Bald Head to Herb River:
After our overnight passage from Bald Head Island, we reach the outer mark for Tybee Roads Inlet and the Savanah River at 1:30 pm. We now have a decision to make. The seas are 5-6 foot on a 5 second period with 20 knot winds making for a very uncomfortable ride. The forecast had called for 2-3 foot seas and 15 knot winds. Should we continue on hoping the seas will calm down or do we head inside and continue on the ICW? We have had enough of this lumpy and bumpy ride and decide to run inside as this is our last good Inlet before dark and 100 miles. We have several concerns with this choice also. It is an 8 mile run to the ICW turn on the busy Savanah Ship channel while encountering beam seas. We also have a two knot ebb current opposing the prevailing sea and the waves stack up at the entrance. We must share this channel with humongous 900 foot container ships both inbound and outbound. With the ebb current, we are not sure that we can make our anchorage, 24 miles away, before dark. And finally there is a huge dredge sitting in the center of the channel deepening the waterway which we must navigate around. We question our decision but really have no choice. It is the lesser of two evils.
Making our turn into the ship channel we have five foot beam seas. Idyll Time is swaying from side to side as our stabilizers struggle to keep up. The freighter Hamburg is steaming into the channel just astern of us and closing rapidly. Luckily we have plenty of maneuver room to stay just outside of the channel and let her pass. Soon after the pass, we are approaching the dredge Illinois. Four tugs are moving the booms back into the channel after the Hamburg passes. We radio the dredge telling him we are up bound and ask if it is ok to pass. He ask again if we are up bound. We say yes and he requests that we do a one whistle pass (port to port). This does not make sense to us as it would put us between the dredge and the breakwater wall with only feet to spare. We radio back questioning this maneuver. He again confirms that he wants a one whistle pass. OK! We start heading that way. As we near the barge he calls and ask if that is us up bound. He now says that he thought we were down bound. No, we told you that we were up bound twice. He now tells us to pass starboard to starboard. This makes more sense. Bottom line, he was not paying attention. Over the next hour we have two more 900 ft. plus container ships to negotiate around. Note to self, don’t us this Inlet ever again!!! After two stressful hours on the ship channel, we are glad to see the ICW turn. We now have a three knot ebb current perpendicular to us as we make our turn into the narrow Elba Cut. We side surf the current into the safety of the protected ICW. Arriving at our anchorage just before sunset the anchor is down and engines off. We can now relax after a stressful 36 hour passage. For all of you readers who think our cruising lifestyle is stress free, think again.
Total Miles: 244
Total Miles This Year: 2956
Herb River to Wallys Leg:
It was a very peaceful night at anchor. We were both so tired I don’t think anything would have woke us. Last evening was spent studying the cruising guides and tide tables while planning our route on the ICW. It will take us four days to reach St. Augustine and there are some major shoaling areas that we will need to transit at mid tide or higher. Had we been able to keep running on the outside last night we would be to St. Augustine today but we would have paid a heavy price with 6 foot beam seas and 20 knot winds.
We are underway at 7:30 AM with a moderate breeze rustling through the golden marsh grass. The sky is a puffy cotton grey in front of storms heading our way over the next few days. We soon reach Hells Gate which is one of the notorious spots on the ICW for shoaling. Transiting this area one hour before high tide, we never see less than 11 feet of water. At low tide we would have seen only five feet and we have a draft of five feet. With this spot under our keel, most of the waterway is wide and deep as we wind our way through the maze of sawgrass marsh. It is very picturesque and quiet. Not another soul or house is within sight. Nate and Primo spend the day in the pilot house and seem much happier now that we are inside on the ICW. They did not like the rough seas of yesterday.
We reach the Mud River, another notorious shallow area, three hours before low tide. It is a nonissue for us today also. The shallowest we see is 8 feet. . At low tide we would have seen four foot depths and IT would have been stuck in the mud. Georgia has not dredged the ICW for several years due to budget constraints and the waterway continues to deteriorate. With little commercial traffic on these waters, there is little financial incentive for the state to dredge the ICW.
Total Miles Today: 82
Total Miles This Year: 3038
Wallys Leg to Jacksonville Beach:
The fiery pink sky lights up our anchorage as we haul anchor just as the sun is rising behind the stormy sky. It looks like we are in for thunderstorms for the next two days. It is a soft grey morning with light sprinkles peppering our windshield. We have three shoal areas today but we reach them all at mid to high tide making them a non issue once again. The weather breaks and the day becomes a beautiful partly cloudy day with temperatures in the low 70’s. Passing through the Fernandina Beach harbor we see the damage left by hurricane Mathew. The city docks are completely closed as well as the mooring field. Several sailboats are still hard aground on the shore. A sailboat tipped over on land is always a sad sight. With severe storms forecast overnight we head into Palm Cove Marina for the evening.
Total Miles Today: 81
Total Miles This Year: 3119
Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine:
Our decision to stay at the marina last night turned out to be a good one. We have severe storms and a tornado warning this AM. Once the weather breaks we have a short four hour trip to St. Augustine. The City Marina will be our home for the next month.
Total Miles Today: 31
Total Miles This Year: 3150