The flat calm out of Georgetown

The little Georgetown Harbor

Entering Charleston Harbor at dusk with container ship at port side

The 1500 foot Mega dock

From the top of Cooper River Bridge...we walked up

Carnival Fantasy cruises leave from Charleston

Sunset somewhere offshore of Hilton Head

The emptiness of looking east

Lisa with Anchor at anchor on the newly christened POOP deck

Low tide on the Megadock ...a 7.6 foot tidal change

Waiting for weather in Charleston SC

The big girl blows by us leaving Charleston


December 13, 2014

December 1st Monday: We are "all systems go" for leaving Georgetown this morning. Lisa and I concur that the ocean is calling us. It's an unfamiliar call too. We haven't been really out there since the NJ coast. We are tiring of ICW troubles and want some new troubles, so we are going out "Winyah Bay" and via the ocean channel to turn south to towards Charleston. Out the little Georgetown channel and into the Waccamaw River again. It's a few markers to check off, but then it's fairly wide and deep and the tide is running out. We find ourselves setting new records here with boat speeds over ground of 9.4 kts. Within an hour and a half we are in the ocean and setting our sights on some sea bouys along the way on this 45 or so miles of travel. It is about 10am as we start clicking off the miles. Wind is nonexistent and the flat ocean rolls us around like someone has us in a pie tin of water and just keeps rollie-polieing the whole container. It's just that this is a really large container. First goal of "East Bank" shoal is passed. That's good, and we're onto looking for "Cape Romain" shoal which we pass at 11:50am. Now the next thing is a "Bull Breakers Bay" marker which goes by at 3:30pm. We have quite a ways to go before the Charleston Inlet begins and darkness will be looming large. Some breeze came up from the west and our head sail is doing a fine job of assisting. We know sunset is 5:08pm and figured we'd have light until 5:25pm. The next marker is "Rattlesnake Shoal" and from there it's three miles to the rock jetties to get started into the harbor. We pass "Rattlesnake" at 4:30pm. I still have hopes, but not realistic hopes. Okay here we go, we're at the rock jetties and the sun is just setting. Lisa is saying I should see 3 reds, each a mile apart before we need to change course. There is just enough light for me to see red, but as we pass the third one, it's all flashing llights. Yes, and the tide is running out so that my 5.6 knots of speed is actually 3.3 kts "speed over ground". Hey, there is a radio transmission to an inbound sailing vessel from a self-described "Container Ship". That's to us!, I think. A quick answer to this calm mystery voice, "This is S/V inbound". Response: "Capt., I''m the container ship exiting the port, and we'll be passing you port to port". I agree to this and thank you, container ship. It isn't 3 minutes and he's going by. Gomer Pyle again, "shaazaam"...look at that. DON'T look too long, we have miles to go in the dark. Back to work with our new "all light only" experience. I've called the City Marina to advise of our timeframe and no worries there. They advise me they have night men who will be on the dock. Just call them on "16" when you pass the "Red 4", and they'll be there for you. Whoo, that's comforting, if it's true. All right, the play unfolds. Lisa on the computer screen is watching us second by second. She says we have to go the "green" and turn to a 324 course, that's the Mt. Pleasant range. At the 4 second flashing green, it's a turn to a 275 course. Ok, now, this is tricky. It's a 2+1, quick flashing red, every 6 seconds. Crap, where's Tom Alley and Merrill now, but yes, I remember that USPS lesson. It's says, it's junction marker leaving the South Channel. There is a South Channel Range of two greens going off also. There's just a lot of lights all over, but we are zeroed in on just ours and ignoring all the others and it's working pretty well, In fact, now we only have the flashing red every 2.5 seconds to find and we are home free. The red 4 is our stop. This channel is 23 foot deep for a width of 300 feet. That's humongous depth and width for us now. Darkness is now being good to us and we try to make out lights that may be our dock. Another phone call gives me "John" the dock guy and he's got a spot light to illuminate our place on the 1500 foot mega face dock. He says to look for the red 4. I know that, but it's not showing up. Nothing is said about that, we just keep plugging along thinking it will appear for us. After the 275 course, Lisa had me on a 305, 318, and now we are so close. We can see the spot light from John, but no red 4. Forget the four, we will just begin to approach the dock. The current is about 1.3 knots against us, and as we see our spot (the spot light from John) at number 1270 they said, on the 1500 foot dock, there goes the red 4. It's unlighted! No wonder. We'd never find that no how, no matter what. It just oozed by us in the dark. But we don't care, as Lisa has lines and fenders placed, and we are trying to find the right power level to keep a nice forward speed of one knot and work our way into that spot light. The current can not be parallel to the dock, of course. So as I try to move into the dock spot, I'm sliding towards the dock too, ever so slowly. It's hairy for a bit because as we approach our little 60 foot open spot, I'm trying to not slow down so much that we slide into the boat I'm moving along side of, but get slow enough so John can grab the line and get us stopped. Squeeeze...Slide more, cross current, some words to John, look at the bow of the boat I'm sliding towards, (worry some more) John's got a line, cleats it, says "no worries"...done. We are tied up after two hours of darkness in the Charleston Harbor. Lisa had been tired and sleepy, but no more she says. We're all riled up and ready for walking the "Anchor". She's ready too. It's a 2500 foot walk to get to shore. wow. We get a few directions from John to get us to tomorrow and found a little store right there. We bought slim jims and string cheese and beer...and you know what...poof, we're completely done. We left Georgetown at 7:15am, and we are tied up here at 7:30pm. Quite a day.

