St. Augustine, Florida, was the end of the boat portion of this trip. I didn’t get much time to explore the city, but what I saw was enchanting. I hope to make it back again someday.
We pulled out of Brunswick, Georgia, on Saturday morning, heading down the ICW for our last 2-day leg to our destination, St. Augustine, Florida. So many birds, so little time.
Cumberland Island is situated right along the ICW, it is an undisturbed island and a lovely spot, with wild horses roaming about.
We motored past Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia, a place my family almost moved to when I was in high school, but my dad’s assignment ended up being in Madrid, instead. We anchored in a lovely spot right off the ICW after about 35 nm.
The next day was uneventful, other than a rainstorm that we went through right before arriving at the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine for the 2pm opening.
It was GREAT to pull into the slip and tie up. Michelle greeted us with bubbly to celebrate our arrival.
Our journey of over 920 miles is completed. Now I just need to get home to Austin by Thanksgiving!
After Carolina Beach, Lori and I stopped in Southport, North Carolina at a marina on the Cape Fear River for one night. We used Lori & Mike’s folding bikes to go into downtown. It was t-shirt and shorts weather again!
We grabbed nibblies at the bar, watched a little football to keep up on our fantasy football team scores, and then headed back to the boat.
The next day, Tony joined us, and we left North Carolina, heading south in the Atlantic Ocean bound for Charleston, South Carolina. That is an overnight sail, so we took turns at the helm overnight; in the cockpit for 4 hours, sleeping 2 hours, repeat.
The sail to Charleston was great! We were able to sail with main and jib up all the way, pretty much on the same tack, in a straight line to Charleston ship channel entrance. It was, however, brutally cold. You take what you can get.
We stayed at anchor overnight in the Ashley River, across from the Battery in Charleston. Then, in order to keep moving, we opted to go south on the ICW. We enjoyed a beautiful night at anchor in the Ashepoo River.
The next day, we continued on the ICW, exiting out to the ocean in the afternoon at Port Royal Sound, bound for Brunswick, Georgia. It was not as cold as the other night, but this sail was an uncomfortable one. NNE winds, 15-20knots, gusting in the 30’s, almost directly behind us, with seas around 6′ which got bigger towards the morning. A bonus was a squall that hit about 3 AM, with rain and gusts up to 40knots. It was warmer, but it was 15 hours of pounding up and down waves. We couldn’t use the autopilot, with the stern being thrown with each wave, so we hand steered – or as I like to call it, wrestling the bear. Not to fear, though, we made it safely into port yesterday morning. As we entered St. Simon’s Sound at dawn, we went by the wreck of the MV Golden Ray, a massive car carrying cargo ship that heeled over and was run aground a year ago. Lori, Monte and I saw it last December when there to move Trident to Brunswick.
With a not-improving weather forecast, Trident will be heading down the ICW into Florida today. We hope to be in St. Augustine, Florida, by sunset tomorrow night.
We’re almost there. Stay tuned!
Our original plan, to leave the ICW and head offshore in Beaufort, was intended to avoid the challenges associated with the ICW south of there. These include transiting the dozens of ocean inlets that the ICW crosses south of Beaufort where significant shoaling always occurs, often changing the ICW channel depth, making it dangerously shallow, and passing under a number of bridges that are less than the required 65′ vertical clearance with tides than can vary from the mean water level by up to 4 feet. But, alas, the weather offshore has been unfavorable, so we continued on south.
There is a kind soul on the internet, Bob Sherer, who maintains a blog called Bob423 ICW Tracks and Routes where he provides tracks (collections of GPS points) that he has carefully taken and mapped out for maximum depths. The tracks are available for download as GPX files into chart plotting software, like the openCPN that I use on my laptop and the Garmin chart plotter that Lori has at Trident’s helm. Fortunately, Bob’s latest track is as recent as a week or two ago, so it contains safe tracks around hazards that even the Corps of Engineers haven’t moved the red and green buoys around yet. There have been reports of multiple boats running aground this week in those spots. Not wanting to be one of those boats, we have been following Bob’s track. It can be a little spooky when Bob’s green track goes outside the marked channel. But so far, so good.
