Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nov 26, 2013 - Morehead City to Palm Coast

 Log of the Salty Turtle: October 24th thru November 26, 2013

  • 10/24/2013 Morehead City to Mile Hammock's Bay, NC 37nm
  • 10/25/2013 Mile Hammock's Bay to Wrightsville Beach, NC 35nm
  • 10/26/2013 Wrightsville Beach to Southport, NC 23nm
  • 10/28/2013 Southport to Doster's Loop (Waccamaw River, SC) 64nm
  • 10/29/2013 Doster's Loop to Butler Island, SC 19nm
  • 10/30/2013 Butler Island to Dewees / Long Ck, SC 52nm
  • 10/31/2013 Long Ck to Beaufort, SC 72nm
  • 11/3/2012 Beaufort to Herb River, GA 42nm
  • 11/4/2013 Herb River to Wahoo River, GA 42nm
  • 11/5/2013 Wahoo River to Frederica River, GA 37nm
  • 11/6/2013 Frederica River to Bell River (off Fernandian, FL) 43nm
  • 11/7/2013 Bell River to Fernandian Harbor Marina, FL 1nm
  • 11/9/2013 Fernandian Harbor Marina to Pine Island, FL 43nm
  • 11/10/2013 Pine Island to St. Augustine Mooring Field, FL 12 nm
  • 11/12/2013 St. Augustine, to Palm Coast Marina, FL 22nm
            Total Miles To Date: 537nm

Yacht Design is rather like making love to a woman. The approach is completely empirical. In the end, the male, even though he might be successful, usually had no idea how and why he had succeeded.”

Prof. E. J. Richards

Music washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” 
 Berthold Auerbach

Moon Set At Dawn
Stroke it..Ride It...Pound It” and Wait and Wait Some More:

The trip down the ICW, to me, is always a joy and an adventure in it's own right especially with good crew like Paul and Stacy Brannon aboard – boat people to core and enjoying every minute on the water. The thing about the ICW is there is no telling what will be around the next bend.

Mile Hammock's Bay (actually a part of the Marine Corp Base at Camp LeJeune) has always been a source of entertainment. This year was no exception. Just as we got the anchor down and our traditional anchors' down drinks in hand we heard the approach of a couple of big Sea Stallion helicopters flying in low from the West. They began a slow circle of the Bay, stirring the waters with their down drafts and sending up clouds of dust from the land. Then the first Stallion in line slowed in flight and hovered with it's rotors just visible above the tree line next to the anchorage. Then the rhythmic beat of the engines completely changed to a throaty roar of engines under full power and obvious strain. The chopper lifted above the tree line and we could see what looked like an I-beam slung under it's belly. The helicopters were doing heavy lift drills and we were in for a show. Each chopper in turn would circle the Bay a couple of times, hover over the lift site, and discharge or pickup it's “cargo.”

They did this until just about dark. We enjoyed sundowner's, hors d'oeuvre, a free show...and a bit of noise. 

Sea Stallion Heavy Lift
  Turtle and company left next morning bright and early and were at anchor in Banks Channel off Wrightsville Beach in time for lunch ashore and to stock up on Robert's Grocery's famous chicken salad and pimento cheese. Our plan was to leave at first light the next morning for Southport and be tied up well before noon. Our intent was to spend a couple of days there just enjoying the town before continuing on our journey South. The “early” part was not to be.
Stroke it, Ride it, Pound it
We arose as planed around 6:30, made coffee, cranked the engines, and headed on deck. We were greeted to the splash of 1500 swimmers in flights of around 300 all “hell bent for election” to round the turning mark just to our South and then down channel toward the ICW. Turned out it was a Mini-Iron Man and both exits to the anchorage were blocked. We had lost our opportunity to leave for at least the next 2 hours...but man what a show. I used to work corners as part of the safety crew in SSCA Sports Car Races but this is the first time I ever saw “corner workers” on paddle boards one complete with his own “rescue dog” - a big yellow labrador apparently having the time of his life. Paul told me the Iron Man motto was “Stroke it, Ride it, Pound it”...has sort of has a ring to it doesn't it. We made Southport by 2:00 AM after enjoying our second surprise in two days.

