NOTE: Before you read the following paragraph you MUST find someone with a deep, coarse voice. James Earl Jones’ is deep enough, but far too smooth; Lee Marvin, now Lee Marvin could make it work.
AARGH! Thar we wuz, anchored in the marshes near Fernandina Beach, ready to run the line and stay ahead of the King’s Navy. We were in a good anchorage; it was quiet and so were we. Neither of us had any desire to hang at the end of a yardarm – which is what we suspected them Limey Tars had in store for us. We could see one of their boats. It crawled forward slowly, looking into each little creek and all the little rivers. As they sailed by we could see them; they wuz just polishin’ their cutlasses and cleaning their pistols.
Aye, if they caught us, we knew it would be a hard fight, but we also knew if we could just make it past the inlet and onto the high seas that our superior seamanship (and 1100 horsepower contained in two Detroit Diesel 6V92s) would give us a better than even chance of escapin’ them scalawags. We waited until they tacked to port – then I gave the order to “raise the mains’l, the jib, the mizzen-thingie that they raised on Master and Commander,” and I reminded the crew “to set the topgallant studding sail ( … really, that is the name of a sail!) Most of you have already realized that when we did all that we had exactly zero inches of sail up because … well … Traveling Soul is a power boat, not a sailboat.) Anyway, I then had the crew “stoke them boilers;” and that did it. That day, Traveling Soul might have been the fastest ship in northern Florida (or at least the fastest recreational motor vessel in the Fernandina Inlet.) And though it was a close-run thing, we made it into the glorious North Atlantic and away from our tormentors.
Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it was, but I was just trying to spruce up a discussion of our foray into the Atlantic. With one or two exceptions, it was really a boring trip. What were those exceptions you ask? To learn about those, you will have to keep reading.
You are probably asking why we went into the Atlantic in the first place. Well, some of you will remember the Deadly Georgia Attack flies! Since our adventure last year and Ann’s victory over the flies in the Battle of Kilkenny Marina, we have maintained a nervous cease fire with the flies. We thought, therefore, it would be best if we recognized their sovereignty in the state of Georgia and skipped that part of the ICW altogether. In addition, of all the states along the ICW, Georgia seems to care less about the depth of its Waterway than any other. As a consequence, running the Waterway in Georgia leaves the captain with the “ICW hunch,” where he holds on to the wheel and leans over the instruments, keeping one eye on the depth gauge, one eye on the GPS chartplotter and one eye on the waterway. Yes, I realize that makes him look like a three-eyed hunchback goon, but that’s exactly how he feels sometimes. Anyway, in addition to the flies, the hunched-back captain pose, and Kilkenny Marina itself (dum da dum dee dum dum dum dee – to be hummed to the tune of Dueling Banjoes from the movie Deliverance) there is the simple math.
Because of the winding nature of the ICW, it is 314 statute miles from Fernandina to Georgetown, SC. Because we go about 80 miles per day, it takes us roughly 4 days to make the trip. If we go into the Atlantic, by contrast, we can travel 178 miles from Fernandina to Charleston, then 40 miles on the ICW from Charleston to Georgetown for a total of 218 statute miles. Moreover, since we go 24/7 on the outside, it takes us about 18 hours on the outside and another four on the inside– or one very long day. It also saves us about 100 gallons of fuel. The logic for us was inexorable; we went on the outside.
|I am not sure you can read it, but this is our Lat/Long |
list for the night of May 17 - 18
Prior to leaving Fernandina, we filled up at Port Consolidated (cheapest fuel in the area by nearly $1 per gallon) there was one other boat also filling up – the trawler Carolina, a 44 foot Defever. We followed her for a while heading out the inlet, until we figured out that Carolina was going the same direction we were. We called her on the radio and found that she used to make the run from Fernandina to Charleston but now she only goes as far north as Savannah. The reason she doesn’t have to go to Charleston anymore is because the owner’s new insurance company only requires that the boat be north of Savannah for the hurricane season, whereas our insurance company requires we be north of Hatteras. Hmmm. The name of his insurance company is Ace. We will definitely be checking out Ace over the next few months. It is odd how, when and where you learn about insurance companies in this lifestyle.
