We are home….

We did get the boat pulled out around 11:00 on Tuesday. We had to wait for the tide to come in a bit, as low tide was at 8:30 AM. When Joe took Coconut to shore in the morning, the piers for the travel lift were showing about 5 feet of dead oyster shells above the water and we were glad that we didn’t have to bring the boat in against it.

By 11:00, the water was high and deep enough for us to bring the boat in. We got a text message from the yard that they would be ready in 20 minutes. We were ready and got busy raising the anchor with the manual windlass and rigging docklines. We were aware that we had to approach the travel lift in a narrow channel behind a small island. The channel was about 50 feet wide and had a number of boats tied up along the docks on shore. Just enough room for us to get in. We just had to come in even with the dock and spin the boat 90 degrees without moving forward or backwards. Easy, right? No bow thruster, no stern thruster… Well, at least we have a huge rudder and we used that with our forward prop thrust and got the boat aimed right in. Mona was ready with the dock lines but the didn’t need them. This yard is so professional, two guys did everything from the dock with boat hooks, getting her in the Travel Lift easily.

From there, it was an easy transition to raising her, moving to dry land, pressure washing and moving her to her new spot in the yard. This move to the yard was interesting. Not at all,Ike the crew up north with Moonlight. The boat was placed on a cradle and moved with a diesel powered hydraulic buggy. This machine was built from scratch by Rocky, the yard owner to move cradles around. All the cradles are built by Rocky as well. They are all exactly the same size on the bottom so that the buggy can straddle them, grab them, pick them up and move them. Very efficient. One person can move any cradle in the yard and place it anywhere. We were impressed. We should have taken a picture.

The next day, it took us until 4:00 to clean our stuff off and cover the boat. Fortunately, it was a perfect day—not hot or humid. We lined up a guy to check on the boat making sure the cover stays on, the batteries stay charged and the little humidifier inside is keeping up with the humidity.

We got on the road about 4:15 and drove until about 10:30. We were too tired to try to drive all the way through. We stayed in a hotel in a small town on the Alabama border and were on the road the next morning by 6:30. The hotels are not serving breakfast and didn’t even have coffee available in the lobby.

It was a marathon, but we made it home about 1:00 a.m. There is no reason to stop anywhere. Nothing is open, there is no traffic and fast food in your car is the only dining option. We made a quick stop at Qwik Trip for some essentials. Hey, they have roasted chickens now! We were very glad to be home since an ice storm moved in the next day.

Thank you for following our adventures and keeping in touch with us. What a long strange trip it’s been…….

Heading to Cumberland Island

Sunday, the 29th of March

We were up early and off the dock by 8:30. Our boat neighbors were out to say goodbye. We had exchanged boat cards with them and hope our paths will cross in the future. After stopping for a pump out, and heading out the Turtle River, we were back cruising the ICW. It was going to be another glorious day.

An astonishing site was the Lanier bridge, her upper portions containing the cables, were in the clouds.

We were thankful for a beautiful, sunny, low humidity day. It was pretty perfect for our last cruise. We went past Jekyll Island, seeing the Jekyll Island Club and the docks from the water and the beach we had trespassed on with Coconut.

At the end of Jekyll, Cumberland Island comes into view. You can see the island quite a distance away as it contains tall sand dunes. First though we had to take quite a twisted path, out into the ocean to avoid shallow spots. I believe it gave us a feel for what being “outside” [the intracoastal] would feel like. I didn’t care for is. Choppy waves and wind made for a slightly uncomfortable ride.

In the inlet. Cumberland Island coming into view.
Rare sighting—a sailboat actually sailing on the ICW

What I forgot to mention is a bit of a technical difficulty we ran into. We have a Garmin GPS on the boat but Joe also runs a program named AquaMap on his iPad that not only has the charts, our path and navigational information, but he is able to plot our course exactly. We have found it does deviate at times from the Garmin. Well, Mr iPad chose today to not load GPS any longer. Joe fiddled with it on and off all day, but more or less we decided she’s toast. He does have the program loaded on his phone so we can look at that and the Garmin but we were thankful it is the end our trip. Where does one buy an iPad safely these days? My iPad does not contain GPS so we could not use it…where is that chart book 😉?

So, after a wonderful 4.5 hours enjoying our ride, we arrived at Cumberland Island’s southern end and dropped anchor into a great spot. We were expecting more of a primitive location, but the US Navy has giant ships, buildings and other accouterments on the land side of the waterway. The island is a National Park and National Seashore.

Pursuit at anchor. Photo taken from Cumberland Island

We joined several sailboats that we noticed later were all Canadians. We are not sure what they will be doing as venturing further North is difficult on a boat these days. Maryland and New Jersey have all but shut down marinas. We also talked to Canadians who were being told to get home or risk losing their medical insurance. One boat had laundry hung over the lifelines so possibly they are waiting out the worst of the virus situation here.

