Bahamas Crossing

We weighed anchor in North Palm Beach at 4AM. It was dark as we made our way down the ICW and out of Lake Worth inlet.

4:25AM on the ICW in North Palm Beach
Ambient light from shore makes navigation easier

We welcomed first light but soon our due East direction had us seeing spots as we stared into the sun.

Sunrise off the coast of Florida
Crossing over the West edge of the Gulf Stream.
Position of the West wall of the Gulf Stream, about 18NM off the coast.

Here is a video while underway in the Gulf Stream.

The ocean temp was a tropical 78 degrees.

While it would take us about 8 hours to arrive at our custom clear in location in West End on Grand Bahama Island, others would pass us along the way.

Sport-fisher making way

Soon we tucked between the rock jetties of West End, hailed Old Bahama Bay Marina for temporary dockage while we cleared in through customs.

The water inside West End Harbour was cloudy but had a beautiful green color.

There was a 10 foot long shark in this photo but I snapped it a moment too late as he swam beneath the murky green
Things appear from the green as the come up to the surface.

We had our yellow quarantine flag & Bahamas courtesy flag flying when we arrived in Bahamian waters. Now docked, only the captain is allowed to leave the boat to checkin at customs. The customs officers were very friendly and helped me sort through the required paperwork & $300 USD yacht entrance fee.

I first got the desire to sail after graduating college. I had dreams of dropping out of life, buying a sailboat, filling it with beer & Campbell’s soup and sailing away. Some 23 years, 3 sailboats and a trawler later we are finally realizing a dream. Time for some selfies in West End.

All smiles
Yellow building behind us in the West End customs office

Old Bahama Bay marina is the only dockage in West End and a private party bought many of their slips. They were not able to offer us dockage so we had to use the remaining daylight to run to out the breakwaters of West End, around Indian Rock and use VPR (Visual Piloting Rules) to navigate to Mangrove Cay for the night’s anchorage.

Out of West End, around Indian Rock and onto the Little Bahama Bank.
Exiting West End

Crossing the Little Bahama Bank is like nothing I’d ever experienced.

The water is so clear you can see everything on the bottom. Where the blue sky meets the green ocean is captivating.

Emerald Green
Beautiful day

When you pay for your cruising permit it include a Bahamas fishing license so we wasted no time in trolling lines. Kelly caught this amberjack and was quick to return it’s freedom by throwing it back in the water.

Amberjack?

Soon we arrived at Mangrove Cay.

Mangrove Cay Anchorage

We anchored for the night as the sun was setting over Mangrove Cay.

Sunset at Mangrove Cay
Underwater lights work great in the clear waters

We slept late and made the short trip to great Sale Cay the next afternoon.

Great Sale Cay anchorage on the Little Bahama Bank

Then it was on to Crab Cay for another night on anchor.

Crab Cay Anchorage near Little Abaco Island

Our last trip was to Marsh Harbour where we will await a guest who is flying in for a week visit aboard MV Simple Life.

Arriving in Marsh Harbour we found the anchorage to be quite full and had to squeeze into a spot that was just deep enough for our 4’10” draft.

Crab Cay to Marsh Harbour via Whale Cut

You can now choose “Current Location” from our blogs menu and see where MV Simple Life is in real-time.

North Palm Beach

Our trip down from Vero Beach yesterday looked something like this.

Leaving the Marina

We left around 7AM as we had 60 miles to travel to our planned anchorage. After pulling out of our slip we put her in neutral to take a 360 degree view of the marina.

Looking back at our empty slip and friends Yachts

Trip Down the ICW

Low Bridges

One of many low bridges we ducked under

img_4135
Duck

Beautiful Homes on the ICW

Beautiful

Corner lot

Beautiful palms

Yacht is longer than their home

Perfect lawn

Humble abode

Cool trees

Anchorage

Our anchorage for tonight

Happy & Brody are loving the sun on the cockpit grass

Moonrise pics are hard from a moving boat

Listening to the Counting Crows from the cockpit

Bahamas Bound

Tomorrow’s 4AM departure for West End Grand Bahama Island

Vero “Velcro” Beach

Our route down from Titusville to Vero Beach looked like this.

