The Route South

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Where The Ashley and The Cooper Meet To Form The Atlantic Ocean



Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Our rental car has to be returned by 3 PM so we have some time to run errands and play tourist today.  A quick trip to Wally World and Publix got the chores out of the way.  After returning to Morning Star and unloading the groceries we were off to Jekyll Island for a bit of sightseeing. 

Quite literally, we drove around the island.  Cross the bridge, hang a right and keep the water on the right.  Before very long you will come back to where you started.  It’s not a big island.  We didn’t know what to expect with Jekyll Island and we were surprised.  As we drove around the island, we were delighted that there was so much residential development and not the high-rise condo/mega-mansion/faux chateau kind.  There were some older condo-type apartments being remodeled but the homes were mostly single-family, modest affairs.  Actually, pretty middle class stuff.  Refreshing.
Carriage at Jekyll Island Club

A circumnavigation will make you hungry and lunchtime found us at the gates of the famous, old Jekyll Island Club.  We headed down to the wharf we had seen many times from the ICW.  The breeze was cool but we ate outside on the dock in the sunshine.  After lunch, we wandered around looking at the huge “cottages” and the old inn.  Jekyll Island was developed to be a private enclave for wealthy industrialists, a private island away from the crowds and the common folk.  Membership was expensive and exclusive.  It is still a hotel today, albeit more affordable for normal people.  As 3 PM approached, we headed off the island and back to Enterprise car rentals.
Jekyll Island "cottage".

Jekyll Island Inn

Interior - Jekyll Island Inn

Dining Room - Jekyll Island Inn

Saturday, May 21, 2011
After two more days of boat chores and reinstalling our autopilot it was finally time to untie the strings and head out.  Time to go north again.

0700 – Start the engine and warm up while we unplug two electric cords and the TV cable.  We moved the boat a half-mile to Ocean Petroleum to fuel the boat.  They aren’t usually open on Saturday or Sunday but we called them yesterday and they agreed to open to sell us fuel this morning at 7:30.  We found the place – no sign on the dock or building – but no one was there.  So we tied up and waited.  Cindy tried to call the guy but got no answer.  What to do?  We have enough fuel to go on for quite a ways but the price here is too good to pass up.  So we will wait for a while longer.  Finally John called back.  He’s on the way.  John final got there at 0810 and we took on 120 gallons.  I talked to John while we were filling our tank. He explained that the reason he is $.25 to $.50 a gallon cheaper than everybody else is that he is actually the wholesaler and sells to other marinas as well as retailers.  He sells to Brunswick Landings, where we just left and they are fully $.40 a gallon more.  John explained that he also sells to the shrimping fleet and they are big users.  Day before yesterday he filled a large shrimper with 7,000 gallons.  It took both of his pumps over four hours to complete the job.  In the face of all this, I was amazed that he would come in and open on a Saturday morning for our paltry 120 gallons.

0900 – Rejoined the ICW at MM 860, northbound.  Its good to be underway on our own boat again, headed in the right direction.  Shortly after lunch we are across St. Simon’s Sound and entering Old Teakettle Creek.  We anchored near here on our way south in ’07 but today we need to do more miles.  By 1430 we are entering Sapelo Sound at 9.8 mph, passing one of my favorite landmarks, Dog Hammock Spit.  I have no idea how this place got its name but an idle mind can make up a lot of good stories.  Of course, 30 minutes later Sapelo Sound is behind us and we are down to 6.2 mph.  The tide giveth and the tide taketh away. 

1820 – The anchor is down and set at Cane Patch Creek.  It is a quiet, peaceful anchorage and we have had a good day’s travel of 77 miles.