December 2nd Tuesday through December 9th Tuesday: We were only going to be here for four days. However, the weather was not cooperative. In talking to other travelers, we are torn between ICW and ocean. The weather issues are not so much a concern for more ICW, but the low tide and shallowness is. We can avoid that by going back outside, but then the tameness of the weather is paramount. We think we want to go back outside again and make some bigger progress to Florida. Savannah is nice too, but it's 8 miles up the River. So, if we're outside and come into Savannah, we have a long way in and out. Let's try going all the way to St. Mary's and we'll be done and in Florida. We'll wait for the weather we like and head off shore. Our friends Scott and Sally in their 37 Pacific Sea craft are faced with the same issue and make the same decision. The City marina is nice too. There is a shuttle every hour. Where ever you want to go around town just be at the gazebo at the hour and the van will take you. It also goes to West Marine every day at 11am. If your out, call them and they'll pick you up on their way back to the marina. It works good. This dock is 1500 foot long. Dogs that have been on the boat all day can't make it to shore. Dogs pee on the electrical pedestals. Sometimes you have to be careful where you step too. The boats are extraordinary. There's a 120 foot three masted thing from Britain parked here. There's a Nordhaven 57 parked behind us. Hinkleys, valiants, Flemings, grand banks and swans line the dock. It's quite a sight. We do all these days and the weather isn't stellar, but we're having a nice time walking that battery of the City several times and doing some errands and shopping all the while hoping our choice of open ocean will work out for us soon. Poof, poof, poof, poof, poof, all those days go by one by one and now we think we can go on Wednesday December 10th.

