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

Downtown Marina Beaufort SC

We had reservations to be at Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC and the weather was not looking good. With 25 knot winds and gusts to 35 knots.

Gusts 35 tonight
35 knots = 40 MPG Gusts

As we rounded Hilton Head Island the only thing my radar saw was rain.

Hilton Head Rain Radar
That Magenta on the screen is rain reflecting my radar

Our route would look something like this:

Route 6 New River - Beaufort
Our Route from New River to Beaufort, SC

There were only a few locations where I knew we would have to face the wind if just for a short bit. When we rounded Hilton Head and came out of Skull Creek to cross Port Royal Sound inlet was one of them.

port royal sound inlet
Skull Creek along HH Island into Port Royal Sound Inlet and then up the Beaufort River

The weather worsened just as we were crossing Port Royal Sound Inlet. High winds shutdown the Lady Island swing bridge but luckily we have a reservation @ Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC just feet from the shutdown bridge.

Waves maybe 3-5’ with the occasional 6-7’. The challenge was that I was hitting each new wave in under 2 seconds and having to work the throttle to slow down from say 6 kts to 4 kts for the larger waves. Being an unstabilized trawler we headed into the waves (rather take them on the beam) till we got a little shelter from the Northern side of the Inlet. Then we had to turn and run at 10 kts with the waves on our stern.

Port Royal Sound Inlet wave

As we approached Downtown Marina the Lady Island Swing bridge was shutdown due to high winds. Docking in high winds and strong currents makes for an interesting learning experience but the dockhands and fellow boaters came out in the driving rain to help catch lines. We had to put out extra fenders to keep the waves from smashing us into dock but it was time for a beer and to sit back and watch the storm.

The next day we observed the rushing sounds of water around the boat and took a short video of the current alongside the dock.

Beaufort, SC is a wonderful stop and we always enjoy the local restaurants like Plum and the gastro pub, Old Bull Tavern

 

We’ll use the time here to re-provision the boat and get ready for another week of anchoring out as we attempt to push North into North Carolina.

 

 

New River South Anchorage

From Cumberland Island we pushed further North into Georgia.

Our route would look like this:

Route 5 Cumberland Sound - New River
Our Route from Cumberland Island to the New River Anchorage

We would pass this house that just looked like a painting..

 

We passed this sexy trawler.

Ocean Alexander 50
Ocean Alexander 50′ Trawler

Once at the anchorage it was windy and rainy all night but the rain let up enough in the AM to see the sun.

New River

 

 

 

 

Cumberland Sound Anchorage

As we weighed anchor in Robinson’s Creek you could feel the power of the wind. The airport wind speed last showed a 30 MPH gust.

30 mph Wind Gusts at NE FL Regional Airport
25 MPH Winds with 30 MPH Gusts as we passed NE Florida Regional Airport

 

Even with the strong winds a pair of US Custom agent boats zoomed by, unaffected.

Our route would look something like this:

Route 4 - Robinson Creek - Cumberland Sound
Our Route from an anchorage in St Augustine to Cumberland Island Anchorage

We would avoid many shoals:

South Sapelo River
Shoal near South Sapelo River.

We would cross over the St. John River in Jacksonville, FL and see sights such as this Navy ship in dry dock. What a narrow beam and sharp bow these attack vessels have.

St Johns River Battleship
Navy Ship in Dry Dock

I had always wondered what a trawler would look like with a wind generator mounted on the fly deck and I just have to say I can’t imagine ever doing this..

Trawler 3 Wind Generators
A trawler with 3 Wind Generators on the Flydeck

The free overnight dock in Jacksonville had a spot open but we were determined to use what we had left of the light and cover more ground. Our plan was to cross over the Savannah River and into GA.

Once in the Savannah River we saw that many of the river banks had been built up possibly for storm surge.

Savannah River Tree
Lone Tree standing proud on the banks of the Savannah River

As you approach Cumberland Island there is a heavy Navy presence in the area. We passed these two big Navy ships in port.