Sunday May 22, 2011
0643 – Start-up and warm-up.  Seven minutes later we have rejoined the ICW and are headed toward Hells Gate.  We have timed our arrival to coincide with a low but incoming tide.  This means that if we run aground in this notoriously shallow shortcut, the tide will float us off.  But there was nothing to worry about.  The depth sounder never showed less than 5 ft.
1115 – Several ships and tugs were heading up the Savannah River when we crossed, entering South Carolina at Fields Cut.  Cindy served up lunch in the pilothouse as we passed Daufuskie Island.  Forty-five minutes later Hilton Head was ahead across Calibogue Sound. 
By 1430 we were across Port Royal Sound and entering the Beaufort River with Parris Island close on the port side.  Parris Island is the US Marine Corps basic training facility, what they call a Recruit Depot.  It is the place of nightmares for many a new recruit.  At 1630 the anchor is down and set off Beaufort,SC.  There is a Beaufort in NC, too.  This one is pronounced BEW-fort.  Today’s travel is 71 miles. 
We were enjoying a glass of wine on the top deck when the beautiful restored yacht "Freedom" cruised up the ICW and docked at the City Marina.  The Trumpy-designed 104 footer is a sister-ship to the former presidential yacht "Sequoia".  Fractional ownership shares are available for only $375,000.  Of course, when you want to actually use your share it will cost you about $40,000 per week for fuel, food, booze and crew expenses.  Tips are extra (and not optional).  If you are interested take a look at their website brochure.  http://www.woodenyachts.com/media/PDFs/EBrochure.pdf

The beautifully restored yacht, Freedom, came in to Beaufort.  It is a "timeshare".
$375,000 gets you in!

Monday, May 23, 2011
0630 – Start-up and warm-up.
0640 – Anchor up…almost.  The windlass overheated and stopped 12 ft. short.  I had to pull the last of the chain and the #44 anchor up the rest of the way by hand.  This will never do!
1155 – N. Edisto River.  The current has been in our face all morning making our progress very slow.  Its 88° but we are finally making 8.4 mph.   

Charlestonians refer to their city as the place where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean.  Although we have been to Charleston before, we are looking forward to this visit and are planning to take a break from the grind of constant travel to play tourist for an extra day.
Charleston waterfront.

1530 – We tie up in our slip at Charleston Marine Center.  It’s a great location, just a short walk to the old historic areas of Charleston and we are going to take a lay day tomorrow to enjoy the sights.  Cindy plugged in the power cord while I was in the pilothouse shutting down the instruments.  When she turned on the air conditioner the circuit breaker popped.  Oh-oh!  We reset it several times and each time it popped.  Double oh-oh.  This doesn’t look good.  The marina was able to recommend a repairman who will be here sometime in the morning but in the meantime we will have to put up with the heat.  Fortunately the breeze has been steady and the temperature goes down with the sun.  So in the mean time, we had a good 69-mile run today and we are here to enjoy Charleston.
Charleston Marine Center

We biked into the old part of town and had dinner at the Mad River Bar.  It is located in an old church building.  The church was de-consecrated and all religious articles were removed including the symbols in the stained glass windows.  I don’t’ know if it was a good church or not but it’s a darn good bar and restaurant now!  After dinner we walked around the old market and stopped at Kilwin’s for ice cream.  Yummmm!
The fudge counter at Kilwin's.
Caution!  You will gain five pounds just by enlarging this photo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
This morning we played tourist.  We stopped in at the Harris-Teeter grocery store that is 5 or 6 blocks from the marina last night so the chores are out of the way.  The repair guy isn’t expected until 11 AM so we have some time to kill.  We rode our bikes back to town to find the Post Office to mail Chip’s birthday present.  We found it in a beautiful, old building.  But the window doesn’t open until 11:30 AM.  What the …  No wonder the PO is going bust!  
Old Post Office - Charleston.

So we continued  further into the old residential area and on to the Battery.  We rode as slow as we could, stopping to gawk at one old house after another.  Me marveled at the date plaques, many of the houses dated back to before the Revolutionary War!  Houses built in the 1760’s or ‘70’s were not unusual.  There is a beautiful park at the Battery, where the guns overlooked Charleston Harbor and Ft. Sumter.  I could have stayed and looked at the beautiful, old architecture for hours but the A/C repair guy called to say he was coming and would be there in 30 minutes.  So we gotta’ go!
Window boxes - Charleston

Interesting architecture - Charleston

I need a new cannon!