The bridges are a challenge of their own, especially with the flooding in North Carolina rivers currently going on, and an especially high tide. We have had to wait for the water level to go down on some bridges before passing underneath, but even so, we have bent the springy VHF antenna at the top of the mast back as we passed under 2 of them. That’s a little too close for comfort.
Hopefully, we only have one more bridge and one more shallow spot, at Snow’s Cut, today. Then we will be at a marina in Southport tonight, and pick up Tony tomorrow and head offshore for a leg south tomorrow afternoon. We think there is a 24-hour window that will allow us to get to Charleston without weather drama. But we’ll see how that plays out.
Even with those challenges, it’s been a nice few days since Beaufort. It’s been sunny, with wind to put up a sail. We anchored one night, and were on a mooring ball last night. Very nice.
On the last leg of our planned ICW-portion of the trip, we enjoyed a day of sailing with jib and main up in stiff breezes, arriving in Beaufort, North Carolina, by 2:30 Monday (Day 6).
We intended to stay here 2 nights and then pick up our third crew member, and head offshore to for the second half of our trek to St. Augustine. However, there is a mess of bad weather arriving Thursday, so that has impacted our plans. Thankfully, we were able to extend our stay at this marina another night.
It’s been nice to take long showers, walk around, bike into town, and do laundry after a week on the boat. It’s shorts and t-shirts weather here right now, which is a treat. Yesterday we did boat chores. Today, re-provisioning. Thursday, hunker. Friday, we’ll likely leave Beaufort and head south. Unfortunately the bad weather offshore persists, so we will need to spend a couple more days on the ICW. Perhaps to Southport, the next major inlet from the ocean. We’ll have to see what the weather looks like early next week.
Last night’s anchorage was in the Elizabeth River at Portsmouth. This is a view of the Norfolk waterfront across the river.
Today’s schedule was challenging. Ten hours of daylight to cover 60 statute miles, or around 52 nautical miles, while trying to navigate through 15 bridges and locks, 5 of which only open on the hour or half-hour, and maintaining an average speed around 5 knots.
We woke up before sunrise to be greeted by fog. We hoped it would lift quickly. We picked up anchor 15 minutes behind schedule, but only when we were able to see about a half mile.
Once underway we made up time and ended up a half hour ahead of schedule after the last bridge. The ICW was very crowded today, lots of boats passing one another only to have to wait together for the next bridge opening.
We were able to put up the jib to add a knot to our speed as we crossed Currituck Sound in the narrow channel. We needed all the time that we gained because when we made it to our anchorage it was 30 minutes after sunset.
Long day, but I loved it! Lori cooked a delicious dinner and we turned in early. More tomorrow…
Last week I flew to Maryland to join Lori and help take her boat to Florida. Theoretically it is post-hurricane season, but you can’t tell these days. On one nice day, we drove to Mount Vernon to tour George Washington’s estate and mansion.
Mike left over the weekend, driving the car to Florida so it is there when we arrive. We spent a few days in the slip at the marina at Solomon’s Island waiting for some bad weather remnants of Hurricane Zeta to pass. On a rainy, freezing, blustery day, we cooked some meals to freeze for easy prep underway. I even grabbed a quick geocache, my first in Maryland. Tuesday the 3rd looked good for our departure from Solomon’s Island, Maryland, and so we did.
Day 1, we froze, with temps around 40 F and a very chilling wind around 15 knots. Nonetheless, we made our way south down the Chesapeake, anchoring in a lovely spot. It turned out to be the only day we were able to sail on the bay.
Day 2 was windless, but WARMER! So we motored 9 hours and anchored in a beautiful spot inside Mobjack Bay by ourselves. I even put out a crab pot overnight.
