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Brunswick, GA – Revisited

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

Georgetown, South Carolina

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

Short Legs – Easy Days – Long Post

This year we’ve not felt the urge to push ourselves or the boat. There’s no specific plan other than to be north of Florida and we’ve accomplished that already. Hoping to resist complication and just be, we’re patiently allowing opportunity to be our inspiration. It’s said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”: We’re prepared and opportunity will appear sooner or later … so maybe we’ll get lucky — maybe we already are.

No, we’ll not put a lot of distance behind us this way, but we’re not sure where we’re going anyway so it really doesn’t matter.

On this day we’re tied up at Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown, SC.

We’ve spent time here before and found the town to be a genuinely friendly little place. Just off the beaten path and very quiet, there’s a beautiful little harbor. On the other side of Front St the neighborhood is covered up in history, many of the homes were built in the 1700s and they’re kept historically correct. Down the street we’ve found a number of bonafide low country restaurants, clothing stores, a barber, and almost anything one might need. Reckoning the whole might be better than the sum of it’s parts, chances are, Georgetown may offer us an opportunity to get acquainted.

The getting here has been good. We’re enjoying the trip and the boat seems to be happy as well. The long run up the Florida coast was a good idea, but for now we’ll do a few short legs and take it easy. We’ve jokingly tagged this portion of our cruise, The Shrimp and Grits Run — and for good reason.

Sunset over marsh grass at high tide – Brunswick Landing Marina

catching up

Done with Florida and arrived Georgia, we stay in the Brunswick area for a few days. Having been Mel’s hometown and much time spent here in the past, it’s familiar to us.

Over the years there were many rich memories formed in Brunswick. Mostly simple pleasures like shelling peas or heading shrimp and cleaning crabs; our best memories are from the many Christmases we spent here. These big holiday get-togethers always ended with the traditional Oyster Roast. On a cold night family and friends would gather around a hot oak fire and drink a lot of beer as we shucked and devoured bushels of fire roasted oysters. Mel’s Dad loved putting all of this together and he worked hard at it: Sourcing the oysters, building the fire, even cleaning up the aftermath was a task he thoroughly enjoyed.
We all miss Mr. Ralph. Yes, Brunswick is familiar to us.

Like many times before, we shopped the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning to buy fresh peas and  boiled peanuts. Local Georgia Cracker gourmet delights.

Next, we motored over to St Simons Island and Golden Isles Marina. Borrowing the marina courtesy car, we had lunch at Barbara Jeans – Shrimp and Grits and Crab Cakes.
A St Simons tradition, a fine little southern style family restaurant. 

A little work was done for the marina then a quick weather check showed the seas were gonna be favorable. It was decided to move on to Hilton Head.

Leaving St Simons at sunrise on a falling tide we caught a nice ride with the current all the way out the long ship channel.

A few hours into the trip our favorable seas started changing as did the wind. Now a head sea, but not bad, just sloppy enough to make sure I washed the boat once we arrived at Harbour Town Yacht Basin. 
By the end of the day the waves had turned fairly chunky and we butted our way round Savannah into Hilton Head. 
Being the 4th of July, Harbour Town and Sea Pines Resort was swarming with lots of folks doing what lots folks do on Independence Day. That night, much to our young pup Muddy’s dismay, there was a world class fireworks show.
We always enjoy our time here and particularly like the resort’s restaurants. (Yes, Shrimp and Grits and a bowl of Gumbo.) This is a very well managed, award winning, marina. Harbormaster Nancy Cappelmann makes sure everything is top-notch.
A few days later we moved over to Shelter Cove Marina. Still on Hilton Head island, just further inland and up a creek.  Shelter Cove is pretty cool. many places to eat (Shrimp and Grits), a coffee shop, a French bakery, and other businesses that cater to tourist. At one time there were two different bands playing at two different restaurants and both singing different Jimmy Buffett tunes. Cheeseburger in Paradise on one side, Margaritaville on the other… – I guess some things never change. 
There was a strange weather anomaly, that soon became Hurricane Chris, sitting off the Carolina Coast and it wouldn’t leave. At first we thought it prudent to hang out at Hilton Head and keep and eye on the storm, so we moved back to Harbour Town. Waking the next morning and checking the latest weather info things looked much better so we decided to take off and head North. Charleston was our next stop and we needed to be there at 4PM for slack tide. (if you’ve ever boated in this area you understand the slack tide thing.) 
All day long the winds were calm and the ocean was slick, but as we got within 10 miles of Charleston the breeze picked up. Still nothing harsh, however off to the west dark clouds were building up over land. By the time we reach the ship channel everything changed. Wind gusts of 25/30 were turning our nice slick ocean into angry gray seas; a full blown thunderstorm was hovering over the entrance. 
Weighing the options of circling around out in the ocean and waiting for the storm to pass or pounding our way up the channel, straight into a threatening squall — we chose the latter – hoping for the best when we arrive on time with slack water. Damn the lightning, full speed ahead.
And… that worked out well. In drizzling rain we eased into the marina at exactly 4:00 and tied up. Then the skies cleared.            Yes, all’s well that ends well.  ☺︎
It was interesting tying up at a marina with an Aircraft Carrier – Patriot’s Point

