Brenda LaPointe

May 082022
 

We scoped out the entrance to Shelter Cover Marina in “Otter” at low tide last evening. Found the deep spots where the mother ship could go with at least 6 feet available. So a slow move out this morning at low tide but completely feeling relaxed with our sounding depths.

More grasslands to report but no more large green eyed flies. The fans on the electronics are working well with no man overboards to report.

Scott has found a small dock at a fisheries place in Mosquito Creek that we will be staying at tonight. No power but all we need is a dock to tie to. We both are disappointed at our no anchor situation and marinas will have to be booked before we even know a schedule due to the sheer amount of boaters heading north or staying in marinas due to covid boat buying. We have played dialing for marinas a couple times now but it is now a challenge as we have no alternative.

We can’t get to the dock at the fisheries until after 4:00 today so we take our time getting there. More grasslands, a few dolphins, lots of gulls and several other boaters are here on the ICW today. Not much new.

The dock at the fisheries is a good solid dock. There is a shrimp boat here for their business. Scott heads inside and comes out with a pound of fresh shrimp for me for Mother’s Day. All for me as he doesn’t eat shellfish. Benet’s Point is a sleepy area with not much going on. The shirmp place, an oyster place and a couple folks homes dot the shores but that is about it. It is a great stopover nonetheless.

May 072022
 

Waking the next morning we hoist up the anchor only to find that the windlass ( the anchor winch) is struggling. It is struggling to the point of not coming up. Scott is very efficient in using the boat to bring up the anchor and not using the windlass other than to bring up the chain yet it is unable to lift. After several attempts and Scott coming to the bow to help get the anchor engaged the anchor is settled in its cradle. Phewwww, that could have been some drama.

At this point he figures we cannot rely on the anchor coming up so we have to head to a marina where he can do some research on the windless. I find a nice marina in Hilton Head which will be considered a side trip as the marina will be about 45 minutes to an hour off the ICW.

The trip down the river shows the wealth of this little island. Huge multi million dollar homes and properties line the shore. There is an area on the island that is restricted to homeowners only. Must be some big names that have homes there. The river is deep with at least 15 feet below us until we reach the marina entrance. It is a narrow passage that shallows quickly. We are at high tide and see some concerning depths of about 6 feet. With a 7 foot tide that should make it interesting getting out of here.

Our slip is way back on I dock. Not a lot of space between vessels in here but with no wind Scott masters it like the pro he is. Now tucked into the slip he begins looking for information on the windless and where we can play pickleball.

The marina is a resort, abreast to the Disney Hilton Head Resort. There are shops, restaurants, entertainment all on ground level and condos and rentals to about 12 stories. The marina is beautifully landscaped. We head out for a walk and find that the grounds throughout are very natural in the setting. Flowers, trees, paths are very well landscaped. Meandering paths for bicycles are the norm with paved paths everywhere you want to go. There are bike paths in Palmetto Palms county throughout. A courtesy van will pick you up at any point in Palmetto Palms County here on Hilton Head Island. I wouldn’t say folks are friendly here though. We have definitely left the hospitality of the South.

Scott finds us pickleball for the morning and continues the windless research. He finds that the manual operation of the windless is an option that yacht manufacturers don’t usually buy. It is an add on. What that means is that if you have an issue bringing up your anchor you have no way of bringing it up. We have never had a boat without the manual operation so this was news. Scott ordered the parts but now we have no way of recovery if the windless fails. That means marinas for the duration of the trip.

We play pickleball at the Palmetto Palms Tennis Club, bike around the county. We have also been having an issue with electronics overheating in the 90 degree heat. We run to Walmart and buy 2 more fans. Scott takes apart the ceiling in the bath and now it has significant ventilation. Hopefully this helps with the 1 display not working or throwing out “man overboard” signals which crashes all the electronics. Boat maintenance in exotic place…..right?

It’s Scott’s birthday too. We celebrate with a special home cooked meal and carrot cake where we had our first instacart grocery delivery. Not sure I would use it again. Happy Birthday Captain!!

