Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Charleston ( 8 May - 15 May)

In case you were wondering, it is pronounced Chahhhlston. (draw out the ah, there is no “R” and only a hint of an “L” – at least that’s my read on it.

Anyway, if you will recall, in the last entry we told you how we safely arrived in Charleston, SC despite the tidal currents which can run 2-3 MPH. For the past several days we have been “doing Charleston” with our good friends Dave and Joan Wolf. They came to visit from northern Virginia as some of our other friends should be doing (Hint, Hint). The four of us have been to Fort Sumter and the Old Market Place, we have been to see the Hunley (the first submarine to sink an enemy ship), and we did a tour around Charleston’s battery. But I am getting ahead of myself.
The first day we were in Charleston Ann and I did a little boat cleaning, a little bit of this and a little bit of that before renting a car and heading to two of our favorite places, West Marine and the grocery store. We controlled our expenditures at West Marine (a first!) and bought only what was on Ann’s list at the grocery store. When we got back, Ann spent her time doing the wash and I spent my time trying to find someone who would come to the boat to look at our dinghy davit (which, as you will recall is, to use a technical term, busted). It really took some looking – actually calling – because some marine repair people are notorious for not returning phone calls.  Eventually I did find someone, Heath Hackett, from Captain’s Choice Yacht Services, who said he would come by the following day and see what he could do.

On Wednesday Ann went out with her friend Elaine, whom she has known Elaine since Elaine lived in the DC area. She now lives in Beaufort, SC. (It is pronounced BOO-fort, which is not to be confused with Beaufort, NC (pronounced BOW-fort) and is a travel agent at the Marine Base at Paris Island. (Both Beaufort and Beaufort are real Cruiser’s destinations that we unfortunately missed on our way north; we hope to catch them on our way south in the fall.) Ann had a great time with Elaine – about which I will let her tell you in her notes.
Me? What was I doing? I was, of course, waiting on Heath … and waiting … and waiting and ... Finally, I called him again and he said that he had just got a big job and he wouldn’t be able to come by until Friday. I reminded him that he made a commitment to me and that we were leaving the following Monday. He hemmed and hawed and said, “OK,” that he would call back and give me a time that he would be able to drop by. Again, I waited … and waited some more, until finally I called Heath, told him what I thought of him and Captain’s Choice Yacht Services and left him a rather terse message to the effect that I really didn’t want to work with people who couldn’t keep their promises. In the recreational marine industry you find a lot of people like Heath – folks with the ambition of a turtle and the brains to match. That is why when you find a good one, you hold on to him.  Whew! Thanks. Having vented, I feel better.
Mike, Joan, Dave and Ann at Juanita Goldberg's Nacho Royale.
Really, that was the name! 
On Thursday our friends Dave and Joan Wolf arrived. We picked them up at the airport and took them to the boat. They are boat people and had stayed with us for nine days in the Bahamas so I didn’t need to give them the whole boat briefing. We dropped off their luggage and the four of us headed off for downtown Charleston. The first thing we did was to find a place for lunch. We looked at several but finally decided on Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale (World Famous Margueritas), no less.  In case you are wondering, the food was okay, but it was the name that was the real attraction. Who could not eat at an establishment with that name??

That afternoon we took a carriage tour around Charleston with twelve of our best friends – anyhow we were packed on the carriage like they were our best friends. Here are a couple of interesting facts we learned about Charleston (according to our tour guide).

On the carriage ride in Charleston.
We were in the front seats -- right next to the horse's er .. uh..
· The city has a law that any building over 75 years old is considered “historical” and cannot be torn down. That is the reason for so many old houses, and why so many “fixer-uppers” are in the middle of a block full of ritzy houses. There is even a low income housing project that cannot be torn down because it is now 75 years old.

· After the War, the North refused to help reconstruct Charleston because it was Charlestonians that started the War. Among the many shortages city residents faced was the lack of paint. The only color they could get in quantity was Army surplus black. Charlestonians, in turn, added one part yellow to ten parts black and called the result Charleston Green. To this day it is used on many of the doors and shudders on the fanciest homes in the city. It is even an official DuPont color.

