Here is the link for the Keys and Back Slideshow: www.sailawaywebdesign.com/keysandback.html. Sorry it has taken so long to post! I promise to post the wrap up of our adventure this next week. I am currently in Ocracoke and meeting lots of really great people. First week of officially living aboard! More to come soon!
Here is the link for the St. Augustine/Southern Florida slideshow: www.sailawaywebdesign.com/staugustine.html.
We finally made it out of Brunswick and headed down the ICW. We had to leave a little bit later than we liked so that we would hit Jekyll Creek around high tide. The conditions were much better than the day before and we made fairly decent time. Jekyll Creek did prove to be a little challenging. We had only one foot of water under the keel at times and had to “feel” our way along at times. The shoaling was not as bad about half way through the creek and the rest of that portion was not as difficult (thank goodness we only draw four feet!).
We were aiming for either St. Mary’s or Fernandina Beach. St. Mary’s seemed like a nice town near Cumberland Island but was a little out of the way. We opted for Fernandina Beach which is the first town in Florida along the ICW and Joe Murphy had recommended it. We hailed the Fernandina Harbor Marina and they told us where to dock. They originally had us in this narrow alley with about 35 feet of space for our 32 feet of overall length. We would have had to back in either going in or coming out and those that have been following along know how difficult that can be. We hailed them again and they were kind enough to put us on their side floating docks (score another point for 4 foot draft!). We docked and went up to talk to the Dockmaster. The original rate for the impossible docking spot was $1.85/foot and the new rate for our easy parking job spot was $1.25/foot. Interesting that this rate wasn’t offered to begin with…
We went up to take showers and everyone was kind enough to let me take the first shower because of my Megadock experience. After the shower, I went to the lounge area to tag up with the next person and they were talking to a guy named Eric. It turns out that he had bought a Catalina 27 in VA and was planning on sailing it down the East Coast and eventually down to Honduras. He was asking advice from Jimmy and Julia about the trip. He didn’t have any sailing experience but seemed like an adventurous guy. We invited him out to dinner with us.
A guy named John at the dock recommended Luigi’s as a nice spot for a quality yet reasonably priced dinner. We eventually found our way there (thanks to some quick work with Ryan’s Droid X) and went inside. It looked like a nice little romantic, quaint spot but apparently John’s definition of reasonable was a little different from ours ($15-$20 entrees). The bartender, a different John, recommended Pablo’s where his fiancée Stephanie worked. We headed there and the menu looked much more like our definition of reasonable. Stephanie was surprised to hear us request her by name and happily seated us. We had a wonderful dinner and a few drinks. I ordered the Shrimp a la Diabla and it was decently spicy (for those that know me, I am always on the quest for a super spicy meal).
After a while and our fill of chips and salsa we headed over to the Palace Saloon. Rodger, the Dockmaster, had recommended it and said to order the Pirate Juice (something like a punch version of an LIT). I ended up ordering the overpriced drink and we looked for a place to sit. The bar itself was pretty interesting. It had three distinct rooms. The first room had a live jazz band and was nice but not quite what we were looking for our Wednesday night adventure. The next room was your standard bar with games and more dance-like music. There was a large, fairly loud group of people in the corner who apparently had quite the head start on us already. They were overall a fairly unique looking group (some very cute girls and a few with green and pink hair) and definitely from out of town. We moved to the final room which had several pool tables and a juke box. I played a couple of rounds of pool but ended up spending quite a bit of time at the Pirates of the Caribbean pinball machine. I love pinball…a lot:) This happened to be the same machine that was at Brogen’s in Brunswick. I earned an extra game there for 7,000,000 but the free game here was 25,000,000! I played for a while and ended up with 37,000,000 as my high score.
While I was in there, the large group of people were kicked out. There wasn’t any scuffle or anything but apparently the bouncer had a problem with them. No one else around knew what the problem was. Jimmy and Ryan called it an early night and went back to the boat. Julia, Eric and I hung out for awhile but the bar was a little too loud and obnoxious for our tastes. We decided to head to another one across the street called the Dog Starr Tavern. We went in and it turns out the group had decided to set up shop in there instead. We ordered drinks and I went up to a lady that was a little bit older than the rest. I ask her what happened at the Palace Saloon. It turns out that she owned a hair salon named On the Go Spa in St. Mary’s and they were having their Christmas party in Fernandina Beach. The bouncer’s girlfriend had put a purse down near their table and one of the girls moved it. The girlfriend complained to the bouncer and he kicked them out. They seemed fine at their new location and were having fun there.
They eventually started hanging out with Zach the Bartender behind the bar and serving as DJ on the iPod as well. I started helping out with the music responsibilities and ended up “working” behind the bar the rest of the night. I took over the fancy ten button drink nozzle and served out water. Zach also let me pour my own drinks from the tap too (I still had to pay though:) The girls, who turned out to be hairdressers at the salon, all started dancing on top of the bar. It turned out to be a really fun night and they said we should stop in if we are ever in St. Mary’s.
We woke up to leave around 9:00 and we quickly found out why our slip wasn’t offered to us in the first place. It was low tide and we were pretty much stuck in the mud and the tide was still going down. We had to get the boat out or else we would have to wait until 12:00 or so when the water came back up! After about 20 minutes of work we were finally able to get the boat out and to the pump out station. We had a few issues with the nozzle fitting our deck outlet but finally made a late departure heading south.