May 042022
 

We are up early to catch more dolphins feeding in our anchorage. Always a sight as these graceful creatures work together in family pods. There are less and less of them now as we move north.

Off early to catch the rising tide, we leave just after low tide. Depths are good with lots of clearance. Still making our way through the grasslands and open sounds to the ocean and passing more Looper boats we make our way through Ossabawa Sound to Hell’s Gate. Our goal is to get to Hell’s Gate at a high tide as most of these boats we pass are also doing.

Have I mentioned these big green eyed flies………………………

Hell’s Gate is a notorious channel that is narrow with shoals on either side. The shoals change often due to the large open sounds leading to the Atlantic Ocean. As we are crossing the sound we are with at least 5 other boats looking to pass through at high tide. We didn’t have any issues at all in this channel. Nothing less than 9 feet depth.

The grasslands and marshes are starting to all look the same. Open areas that when the tide is high you see only the tops of the grasses. At low tide, 7 feet lower, you see all the roots of the grasses and the mud along the shorelines. Scott finds us a large anchorage in Vernon River where houses line the one side of the shore on one side and grasslands on the other.

The mosquitos have come out and we make our way inside the boat earlier than usual. We start up the gen to charge batteries and watch TV before bed. The anchorage is quiet with 2 sailboats there. Rumour has it they are fishing boats for the locals. Another sailboat joins us for the night as we enjoy a peaceful night.

May 032022
 

These dang flies. They bite hard…….on the To Buy list will be a flyswatter. Scott has reverted to the 1970 rolled magazine camping swatter. It works well but leaves a mess. Between the fly and noseeum bites we both are scratching our way through our tan.

East River Anchorage is an amazing anchorage. We woke to pods of dolphins gathering breakfast while we sipped our morning tea on the back deck. Leaving a bit later than usual to catch the rising tide we continue the journey through the marshlands of Georgia. The depths are very good with nothing less than 10 feet. Tides are with us and against us at various spots along this stretch. There is a lot of boat movement too. We pass, and are passed, by several boats looking to stay on the rising tide. Most are headed north.

We are looking for games of pickleball. As it turns out pickleball games are easy to find. It is the marina that is difficult to find. The slips in all the marinas are full in and around Savannah. We had lined up to play a few games however we must cancel due to not having the boat secured. We continue to seek those games in the next towns and cities we pass. We will find something, somewhere. It’s just dialing for marina space as we all start the trek north. During these after covid times it seems that there are more boats on the water and the marinas cannot accommodate them all.

Duplin River is a great anchorage but can be rolly if the winds and tides are against each other. For the first hour that is what we have. Knowing the winds will die down we hold well with our anchor. The ferry provides a distraction as it takes folks to and from Sapelo Island to the mainland. OMG, these dang flies……….

We tune into our yacht club for an up to date member meeting and we are able to see our friends from the dock. We so enjoy catching up and seeing everyone. After the meeting we sit on the back deck and watch a fabulous lightning show that radar shows should pass just north of us. The show lasts for a couple hours while the lightning in the clouds pass the time away.

During the night our anchor alarm goes off showing that we have dragged about 300 feet. We are fine but a sailboat had anchored aft and we were concerned if we would drag more so I stayed up for a bit to be sure our anchor had set again. An anchor can do this because of the 180 degree shift in current. The anchor will have to pivot to accommodate the boat changing its direction due to being pushed by the current, or wind. We are all set again so off to bed it is waking to an early morning to catch the high tide.

May 022022
 

The tides they are a’changin. Leaving the dock in Jacksonville the tides will increase to 7 feet on our way to the East River where we will anchor for the night. It is a wide open anchorage in between a shellfish growing area which is restricted to anchor in. Upon low tide we see a crab pot pop up which is obviously illegal. Our guess is that it is on a short line so that it is only visible at low tide which most people do no travel in. It is on the port side by the first anchor mark in Navionics. Go to the second anchor mark and you will miss it as you spin with the tide reversal.