We launched the dinghy and went to shore. Normally, a ferry runs here for tours of the island but it is not running. However, there is a nice dock to tie to. There were many smaller pleasure boats tied here as well. It was Sunday and one thing you can still enjoy is a boat ride with your family. We were surprised to be greeted by a Park Ranger. She told us they would keep the area open for visitors as long as the groups practiced social distancing. She needed to report back to her superiors how many people were visiting and if she felt there were too many people. Another fortunate result is that the wild horses were all over the open areas around the dock. The lack of people brought these feral horses out. It was one of the things I have wanted to see since being on the barrier islands. Now my vision was a horse running down a beach but this would do just fine.

The Ranger also told us about the ruin 1/2 mile down the road called Dungeness. I had a weak memory of reading about a mansion’s ruins so off we went. Our first encounter was found by Coconut. A branch was on the ground with some type of animal rustling around by it…a bunny?…groundhog?….what the heck?, an armadillo!! Joe was thrilled as his father loved these creatures. We fought Coconut back. Didn’t think that meeting would go well.

We saw many more horses and then we came across the beautiful burned out ruins of Dungeness. This 59 room mansion was built by Thomas Carnegie (Andrew’s younger brother and business partner) and his wife Lucy in 1884. It was abandoned in the 1920’s during the depression and later burned in 1950. We were told by the Ranger the story is that the caretaker physically forced some hunters off the land, possibly shooting at them, and later that night the home was set afire.

Wrought iron entrance to Dungeness
Front of home from road
Back of house facing gardens and waterways
Portion of gardens and waterway
Dungeness

Dungeness Mansion was intended as a winter home for Thomas Carnegie, his wife Lucy, and their 9 children. Though Thomas passed away soon after construction, Lucy Carnegie went on to spend more and more time and resources on the island estate. Several additions and remodels were made over the next thirty years. By the time Lucy passed away in 1916 the mansion had grown to approximately 35,000 square feet

The mansion itself was gigantic but another ruin was the “recreation building” with an indoor heated swimming pool, steam room, billiard room, gun room, gaming rooms, guest bedrooms and the bachelor pad of Frank Carnegie.

Recreation building

There were massive gardens to help make Lucy’s goal of being self sufficient. There was a greenhouse, storage buildings and a water wheel, which may have been to provide water to the fountains. There had been a boat house and dock but they no longer remain.

It was a wonderful hike back into the jungle to look into this privileged past. However, it was hot. Very hot. We were glad we had water with us. Miss Coconut, with her heavy, shaggy, fur coat was a bit overheated but as always, a trooper.

The next morning we went for a short walk before leaving. This time, Coconut discerned a dung beetle. Fascinating….Really.

We were walking back to the dinghy and stopped by a small beach. Coconut started to growl and I looked out on the water and there was a manatee! First and only one we saw this trip. It was in very shallow water and was wearing a fancy tracking device it pulled along—it looked like a floating water bottle. That was cool. My dog found all the great creatures except the horses and wild turkeys that we saw ourselves.

Ok, back on the boat to prepare for departure to St. Mary’s boatyard. Joe hoisted the anchor (we have a manual windlass ) and off we went. Now I think I mentioned we were near a large Naval yard and we did enjoy a loud and vigorous rendition of the Star Spangled banner coming from there early in the morning, but it was curious there were several coast guard boats out patrolling. Dang, they were coming close to us. Damn, the blue lights are on. We slowed down and they pulled up along side us. Oh no we were saying to each other. Now they must be seeing where people are heading. We were actually almost in Florida’s waters and we were told Florida was stopping people. Ok, what’s up? They asked where we were heading and we said to St. Mary’s to be hauled out. Oh, he said you should be ok. He told us a submarine was going to be passing through here and they were just making sure it was all clear. Whew. They were very nice, but being approached by a boat with a machine gun mounted on top is a bit frightening. Ok, we continued on up the winding river and didn’t get to see the sub.

We arrived at the St. Mary’s Boat yard about an hour early so we dropped anchor. We got there early as we moved fast due to tides and current… We were told to wait for a text to move the boat into the well for haul out. About an hour and a half after our appointed time, we received the text: “ no more hauls today. The travel lift has a flat tire.” Ok, well lot worse could be happening. It was a nice anchorage and we still had food and liquor. We were rewarded with sightings of Roseate Spoonbills. Beautiful!

St. Mary’s boatyard


Brunswick still…

Wednesday, March 25

We mentioned the size of this marina. Here is our dock, No. 4. There are 15 docks like ours and then a long perpendicular dock on the end with maybe 30 more slips. I think there are 450 slips. There is a lot of space between the docks too; we are not packed in like some places and it makes maneuvering your boat a lot easier. There are 3 bathroom buildings, the one in the center contains the boaters lounge with free beer and wine, a kitchen, computer area, library and laundry. There are gatherings 3 times a week, but these have been put on hold. The sweet town is in walking distance and they have bikes to use. We see why so many people stay long time periods here.