We had a nice warm day and really wanted to make it in to St. Augustine that night. Jimmy has some family friends there who were also cruisers and offered to host us for dinner. We knew that we would not be able to make it to St. Augustine because of our late departure and it turned out we could not even make it to Piney Island, a supposedly nice anchorage along the ICW. We stopped in at Jacksonville Beach for the night with plans to make it to St. Augustine the next day. The marina was fairly nice but there was not much around. We took showers and went to Billy’s Boat House for Happy Hour. I arrived first and worked on business things for awhile and slowly everyone trickled in after their showers. Julia arrived with some pretty exciting news. She discovered a huge arcade right down the road from us. So we made a plan to enjoy dinner and refreshments at the Boat House and head over to the arcade for awhile. Julia treated us to 100 tokens and we ran around and had a blast at Adventure Landing. We talked the prize counter guy into giving us way more prizes than we deserved for our modest ticket collection but I think he was actually just ready to close up for the night and see us off.
We had an easy day down to St. Augustine the next day and made it in around 3 pm. We checked in at the office and decided to stay in a mooring field near downtown. The rates were about $20/night and seemed pretty reasonable. We successfully picked up our mooring and got things ready to head into town. Jimmy’s friends Peter and Gina (pronounced Geena) were at J.P. Henley’s across the street. It was Happy Hour and they had at least 50 different beers on tap. The Starrs treated us to our first round and we had a really nice time hanging out for a while. They own a Saga 50 (I believe) and have sailed from Maine to Florida and the Bahamas many times. They offered lots of good advice and some really interesting stories.
They needed to head home so we said our goodbyes. As they were leaving and making their dinner recommendations for us, another couple was walking by and overheard our conversation. They stopped in to listen to the good advice. They were sailors as well and had just come into St. Augustine. Rorke (sorry if I butchered your name!) and Sherry decided to head back into J.P. Henley’s with us and hang out for awhile. Rorke is a software developer and owns his own business. He bought a Pearson Triton 28 and sailed it down from the VT area for a three month stint while working from his boat (sound familiar?:). He treated us to the next round and we headed over to Mojito’s for dinner. Mojito’s was pretty tasty Cuban food but a little pricey. Our waiter was nice but really tried to up sell us on everything! It wore on us a little bit but we survived. After that we went over to Kilwin’s for ice cream.
Rorke had a sad tale of boat problems to tell us. He had fouled one of his lines in his prop and a tough time getting it off. He ended up pulling the boat on to a shoal and waiting for low tide. He was able to free the line and sail it into St. Augustine after the tide came in. As he was coming into the dock the next day he threw a stern line to someone on the dock. They dropped it in the water. He quickly threw a second line and the man dropped that one as well! Before he knew it the line was fouled in his prop again! What bad luck! He was having trouble getting the line off and said he might need some help the next day. We said our goodbyes and went back to the boat for the night.
We packed our things for the day and went to take showers. I set my stuff down on the bench by the shower and came out to find that someone happened to like the looks of my sunglasses a little more than their current pair and swapped them out for mine. Not cool! I went and told the Dockmaster just in case someone decided to turn them in. So with squinty eyes, I headed out with Ryan and Jimmy into St. Augustine in search of a nice breakfast spot.
While we were at the Bunnery, Rorke called and requested our help and offered cold drinks for our service. He had rigged up his spinnaker halyard to a cleat on the dock and was able to crank in a winch and tilt the boat over. After several tries he was in position and I was the one that actually cut the line off with a really sharp knife clamped onto a boathook. It worked and his prop was free! We celebrated in his cockpit and then headed out to a sailing consignment shop that he had found the previous day. We walked to Sailor’s Exchange and bought a harness to help us go up the mast (I forgot the tree climbing harness Tom was going to let me borrow!).
We came back to the boat to fuel up and prepare for our trip offshore the next day. We wanted to make a final run offshore from St. Augustine to Ft. Lauderdale. Peter picked us up for dinner at his house in his 1956 Oldsmobile convertible at 5:00 pm. The car was gorgeous and in amazing condition! Peter owned quite a few Toyota dealerships and apparently had a nice classic car collection. We turned to go up the bridge and the car started sputtering and turned off. We are right in the middle of the St. Augustine Bridge around rush hour! Peter was able to signal to the opposite lane of traffic and roll down into a turning lane at the base of the bridge. Traffic was way too heavy to push the car to another location. The car had never had problems before! Peter started diagnosing the engine and trying to figure out the problem. A guy named Dan pulled up on his Harley and was pretty helpful in trying to figure out the problem. Peter needed a part from his house (only a few miles away) and in no time Peter was on the back on Dan’s Harley and they were speeding across the bridge. Once they were back (with a Prius just in case) it turned out to be a fuel pump problem and we couldn’t fix it on the spot. A police officer finally showed up and helped us move the car to a better spot. Peter called AAA but they said that it might be as much as an hour or so before they would be able to make it. A tow truck came by and a nice guy named Jeff offered to tow the beautiful car for free as an early Christmas present (he wasn’t associated with AAA). Peter gladly accepted and 20 minutes later we were pushing the car into the garage next to a pristine Toyota 2000 GT.
Gina had prepared a wonderful beef stew and we had a great time hanging out and sharing stories. Peter and Gina were such nice hosts and it was so relaxing to have a good meal at home off the boat. We looked at the weather forecast together for our offshore run and he advised us against going out on Saturday and that we should wait for the more favorable weather on Sunday. They had several cats in their house and I was quickly reminded of my cat allergy:) After a really nice visit, they dropped us off at Scarlett O’Hara’s several blocks from our boat. It was Friday night and we figured we would enjoy the night since we were not going to leave the next day. We ended up leaving Scarlett O’Hara’s and spending most of the night at the Trade Winds near our boat. Right before we called it a night we went over to A1A and then had a great philly cheesesteak at South Philly’s next door. Julia had found her way there earlier that night and it turned out that she and the owner were from the same town in Pennsylvania.