Route leg from Titusville to Vero Beach

Suntex Marina

We booked a slip in VB’s Suntex Marina for a week. The plan was to install the watermaker and fans for the Bahamas. The install was taking me longer than expected so when we went to add a second week, we learned that a two-week stay cost the same as a month. When the month ended and I was making probably my 6th Uber ride to Lowe’s to buy more needed plumbing & wiring parts, we added another two weeks, oh wait … make that another month! That’s why we like to call it “Velcro Beach”!

Friends

During our time in Vero Beach we enjoyed visiting friends and making new ones.

Marty, Kelly, Jim and Lori
Riverside Cafe
Kelly, Marty,Lori and Jim
Lori, Terry, Kelly
Doreen, Kelly, Pam, Marty and Eddie
Pam, Eddie, Doreen, Kelly and Marty

Watermaker Install

The watermaker is a nice addition if you plan on spending lots of time in the Bahamas where water can cost upwards of $0.50 / gallon. More than the cost is the convenience of being able to fill our 440 gallon water tanks while on anchor. Now how do we install a diesel maker onboard?

Watermaker high pressure pump is an actual pressure washer that uses the water to cool the electric motor
20 micron then 5 micron filters incoming seawater. Carbon removes chlorine when flushing system with municipal water
Product water flow meter, total dissolved solids meter. High pressure gauge and pressure vessel end-cap.
Flow and TDS meters mounted
Check valves keep saltwater and fresh from mixing
Product water manifold to send fresh water to either tank or the swim platform for filling water jugs for other boaters
Components mounted using starboard brackets onto pressure vessel
Pressure washer body strapped in place
High pressure gauge with pressure adjustment knob

Other Purchases & Install Projects

Electric Receptacles with built-in USB charger ports
Thermacell to fight off the no-see-ums
Hatch fan
Cabin fans – 4 in Master, 2 in guest, one in head, 2 saloon
Chairs lashed to cockpit bulkhead
Thermacells for each side of cockpit

Satellite communication device to text while out of cell rage as well as track our location

New menu buttons on blog
Current location page

Kelly is Baking Bread

Sour dough starter
Bread bowl
Home-made pizza

Titusville at Night

We awoke to the sound of rain hitting the topsides of the boat. We weighed anchor in the rain and it poured for the next few hours. 

Morning Ride leaving Fort Matanzas 

We passed these hearty Jeepsters camping in the rain.

Myself, I prefered to tent in the dunes at the beach

The weather just hung over us all day. It did not help that we were motoring South, straight into the thick of it. 

Rainy Day

The wind was on our beam and listing the boat to port. You can see the flags are flying out straight. 

Flags are a flying

We passed two sunken sailboats and an aground catamaran.

This guy wins the award for the largest boat house on the ICW today and also the most dilapidated boat house. I wonder how it’s even still standing after some of the storms?

Dilapidated Boat House

We still had a long way to go if we were going to make Titusville, FL and the sun had just set. 

Sun has retired for the night

We kept on into the night while Kelly cooked an amazing steak tip dinner while underway. We may be pulling 10-12 hour days at the helm but we are eating well. Soon we picked a spot to anchor which was tucked in a corner between land and a railroad bridge. A bit shallow but well protected for a good night sleep. It’s very dark with only a thin waxing crescent moon but you could see the distant lights of Titusville.  

Distant Lights of Titusville, FL

Today’s leg of our journey looked something like this finger drawn route.

W02L023 – St. Augustine, FL => Titusville, FL

Fort Matanzas

We had a peaceful night on anchor in the Amelia River. We awoke early before the sunrise.

6:50AM Anchored on the Amelia River

Somehow we did not get moving till 8AM. We have a thing about trying to cover as many miles as we can each day and that means you need to use all the daylight there is on the ICW. Not so much this morning. The good news was that we were leaving on a high tide so little worry of running into a shoal with the added 5′ of tide.