The park at the Battery - Charleston

Well, the guy showed up and went to work troubleshooting the unit.  His meter quickly showed that the compressor was shot, drawing over 60 amps when it tried to start.  Since the normal starting draw is only 14 amps, it was certainly the problem.  If that wasn’t bad enough news, this gut can’t replace the compressor or the air conditioner, but he knows somebody….  I think we are going to take a pass on anything further with him.  He’s a nice guy and appears quite knowledgeable but we need somebody who is really IN the air conditioning business.  So out comes the laptop and once again, Google is our friend.  I am able to locate a marine A/C company that does business in South and North Carolina.  This is more like what we are looking for.  A phone call to their office sets us up with a service call later this afternoon.  The service man is working on a job at one of the other marinas in Charleston and she will have him at Morning Star before the day is out.  So nothing to do but put on our tourist hats again.  We’re off to lunch at Jestine’s.  Time for some southern cookin’!

There was a line of people standing outside in the hot sun waiting to get in, so we did the only logical thing – we got in line too.  The wait wasn’t too bad, maybe 15 minutes and we were in the blessed air conditioning.   I saw Anthony Bourdain eat here on TV and Rachael Ray has been here too.  The walls are covered with magazine covers like Southern Living, containing articles written about Jestine’s.  The place is darn famous.  We had corn bread, fried okra and fried chicken but truth be told, the food was a disappointment.  I’m afraid that Jestine’s is cursed by their own fame.  The food was OK but only OK.  But oh, the Coca-Cola cake……

The A/C repair guy showed up about 5 PM.  He quickly confirmed what the first guy told us.  The compressor is shot.  We have a decision.  If we opt to replace the compressor, we will be looking at $500-$600 for the compressor plus a similar cost for the labor to remove the A/C unit, take it to his shop, remove all the refrigerant, solder and wire the new compressor, recharge the refrigerant, bench test and take back to the boat and reinstall.  The warranty would be one year on the compressor only and labor would be our responsibility.  So we have to balance that against a completely new air conditioner for about $2500 with a complete manufacturers warranty, including labor.  Since we will be traveling, the dealer service network is important, the new unit is the only option that makes sense to us.  We are going to move to Georgetown tomorrow and he will do the installation on Thursday. 

Someone once observed that cruising is just repairing your boat in exotic locations!  And so it is.

Monday, May 30, 2011

THE WELL TRAVELLED AUTOPILOT

Like many boats similar to ours, Morning Star has an autopilot.  I don't know the vintage of ours, but it was on the boat when we bought it nine years ago.  I do know that the manufacturer, Simrad-Robertson, no longer supports it and won't repair it.  Over the years, it became "sunburned" - the LCD screen in the control head was washed out and unreadable from the sun.  The autopilot worked great.  It played well with others.  It shared little secrets with the GPS and the Chart Plotter and the Radar.  They would talk quietly about things like where we were, what direction we needed to go and what was the position of the rudder.  Mr. Robertson would steer the boat for hours, better than I can, and would do so without a complaint.  But the darn thing was unreadable.  Well, if the sun shined from the correct angle and you shined a flashlight just right....well, you get the picture.

I began checking on the Internet for a replacement control head - EBay, Craig's List and several boating forums.  No Joy!  A Krogen friend told me about a guy in Seattle who did repairs on Robertson autopilots. In fact, his email address began RobertsonRepairs@xxx.xxx.  I contacted him and he checked his inventory.  He had ONE screen for an AP-11 (our model) and he could repair it for the paltry sun of $450 plus labor and shipping.  Since a new autopilot is upwards of $3000, it seemed like the only logical thing to do.  So Mr. Robertson got shipped to the autopilot spa in Seattle.  Two days later, I got a call from the repairman.  Mr. Robertson was repaired and bench checked and pronounced good as new.  So far, so good.  I gave him my credit card number and the shipping address to the boat at Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia.