Cumberland Island Navy
Navy Ships near Cumberland Island

We read the writeup on the Cumberland Island Anchorage.

Cumberland Sound
AC Cumberland Sound Anchorage writeup

We chose this anchorage because it offered a lee in the face of strong winds.

Cumberland Sound Anchorage
Our Anchor spot in Cumberland Sound

The anchorage was quite busy and the only spot we found was one tucked between two other anchored boats. I had to anchor in an area that had oyster shells and mud. Not a strong seabed for anchoring. The anchored dragged a bit as we set it at 700 RPM. I backed off a little on the throttle and this would have to do for the night. I was tired and needed sleep.

I set the anchor alarm app on my phone and drifted off to sleep.

Anchor Alarm
Anchor Alarm App plays warning sounds if you drag outside of the red circle

 

 

Darien River and Delaroche Creek Anchorages

Kelly & I have been enjoying quiet nights on anchor and tonight will be spent on anchor in Delaroche Creek.

Below are the last 4 spots we have chosen to anchor.

Kelly & I both confessed that we like to anchor more than we like to stop at marinas. There is just something nice about being alone.

I have used the time to catch up on the walking dead.

I also got to watch “Anchorman” while on anchor. I think I laughed so hard I almost cried.

As we traveled down the ICW the weather just kept getting warmer. While it may have only been 65 degrees out, it was over 80 in the pilothouse.

Chief Martin Brody, our Boston Terrier, loves to lay on a pillow covered by his favorite Afghanistan and soak up the sun.

Along the way we were followed by bottle nose dolphins.

Many different sea birds.

The last picture is of these large white birds with black tipped wings. We keep trying to capture them up close but keep missing them.

We also saw cows grazing along the deserted islands.

We only passed 5 or so boats. We passed these fishermen who where combining their efforts to catch bait fish using a cast-able net.

This faster trawler passed us.

Heck, even the towboat who was engaged in an active tow passed us. We figured 6 knots isn’t exactly fast.

The towboat captain was quite friendly and chatted with us on the VHF for a bit. He warned us about the upcoming shallows in Jekyll Creek that goes around Jekyll Island. He was not wrong. We were approaching simultaneously with low tide. We thought we might anchor before the worst of it but instead pushed on and made it past Jekyll Island to Cumberland Island further South. Tonight we anchored in Delaroche Creek about halfway down Cumberland Island. It’s a tight fit in here. I had to shorten the anchor rode more than I wanted to keep from swinging into the banks of the creek. I snapped a pic just to show how close the edge of the creek is in here.

Last night’s anchor in the Darien River was a bit wider and lucky for that as the local Darien shrimp boats had to squeeze by us.

So tonight as we get ready to watch the Patriots play we’ll enjoy yet another beautiful sunset.

St. Catherine’s Island Anchorage

Just before weighing anchor at Turtle Island we snapped one last panoramic picture (below)

The trip down the ICW to St. Catherine’s Island was made a bit more difficult by the 7+ foot tides that were running into low.

Of course you don’t need the depth finder to see where the shallows are; it’s where the birds are standing rather than floating.

I snapped the below picture as we ducked under this 30′ bascule bridge as Kelly piloted the boat.

Yesterday’s trip took us across the line into Georgia and past the Savannah River. We had a moment when we passed the marina where 12 years earlier we purchased our previous sailboat, Skull & Swords.

Isle of Hope Marina is on a bight along the ICW’s Skidaway River.

All points South of Isle of Hope Marina are new cruising grounds for us. Some of what we saw was bird life such as this unidentifiable bird of prey.

Or this stalker of the shallows:

We passed these guys who decided to pitch tents along the shore rather than sleep aboard.

Today’s trip will take us from St. Catherine’s Island to somewhere around Sapelo Island

We are going anchor to anchor over the next few days to find the sun. These unseasonably cold mornings (in the 40’s) are continuing to bedevil us.

That said, I needed to solve the riddle of who destroyed our porch pumpkin back home.

We searched through our home surveillance footage and nabbed the suspects.

Be on the lookout for these two.