Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015/11/04 Morehead City, NC to Fernandian, FL

November 4, 2015 – Morehead City to Fernandian Beach, FL

If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother..” Wilber Wright

10/08/2015 Morehead City to Wrightsville Beach, NC 82 nm
10/09-10/2015 Wrightsville Beach to Lady's Island Marina, Beaufort, SC 212 nm
10/19/2015 Beaufort to Bull Ck, SC 27 nm
10/20/2015 Bull Ck to Buckhead Ck, GA 40 nm
10/21/2015 Buckhead Ck to Kilkenny Ck, GA 9 nm
10/22/2015 Kilkenny Ck to Fredereica river, GA 50 nm
10/24/2015 Frederecia River to Brunswick Landing Marina, Brunswick, GA 15 nm
10/31/2015 Brunswick Landing to Brickhill River (Cumberland Island), GA 21 nm
11/02/2015 Brickhill River to Fernandian Beach, FL 21 nm
Total Miles To Date: 477 nm

A pair of dolphin arched their way to the stern of the Turtle just as the colors of dawn spread across the marsh. I could hear the unseen explosion of the pelican's plunge as they dove for their breakfast just off the confluence of the Brickhill river and the little creek that lead inland. My little world was at peace welcoming the dawn and so was I. It was a time to enjoy a quite cup of coffee and reflect on the past weeks voyage.

Bucket list...Wrightsville to Beaufort, SC

For 30 years my best bud Mike Yount and I had been dreaming of an off shore trip around Cape Fear to Charleston, SC, but for some reason or another it just never happened – weather, timing, commitments and a muddle of others. That off shore passage had lain dormant in my “bucket list” forever. Hurricane Joaquin was going to change that for Gigi and I...and change this years cruise as well.
After Joaquin passed Morehead it left us with 3 days of excellent calm weather and a real problem for the ICW in NC, SC, and GA...big time flooding. It didn't take long for us to make our decision. We would jump off shore to Wrightsville spend the night and then go back out around Cape Fear and in at St. Helena Sound and up the Coosaw River to Beaufort, SC.

The trip off shore to Wrightsville was as good as it gets except for having to dodge a war ship or two off Camp LeJeune engaged in maneuvers including a helicopter and harrier jump jet aircraft carrier and a hover craft doing it's hovering thing at speed...pretty impressive I must say.

By my estimation it would be about a 24 hour trip from Wrightsville to the entrance buoy for St. Helena Sound so at 7:30 with the first good light the Turtle hauled her anchor and were at sea by 8:30 AM headed for a new adventure and a check mark on my “bucket list.”

There are only 2 spots in the whole trip that require a little “attention.” The first is Frying Pan Shoal Slue, a narrow channel thru Frying Pan Shoal that stenches from the Cape Fear about 15 miles out to sea. The second is the big open water entrance to St. Helena Sound and good visibility would be a real plus when we hit the outer buoy.

About 2 miles out of Flying Pan the GPS quit. What the heck..or words to that effect! After a moment or two of an “Oh! Shit!” attack we calmed down and remembered we have 3 backups aboard – Gigi's iPad with minimal chartplotter App (works quite well by the way), Navigational software in the computer (already up and running below), and a compass. I shut the chartplotter down and restarted it cold and it came back to life (it was to periodically take a break over the next 20 hours). Two days later I called Garmin and after 2 hours on the phone with them the problem was diagnosed as a combination of software and an antenna going bad. I downloaded a software update and installed a new antenna and the GPS is now good to go.

Frying Pan Shoal Slue Mark

Gigi and I have always enjoyed our night filled nights with little land light pollution. If you have not been at sea on a dark star filled night you have truly miss one of the great beauties in this world. About an hour before dusk I fixed pork chops on the grill for supper, Gigi cleaned up after, and I prepared the boat for a night at sea. When I flipped on the navigation lights the port light (red) and stern light (white) came on but the starboard (green) did not...shit another gremlin. I left them on for a few minutes and cycled the switch and the stern and starboard came on but the port didn't...has to be corrosion somewhere. Finally they all came on and stayed on..another job when we get into Beaufort (I was right by the way, all the contacts on the bulbs needed cleaning).

We hit the sea buoy for St.Helena Sound at 7:35 AM with plenty of light to work our way in but with a light fog. We had shut the navigation lights down at sunup but with the fog nav lights are required by rule. This time they stubbornly refused to re-light at all. There had been rumors that some of the St. Helena sound markers were off station or no longer there period. The rumors turned out to be least something was going right.

By 11:45 AM we tied up at Lady's Island Marina in a driving rain storm. Steve, the dockmaster, welcomed us “home.” Lady's Island does feel like home...a week later as we warped the Turtle off the dock heading South Steve hollered from the dock, “ Ya know what they call folk that leave Lady's Island? Quitters!.”