Two tugs raced past us and I was reminded that you can tell when a full displacement boat is running at near ‘Hull Speed‘ by simply looking at the bow wake length vs the boat length. You can see the smaller tug’s bow wake dips and then crests almost at the stern of the tug. They were running hard and burning fuel. They must be in a hurry to get to the next job cuz running fast = diesel = $ = expenses for them. 

Where the ICW crosses the St. Johns River in Jacksonville we always see large ships either underway or being repaired in the boatyards dotting the shore. 

Last year we passed this sailboat on a small island and it still looks out of place. How’d it get up on the island? I can only assume a barge with a crane placed it there to keep it out of the way of navigation but why leave it there?

Derelict Sailboat on stands on small island

We passed this other sailboat that was using their dingy to reset their anchor. Their sailboat was too close to the ICW channel.

There are some beautiful homes along the banks and this was just one of them.

Home Along the ICW

As we approached this bridge in Isle of Palms, FL we noticed 3 16YOish boys tied their boat to the bridge and were fishing beneath the support. This is a NO-NO in the boating world. It’s a federal law that you cannot tie a boat to any navigational buoy or bridge’s fender system (the boards that protect the bridge supports from boats as they pass through the center span).  

Boys tied to bridge

As a boater you must treat bridges with special attention. When you pass under a bridge you must do so at no wake speed (about 6.4 knots for MV Simple Life). For the boats hanging out under bridges (usually fishing) you must not block the marked channel through the center span. You must also be careful as boats passing through the fender boards may not see you if you are hidden by the boards or bridge supports.  Also after 9/11/2001 Homeland Security legally restricted areas under certain bridges and it’s a felony if you break that law. Individual states may have laws about simply being near any bridge in their state.

Florida Statute 327.44 refers to interference with navigation and states that anchoring underneath a bridge or adjacent to heavily traveled channels constitutes interference if unreasonable under the prevailing circumstances. There’s a lot of gray area here and not everyone has the same understanding of “unreasonable interference,” but you likely won’t get in trouble for anchoring under a bridge if you are well out of the way.

FWC (Fish & Wildlife Conservation) officers may stop you if you attempt to anchor under the bridge. It should be noted that the area around a bridge is more likely to have un underwater cable that either brings power to a lift or swing bridge or simply crosses over to the island. You don’t want to hook your anchor on these power cables. 

Aside from all the bridge rules of boating, I was more interested in the expansion joint on this bridge. 

Bridge Expansion

We pass many engineering structures like bridges and this pier. I’m sure the first piers were only for boats to dock but soon “pleasure piers” emerged that were simply for people to stroll out onto or fish off.

I guess they want boats to know the name of this pier?

We find it interesting that “birds of a feather flock together”. It’s like all these white pelicans said … “Hey, why don’t we all me on the banks of the ICW over where Jimmy found that big pile or old crab shells tomorrow?”.  They clearly enjoy each other’s company. 

White Pelicans crowded together

Soon we were waiting for Saint Augustine’s ‘Bridge of Lions‘ to open (every 30 minute openings). In line in front of us was a boat called ‘Yellow Bird” from Cape Cod.

MV Yellow Bird – Cape Cod @Bridge of the Lions St Augustine FL

We attempted to get a mooring ball in  Saint Augustines FL but alas the City Marina only had balls for boats with drafts under 3′. I hear it’s a fun town but our plan is to continue on tonight and find a quiet place to anchor. As the sun was setting we settled on anchoring just off Fort Matanzas. Fort Matanzas was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet. 

Our Sunset @Fort Matanzas did not disappoint 

Our leg today looked something like this…

W02L022 – Ferdandina Beach FL – Fort Matanzas FL

Fernandina Beach Florida

I awoke at 4AM before any of the crew. Neither Happy or Brody came out from under the covers to join me. We are in Georgia and it’s only 40 degrees when I awoke.

Heck, the temps were going to fall deeper before the 7:13AM sunrise.

Underway in the dark 6:14AM

By 6:30AM the sky was starting to lighten up on the ICW.

Looking East where the sun will rise

I decided to walk out on the bow while underway and snap a picture and a quick video before sunrise.

Not quite Sunrise

Once the sun rose you could see it burning the face of the daymarks as we passed. 

