SAILS 1990 45 Florida Bay Coaster
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Wednesday, 14 November 2012
RI to FL - Day 31
Jekyll Island, GA to Jacksonville, FL
We slept in a little later as the weather had been horrible all night and still horrible when I woke up at 0530… back to bed for a while no need to rush out into this weather before daylight.

We walked Beecha and had breakfast before departing at 0745… it had been windy all night nothing real steady just very gusty and was blowing 15 knots as we left the dock. Current was against us and would be until be crossed St. Andrew Sound and heading up the Cumberland River.

It was choppy but nothing too bad as we exited from Jekyll Creek into Jekyll Sound… as soon as we cleared the end of Jekyll Island heading out across St. Andrew Sound the NE winds broke loose as we were no longer in the lee of Jekyll Island… we suddenly had 25 knot winds on our port beam and waves started to build… 3 foot, 4 foot, 5 foot, 6 foot and then we started getting them from the SE and the NE… swells coming in from the Atlantic Ocean by the time we reached the point where we could turn and clear the shoals we had 10-12 waves… I made the turn as quickly as I could around the shoals and started back in out of the sound into the Cumberland River… we had a couple of rogue waves I would estimate to be 15 feet as we turned and crossed over the tip of the shoals… we did a couple of good rolls ports to starboard… but we now had the current with us and picking up speed soon we were doing 8 knots back toward smoother waters… 30 minutes start to finish and we were back in relatively calm waters… 3-4 footers on our stern from the NE winds.

After this eye opener first thing in the morning we had a fairly smooth day… we had about 15-16 hours or cruising to make Palm Coast so planned split this between two days… stop in the Jacksonville area and then into Palm Coast tomorrow.

The tide levels and currents to go with them seemed to be at their extreme… Cumberland Island area you normally have a lot of marsh land you pass through… today the tide was so high that it appeared as if we were going through a larger lake… no marsh exposed at all… it was very strange to see this.

We had made noted on some Jacksonville City Docks in the Sister Creek area that allowed you to stay for 72 hours for free… no amenities but with the winds a dock is nicer than anchoring… at least less to worry about. As we approached the docks we had planned to check out it was almost low tide… the floating docks were tilting… the inboard side of the dock next to land was not floating… so I was not sure there would be enough water for us alongside the docks… we opted to keep moving and find something further south. Checking the guides I came across a place just past the San Pablo – Atlantic Beach Bridge… Harbortown Marina… guess it used to be the Pablo Creek Marina and was turned into condos… anyway, they have 7 transient slips at $1.00 per foot including electric… sounded great to both Susan and I… we had entered Florida today but it sure was not “sunny”… it was cold, windy and miserable… a dock with power sounded fantastic.

We only had to go under the San Pablo – Atlantic Beach Bridge and and 1/8 of mile and we would be there… ETA 1530. Well it sounded easy… but this bridge can be a bear with current… the ICW narrows down and the current rushes through very swiftly and is very turbulent. Checking the current prediction on the chartplotter it predicted the current to be 4.9 knots at the bridge… Current against us as we approached the bridge and we were running at 5.0 knots… with no current we should make 6.5 knots at the RPM I was running… closing in on the bridge I could see the water boiling in front of us from the current… I increased the power to normal cruising RPM bringing us up to 6.0 knots… I looked at that water and turbulence we were heading toward… MORE RPM… 6.5 knots… when we hit the turbulent water 100 feet from the bridge SAILS rolled from side to side 10-15 degrees as we struggled forward against the current. We made it through the turbulent water as we entered the fender system on the bridge… I looked up at our speed and we were down to 4.2 knots and it was dropping quickly… before we cleared the bridge on the south side our speed dropped to 2.2 knots… that was some really swift current and we were going through when the current prediction was at 4.9 knots… the peak current was predicted to 6.6 knots at 1343.... WOW!

Just an 1/8 of mile and a turn to starboard and we arrived to our destination for the night at Harbortown Marina and docked at about 1545. Our location: N30°19.287’, W081°26.355’.

We traveled today for 8 hours covering 51.62 nautical miles averaging 6.45 knots.
Posted at 4:34 PM
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
RI to FL - Day 30
Kilkenny Creek, GA to Jekyll Island, GA
We departed Kilkenny Creek just before sunrise and headed out to the ICW. The boatss that we had passed anchored in the creek were still there and no signs of life on them yet… guess they were sleeping in.

Was an ordinary day of cruising… nothing out of the ordinary occurred… a few boats passed us… all were delivery captains taking boats south… they are not very courteous and all but one of them waked the crap out of us… no hails on the VHF to let us know they were passing… but that’s what you come to expect from these guys.