Lady's Island Marina
While at Lady's Island my cousin Stacy and her husband Paul gave me one fine gift. They brought my Aunt Christine for a visit. Christine is the last of my Dad's sisters and is quite dear to me. It made my year. Thank you Stacy and Paul. Time is the best gift a person can give.

A Different Adventure This Year..

I knew from the start this year would not be normal. Hurricane Joaquin made sure of that. The South end of Long Island, Rum Cay, Crooked and Atkin Islands and San Salvador sat under the eye of Joaquin for 2 days before he moved on. The islands were over washed homes destroyed, schools in ruins, stores gone. Little was left even the palm trees had been stripped of fonds that they use to make their beautiful baskets and hats. Gigi, Salty Turtle, and I knew we could not sit back and do nothing. We had to give back to the communities that have been so good to us with their time, friendship, and open hearts. It is our turn to give.

She looked at me, I looked at her, and the Turtle said, “load me to waterline with stuff for the kids and I will get you to Long Island by Christmas.” And so a pact was made between the three of us and with the help of friends we are doing just that. My my Aunt Christine, cousin Stacy, and her husband Paul Brannon brought us the first load while we were at Lady's Island. Bill Morris, Helen and Bill Brinson, and John and Vicki Skemp sent toys and books. Steve and Aggie Knox not only contributed toys, books, and clothes but have allowed us to use their home to have stuff mailed to them for pickup when we reach Titusville.

If any of you want to raid your attic and help you can send clean children clothes (all ages), books, school supplies, good used toys, games, sports equipment, etc. to us and we will stuff the Turtle till the water line doesn't show. Give me a call (242-944-5514) or drop me an email ( and I will get you and address to send your stuff – cut off date Thanksgiving.

We hope to leave for the Bahamas as soon after Thanksgiving as possible and beat feet for Long Island as fast as Salty Turtle and the weather will allow, deliver our stuff to our contacts on Long, and then assess how we can help or if we can be of further assistance. Then.....who knows?

A Maze of Marsh:

We spent a couple of peaceful days anchored by ourselves in bend of the Brickhill River with salt marsh to our West and Cumberland Island to our East. There were no other boats anchored in the river. It was ours to enjoy the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, speak to the dolphin as they cruised by to examine Salty Turtle (and us), and listen to call of the numerous water fowl as they discussed their day. You can sit in the Brickhill and see the boats across the marsh on the ICW a few miles distant on their own mission headed South. I've always wondered, “Why don't they stop” This is a wonderful anchorage. Full of nature's magic and healing peace.” But they don't stop and the magic belonged to Salty Turtle... at least for a while.
Frederica River
The Brickhill winds it's way for about 5 miles thru a salt marsh that extends from Cumberland to the horizon. The Marsh is almost a sea unto it's self with small creeks and waterie leads that thread their way thru the marsh in a maze of tributaries and dead ends. After a good nights sleep Gigi and I decided to take the dink, head over to Plumb Orchard, and try and catch the tour or just go for a walk on Cumberland. 

It's about a 4 mile dingy ride from our anchorage to Plum Orchard so off we went. I'd taken a quick look at the chart before we left and noticed Mumford Creek wound thru the marsh and back to the Brickhill about a mile from Plum Orchard. “Let's do a little exploring,” says I. Right here is where I made my first error...

We ran Mule (dink) to the tree line on Cumberland in deep water and followed a lead that lead to the over head power cables that supplied the island with electricity...until the water ran out that is and we were just at the start of the ebb (high dropping tide). Time to do turn about. We followed what we thought was the main body of the Mumford until it dead ended within sight of the Brickhill but no way thru. Some how we had missed the lead that would take us thru to the Brickhill. Time to give up, do a back stroke, and go back the way we had come to the Brickhill. Easier said than done that was.
All the leads and creeks started to look alike – marsh grass is marsh grass ya know. We could see the Turtle across the marsh about 2 miles distant. We could see the terminus of the power lines that we knew ended on the Brickhill. But...we couldn't seem to get there. Up one lead...dead end. Up the next same story. At times we could see the main channel of the Brickhill or Mumford (or we thought we could) but maze gave up it's exit grudgingly. After an hour of feeling like an idiot Mule stumbled on the main body of the Mumford and we made our way back to Salty Turtle just a bit humbled by the experience.

There is no moral to this story but there is a lesson – A Maze of Marshes are Just That. I dined on humble pie...and rum.


The Turtle is anchored in Bell River off Fernandian, FL. We are headed for Palm Coast tomorrow to visit with Gigi's cousin Tom and his wife Olga, replace a busted stereo, and finish our provisioning before heading further South.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic Copelan

PS – Don't ya just love signs.