We woke up the next morning to work on our anchor light problem (a white light used when anchoring that we found out wasn’t working on our first anchor out…) at the top of the mast. We rigged up the Mast Step system that Joe Murphy had loaned us and used the harness that Jimmy had bought the day before at the consignment store as a backup on the jib halyard. Jimmy went about halfway up but the harness was really uncomfortable and he decided to come down for a rest. Julia went up to the top and after several relays of pictures and verbal exchanges she removed the anchor light and we decided to take it on shore to have it tested out. It was the perfect day for going up the mast because it was nice and calm with almost no wind. A quick diagnosis at the dockmaster’s office determined that the light worked and it must be a wiring problem. We went for lunch and then headed back to the boat to put the light back on.
We stopped by a boat named Klondike on the way in and asked if we could borrow a proper bosun’s chair. The owner was very nice and lent us his chair. He asked if one of us would help him go up his mast after we were down and we agreed. I went up this time and replaced the light and took a few photos from up top. It was really fun and there was beautiful view of the town. Don, the owner of Klondike, came over in his dinghy as we were finishing up. We followed him to his boat to help him fix a navigation light. This guy was awesome! He and his wife had sailed Klondike around the world and were getting ready to take it through the canal to San Francisco. He had a power drill with a special bit that attached to the winch. All I had to do was press a button and he zipped on up the mast! He was done in a matter of minutes and then he gave us a tour of the boat. It was a beautiful boat and he told us some fun stories of his adventures. He was planning on leaving early the next morning around 7 am just like us to head offshore to Ft. Lauderdale. We wished him luck and headed back to shore. We all discussed our plans at the dock and came up with our plan for the rest of the night. Ryan and Julia went to play putt putt and I went to work on the St. Augustine slideshow for the blog (you’re welcome:). Jimmy had to finish up an application so we went back to J.P. Henley’s.
Ryan and Julia came in after an epic battle of putt putt and we went in search of a dinner spot. We walked across the street to O.C. White’s. We went to the hostess station to look at menus and it was a bit above our price range. The hostess was so nice though! She asked what kind of food we were looking for and made a recommendation for a burrito place a few blocks away. She was so beautiful and friendly and we all fell for her right away:) Madre’s was an easy walk and turned out to be a perfect suggestion. The food was reasonably priced and really tasty. We went back to O.C. White’s to thank her and decided to stay for dessert. Julia and I had the Xando which is a fried banana cheesecake with ice cream. So delicious! Jimmy went to check on the offshore forecast one more time and came back with distressing news. In the short time between dinner and dessert the forecast had changed to gale force winds the next day. We went to the lounge area to discuss. We decided to wake up the next day and check the forecast one more time. There was a group of about six boats that were leaving at 7 am the next day just like us including Rorke and Sherry.
We woke up the next morning at 6 am and went to the dock to disassemble the dinghy. The weather forecast was back to what we expected and we fell in line to go through the bridge offshore. Don took the lead and went out first (8 ft. draft so we figured it was safe to follow) and made it through the inlet fine. It was pretty choppy in the inlet and definitely threw us around. I braved the galley and made coffee and hot drinks. We all set off in slightly different directions and it looked like we were on a path to go slightly further offshore than the others. We all kept in contact on channel 11 and followed each other’s progress.
The waves were a little swirly but we had experienced much worse already. We motorsailed for awhile because the winds were fairly light. Jimmy and I took the first six hour watch in the afternoon. We motorsailed for a while longer because we were running pretty much directly downwind. We were able to surf down the waves and we ended up making really good time (avg. 7 knots). Our shift was pretty uneventful but very pleasant. It was so nice to be off of the ICW and making better than 30 or 40 miles per day. I crashed at 1900 when our shift was over and immediately went to sleep. I was woken up as I was thrown up in the air and out of the V-berth right around our watch change. I went ahead and got dressed and came up on deck. It turned out that it had been a pretty eventful four hours! The engine alarms had gone off so we had to shut the engine down. We had to wait for the engine to cool for about an hour before we could check anything (turns out that it just needed a little oil). The wind had picked up to gusting around 30 knots and the waves had increased as well. We reduced the headsail area and were able to sail fairly comfortably.
There was quite a bit of water coming into the cockpit and Jimmy and I were actually completely swamped by one big wave in the middle of our shift. The cockpit cleared fine and luckily we both have really nice foul weather gear. I reached a speed of 10.9 knots once while I was helming! We were definitely flying! We turned in at 0300 and Julia and Ryan had a better watch the second time. Jimmy and I woke up for the morning watch to calming seas but still nice wind. It was actually a great watch! Jimmy and I spotted 17 adult sea turtles and at least (no exaggeration) 75 tiny baby sea turtles swimming the opposite direction as us. We also saw two large white fish and a whole pod of dolphins that hung out for about 45 minutes. Most of the boats that we went out with decided to head in at the Daytona Beach inlet and only us and Klondike stayed out.
We had a few important decisions to make that morning. We were actually making too good of time to make it into Ft. Lauderdale in the daylight. We were planning on making it Tuesday morning but with our higher winds and waves we would be there around 10 pm Monday night. We did not want to brave another night passage so we decided to go into West Palm Beach that afternoon and make it to Ft. Lauderdale the next day. We also decided that we were not going to make it to the Bahamas this trip. We all really wanted to but the weather is too unpredictable this time of year. We might have a nice weather window going over but could easily get stuck waiting for one on the way back. We decided that we would hang out in Ft. Lauderdale and maybe head down to the Keys in a rental car.
So we went into West Palm Beach tired from our offshore run and ready for showers and a good nights sleep. We stayed at the Riveria Marina and were not impressed at all! They had a piling dock system that was pretty difficult to get into. They are not set up for 27 foot sailboats. We ended up spending about $60 for the night and they didn’t even give us the wireless password. There was nothing outside of their dock restaurant within walking distance. We went to the shower house and had four not hot showers. We met up at the restaurant for dinner and Ryan treated us to an amazing crab dip that we are still talking about!