We arrive just after lunch. The marshlands to the anchorage are the most spectacular to date. We are in Georgia now. These lowlands, marsh areas and huge tidal swings make for a new experience to the boater. They lands are flat with grasslands where you can see for miles but see nothing at all. It all looks the same. As we arrive the winds are mild and the anchorage is not busy. We will be the only boat here tonight. I can’t wait to see all the stars as there is not a cloud in the sky and no light pollution. We have found that in the last couple days we are back in bug country. Green large flies have found us today. They are a very large house fly with brilliant green eyes, but bite hard when thirsty. Taking in the scenery for awhile but then upload more pictures to the blog, enjoy the peace of this space, have a nice dinner and likely a movie night. We will have a couple extra exterior lights on tonight as we are in the middle of this small river. We are planning out the next couple days anchorage spots, cruising with the tides rising and making our way north. The depths have been good with at the very least an 8 foot clearance.

May 012022
 

At this point in our journey the tides become very important or should I say the timing of tides and travel become important. The tides run around 5 feet starting up to Jacksonville. That means that at low tide you are now 5 feet lower in the water than you are at high tide which can create some very skinny water if traveling at low tide. We head out from the marina later than usual to follow the tides. The scenery to get to Jacksonville is very low, marshlands, open spaces with the estate homes dotted here and there. The homes are massive with decks along the shoreline. There are a lot of low speed, minimum wake areas. We are not in a hurry and it has become interesting seeing everything at about 10 mph.

It is a Sunday and local boaters are out in plenty. We arrive at the Jacksonville dock to find 1 boat there. It is a sturdy dock with 1 spigot for water and about 300 ft of dockage space. The fisher folks are out in droves catching their fill on the dock that we must tie lines to. They are pleasant and move as they see us coming in. There is a sunken boat held at the dock with lines. It seems to be floating but it is releasing oils or gas into the water. It has been there some time and it takes up valuable boat tying real estate as we watch 3 more boats tie up at the dock filling up the available space. Two more boats show up later but there is no space. They are forced to anchor nearby.

We were here in 2017 and not much has changed other than it is really busy with day trippers with their trucks and trailers lined up all the way to the street. The day docks are full of activity and at low tide sit on the bottom of the shoreline.

Cheri Baby, Beautiful Dawn and Eros, all loopers and we have docktails on the dock as we listen to the thunder in the distance and watch for the rain that is yet to come, which it did not. It was a quiet night with comfortable dock space.

Apr 292022
 

Our Raymarine display is acting up and it is the master unit. So when it has issues or shuts down so does our other display and navigation. Not a great feeling when you loose the road map and depth finder. So Scott will take some time here in St. Augustine to fix this problem.

Traveling to St. Augustine is similar to the last few days. Speed zones, homes on the rivers, pristine landscape. We had some dolphins playing in our wake but they were camera shy. It is an easy cruise for the Captain once again.

Here at the marina Scott gets to work under the dash to work on the display units. It takes him a few hours but it is up and running again, including the water temperature gauge that we lost months ago. He isn’t sure if it was loose connections or the unit overheating in the sun. If it continues to act up now at least it is the slave unit so it won’t shut down both navigations. If it doesn’t have anymore issues then it was likely loose connections which we wouldn’t be surprised about.

I get some laundry done and catch up on the blog. It is so windy that we have waves in the small bay with over 20 knt winds on the stern. We are again thankful for an easy entrance slip in these crazy winds. We will be here for 2 nights as we get this done and grab a game of pickleball at a local place with 4 courts. They play Saturday mornings so tomorrow we will make our way there.

Best pickleball play ever on this trip. All players were at least 3.5 and most a 4.0. I only played 3 games as I was way out of my league at a steady 3.5. Scott had some great games and wore himself out. It did take an Uber to get to Treaty Park but it was so worth it. Back at the boat we plan our next few days. We know there is a first come, first served free dock on the north side of Jacksonville so that is our plan A. Plan B would be if it is full then we will anchor near there. I wash the boat thoroughly and Scott gets caught up on all the work for the company, including taxes. We decide to go to the Conch House Restaurant for a dinner date. Food was okay, not great but the atmosphere is amazing. They have several of these bird nest dinner spots that overhang the water. It is a great concept and makes this place very popular along with its beautiful grounds.