Charleston Harbor was full so they put us out on the far edge. It was rough. All night the boat would rock and heel over from the wakes of big ships passing by. We woke the next morning, finished doing what we came for, made the necessary calls, and moved a few miles up the ICW to Isle of Palms Marina.

Isle of Palms Marina isn’t really anything exceptional, however on a sunny Saturday afternoon it’s the center of the universe. Hundreds of small boats use the ramp to load and unload. There was a band playing outside and 2 restaurants (one serving Shrimp and Grits with Alligator Gravy) and a nicely stocked tackle/grocery/deli. It was incredibly busy, but not in a bad way. Everyone was friendly and courteous and a good time was being had in bulk. It was fun to watch.
I put the double finger slip to good use. It allowed me to get to Istaboa’s port side and easily do a badly needed cleaning. It’s disturbing to find what happens to the forsaken side of an asymmetrical salon boat. Out of sight, out of mind.
13 years and we still love this boat 
We stayed here for 2 nights then left mid-day to run the skinny ICW to Georgetown. McClellanville is the snag on this stretch with a reported 4′ water depths at low tide, however I  believe this is falsely reported. (Boat geek stuff) We went through 2 hours after low tide and never saw less than 3.5′ under our keel — (which by my calculations would make it 7′ MLLW.)  We were fortunate to be leaving on a rising tide; the current pushing us all the way to Georgetown. When we hit Winyah Bay, we were clocking 12 knots. Got in at 6:30.

So here we are, Georgetown – livin’ easy.  It’s a cool little town and we’re thinking we should to get to know it better.
So far every restaurant has been better than the last. (wonder if they have a gym)
The best to date— Shrimp and Grits with Pork Sauce — The River Room.

Harborwalk Marina is new (still being built) with floating docks; a nice clean little marina and Harbormaster Chris Carroll’s intent is to make it even better. 
Taking a walk across town looking for a pharmacy, I took the scenic route. This old town is lovely.  
Old Antebellum, Low Country Charm

No, we’re not sure when or where we’ll be heading next. Mel would like to visit Bald Head Island at Cape Fear, she has a knack for picking good places to go – so that seems likely.

In the meantime, life’s pretty good.

Something worth reading: What’s the hurry?

Adios

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

Bypassing Florida

 It’s been a while since we’ve done an all-nighter. Several reasons why, but 2 in particular stand out.
Number one: Radar, our senior pup, has apparently developed sea-sickness in his old age. He’s a smart dog so this all could be a show of protest, however he becomes distressed and his old heart does race; that’s not good.
2. My old ass. I once pulled all-nighters for a living and was quite good at it, but that was long-long ago and I was a different person then.

Mel and I enjoy running our boat alone; no crew, no friends aboard, just two dogs and two folks on a boat. This way our unplanned/wishy-washy cruising lifestyle inconveniences no one. While this tack does indulge our desire for independence, it also means we must do it all and that can sometimes be tiresome.
 So, yes, running all night will wear us out, but after adding up the pros and cons; bypassing the Florida ICW and running outside in the ocean with a well timed full moon under clear skies and fairly flat/following seas seemed the best option.

Leaving Ft Pierce was easy. Out the inlet, the forecast flat seas were as predicted so we turned north and stayed close to shore. We caught a happy current and enjoyed 10+ knots all the way up to Brunswick.

As we round Cape Canaveral there’s Chester Shoal. One can either stay offshore or run in toward the beach and Kennedy Space Center to get around it. This time we chose the latter. It was cool to see the Space Center from this perspective.

Obviously no rockets were teed up for launch, but the historic significance of the place whetted my imagination.