We left the next day and had our best sail yet! We sailed within sight of the beach all day and lounged in the cockpit and warm sun. There were very light winds so we motorsailed most of the way. It was amazing! We had finally made it! We put on the autopilot and hung out with the music on in our bathing suits (and of course sunscreen, Mom:). Absolutely gorgeous day! Ryan and I got adventurous and took some fun pictures of the boat sailing and even attached his waterproof camera to a boathook and extended it out in front of the boat (check out the upcoming movie link for that one!).
We made several calls ahead of time and decided to stay at the Ft. Lauderdale City Marina in Las Olas Beach. The rates were $1.35/ft (!!!) and with my Boat U.S discount of 25% we would be able to stay for $33/night. Not bad at all! We came down the canals in Ft. Lauderdale and looked at all the crazy mansions and super yachts along the way. We came into the marina and had a bit of a miscommunication docking. We couldn’t hail the marina and Ryan had a close encounter with a nearby boat as we couldn’t figure out which slip to pull into. We made it in and are happy to report that the facilities are so much nicer than our Riveria accommodations.
So the past few days have been so nice. There are palm trees and clear water all around. We are two blocks from the beach and there are cute girls everywhere:) The temperatures have been about 75 degrees during the day and about 58 at night. We have just been wandering around and exploring and eating tasty (but maybe overpriced) food. We spent all day today on the beach just hanging out and swimming in the water. Well worth the cold days and sleepless nights offshore!
Our new plan: Jimmy decided that he would fly home for Christmas. He is heading out tomorrow (Christmas Eve) and coming back on December 29. Julia, Ryan and I are renting a car at 10 pm tonight and are driving down to Key West for Christmas. Ryan has a free night at a Holiday Inn and he was able to book us a night at a resort down there that usually cost $210/night. We are leaving tomorrow at 8 am and hanging out at a few of the state parks on the way down. We will check in at the room Ryan booked and hang out in Key West. For Christmas Day we were able to book a room at the Parrot Resort fairly reasonably which comes with $50 credit towards the restaurant there. We will hang out in Key West for Christmas and take our time coming back on the 26th and explore a few more parks. We will probably move the boat down to Miami for New Year’s Eve and spend New Year’s there. We will start our trip back up on January 2nd. We are all a little disappointed not to make it to the Bahamas but also super excited about our new plan. I think it will be a lot of fun for sure!
I am about to post a slideshow in a little bit and a couple of movies. I hope you all have a Happy Christmas (why does it always have to be merry?…) and a wonderful New Year! -Daniel
Here is a link to our movie page for our videos of the trip so far: http://www.youtube.com/user/dansockwell. We will keep uploading files here but I will make sure to create a new post to let you know when they are uploaded. We have quite a few but I only posted a few to start with. We are a little distracted in some of them but there are some nice scenes from our offshore passages. Hope you enjoy! -Daniel
Here is the link to the Brunswick Slideshow: www.sailawaywebdesign.com/brunswick.html.
The passage out of Charleston Harbor was pretty choppy. There was a fairly steady wind and we had a bit of a time getting the main sail up. Things settled down a bit after we left the channel. First order of business was to decide our watch schedule. We have used a variety of random decision helpers throughout the trip but resorted to the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors for this one. Julia and I “won” the first shift which meant we would be on until 1900 that night but would only have one night shift from 2300-0300.
We set a course out to the first waypoint. The wind was following and blowing directly where we wanted to go. It is a bad idea in a sailboat to run directly downwind because you can accidently jibe and cause serious damage to the boat and crew. We ran on a broad reach for several hours as far off the wind as we felt comfortable with the wave conditions, which I think is a bit easier than just steering to a compass heading. We had great wind and made really good time. We averaged about 6.5-7 knots for our shift. At one point I managed to hit 9.9 knots which is the current record right now! Since we couldn’t hit our exact course we had to tack back and forth a couple of times through the night in order to stay on the right path. Ryan and Jimmy took over at 1900 and Julia and I laid down to get some rest.
The conditions were just about the same but it was so difficult to fall asleep! I had a little trouble sleeping on our first offshore passage as well and it seemed to be the case for this one as well. I would doze off but then start awake to us bouncing through a wave. There were several times that I was sure that we had jibed but I would eventually convince myself that everything was OK and drift off to sleep again. After a fairly restless nap, Ryan came down and gave us the 15 minute warning. Julia and I bundled up and went up top at 2300 to start our shift. The conditions were just about the same as before and we continued to make good progress. I definitely didn’t have any trouble falling asleep once our shift was over at 0300.
I fell into a deep sleep until Jimmy called down to wake us up at 0620. The feel of the boat was very different and I could tell that the wind and waves had picked up. Jimmy was calling for all hands on deck for a tack. Julia and I scrambled sleepily to throw our clothes on as quickly as possible. This is much more difficult than it sounds! All of our clothes are in the front part of the boat which has the most motion in heavy seas. We were both cramped into the small walkway area trying to change. I lost my footing and hit the side of my head on one of the portlight screws. No blood so I kept on getting dressed. By the time we had layered up and gotten on deck, Ryan and Jimmy had furled the headsail and turned on the engine. They managed the tack by themselves but we stayed on deck in case anything else was needed. The wind had picked up to a steady 25-27 with gusts above 30 knots which is nearly gale force. The seas had increased fairly significantly and spray was flying all over the place as waves broke against the back corner of the boat. Jimmy was at the wheel and we managed to stay under control and keep our course. The closest point to duck in was still our intended destination of Brunswick/St. Mary’s area. We decided to head to Brunswick since it was a little bit closer. The timeframe and course that we were on had us coming into the beginning of the Brunswick channel right at sunset. We had three options at this point, none of which were very appealing. We could head into Brunswick, an unfamiliar port at night and anchor out near St. Simon’s Island. We could tack back and forth until daylight and then head in from there. Or we could stay out offshore and continue to head south until daylight and find a suitable port from there. We talked about it for awhile and decided to get out of the weather and head into Brunswick inlet at night. The guide said that it would be well lit and there was an anchorage near the inlet.