· Some very fancy houses that sit now in the middle of the Charleston Peninsula were once waterfront property. But as the city fathers filled in marshland to expand the city’s footprint, many of the then-waterfront properties lost their waterfront status and new waterfront property was created.
The next day we got serious about being tourists and headed for Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter is on an island in the middle of Charleston Harbor so you have to go to one of two places (the Charleston Maritime Center or Patriot Point) to catch a boat that will take you out to the fort. Once on the island, you get a little over an hour to see everything before the next group arrives and you have to head back home.  An hour was almost enough but I sure could have used another 30 minutes or so. Here is a fun fact that I didn’t know: the flag that was raised over Fort Sumter when it was re-occupied by the Federals in 1865 is the same flag that was taken down at the start of the war in April 1861 – and that flag is today in the fort’s museum. Walking around the fort was interesting, but the visuals were kind of destroyed by a huge black structure that sits squarely in the middle of the fort that was put there in 1898 as part of the nation’s coastal defenses. It kind of takes away from the Civil War ambiance I was expecting. Ann thinks the huge structure looks like something from Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Battlestar Galactica and I am inclined to agree. Still, I am glad to have been there.

Approaching Fort Sumter by boat. The huge mass in the
middle of the fort looks like it is from Close Encounters.
On Saturday we went to see the CSS Hunley – the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. The Hunley, nearly 40 feet long, was built at Mobile, AL and launched in July 1863. It was then shipped by rail to Charleston. The Hunley sank in August 1863, during a training exercise, killing five members of her crew. After being salvaged, it sank again on another training exercise in October 1863, killing all eight of her second crew.  Again, the Hunley was raised and returned to service. On February 17, 1864, Hunley went out on it first and only combat mission when it attacked and sank the 1240-ton sloop Housatonic on blockade duty in Charleston's outer harbor. After the successful attack, Hunley sank for unknown reasons, killing all eight of her third crew. This time, the ship was lost. In fact, it was lost for 131 years until being discovered at the bottom of Charleston Harbor. There are several mysteries surrounding the Hunley – most importantly, how did she sink? Anyway, at the Hunley museum, you can see the sub sitting in water as preservationists try to keep her in her present condition

On Sunday, Dave and Joan headed back to Virginia, and Ann and I prepared the boat for going back out to sea … or the ditch in this case (it just sounds so much cooler to say, “going back out to sea.”) While in Charleston, I had e-mailed several friends and talked to fellow cruisers around Charleston. I found that most of them did, in fact, anchor out, and that maybe the reason we hadn’t seen any anchorers was that we were looking for them too early in the day. Folks don’t drop the hook until 5 PM or so and by that time we were usually in a marina for the night. So, we decided to get bold. We were going to anchor Monday night come hell or high water.

I know it is a bit gruesome, but war
(especially against vicious, biting flies) is hell!
Ann wielding our new secret weapon.
Our day on the Waterway was better than some and not as good as others. Yes, there were attack flies, but they didn’t bother us as much as they had in the past for two very good reasons. First, it seems to us that the South Carolina flies are better behaved than their Georgian cousins – anyhow they didn’t swarm as much and certainly didn’t seem as aggressive. Second, and most important, we had a secret weapon. Dave and Joan had brought us an electric flyswatter! All you have to do is touch the fly and it gets electrocuted. So, Ann spent part of the day wreaking revenge for all the bites we had received to date. Maybe two dozen flies fell to the zapper. Good on ya, Ann!

Looking at the charts the previous night I had found a location that I considered to be a near perfect anchorage near Winyah Bay in South Carolina. I checked our chart that lists popular anchorages and yes, it was in there. I then checked Active Captain, a wonderful web site that lists marinas, anchorages, boatyards etc., gives information about them and asks users to review and rate them. Winyah Bay had received several reviews – most of which were pretty good. Moreover, it was very close to an inlet that would allow us to go outside to the Atlantic the following day (which we wanted to do for reasons that I will explain below). Anyway, it was getting close to 4:30. I could see on my XM Satellite weather gizmo that the atmosphere was unsettled and the weather was starting to deteriorate to the point where a lesser forecaster might have predicted that we were going to catch a bit of a thunderstorm. For my part, I thought it would miss us (and it did), but I was nevertheless antsy because – if I were wrong – I knew that winds and waves can be higher in thunderstorms and the result might not be pleasant. About that time, a power catamaran passed us. On the radio we asked where they were headed that night and they said they were going to anchor just a short distance ahead in Winyah Bay. Yes! We wouldn’t be the only ones there. Well, a few minutes later we dropped anchor. We turned on the generator to recharge the inverter batteries and also turned on the air conditioner, not so much to cool us down as to allow us to close all the hatches and windows so the damn flies couldn’t get in. Anyway, after we had been there for about an hour another boat came by and dropped anchor – a sailboat named Outpost that we had passed earlier in the day. We will have more to say about Outpost later. Anyway, apparently I had done well, as there were three boats in the anchorage that I had picked, there appeared to be good holding and there was lots of swing room.