You can barely see Pursuit’s tan canvas biminis at the metal ramp
Brunswick Landing Marina

It is very quiet here for a marina. A lot of cars are in the lot but people are hiding out. We Really miss the interaction with other boaters. Today we got a bit of it while we were adding grommets to our boat’s cover out in a common area. One live aboard couple noticed our Wisconsin license plate (use to that now) and stopped to talk. They left four years ago from Red Wing. Their track has included many of the places we have been.

Another couple, from Oregon, are in a quandary as to what to do. Boat Storage is hard to find and they are not sure if driving all the way cross country is the best thing to do.

It would have been so different here with the great boat neighbors and boaters’ lounge…..not to mention restaurants, bars and shops.

On Thursday, we drove out to Jekyll Island. We have also been here before by car but a drive is a nice change of pace…and safe. I imagine a lot of you are driving around a bit too.

We got the opportunity to sneak out on a beach — wholly Coconut’s idea!

Coconut laughing at my hair

At this beach is a spot called “the boneyard.” It contains ancient pines and live oaks preserved by salt air and bleached by the sun. Pretty cool. It’s estimated that nearly 1,000 feet of Jekyll’s beaches have been lost to erosion since 1900.

Yet another view of the tipped over ship

On the opposite end of the island is the historic Jekyll Island Club. In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It soon became recognized as “the richest, most inaccessible club in the world.” Club members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field. At one point it was estimated that 1/5 of the worlds wealth were here on a weekend!

Members prized the island for its “sense of splendid isolation,” beautiful landscape, and moderate climate. Jekyll Island, with its cottage colony and clubhouse, was viewed as a little paradise, where members and guests pursued “a life of elegant leisure.” Today, the former Club grounds comprise a 240-acre site with 34 historic structures. The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark is one of the largest ongoing restoration projects in the southeastern United States, attracting curious guests from around the world. There are many places you can stay on the grounds.

These photos were taken from the historic district website depicting a few of the millionaire’s cottages.

Goodyear Cottage
Indian Mound Cottage
or Rockefeller Cottage
Moss Cottage
Jekyll Island Club Resort
We had cocktails in a tiny downstairs pub several years ago

As we were leaving the island, this ship was entering the harbor. It is the same type as the one that tipped over, a car carrier. You can see how much of it is above the water. As we crossed over the magnificent bridge, we had also passed under with Pursuit, this ship was directly below us. A very cool occurrence. The bridge is the Sidney Lanier Bridge. It spans the Brunswick River. This cable stayed bridge replaced the original vertical lift bridge which was twice struck by ships! It’s total height is 486’; the clearance below is 185’. Truly an awesome sight.

Friday

We spent most of the day getting Pursuit ready for storage until next January when we return. The fact we’ve been on her for two full months seems unbelievable. So much has changed in the world.

We headed to Home Depot for vacuum storage bags for all of our linens, 2x4s to hold up the cover and plywood to replace the doors we are taking home to refinish. We need to sort out all the “stuff”… what stays, what goes home and what needs to be protected from high humidity. Apparently it is more humid here than NSB where we have stored boats previously. We will be renting a humidifier from the storage yard.

We really felt the scope of the humidity one evening when we were having cocktail hour in the cockpit—it was pretty hot (for me anyway), about 88 degrees, all at once the no-seeums showed up. If you have never experienced these tiny biting gnats, you are very lucky. We got chased inside! And to think it’s only March 😳

We believe it is time to go home, besides the fact we have been gone 2 1/2 months, every time we take Miss Coconut off the dock, she pulls us toward the truck!

Brunswick II

Monday, March 23

Today was rent car go find truck day. Again, the truck was too far away. Why did we do this again? Four hours one way to Georgetown in a cheap car. Why do we upkeep renting cheap cars ? Because we’re cheap. 😙

The drive up was pretty uneventful. Noticed a few signs for towns out on the coast that we had visited. We drove highway 17 which we thought would be scenic but it was not.

We arrived in Georgetown in a little less than four hours having stopped at McDonalds (could find nothing else open when we were hungry) for a truly terrible hamburger.

Happiness when we arrived in Georgetown though….Esther’s car was parked in the lot. Ya’all remember our friend Esther “I’m a Southern Lady and I drink hard liquor”. ❤️ We stood on the dock and Esther stayed on the boat. We want to be safe. It was nice to see her and catch up. She is doing well, but like all of us misses her friends and routine. We found out the newspaper building just behind the dock was being torn down soon for yet another large hotel. Again, quit building these things. I asked Esther who the hell was going to be staying in this hotel. Younger people don’t like the big chain hotels and older people just lost all their money. Ok, I didn’t say that last part but … come on enough is enough. She said “you Damn Yankees! Well, she might not have said “damn” but it goes together so well.