Julia and I officially came on watch at 0700 and we made a track for Brunswick inlet. This was not a fun watch at all! The sailing wasn’t bad. The wind died a bit and we had steady 20-25 knots. After about 30 minutes we had been splashed several times with waves and were both pretty wet. I was very happy with my decision to buy the nice foul weather gear at that point! We both had trouble staying awake but managed to work our way through the shift. Ryan and Jimmy took over at 1300. It was so great to get out of the cold and get into dry clothes! We made lunch and then quickly went to sleep. Jimmy and Ryan woke us up as we approached the harbor at about 1730. Ryan took the wheel and we tied down the main before heading into the channel. Jimmy was the only one with nighttime navigation experience so we were a little anxious starting out. I was on lookout for the red markers which we would put on our starboard side (Red Right Returning!). Julia was on the lookout for the green markers and Jimmy was down below keeping an eye on the chartplotter and letting us know which navigation lights would be next. We all did so well! Ryan did an excellent job of keeping a solid course. Jimmy would give him a bearing and he would keep to that until Jimmy gave him a new course. Jimmy would let Julia and I know which markers to keep an eye out for and we would usually be able to stay about two ahead of the current marker. We made it into the sound with no problems in about two and a half hours.
The inshore markers were a whole different story. We still had the chartplotter but the day beacons that we were navigating by were unlit. We had a big spotlight on board (thanks Dad!) and used that to check for those. We found our spot, dropped the anchor, checked for drag and then headed down to celebrate being out of the cold, wet conditions.
After an amazing night of sleep, we woke up and headed towards Brunswick. We needed to change the oil on the boat and had a few things to do in town. We squeezed under the 185 foot clearance of the huge Sidney Lanier Bridge and got ready to dock. We pulled into Brunswick Landing Marina and things were instantly better than our experience with the Megadock. Sherry, the dockmaster, gave us a packet of information with taxi numbers and restaurant suggestions and was very helpful as we got settled. Jim was hanging out inside and suggested Fox’s pizza for lunch. We took showers and headed out to see the town.
We explored Newcastle Street and enjoyed a nice lunch. On the way back Julia made friends with a couple of guys that were wandering around. It turns out that they worked for the National Park and Forest Service system and were currently doing the Federal Law Enforcement Training in Brunswick. We made plans to meet up and go out since it was Saturday night and we wanted to see the town. We had a delicious dinner of dehydrated meals and Mitch, Dean and Dan showed up during that. We offered them some food but they respectfully declined:) All three of them were from different parts of the country but they were currently involved in a fourth and half month training session in Brunswick. It sounded pretty intense! They had to do all sorts of hand to hand training, deal with simulated terrorist attacks and murder scenes, as well as all sorts of driver and other kinds of standard training. We headed out in their cars to Brogen’s Bar on St. Simon’s which had a shuffle board table and a few games. We played several matchups and headed around to a couple of other places. They were nice enough to drop us back off at the marina. We went to bed that night with plans to wake up early, change the oil and head out by noon or so. The wind was howling when we woke up the next morning and the conditions weren’t very good to start the next leg of our journey. We decided to have a lazy Sunday and finish taking care of things around the boat. We went to Jim’s Corner Café and had a nice breakfast there. We had accidently left our oil filter outside the night before so Jimmy and I decided to head out to West Marine to buy a spare. It was about a mile and a half away so we had a bit of a walk to get there. Things are much slower when you are in boat mode without a car. I had walked the day before to the Auto Zone to get the proper oil for the oil change (15W-40). We made it to West Marine and bought the proper fuel filter. We stocked up on cookies and snacks at Winn Dixie (it’s amazing how those run out first…) and headed back to the boat. We had plans to go see a movie that night but postponed them until the oil change was done. Jimmy and I (really mainly Jimmy) finished that up and Ryan cleaned up the boat for a bit after that.
We headed to Brew Burger’s to watch a little football and hang out until movie time. Around 6:00 we called for a cab to pick us up at 7:15 for our 7:30 movie (Over an hour’s worth of warning!). This turned out to be one of the most ridiculous cab rides ever! The cab showed up around 7:23 with two other people in the cab that weren’t paying for a ride so the four of us squeezed into the back seat. While I was getting in the car, the driver was waving around this plastic gun. I thought it was real at first but it was definitely fake. While messing with his Bluetooth headset, we were treated to an interesting account of his life and views of his work environment as he dropped off the other two guys and then headed towards the movie theater.
We made it to the theater at 7:45 and bought tickets for The Tourist. We missed the first little bit (one of my pet peeves) but the movie turned out to be fairly entertaining. It wasn’t the greatest movie by any means but we had fun. We called a different cab company after that and it turned out to have a more professional since of time. So once more, we went to bed ready to wake up and head out early. We couldn’t get the heater to work due to a pressure issue so we went to bed bundled up. We woke up this morning to below freezing temperatures and 30 knot winds! We fueled up the boat and topped off our water. One guy inside the dock house told us about Jekyll Creek which had a reputation for bad shoaling problems and we would only be able to make it through at high tide. High tide happened to be around 1:30 pm so that would mean waiting around until 11:00 or so before heading out. We checked our Waterway Guide and it confirmed the same thing. Arrghh! We were all very ready to leave Brunswick and keep working our way south. Jimmy was pretty uncomfortable heading out into a Small Craft Advisory so we went to breakfast at Salvador’s to talk things over. After several long debates and switched opinions we landed on the sad reality that we would spend another day at dock before heading out. So another forced lazy day! We are determined to leave tomorrow and make it down to Fernandina Beach or St. Mary’s. We are going to read and hang out around town and probably watch a movie in the boat tonight. The winds are expected to drop a little tomorrow so we should be fine to leave. The heater is still giving us issues so we are going to try and fix that today. We are anxious to leave but are going to wait out the wind for one more day. More to come soon! -Daniel
Here is the link for the Georgetown to Charleston slideshow: www.sailawaywebdesign.com/charleston.html. Hope you enjoy!