It’s high tide and the rivers are swollen around here. Daymark almost underwater. 

When you are at the helm for hours the internet is your entertainment. I was watching Mike-the-Drunken-Donkey from Mike’s Weather Page broadcasting FB Live video stream. I tuned in as Mike taught about weather and what to expect from the winter storm making its way across the US. 

Thankfully, MV Simple Life will be in Florida by the end of the day

We were amazed at how flat calm the ICW was as we pushed along at 7 knots. 

At the helm I’m wearing my work pajamas because it’s still a bit chilly even with the diesel heat on. Happy just figured out that there is HEAT coming out of that little black round duct below the AC panel door. She parked herself right under my feet to steal all the heat.

Heat Hog

We were making incredible time as we approached Cumberland Island in Georgia.

SOG (Speed Over Ground) = 10.4 knots

10.4 knots because we were enjoying a strong current on our stern. 

Then as we looked out, we could see a current line on the surface of the water. 

Opposing currents meeting causing white chop

We feared as soon as we crossed this line that our 10.4 knot speed would begin to erode. We could never have guessed just how much.

Strong Current on the nose. 10.4 => 3.9 knots

Knowing we would face this current from our trip around Cumberland Island we attempted to ride close to shore looking for an eddy current (reverse direction). But alas it was no use. We had a long slow ride around the island. 

Then it happened. We crossed over the state line into Florida’s Amelia Island A.K.A. Fernandina Beach. As we passed we saw a ship that looked like a member of the Sea Shepherd fleet. We snapped a photo on the way by and low & behold, it was a Sea Shepherd ship. 

Sea Shepherd’s – MV John Paul Dejoria

Kelly & I have always been fans of ocean conservation and the crew of Sea Shepherd work hard to keep our oceans and their inhabitants safe. 

We are currently anchored in the Amelia River just over the GA-FL state line. 

Sun is setting in the Amelia River as I finish this post

Today’s leg looked something like this finger drawn route. 

W02L021 – Darien, GA to Fernandina Beach, FL

Sun Goes Down on Georgia

We awoke on anchor just South of Turtle Island in SC. It’s a tiny uninhabited island that is on the Atlantic Ocean. There is hardly any light at night so the stars just pop out at you. They seem so much brighter and like you could reach up an touch them. Seeing the cosmos this way makes you realize that your consciousness is contemplating your existence on a small planet in the Milky Way galaxy. I wish there was a way to capture it in a picture but alas I have not found a way. 

Cold. It’s F’n cold when I stand outside and watch the sunrise. It’s part of the experience but it’s also the whole reason we left New England and have been boating for the last 180 hours. Getting away from the cold means traveling further South than you would think. It’s only 36 degree as I stand out there watching the sunrise. 36 degrees and I’m on the edge of Georgia! Time to simply weigh anchor and go..

Turtle Island is South of Hardeeville but I’m guessing this weather app has no data for Turtle Island.

When anchored in weather like this you need a 12V heater as there are no long extension cords leading to the boat. Kelly & I installed a Espar D8LC 27K BTU diesel-fired forced-hot-air heater and mornings like this I realize we would never live on a boat without HEAT.

Espar D8LC Diesel-Fired Forced Hot Air Heater Schematic

Georgia has enormous tides and strong currents.

Riding a high Tide

We were riding an 8′ high tide so we were unstoppable. Well, I mean unstoppable in the sense we probably won’t run into a shoal and be stopped dead in our tracks. 

Field’s Cut is just before the ICW crosses the Savannah River and we had to cruise fast to get ahead of the oncoming container ship that just issued a ‘securite’ warning that they were on incoming on the Savannah River and approaching Fields Cut. You need to listen to these securite calls from large ships if you don’t want to wind up on the wrong end of them. We’d have snapped a photo but we were more concerned with staying out of their way. We hailed the ship and let them know that we would be crossing in front of their bow and that we would not be in their way. 

Finger drawn route of us crossing Savannah River into GA from Fields Cut in SC

We call this picture “Bush of White Birds” cuz we so creative.

