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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Into the Deep Blue Sea!

Sunset from somewhere in the North Atlantic!
We left Fort Pierce, Florida at about 0930 on Thursday 28 April. We arrived at our anchorage just off Cumberland Island, Georgia at about 0930 Friday, 29 April. Yes, we spent 24 hours cruising in the deep blue sea and traveled 253 miles, for an average of just over 10 statute miles per hour. Why did we make this trip in the ocean? Well, we had just spent 10 days at the boatyard in Stuart, FL and we had fallen way behind where we wanted to be. No, we aren’t under any pressure to be at any specific place at any specific time, but we did want to get moving. On a normal day traveling the ICW we make somewhere between 60 and 70 miles, so doing 253 miles in one 24 hour period put us four days ahead of where we would otherwise have been.  Second, we had just spent a whole bunch of money at the boatyard in Stuart and decided that we did not want to spend a lot of money on marinas. One way to do that, of course, is simply not to stop. And finally, it has been over a year since we had completed an overnight and we decided that it was about time that we did it again – for braggin’ rights if for no other reason.
So, how did it go? We had been watching the weather for over a week while at the boatyard. It looked like Thursday and Friday were going to be very good days to go “outside,” as we cognoscenti call it. When we first started watching the weather, the predictions were for waves 2-feet high with the wind from the south. Now you can’t beat those wave predictions as I don’t think NOAA forecasts anything less. And the wind direction? If it were from the south, it would be at our back, so we would have following seas. We were set. As the week progressed the forecast began deteriorating a little, though just a bit. After a few days the predictions were for 2-3 feet waves. That is still near perfect and we were looking forward to it. The day before we left the predictions had made it to 2-4 feet, but the winds were still predicted to be from the south to the southeast. Now, to be honest, that is kind of what we had been expecting since we started planning the trip, so were weren’t dissuaded – but we certainly did not like the trend. We were chomping at the bit to get underway before the weather deteriorated any further. On Thursday morning we were off!

Now, we obviously like boating. But 24 hours of up and down … and down and up … and sideways and up and … did I mention it was for 24 hours? You get the picture I am sure. Although the first couple of hours were a little more choppy than we had planned, once we made the turn to the north the motion became a little more manageable and we got into a pattern … up, down, sideways, down, up, other sideways, etc. The motion didn’t seem to bother Ann at all. Spot, well she went into her special hidey-hole for the first couple of hours, then reappeared to eat, get scratched and use her littler box. After that, she did okay – though she clearly thought we had lost our minds. As for me? I did okay. I don’t get motion sickness, but I will admit that the constant up and down did cause a little bit of uneasiness. I drank some ginger beer and tried not to focus on anything but the task at hand.
When we travel outside parallel to the coast, we usually cruise about 10-15 miles offshore. Other cruisers like to stay closer, but we have a couple of reasons for keeping our distance. First, we want to stay away from lights on land. You would be amazed how far a single red light can shine at sea on a dark night. If you are near shore, some of those red lights can seem a lot closer than they really are. Or even worse, you can convince yourself that the red lights you see are on land – when in reality they belong to a huge tanker not too far away. Second, there are places along the coast (usually near major ports) where there are bunches of navigation aids marking a channel, a shoal, a fishing area or something else. At night, when our radar picks up ten to fifteen nav aids it becomes difficult for me to separate them from any boats that might be in the area. In fact, one time I was so busy matching various buoys that appeared in the charts to targets picked up by my radar that I missed a sport fishing boat that was zipping by about 50 yards off my bow! That was certainly a wake-up call and sent us further off the coast.

 Cruising offshore during the daytime is one thing, cruising offshore at night is something else entirely. Some of our friends do it often, and to them I am sure it is almost second nature. But for those of us who only do a 24-hour jump outside a couple of times per year, it can be downright spooky. Remember I told you that we want to stay far enough offshore that we don’t get confused by lights on land?  That generally means there is little ambient light. Now imagine a moonless night. If you are thinking that it would be very, very black outside then you are thinking right! There is no way you are going to see anything if it is not marked with lights (as almost everything at sea should be) or if it does not appear on radar. We generally pick up a radar target 4 miles out, if it is going to pass anywhere close to us we make a significant turn to the right or left so we are far enough away when we pass it – and track the blip until it is well past us. Now that we stay far enough out that we don’t have ten or more nav aids as radar targets, we can manage everything pretty well.
Although they are very hard to see, there is a herd of wild
horses behind the fence. They are from Cumberland Island.
Well, obviously we completed our overnight and came to rest at Cumberland Island, Georgia. Cumberland is one of our favorite places, as there is so much history, so much wildlife and magnificent beaches, beaches, beaches! This year we hopped in our dinghy and rode up and down the island on our own little expedition of discovery. We found the Plum Orchard – a place where we had not yet been – and discovered they have a really cool dinghy dock. We didn’t use it this year because we were busy exploring other places on the waterway, but next year I have a feeling we will use it extensively.