It is the morning of December 9th (Thursday) and we are preparing to take the boat offshore again. The engine mechanic came on Monday and the engine checked out OK. He tightened a few belts but overall it looked fine. That was certainly a relief and worth the cost of a tuneup. Chris the sailmaker returned our sail with a freshly stitched up clew and new thread on our sacrificial fabric for our headsail. We decided to leave and head over to the Big Tuna dock on Monday afternoon after we fueled up at the current marina. We had a bit of a hard time getting to the fuel dock. The current was crazy on the river and we had to back in so that the fuel hose would reach. Easier said than done! Full keel boats do not back up well. We knew this going into it but realized fairly quickly that this wasn’t going to happen with a 3 knot current, steady wind and million dollar boat sitting right next to our parking spot. We went in bow first and ended up using a jerry can instead. We moved to the Big Tuna with no problems and then set up shop there for the night. Ryan is a fix-it master and got the stove working again. Ellie gave us a batch of meatballs to cook up so Julia and I browned them up and made a nice pasta dish with that and some of our fresh veggies. It was our first official meal aboard! We lit the oil lamps for effect and grabbed a couple drinks from the Big Tuna to top it off (perks of being docked up beside a bar!). Our heater still wasn’t working properly but Bucky dropped off a nice electric heater for us to use for the night. We brought our laptops and charts into the bar and started working on our next passage plan. Bucky was in there and introduced us to his friend Peter Poulnot, a tug boat captain. They were hilarious! Both Peter and Bucky were very helpful. They looked over our charts and made some suggestions for the rest of our trip. They got in a few “arguments” over which channel to use and some pretty funny lines came out of it. Peter to Bucky: “I’ve pissed more salt water than you’ve ever sailed and that is Morgan Creek!”. We wrote down several notes. Peter suggested that we take the ICW all the way down to FL and then hop over from Ft. Pierce. We really want to get back offshore and are planning to do several one to two day stints depending on our weather. We got up around 6 am on Tuesday and headed over to Aunny’s for breakfast. We were the first ones there and most of us ordered their famous Shrimp and Grits. It was really tasty but different from the traditional shrimp and grits we were used to. It was a very large bowl of grits with brown gravy and big shrimp on top. I was stuffed afterwards! We left the restaurant and started to get the boat ready to head out! We backed out and started heading down the river to the ICW channel. The morning was pretty cold but pretty and we made our way down the river. After several miles we turned into the narrow ICW inlet. Most of the passage was through the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. Within the first mile or so we saw several birds of prey including a Bald Eagle! There were birds everywhere and hardly any development. It was much prettier than we expected and it turned out to be a nice day. We used a watch system so that we could take a few breaks throughout the day. Several dolphins came and made an appearance as well. We were aiming to make it to Charleston but didn’t think that we would make it all the way down. There were several nice anchorage spots to choose from so we decided to wait and see once we got towards the end of the afternoon. While underway, Ryan managed to fix the heater! The burner top had rusted completely shut on the old one and he took a few things apart and used pieces from one of our spare burners to fix it. Now that we had heat on board, everyone was a little happier. We burned it most of the day and it kept things nice and warm. We were right around mile marker 450 and it was decision time. We could try and make it in to the Isle of Palms Marina or anchor near there but the sun was beginning to set. We ended up anchoring in a nice creek around mile marker 452. The sun was beginning to go down and Jimmy took the wheel. Ryan and I were at the bow and Julia was helping from the cockpit. We dropped the anchor successfully and took a few bearing to make sure the anchor was set. We set an anchor alarm on the chartplotter to go off if we drifted more than 40 feet. The sunset was beautiful and went down right as we were finishing up and heading below. Another sailboat came in right after us but went further down the channel. Jimmy made a wonderful curry with rice and vegetables and we had another delicious meal aboard. We cleaned up from dinner and all huddled together on the folded down dinette to watch a movie (roughing it, I know!). Jimmy had 180 Degrees South on his laptop so we watched that. The movie was great and we decided to head to bed. The plan was to wake up bright and early and get into Charleston so that we could enjoy the day. We went to sleep, cabin warm thanks to the heater, with the alarm set. We all shot awake at 4:30 am to the anchor alarm going off. Jimmy shot out of the quarter berth and popped his head up. I handed him our spotlight and he checked our bearings. The wind had picked up and we had shifted a little. Our anchor appeared to be holding strong we had just shifted directions. It was also freezing cold. The burner was just about out on the heater. I tried to turn up the heater and it promptly went out! I guess we are out of kerosene! We bundled up and went back to sleep. The anchor alarm went off several more times that night but we appeared to be holding fine. We woke up late the next morning and it was so cold! We put our backup reserve of kerosene in (which wasn’t much!) and cooked breakfast with that. We motored down to the Ben Sawyer Memorial Bridge. There were several boats waiting and we hailed the bridge. The bridge had been broken since 6 am! Luckily we had slept in! They were working on opening it manually. We did a couple laps while they worked on it. We only had to wait about 30 minutes and we were able to squeeze through the mostly opened bridge. We turned into Charleston Harbor and spent a couple of hours making our way towards the downtown area. The current was definitely against us and it was pretty slow going. We called a few marinas to get pricing. After a few calls the best we could do near downtown was a total of $65 at the Charleston City Marina! We only spent $35-40 per night (or free at Big Tuna) in Georgetown. It was my turn to pay for the docking so I guess I got the short straw. We pulled up to the Megadock and found our spot. They parked us next to all the huge boats, there weren’t any shorter than about 