We had extreme currents both against and with us all day… it seemd like we were either going 4 – 5 knots or 8 – 9 knots… Only place we experienced any shallow water was the Little Mud River… saw less than 6 feet several times as we passed through it and we were not at low tide… can’t imagine making it through at low tide. In fact we did hear a few sailboats conversing on the VHF about grounding out in the river. We transited Jekyll Creek at about 2 hours after low tide and had no problems…. 7 foot was the lowest I observed.

We arrived to our destination for the night at Jekyll Island and docked at a public dock just south of the Jekyll Island Marina at about 1640. Our location: N31°02.545’, W081°25.387.

We traveled today for 10 hours and 15 minutes covering 63.54 nautical miles averaging 6.10 knots.
Posted at 5:03 PM
Monday, 12 November 2012
RI to FL - Day 29
Beaufort, SC to Kilkenny Creek, GA
Our day started much earlier than anticipated today… 0300 awakened by knocks on the boat and flashlights shinning on the windows… got out of bed and went downstairs to see what was happening… opened the side door and was greeted by two police officers on the dock. They apologized for waking me but wanted to inform me that I was in violation of the docking policy… No docking between 0100 and 0600… I replied we had stayed on this dock overnight many times… he said he knew but it was now illegal to stay overnight on the dock. It then started to pour down rain… I invited the officers onboard to get out of the rain. He said we did not have to leave… he was just going to give us a written warning. Said the city wants us to stop and spend money in town but they get complaints about boats docking overnight… I asked who? The marina? He just grunted and gave me a look that I took it for a yes. He finished writing up my warning ticket and said if I was approached buy anyone else to say that I had been given a ticket by the city police… told me to have a good night and safe trip and they left… still pouring rain. I went back to bed… alarm was set for 0600 and that was going to come way to quick now.

Alarm went off at 0600 as set… hit the snooze button three times and finally got out of bed at 0615… at least it had stopped raining. Readied things on the boat for departure as Susan walked Beecha and we departed at 0640. Tide was still running slightly running against us but I checking I found it would be changing to ebb very soon. We headed down the Beaufort River toward Port Royal Sound.

We were just getting to Georgia and all the shoaling trouble spots…. Wind was less than 5 knots and forecast was for 2-3 foot seas… so we decided to exit the ICW at Port Royal Sound and head south in the Atlantic… Great plan… the further and further we got out of the inlet the worse it got… no wind still less than 5 knots but the seas were no where near 2-3 foot. There were some fairly good size rollers and they were close together and we had an ebb current with the rollers against the current… anyway, it was very nasty and we were at a point of do we turn around or continue south to the inlet… we opted to keep heading south and go back in at the Savannah River via the Tybee Roads Inlet. So we toughed it out for a couple more hours on the outside.

We reached the Tybee Roads Inlet and still had 2 hours to get back to the ICW… it was 10 miles inland. We had entered via this inlet heading north before but never gone south from it…. This would be our first trip up the Savannah River and it was a slow one… 4.5 – 5.0 knots… strong current against us. It was cool passing the ships that were exiting to sea… passed four huge ships.

Once we were back in the ICW all we had to deal with now was skinny water… of course it was dead low tide… only good thing was that it was rising so by the time we reached the trouble areas we had enough water to not be real concerned about grounding.

When we were traveling outside we planned to stop for the night at Walburg Creek… this anchorage was now out of range for us today… next Beecha friendly stop before Walburg Creek would be Kilkenny Creek, so that is where we headed.

Just after sunset we were approaching Hell Gate and I could see a large passenger vessel heading toward Hell Gate on the Ogeechee River and I was on the Vernon River… we were running parallel both heading toward Hell Gate from opposite sides. The passenger vessel was “The Independence” an American Cruise Line Ship… not sure how long they are but I knew I did not want to go through Hell Gate at the same time as they did. I hailed him on the VHF and told him I would hold off transiting Hell Gate and let him go through first… he acknowledged and we sat and waited for them to get through… not long but it did delay our arrival time to Kilkenny Creek.

Because it was cloudy today it got dark quickly after sunset… it was dark by the time we got through Hell Gate and heading up the Ogeechee River toward Florida Passage. We met a tug and barge in Florida Passage… it was really dark… could not see much of anything visually… had to navigate via radar and chartplotter.

We arrived to Kilkenny Creek about 1915 and turned out of the ICW into it… three boats anchored in the Creek as we headed in… two power and one sail. We arrived to our destination for the night… Marker 107 Restaurant and docked at about 1930.. Our location: N31°47.410’, W081°12.156’. We found that the restaurant was closed on Mondays… would have been good to have eaten there… oh well next trip.

We traveled today for 12 hours and 50 minutes covering 78.17 nautical miles averaging 6.09 knots.
Posted at 8:53 PM
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