We had pretty much decided that because of the expense associated with our batteries and generator, that we would do a lot of anchoring this year as we headed up the waterway. I have to tell you, though, that for me this isn’t much of a hardship because I really LOVE anchoring. Ann likes it too, but no one likes it as much as I do.  Before we started anchoring, thought, there was one place we wanted to go … Jekyll Island, Georgia. While there, we bicycled around, provisioned for the next phase of our venture re-met our friends Russ and Lori and generally had a great time.
On the way up we refueled at Brunswick Landing Marina (still the lowest fuel price in the area, but it seems to be creeping upwards), then we anchored successively at Walburg Creek, Bull Island, Toogoodoo Creek, East Minim Creek and Carolina Beach. The three most interesting anchorages were Cumberland, Walburg and Toogoodoo (I like Toogoodoo in part because it is so fun to say and easy to spell).

On Jekyll, Lori was showing Ann how to make bracelets.
Spot was keeping a close eye on the proceedings, in case
 Ann needed her help.
The island separating Walburg Creek (where we stayed) from the Atlantic seems alternatively to be called St. Catherine’s Island and Walburg Island. As St. Catherine’s it has been designated a National Historic Landmark because of its rich human history. A succession of Spanish Missions were established on the island during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Current archeological work is discovering (among many other things)  how Catholicism was practiced and taught in the Georgia missions was different than the way it was taught and practiced in, for example, St. Augustine.  In 1670, when the English established a settlement at what would become Charleston, SC, the beginning of the end of the Spanish missions was in site. The island has an interesting English history also, but I don’t know enough to write about it.

The island is interesting for another reason. Although it is difficult getting good information about the program, from 1974 through 2003 the Wildlife Survival Center of New York's Bronx Zoo kept hundreds of exotic and endangered animals there to propagate and then release them into their wild native habitats. The preserve was established so scientists could study several species of birds and mammals in a habitat as close to wilderness as possible. The island's large spaces, its large enclosures and its private grounds, to which no visitors are allowed, permitted zoologists to study how animals would act in "herd situations" or determine what would happen if captive beasts were reintroduced to the wilderness.
I wish I could find out more about that program.

Sunrise on Toogoodoo Creek
Anyway … In addition to the cool pronunciation and spelling of Toogoodoo, the Creek provides an excellent set of anchorages. While we were in the area, the winds were from the west – and were 20 – 25 knots. We looked at a number of places that we thought might offer some protection. We found nothing– until we looked at Toogoodoo. The Creek meanders through the countryside sufficiently that if you follow it far enough – and we followed it for about 2 miles – you will find protection from just about any direction. When we got to the point where we dropped out anchor, we had trees and a slight hill giving us fairly good protection from the wind. It was great. It is now on our list of favorite protected anchoring places.
All of this anchoring gave us an opportunity to test our expensive generator and our new set of batteries extensively. And I have to tell you that … (drum roll please) so far, so good!
After Toogoodoo and Carolina Beach it was on to Beaufort, NC – which is where we are now. Our next entry will close out this year’s trip up the ICW and will likely contain a list of summer projects we have to complete before we set off again next year.
Ann's NOTES: I really to not have much to add...
Our time in the Atlantic was fun and exciting. My "go outside" meal is meat loaf and mashed potatoes. I make it the day prior so it is a simple meal to reheat while we are under way. The nice part is with the new generator and batteries we did not have to count amps while the micro wave was on.

Michael and I have been going up and down the ICW for six years now, and every year we find new and interesting things to see and do. Two years ago we decided to really discover Georgia, we spent extra time exploring the little towns on the ICW and off the main part of the waterway. Our country and states have some many hidden gems. Small town museums, National Parks with guided tours, it truly is interesting and amazing. I think the next state to explore will be North Carolina.
I am looking forward to that.

Our  winter adventure is almost over, Traveling Soul will be in her slip in Solomons MD, She will get some new bottom paint, a few upgrades in the salon, a good cleaning and reorganization for her next trip.

Remember you are welcome to visit our land base ... Spot loves company..
Have a wonderful summer, thank you for following us..
Traveling Soul..OUT