In the mean time, Cindy and I left to do the delivery of the new Krogen 48.  Before we left, we talked to the girls in the marina office and asked them to be on the lookout for our precious cargo.  Come Friday the UPS tracking number showed Mr. Robertson delivered to Brunswick Landing Marina at 1701 Newcastle St. in Savannah, GA.  WAIT A MINUTE....SAVANNAH, GA?  OH NO!! Its supposed to be BRUNSWICK, GA!  A quick call to the marina office confirmed our worst fears...no package was delivered.  The UPS delivery record showed that the package had been delivered at 7:30 PM and left on the front porch of a residence.  A quick Google Maps search of the address in Savannah made my heart sink.  It was, to be polite, an economically disadvantaged part of town and in my mind, it was gone.  After many calls to UPS, the shipper in Seattle as well as the repair guy, absolutely nothing happened.  Despite many promises, nobody did anything.

  •  How could they possibly deliver to a residential address when it was clearly marked to go to a marina?
  •  How could they deliver to a "business" address well after business hours?  
  •  Why did the repairman only insure it for $400 when his bill alone was over $600?  
I was burning up the phone lines talking to the shipper in Seattle as well as to UPS.  After multiple assurances that they would pick it up, nothing happened!  For the whole weekend!  They finally issued a pickup order on Monday and went back to the delivery point.  No Joy. They left a note.  The second day they attempted to pick up Mr. Robertson but again, No Joy!  Left another note but it wasn't looking good.  By this time I was pretty sure that Mr. Robertson was riding around in some crack-whore's pimp's Cadillac.  By now we were back in Brunswick from the delivery.  A quick trip to the office confirmed our what we feared.  No autopilot.  On Day Three of the pick-up fiasco there was no good news when I looked up the UPS tracking number.  Its gone for sure.  Shortly after lunch, one of our neighbors came walking down the dock with a UPS package for Morning Star.  Mr. Robertson!!  You're back!!  A quick check of the UPS tracking number still showed that the package had not even been picked up.  But here he was!  Go figure?  Oh well, at least Mr. Robertson is back where he belongs.  I couldn't believe it!  I immediately took him to the pilothouse, hooked him up and checked him out (he worked perfectly).  Cindy put him in his jammies, gave him a glass of milk and a cookie and tucked him into bed.  Well, maybe I exaggerated the last part, but the rest is true.  Honest.
Mr. Robertson back on the team, doing what he does best, steering Morning Star.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

Marine Corps Camp Lejune in North Carolina.
Freedom isn't free!

Memorial Day means a lot to me.  Cindy and I both had fathers who fought with the U.S. military during World War Two.  Of course, that's because World War One, the "War To End All Wars", didn't.  And though the "Greatest Generation" was successful against Hitler and Hirohito, that still wasn't enough.  Korea came shortly after WWII.  My generation had Viet Nam.  Chip's generation had Gulf Wars One and Two.  Now we have Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sadly, there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.  The history of the world is a constant repetition of old men sending young men to war.

But regardless of your politics, there is no denying the sacrifice that the young men and women of our country make is huge.  The Viet Nam Vets got it right. "All gave some, some gave all".

Purely by coincidence, today finds us at anchor just off the ICW, in Mile Hammock Bay, on the shores of the Marine Corps' Camp Lejune and today we honor all those vets, the current group of warriors as well as those who have gone before. The sacrifices they and their families made and make, past and present, allow us to live the life we live.

Thanks Den.
Thanks Chuck.
Thanks Pick.
You guys are my heros.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WILL STEER FOR FOOD

Mike Warren has a good memory. Mike is our boat insurance agent and fellow Krogen owner. Mike also holds a 100-ton Coast Guard captain’s license and often does deliveries for Krogen owners up and down the east coast of the US. Last fall I mentioned that I might be available if he ever found himself in need of a crew. Recently, out of the blue, I got an email from him inquiring as to whether I was available in May to help him deliver a new Krogen 48. Since we were already planning to be in Georgia about that time, it was a perfect fit. Before I even asked Cindy, I asked Mike if we needed a cook/able-bodied seaman. He picked up on the hint immediately and asked if Cindy would go too. It was settled. We would go to the Port of Savannah on May 12, off-load a factory-new Krogen 48 from the freighter and deliver it to Stuart, Fl. for commissioning.