We awoke the next morning and the water was almost perfectly still; the currents hadn’t carried us away, the tides hadn’t left us high and dry – even the flies were gone. It had been a wonderful night. Ok, Ok, maybe the anchor chain was a bit muddy (well, maybe more than a little), but who cared? We had survived our first night at anchor on the ICW. My anchorage-picking confidence was on the way back up.
Now it was time to pick up the anchor and head outside, into the North Atlantic. If you take a look at the coastline between North and South Carolina, you will see it is kind of concave. The ICW, of course, takes you around Long Bay the long way, whereas if the weather cooperates and you are willing to go outside and cut across the Bay you can almost go in a straight line, saving many miles, much time and beaucoup gallons of fuel. So, outside we went. For us it was a 92 mile day – one of the longest we have had – but it probably saved us 100 miles and at least one, maybe two days.

Originally we had planned to cut right across, going from Winyah Bay, SC to Southport, NC, in a straight line. But that morning I had heard on the radio that the weather 20 miles out was pretty nasty. We weren’t going 20 miles out, but I decided that if we kept a little closer to shore, the weather might be better. So, instead of a straight line we took a kind of lazy, sideways “v” course. The first leg of the “v” was kind of north-northeast wasn’t too bad. In fact, since the winds and currents seemed to be out of the south we had some following seas that pushed us forward a little faster than we might have otherwise moved. However, when we made the turn to catch the other half of the “v” we were heading almost due east and those southerly seas and winds were coming straight at our starboard beam (the waves were coming at us directly from the right side) which made the ride a bit rolly. Now the seas were, for the most part, only 3-4 feet and rolling side-to-side wasn’t that big of a problem. Once in a while, however, we would catch a big 6 foot+ roller that tilted the boat from one side to the other. It wasn’t technically “uncomfortable,” but it did cause me a bit of pause. I don’t know how far the boat can roll from one side to the other without tipping over and really don’t want to find out! (Actually, when I looked at it later, I doubt we tilted more than seven or eight degrees. But when you are in the flybridge, 20 feet up, the feeling of being thrown from side to side is exacerbated.) Anyway, we arrived at Southport Marina at about 5PM and were safe and sound.
My God, why can't North Carolina
coordinate the timing of those openings darn bridges!
Anyway, here is one of those swing bridges for which
we had to wait.
The next day we headed north on the ICW. Although there were fewer flies, we ran into a problem on which we hadn’t counted. We arrived at Wrightsville Beach at about 11:10. In and of itself, that is not an issue, until you realize that the Bridge – with a vertical clearance of 20 feet (we need 23) – opens on the hour; that means we had to waste 50 minutes until the bridge opened. We drive forward, we drove backwards and we drove around in circles. We did everything we could to waste time. Eventually the time came and they raised the bridge and let us through. Then we had to move quickly to make sure we could pass under the next bridge – which was five miles away and opened on the half-hour. Whew! We made that one, but then we had a choice to make. The third bridge was 18 miles away and it, too, opened only on the hour. We couldn’t make it in 30 minutes, of course, and could be there in an hour-and-a-half only if we traveled for an hour at 12 MPH. We had never gone that far that fast, especially through residential areas, and weren’t about to start now. So we made the only possible decision – we decided to go 7 ½ MPH and spend 2 ½ hours to get to the next bridge. In short, we wasted almost 2 hours waiting on North Carolina bridges. NEVER AGAIN! When we come south next fall, we will probably go outside.

We arrived at our anchoring site, Mile Hammock Bay, at about 5PM. The neat thing about Mile Hammock Bay is that it is next to Camp Lejeune and you can sometimes see Marine Corps aircraft flying around. We did. In fact, I saw my first V22 Osprey while at anchor. When we arrived at the anchorage, there was only one other boat. By the time we went to bed there were another five. It was a great anchorage and a fun night.

On Thursday we were on the last leg of this portion of our trip. We were approaching Morehead City, NC, which is near Cherry Point Marine Air Station and our daughter Lisa’s house (the same house also holds our son-in-law Dave, our granddaughter Maddy and our two grandsons, Nik and Trent). We immediately put Lisa to work driving us around to various stores, etc., but we really put Dave to work on many boat projects. However, I am not going to write about that until next time.

