Up and out at 0700. Thought we'd have to face high winds but that never happened. Called Vernon and Sharon just before the first bridge. They were waving from their dock as we got through the bridge. It was good to see them, even if it was through binoculars. Knew we'd need fuel, since we couldn't get it when we stopped last night. Checked the book and decided to try the Bridge Tender Village Marina. Again, the dock master was waiting on the dock to take the line and get us fueled up. Throughout the entire trip, we were deeply appreciative of the marinas that went out of their way to make our stops pleasant. On the other hand, we have nothing but disgust for those that didn't have the courtesy to come out of their warm shacks for anything except to take our money. And believe me, we made notes of both in our book.
We hit the Cape Fear River at 12:30. What a blast. Lots of boats, and I mean BIG boats, or I should say ships. We had the wind and current on our stern and made 62 miles today. We could have done better but we got held up by bridges. We got to our mark at 5:00, Hughes Marina. We weren't quite sure where the marina was so we tied up at a bulkhead and walked to the only building we saw. Turned out, that was Hughes and they gave us directions to the slip we would use, warning us about the shallow water on the right. As we were pulling away from the bulkhead, a small boat came around us. When we turned into the narrow canal that lead to the slip, we were hit with a strong current and Hambone had to do some maneuvering. To make matters worse, that little boat had pulled into our slip. As Hambone was fighting and cussing, I was yelling at the guy to move his boat. Hambone almost bought a couple of brand new Hondas, trying to keep from running aground and fighting the current all the way. As mad as I was, I have to admit the guy saw right away what was happening and moved real fast to get his boat out of the way so we could dock. Hambone showed his skill that day. I don't know how he managed to keep from hitting something. It was the most amazing thing I had seen, up to this point.
Let me tell you how strong the current was. As we got about 3/4 of the way into the slip, the boat stopped dead. We thought we had hit bottom, even though the bottom machine said we had 8 feet of water. Hambone took his trusty manual depth finder out and couldn't feel the bottom so that wasn't it. We got off and tried to pull it further into the slip but it wouldn't budge. So we tied up where we were and went for a drink. Met the couple from that little boat in the bar, Steve and Julia. Even though they probably didn't hear us, we felt kind of bad that we had cussed them out, so we bought them a beer. They were nice people and had made the trip to Florida, down the ICW before. They gave us some tips and hints about what was ahead of us. All in all, a good night.
Shoved off at 0730. We had to wait an extra 30 minutes for the tide to change and ease up on the boat. But it gave us the opportunity to eat breakfast at the marina restaurant. We had a great day, went through the Rock Pile with no problems and the Waccamaw River was great to navigate. Deep water and easy going. It was overcast and a little chilly but no wind and the current was with us. We anchored up behind Butler Island, ahead of schedule. We hope to make Charleston tomorrow and see Hamboneís brother and sister-in-law, Butch and Millie.
Up at 0530 to get an early start to Charleston. The engine would not start. We hooked up the charger and after 45 minutes, the charger showed a full charge but the engine still wouldnít turn over. We took apart the motor box to get a better look at the starter. Hambone broke out a hammer and I wondered if he was going to take out his frustrations on the motor but he gave the starter a couple of taps, hit the start button and she fired right up. Iíve never seen that trick before but I got a lesson that day. Looks like we need to replace the starter when we get home.
We had a great day, the current and wind on our stern. We averaged 10 mph in the first 3 hours then the wind kicked up. Slowed us up a bit but we still averaged about 7 mph all day. We had arranged to meet Butch and Millie at the Toler Cove Marina. The book and charts showed that it was on the right, just past a bridge.
I know I've mentioned "the book" a couple of times, so I guess I should explain what I'm talking about. Before we left, I bought a book called The Intracoastal Waterway (Norfolk to Miami), A Cockpit Cruising Handbook. What a great book. It gives you a mile by mile breakdown of everything you'll see on the water. All the hazards, bridges, anchor spots, and marinas. It was invaluable to us and I highly recommend it to anyone making the trip. The authors are Jan & Bill Moeller. I got the fourth edition and made notes in it of things that were different. There's probably a fifth edition out by now. Anyway, back to the story.