We had to get back on the road so we bid adieu. We will keep in touch and hopefully run into Esther and her son Tom when we come back next January. We took alternate 17 on the way home. It went through many small towns before it hit the freeway but it was nice. The azaleas are in bloom everywhere. Truly everywhere. I drove by a cemetery that seemed to have as many azaleas as headstones. Plus, Joe drove the bitty car and my Spectrum radio had an excellent playlist. Still, a long day.

We have walked around Brunswick a bit prior to getting the car. So much to do here. Sad that we won’t be able to go to the Richland rum distillery or local brewpub. We will see about buying the rum though. Georgia’s only rum distillery! The downtown seems to be in the process of being revitalized. There were many beautiful parks and buildings. So many shops, restaurants and pubs. We did get take-out from a Caribbean place and it was wonderful. Plantains mon.

A long dock along the waterfront has a tall ship (it’s for sale) check out Peacemaker, one of the American Cruise line ships we’ve run into before was here as cruise ships are not running and a huge Panamanian cargo ship unloading its freight.

A very large park on the waterfront held a farmers market under a permanent shelter. Some fellow boaters walked by and pointed it out to us. Since there were very few customers, we walked through. We are trying to deplete our food on the boat but some fruit would be good (for cocktails).

Farmers market

This town was established in 1738 when a 1,000 acre plantation was built on the Turtle River. The same river where Pursuit is right now. By 1789, the city was recognized by President Washington as having been one of five original ports of entry for the American colonies. It was an important ship building location during WWII and is a productive port city to this day.

Some lovely buildings

Tuesday

We drove out to St Simons Island which we missed last time we were here (by car). It is worth it to retrieve our truck now and then. However the original plan was some beach time with our friends Keith and Cheryl.

It is a long narrow island and seems to have a long narrow golf course going down the middle. It contained a lot of marshland and a lot of gated communities. The moss lined oaks along the streets made it picture perfect. There was a lot of people out and about here.

Another historic island with a beautiful working lighthouse, a battle site and Fort Frederick National Monument. Shockingly, the monument area was open. We wandered around the remnants of an old British colony and the fort used to defend against the Spanish. This area was self-guided so we spent a bit of time there, mostly by ourselves except for a few guys walking their dogs. We weren’t prepared for a hike so my sandals got a bit destroyed and coconuts pretty white paws were not so pretty but a hose on the side of the office building remedied the situation.

Remnants of Fort Frederick built 1736
Unfortunate place to anchor!
Active light house on southern end of island

Of course the beaches were closed but we did get this shot of the rolled over ship, the Golden Ray, from another angle. There seems to be more equipment there. We cannot imagine how noisy it will be when they start cutting it up!

Beautiful Cedar

We are making the best of it and enjoying our last few days on Pursuit. Stay safe y’all.

Brunswick

First we need to state that yes, the Coronavirus is constantly on our minds and totally affecting our trip even though we are not writing much about it. It really hit home while we were in Savannah. Be assured, we are not taking this lightly. Our decision was to stay on the boat away from people. We discuss it daily and are getting advice from medical friends and family. We feel we are pretty safe. We also are very fortunate to have been able to anchor out and obtain slips where we want them. Those traveling north by boat in Florida are not so lucky. Many marinas are closed. Especially City run ones or those with attached restaurants.

It is disappointing that we didn’t get to meet up with friends and family or visit the beautiful city of Savannah. Thanks again Loren and Deb you were our only get together. My, that seems a long time ago and how things have changed. We also miss not meeting new people. Half the fun of this journey is talking to people.

We will haul the boat next Monday and prepare the boat for storage until we come back next January. Our planning ahead really worked for us this time as the boat storage yard near the Florida border was only taking their old customers due to the virus but because we had several conversations with them and had sent our insurance and other paperwork, they made an exception for us.

So, we are here in this lovely little town of Brunswick. A few things are open. A couple on a catamaran two boats down were fun while they were here. They had two dogs and fished off the boat like crazy. We could talk across the docks. They were new to boating and bought a catamaran. It’s for sale! Wrong boat. We know all about that problem 😏

The marina is huge, with 12 small docks and one long one. Amazing. Brunswick Landing is very well planned, clean and has lots of green space. They have a dog park and a community building. Free beer, wine and laundry. Clean and spacious.We are beginning to prepare the boat for her long summer storage. We are bringing her 3 wood doors home for refinishing (if they fit in the truck). We’ll cut temporary doors from plywood. Another project for Joe. Joe will be replacing the belts on the alternator and testing it. He’s concerned that it is not charging the batteries to peak. We may be bringing the alternator home to be rebuilt as well. All the canvas will be rinsed free of salt. The boat itself will be power washed at the boatyard

We have started packing up clothing and putting extra bedding, etc in tubs or sealable bags. Our research tells us to wipe down all surfaces with vinegar to reduce the chance of mildew. It’s a bit different then storing our sailboat for winter! We have several days to prepare her before we leave for St. Mary’s and the haul out. There we will put the cover on and finish closing up the boat. We will anchor out one last night prior to heading to St. Mary’s, possibly at Cumberland Island. This is an island that has wild horses. We wanted to explore this island and if it seems worthwhile will do it next January. We are fine and enjoying the warm weather! Thank you for thinking of us.