ANN’S NOTES: I know this addition is late...so I will keep it short so Michael can post this tonight.
Our visit to Charleston was fun... it was sort of a  history lesson weekend. The carriage ride through the city was good, it gave us an idea of what the city was like back in the day, and how many times the waterfront property changed as they kept filling in the swamp and making more land. I would
not want to live with a swamp at my front or back door but I guess other people did.

I spent a wonderful afternoon with my good friend Elaine Hyman, we had a good lunch at a local waterfront restaurant, to which I later took Dave, Joan and Michael after our tour of Ft. Sumter. Anyway, Elaine drove me all over creation and I got a lot of errands done. If you are reading this Elaine, thank you, and I am so glad we got together. I think the next time I visit Charleston I will tour the Plantations. My treat to myself was that I bought a "seagrass basket" that I bought in the Visitor's Center. I met the woman that made it, and she gave me a short history lesson on the basket. It was a little pricey, but what the heck, I love it. I also found the perfect hat in a little shop next to the City Market ... it has a wide brim that covers my ears and is open at the top. I was a happy boater :)

Ok... now for the wildlife count ... just an FYI ... the world has a lot less biting flies :-)

14 May 2012    10 dolphins      2 sets of 3    1 set of 5    1 set of 6   Total 27
Bonus 10 ducklings and one mom

15 May 2012  in the Atlantic  8 dolphins   1set of 2      1 set of 7   total 17
Bonus 1 Turtle          1 reported gator not seen by us but the boat next to us (Thisa is Mike, I R

16 May 2012     2 Dolphins

17 May 2012      1 Dolphin                I know, where the hell did they go?

Blessings to all our readers....

Traveling Soul....OUT

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

St Augustine and the ICW (29 April - 7 May)

St. Augustine is probably my favorite city in Florida. It has tourist kitch (the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, for example), historical sites (the oldest continuously occupied city in the US and the National Park at Castillo de San Marcos) and a bunch of neat stuff (the shops in the historical old city).  So, after successfully mooring at one of the City Marina’s mooring balls, we lowered the dinghy and went ashore. The first day we planned on just wandering around, so we bought a couple of passes on the Old Town Trolley, which is one of those bus/trains that allow you to get on and off an unlimited number of times while the driver takes you on a guided tour of the city. We learned all about some guy named Flagler who practically built Florida, about the Spanish occupations of Florida, about the English occupation and reoccupation, etc. Then we got off the train and went shopping in the Old Town. They had all kinds of shops – including a jerky shop. You got it, they sold all sorts of jerky. I, of course, had to try alligator jerky. Although I am usually not a shopper, I do like cool, weird things. Ann and I both had a good time. I bought a wooden sign that has one of my favorite sayings:
Twenty years from now
You will be more disappointed
By the things you didn’t do
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines!
Sail away from the safe harbor
Catch the Trade winds in your sails
Mark Twain

Mike and Ann at Castillo San Marcos with the
Tall Ship Bounty in the background.
The second day at St. Augustine we each picked an attraction that we wanted to visit, and used the Trolley to get to them. Mine was Castillo de San Marcos, the National Park. It is quite an example of 17th century fortresses. Everything is very well preserved and you can see the walls as well as the rooms that existed within the walls. It was besieged twice by the English – once for nearly two months – and did not fall either time. For one of the sieges, there was something like 1500 souls living within the confines of a fairly small fort (I am guessing here that the inside might have been 2-3 acres. Anyway, the only times it changed hands – from the Spanish to the English, then back to the Spanish, then back to the English again, and finally to the Americans – was as a result of various treaties.
For her part, Ann wanted to visit the Lightner Museum. The museum is unusual for two reasons. First, it seems to consist of a bunch of different collections. Not only were there the usual expensive (and beautiful) collections of porcelain, dolls, watches, etc. but there were also collections of matchboxes, cigar bands, and sea shells. In other words, it was quite an eclectic collection of collections. The second odd thing about the museum is that it is housed in a former hotel. The hotel had various kinds of baths (Russian, Turkish and so on), an exercise room, a swimming pool and quite a few other attractions.  Now, there are exhibits in those rooms. Kind of weird, huh?