I had deliberately plotted a course that kept us less than 15 miles or so from the coast. The good thing was that most of the time we could see the coast line. Although not entirely necessary, let’s face it, seeing the coast does give you a sense of security – even if you are not likely to be able to swim the fifteen miles to safety if something happened. The bad thing is that, the closer to the shoreline you are, the more buoys, navigation markers, private navigation aids, ships, recreational boats and other “blips” there are on the radar screen. On the radar, a blip, is a blip, is a blip and it is very difficult to discriminate a boat from a small ship from a navigation aid.
|The sunsets can sure look beautiful when you are |
off in the Atlantic looking westward. I guess in this shot
we were a little beyond visual distance from the shoreline.
In fact, just as it had turned dark – about 10 PM or so – the radar showed maybe twenty different blips on the screen. I tried to match up all the blips to the buoys and other kinds of navigational aids on the charts we had, but it was really too hard and I finally decided that there weren’t any boats or ships out there, that they were all NAVAIDS. Well, I was wrong. For some reason I stuck my head out of the hatch (doorway) and about 200 feet in front of us I thought I could see … yes .. I think that is a green light … hmmm, I wonder … YIKES, it’s a boat!!! I immediately turned hard to port (so I could pass behind the ghost boat in front of me) and took Traveling Soul out of gear (to slow her down). I then hit five beeps on the horn (the sound signal for danger). The sports fisherman crossing in front of me didn’t even slow down and continued on his merry way as if nothing was the matter.
As a result of that little experience we made two changes to our routine. First, I took us a few miles further into the Atlantic. I don’t think we went more than two or three additional miles into the ocean, but it took us away from all but a few navigation aids. Now we wouldn’t have more than a few blips on the screen at any one time and would no longer face the problem of the impossible-to-read radar screen. Second, we agreed that every five or ten minutes or so, one or both of us would look out both of the hatches to make sure some sports fisherman wasn’t sneaking up on us.
Other than that, the seas were only about 2-3 feet and the wind probably less than 10 knots. Every hour or so we plotted our latitude and longitude on our paper charts, just to make sure we knew where we were and where we were going.
About 8AM we pulled level with Charleston’s outer channel markers and headed into Charleston Harbor. We had stopped in Charleston on every trip through the area and had stayed for over a month at least twice. This time we decided to keep going until we hit what looked like some really cool anchoring spots up the ICW. We looked and looked and couldn’t find those great anchoring spots. We found a few but in each instance decided to keep going. Eventually we decided that we would go to Georgetown, SC. Georgetown is a hot spot for cruisers and just off the ICW. We called and reserved a slip (it was Saturday and pickin’s were slim). We found one at the Harbourwalk Marina. A number of Active Captain’s reviews swore that this was a five-star marina. It really wasn’t too bad, but I am here to tell you it didn’t deserve five stars. (I have noticed, over time, a decided inflation in the scores reviewers give marinas on Active Captain. They just don’t seem as useful as they once were.)
Anyway, according to Wikipedia (most of the following is straight from Wikipedia) Georgetown is the third oldest city in the state of South Carolina and the county seat of Georgetown County. It is located on Winyah Bay at the confluence of the Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Sampit rivers. In 1526, the Spanish, under Lucas Vasquez de Ayllón, arrived here with North America’s first load of African slaves and founded San Miguel de Gualdape, the first slave-based colony in North America. The colony failed for multiple reasons, including a fever epidemic and a revolt of the African slaves, who fled to join the Cofitachiqui Indians in the area.
After settling Charles Town (Charleston) in 1670, the English established trade with the Indians . Trading posts in the outlying areas quickly became settlements. By 1721 the colonial government granted the English residents' petition to found a new parish, Prince George, Winyah, on the Black River. The Indian trade declined soon after Georgetown was established, as planters cultivated indigo as the cash commodity crop with rice as a secondary crop, both dependent on slave labor. Profits were so great between 1735-1775 that in 1757 the Winyah Indigo Society, whose members paid dues in indigo, opened and maintained the first public school for white children between Charleston and Wilmington.
|I know, I know. This plaque and the Wikipedia |
discussion do not necessarily agree. I guess we need
to pay historians more money to figure out the
truth so we cruisers can always be perfectly correct
in our blogs.