December 10th, 11th & 12th Wednesday through Friday: The tide is still coming in as I want to get going. Some others are waiting for slack. It's almost slack and we want to get started because we think it will be 31 hours to get to St.Mary's Inlet. All day, all night and all day tomorrow. A little botch getting off. Damn tidal current. My spreader caught in the ketch boom of the sail boat ahead of me. No problem, we sized up any issues quickly, everyone's okay, no damage and off we go, bruised ego and all. We are looking forward to seeing the harbor in the light now. It takes us two hours to get back out where we can turn south to get started. We have some NW wind so the first thing we do is put sail up. I single reef and some headsail. Seem to be working. We have the acceptable 5 knots. The ocean is not flat today but not overwhelming either. That 120 foot three masted thing is also out here. She came out right behind us and left us in the spray, so to speak. Now the long slog begins. I put out the large scale chart and begin plotting what the GPS numbers say every hour. The famous hourly plotting. The wind direction makes us steer southeast and we go that way until dark making ity-bity progress all the time. Sometimes not in the best direction. Okay, the wind has changed more southerly, the sails are not doing their part and it is getting dark. I'm done sailing and want to put all this stuff away to be settled for a long night. We are 18 miles offshore and the wind is kind of annoying out of the south. I think we should steer towards shore more and see if it minimizes the annoying waves. It's dark as dark can be. Lisa says, it wasn't this eerie off the Jersey shore. It's so dark and there's no lights anywhere. No nothing. Yea, I know. Well, the kind spirits heard her, because in a bit after that...bang, hey Sweetie, look at that moon. A big yellow kind of harvest moon comes up over the eastern horizon and all is well. The moon is a friend and makes us secure. (oh, boy, what world our we in) Also, look at that. What...are all those lights out there. Lisa. I see some yellow ones, then some white/green ones and thirdly I see a whole lot of yellow again towards the west. They may be miles and miles away but that's where we want to be. Looking at the chart, we are coming upon Tybee Inlet. Could be part of the issue. We will let it pend for a while and watch what changes. An hour later, nothing changes. The lights have altered shades, angles sizes, and we've conjured up many images of what they may be. It seems like the right thing is to put out further to sea and go around all of it as they are getting, shall we say, too close for comfort. About an hour later it becomes almost clear. Vessels of some sort waiting for entrance to Savannah. The only apparent one was a container ship. They're all spooky, but nice seeing something to replace shear darkness, with the exception of the faint hearted yellow moon helping us out. Onward we go into the 3am hour. I hate this. I hate 3am and being awake. My boat's for sale, that's it, I'm done. Oh, yea, I'd better keep plotting, quit daydreaming. No, it can't be daydreaming...it's 3am, what do you call it. That's what happens at 3am. Crazyness. Two more hours the sun will come up. The wind is crappy and is building for some reason. It's supposed to be surrine. Two more ships passed us at some incongruent angle of no concern. They were far away. We must head closer to shore again after going around those obstacles. I'm dying for the sun to rise. Slamming waves and can't see any of them. It's not that they're real big, it's just our angle. They won't last. Sure enough, the good sea gods prevail here and the wind comes westerly, so I tell Lisa we will roll out a little jib to stabilize us and it works good. The sun is a rising. I see purple to the east and when it is up we are just as alone as before only it's light. There are no boat friends. Where did everyone go? The big parade on the ICW dosen't apply here, I guess. Goodness, we have 48 miles to go. Oh yea, listen to this. We decided long ago we couldn't make St. Mary's inlet by dark on Thursday, so we altered our coming in point to be St. Simon's Sound. That's 48 miles to go. But we are getting there and the hours go by. We have seen some boats now as we near the inlet. The day is a sunny one and I have long almost forgotten I did not sleep last night. We have an inlet to negotiate, thankfully in the day light. Here we go. A big ship channel it says and there are at least three big'uns coming out as we approach. We take our respective positions, with Lisa at the computer screen ready to give me the steering angles as necessary. Works fine. We are pros. Steering straight around the green, steering left up the littler channel, and the sun is setting soon. We've called our Jekyll Island marina when our phone service came back from being out and we have a spot. Do we ever want to get there! Yes. You know what? We have more than three miles to go and the last part is a twisty little creek. The dock guy said he'd be here until six, but that's dark. We can't be in that little creek, Jekyll Creek in the dark. Now it's shallow, it's low tide....it's clear, we must abandon this plan and make a new one. Spin this boat around and back out into St. Simon's sound we go. Where do we go. No Really! Where are we going to be for the night!? Ahh, Lisa glances at Skippers Bob's and sees something called "Lanier Island". We're headed to there as we only have light for a few more minutes. Around this "Red 20" there is couple greens marking a river and that's about the beginning of where "Skipper Bob" says you can anchor. I see twelve feet deep right now and we are just pass the green marker. Let's do it. I'm dropping it, just back us off a little. Down, done, chain rode, more rode...reverse gear, harder and we stop. Pheww, let's stop and hope for the best. Look at the chart, we are just off the ICW, even though we can look the other way and see the inlet we came in. We think we did good here on the spur of the moment. We explain the problem to Anchor the Chihuahua and after some coaxing she "goes" PP on deck. She hasn't gone since Wednesday am and it's Thursday at 6pm. We eat sandwiches and being not too sure of where we really anchored we sleep fully clothed and ready for action should any be necessary. All is calm, all is bright, to quote a saying from the season, and it lasts all night. We just had to wake for the tidal change which moved us around but no incidents and the morning arrives with a bright sun shiny day. We slept pretty well considering. A couple cups of peculated coffee, a phone call to the Jekyll Harbor Marina to explain and book for tonight and all is well. The real highlight this morning was....we now have an "Official Poop Deck". Anchor gave it up and defied her need for ground. This occurred on the 90th day from Watkins Glen. A big celebration is planned. This turns out to be a fantastic anchoring spot. We are on the edge of the ICW, and boats are slowly moving by us and the shipping channel is overlapping the ICW so we see some large ships moving along this morning too. I want to move at high tide which is 11:30 am, so if it really was that shallow we're ok moving into Jekyll Creek today. Perfect. We slowly move along famously until we are close by and the dock guys are ready for us. What a nice day and we are ready for a deep breath and a walk on terra firma. We get checked in and just enjoy the view which is very nice and the temperature is an inviting 60 something. We're staying. Our friends in the Pacific Seacraft went further out to sea and were planning on staying out until they reached Fort Pierce. Jekyll Island is our friend for now. The boaters have a little campfire on shore which we visited last night and upon return at 10:30pm we see a strong spotlight shining at us. It takes awhile but it's coming closer and it is a 200-300 foot long barge being pushed by a tug right by us. Couldn't be 100 feet away and it's headed into that little creek. Boy, are we novices. Haven't heard from Dennis lately, we'd better call and see what's up with that? Oh, yes, just checked on Scott and Sally by phone to see if there was any answer....and found they arrived in Fort Pierce at 2am today. Safe and sound. Our itinerary, is hoped to be from here...Cumberland Island, St Mary's Ga., Fernandina and St. Augustine. St. Augustine by Christmas is a loose time line. Hope it works out. Didn't have a Wednesday Night, no poof, Thursday was a semi-night at anchor..half-poof and last night was really good, big poof.

SOOO, stay tuned for more adventures of the "good ship LeeSeaAnne"

Terry

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