Making our way through Georgia

We did have one more night at anchor. It was a very strange place. Sapelo Island, a barrier island, which from the map looks like it contains a DNR run research facility. Since it was listed as an anchorage, and had a ferry dock, we thought it would be a good place to stay and be able to dinghy to shore. In this area, marinas or stops of any type are few and far between. The wind had picked up quite a lot, which made the areas open to the ocean a bit rough but we chugged along, enjoying the scenery and waving at a few cruising boats starting to venture north.

By the way, these forays near the ocean confirmed to both of us that we would not ever be taking Pursuit across to the Bahamas. I stand by my conviction of either a big sailboat or big engine. Joe says it would be ok with the right weather window but we know how quickly those change.

Back to Sapelo island… we took our inflatable over to the ferry dock. We had met a very large ferry on our way in through a shallow waterway marked by buoys. There was a low floating dock perfect for our landing. We got off the inflatable and looked around. No signs, no people just a parking lot full of vehicles. Maybe 25 parked vehicles. There were no homes but a few buildings. The ferry office, or at least that’s what we thought it was, contained fiber optic equipment and an old pay phone and that was it—no desk or furniture. Damn, no dimes to try to make a call. My brothers had a sport of checking pay phones for change when they were young.

Anyway…there also was a bathroom building; they were open and contained toilet paper! Away from the parking lot was a long dirt road which also contained several dirt covered parked cars. We walked along the dirt road with Coconut as our guide. Hmmm, nice Cadillac Sport utility, but several cars had flat tires or looked abandoned. A very strange sight was worn, faded police tape attached to a few of the cars. Now just what did we blunder into? We kept walking, maybe a half mile on an embankment through the low country grasses until we came to woods. The first sight here of civilization was a cabin (shack) stuck way back in the woods with two seedy looking flat bed pickups parked haphazardly in the weedy yard. Was there a rebel flag on one?? Seemed like there should be. Ok, time to turn around.

We walked back to the dock and only then noticed a few signs. “3 day limit on parking” obviously not enforced. A poster for a shrimp and grits dinner at Miss LuLu’s—event cancelled! We decided there was a town on this island. The ferry was not exclusively for people wanting estuary excursions or hiking trips. Surprisingly, a large passenger van pulled up and two woman got out. The side of the van says: “Sapelo Island Bird Houses” (I could not make this up). We were already down to our dinghy so we did not talk to the women who were waiting for the next ferry. Again, no phones, no photos 😬

Once back to the boat, we did a bit of research (AT&T will love us these two months). 97% of the island is owned and managed by the State of Georgia. The University of Georgia Marine institute has 1,500 acres on the island. The remainder is under private ownership. We found we were suppose to be part of a tour or a guest of a resident to be on the island. Oops. There were no signs stating this!!

Additionally, the island contains a small private airport, restored 1820 lighthouse, nanny goat beach and a mansion once belonging to the Reynolds tobacco family. We certainly got the wrong impression while trespassing.

The town of Hog Hammock on the island includes homes, a general store, a bar, a library and other small businesses including vacation rentals. There are two active church congregations. Many of the full-time inhabitants of the Hog Hammock community are African Americans known as Gullah Geechee, descendants of enslaved west African people brought to the island in the 1700s and 1800s to work on island plantations. The current population of full-time Gullah Geechee residents is estimated to be 47 But that the statistic was from 2009. All supplies come from the mainland. The children take the ferry to the mainland and then a bus to school. The Island school closed in 1978.

 Attempts are being made to preserve and revitalize the Hog Hammock community. The 427 acres were listed on the national register of historic places in 1996 as the Hog Hammock Historic District. However in the 1990s people from the mainland began acquiring parcels of land from the Gullah to construct vacation homes. The locals taxes quadrupled and a fight over taxes was underway.

Ok, not such a scary place. I wish we could have seen at least some of the community, but we were interlopers. Still, I was happy when 2 other boats joined us that night in this very remote anchorage.

The next day dawned clear and still and after a Coconut trip to the dock, we left for the last 38 miles of ICW before Brunswick, GA. It was another of those twisty days that required 38 miles of boat travel for 22 miles “as the crow flies”.

More beautiful marshland full of bird life and dolphins. And cows. On an island along the Altamaha River, we we looking at an abandoned trailer house and there in the front yard was a herd of 4 or 5 large black and brown cows. Hmmm… 

There were also many tiny islands containing homes. Some were huge some were not but hard not to picture everyone being under water at some point.