Apr 282022
 

The easterly winds have picked up as we move out of our slip at the Yacht Club. It was an easy entrance and slip to get out off as Scott placed the bow out when we came in so now we just cruise out. Thank goodness. These easterlies just don’t let up.

We were supposed to stay 2 nights at the yacht club but they overbooked. So we found a place a bit north for another night. The anchorages in this area are tough for our size boat as we need so much swing room and old sunken derilicts are taking up a lot of prime anchorage space. You don’t see them until you are almost on top of them. So when it is tight we just go to a marina here in Florida.

It is another day of meandering rivers with homes along the shores with beautiful scenic marshes. A well marked channel and at least 10 feet or more is welcomed by the captain as we make our way to Palm Coast.

This marina is a gated community with a resort atmosphere. A restaurant, pool, resort, tennis, but no pickleball, and lovely grounds is a welcome sight for a tired cruiser. This area is less traveled and not much is around here. The main A1A is outside the gates. So we opt for an early evening and prepare the journey for tomorrow to St. Augustine.

Apr 272022
 

Getting up a bit later than usual we know we are moving north to Daytona. Scott is able to find a Yacht Club that has 4 pickleball courts on its grounds. We haven’t played in a couple days so we are fixing for a game.

Going to Daytona from the south has a lot of speed zones. We usually run about 9 knots or so with a current push if the tides are in our favour. Homes are adjacent to the water’s edge so there is reason to make less wake. With all the pristine lands around the manatees are moving further north at this time of the year so wake zones and a slow pace are in order. It’s an easy passage and we enjoy this part of Florida with its well marked channels and not too much traffic.

The Halifax River Yacht Club has a pool, restaurant, bar, pickleball courts, learn to sail program, a boater’s lounge and ferel cats. Yes, there are kitties. I get my fix of cat cuddles after the alpha male accepts me. Ridley, Catalina, Grayson, Thomas, and two more that wouldn’t come around me all call this boater’s lounge home. One of the members, Frankie, takes care of them. They are drop offs from unwarranted owners. In the long run this is a better home for them. The grounds are beautiful, they are fed daily, have a safe place to run, away from traffic, are neutered or spayed, have check ups and regular flea meds, and get love when they want it. The members take pride in their presence but Frankie and her husband, Scott, have captured the hearts of these little furs.

The firemen are playing pickleball so we head over and get in on some games. Mostly they only play themselves but us new folks give them a good few games. It is a great afternoon of fire and water!

Apr 262022
 

A really nice night on the hook. The winds died down for awhile. Heading north today to Titusville, Florida the home of Cape Canaveral. The trip north is pristine with natural rivers meandering through small towns. There are a lot of boathouses, decks, homes along the shoreline on one side and swamp on the other. The bugs are starting to make appearances as more fresh water is available. Hornets, butterfies, moths and some pesky black beetle bugs visit us regularly.

Not much to write about with this journey as the landscape looks so similar. We arrive in the afternoon to an anchorage about 3 miles away from the launch. Space X is sending Falcon 9 to the ISS with 4 astronauts. It is their second manned flight. The launch is still expected to go off on schedule at 4:00 AM so we set our alarms and look forward to the history making launch.

3:30 AM BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. It’s time for the launch. Scott sets up the IPad with Space TV and we take in the preshow showing the command centre and the countdown of checklists in the final few minutes prior to launch. We are so close to it that the lights from the launch pad are shining on the water in the anchorage. There are 4 boats here taking in the flight. We expected far more but it is 4 AM afterall.

3,2,1, blast off……as always the light show from the engines light up on the ground and propel the spaceship higher and higher. Then comes the sound of the thrusters, engines and all the night is lit up with the rocket blast. It climbs higher and higher into the sky as we watch til we cannot see it anymore. We watch to see if we are able to see the booster coming back to earth on a remote controlled barge in the Atlantic Ocean. We are not able to see it at all. However on the Space TV network we are able to see that the booster landed perfectly on the barge. Literally in the centre of the X on the barge. That is amazing! With no more to see we wander back to bed and sleep the rest of the night away.