I had returned to Clearwater for a week and drove back to Brunswick on the afternoon of May 10th.  We did boat chores the next morning and Mike showed up in his rental car later that afternoon.  Mike stayed overnight with us aboard Morning Star and we left Brunswick after an early breakfast, headed to Savannah.

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Our plan was to meet Larry Polster, VP of Krogen, as well as George Stalker (sp?), one of Krogen’s contract technicians, at 9 AM to get our security clearances in order.  Port security is handled by the TSA, the same folks who have brought us the wonderful security theater at our airports.  You know the TSA…the folks who pat down small children and grandmas in wheelchairs, looking for God-knows-what, all the while avoiding the young man with a dark complexion and nervous eyes for fear of “profiling”.  Yes, that TSA.

The first step on the path to National Security.
Notice the TWIC poster.

The ship was scheduled to arrive at 1 PM.  After stopping at three different offices we finally had our paperwork in order. (We sent in our names and ID’s in advance and were pre-cleared.) But they wouldn’t let us in the port that early so we had to kill a few hours.  Starbucks did just fine.  Caffeine and sweet rolls for lunch…little did we know we were going to need it.

Larry, Randy and Cap'n Mike waiting to get into the port.

At 1 PM we were allowed into the port and left to find the ship on our own.  It didn’t take long to find the HUGE containership, the Ever Decent, one of the Evergreen Lines ships.  She was 945’ long, 108’ beam (wide).  Did I mention that it was HUGE?

There it is - there's our ship!
The ship was stacked to the sky with containers.  We found the head longshoreman and found out that it would be at least another 1-1/2 to 2 hours before they would be unloaded enough to remove the huge hatches (the “lids” in their vernacular) and uncover the boat.  So we waited.

There's a Krogen 48 in there  - somewhere!

Four of these huge cranes unloaded the ship.  We are under the forth stack from the back.

It took about a minute per container from stacked on the ship to on the truck.

According to Cindy's good buddy, Lavearle, the longshoreman supervisor, they will handle about 900 containers from this ship.  The ship will be turned around in 12 hours!

Finally we got the go-ahead to board the ship and start preparing for unloading.  We descended into the bowels of the containership and found the boat is remarkably short order.  To prepare the boat for shipping from Taiwan all exterior surfaces are covered with Peel & Stick plastic.  We had to get as much of this off the boat as possible before we were unloaded.  The windows were first.  George dry-started the engine to make sure that we could get underway quickly once we were splashed.

First peek at the newest Krogen 48!

She is shoehorned in below decks amongst the containers.

Yes, they were really that close!

All around us, the containers continued to be unloaded.




All this preparation continued in the midst of container unloading.  George went back down to the dock where Cindy waited, guarding the gear he had brought from Stuart for the trip south.  This necessary safety and boat-handling gear needed to be put aboard the ship by loading it onto the crane’s container spreader-bar.  Cindy and George took the truck over to the crane and waited for their turn.  About that time, Port Security showed up and things got interesting.  As a part of the enhanced effort for Homeland Security, everyone in the port is supposed to have a TWIC card.  (Transportation Workers Identification Credentials)  The exception was that visitors were allowed in if accompanied by a TWIC card holder – no more than five visitors per cardholder.  Capt. Mike is required to have one of these as a licensed captain (Mike is now known to us as the TWIC-head).  So we were golden…we thought.  Visitors are supposed to be accompanied by the TWIC holder at all times.  Well, since Cindy stayed with the gear while we prepped the boat, she was no longer accompanied.  We thought we had everything worked out with Port Security’s Sgt. Rhue, but his shift was over and this fellow didn’t know anything about that.  Besides that, in his opinion Sgt. Rhue is a pain-in-the-ass!  So, Cindy ran interference while he was threatening $35,000 fines for all concerned and being otherwise unpleasant.  Meanwhile, George frantically texted Mike to show up at the rail of the ship.  When Mike finally made his way up out of the hold, Cindy told Officer Unfriendly that Mike, the TWIC-head, was there in the red shirt.  That seemed to satisfy him but he fired off a parting volley…he had to go and bring back a Federal Agent to certify that the boat was actually removed from the ship.  In the mean time, I found my way back out to dockside and waited with Cindy while George rode the crane up and into the hold of the ship with the gear.  When Port Security returned (with the Fed) he escorted Cindy and I out of the port, Cindy driving the rental car and me driving the Krogen pickup trick.