As interesting as the cows were, the sight of a tipped over ship will get your attention. As we came into St. Simons Sound, we began to see the hulk off the M/V Golden Ray. This is a car carrier (656 foot ship) that suffered a severe list and started to capsize during maneuvers to leave Brunswick on it’s way to the Mid-East with a load of Mexican made Hyundai and Kia cars. When the harbor pilot realized that the ship had suffered an un-survivable incident, he steered it up onto the edge of channel so as not to leave it blocking the channel. This preserved the the livelihood of hundreds of local workers and he was hailed as a hero.

Golden Ray

The amount of maritime equipment present on the area to help with the removal of the wreck was amazing. There were at least four sets of tugs and barges anchored out to stage for the summer removal operation. This on gets your attention when it is anchored right off the channel. It’s the Horizon Pacific, a 300 foot barge fitted with a 1000T crane.

Pacific Horizon

The plan is to have the area cleared by hurricane season. If you are interested in how a ship this big can be removed, see this video:

https://thebrunswicknews.com/golden-ray-removal-in-st-simons-sound/video_57074457-c9aa-57ef-8a3e-ed8afad2b689.html

As we have been traveling since January, a common thread to our journey has been U.S. Hwy 17. We have driven it and visited many of the towns along it. Here, we cross it again in dramatic fashion. This bridge was astounding at 185′ tall.

 

We saw our first Ibis flock as we entered the Brunswick harbor. Once in the harbor, we made our way to the head of the bay to Brunswick Landing Marina. This marina gets great reviews (they have free beer) but we didn’t know what to expect. We were directed into a slip on Dock 4. This was the fourth dock out of fifteen docks. How in the world do they keep track???

We settled in and began to explore the area and to plan to get the boat ready for a long summer.

More on that…. Later.

Almost forgot

Wednesday, March 18

We filled our fuel tank and left Thunderbolt Marina about 8:45 a.m. after the fog lifted. We have tons of water, an empty head and enough food for 10 days. Self sufficient. Our destination: Kilkenny Marina in the middle of no where. I believe the closest town is called Richmond Hill.

Morning fog

We decided to anchor rather than pay $30 to tie to the marina’s questionable docks with no amenities. A good choice. We are still in low country: water, tall rushes and trees here and there—that is all there is! It is truly beautiful.

Tree stump with tidal markings

Today was another winding waterway. We can actually watch boats way, way out there that are on the same waterways we took or across the way from where we are heading… you see sailboats masts or large powerboat’s upper decks from across the grasses.

We can see another boat anchored more than a mile away across the marshes. Clear and sunny, 80 degrees. Nice to be out on anchor in the silence.

Crab pot in foreground
Another anchored boat in background. We went down the waterway where that boat is anchored to get to the spot where we are sitting. He is 1.6 miles away—as the crow flies! Five miles by water!

anchorage

Low tide
High tide

As usual, we needed to go to shore for Miss Coconut. The tide was low switching to high. Hang on to that dinghy as you lower it from the davits and be extra careful while doing the outboard motor balancing act to get it attached to the dinghy. The water is moving very fast. Thank goodness we have this apparatus to help or it would be even more challenging!

We motored to the marina, passing nice homes and docks. On one double decker dock sat two people and their golden retriever. The dog was holding a frisbee, looking at Coconut! We all waved—well, the dogs didn’t. We passed by a bar and restaurant that didn’t appear to be open but we found out they did have limited hours. Alas……

At the marina, the floating docks were made from blue pickle barrels. Ingenious… we have not been on docks that moved when you walked on them so it was an odd sensation. It kind of freaked the dog.

You can’t see the blue pickle barrel floats from this angle
but they are there under the dock

Off we went for a walk down the dirt road. Two State Wardens seemed to be looking at the live bait operation near the marina. As soon as they walked away, a couple of crows helped themselves to dinner out of the bait tubs. Someone was pumping gas into their truck and two different conversations occurred about tars…. make that tires! Aggressive tires must be important here. Anyway, the walk was short but we did see impressive azaleas 🌺. At least 6 different colors. A very pretty sight along with huge Live Oaks. I will miss the live oaks and the dolphins the most when we get home.

After walking, we stopped in the marina and bought two ice cream treats. Sat a spell and wondered about the ingenuity of their boat lift in lieu of a boat ramp. You pulled your boat into a slip underneath a single rail system. Two large electric hoist motors slide out on the rails above the boat and hooked to lifting eyes on your boat, fore and aft. The boat is hoisted vertically above the slip and rolled ahead on the rail system over the slab where you back your trailer underneath the boat. We were sorry to have missed first part of the operation. We did see the trailer backed in under the boat. So very clever.

Pursuit at anchor

Back to the boat for some more sitting, up on the bow this time. Amazing, views. It is so flat in low country, you can see a long way. A wonderful anchorage that almost made us forget about all the issues happening in our world.