The last two hours of running were pretty nasty. There were crab pots everywhere. This has become one of my pet peeves. Crab pots are not supposed to be in the channel but we saw them all the way down. We had to be alert, both of us watching. We almost got a couple but Hambone managed to avoid them. Thank God. It was a little too cold to be diving and unwrapping line from the prop. We reached Charleston and started looking for the marina entrance. We passed under the Ben Sawyer Highway Bridge and heard someone whistling. We looked up and there was Butch, taking pictures of us and pointing the way. As we turned in, we immediately thought we might be in the wrong place. There were condos all along the water, with private boat slips. We started looking for a place to turn around and as we came around the bend, there was the marina dock, with Butch waiting for us. The dock master was with him, waiting to take our line and tie us up. And it wasnít a minute too soon because the wind started to really blow. We fueled up and heard those beautiful words again, ďLeave her where she is.Ē We went off to Butch and Millieís hotel for a hot shower and then to supper. It was a great visit and so special that they included us in their second honeymoon trip. Back at the boat and in the sack by 8:30. Hoping the wind dies down so we can get going in the morning. 330 miles to home. 6 days max, if we only log the minimum each day, so weíre looking at Sunday arrival.
Off at 0730. Our latest start time so far. We were a little worried that the wind would keep us from leaving but it had calmed down. We headed into Charleston harbor. No one warned us about how big it is. Iíve never seen so many markers and trying to pick ours out was not easy. I missed it the first time and we were all turned around. Finally, Hambone noticed that the city was on the wrong side of the boat so we just stopped and regrouped. I studied the charts and finally figured out where we were and how to get back on track. We lost about 30 minutes because of my mistake. I felt so bad. My main responsibility was to work the charts and here I almost sent us off in the wrong direction. But Hambone was great. He didnít get mad, no ďmonkey danceĒ. He said that we didnít run aground, so everything was fine. After that, we had an easy day, no high winds. Our plan was to anchor at mile marker 516 but when we got there, we didnít want to stop that early, so we checked the book and charts and headed to Bull River. We dropped anchor about 5:00 p.m. We really could have gone further but we didnít see any safe anchor spots. We hope to get a good day in tomorrow. The weather has been cold and clear. We should make Savannah tomorrow and then, 3 more days to home.
Had a good day. It was rainy but fairly calm. We had lots of dolphin come to the boat. They probably thought they could ride the bow wake. Boy, were they disappointed. Our plan was to stop at the Palmer Johnson Marina but we couldnít raise them on the radio. The Savannah Bend Marina answered our call so we went there instead. The dockhand was on the dock, waiting to grab our lines. Iíve said several times what a good feeling that is. I donít know if I can explain how it feels. After 9 or 10 hours of straight running, youíre tired and cold and here is someone to take the line and tie the boat up. Itís hard to describe. And this marina was familiar to us. We had come to Savannah about 4 years ago with my old boss, Julian, to pick up a sailboat he had bought. We volunteered to help him bring it home. In fact, I can blame Julian for showing me a whole different side of boats and fueling my love of them. Hambone has always loved them but I didnít have much exposure to them until we spent 3 days on the Star, helping Julian bring it home. Getting to watch the sun go down while sitting on the boat, with supper cooking and a drink in my hand. What a peaceful feeling and I wanted to do it again and again. Anyway, back to the story. The last time we were here, we ate at the Savannah Bend Restaurant. We were looking forward to doing that again after we got a hot shower, and we took nice, long ones. Their restaurant had closed down but we walked across the field to a place called Despositos for supper and a couple of beers. We ordered some steamed oysters and they were so good that we ordered another dozen after we ate our dinners. Back to the boat by 7:00. The rain was gently hitting the roof but we were snug inside. What a great feeling. Tomorrow, we plan to hang on the hook and then Friday, we should make Fernandina Beach.