We saw dolphins, the water must be getting saltier, and lifer birds.
Day 3 started with a beautiful sunset, and when I pulled up the crab trap, we had a wee one! We let him go, but it was fun to catch something. Today is windless, again, but warm enough to take off jackets. The bay is as smooth as glass. The only thing we have to battle are the tidal and river currents going against us. This afternoon we will exit the Chesapeake Bay and anchor at Norfolk, Virginia.
Tomorrow, Day 4, we will start down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway for a few days.
I found a poster on-line featuring scratch-off tiles for each of the 62 U.S. National Parks. When you’ve visited one of the parks, you scratch off the gray-tone image for it to reveal a more colorful image beneath. After framing the poster, I counted the parks I’ve already visited and was surprised that I have logged 10 already – without even trying! I don’t really have a bucket list, but I certainly would love to see more of these national parks, especially those throughout the western part of the country. Road trip!?
I bought it here, if you want to check it out for yourself. Thanks to Monte for the handsome frame. 🙂
This weekend brought Julie back to Texas! 🙂 But, it was only to pack up the contents of a couple of storage units into a U-Haul and head right back to Washington. 😦 She has a great new job up there.
Though I’m sad to see her go, I think Texas has a way of calling one back, after a while, so I’ll keep hoping. Bon voyage! I pray that Mother Nature takes it easy on them over the next few days as they make their way through the mountains.
This year sped by, but it was jam-packed with short adventures, wonderful visits with friends and family, lots of good food & wine, and a few projects squeezed in.
A quick breakdown:
- States traveled to/within: Texas, Florida, Washington, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia
- Countries traveled to/within: US, Bahamas
- Siblings visited: Noreen & David, Brian, Colleen, Fran & Art, Susanne, Gene & Jo
- Nieces & nephews visited: Rachel, Julie, Neil & Miranda, Jared, Rebecca, Aaron, Jacob, Pat & Nga, Dan & Erin, Patricia & Florian, Michelle, Amy Lee & Chris
- Great nieces & nephews visited: Diego, Tionna & Alex, Will, Nick, Grace, Aly, Mae, Austin, Copeland, Anna Sutton
- Great-great nephew visited: X’ander
- Births celebrated: great-great-niece Aubrielle
- Iron-men cheered on: Jamie
- Weddings celebrated: Neil & Miranda, Dan & Erin
- Friend & family visits to Austin: Noreen & David, Susanne, Rob & Owen, Asha, Fran & Aaron, Rachel & Becky, Irene & Liz & Keith, and Noreen (one more time) 🙂
I’ve picked one photo from so many enjoyable moments of each month below:
January: Sailing from Venice, FL through the Florida Keys, to Biscayne Bay; on a mooring ball at Garrison Bight Mooring Field off of Key West. This was a magnificent trip. The Keys are amazing. We had enough time to really enjoy Key West and see the sights and maybe have one too many cocktails. We hopped up the outside of the Keys, anchoring a few nights. If I did this again I’d spend many more days in the Keys. We ended anchored outside of No Name Harbor near Miami for two weeks, which sounds like a long time but I thought it was a really nice place to be stuck, waiting for a weather window to go east to the Bahamas.
February: Sailing from Florida to Great Bahama Island and through the Abacos; dolphins in the Great Bahama Banks. We enjoyed a really tame crossing to the West End from Miami, then spent several days making way through the bank and through the Abacos to get to Marsh Harbour. It was a real treat to be back there for a while. Sadly, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abacos this hurricane season, and they will rebuilding for the foreseeable future.
March: Springtime in the Hill Country means wildflowers. I simply LOVE spring in the Hill Country. Monte has cultivated an amazing bluebonnet patch at the chez. I can’t wait to enjoy next year’s bloom, only 3 short months away.
April: Spring migration means birding trips; a visit to the bird blind at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. I spent much less time birding this year than I would have liked. But I did make several trips to the coast at the peak of migration, and will definitely do it again this coming year.