We drove the vehicles to Thunderbolt Marina and waited for the Krogen.  George called on the cell phone with a small shopping list of critical parts.  The marina gave us direction to a local boating supply and we were able to get what we needed.  By this time it was well after 6 PM.  Cindy decided to go to the grocery store and buy our provisions for the upcoming week.  George and Larry were not planning on staying so the vehicles would be leaving with them.  Cindy returned with the groceries shortly after the boat got to the marina and George performed his magic while the rest of us schlepped cart-loads of gear and supplies and piled in the cabin.  Cindy warmed up some dinner (she pre-cooked and froze several meals in advance) and we popped the cork on a bottle of wine.  It was almost 9 PM and we were whipped!

Less than a third of the gear we had to bring aboard.
Heavy green plastic protected the granite counter tops and teak floors.

Because the boat hadn’t been commissioned, there was nothing aboard.  We had no depth sounder, no autopilot and no helmsman’s chair.  There were no pots and pans and no working stove and no coffeemaker.  The only thing we had to cook with was the microwave.  There was protective plastic all over everything - the cushions, mattresses and counter tops.  We had a couple of hand-held VHF marine radios and my iPad for navigation.  That was it!

They NEVER look like this at the boat show.

We had an anchor and anchor rode but the bow pulpit was lashed to the foredeck, the anchor platform and the swim platform were lashed to the upper deck.  We looked very much like a kit boat.

The bow rail was lashed to the foredeck.

Platforms lashed to the plastic-covered boat deck.

This is what a Krogen 48 "kit-boat" looks like.


Friday - May 13, 2011
On Friday we ran from Thunderbolt to Golden Isles marina at St. Simon’s Island.  It would have been nice to have a depth sounder when we transited Hell’s Gate and Jekyll Creek.   The horseflies were so bad that we shut the boat up and fired up the generator and air conditioner.

Saturday - May 14, 2011
Saturday we ran down to Camachee Cove marina in St. Augustine.  It sure would have been nice to have radar in the rain and thunderstorms!  The rain blew the horseflies away but we still needed the air conditioner to keep the temperature comfortable inside the boat and to keep the windshield defrosted.

The leading edge of a weather system.  If you think it might rain, you would be right....

Here it comes!

Screen shot of the internet radar from the computer.  Yuck!


Sunday - May 15, 2011
Mike slipped on the wet plastic on the fly bridge and hurt his back as we left the dock in St. Augustine so we had a short Sunday, going only to New Smyrna Beach. 

Monday - May 16, 2011
The following day we went to Melbourne.  The highlight of the day was seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch from the Kennedy Space Center.  We were ten mile north of the launch and looking straight at it.  It was overcast and we lost sight of the Shuttle before the sound got there.  The roar was unbelievable.

What an emotional experience!  Cindy couldn't stop screaming!

Anybody who could find something that floated went out to watch the launch - Haulover Canal.


Tuesday - May 17, 2011
On our final day we went from Melbourne to Stuart.  When we arrived at the marina we went directly into the Travelift to be hauled out.  We were in the lift shortly after 2 PM and unloaded our gear.  We were in our rental car by 4:30 and five hours later we were back in Brunswick.  It sure was nice to sleep in our own bed!

Hauling out at Four Fish Marina.  That is one BIG boat!

Note the stabilizer fins and bow-thruster tube..

Ready for some bottom paint and commissioning. 

My impressions of doing a delivery:

  •   The Krogen 48 is a REALLY nice boat!!
  •   Delivering a new boat is almost nothing like cruising on your own boat.
  •  Its all about time, balanced against the need to not break anything or do any damage to the owner’s new boat.
  • Its tough preparing meals with nothing but a microwave.  Cindy really did a masterful job of preplanning, menu prep and provisioning.
  • You won’t get rich delivering boats.  About all you can hope for is that you eat on somebody else’s dime.
  • We are spoiled by GPS, chart plotters, digital depth sounders, radar and autopilots.
  •  Standing up and hand steering watch-on-watch for ten hours a day really sucks
  • Sleeping on a plastic-covered mattress isn’t fun, but its probably good practice for our “Golden Years”.
  • We are getting fussy in our old age.  But would we do it again?  You Betcha!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Daytona Beach to Brunswick Ga.