Ann loves samplers. This one is from ...
I can't actually read the date ... but a long time ago!
Also on the second day we met some folks we had seen before. Remember the people in the Viking that we had seen at Daytona Beach? They arrived in St. Augustine shortly after we did aboard their boat Bel Lair and also took a mooring ball. We stopped by their boat to say hello and introduce ourselves and were promptly invited aboard. We got to talking about our plans and they had some good advice for our trip up the ICW. We also drank some of their booze. For those of you who are thinking that maybe I drank a lot of their booze, you would be wrong. Ann and I had planned to go out to dinner that evening so I was very good. Anyway, we invited them to come over for drinks the following night and we all had a great time.
Okay, there is something that I have to admit – actually I wouldn’t admit it if Ann hadn’t sworn that she would blab it in her notes if I didn’t say something about it. Okay, here goes. Whew (deep breath). Whew (another deep breath). I made a little bitty mistake. I mean all of us make mistakes, right? Okay, here is mine. I think the last one was in 1960-something. Anyway, just before we went to see Bel Lair, I went out to start the dinghy. As usual, I had the keys in my pocket. But just before starting down the ladder I looked down towards the swim platform and … the dinghy wasn’t there. That’s right, the dinghy wasn’t there. Now, I don’t know if any of you have been in a store or a mall and walked back to your car only to find it missing, but of those of you who have, know what I am talking about. What did you do? I suspect, like I did, you looked all around to make sure you had the right parking place near the correct store and yada, yada, yada. Well, I knew I was on the right boat and the boat has only one stern and I knew the dinghy was supposed to be tied off to the stern, but it wasn’t. I was dumbfounded. “Ann,” I said, “the *&@#^$& dinghy is missing; I can’t believe it, the frigging dinghy is gone. “ (I am sorry if that offends you, but on this Blog we tell it like it is … especially if one of us threatens I looked to tell the world that the other of us made a little bitty mistake.) Anyway, I looked to the left, I looked to the right and it wasn’t there. I mean my God, where was it? Then it was clear to me, someone must have stolen it. I remembered that earlier that day I had seen a small craft cruising slowly past Traveling Soul. At the time, I thought it was just someone admiring the boat. Now I realized they might have had more nefarious intentions.

Meanwhile, Ann, who happened to be the itsy-bit more rational of us on this particular matter called the marina office to see if they had seen anything. Nope, “but wait a minute,” the person on the other end of the phone line said as he looked through his binoculars. “Is that a Boston Whaler down by the big house?”  We got out our binoculars and – sure enough – the dinghy was aground about 400 yards away aground in some reeds by what St. Augustinians call the "oldest house". The marina staff brought up their little flatboat and took me over to the reeds. I heaved a little and ho’ed a little, and eventually got it ungrounded, cranked it up and took it back to the boat. Now, some of you are wondering why this was my fault? Well, maybe, just maybe, I didn’t tie the dinghy to the back of the boat as well as I should have. I mean that's not "for sure" but maybe it happened that way. And maybe the current in St. Augustine harbor was enough to tear it off the cleat and maybe the current was strong enough to float it away in the direction of wind and current. (Deep wistful sigh.) Mea culpa I guess.

