

A couple shots from inside the bar area of the Fishy Fishy Café where we ate.

 What a cool house overlooking the river.

We stayed two nights and again went outside again on Tuesday, from Cape Fear and then re entering the ICW at Winyah Bay inlet near Georgetown SC.  We heard one Coast Guard transmission warning of live firing exercises outside of Oak Island so we were glad to be moving away and staying 5 nautical miles outside the zone!  And a couple ships were coming in so we had lots of company out there!
It was a little rougher with five foot swells and 2-3 foot wind waves but we did fine as it was mostly on the stern and not too "opposing"...meaning swells and wind waves were at least not at near 180 degree angles. 
We were about 20 miles offshore for a good part of the way. Another good 100 mile day!

We proceeded to the S Santee anchorage at MM 420.  A very nice spot.  Sunset photos.

And here is the sunrise!!

It was nice to have a generator to heat the boat in the morning as it was a little the low 40's!!  A nice spot too watch the election results come in!  We do like our satellite TV.

Our target on Wednesday was the S Edisto River anchorage (AKA Alligator Creek or Raccoon Island anchorage) just off the ICW at MM 509.  We left at first light.

What a beautiful spot to spend the evening.  No gator sightings...I think it is too cold for them now!   We need to keep moving south!
On Thursday we set our sites on MM 606.5, the Queen Bess anchorage.  A few seagulls followed us along the way...and dolphins were in our bow wake....the video just does not do it justice.  The sea gulls seem to follow the churned up waters in our wake to fish.  Or maybe they think we are a fishing trawler and are looking for hand outs!!

It had a 5 foot MLW "hump" on the way in but our travels in and out were at near high tide ( 7 foot tides here) so no issue.  As we entered 5+ dolphins were feeding in the area.  And just after we anchored the tide shifted and the current raged out of the creek, a good test for the anchor set.  Fortunately we are usually anchoring in mud and the anchor resets with no issue.  In fact it is usually pretty tough to break loose in the morning with it burrowed so deep in the mud.  A really nice spot!  We must say that the SC and GA salt marshes are excellent anchorages in this reasonably temperate time of year...when we came through in June it was just too hot to enjoy it!
There are definitely lots of boats still washed well aground in various locations.  A testament to just how powerful Matthew really was.  Hilton Head was definitely some of the worst. Look how far ashore this one is!
Note the damage to the barrier around the bridge.

We left on Friday bound for the Jekyll Island marina.  Not too far into the trip we got a "Lost DSM Connection" message and the depth sounder quit.  Tried restarting the Raymarine but no go.  So we headed toward Mud River, a known shallow spot and as luck would have it, it was low tide as we transited the area.  We passed one sailboat just before the area and he asked us if we could let him know the depths we were seeing....but I had to tell him we had an inoperable depth sounder!  We went much slower and only bumped bottom once.  And it was near an area not previously posted as shallow so we hailed the sailboats behind us to warn them and posted a hazard report on Active Captain to warn others.  Chart showing depth...or lack thereof.

We arrived at Jekyll Island marina around 3 PM, washed the salt from the ocean off the boat and streamed some video over their solid wifi system to relax.  Saturday morning I tore into the dash to check connections on the depth sounder module.  One seemed a little loose as I could tighten it a bit.  I was performing all the investigation with the power off.  When I switched the power on it was working!!  You have to love it when the fix is so easy!  A couple photos from our walk on Saturday.

Sunday we left bound for the anchorage at Cumberland Island that we used on the way north in August.  There was still a pretty good NE blow and St Andrews Sound was extremely "confused" as the tide was outgoing and waves incoming.  We cranked it up and plowed through the waves at about 15 MPH to smooth things out a bit.  This few miles was actually worse than the ocean travels!  The plan was to launch the dinghy and walk the island a bit.  Unfortunately the docks were still closed to the public due to hurricane damage so we stayed aboard Sum Escape and relaxed.  Our neighbor when we left...what a classic! 
We would have also like to visit Fernandina Beach again but the marina there is completely closed until further notice.  This was one of our favorite spots on the way north and we wanted to spend a few days there so we were definitely disappointed.  Lots of damage was evident as we passed. The entire transient face dock is empty....this is where we stayed in June.  Huge signs posting the marina as closed.
Here is a tug looking to get a boat off ground due to the Super moon induced extremely high tide.

Travelling through Jacksonville on way to Ortega Landing Marina.
This pleasure craft could not make it under the 50 some foot bridge!

We were fortunate to get into Ortega Landing Marina as we were on the wait list and a spot freed up for the two weeks we want to be here. It is about 25 miles upstream on the St John from the ICW but well worth the trip in our opinion.   A very nice marina....Bellingham floating docks, free laundry, a nice pool/hot tub, a large clubhouse, grills, patio furniture, super friendly and helpful staff and only three blocks from a nice Publix.  We can see why there is a waiting list!  Here is our view from the deck outside the clubhouse.  We enjoy the sunset here each evening.

A nice clubhouse.
And an overview of the clubhouse and pool.

The super moon!

On Tuesday we took a walk to the Avondale neighborhood.  What a nice shopping and restaurant district.  And wonderful homes to view on the walk too.  Stopped at an Italian restaurant and picked up lunch to bring back to the boat.  The cannoli was really good!
Wed and Thursday we did boat chores....changed the oil on both engines and generator, went to get fuel, took down the torn bimini (small tear from Matthew) to be repaired, cleaned upholstery on flying bridge, did laundry, cleaned the inside of the boat and began to organize to go visiting for Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow is supposed to be another glorious day so maybe we will relax after our walk and enjoy a little time at the pool.  It will be our first pool day since August in the Chesapeake! 
Doing "yoga" installing the oil filter.  Yes I'm back there...and the engine room is plenty warm!
We also spoke to one of our Looper friends and learned they were selling their house in Ohio and had bought a home in Southport!  They also remarked how much more busy they were with activities and chores on the boat than at home.  We agree.  It does seem there is always something to fix or clean!  We will definitely have to stop to see you in Southport  Jim and Kathy!!

Our friends Dave and Sue from Holland have a condo in Jacksonville Beach and are going to stop by to visit this weekend.   Another great opportunity to see friends from Michigan!  Hopefully the weather will be as great as it has been all week.

We have now travelled over 6000 miles since leaving Michigan in August 2015.  Hard to believe!
We are so looking forward to seeing family and friends during our planned short Thanksgiving trip to Michigan!!   See some of you soon!!  More in a week or 10 days.....thanks for following.

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