Saturday, April 20, 2013

Week 29: Apr. 17-23, 2013 (Day 197-203)

Week 29:

Wed. Apr. 17, 2013—Day 197:
Destination:  Wahoo River (Mile 630) to Turner Creek, Savannah (Mile 585.5)
Departure:  0755 hrs.                               Arrival:  1540 hrs.                            Distance:  44.5 SM
Winds:  NE 8-17K depending on proximity to Sounds & Inlets, calm at sunset
Weather:  warm sun but cool breeze with clouds to west & south, clouds at sunset

All the Sounds & Inlets that affect our Tidal Currents
A calm & warm night.  A warm bright sun most of the day but the breeze was cool.  In Johnson Creek we were warned to pass close to markers G131A & G131 for best depths.  Large pods of dolphins were seen in Johnson Creek & especially North Newport River; in fact one leaped completely out of the water twice or it was 2 separate leaping dolphins!  NE winds increased to 15K in St. Catherines Sound & we were motoring against an incoming (flood) tide from the inlet with of course the wind on our nose (speed= +/- 4.5K).  We were able to use a little jenny when we turned down in the Sound away from the Inlet toward Bear River, with a slight reprieve of the opposing current through Bear River until we exited Florida Passage into the Ogeechee River.  Here once again the wind was on our nose & we were now experiencing a flood tide from the Ossabow Sound & Inlet (speed= 4.8 with 12K wind).  We hit Hell Gate passage at 1235 hrs., about 2 hrs. before high tide; mostly 13 ft. except 11.3 ft. crossing over the shoal & 15 ft. exiting to R36.  We were now off the wind as we turned down the Vernon River & set some jenny (speed= 7.0K), then furled the sail as we turned into Burnside Creek.  This was another serpentine route, now through marsh grasses on one side & residential, big expensive homes onshore.  The Skidaway Narrows fixed Bridge was still under construction but the bascule bridge opened quickly on request.  The tide was still rising as we left the ICW to cross Wilmington River into Turner Creek; good depths of 12-15 ft.  Anchoring was a bit interesting as the wind was 90 degrees to the incoming (flood) tide.  Clouds arrived right at sunset.  A few pale & dark pink streaks in the clouded sky.  ¼ moon was visible through the light night cloud.

A Wahoo River, Georgia Sunset
Thurs. Apr. 18, 2013—Day 198:
Destination:  Turner Creek, Savannah (Mile 585.5)
Winds:  E 5-10K
Weather:  mostly sunny & warm once morning clouds moved off, few clouds in the afternoon

In famous Savannah Squares in Spring
A warm night & also I must mention that for several weeks now we have experienced condensation & moisture at night, especially on deck & the enclosure & heavy in the morning; the enclosure windows required wiping before setting off in the morning.  We dinghied & tied up to Hogan’s Marina before they open at 0800 hrs.  We walked across from the Publix on Johnny Mercer, were attacked by gnats & caught the CAT #10 bus at 0830 hrs. (seniors rate--65 yrs.= $0.75 each).  The Cat route & schedule for some runs must have changed on Apr. 8, 2013 according to a posted sign, but that did not affect us.  The morning ride in was most interesting as the friendly riders usually African American, spoke easily & freely with us, offering suggestions & a few on entering the bus loudly bid “good morning all!”  The 1 hour bus ride brought us to downtown Savannah at the corner of Martin Luther King & Broughton.  Graeme & I split up for the morning to do our own touring & met up at City Market at noon;  I walked all the squares I had not done in the Fall south of Liberty St. including Forsyth Park & Colonial Park Cemetery, enjoying the architect, the wrought ironworks of the old houses, the greenery & the flowering shrub bushes in blossom & the roses.  The front façade of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was totally behind scaffolding, restoration efforts, as well as the exterior of Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace building.  Graeme seemed to have stuck to the City Market & River St.  We walked along River St. from City Hall east, lunch at Cotton Exchange on River St. & afterwards lazily walking under Factors Walk down to & west to Broughton.  Believe it or not I declined ice cream at Leopolds.  We caught the 1530 hrs. #10 bus back to East Savannah.  We picked up a few groceries at Publix & Graeme paid Hogan’s Marina their $10.00 dinghy fee where we met a pet pig called Lucy.  The dinghy & motor were lifted for tomorrow’s departure.  A wonderful sunset as the sun went below the saltmarsh  grasses & a peachy coloured sky.  A half moon tonight in a mix of clear & cloudy skies.