During the American Revolution, the father and son Georgetown planters, Thomas Lynch, Sr. and Thomas Lynch, Jr., signed the Declaration of Independence. During the final years of the conflict, Georgetown was the important port for supplying General Nathanael Greene's army. Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox) led many guerrilla actions in this vicinity.
Following the American Revolution, rice surpassed indigo as the staple crop. It was cultivated on the swampy lowlands along the rivers, where enslaved labor built large earthworks: the dams, gates and canals to irrigate and drain the rice fields during cultivation. Large rice plantations were established around Georgetown on its five rivers.
By 1840, Georgetown County produced nearly one-half of the total rice crop of the United States, and Georgetown became the largest rice-exporting port in the world. Wealth from rice created an elite European-American planter class; they built stately plantation manor houses, bought elegant furniture, and extended generous hospitality to others of their class. Their relatively leisured lifestyle for a select few, built of the labor of thousands of slaves, lasted until 1860.
|Main Street in downtown Georgetown, SC.|
Nowadays, Georgetown is a perfectly laid out little town. It is not dissimilar from Fort Collins, CO in the 1950’s (my birthplace), from Saugerties, NY (Ann’s hometown) in the ‘50’s or from the hometown that many of you remember from your youth. You get the feeling that you could safely stroll the streets at any time day or night – though why you would want to stroll around after they rolled up the streets at 7PM, I don’t know.
Having arrived a little late on Saturday we decided to wait ‘til the next day before we went downtown to explore. Now the stores and shops in many small towns are closed on Sunday, and that is especially so in the American south. However, our experience is generally that the tourist spots, like restaurants, gift shops and even museums are open on Sunday afternoon. Apparently that general rule doesn’t apply to Georgetown. About half of the restaurants were closed on Sunday, and only a couple of gift shops were open at any time during the day. Well, we decided that since we kind of liked Georgetown, since we didn’t get to see much of the cool touristy stuff and because we were ahead of schedule that we would stay an additional day.
The next day? Of course it was raining all day long. Ann managed to get to a few of the museums and to get a pedicure, but I stayed on the boat. I really don’t like walking on my bum foot in the rain.
ANN’s NOTES: Michael pretty much summed up this part of the
trip. What he did not mention was that we were awake for 26 hours and 20 minutes.
We left Fernandina Beach FL on Friday
the 17th of May at 1:10 pm. Arrived in Charleston Harbor SC on the
18th of May at 8am. Then kept going on the ICW, arriving at Georgetown,
SC at 3:30 pm. That is a lot of hours to be awake, we both got a ``second wind”
and we were fine. Plus docking in Georgetown was a slow moving nightmare, they
put us in an inside slip by the fuel dock , very close quarters getting in by
some very large shrimping boats, where we had to turn into the slip. Add a lot
of wind, strong current and two dock hands that were less than skilled and two
tired people… a fun time was NOT had by all. I pretty much strong-armed the
boat into the slip and the captain was yelling at the dock hands and not me. To top it all off the marina knew a larger
boat was coming in (the boat did dock next to us – all 200 feet of her!) and we
had just arrived and were asked if we wanted to move …. Ugh … I don’t think so …
FYI … we stayed in our slip.
|We saw this sign in |
Georgetown on Sunday. I want to change it to:
When we were out in the big blue and very dark Atlantic, I got a lot of practice doing lat/long on our paper charts. Every hour or so we would check the course on the paper chart with what the GPS on the Garmin said we were. Not only was it fun but it made me stay awake and I felt like I was helping in some way. Watching the radar makes me cross-eyed and is sort of boring, but needs to be done in order to stay safe.
OK…I know you have been waiting for the next section….the WILD LIFE COUNT…
- · Friday May 17th 2013 1 domestic yellow finch (sad but true … the poor thing was lost about 20 miles into the Atlantic – well out of sight of shore. He flew and was in our bimini on the second deck)
- · Saturday 18th of May 2013 2 single Dolphins to greet us at Charleston inlet
2 playing dolphins in our wake
1 pod of dolphins
1 pod of 3 dolphins
Stay tuned for our next blog….thanks for reading…