Safety Workers
You see what I mean about the ICW? Some people would see the chopper noise as an irritating pain in the butt or would go ballistic over the “un-called for delay” at Wrightsville Beach. Me, I see entertainment, a chance to enjoy a second cup of coffee, and the addition of a little spice to our journey. The ICW can be heaven or hell. The choice is yours.

Pigs Can Surf:

The old Salty Turtle is not a fast boat. She lumbers along at a steady 7 knots and doesn't get in a hurry to do anything. I always said that if the Turtle ever hit 12 knots she have to have fallen over a water fall and a steep one at that. In short the old girl is built of comfort and a bit of a “pig” in the speed department...but she was to prove me wrong in the Sounds of Georgia.

We lumbered our way South thru the always beautiful Waccamaw – in Spring with it's coat of new life green and fall with the orange glow of warmth from the low sun on the brown of the cypress. It is beautiful and there is a settling peace about the place. South to our favorite anchorage in Dewees / Long Creeks. With it's full marshes and hint of Charlestown on the horizon. South thru the skinny ever changing waters of the Low Country and on to Beaufort, SC where we took a break and enjoyed the hospitality of the town. South to Herb River near Thunderbolt, Georgia where the ICW starts it's winding road thru the Sounds. 

Charleston Harbor
  Georgia is notorious for it's skinny water but in truth Georgia is easy – you just play their 8' tides. And you only have to play the tides in 3 places: Hells Gate just South of Isle of Hope, Little Mud River North of St. Simons Island, and Jeckyll Island and Sound. The rest is deep. The only problem this year was weather and an abundance of wind. It was in Jeckyll Sound that the Turtle showed me a thing or two.

We anchored along with half a dozen other boats in the Fredrecia River off St.Simon's Island and rode out a blow of 25 to 30 knots over night. The weather looked iffy but the forecast was for improving conditions with NE winds below 15k. Our next stop was to be Fernandian Beach, FL, a trip of just over 40 miles, but to get there the ICW passes just to the West side of Jeckyll Island and East into the inlet where you round Red 32 and turn almost 180 degrees back West into Jeckyll Sound and the shelter of Cumberland Island. Gigi polled the crew and we decided to go for it. With a rising tide and wind and current in the same direction at the notorious R32 it should not be too bad. Yea Right. 


The 8' tide was almost full when we passed thru the ICW behind Jeckyll and eased out into the inlet and the 2 mile journey to R32. The inlet quickly turned into a bash with 5 foot seas with an occasional 6 footer's on the nose. Not unsafe but a bit more than we bargained for. At R32, we waited for an opening in the waves, put the helm hard over and turned our stern to the seas for our run back inshore. Things went from a “bash” to “peace” in a matter of seconds. It was then that this old, lumbering, pig of boat surprised me (I think everyone). We went from a 5 knot bash to a steady 8 knots...then her stern would rise to an on coming wave and she would surf at 12 knots down the face, riding like some ancient pig on a surfboard for about 100 yards until the sea slid under her and then she would slow to 8 and rise to the next and again build until she was surfing at 12 and start the process all over again. We surfed our ass off all the way in behind Cumberland Island. So you see, at that point I knew “Pigs” can surf.
Paul & Stacy
We anchored in Bell River, a well protected anchorage, about a half mile from the dingy dock in Fernandina. The next morning we moved Salty Turtle to Fernandina Harbor Marina to make it easier for Paul and Stacy jump ship. The next morning we each in our own way cruised the town and rendezvoused at the Palace Saloon, the oldest Saloon in Florida, and took what has become “the” traditional photo. By 4:00 in afternoon Paul and Stacy, had packed their stuff in a rental car and headed back home to take care of my Aunt and Uncle in Athen, Georgia. I know for a fact their car had at least one more thing than they had when they signed on as crew. They left with a car full of “dreams.” Dreams of cruising again in their own boat.

