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APRIL---Vero Beach, FL to Great Bridge, VA---The Run North

Stops Along the Way:

Vero Beach is always a shock to the system when returning from the Bahamas. Get a big thrill out of a trip to Publix where the availability of fruits, vegetables and meats can be overwhelming! Had dinner at Bev and Bob's (SAVAGE SON) one evening. Bob's sister-in-law, June, was staying with them. At times I felt sorry for June because the conversation was all about cruising. Keith and Rose (CAMELOT) had a dinner party for us, TILT (Kris and Craig), CYGNET (Bob and Chesley) and Pat and Mac who used to sail on WINDBORNE. Jim and Nancy (SOLITAIRE) had a Happy Hour at their home for cruisers. Lots of people, lots of great appetizers and lots of fun. Nancy made up a game of questions about the Bahamas with the guys versus the gals. Some of us forgot it was supposed to be fun ....competitive personalities so the game ended a little early.

Party at Keith and Rose' house. On the top left are some of the girls---Pat, Chesley and Kris. Top right only two of the guys---Mac and Bob. Middle left is the host, Keith. Middle right is the hostess, Rose, at the grill and I thought grilling was a blue job??? Bottom left is a plate of steaks and man were they good. Bottom right is the table all set for the guests.

 

Below are photos taken at Jim and Nancy's party for cruisers. Top left is Nancy, Bob (SAVAGE SON) and his sister-in-law, June along with Bill (formerly ROCINANTE). Top right is Bill (formerly NICE n EASY) with Bev (SAVAGE SON). Bottom left is I don't know the first person, Rose (CAMELOT) and Pat (formerly WINDBORNE).

 

In addition to going out for dinner in Vero....with so many cruisers at Vero Beach Marina you just have to get together. Invited Donna and Jerry (BLUEJACKET) for pizza and salad. Donna and Jerry were in the Ragged Islands when we were but never saw them .....always at different anchorages. Had a great visit with a slight interruption when Carol and Jake (OFFLINE) stopped by. We met Jake and Carol in 2007 when we left the Bahamas and went to Trinidad. Jake and Carol joined us along with BLUEJACKET in the cockpit for drinks and dessert. Kathy (Five & DIME)) invited us, TILT and BLUE HEAVEN (Al and Arlene) for dinner our last night in Vero Beach.

Followed the weather closely while in Vero Beach hoping to find a 2-3 day window with southerly winds that would allow us to get into the gulfstream for a fast ride to Charleston or Beaufort, NC. Nothing in the forecast for at least a week or more. Left Vero Beach after Carl's package arrived via UPS. The exhaust elbow on the generator was rusting out so ordered a replacement. The northeasterly swell on the ocean was much larger than we expected and the winds were northeast rather than the forecasted east to southeast so the ride was rolly. Saw lots of dolphins and sea turtles. Had to talk to several ships about their and our course around Jacksonville......two of the ships altered their course for us and we altered course for one ship. Our wind instrument quit working.....Carl will go up the mast when we arrive in Fernandina Beach to fix it.

Look very very closely and you will see dolphins.

 

Anchored in Fernandina Beach. by around 7:30 PM. A quick dinner and a good night's sleep. The next day purchased a week's worth of marina services .....dinghy dock, trash, showers, boater's lounge and laundry. Carl "went up the mast" to repair the wind instrument and replace the LED bulb in the anchor light. Our LED light was very dim......in fact, looked for the dimmest mast light in a crowded anchorage to identify our boat. The wind instrument needed some WD40 on the cups and the feather tail was severely bent but nothing to do about that except replace it. The feather must have bent last fall when we had some challenges getting under fixed bridges in Florida. Out for dinner at the Salty Pelican for shrimp tacos with sweet potato french fries.

Below are photos of the wind instrument. That feather tail is supposed to be straight not bent like it is.

 

You know what they say...."When in Rome do as the Romans do." While in Fernandina as a cruising tourist--I did the tourist photo op with the shrimp. Fernandina Beach is famous for its shrimp.

 

 

Made dinner plans with Dave and Kathy (DYAD) on DISCOVERY Thursday night. The wind started piping up in the afternoon. When the tide changed and the wind started piping up.....DYAD was aground. Called them to reschedule dinner for another night when it would be more relaxing. DYAD decided to move further up the river and we did the same. Winds continued to blow like stink on Friday so did not get together for dinner until Saturday. I was worried about dinner because the pork had been marinating since Thursday and the banana foster cake had been refrigerated since Thursday. Should not have worried. The pork tenderloin was delicious and the cake tasty but very crumbly! Had a good visit with Dave and Kathy.