May: A visit to the Pacific Northwest; a view from Mount Rainier National Park. I have always loved Mount Rainier. We picked a nice, though not an absolutely perfect day, to go up to the mountain. The views on the way up and down are almost as stunning as the views from Paradise Visitor’s Center. I also made it back to the Bahamas for a week in May, but this trip to Washington was the highlight.
June: Roadtrip to Colorado and back; one stop was Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo. We had fun on our trip to Estes Park. And on the way home.
July: A two week trip up the ICW from Charleston, SC to Portsmouth, NC; the full moon rising just as we anchored near the Neuse River in North Carolina. It was an amazing experience to take this trip up the Intracoastal Waterway. I learned much, saw many birds, enjoyed the changing scenery along the trip, and never tired of the company. If you ever have a chance to do something similar, just say Yes.
August: Summer heats up in Austin, lots of fun times on the lake, including enjoying Cupholder back in the water. We enjoyed having both Nirvana and Cupholder on the lake this summer. We love having boat guests for the day and / or night. We enjoy our boat friends immensely. And we really need to spend more time out on the lake next year.
September: One of several visits with out-of-towners to Barton Springs Pool to cool off. I have my own custom tour of Austin for friends that are visiting. Sometimes we walk around doing it. Sometimes we do an express version by car. But I love sharing my town with my friends and family when they come for a visit. If the temps are anywhere near 100 degrees F, then we must visit Barton Springs Pool.
October: Let the boat canvas and sail projects commence! I finally organized my various and sundry craft/project supplies in my new, amazing closet workspace. Looking forward to knocking another couple dozen projects of my to-do list next year.
November: Enjoying the Christmas decorations going up at Donn’s Depot. You can walk in the door a Grinch, but as soon as you enter Donn’s Depot after Thanksgiving, you can’t help but feel the Christmas Spirit warm your heart.
December: A trip south along the coast from Charleston, SC (Rainbow Row, below) to Brunswick, GA, via Beaufort, SC and Savannah, SC. Our last trip of the year took me to a place I used to live MANY moons ago, and a few places I’ve never been. I would like to make a followup visit to these parts again.
So many great moments! I’m looking forward to the ones 2020 brings.
When I was catching up with Lori in Charleston, one of the things she mentioned was that Mike had left his phone in their Uber on their last trip. I sympathized as I listened, thinking what a pain it would have been to try to get it back. Well, as luck would have it, I ended up doing the exact same thing three days later!!
We had just tied up at the marina in Savannah. I took a quick shower and tidied up. Then we all bundled into an Uber in the rain to get to Amy Lee’s office to meet up with her and Chris. We enjoyed a really great tour of the historic building that they had restored in Savannah. Then Amy Lee drove us around, giving us a wonderful car-tour that only a decades-long Savannah resident could conduct. Eventually, I patted my jacket pocket, dug through the day-pack that I brought from the boat, only to realize that… I couldn’t find my phone. Lori called my number. We didn’t hear it ring. It wasn’t in our car. Most likely scenario… it probably fell out in the Uber that I had summoned with my phone an hour or two prior.
How was I going to get my phone back?
– Amy Lee called her offices to see if I had dropped it there. Nope. And then she graciously continued our car-tour, while I tried to figure out how to locate my phone from the back seat, and get it back before we had to depart for Brunswick the next day.
– I borrowed Monte’s phone and installed the Uber app, and tried to logon to my account, but I couldn’t recall my password (seriously?!).
– Then I tried to logon to my gmail account via Monte’s phone to see if I had received a message from Uber about my phone. But I couldn’t recall my gmail password (OMG!).
– In the meantime, I sent my phone a text from Monte’s phone saying that if someone found my phone, to please call Monte’s number.