Looked funny from a distance

We slipped under this bridge carefully as we just fit beneath.

Low bridges that boat traffic must wait on openings are being replaced by tall 65′ high bridges. That’s a good thing for boaters and motorists alike. 

I learned today that the Surf City Swing Bridge was just replaced by a full-height Bridge. Time to update my bridge list.pdf

Kelly has a thing for wooden transom boats so we snapped these pics of MV Sandrita as she was being hauled via a marine travel lift. We had to slow down to no wake speed as these dock workers were trying to load her in the slings. 

We hailed this blue-hulled sailboat to warn them they were approaching a shoal. They had already figured it out but thanked us as they backed out of the channel they were in. Captains on the water are kind and always offer help if they see another boater doing something that might get them into trouble. I’ve had captains hail me and say… Simple Life, you need to keep that red tight to port to clear that shoal”. Kelly & I feel lucky to be apart of a group that looks out for one another.

Approaching Hell’s Gate – a notorious shallow cut that leaves boats aground

Kelly & I each bought Florida saltwater fishing licenses today. We’ll be in Florida for  a minimum of 3 weeks while we prepare for our Bahamas departure.

If we catch a single edible fish, We’ll have paid $130.70 for it 😉 Should have gone to the Capital Grille and just ordered the fish special.

I am on many Facebook Boating groups and love the discussions about the Aqua Maps Explorer Bahamas charts. Folks complaining about the fact that they are raster (bitmap) charts vs vector charts which use math equations to draw the charts at each particular zoom level. It’s interesting to me not just because they pictured Green Turtle Cay where Kelly & I have wanted to visit but that I just am drawn to nautical charts. We hung one on the 275 gallon oil tank in our old house that we sold. It took me hours to print each individual 8″x11″ chart and piece them all together to have a huge chart of Narragansett Bay. I enjoy staring at paper charts like they are artwork for ship captains. Vector charts lack the beauty of raster (paper-style) charts. 

We passed a beautiful fishing trawler as we got close to our final anchor location for the night. 

Soon we were passing this cool little house on an island along the banks of the ICW in Georgia. 

If we’d had a canvas we’d paint it.. somehow

The sun was quickly setting on us and it was spectacular.

As we pulled into the creek where we’d drop our anchor for the night it was last light. 

Today’s leg looked something like this… Not really as the ICW snakes its way through countless creeks in Georgia. 

An multi-IPA finger drawn chart of today’s leg.. yeah that’s bad

On the Edge of Georgia

We opt’d for a late 11AM departure from Beaufort, SC. When we went to leave the current was pushing us so hard against the dock that our bow & stern thrusters were not able to move us away from the dock. A fellow boater on SV Bay Dreaming came over and held our spring line so I could motor the stern off the dock and then back into the current. Amazing how strong the current can be in this area with 7-8′ tides. 

Soon we were at the Southern tip of Paris Island.

Our friends Ann & Todd’s son Conner is there going through boot camp as we pass.  We are reminded by the sounds of freedom (Jets screaming overhead). 

Semper Fi

My brother just let me know that yesterday a guy caught a 17′, 3500lb. great white shark off Hilton Head Island. 

 

17′ 3,500 lb Great White Shark Caught off Hilton Head Island on 12/4/18

Today’s trip was short and we only passed a few sights pictured below

Soon we were dropping anchor in the 20 kts winds and it surprised me when after lining up bow into the wind we quickly spun around in the strong current with our stern facing the wind. 

The sunset’s here in the lowlands of South Carolina are amazing.

Sunset off Turtle Island, SC

Today’s short leg looked something like this..

Beaufort, SC – Turtle Island, SC

Beaufort SC and IPAs

Capt Mahty

The storms blew over us all night in Charleston Harbor. The large catamaran beat us off anchor by leaving in the dark. When I weighed anchor it came up muddy and with wooden debris possibly from an old sunken dock or similar? 

Fort Johnson Anchorage Debris

We cleared the debris and pulled out behind MV Gratitude but quickly fell behind her. She was moving at about 8 knots and we had the current against us and were ok to simply keep up 7 knots. 