From Fernandina we motorsailed to Beaufort, SC on April 15. Arrived at the seabouy marking Port Royal Sound at dawn. Wow, is that inlet long! Motored up to the SSCA Cruisers' Station at Brickyard Creek. This was our first visit. Met at the dock by Rick who caught our lines and invited us to Happy Hour in their home that night. Bob and Chesley were at the dock next door and had access to a car so I went to Publix with them while Carl took a nap. Rick and Carol Butler provide an outstanding service to members of SSCA. The dock is 50 feet in length with power and water. We stayed two nights. As previously mentioned Happy Hour the first night. Rick and Carol have a lovely home with a unique bedroom----Rick built a ship's stateroom in the bedroom in the loft for the grandchildren. I wish I would have had my camera. The second night we went out for dinner at a great Japanese Restaurant.

Photos taken at the Beaufort SSCA Cruising Station owned by Rick and Carol Butler. Top left is DISCOVERY at the dock. Top right is the gazebo just above the dock. This gazebo has patio table and chairs and is screened. Bottom left is a photo of the walkway looking from the gazebo to the house. Bottom right photo is from the house looking to the gazebo.

 

Wind still from the northeast so we took the ICW north to Charleston. The Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff is one of the troublesome spots in South Carolina (shoaling) so we had to wait until mid tide rising to transit the cut. In other words---would have left earlier and traveled faster but couldn't. Our plan was to anchor in the Wappoo Creek but these plans changed due to the Wappoo Bridge schedule. The bridge doesn't open from 6:30 AM until 9:00 AM so we would have had to wait until 9:00 the next day to he move north. Also, FIVE & DIME was anchored just south of the Coast Guard Station in Charleston (on the other side of the Wappoo Bridge) and they extended an invitation for Happy Hour! Anchored by 7:00 PM and over to FIVE & DIME by 7:30 for peel-n-eat shrimp. Those plans must be flexible.

Continued north on the ICW to Georgetown, SC where we met up with TILT at Dry Stack Marina. Saw a large alligator in the Esterville Minim Canal. The first time we have seen an alligator in the ICW! Understand there are lots of them in the lowcountry where farmers used to grow rice. A little about Georgetown....it is the third oldest city in South Carolina. Prior to the American Revolution, indigo was an important crop. Indigo is the main ingredient in blue dye and was readily grown in the subtropical climate of the lowcountry. In 1757 the Winyah Indigo Society opened and maintained the first public school for white children between Charleston and Wilmington.. Georgetown played an active part in the American Revolution. Father and son Georgetown planters, Thomas Lynch, Sr. and Thomas Lynch, Jr., signed the Declaration of Independence. Georgetown was the important port for supplying General Nathaniel Greene's army. Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox) led many guerrilla actions in this vicinity---the character Benjamin Martin in the movie "The Patriot" was loosely based on Marion's life. Following the American Revolution, rice surpassed indigo as the staple crop. Rice was cultivated on the swampy lowlands along the rivers, where slaved labor built dams, gates and canals to irrigate and drain the rice fields during cultivation. Large rice plantations were established around Georgetown on its five rivers. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery production of rice could no longer be sustained. With virgin forests and rivers to provide transport of lumber, Georgetown became a major producer of lumber. By 1905, there were 5 lumber companies producing over 300,000 tons of milled lumber. The Great Depression ended the lumber industry. In recent years the area has been favored by tourists and retirees.

Stayed in Georgetown four nights......all at a marina!! Found a great restaurant, CRAZY FISH GRILL, where we ate at twice. The food was excellent and they also had beers for $1.00 (okay it was a cheap Wisconsin beer like Old Milwaukee but it was drinkable). The first time we ate there....Carl had Acadian Shrimp and Grits (mound of cheddar cheese/jalapeno grits topped with spicy tomato gravy, blackened shrimp and crumbled bacon) while I had the Szechuan Salmon Tacos (crispy strips of salmon in black pepper teriyaki sauce with peppers, onions and cucumber salad). The next time, I had the special Shrimp and Grits (mound of cheddar/jalapeno grits topped with a creamy corn gravy and blackened shrimp) while Carl had Catfish with a special tamarind sauce. Am I making you hungry? If you are in Georgetown, SC find this restaurant!!!! Kris and I walked around the historic district looking at homes from the early 1700's, 1800's and 1900's. A great stop. Why so long? See the next section on weather.

Georgetown has a good size shrimping fleet. On the left are barrels of shrimp based on size. Purchased 3 pounds of medium.

 

Photos taken in Georgetown's Historic District. House top left built in 1790. House top right built in 1815. The two houses on the bottom---can't remember the year they were built.

 

The oak tree in the top left photo is a South Carolina Champion Oak. It is registered with the American Forestry Association. In 1940 the tree was estimated to be 500 years old. It is 23 feet in circumference, 120 feet tall and has a crown spread of 125 feet. House on the top right was built in 1734. House bottom left built in 1842.