Monday, April 25, 2011
When I got up in the morning, I noticed that the refrigerator had shut off during the night.  Oops! We’re out of propane.  So that means I have to make a trip to the pilothouse at 7 AM to switch over to the new bottle of propane…all before the morning coffee!

The anchor was up by 0800 and we ran steadily all morning until we arrived at Matanzas Inlet at 1240.  This was our intended anchorage for the night.  We worked our way into the river by the old fort.  We have had several people rave about the anchorage and we really wanted to try it out.  You can dinghy into the ranger’s docks and take the ferry over to the old fort and tour it.  It dates back to when the Spaniards we first colonizing Florida in the early 1500’s.  There was a conflict between the Spanish and the French Huguenots (French Protestants) that involved a large number of the French being slaughtered and the fort is supposed to be haunted!  But for us, at least for this trip, it was not to be.  We tried several times to get the anchor to set.  It would seem to be stuck in the bottom and secure until we put the engine in reverse.  It held for a while but eventually broke free.  The river is close by the Matanzas Inlet and is subject to a strong reversing tidal current and we wouldn’t have slept well that night.  Neither one of us felt secure enough to leave the boat and go ashore under these conditions so we decided to save this stop for another time.  So up came the anchor and off to St. Augustine we went.
Ft. Matanzas, from the anchorage.


Our original plan was to go from Ft. Matanzas to the Pine Island anchorage.  We planned to bypass St. Augustine this trip.  We have been there several times and the tourist climate doesn’t really appeal to us. But we were able to call and reserve a mooring on short notice, making for an inexpensive night on a mooring rather than paying four times as much for dockage in the marina. With all the money we saved, we went to O.C. Whites for dinner.

We have been plagued with a slightly elevated engine temperature – at least according to the gauge on the instrument panel.  While we were running, I climbed down into the engine room and shot several places on the engine and cooling system with my infrared thermometer and they seemed to be OK.  Just to be on the safe side, I called Joe Hartman, the Volvo mechanic who owns Blue Water Marine and ran the scenario by him.  He concurred with my diagnosis that the gauge or sending unit is going out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The current really runs hard at the marina, making it difficult to dock.  Some times it is almost impossible to dock or undock untie you wait for the tide to change.  We dropped the mooring pennant at 0750 and started north.  Boy it’s easy to get away when you are on a mooring! 
At 0800 we passed beneath the new Bridge of Lions.  The old one was badly in need of replacement but the local citizenry was adamant about not wanting the new one to look different.  So they built a modern, new bridge that looks like the old one.  Pretty neat!
By 1000, Pine Island was on our starboard beam.  This was going to be our anchorage for tonight when we thought we were going to spend last night at Ft. Matanzas.  But onward we go…through the Palm Valley cut.  It is a long, straight and boring stretch of water, one neither of us enjoy. 
Boat house - Palm Valley


 By 1200, we were past the cut and through the Oak Landing Bridge and on our way past Jacksonville.  At 1330 we crossed the St. Johns River, entering Sister’s Creek on the north side.  I’m always surprised to see the size and amount of commercial shipping here.  There is a huge ship repair yard at the mouth of Sisters Creek and in the distance we could see a large ship with containers stacked up to the sky.
Containers on the ship are stacked nearly as high as the bridge!

At 1445 we crossed Nassau Sound to the Amelia River, making 9.6 MPH!  Of course, that never lasts.  You have to pay penance for enjoying that kind of speed and on the other side of the sound, predictably, our speed dropped off to below normal, taking away all that we had gained earlier. 