Once past the Space Center, other than a another stunning sunset, there wasn’t much remarkable.
We stayed within a few miles of shore in order to use cell phones and internet; both worked well almost all the way. Almost zero traffic once darkness fell, though there was a tug out a couple of mile making about the same speed, he was heading north as well so we paralleled almost all the way to Jacksonville.

Somewhere out from St Augustine at around 4AM we did encounter a fleet of Shrimpers. I tried to get a photograph but the darkness won and the below pic was the best I got.

With their bright lights against the dark night the visual was surreal, otherworldly; it would have been an interesting photo.

Then that fat moon we’d been enjoying dropped below the horizon and everything went dark. It took a bit to acclimate to the black night – which brought about a renewed interest in the radar screen – , but after a couple of hours the sun made an appearance and all was well once again.

The comfort that sunrise brings is always soothing after a long night

Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

After a while, we made the long approach to St Simons, turned, and motored under The Lanier Bridge to Brunswick Landing Marina. Ralph was waiting at our slip and after tying up, we shut down, Mel made one of her famous celebratory Bloodies, and my tired old ass caught some Zzzzsss while Mel took the boys for their well deserved walk.

Just before falling asleep I was contemplating my weariness after the long night and calculating where we’d be if we had run the ICW.
Our Florida ICW Milk Run – Ft Pierce, then Daytona… then St Augustine… then a long day just to be where we are now. 3 days – Long, winding, skinny water — not to mention the fuel and marina costs.

So in hindsight; yes, we’re fortunate to have long range capabilities and there is no rest better than this.

Radar? He did alright, though he’ll never let on.

Adios,

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

North –

To?  -As I’m writing this we’re tied up at Ft Pierce enjoying the company of those darn Kiwis aboard ‘Southern Star’.It’s always fun to catch up with Jenny and Ted. They’ve just finished a pretty extensive run of the Bahamas so plenty of island st…

Bourdain

Beirut – 2006Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

Peep Show

Marina Cam at Herrington Harbour South Marina. One of the many cams the good folks at HHS had onSpot install. Watching these birds build their nest is fascinating.Thanks Herrington Harbour – Very Cool Link to other onSpot wifi Marina Cams  http:…

Happy Holidays

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

Winding Down – Brunswick, GA

Brunswick, GA — Tied up at St Simons; a Golden Isles sunset reflecting off the sound, pelicans and gulls ending the day doing what it is they do, all appears peaceful. Though, just a couple days ago, Thanksgiving Day, this was a different picture all together. A damp northerly wind was blowing hard and there was no sunset to be enjoyed, just gray, grayer, then darkness and cold.

In several ways, this trip is winding down.

Leaving Beaufort: With winds and seas in the unsettled state they were in, the choices were to run the ICW or stay put. Staying put was no longer an option.
Motoring south and winding down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, there are many bends and curves, the shoals around every ocean inlet must be taken seriously, and almost every mile of the way there’s some obstacle that must be overcome. Most are not as precarious as reputed (ActiveCaptain), but all bets are off, you’re compelled to give every one of these complications your attention or one of them could make for a very bad day.  Stress.
(Hindsight is 20-20: Unless there’s an unusually low tide, if you stay in the center of the channel there’s little to worry about.)
The stretch between Beaufort and Cape Fear is crossed with bridges all seemingly set up on schedules that are timed to penalize any boat requiring an opening—of course a fierce current is always pushing as you approach them and the incommunicado bridge tender’s watch invariably runs 5 minutes slow.

Needless to say, if one has taken on the mindset to get home, this is a chore, and this portion of the ICW is not much for stopping and smelling the roses so…  Push.

Past the Cape Fear River and back into the ICW, St James Marina is just a short way. A nicely manicured marina with an excellent restaurant onsite.

The Southport to Georgetown, SC run is not nearly as bad as it’s reputation. The water’s fairly deep and there are fewer shoals to overthink. Once pass Myrtle Beach, other than strong currents, this bit is not bad at all. It’s nice, actually.
Osprey Marina is a good stop. Tucked back into a forest of low country cypress trees is a little sanctuary of a marina. A pleasant stop that’s out of the current and staffed by nice folks who are happy to give you a hand tying up.
Back in the ICW and a full day’s run in deep water is Georgetown, SC. Harborwalk Marina is the nicest and closest marina to the restaurants and shops that Georgetown has to offer. A charming little town that’s at least worth a couple of days.

The next morning, looking across the harbor at a stack towering over a nearby mill, the winds seemed to have settled, the smoke bellows straight up towards the clouds.
The run out Winyah Bay is uneventful as is the run into Charleston and all the way to Ashley Marina.