A Tiffany lampshade from the Lightner museum.
Kind of cool of I do day so myself.
After St. Augustine, our next big stop was Charleston. Our plan was to head up the ICW at about 8-9 knots, covering 50 or 60 statute miles each day, then to anchor each night. We would then get up and repeat the process. We had intended to follow this pattern for five or six days until we needed to take on either fuel or water. When we did, we would stop at and spend the night in a marina. We bought a couple of books that told us where several good anchorages were located along the ICW and we were ready to go. Anyhow, that was the plan.
The first day after we left St. Augustine we experienced part of the “real” ICW. It was winding, in some places it was very shallow, and in some places the charts were absolutely, positively inaccurate. To cap it all off, a full moon was rising – that meant that high tides were unusually high and the low tides were unusually low. Now, in the Chesapeake, the Bahamas, or southern Florida – or any other reasonable place on the planet – that wouldn’t mean very much. But in northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina regular tidal swings can be 10 feet or more without a full moon. So, you can zip over places during high tide and they might be 15 feet deep, but if you try to zip over the same place at low tide, they are five feet deep. Our draft (the depth of the boat below the waterline) is 4.5 feet. (I suspect most of you know me well enough to know that I am not going to “zip” over any place where I have only six inches of clearance.)
Okay now, in some parts of the ICW, you can imagine seeing me at the helm. I am gazing intensely at the chart plotter, hoping that that the charts it contains are accurate for this particular stretch of the waterway. Simultaneously, I am trying to steer the boat between the red and green day marks that are maybe 1000 meters ahead of us. And at the same time I am hunched over the depth finder (which works most of the time, but once in a while decides to go wacko – but I never know when it is wacko and when it is correct). This stance, consisting of staring at charts, hunching my back to see the depth finder and twitching – because I can’t do anything else – will be forever known as the “ICW hunchback position.” Meanwhile, Ann is trying to help by keeping track of where we are and letting me know when we will be out of this particular stretch of ICW hell. (Later in the journey she had another mission: to keep the goldarn flies off me – but more about that later.)
One of the many floats at the Shrimp Festival.
With all this going on, we found out that the first place we had intended to anchor – Fernandina Beach, FL – had put mooring balls in our anchorage. Now that wouldn’t have been so bad, but the mooring balls would not handle a boat over 50 feet. Darn! So, we decided to look at the other anchorages as we passed them that the books had recommended.  Hmmm., There did not appear to be anyone at any of them. This did not bode well for our plan of spending most nights “on the hook.” Since we didn’t see anyone anchoring anywhere on the ICW – except near the big towns and cities – I began to get cold feet. Why weren’t they anchoring? Was it the tidal swings? The current associated with the tidal swings? I wasn’t sure, and though none of my cruising friends had said anything about not anchoring, I certainly wasn’t going to be the first to try it.
 Since we couldn‘t anchor or moor at Fernandina Beach we didn’t have much choice but to spend the night at the Fernandina Beach Marina. That, of course, meant that we were part of the annual Shrimp Festival!!! Actually, the Shrimp Festival started the next day, but it kicked off the night we were there with the Shrimp and Pirate Parade. It was a typical small town parade with school bands, homemade floats representing every business and civic organization, people running for office in local elections, etc. The other good thing that happened in Fernandina Beach was that we re-linked up with Scott and Teri Miller on Miller Time. We had met Scott very briefly at Treasure Cay in the Bahamas. At the time the two of us thought we might be the only boats in the Bahamas whose “Hailing Port” (the name of a place you put on your stern under your name – supposedly where the boat “hails” from) is Occoquan, VA. Scott and Teri were on their way to Charleston for their daughter’s graduation and put into Fernandina Beach as a stop along the way.
After talking with Scott and Teri, we decided to go outside the following day. We figured it was the smart thing to do for several reasons. First, although it would be a long day, we could cut a day off our trip. The ICW winds around so much that by going in a straight line we would be cutting the distance we had to go, would have no bridges at which we had to wait, and we could go a little faster. Second, I could change out of the ICW position at the helm so I didn’t become a permanent hunchback. And third, the weather was supposed to be great.

So we were off. The Next morning we followed Miller Time out into the Atlantic. It was just a little rolly early in the morning, but by 10AM or so, the seas were about only 2-3 feet and we were doing 9.5-10 knots. The day was good. About 4PM we headed inside and found the little marina where we had planned to spend the night. It was the Kilkenny Marina at the former Kilkenny Plantation near Richmond Hill, GA. It was a pretty small marina but there were two other ICW cruisers there. In fact, we had met the captain of Azure Skies in the Bahamas. Bob is single-handling his boat up the coast. According to him, he goes north until it gets too cold in the summer and then heads south until it gets too hot in the winter. Also, if you will recall, Ann spent a couple of weeks in the Bahamas baking bread. One of the recipes came from Azure Skies.
Mike's ankle as a result of the attack of the
dreaded Georgian Marsh flies.
The next day we went back to the ICW. People had told us how pretty it was and we really did want to experience it. Pretty? Okay, maybe, if you could see anything through the attacks of the vicious, swarming Georgian marsh flies. And they sting! Man, it was bad. I hate putting on bug repellent, but Ann was smearing that Deep Woods Off all over my legs, neck and arms. Now you understand the twitching part of the ICW position. After having been stung once, you are paranoid and are twitching or shaking the flies off everything you feel something that might possibly be a fly. Besides rubbing bug repellent on me, Ann was also the designated fly killer. We didn’t have a fly swatter, only a little pad of note paper, but she made that thing the instrument of death for a dozen or so of those little suckers. Ann is now officially an Ace; I am proud of her. I think I will get her a fly swatter for Mother’s Day.