Fri. Apr. 19, 2013—Day 199:
Destination:  Savannah, Georgia (Mile 585.5) to Port Royal Landing Marina, Beaufort S.C. (Mile 539.6)
Departure:  0650 hrs.                               Arrival:  1440 hrs.                                  Distance:  45.9 SM
Winds:  S 8-15K in protected rivers & creeks, 15-29K in more open water
Weather:  cloudy, warm & humid

Dreamy Beaufort, S.C.
The south winds increased about 0400 hrs., light cloud increased to heavy cloud & the predicted high winds did materialize in the afternoon.  We left the anchorage early, 2-1/2 hrs. before low tide to make sure we could pass the shallow entrance without grounding & attempted to make the 0800 hrs. opening of the Causton Bluff Bridge (bascule), but were 3 min. late & now had to wait a full hour; the tide was against us from the anchorage into & along the Wilmington River, then slowly the tide had less of an opposing effect on our speed as we got closer to the bridge.  But now we were only ¾ hour to maximum low tide & precisely at that time we crossed the Savannah River & entered Fields Cut, a notorious shallow area; 5’4” on entering the cut, 11-14 ft. most of the way through with 1 shallow area midway & 10-12 ft. exiting the cut into the Wright River.  The New River had varied but good depths also with 1 exception.  From Ramshorn Creek we entered Cooper River & partially rolled out the jenny to assist with the opposing current from the flood waters from Calibogue Inlet & kept our speed to a respectable 5-6K range by playing the jenny in & out & jibbing at times around the circuitous route.  When we turned away from the inlet towards Hilton Head, we were with a favourable pushing tide motorsailing along at 7.0-7.8K down Calibogue Sound, now with building 1 ft. waves & some whitecaps.  We continued to play the jenny as required through the deep flooding waters of Skull Creek.  Out into wide open waters of Beaufort Sound, the current was opposing, the winds were gusting 15- 29K, the waves were heavily whitecapped about 2-3 ft. high on our beam & some crashing over the boat.  We reefed the jenny as the boat was heeling with gusts of 25-29K, forcing one to brace themselves when at the helm, until we could bare off towards Port Royal & Beaufort (pronounced Bewfort) now with pushing tides.  We were assigned a dock tie up on the inside of the north end of the face dock but between 2 power boats & that was a problem with the winds, the tides & the current; our stern nearly side swiped the starboard side of the 1st power boat.  I was upset to say the least & trembling afterwards & really needed that hot shower.   Graeme as usual said nothing but busied himself adding another spring line, attaching electricity (I can’t remember the last time we were plugged to shore power) & topping the boat’s diesel tank.  Chef Larry invited us & Pat & Fred (Marianna-met 2 yrs. ago) over for a wonderful pizza & key lime pie dinner.  We had a enjoyable evening finally reuniting with Lynn & Larry, distracted with lots of conversation while a storm was occurring outside.  There was another tornado & thunderstorm warning approaching from the west with winds shifting to the north & bringing cold temperatures.  We were hit with heavy rains & 30+K winds & lightning, rocking boats at dockside+++ & slamming them against the dock, but it was over in a few hours.  I might add that ‘Marianna’ was hit by lightning as they were travelling north with ‘Twomorrows’ from Dinner Key to Ft. Lauderdale in a wicked storm with 22K winds at the beginning of April; lost their GPS, autohelm, radar, instruments, VHF & refrigeration temporarily with the exit strike likely out the mast decklight that was blown to smitherines.  Back at the boat I worked till 0100 hrs. trying to purchase & install my antivirus program soon to expire, with great difficulty requiring chat line tech help.  Fortunately the winds & waves calmed down.  But the forecast is not at all good Sun. through Tues.  Decision time in the morning.