 

It was so cold in Georgetown (low of 42) that we had to haul out a piece of equipment that has not been used since October 25, 2006 in New Bern, North Carolina.

 

Left Georgetown with TILT and FIVE & DIME (Curt and Kathy had journeyed down the ICW from Charleston on Monday) headed for Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on the outside. Wind was light out of the northeast and continued to clock and diminish overnight so the ride on the outside was pretty pleasant for a motorsail. While in Wrightsville we hit Harris Teeters, West Marine, the hardware store and a good Mexican restaurant.

Traveled up the ICW from Wrightsville Beach to Mile Hammock which is on a US Marine Corp base. Hoped to observe some training as we have in past years but out of luck. Had our traveling companions over for Happy Hour. Everyone brought a hot appetizer so no dinner to make that night!

From Mile Hammock headed to Oriental, NC. TILT and FIVE & DIME stopped at the Coast Guard Station in Beaufort for the night and then proceeded to South River. We arrived in Oriental around 5:30 PM. The free dock was full so we anchored, had dinner, showered and off to bed. In the morning, the free dock opened up so we took the space. Met Bill and Sandy Donaldson for lunch then walked to a boatyard to see Fred and Deb (EARLY OUT). Back to the boat to relax. Woke up to rain and a forecast for southerly winds for 3 dasy.....time to head north (Gotta make hay when the sun shines. Okay the sun wasn't shining but it eventually would when it stopped raining.). TILT left South River shortly after we left Oriental and we met in the Neuse River. Continued up the ICW ....under the Wilkerson Bridge (a.k.a. Bridge of Doom) and up the Alligator Pungo Canal to Deep Point---a little more than a 10 hour day. The Wilkerson Bridge has a listed clearance of 64 feet and there is no lunar tide in this area----only wind driven tide. The top of TILT's mast where the instruments are have smacked against this bridge in past years so they need the wind to blow water out of the bay so they can clear this bridge. We were behind them and watched them just pass under "The Bridge of Doom". As far as the Alligator Pungo Canal is concerned.......it is a long straight boring haul (about 25 miles or 3.5 hours).

A quiet night at Deep Point. Left in the morning ....forecast said the fog would lift by 8:00 AM. Raised the anchor at 7:00 AM and there was hardly any fog at all. Therefore, quite surprised when the fog socked us in at the Alligator Bridge. When Kris called the bridge tender for an opening his response was it was pretty foggy and he had people working under the bridge so he'd get back to her. Finally received permission to proceed. The Alligator River has a section north of the bridge where shoaling has resulted in the relocation of marks and additional marks. I had not been through this section with our new chartplotter. Was so happy to be able to follow TILT through this area especially with the dense fog and 3 other boats that seemed to have no regard for the conditions. Eventually made it to Coinjock where we stayed at the marina. Went to dinner at the marina restaurant where they "don't serve sandwiches after 3:00 PM". We asked the bartender if he'd ask the chef if we could order sandwiches when we arrived at 5:30 PM. Just like last year.....the chef said yes. Had a terrific fresh tuna sandwich.

 

What else---the weather:

In a nutshell: What direction is the wind? Northeast What velocity? Blowing like stink!

As previously mentioned, choose to reschedule dinner with Dave and Kathy due to wind. The National Weather Service issued a Lake Wind Advisory which means the winds were steady 20 to 25 knots with gusts from 30 to 39 knots! No kidding it was blowing like stink. One Sunday night a warm front moved into northern Florida with an impulse of energy (short wave) which ran along the front from the Gulf of Mexico. Our forecast included another Lake Wind Advisory with thunderstorms to 50 knots and a potential of 1 to 2 inches of rain. We decided to play it safe by moving to Amelia Yacht Basin for the night. Most of the really bad weather passed to the north of us. Jacksonville (just south of us) did get hit with a severe thunderstorm that night so the storms were close.

Regional radar taken while we were at the Amelia Yacht Basin marina. Fernandina is the northern most city in Florida. You can see what was in store for us that night!

 

Stayed at the marina in Georgetown when it was so windy. Arrived in late afternoon when the southwest winds were blowing at 25 knots gusting 30 knots. The wind blew us onto the wall when we came in. Waiting at the dock were two dockhands, Kris, Craig and another cruiser Bob. All our fenders were out and the air was being squeezed out of them. Carl did a great job coming in. The next day the wind was blowing from the northeast at 25 to 30 and remained in the 20's until Tuesday.

Not a whole lot of time for anything other than traveling, eating, and sleeping once we start moving north. I did complete one jewelry project in Vero Beach. Purchased a cuff bracelet at Goodwill and then decorated it. Make earrings to match.!

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
May 03, 2013