By 1630 we were tied up to the dock at Fernandina Harbor Marina.  Cindy called Gigi Feazell, her mom’s cousin, who lives on Amelia Island, and Gigi stopped by at 6 for a glass of wine and to catch us up on all of the family goings-on.  This weekend is the 48th annual Shrimp Festival and we are getting kicked out of the marina on Friday morning because they have a full house of reservations.  But we will be there Thursday night to see Gigi march in the parade!
Hey, we know her!  OMG, we are related to her!

We laid over Wednesday and Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed the town.  The bikes were unloaded and we peddled all around as well as taking a trolley tour.  Lunch one day at the Marina Restaurant (not at the marina!), which was just OK, and had a delightful breakfast at “Bright Mornings”.  What a great stop!
Nice dinghy dock.  Fernandina Beach
Downtown Fernandina Beach
Old Courthouse - Fernandina Beach
Downtown Fernandina Beach
I like a church with a sense of humor!


Friday, April 29, 2011
Well, we thought we were getting kicked out of here early, but the sailboat that is in front of us, the one that was supposed to leave yesterday, hasn’t left yet, much to the consternation of the dock master.  The tidal current runs fiercely through here and the wind was blowing about 20 kts., I wasn’t about to try backing out with him in the way.  So we waited.  We got our Coast Guard Safety Check out of the way while we waited and now have a current sticker proclaiming that we passed. 
At 1115 I started warming up the engine when the sailboat’s owner finally showed up.  But he fiddled around for quite a while and it was 1135 before we were able to get away.  No problems...no drama.  The dock crew made us look like we knew what we were doing!  Fifteen minutes later we were crossing St. Mary’s Inlet and the wind speed meter showed 30 kts. across the deck.  I’m glad it wasn’t gusting like that when we were trying to leave the marina! 
By 1250 the anchor was down and set in the anchorage at Cumberland Island.  We have been here twice before and it remains one of our favorite spots.  The place is a national treasure and we are going to hang out here for a couple of nights.

The event of the day might just have been seeing a submarine coming in to Kings Bay just after we anchored.  We heard the Coast Guard escort boats on the radio warning everybody to keep their distance.

Saturday, April 30, 2011
It’s Sam’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Sam – hope you got the card!
We took the dinghy ashore at Sea Camp and had a chat with the park ranger before walking over to the Atlantic side beach.  He lived here on his sailboat.  He brought the boat from Alaska, where he had been a National Park ranger!  There were wild horses out on the beach in two groups.  That wasn’t the big surprise though.  As we walked through the dunes to the beach, a large turkey was sitting on a dune next to the boardwalk, right at eyelevel.  I don’t know who was more surprised!  After that walk, we dinghied down to the Dungeness dock and took the long walk to the ruins.  No horses this time!
Beautiful oak forest - Cumberland Island
Can you find the turkey?  
Dungeness Mansion - Carnegie's winter "cottage"
Wild horses - Cumberland Island

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Today we are off to Brunswick, Ga.
When you need your submarine degaussed, we always recommend Kings Bay.
Reservations are required.
Submarine - Kings Bay Navy Base
Support vessels - Kings Bay
Kings Bay is just off the ICW so they take security very seriously.

0855 - The anchor is up and stowed.  By 0905 we have rejoined the ICW, headed north.
Crossing St. Andrews Sound at 1200 was like riding in a washing machine.  There was a 2 kt. outgoing current and an east wind opposing it.  Morning Star was bucking and throwing water.  Rather sporty.  When we “turned the corner” and started going against the current (but with the wind), our speed dropped from 9.2 to 5.5 but the ride was much more comfortable.  The water is 35 ft. deep or more so there is a lot of water moving in and out of these sounds when the tide changes.
The view from St. Andrews Sound

At 1240, as we approached Jekyll Island, we decided to quickly anchor so we could pull the dinghy up in the davits.  Ten minutes later, the anchor was back up and we were under way again.  By 1330 we were entering St. Simon’s Sound and thirty minutes later we were at the entrance channel to Brunswick Landing Marina.  Twenty minutes later we were firmly tied up in slip J, Dock 6, Morning Star’s home for the next three or four weeks. 
Shrimping is big business in Brunswick, Ga.