Unflattering photo of “The Nut” sitting on the doghouse of our boat
Morning sunrise and reflective moon
A very calm and beautiful morning

Twisted

Sunday, March 15

We woke to fog at Hilton Head. We could see it out toward the Harbor Town lighthouse so we took our walk that way to check it out. We could not see the next island, Daufuskie, but we could hear a boat and it’s fog horns. We could see the sun starting to break through the fog so we stood and watched everything come into view as the fog cleared and the sun came out, including the large ferry boat whose horn we had heard.

Back to the boat to prepare for departure. Oh, first, a quick rinse of Miss Coconut’s feet, chest and shoulder. She decided a roll in some goose “stuff” was a good idea. Why does this always happen right after we bathe her??? The cockpit wash down hose sure comes in handy and I’m sure she appreciated the warm water. She’s such an animal….

Leaving Hilton Head

 

So, off we went on a twisty turny ride. Our route was short. Ten miles as the crow flies but 20 miles on the water! The route included crossing Calibogue Sound, down the Cooper River around Daufuskie Island, take a left up Ramshorn Creek, down the New River, thru Walls Cut, up the Wright River, thru Fields Cut and into the North Savannah River. Got it? That got us into Georgia! Now all we had left was the Elba Island Cut and St. Augustine Creek. That spit us out into the Wilmington River. At this point we had traveled 15.6 miles. That is a lot of scenery for such a short distance. This left us heading northwest for a bit before we finally turned southwest and 9 more curves in the river got us sitting out front of Thunderbolt Marina. 

Bird Tree

 

The Town of Thunderbolt, a small town who owes its name to a legend of a lightning strike that created a freshwater spring on the Wilmington bluff. Now, if we can only get lightning to create a fountain of rum, we are all set.

Thunderbolt Marine is a very well respected boat yard catering to many large yachts who use the facility as a sort of home base. Even the big boys suffer wear and tear while out during the season of cruising and need a tune up afterwards. I think “dock rash” is one reason they keep coming back. Some of us refer to those little nicks and scratched as “memory marks”. (You never forget which dock or crash caused each one). Well, if your boat is worth $21,000, per inch (!), you get those things fixed right away!

This is one boat that CAN’T be left looking shabby:

20200315_150441

Her name is TAMSEN and she is a gorgeous Perini Navi. Built in Italy in 2007, she is 52 meters (171′) long and has accommodations for 12 guests and 6 crew. She is owned by the Firestone family from California. Custom designed for the family, she is cruised extensively throughout the world.

BTW, zoom in to see Mona and the Nut.

Here is the “dock rash” being repaired.

Tamsen

Another Very large boat in the yard here is Quintessential, a 100′ custom built catamaran. This is a Warwick Yacht Design built in 2012. It is 100′ long and 48 feet wide. We have never seen a Cat this large! The owners previous boat was a Hobie! If you google the boat’s name you can read about the boat design and see gorgeous pics of the interior.

The beautiful Hinckley sailboat in front of the Cat is “Patriot”; she is 70′.

The person who owns Holiday probably feels small 😏

Our plan was to spend three nights here at Thunderbolt. We would Uber into downtown Savannah (about 6 miles) and spend one day walking about and enjoying lunch waterside under a Live Oak. With the recent events (are y’all getting messages from every company, bank and medical outlet to which you are affiliated assuring you they are doing everything they can), we do not want to get in an Uber and being downtown Savannah anywhere near St. Paddy’s is most likely not a good plan. Even though the parade is cancelled, we are told the bars and streets will still be packed. Savannah apparently has one of the country’s largest parades.

We are staying here the 3 nights anyway, it is a nice marina on a nice waterway.

The boat next to us a newer Kady Kroger Express, 52′, is from Fairbanks, Alaska. They pull it to store in southern Florida and fly home to run a river boat cruise company on the Chena River. I have been to Fairbanks so it was interesting conversing with them. They did not know the lady at the furniture store who ran off with my friend’s husband! Their boat was a stunner. Mona is taken with this express style and thought this one was a wonderful example.

We did use the marina’s loaner car today to shop at Publix. Very well-stocked except for meat and eggs. We have meat in our freezer so we are doing good. We are being told being on a boat is a safe place to be right now. This tiny town seems like a good place to be as well. Where else do they give you a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the morning? 😬

Hilton Head

Friday, the 13th of March

We left the mooring field at Beaufort SC about 9:00 after another splendid sunrise. To leave the mooring ball, you pull your lines back out of the balls loop. We had secured two lines to form a bridle when we attached to the pennant. Joe pulled the lines out and I slowly motored away from the mooring field. We needed to follow the ICW closely, a lot of shallow water in this area.

This boat, left too, but was heading North.
We don’t know what it is but it sure looks interesting.