Sat. Apr. 20, 2013—Day 200:
Destination:  Port Royal Landing Marina (Mile 539.6)
Winds:  NE +/-20K, decreased early afternoon to 5-10K by sunset
Weather:  cloudy & cold! H= 60’ish only & L= mid 40’s! Thinning clouds early afternoon & sun & clear skies late afternoon

Port Royal Soft Crab Festival
The rains continued on & off during the night.  By morning heavy moisture surrounded the windows.  Having gone to bed so late, I was feeling very tired & not wanting to get up.  ‘Twomorrows’, ‘Marianna’ & ourselves had a conference talk on the VHF at 0730hrs. & all unanimously agreed they were staying another night; in fact Lynn & Larry & ourselves decided to stay 2 nights as Sundays weather is dreadful (stay 2 nights, get 3rd night free).  Cloudy, cold, windy just plain miserable; certainly not the weather you would expect at this time of year at this latitude.  But I made real toast with a toaster this morning!  I had intentions of baking muffins or cinnamon rolls which would help warm the interior up, but my morning was occupied still trying to install the antivirus program on our 2 other laptops (2 of 3 successful) & edit my password for my account; hours on chat line with tech help.  Graeme worked at washing the enclosure windows, cockpit floor & cushions with FRESH water & added water to one of the boat tanks. Early afternoon we used the courtesy vehicle to visit Port Royal’s Soft Crab Festival; booths of crafts, jewellery, T-shirts , food & beverages & even vintage cars.  Quickly we drove to historic downtown Beaufort for a oil print Graeme had seen in the Fall of a shrimp boat in saltwater marsh grasses at Fordham Market, a converted hardware store into multi consignment craft units.  Late afternoon Graeme worked on his >200 emails, while I updated my blog & added pictures.  The sun appeared as the sky cleared totally a few hours before sunset.  We had a social hour at ‘Twomorrows’ & said our goodbyes to Fred & Pat as they need to move on tomorrow.  Calm water, clear sunset sky, clear night sky & ¾ moon.

Note the Palmetto Palm in the Green Shutters
Licence Plate--'56 T- Bird

Sun. Apr. 21, 2013—Day 201:
Destination:  Port Royal Landing Marina (Mile 539.6)
Winds:  gale force advisory NE 15-20K in am & 20-35K late pm & night
Weather:  crystal clear, sunny & cold + made cooler with strong breeze, cloudy mid pm, rain

Lowcountry Saltmarsh Grasslands, Live Oaks & Spanish Moss
I was slow to rise on this bright, clear, cold but sunny morn as I had another late night.  At 0800 hrs. NOAA announced a gale force advisory for the Beaufort area from 1100 hrs. to 0600 hrs. tomorrow.  Cold NE winds of 15-20K started soon after 0900 hrs. & by late afternoon were in the 20-35K range.  The Beaufort River was an ugly sea of white, with good 2 ft. waves rolling south, crashing into boats tied on the outside of the face dock & crashing into the face dock.  I had a busy morning changing the bed linen, doing 2 loads of wash, shower & internet; washers (1 front load + 1 top load) =$1.00 ea. & dryers (1 front load & 1 large commercial with 70 min. cycle) = $1.00 ea.  At noon we borrowed the courtesy truck & the Morrows & ourselves drove to Historic Downtown Beaufort & had lunch at Luther’s, then casually walked along Bay St. popping into a few shops.  Having a pre-dinner drink on ‘Twomorrows’ we all said how glad we were to be here & with these weather conditions.  Besides, the marina staff Tom, Rion, Tony, Chris are so friendly, accommodating, personable & knowledgeable; this is one of the very best marinas!  ‘Marianna’ left this am & texted the Morrows saying they were anchored in Toogoodoo Creek (Mile 495.4) but would be doing anchor watch tonight.  No sunset after such a brilliant sunny morn, no moon, only cold, vicious, howling NE winds, waves slapping at the hull, rain & dark errie night. 

Mon. Apr. 22, 2013—Day 202:
Destination:  Port Royal, Beaufort (Mile 539.6)
Winds:  NE 20-25K, decreased late afternoon to 15-20K
Weather:  cloudy am, few raindrops , then full sun mid afternoon