50 feet! On boat, the Sea Bowld was monstrous. We went in, paid up and got ready to take showers. It was at least a quarter mile walk from the end of the dock to the main office (this place was huge). I didn’t have any soap so I waited to take a shower after everyone else. Jimmy dropped off the soap and I started to take a shower. The hot water ran out in under two minutes. I hadn’t had a shower in three days and had been freezing the past two…I was definitely going to take a hot shower! I waited and kept rechecking over the course of 30 minutes and there was still no hot water. I went and checked several of the other rooms and there wasn’t any there either. I finally resigned myself to an icy shower and returned to the boat in a foul mood. We decided to head into town to run a few errands and eat dinner. Ryan was meeting a couple of his friends so we took off with plans of him meeting us later. We walked down and made it to Barbara Jean’s Southern Cooking. I had the Chicken Fried Steak with green beans and mashed potatoes. It was really tasty. Ryan met us a little bit later with news that his Mom had sent fresh cookies with his friends and homemade hot chocolate mix. We made our way to Half Moon Outfitters which was along a street of shops consisting of Louis Vatone, Gucci, etc. We expected overpriced gear but needed a few blankets and gloves. The staff were very friendly and we chatted while we shopped. Julia bought a sleeping bag, I bought a new Jetboil and way too expensive gloves, Ryan got fleece pants and a few warm garments and Jimmy bought a few things as well. One of the girls working there named Kelly invited us to her friends house who had a rock climbing wall in his garage. Our only plan for the night was to find somewhere warm and that sounded like it would do the trick! We went to City Lights Coffee Shop until she go off work. She picked us up and ran us to the grocery store and Walmart so that we wouldn’t have to catch a cab the next day! Amazing! We found everything we were looking for except kerosene but it was a huge timesaver. We went to her friend’s house and had a great time. Tripp and Jess had an awesome rock wall in the garage and we played on it for awhile before retiring to the kitchen to hang out. We had a fun night and even ended up making snowflakes with glitter to decorate the boat for Christmas. We took a Green Cab hybrid taxi back to the boat and slept warmly in our new gear. We woke up bright and early this morning and clicked off the rest of our checklist fairly quickly. There was no kerosene to be found anywhere but a really nice guy named Captain Larry overheard us asking around and offered to help us find some and drive us into town. Julia took him up on the offer and found the only place in town that carried it (Lowes on James Island!). Bill and Sylvia own a 50 foot custom sailboat docked across from us named EOS. They graciously invited us in to have coffee and hot chocolate. They showed us around their beautiful boat which they have spent the last 15 or so years working on. It was very well though out and we were a little jealous of the huge cabin space below. We said our goodbyes and got back to work. So we are fueled up, topped off with kerosene and Jimmy is working on another hot meal right now. We just cast off the dock lines and Ryan is taking us out of Charleston Harbor as we head offshore again. The weather looks clear until Sunday so we are planning to head to the Brunswick/St. Mary’s area in southern GA. I’ll try to post pictures before we lose cell signal and get out of the harbor. We are trying to stay warm but still meeting some great, friendly people and exploring new areas. Think of us as we are offshore the next couple of days as it will certainly be cold during the night shifts! We’ll keep you posted as we keep heading south! -Daniel
Georgetown slideshow: www.sailawaywebdesign.com/georgetown.html.
So we headed out around 2 pm on Thursday. Ryan’s Dad, my parents, Frank, Polly and Joe Murphy were there to see us off. Julia took us out of the channel into the Intercoastal Waterway. We were doing pretty well for the first 4 or 5 minutes but managed to run aground right outside of the first marker! It was only a slight brush and we got right back on track but we got a kick out of it (by we I mean everyone except Julia:). We had very light winds to begin with but put out our sails since Mom and Dad were following us along the shoreline and taking pictures at a few spots. We waved goodbye to Mom and Dad at Ft. Macon. We made it out of the inlet fine and then turned right down the coastline. We motorsailed for a couple of hours until the wind finally picked up. Our first sunset was absolutely gorgeous. Jimmy and I had the first night watch from 1900-2300. It was fairly pleasant but uneventful. Right before the watch we tried to make our first meal and we could not get the kerosene stove to work. It had just worked yesterday but we couldn’t keep any pressure! So we used the Jetboil (our backup) and made a hot meal. The stars were absolutely amazing! No lights around anywhere and it was a very clear night. I fell asleep right away and apparently missed helping everyone putting a reef in the sail (it reduces the sail area in higher winds). The wind continued to pick up through the night and when Jimmy and I came back on at 0300 it was blowing a steady 15 knots with gusts up to 22 knots. We had a blast! We take one hour shifts steering at the helm and during one of Jimmy’s we reached 8.3 knots! I had a little trouble keeping a straight line but got better as the night went on. It was really cool to steer by the stars and sail at night. Julia and Ryan relieved us at 0700 and we went right to bed. Everyone was having trouble sleeping. The seas were pretty rough and I was definitely airborne several times while laying down. At first everyone felt a bit nauseous but it passed when we were up on deck or at the helm. We tried cooking a bit of breakfast in the morning but our backup stove wouldn’t work either! We ended up making some sandwiches and having a few Cliff bars. The winds were fairly light the second day but it was warm and beautiful so we just made our way along. Several dolphins came up and played around the boat for about half an hour or so. The day overall was great and Julia and Ryan took over at 1900. Our plan was to head to Charleston because a big storm with gale force winds was coming in Sunday. We were on track to make it around 1000 Saturday morning. Jimmy and I took over at 2300 Friday. This was a terrible watch! The wind shifted and started blowing directly from Charleston. We tried tacking back and forth and beating upwind but couldn’t make any significant progress. We turned on the engine and it