May 07, 2008
We arrived at Morehead City late in the afternoon and found a great spot to dock for $10 a night, right in the middle of town. It belongs to the Sanitary Restaurant, a Morehead City institution, and we ate there that night; it was clean as its name implies, and served great fresh fish and good homestyle cooking. We dined with fellow cruisers from Marathon Key Florida, who were heading north for a summer of cruising the Chesapeake Bay. They have been living aboard their sailboat First Light, for over 20 years, and invited us aboard for a drink after dinner, they were quite an education, full of top tips and wise words. We suffered a little boat envy as it was so spacious and homely. The main reason to stop at Morehead City though was to track down my long lost university housemate Angela, which thanks to google I did. It was great to catch up after 15 years over lunch, and later pizza at her house (being in a house was a novelty too) and we met her sweet son Jack.
May 01, 2008
April 26, 2008
We arrived at the Charleston Maritime Center mid afternoon, with strong winds and current, which made for an exciting docking! The center is minutes from downtown and on the edge of the major shipping channel so subject to some big wakes, but also a great spot to watch the passing ships. Harmony shared the dock with a huge graceful old schooner, the Spirit of South Carolina, and a water taxi and tour boats, so there was always something going on. We walked all over Charleston, a lovely city on a peninsula with beautiful residential areas and historic buildings. First stop was a restaurant for some She-Crab Soup, a local delicacy that we had sampled on our last trip here a few years ago, when we drove down to meet Brian and his ship R/V Knorr.
April 23, 2008
We left the Isle of Hope behind us in Georgia and headed north into South Carolina (SC), our third state. Hoisted the main sail in St Helena Sound, and passed shrimp boats heading out to sea. We found 3 beautiful anchorages for the next 3 nights in the South Carolina Low Country, up creeks Bull, Bass and Tom Pointe; nothing but acres and acres of marshland and river as far as the eye can see. Dickie braved the water for a swim, hoping for a rendezvous with the many porpoise frolicking around Harmony’s hull, after which he donned his man-skirt (a kimono we bought in the bahamas)! Just goes to show real men can where skirts (but only at anchor when there is no one else around). Time for some more shore leave so next stop Charleston SC.
April 20, 2008
Isle of Hope is a small historical suburb of Savannah GA, tucked into a wide meander of the Skidaway river. We spent 3 nights at the marina there and had a great stay. The marina had 2 free loaner cars that we used several times to shop and track down parts (and an indian restaurant, yum). We changed the oil, and replaced the engine blower that had expired, did loads of laundry and stocked up on food. They also had bikes that we borrowed to cycle to 2 nearby restaurants, and explore the residential streets which were lined with spanish moss draped trees and beautiful southern style houses with huge shady porches. We took the bus into Savannah the last night of our stay; it was hopping along the Savannah River front, bars a plenty, crowds of people milling around and river boats and ferries docked alongside, and music on every corner.
April 17, 2008
We made it to Georgia! We left Fernandina Beach and headed north, crossed many big inlets, passing through beautiful remote marsh land and around some of the many islands along Georgia’s coast. Anchored in the marshes for 3 nights, 3 very cold nights, as the weather took a turn for the worse and we had to get out the fleeces and hats, and the winter duvet. The ICW traversing Georgia is renowned for its many shallow spots, so we were particularly careful to time our passage at high tide, especially through places like Little Mud River, Jekyll Creek, and Hell Gate. Thankfully we made it without a hitch. Next stop Savannah GA, and the Isle of Hope Marina for some much-needed shore leave!
April 14, 2008
Life on the ICW can be a perilous business for a boat. If Harmony could see all the wrecks we pass, their sails shredded, hulls exposed and decks awash, she would shudder as we do. Our next anchorage about 30 miles north of St Augustine, was strewn with abandoned boats, it must be where local vessels sail to die. One even sank overnight while we slept blissfully unaware; the previous night it was sitting very low in the water, but by the next morning in the dense fog, the only thing visible was the top of the mast.
Once the fog had cleared we crossed our first major shipping lane (at slack tide), the St Johns River, so we had BIG boats to deal with as well as the usual stuff. From there we headed for Fernandina Beach, and another 30 miles on, to the northern most point in Eastern Florida, and just south of the border with Georgia.
The town has a lovely victorian waterfront with stunning sunsets, the marina is right in the middle of things, and there is a REAL fishmongers right on the dockside; they sell only locally caught fish, so the selection is limited but super fresh, the staff are seriously salty, and they throw in a scoop of ice on top of your fishy purchase to keep it fresh. They even have a shrimp festival every May, for good reason as the local shrimp is delicious. There was only one thing wrong with Fernandina Beach, and that was the stink! South of the town is a wood pulp plant and when the wind is in the wrong direction you think you are going to puke if you don’t suffocate first! Fortunately the wind was usually favorable.
The marina has a field of mooring balls across from the town where you can tie up to for $15/night and dinghy in to enjoy the town. What a deal, and what a relief. No anchors to drag or get snagged, no bearings to take, no midnight sorties above deck just to check, and no narrow slips to dock in and expensive boats to avoid hitting… we slept better than we have in ages! Three nights on ball #10 and a thoroughly enjoyable stay, next stop Georgia.
April 09, 2008
We left the marina at sunrise after refuelling and stocking up on food and more budweiser. We had read reports of more severe shoaling at the next inlet and so we spent ages studying current and tide tables and the charts, to work out the optimum time to pass through Matanzas Inlet. All that preparation paid off, and/or we got lucky, as we passed through without a hitch, thank goodness. The ICW winds through many isolated areas of open marsh and rivers like Mosquito Lagoon, Cabbage Swamp and Alligator Creek, with not a mosquito, cabbage of alligator to be seen, but loads of porpoise and birds; it is quite lovely.
Arrived in St Augustine, the oldest city in america, and anchored for the night after our longest day of transit 58 miles. We were knackered, all that fresh air and focusing. It is a historic city with a restored spanish quarter and the huge Castillo de San Marcos overlooking the harbor; all of which we saw when we first visited there 20 years ago last February. We rented a shack on the beach, back when we were kids, so long ago! Im sure we looked out at the boats anchored here and dreamt of being on one of them; still hard to believe we actually did it. If you zoom in on the map you can see the sailboats anchored.
We had a visitor that evening, a bird landed on the bimini top, covering the cockpit and pitter pattered around till he peered through the vinyl section at us. Ive tried to identify it online, and it could be a snowy plover, but it could also be a common thrush, who knows. He was not at all scared and dickie had him feeding from his hand in no time at all, it turns out we both have inner birders! The next morning lying in the V-berth we heard the familiar pitter patter and there he was again, peering down at us through the open hatch above our heads; must have been looking for his breakfast.
April 07, 2008
April 03, 2008
I discovered my inner birdspotter in Vero Beach. Once Dickie fixed the outboard engine, we motored around the surrounding islands, binoculars at the ready, and saw several species of birds, mostly herons, and even oyster-eating racoons. We celebrated my birthday in land-lubbing style with lunch at a lovely restaurant on the Atlantic, and swam in the ocean, finished off with a sunset birding sortie.
We had a relaxing stay in Velcro Beach (as it is known in the marina) but it is time to go. Harmony is stuffed to the gills with spare parts (and full tanks of diesel), so hopefully the trip north will proceed with out any more hitches!. FIngers crossed…