Note the length of the dock from Marina Office to ICW
Mud Flats at low tide at Marina
NE winds howled & blew like stink most of the night with a few noticeable lulls now & again.  No question, the Morrows & ourselves were staying our 4th day; oh, I forgot to mention yesterday was our free day.  There was no way we could have gotten off the docks, especially from where we were positioned, without an incident.  NOAA reports & all of Lynn’s sources indicate improving & more favourable conditions tomorrow.  I actually baked up some cinnamon rolls this morning which warmed the cabin.  I have been spending much time the last few days & again today on my blog, posting pics for the many weeks I did not have stronger enough internet to do so & adding captions to pics from day 1, if you can believe.  Very late morning after showering, we used the courtesy truck for a short time to Lady’s Island to Bakers Marina & Publix, then cooked up a pot of chili for supper tonight.  The Beaufort River by this time was less whitecapped & ugly.  Both of us utilized the sunny & warmer afternoon + our last chance with fresh free water & electricity to do some serious cleaning; Graeme washed more of the deck & removed some rust & stains from the deck; I vacuumed & washed with chlorax & pinesol all the lined bins from bow to stern below the floorboards which we use for storage as they are bone dry, in an effort to make the tasks lighter & quicker when we reach home base & put ‘Sweet Chariot Too’ to bed for the summer.  Larry baked up some cornmeal muffins to accompany our chili dinner together tonight.  I did not take note of the sunset sky tonight.  A clear night sky filled of stars+++ &  a 7/8 moon & much calmer winds & sea conditions.

Tues. Apr. 23, 2013—Day 203:
Destination:  Port Royal Landing Marina, S.C. (Mile 539.6) to Church Creek (Mile 488.2)
Departure:  0815 hrs.                          Arrival:  1625 hrs.                              Distance:  51.4 SM
Winds:  NE 15-20K, decreased to 10-15K especially in more open waters & 9-12K in protected areas & calmer through the afternoon with a shift to E then SSE 5K by sunset
Weather:  cloudy & cold, mid afternoon the sun tried to break through & clear late evening

Note the mud banks, the new saltmarsh grasses & zoom into the alligator sunning
I got that last shower in before dawn & departure time.  I was worried about getting off the dock, but Tony was superb once again; it was slack high tide & he released the midship & stern mooring lines, the wind gradually brought the stern out or away from the dock, then Tony took the bow line, walked it along & at the same time pulled the bow right around; Graeme powered in reverse just a short time then we motored out into the Beaufort River, which had only a slight chop this morning.  What a difference a day makes!  The time of the tides today were not really in our favour in accordance to the caution shallow depth spots we had to pass.  We made the 0900 hrs. opening of the Ladies Island Swing Bridge along with 5 other northbound & 1 southbound boats.  Brickyard Creek was O.K. on the falling tide & against current until we exited into the Coosaw River; boat speed was up to 7.7K with the wind on our nose motoring towards St. Helena Sound & into the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff #2.  I sure was glad I had put my antiperspirant on this morning through the cutoff; man-o-man was it skinny/low water (6-9ft.) & there still was over an hour before max. low tide!  And I was driving!  Although the depths were O.K. through Rock Creek, the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff #1, the Ashepoo River & Fenwick Cut, it was a seesaw action of our speed, depending which direction the current was flowing at that location in relationship to the inlet, ie flooding or ebbing.  The South Edisto River & Watts Cut were a different matter as we cautiously cut our engine RPM’s through these areas 1 hr. into a rising tide; the depths were low & the muddy shores were very exposed through these narrow passages; we even saw an alligator sunning on the mud banks in Watts Cut.  Finally the narrow ICW widened into the North Edisto River followed by the tortuous Wadmalaw River, with better depths as well.  I tried to sit outside the enclosure this afternoon when the sun was trying to break through the clouds but the breeze was too cold & the sun was more in than out.  We pulled into Church Creek as to: (1) stage for Elliott Cut & it’s vicious current; must go with the current, so on a falling tide, because the water flow originates from Charleston Harbor Inlet; and (2) an early arrival into Charleston & therefore more time to experience it’s romantic air.  We anchored against the strong current as opposed up into the wind which was at our beam in 16 ft. with 100 ft. of chain.  There were 6 boats here tonight.  With very calm winds, it was a very tranquil spot, with only the sound of a variety of birds & soundless but peaceful movement of dolphins through the water.  We will part company with the Morrows early in the morning for our 2 night stay in Charleston, as they bypass Charleston & move on.  But we hope to meet up again at the end of the week.  I seem to still have some trouble with eating supper after 2000 hrs., whereas in the Fall you are looking to go to bed at that same hour.  A magnificent sunset, more magnificent red evening sky & clear night sky with a bright near full moon & stars.

Church Creek


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