Dead flies .. all as a result of Ann's handiwork.
God I am proud of her!
We spent the night at a nice marina at Hilton Head. There were some restaurants close by, but we decided to eat on the boat and get to bed early so we could get a start early ion the AM.

The next night we spent in the Edisto Marina on Edisto Island, SC. It was about five miles from the ICW in a place that, at one time, had probably been a booming vacation community. There was a nice beach and several condos -- some high rises and some low rises -- a couple of aging restaurants and a lot of small, older boats. It was kind of a C+ vacation community with a C+ marina. It did, however, have water and power – and that is really all we needed. We mentioned it to other people along the ICW and we got kind of a wistful response. It was clear that Edisto had been "the place" to go at some point, but wasn't any longer. (Another deep wistful sigh.)
The next day we were back in the ICW headed to Charleston, SC. Before I write about getting to Charleston, I need to thank several people. I have told you that the charts aren’t very good in many parts of the ICW. As a result, most cruisers try to keep track of the potentially dangerous points and pass the information on. Andy and Sharon on Finally Fun, Stan and Nancy on Bel Lair, Chris and Mike on Missing Link and John on Vulcan all provided us invaluable information on navigating the ICW.
Some of the commercial traffic on the ICW.
Okay, now back to Charleston. Several people had told us about the currents in Charleston Harbor and had warned us to arrive around slack tide, otherwise our boat could be moving with the current at 1-3 MPH –going someplace we did not want it to go. (Slack tide is when the tide is either at its minimum or its maximum; during the period around slack tide, there is very little water rushing into or out of the channel – hence, there is little current). We know of one person who damaged his own boat moving into a Charleston marina, and we heard of another who caused several tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to other boats. Anyway, one of the pieces of information my Garmin Chart Plotter provides is the estimated arrival time at our destination. Since slack tide was at 4PM (or so), I really didn’t want to get to Charleston before 3PM; even then, I figured we might want to put-put around the Harbor before trying to move into a slip. So, while on the way to Charleston I was constantly trying to slow the boat down. But there were some places that the current was flowing so freely that I was having a problem going slow enough. At the end of the day, because of our prior planning, moving into the slip in the "Harborage at Ashley Marina" was kind of anticlimactic – a perfect ending for the second leg of our trip.

Sunrise at the marina in Hilton Head
ANN’S NOTES: Michael has an expression that some times drives me 'crazy'...if he has been to a place once and I want to go back and revisit it and he does not want to go back ,he will say "I did not leave any thing there that I need to get". My thoughts so far on cruising the ICW is "been there, done that"...so I think Michael and I agree that cruising the ICW so far has been interesting but not much fun. I spend my time killing biting flies, watching the water for crab pots and tree limbs, spraying Michael with bugs repellent and keeping track of where we are on our paper charts. I have this system that works well for me and us. I use a large chart and a special ICW book/chart . I move little pink sticky book markers from marker to marker. The yellow makers tell me when we are going to stop for the night. The blue sticky tell me were the bridges are and the cuts (sometimes very narrow openings that go from one river to the next that usually have pretty shallow water). I  must say I do feel like I am helping Michael...sometimes the Garmin is really off and the paper charts are correct. I am still counting dolphins and will give you the count at the end of my notes.

Ann's sticky noes (and even a green one!)
It has not been all bad...we had a wonderful time in St. Augustine and meet some wonderful people. The dinghy floating away was a good thing...now I can tease Michael about this little event. I do have a picture and he did not tell you about him coming back to the boat with one very wet shoe :) I am still in the market to find a perfect hat to wear when we are out and about town. Since I am letting my hair grow out the hats I have make my head hot. I found one in a little store that is like a visor...you can see it in the picture above...but it does not shade my ears. So my mission is to find the perfect hat for my 'hot head'...wish me luck :)

Dolphin count with other wild life
3 May        7 single      2 sets of  2    Total 11            Bonus  1 very large eagle
4 May        2 single      1 set of  4      Total 6    We were in the Atlantic that day
5 May        9 single      3 set of  2     1 set of  3    3 sets of  4    1 pod of  7  plus 2 swam by our window while we were eating dinner      Total 39      
Bonus  Michael saw a Turtle
6 May        10 single    4 set of  2      1 pod of 6    Total 24    Bonus Michael saw another Turtle
7 May         5 single

Traveling Soul...Out