The winds were relenting and the seas stayed somewhat still. Leaving Charleston Bay and easing out the inlet, all remains calm and the next leg down to Hilton Head is an easy day.

Passing by the 140′ Sailing Vessel ~ Athena

Soon however, the blow’s back and the affected seas have picked up considerably; the pleasant days in the ocean now turn less than so, but still better than working the ICW.

The next run, Hilton Head to Brunswick, offered up quite a bit more texture.

Plowing away from Hilton Head’s Calibogue Sound and out Tybee Roads, the approach was rough and busy. With northerly winds the following sea brought on nice speed and St Simons Sound got closer sooner than expected.

This same strong north to south wind created continuously tall nasty breakers all the way past St Simons. About 7 miles of contending with a beam bashing sea once again makes this a less than pleasurable day.

Though once it’s done – It’s done

Easing under the Sidney Lanier Bridge you’ll find Brunswick Landing Marina. A nice community of a marina that’s quite large. – Free Beer 24/7 – Nirvana for many.

= = = = = =

We stayed at Brunswick Landing for a few days and had a nice time while getting a bit of work done. We’ve tied up here before but it was a long time back. 14 years ago we brought the original Istaboa, a 62 Offshore, to downtown Brunswick and celebrated Melonie’s mother’s 80 birthday. The place hasn’t changed much since then… just the names and faces.
Thanksgiving was aboard. Excellent Roast Beef for dinner then a few episodes of the Netflix series, Alias Grace. Brunswick Landing did put on a nice Thanksgiving feast for the boaters, but it was rainy and cold out so we decided to lay low with the pups and enjoy ourselves.
We’ve now moved over to Morningstar Golden Isles Marina to stage our departure for Florida as soon as possible.

Brunswick marks the end of a long nautical business trip. A tour to visit the increasing number of marinas that we do business with as well as those we’d like to build a relationship. We’ve caught up with many old friends and made several new contacts. It’s time to stop for a while and take stock of our labors.
This little marina WiFi company is a win for all those it touches; we’re proud of onSpot and it’s service.

This trip is also winding down for Mel and me.
Personally, I’m ready to be back home in Jupiter. To walk with my dogs on the warm sunny beach and sleep in a king size bed, to spend all the time I want in a large hot shower and have a car at my disposal; all the trapping that Mel and I happily left behind last May.
Mel is not quite as pleased as I am about tying up Istaboa, but me thinks she’ll enjoy all these things as well … in time.

This life is in our DNA, it’s not a hobby and not an item on a bucket list to check off, but sometimes, stepping away makes it all just that much better.

Something I wrote a few years back:

And, yes I know, there are those who feel there’s no better life than full time living aboard our boats, but we’ve been doing this cruising thing for many years and we like to think of the boat life as a dream being realized. Though sometimes, for us anyway, it’s fun to hop on the bus and say, “there’s no place like home”, and our dream remains floating somewhere awaiting our return. 

So yes, we’re happy to be heading home and now, conveniently, our the boat is just minutes away and we see it almost everyday.
There are a few projects needed to be done; a radar that blinks, electrical gremlins, but all in all Istaboa has been as kind to us as we’ve been to her. She likes to be run and enjoyed; we’ve been doing just that.

Like us, she also enjoys warm weather and Jupiter’s pleasant winter is only a few hundred miles away.

Adios,

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa

South To Beaufort, NC

It’s a cold morning in Beaufort. The wind is brisk and out of the North, conditions we’ve not felt since leaving Memphis last winter. We actually broke out the jeans, sweatshirts, down jackets, and—oh my god—socks.

For the last day or so it’s been cold and rainy, we’ve mentally kicked ourselves for not going with the original plan of spending one night and continuing on South.
On the other hand, after a few hours here, it quickly became apparent that Beaufort’s a bonafide boaty little town and would be a good hang  – as usual we caved to impulse. Glad we did.

The first 2 days of our stay in Beaufort the weather was perfect.

The walk from the marina to downtown is through a picturesque little historic neighborhood. Only about 3 blocks and you’re on Front Street with all the waterfront shops and restaurants. Our first day out took us to Spouter Inn where lunch was excellent, but after asking around we discovered the Beaufort Cafe.
Not on Front Street, not a place most tourist would seek out, not expensive—however, The Beaufort Cafe is certainly worth the long walk down Cedar Street to experience this genuine Beaufort style diner. The best Shrimp and Grits we’ve ever been served. $8.95

We really like Beaufort, however the run down has been appealing as well.

