Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 12, 2014 Georgia, Finally

Well, we finally made it to Georgia!  Dave and I lived in Valdosta, Georgia in 1980-81 while Dave was in the Air Force.  We came here after living in Germany and felt like we were in another foreign country :) But we did enjoy having fresh shrimp for the first time in my life, going to the beaches (Atlantic and Gulf), and going to Disney World. And another good memory was having catfish served family style at Ray’s Mill Pond out in the sticks.  When you came in Ray would say “Sit Any Whaaar, sit any whaaar!”

Our boat had swung to the east during the night bringing us about 20 ft from the shore.  Our rudder was in the mud, but we easily puttered out with no problem. 

We continued along the ICW today.  We use the Active Captain application on our phone which has been a lifesaver.  People that travel these waters put in comments if there is a change in the charting,  There is a lot of shoaling along the ICW, where sand bars build up in areas that should be deep enough to travel through.  So boaters add their comments.  In some areas, the electronic charts are wrong and you need to follow the advice on Active Captain.  They also warn you of currents when crossing rivers and inlets. 

Today we crossed the St John’s River that flows into Jacksonville, FL.  This is a major shipping port.  Luckily there wasn’t barge traffic when we crossed.  Dave said he could feel the current wanting to push the boat sideways, but he had no problem at the speed he was going (max is about 6mph).  Then we entered Sister’s creek after passing through a draw bridge that we requested the opening.  Of course, I thought of my sisters and had to e-mail them (one doesn’t text and one isn’t on Facebook).

At about 2:00, right before our shift change from me to Dave, I thought I had just made it through a shallow area, went around a bend, and hit bottom.  Everything we read on Active Captain said this was a confusing area.  And it didn’t help that it was about a half hour before low tide (changes 4-5 feet in this area).  SO, Dave took over the helm and we spent 1 hour 15 minutes trying to get out.  We never came to a dead stop.  We were able to turn the boat from side to side about 45 degrees trying to make a path through the sand back to the channel where we last had deep enough water. We also knew that the tide would be rising again, which was in our favor.  About 2:45 we put out a sail which heeled our boat to one side.  It didn’t help immediately, but I believe it did once the tide started to rise.  Once we were out, we still had to go back through that area.  We went slowly and made it through OK. 

This was right by Fernandina Beach, FL.  We purposely didn’t want to anchor near here because of the smell from the paper mills.  Well, we got to smell them for over an hour today. 

We crossed St Mary’s inlet about 4:00 right behind another afternoon squall.  It was heading east and we wouldn’t hit the brunt of it, but we could still see lightning, which is always scary.  All along the ICW, we have been traveling with the red channel markers on our left side as you head north.  Along the coast the rule is if you are traveling clockwise along the coast on the ICW, you are retuning.  So heading south is  red right returning.  Heading north you are “heading out” so the red markers are on the left.  Well the ICW uses the Cumberland Sound inlet north of St Mary’s inlet which leads to the town of King’s Bay and a naval submarine base.  So for this section you are returning from the sea.  So the markers from the inlet to the naval base were red on the right (red right returning-from the sea).  Well there is one confusing thing about this area.   Right in front of the base, we left the Cumberland sound markers and went strictly to the ICW in a channel to the north.  Active Captain gave us the exact marker where it would switch back to red on the left.  Active Captain also said there would be a security boat patrolling the area, and yes there was.  They were going to make sure we turned off into the correct channel.  Without Active Captain, you could have turned in the wrong area and hit ground, or the other direction would have had that security boat boarding our vessel. 

We traveled north and found a nice place to anchor on Delaroche Creek.  The closest town was King’s Bay, Georgia.  We celebrated reaching Georgia with BBQ chicken, potatoes and baked beans.  We were leery about eating outside, but there weren’t any bugs.  It was a beautiful quiet night, after we figured out how to stop the anchor rope from knocking against the hull.  
Sister's Creek Bridge

Fernandina Beach paper mill near where we were stuck
Nasty thunderstorm
Naval Base and patrol boat our front

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