looked like it was smoking a little more than just exhaust. So I went down to check the dipstick on the engine. There was plenty of oil but I spent the next 30 minutes trying to get it back in it’s hole! Jimmy finally had to come down and help me. We decided to keep the engine off and keep sailing. Julia and Ryan took over at 0300 and Jimmy and I had only made about 5 nm. We were pretty frustrated but laid down to get some rest. The seas started picking up and things got a little rough after that. Julia and Ryan tried motoring for a little bit but the engine was still acting up. About five minutes after they killed the engine, there a was big ripping sound and the clew of the sail ripped out of our headsail! So Jimmy runs up on deck and helps furl the headsail. Jimmy goes up on the foredeck and I went up to try and help out. He handled the situation really well. We had a spare headsail so we removed the old one and folded it up. Ryan was at the helm and Julia was helping find parts and pieces down below that we needed and help with the halyards from the cockpit. I just did what Jimmy told me to do and it was pretty much his show. The boat was bouncing around all over the place and as he was trying to put the pin back in for the new headsail, it dropped in the water! Julia found another pin below but we didn’t have a very good stash of spare pins (fixed that now!). So, with the boat bouncing all over place, being dunked a few times and the wind flapping everything around, Jimmy got the pin in. The sail has to be fed into the furler track and it wouldn’t reach, it was about a 1/4 off! So he had to take the pin out again, feed the headsail first and then repeat the whole procedure. We got the new headsail up and got back to sailing. We decided to change course and head to Georgetown instead because we could sail there and save the engine for the final docking part just in case there was a problem. Ryan and Julia were amazing and let Jimmy and I sleep for a little bit longer since we were up for a good portion of our sleep time. We finally came into sight of land and started navigating towards Winyah Bay. Georgetown sits about 10 miles inland and we had to go into a narrow inlet and up the Sampit river. The conditions were very rolly at this point. Sleep was pretty difficult and Julia still felt exhausted and nauseous. We made it into the channel and started to furl the headsail. The furler line snagged and Jimmy and Ryan had to go up on deck again and take it down! I was steering at this point and trying to let Jimmy and Ryan know when the bigger waves were coming. There was one wave that would have been a great photo op and I thought for sure it was going to break over the bow of the boat but it passed by just fine. The channel passage in was pretty swirly. We had a serious opposing current with steep, frequent waves. I was having a blast steering but there were a couple of piles of rocks just outside the channel that made me a little nervous. Because of the current we were only making about 2 knots and it took us 7 hours to motor the 10 miles to Georgetown. The engine worked well the whole 7 hours but we are still going to have someone check it out just in case. Once we got out of the inlet things calmed down and we took shifts at the wheel. We made it in to the Boat Shed dock and got showered up. The stove still didn’t work so we went to eat at the Big Tuna, at the dockmaster’s suggestion. The food was great and we were happy to be on land again. We stayed at the bar after that listened to the band. There was a strange painting on the wall and a t-shirt of the same painting. I asked the waitress about it and she said that her Uncle Bucky owned the bar and I should go ask him. I introduced myself and he told a brief story about it. We talked for awhile and when he found out that we had sailed down, he took Ryan and I outside and said that we should stay at his dock for free! He had oysters in the dock box that we could help ourselves to and we could stay as long as we liked! He also mentioned that his cute stepdaughter and niece were single which I appreciated:) We stayed for the rest of the night and met so many friendly people. The next day we just rested up and walked around town. There were a ton of beautiful colonial homes and few industrial facilities that were pretty interesting. We headed to the Buzz’s Roost around 3:30 to watch some football. They were having a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Humane Society. Julia bid on some cat treat’s for the marina cat, Mr. Sniffles (I named him that because I’m allergic to cats). We all bought $10 worth of tickets for the raffle. They called number 771170 and I ended up winning the raffle and $204! Everyone at the bar was yelling to give it back to the Humane Society but I’m kind of broke and decided to buy everyone at the bar a round of drinks instead. We met some great people at Buzz’s Roost as well and one girl lived above the bar and offered us fresh baked ziti with homemade meatballs! We had seen this amazing restaurant called Aunny’s while walking around and had our hearts set on it. It was closed on Monday so Sunday dinner would be our last chance before leaving Georgetown. Jimmy said that it closed at 8 pm so we headed over around 6:20. They closed at 6 pm on Sundays! We were heartbroken! We talked with Aunny for awhile but had to find some other food option. We ended up calling Ellie to see if the invitation for ziti was still open. We went to her house and had some amazing ziti with her and her friends Penny and Joyce. We hung out with them for awhile and then came back to the boat. We have spent most of the morning today running errands. Chris, the sailmaker, came by and picked up our headsail. Ryan and Julia went to the hardware store and to do laundry. We are still waiting on a mechanic but we are about to do a general cleanup of the boat and work on a few repairs. We are going to move the boat to the Big Tuna this afternoon and stay at Bucky’s dock for free. It is really cold today and we are hoping to have a heater solution by tonight. Everyone is having a blast on shore and we are meeting a lot of great people. Our plan is to head out around 5 am tomorrow and make our way down the ICW to Charleston (60 nm). We will stay there for a night or so and then see what kind of forecast we have after that. I will post a link right after this to a slideshow of photos from Georgetown if anyone is interested. I’ll also invite Julia, Ryan and Jimmy to post an account if they want. Just as a fair warning, most of my posts are ridiculously long so if you made it this far then congratulations! Thanks for all the great comments so far! We will keep you posted over the next couple of days! -Daniel