– Then, Lori asked me if I had Find-my-iphone service installed on my phone. Yes, I did! A quick google search told me that I could use icloud.com/find to logon to my apple ID via a web browser and it would help me locate my device. Mercifully, I was able to remember the correct password to my Apple ID. So I was able to logon and quickly saw that my iPhone was in the vicinity but on the move. Brilliant! We tried to track down my phone’s Uber based on the phone’s location, but it was moving faster than we were. So, I used the iCloud.com find-my-phone utility to ping my phone, which sounded an audible alarm on my phone, wherever it was.
Within 5 minutes Monte’s phone rang. A person in the Uber had heard the alarm, found my phone wedged between the backseat and the door, picked it up, saw the text message I had sent, and called Monte’s phone from their own phone. A few minutes later we met up at an agreed-to location for me to get my phone back. I was very lucky. And I was oh so thankful for the outcome. The ordeal had lasted about 30 minutes. I tipped the Uber driver again when she handed me my phone, and we went our separate ways.
Take from this story what you will. Turn on your phone’s find utility if you have one. commit a few passwords to memory. Make sure your phone is secure in your pocket or bag. And travel with a friend with a phone. 🙂
Last week, Monte and I flew to Charleston to meet up with Lori, to crew for her as she moved S/V Trident south to Brunswick, Georgia for the rest of the winter.
Trident in her slip in Charleston is in the foreground, to the right, of the picture below, with 2 tankers getting ready to pass nearby in the narrow Cooper River ship channel just outside the marina, and the Ravenel Bridge in the background. The two-masted schooner at the dock to the left is the 140′ Spirit of South Carolina. We finagled our way on board her to watch the Charleston Christmas Boat Parade up close the night before we departed.
After we landed in Charleston, I had the Uber driver make a side trip to my old house. I moved many times when I was a kid. When I lived in Charleston, I was around 7 to 9 years old, and I think it is the first place I lived where I have lots of my own, real memories – as opposed to memories from snapshots, stories, or individual moments in time. The old chez:
After provisioning and finishing the short pre-departure list of boat chores, we had a chance to walk around Charleston a bit, and sample its great seafood, which was nice. I would like to come back with more time to see the sights. The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park:
Colorful housefronts along Rainbow Row:
We took the Intercoastal Waterway from Charleston to Savannah, anchoring one night in a creek just off the ICW, and staying at marinas in Beaufort and Savannah. We strolled around Beaufort’s oak-lined and moss-draped historic streets, making a stop by the house where The Big Chill was filmed. We had a lovely visit with our niece and her family in Savannah. Amy Lee gave us the best car-tour of its historic downtown, as a slow rain fell. Then we took the outside ocean route overnight from Savannah to Brunswick.
It was very COLD overnight on the ocean, but we made it! Another adventure in the books.
Today is National Lighthouse Day! So, to give a nod to these historic and important navigation aids and the people who keep them running, here are a few I captured in the last year…
Cape Florida Lighthouse, Key Biscayne, from the outside:
and from the inside:
Hopetown, Great Elbow Cay, Bahamas:
Gray’s Harbor Lighthouse, Westport, Washington, from the outside:
And the inside:
Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Coupeville, Washington:
I look forward to capturing many more.
After taking care of the boat yesterday, Lori and I walked around historic Portsmouth. This place is rich with history, homes dating back to the 1700s.
I haven’t talked much about the heat here, but it has been brutally hot and humid for the last two weeks. The east coast is covered with heat advisories. So, while we walked around town, the streets were deserted. The only other folks we ran into were cruisers from another sailboat we passed yesterday. No matter, it was fun to get out and walk around. And last night a front blew through, bringing cooler temps (and rain).
Today we took a foot ferry across the Elizabeth River to Norfolk.
We toured the Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin that is on display there.
This ship played important roles in WWII, the Korean War, and Desert Storm. Amazing; six decades of service.
I am headed back home today. Thanks for the adventure, Lori!
(Note: If you’d like to read the entire 2 week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)