Trying to keep up with MV Gratitude

We would be making way through Southern South Carolina’s ICW and it’s all about the tide in this area. Unfortunately, we were running into low tide. 

Big Tides in Southern South Carolina

You can see 7-8′ tides in these creeks and we were coming up to Watt’s Cut an infamous shallow cut. As we approached we saw a sailboat stalled out in Watts Cut. They were trying to find the deepest water in which to travel. 

Watt’s Cut – SHALLOW

We hailed them to pass and wanted to offer that they simply follow us but they only answered our hail enough to pass then must have been too busy finding the deep.

As we passed we both said, Is that boat that orange?

That’s One Orange Sailboat

We had to move over in Watt’s cut to get past the dredge that was in operation. We saw 5.8′ of depth just enough to slip through.

Watt’s Cut Dredging Operations

After getting by the dredge called “Tenacious” you can here my 6′ shallow water alarm going off. We had passed a SV Knee Deep who happily let us go first and requested that we hail them if we saw 6′ or less of water. 

We ran at a fast cruise of 8 knots trying to make Beaufort SC before Downtown Marina closed at 5PM. The currents were with us and we arrived with plenty of time to fuel up before they closed. 

267 Gallons of Diesel and a $5 pumpout

This lovely 55′ Fleming trawler pulled in after us.

55′ Fleming 

We got to watch as one of the sailors attempted to row his dinghy down current to chase his boat fender that was quickly getting away from him. Another sailor jumped in his motorized dinghy and quickly came to his rescue. There was no way once he retrieved his runaway fender that he was going to be able to row against the current in the Beaufort River. It was comical as they tried to make their way back. It took them a minute to figure out that both of them should be in the motorized dinghy and simply tow a lightweight dingy behind them. 

No! I think it’s THAT Way!
Waterfront Park, Beaufort, SC

We crashed through the back door of Plums restaurant for some burgers and IPA.

I found out later those were $7 drafts 

The next day we found our way to Q’s on Bay which had a larger selection of Craft Brew IPA. 

I’ll have one of each!

The crew was all smiles 

We awoke the next AM and the loaner car was out so we grabbed some more ice, dumped the trash, filled the water tanks, and made some breakfast. 

Our leg from Charleston, SC to Beaufort, SC looked something like this.. Not really as I did not take the time to figure out how to draw a finger line while staying on the ICW which snakes it’s way through many different creeks in these parts. But I think you’ll get the general direction. 

W02L018 – Charleston, SC – Beaufort, SC

Charleston SC Thunderstorms

We weighed anchor at first light in the Waccamaw River and it was foggy. 

I felt bad that we had to put on our automatic fog horn so early in the morning as there were other boats sleeping on anchor (or at least they were sleeping). At times the fog was thick enough that you would not be able to see the small duck hunting boats that zip around in this area. 

It rained all day. Not good for the folks who lived along the river banks. The river had already overrun its banks and many of the riverbank homes were dealing with flooding. More rain was the last thing they needed. 

Rain on the pilothouse all day

Then the fog would return.

When it was clear we got to see the lowlands of South Carolina. Beautiful grasses that extend out to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Lowlands of SC

Along the way we passed a steel hulled sailboat that was anchored in the same location as when we came up this part of the ICW in the spring. I guess like many is just permanently anchored along the ICW?

SV Steel Away Permanently Anchored

We passed someone’s boat that was still tied to the dock but had sunk for some reason or another. 

Sunken Boat Still Tied to Dock

Our plan for today was to attempt to make it all the way to Charleston, SC. The currents were helping us along and there was not traffic or bridges to slow us down. We ran right up until dark and had to settle on a wide open commercial anchorage just off Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor. Kelly asked that we pick an anchorage that had cellular service as it was football and she had been watching the Giants / Bears game but the Patriots game was on next. 

We anchored next to a large sailing catamaran and the winds were blowing. The weather was bad as there were thunderstorms moving through that were bring wind gusts up to 55 MPH. A quick look at my weather apps showed them passing directly over us on anchor. 

Storm Radar

While on anchor I captured some of the storm.

Our leg today looked something like this … (80 NM)