Woke to rain but no wind. We got a late start, waiting for the visibility to improve. The whole day was rainy and then the wind started blowing. We entered Sapelo Sound and the day went downhill. I had my eyes peeled for the channel markers and I thought I had them in my sights until Hambone noticed that the depth was getting shallower and we were seeing more crab pots. Not only that but the weather was getting worse. Now we had the wind on our bow and the current on our stern. This made for some pretty high waves. Lorrie was doing some rocking and rolling. Sheíd fall down between two waves and shudder from bow to stern. This being our first trip, we werenít too sure how she would hold together. Hambone started thinking we should turn back but we were over half way across. Then he spots a tugboat, way over to our right. You could bet that he was in the channel so that meant we werenít. As I looked in the direction of the tug with the binoculars, I saw the markers. We were way off course!! Hambone headed toward the tug and the depth started to get deeper. After we got back in the channel, I looked ahead and saw the exit leading out of the sound. Once again, someone was watching over us and we made it to our anchor spot at New Teakettle Creek. The current was ripping so we put the big plow anchor out and hoped it held. If the weather improves, we might make Fernandina tomorrow night. If not, another night, swinging on the hook.
Hambone woke me up about 2:00 am. The wind had let up and the sky was so clear that we could see every star. It should be a good day. Up at 0600, clear and calm. We pulled anchor at first light and headed out. What a great day. We crossed 3 sounds and no problems. The fun really started in Cumberland Sound, which is Kings Bay. What a place that is. We got passed by two huge tugs but they slowed down so they wouldnít swamp us. We saw them again, waiting at the inlet, as we turned for Fernandina. Then we saw them coming back in, escorting a submarine. The patrol boats were out, ordering everyone to leave the area. Luckily, we were on the south side of the sound so we kept going toward Fernandina. We docked at 5:05 and tied up for the night. Went to supper at the Florida House Inn. We had been there before. They have boarding house style dining. Wonderful food. Then it was off to the Palace for a couple of drinks and some blues. It was a great night to top off a great day. One more day to go. Tomorrow we'll be home.
This time we did sleep in until 0700 but still pulled away from the dock at 0720, heading home. We hit the St. Johns River at 10:35. We ran into a sailboat race around Julington Creek area. What a hassle that was. Sailboats have the right of way, if they are under sail. Well, the Lorrie doesnít move too much faster than they do, probably slower than some, so it was hard staying out of their way and dodging the crab pots. But we didnít really mind, we were too close to home. We pulled into our slip at 5:00 p.m. It was wonderful to be home but a little sad too. We had had a great adventure and would miss the special time we spent on the water but we couldnít wait to get started on the renovations. The Lorrie Lynn was officially retired and now the work starts, to turn her into a St. Johns River and Black Creek party boat.
So thatís the end of our journey down the ICW. Before I close, I have to thank some people. Without them, this trip might not have been possible or at least not as much fun.
To Julian, for getting me hooked on boat living, opening up his storage shed and making sure we had some very important items with us, like the heavy plow anchor, which made us feel safe and secure when we swung on the hook, the dingy and motor that got us out of a couple of jams and the exposure suit, which we didnít have to use, thank the lord.
To Danny, who gave up a holiday with his family to come with us on the search for Hambone's dream boat.
To Richard, who also made sure we had a good anchor and who sent the word out to our old dive buddies so they could give us a great sendoff.
To those dive buddies Becky, Al, Linda, Kenny, Monroe, Munk, Jonathan and Debbie, who showed up to wish us well.
To our good friend Thomas, who lent his time and muscle to get us loaded, not to mention the tip about where to stop the first night.
To mine and Hamboneís family, and my best friend Paula & Frank, who didnít quite understand why we wanted to do something like this but who supported us anyway.
And to Scottie, who was always there, and still is, whenever we get a wild idea, ready to help out and make the dream a reality.
We have been truly blessed with good friends and family. We thank them all.