Saturday, November 21, 2015

It's Snow Good to be Home

After spending two days in St. Augustine, we moved on to Palm Coast where Mara Beel is spending the holidays. We drove over to The Villages to visit good friends Kathy and John of Serenity fame. Having completed the Loop several months ago, they are now at home getting used to life on land again. They showed us the sights- The Villages have a lot to offer! Golf carts rule here!

John, Kathy and Mark

Golf carts of every description

Leaving Mara Beel in good hands, we flew home for the holidays- just in time for 11 inches of snow! The first snow of the year is always exciting!

The Mississippi River tow boats are running for a few more days, before the locks shut down for winter. Jennie K spent the night inside Lock 10- it was snowing that hard during the night! The tows and a few crazy duck hunters are the only boats on the water- it's gotta be frigid out there!
Lee Ann Ingram heading north
We will return to Florida in January and cruise over to Fort Myers for two months. Meanwhile, I'm breaking out my snowshoes!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 13, 2015

St. Simon Island to Fernandina, Florida

Yesterday we cruised from Delegal Creek Marina to St. Simon Island, Georgia. We are traveling fast, so it's all a blur! We enjoyed cocktails on board Proud Mary last night with Barrie and Mary Ann- gracious hosts and a lovely boat. And I do mean lovely! And what are the odds of meeting a fellow school librarian on a boat??

We stopped briefly at Brunswick Landing Marina this morning for fuel, since their price is the best around. We cruised around Cumberland Island, where we anchored in the spring,  (wild horses and lots of history)  I bought the book and read about the Carnegie family that owned much of this unspoiled island which is now a natural seashore.  JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were secretly married here. The ICW through Georgia is interesting-- many twists and turns, which add 38 miles to the 100 miles of waterway, and several shallow areas that needs to be coordinated with the tides- and marshes aplenty.

We passed Kings Bay nuclear submarine base unchallenged, and crossed the Georgia/Florida line. It was just a few miles more to Fernandina Harbor Marina. We spent most of the afternoon cleaning the boat, inside and out. It was sorely needed.

Sunset in Florida, cocktails -- it's all good!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Port Royal, SC to Skidaway Island, GA

To backtrack a bit, yesterday we traveled from St. Johns Yacht Harbor, Charleston, to Port Royal. We continue to retrace our route from last spring, but in reverse, heading south instead of north. We spent several days  in Port Royal in April and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights. This time, however, our sight-seeing was limited to a quick trip to Publix in the marina's loaner vehicle.

We started out early again this morning, at 0630- 8 minutes before sunrise. No fog today!!

Sunrise at Lady's Island Bridge at Port Royal
Time to leave the dock!

We crossed the Georgia line and cruised right past Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery, one of the city's biggest tourist attractions. It was well known even before "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

The shallow "skinny water" parts of our route were no problem, since we timed the tides right. The only moments that caused elevated heart rates were those when we exited Fields Cut and entered the Savannah River- part of the city's shipping lanes. This is where the big boys travel. The ICW crosses the shipping lane here, so it's vital to look both ways and broadcast a securite call on the radio. We managed to cross between these two behemoths- they each seemed as big as a city block. Yikes!

The "APL Qatar"
The "Zim Vancouver"
We arrived at Delegal Creek Marina in the early afternoon. We used the marina's golf cart to tour Skidaway Island. The entire island is a planned and gated community of luxury homes called The Landings. Some of the homes are vacation homes while other residents commute to Savannah to work. 

Tonight's sunset was a great one!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Isle of Palms to St. John's Yacht Harbor

We covered just 16 miles yesterday but it seemed longer. The light rain became heavy once we were underway. On this part of the ICW we need to have enough water when we get to the shallow spots like the shoals near the Ben Sawyer bridge. That means scheduling departures and arrivals according to the tides. The recent heavy rains in SC have made the tides higher than usual/ good for boaters but not so much for dirt dwellers. 

Anyway, we encountered heavy rain and minimal visibility as we drove from our lower helm.  Radar and AIS helped us feel our way across Charleston Harbor and no huge cargo ships were in the immediate area. As Mark said, it was a good test of our seamanship skills. (I have never enjoyed tests of any kind. )

After we dried out Glenn and Brenda picked us up and took us to their James Island Yacht Club for dinner. It is an informal, fun group of people. They put on various dinners regularly, and this one was a full blown turkey dinner. Great food!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Georgetown to Isle of Palms

The captain set a wake up call for 0500 today so we could "practice getting away early and quickly." As it turned out, we were enveloped in a thick fog and couldn't leave until around 10:00. Oh well. We are controlled by the weather when cruising.

We docked near the Coast Guard Station last night. The fog carried the sound of Reveille this morning, along with another call I didn't recognize. To quote our friend Andy, too fun!

We expected to experience a few transition "pains" as we re-adjusted to life on board Mara Beel after 5 months of "dirt dwelling." It didn't happen! Once we stepped on the boat, it felt as though we had never left. I was a little anxious about cruising solo, which we had not done since last fall. But, traveling by ourselves is comfortable. We come and go as we please (well, except for weather) and are re-tracing our route from April and May- so the bread crumbs are on our chart plotter. It's all good!

After an uneventful 5 1/2 hour trip we arrived at the Isle of Palms, Charleston. We had a wonderful shrimp dinner at the Long Island Cafe with friends Betsy and Mason. I forgot to snap a photo, darn it!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Georgetown, SC

We had another great day of cruising, arriving in Georgetown in the early afternoon. The Socastee Swing Bridge was broken just 3 days ago and closed to boat traffic. Fortunately it has been repaired and is swinging happily so we cleared with ease.

We are seeing Spanish moss and palm trees again! The Waccamaw River portion of our ride was much more scenic than the "ditch" around Myrtle Beach. 

We are docked on the Great Pee Dee River at Georgetown Landing. We enjoyed a leisurely 3 mile walk through this historic town-- the third oldest in the state.  63 buildings here date back to 1737, when rice and indigo were booming crops. The main industries today are shrimping and the paper mill. 

We will move on  to Charleston tomorrow.

We left Barefoot Landing early!

The Rice Museum

One of the town's historic homes

A  downtown shop 

Thursday, November 5, 2015


We finally untied our lines and left the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC, as soon as the morning fog lifted. 28 miles down the river and we were back on the ICW. We covered 70 miles today, humming along at an impressive 10 mph. We had no issues whatsoever. Our twin 3208's ran beautifully, the water was calm, and traffic was light.

We are docked for the night in North Myrtle Beach, and had a terrific dinner with Andy, Julie, Dave and Di at the Flying Fish restaurant.  It's great to be on the move again. 

Cargo ship on the Cape Fear River

Barefoot Landing Resort Marina