As is always the case, leaving Atlantic Yacht Basin is good. It’s the perfect location for a boat yard. As we come and go we always seem to stop and contribute to the AYB Fund, though I must admit the last few trips it has seemed like paying the troll to cross the bridge. But, it is what it is and AYB can be invaluable sometimes so we don’t burn that bridge.

Finally, AYB dude is driving in the last screw as I’m warming up the engine, waiting on the bridge to open—then we’re off.

Deciding to bypass the customary stop at Coinjock, we keep pushing to Alligator River Marina. This makes for a longer day, but we really like this little marina in the middle of nowhere. Rumors are there’s not enough water at this marina for a boat such as ours, but,  as rumors often are …  that’s not accurate at all. FYI: Leaving the channel there’s good depths all the way to the entrance of the marina. Then, it does shallow up to 8′ all the way to the long transient dock. The gas station has excellent gas station food. Yes, it’s surely bad for you, but – are we actually doing this stuff for our health? Buy some fried chicken, it travels well.

Full Moon Over Alligator River
Next stop is Belhaven’s River Forest Marina. We stayed here for the first time on our way up this year and found it to be one of those places we’ll always visit.  It seems many folks pass River Forest by and go to the other marina that’s closer to downtown, but Henry gives us a golf cart to make the short run downtown to Spoon River Restaurant which makes it all more enjoyable.

Sticking with our plan this time, we stayed here for a couple of days.

On our second day, a beautiful Indian Summer day, all was good until a boat full of gentlemen came roaring in to get fuel and waked the crap out of us.  Slamming us against the docks, and badly bending our boarding ladder we weren’t too happy nor was the dockmaster . After a few words, with difficulty due to the captain being Argentinian, we got the appropriate insurance info and a possible resolution. We’ll see. Geico?

Leaving Belhaven, promising to come back, we made our way South unsure where we might end the day. 
We made a call to Morehead City Docks, but they wouldn’t commit to a T-Head slip – even though there was one available. At the time our plan was rise early and head outside to wherever. We’ve been held here in the past by strong current and we didn’t want that so a T-Head was important to us. No joy from Morehead City Docks so we started looking for something else.
Mel did some research, made a few calls, and at the last minute we pass Jarrett Bay to go to Homer Smith’s Docks. Not doing any homework, we’re unsure how to get to the marina, but after a call and fuzzy directions, we make it in and tie up. 
Homer Smith’s Docks and Marina is a perfectly descriptive name. Homer Smith was an old time fish wholesaler, looking around you’ll see the docks, crowded with shrimp boats and fishing boats; where we are out at the end is the marina portion. It’s small but the service and attitude here is refreshing. First they give you – for free – 2 pounds of shrimp that you just witnessed being taken off a boat, then they offer to let you buy more at $6.00 a pound. We bought 6 pounds. Floating docks, loaner car, weak WiFi that’s soon to be excellent, we’ve found our always stop at marina in Beaufort.
The next morning, planning to crank up and leave early, I walk up to find dense fog that’s only getting worse.
Knowing we’d need every bit of daylight to make it to Masonboro Inlet and down to Southport, we quickly realize that staying in Beaufort for another day will be a good idea.
It was, and around 11:00 AM the sun burned off the fog and presented us a glorious day. 
Checking the weather for the next day, it was forecast to be the same or worse in the morning. So, it was decided to give Beaufort another day. And we did—and a week later, we’re still here.
 Not because of weather entirely, we really like this marina a lot, just the smell of the place pleases our senses, but they offer a weekly rate after 4 days stay. The next few days were free.

Watching the shimpers and fishermen come in to unload is fun. They’re a friendly bunch, always happy to strike up a conversation as they go about refueling or unloading the days catch.

Staying here is being backstage at the fish docks.

Today, the weather’s howling and outside is showing huge seas.

Tomorrow, our time’s up, we’ll untie and head south on the AICW.  Not much fun, but it’s time to go.
Hopefully, soon the seas will subside and we can point outside to Charleston, Hilton Head, Brunswick, then home as fast as we can go.

We’ve had a great time on this year’s trip, worked hard, but enjoyed doing it. We’ve probably stayed at more marinas in more cities than we ever have and that’s been a blast.

We left Jupiter in May with a plan to go to the Bahamas for a couple of months then return. It’s now November and we’ve not made it home yet. We always know when it’s time to go home.

It’s time.

Adios,

Nordhavn 57-26 Istaboa