We are heading to Hilton Head. Some cruisers say skip it and some love it. We didn’t want to to regret not stopping so we made reservations at The Sea Pines Resort and Harbour Town Yacht Basin. There were a lot of marina choices on the island but this one looked interesting. Some of the marinas on Hilton Head have their own lock systems so they do not deal with the tide issues on the docks. When we made the reservation, the woman said a Wine Fest would be going on on site, right near the marina. Bonus.

We left at low tide and traveled down the Beaufort River toward Port Royal Sound. Traveling on a low tide can have it’s advantages in that if you find some shallow water, it will soon become deeper. We try not to cut it that close. It can also have it’s disadvantages… That soon to be deeper water has to come in from the ocean and we were traveling toward the ocean. All that water coming means that the current is flowing against the boat and the effective speed is reduced by that amount. So…. our trip to Hilton Head progressed at a somewhat slow 5.5 to 6 miles per hour. Yawn.. Luckily we only had 25 miles to go.

For our Bayfield boating friends, Hilton Head is about as long as Madeline Island. However, the homes, docks and boats are much more spectacular. Looks like a mini Palm Beach. It really makes one wonder about all the wealth. We arrived at the marina and were escorted in by a dock hand on a small boat. He tied up his boat and helped us dock. The large yacht next to is called Yachta Yachta. Clever name. The man on that boat said the Wine Fest was cancelled but he assured me he had lots of wine on his boat. So, the corona virus has hit home. We are a bit in the dark with no news other than the internet stories and y’all know how those read—what to believe?? However, our friends and families are sending news and they are postponing travel, cancellations of every aspect are rampant and apparently there is no toilet paper.

I am not being flip. It is very serious. However, walking around this resort area, you don’t get the feel anything is wrong. A gentleman we met said is wife is in Manhattan and it’s like a ghost town. She called a bit hysterical about getting supplies. She’s a lawyer in a big firm—ahh, that explains at least one of the giant houses that we’ve seen along the shore. It seems so normal here, lots of people walking around in the park, shopping, dining and signing up for boat rides and other activities. Such a contrast. I did get a call that our friends Keith and Cheryl will not be meeting up with us at Jekyll Island. 😣

The impending election, coronavirus and the stock market all together are a bit overwhelming and scary. In a few weeks, we will be heading home, but to what?

As some of you know, we were introduced to Trumpy Yacht watching when we met Donovan and Bobbie on Madison Grace in Deltaville. Since then, we have seen many examples of these majestic wooden cruisers. The latest sighting, the “Jenny Clark” in Beaufort, SC. She is a 50 foot wooden motor yacht built in 1962 for Russell Firestone (yes, those Firestones) and originally named “Flameless”. She has been recently fully restored by Moores Marine in Beaufort and is in service in Beaufort. Look here to see what it takes to maintain a beautiful vessel like this. Sorry, we didn’t get a picture.

https://www.jennyclark.mooresmarine.com/jenny-clark

Next, at Harbour Town, we saw “Annabelle”, a 79’6″ Custom built in 1955 and christened “Osceola”. Again, flawlessly maintained and on her way north to spend the summer in Maine.

On Saturday, we spent the day wandering the resort. Not the kind of place we would seek out for a land based vacation, seems to be mostly for golf, but being here by boat gives it a different feel. Our time here was very relaxing and we will leave on Sunday to see what Thunderbolt, GA is all about. It is as close to Savannah as we can find a marina. We are hoping the weather is more of the same.

Harbor Town at the Sea Pines Resort

Beaufort, SC

The mooring ball is working nicely. There are very few people on the boats out here. There are lot of boats but no one is on them. It appears that some have been here awhile. The marina itself is not one of the better ones. So we are patting ourselves on the back for mooring instead of staying in the marina. The docks are not in the greatest shape and there are a few live-aboard boats that should have been asked to leave a long time ago. A few vagabond types appear to be hanging out outside the gate at night as well, making our floating haven all the better.

There are a lot of very nice boats here but a few, right along the waterfront, in the marina, don’t make a great impression.

Living on board

We have been here before, by car, but the memory of when is a bit sketchy. We know it was in the Fall as we were here for Halloween. We both recall a fun bar where the bartenders were in elaborate costumes. We ate at a water front restaurant, called Plums on both trips. Perfect waterfront park location. We walked the streets enjoying more beautiful old homes and moss covered trees.

This is another very old City but some hideous modern buildings are mixed in on the waterfront. The Spanish were in Beaufort as early as 1514. However, the first settlers fell prey to disease, hunger, Native American attacks and lasted less than 4 months. It took a century before the English arrived here in 1670. When they arrived, they found all sorts of remnants of the Spanish presence. So much that they called the moss that hung from the trees “Spanish Moss.” Bet you didn’t know that! I know I didn’t.

We stayed at anchor for 3 nights, walking, going for a dinghy ride, beers on a patio and just hanging. The shops are all dog friendly so while Joe visited the local barber, I shopped a bit. Coconut got some treats and I found a nice top—on sale. Yes, the stock market is still plunging.

Coffee