Palace Saloon

How Not To Take a Mooring Vol. 2:

After the winds died down (winds again – winds seem to define this trip), we headed for Pine Island 112 miles above St. Augustine, FL. We were thru the Bridge of Lions the following day around 10ish and headed for our assigned mooring ball near the back of the field absolutely determine not to make as spectacular a show of our selves as we did the previous year (if you remember, last year we managed to get the ball stuck on our shaft struts and actually moor backward – hard to do but we did it just the same).

We cautiously approached the ball (Gigi put us right on it). I hooked the short pennant that barely reached the cleat and hauled it over the rail and slipped the eye around one horn of the cleat. Right here is where things started to slip out of our grasp....and turn a bit ugly.

I was focused on the ball and had already fed a line from the bow thru the eye in the pennant when the wake from a sportfish bounced the shit out of the Turtle, ripped out our starboard bow cleat and left it dandling like an errant earring from the bow. The Turtle was washed backwards at a good clip and I snatched the cleat and dropped the pennant before it sucked both me and that damn cleat overboard. We regrouped and tried again..but were rattled by now and each pass was a near miss. By this time 3 dingies from other boats had come to our rescue, with their help, the Turtle was soon secured to a mooring pennant on the port cleat. After a rum, I put the shit back together and added the starboard mooring line.

What happened? A number of things. First, the pennants are quite short and short pennants are always a pain in the tail. Second, the perfect timing of that damn sportfish and his significant wake. Third, Vic getting his come-up-ins for thinking again. All the boats I've ever been on the cleats were backed from hell and gone. To pull them out you literally have to pull the bow off. The cleats on the Turtle are designed to pull thru a hole in the center of the cleat and held on with wood screws– strong as all get out used as directed, weak and worthless if you pull in the opposite direction as I did. Old Vic did a permanent fix in Palm Coast a few days later with epoxy, wood plugs, and 5200 calk/adhesive.

I learned a valuable life lesson. I don't think St. Augustine Mooring Field likes us...and a little about our cleats.

To Give a Shit...or That Bloody Head:

We arrived at Palm Coast Marina for a planed stay of a week...and are still here two weeks later. We do love it here but, as usual, have stayed well beyond our planned stop over and but don't know why but it always seems to work out that way. Tom and Olga, Gigi's cousin and wife, live here and Bill another of her cousins lives in Orlando a couple of hours drive away so we do Thanksgiving while we are here and visit back and forth. It is a great spot to replenish supplies and fix what we have broke to this point.

The list: Fix a coolant leak on both engines, replace the injector pipe seals on the starboard engine (minor but needed doing), rebuild the horn that quit on the way down, and fix that damn bow cleat. We had all that done and our visiting finished by the first weekend and we were on schedule to leave Monday (we hate traveling on the weekend in FL. It is a zoo). Monday came around on the jukebox and it was blowing a gale and raining in buckets we stayed. It was about then that the head reared its... ugly head. It had been running slower and slower since we left Morehead. I knew what it was and dreaded the thought. It had to be calcification in the pipes from the head thru the ParaSand (small waste treatment plant) to the overboard thru hull fitting. I don't so much mind wallowing in my on poop but dealing with head plumbing is brutal.
That Bloody Head

Better to do it here since we have a dock and access to transportation. Gigi ordered new hose, a Y-valve, and when the parts arrived late Wednesday I tore the head system down Thursday morning. It took half a day of getting my language right and a pure bloody struggle (if you know me you can take that bloody part literally). There was no way to get to most of the plumbing without pulling the head. Those of you that know what working with PVC chemical, odor free hose is like will understand, the language and blood bath (mine) that followed. The next day I put it back together with even more blood and gnashing of teeth.

The head won every battle but I, Old Vic, won the war. I have not been that sore and beat up in a long long time, but the good news is we can “give a shit again” and man does it flow (not us the head).

The plan was to leave Monday the 25th and be in Vero for Thanksgiving but a cold front is moving thru (again) and we will stay in Palm Coast until probably Thanksgiving morning or break a hard fast rule and leave Friday after Thanksgiving and travel on the weekend (god forbid).

Fairwinds & Rum Drinks,