The Voyage of FORTY TWO – Back to North Carolina

Vero Beach maintenance included an oil change and installing a ladder on the back of the dingy. This is primarily for getting back on when snorkeling, but would have been useful a few days earlier when Judy took an unplanned dive off the dingy while tying it up to Forty Two and a fully clothed swim. They were “going to town” clothes which did not benefit from the salt water. She did not loose her slip on shoes or glasses! And the alligator that had been spotted here recently was not around. The alligators here are quite large and Judy would have a heart attack just spotting one. Finally on Sunday April 3 we slipped from the mooring and headed north once more. Wind was from the north so we had a slow trip up the ICW to Eau Gallie. We anchored just north of the west side of the bridge there with a short dingy ride into a small beach for the dogs. Both Max Harvey and Lil love running in the sand.

Next day we had another motor on to Titusville. There is a large anchorage just north of the swing bridge there and the municipal marina has free dingy docking so this is a popular spot. Grocery shopping is only three blocks away, so we took advantage and stocked up on fresh supplies. Then next day, on to Daytona Beach. On our way down this was the stretch where we went aground twice, first at Ponce de Leon Inlet, then at New Smyrna Beach. We successfully missed the shoal at New Smyrna Beach, but Ponce de Leon was another matter. Very fortunately a Tow Boat US was patrolling the area and he guided us through the worst bit with only one bad grounding and lots of bottom bumping. We feel this was above and beyond his service, since he could have easily stayed out of the way and just waited until yachts went aground and then picked up the towing fee. His actions remind us that people are basically good at heart. We were the lead boat for several others, Everden, Far Niente and Isa Lei so there was a lot of radio traffic between us as they came up to the Inlet. Again, the Tow Boat US captain helped them all through.

An early start out of Daytona Beach had us away at 0710. For once the wind cooperated and we were able to motor sail with the jib most of the way and we covered the 46 miles to St. Augustine in just 8 hours. As we write this log, we are holed up in the St. Augustine anchorage waiting for a storm with wind gusts expected to 35 knots to come through. We have two anchors out. We had wanted to explore St Augustine so the weather delay was fortuitous. St Augustine is the earliest European settlement in the USA having been settled by the Spanish in the 1500’s. The original Spanish fort, the Castillo de San Marcos, is still standing and in excellent shape. It was never taken in battle although ownership passed hands from the Spanish to the British to the Americans several times. In the afternoon volunteers dressed in period costume shoot one of the cannons which is interesting to see. Some of the original Spanish houses still stand along with other examples of colonial architecture. Henry Flagler, who built the East Coast railway ultimately all the way to Key West built a huge hotel, the Ponce de Leon and then aquired two others on the other corners to give him a virtual monopoly of the hotel trade in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The Ponce de Leon hotel is now a small private college – Flagler College. We also did a real tourist thing – a visit to the Alligator Farm which reinforced our desire to not get close to one of them. We had never seen a white alligator and were surprised at the size.

We met an eighty year old man on a boat nearby. He still rows his dingy to trade books on the nearby island. He is such an avid reader that the many books he keeps on board don’t leave him much room to lie down. We took a pie over to his boat and listened to stories while waiting for better weather. We also had Bunkey and Geoff from Everden over for cocktails where they taught us two new games. Bunkey aced the card game and Brian did the impossible while rolling dice for the second game. He rolled five fives and won the game. We covered politics of various countries, (Judy was the only American born), as well as religion and other assorted topics you should never discuss at a gathering. Delightful friends and great fun was had by all.

.

When we finally left St Augustine on April 11 we got an early start with the anchor up at 0640 to catch the 0700 opening of the Bridge of Lions. Five other yachts left at the same time and we all headed north to Fernandina Beach. This is the last town in Florida before Georgia. A long, somewhat boring day, although we did manage to get the jib up several times to help speed us along. Stayed the night at the Municipal Marina so that we could easily get the dogs ashore and get an early start the next day.

From Fernandina Beach we decided to go outside to St Simons Sound. The distance from entrance to entrance is only 20 miles but both channels are some 7 miles long and with getting to and from the entrance channels we finished up doing 44 miles that day. At least we had both sails up and did not have to motor all day. Once inside St Simons Sound we were making our way across to the ICW and our final anchorage when we were once more approached by the Coast Guard. We called them on the radio and sure enough, they wanted to board for a safety inspection. We explained we had been boarded a few weeks ago near Marathon and passed over our boarding report from that time. They examined the report closely, handed it back and wished us a safe trip! FYI – we were both fully clothed. Stopped for the night at an anchorage on the Frederica River that we had all to ourselves. Sometimes it is nice to be the only boat in the anchorage. At night you can gaze at the stars and listen to the wind whisper without any other sound.

Wednesday we left the anchorage at 0730 and motored on north. This was the day we crossed most of the sounds in Georgia so we tried to play the tides to get the best effect from rising and falling tides. Not as good this time as our southbound trip because high tides were in the middle of the day but the wind cooperated and we were able to carry the jib most of the day and average 5.5 knots for the trip. Stopped for the night at an anchorage in Kilkenny Creek with one other yacht there before us. This section of Georgia is one we really want to get through quickly. Most of the area is marsh land, little scenery and this time lots of “no see ums”, the nasty little gnats that love Judy as an evening entrée.

From Kilkenny we went on to an anchorage at Bull Creek where we met a Dutch couple, now Canadians, Hetty and Ludo on Sweetwater a Catalina 380. Then on to Beaufort, SC where we found protection in a marina while a north easter blew through South Carolina. Small craft warnings out for all the local waters! We were tied up literally in downtown so we used their courtesy car first day to get groceries, then off loaded the bicycles and rode around the historic district. Lovely old ante bellum mansions, many now bed and breakfast inns.

Left Beaufort on April 17 and had a great motor sail to Tom Point Creek. Very interesting entrance as the creek is in the marshes and the opening was not easy to spot. Once inside the creek it is very deep right up to the banks. First spot we chose was not good as we swung to within 10 feet of the bank and although Judy thought it an easy spot to get the dogs ashore we pulled the anchor up and moved further up the creek and anchored with two other yachts and a trawler. We invited three guys from Indigo over for drinks and snacks. A group of Canadians, very interesting people as always.

From Tom Point Creek we had an easy day motor sailing most of the way into Charlestown where we arrived at 1400 and anchored off the downtown marina. Met up again with Don and his crew off Indigo. They were tied up opposite us in Beaufort and anchored with us in Tom Point Creek. They were planning an offshore run from Charlestown to Morehead City. Next morning had us leaving early to try for Georgetown. We messed up the bridge schedule for the first bridge and had to wait nearly one hour for the opening at 0900. After that we were able to get the jib out and ride the tide all the way to Georgetown. 59 miles in ten hours was not a bad day’s run! We had a good day!

Once again we anchored across from the downtown area. After Max and Lil were taken ashore and relieved we headed back in for dinner at a local bar The Big Tuna. We had not brought the Guys but found five dogs around with their owners on the deck – obviously a dog friendly place. Everden, Far Niente and several other yachts from Georgetown came in the next day.

We had laid over in Georgetown for one day to get a more favorable tide for the trip up the Waccamaw River. The theory is to leave one hour before high water Georgetown and carry a rising tide all the way up the river. So at 0710 we departed with Everden, Far Niente and several others. Once again we were motor sailing with the jib out and we made good time for the 45 miles to Barefoot Landing, arriving there at 1445. Barefoot Landing is a free dock beside a large discount mall and a popular stopping point. When we were last there in December we were able to tie up on the wall. This time we were rafted to Everden and the third boat out from the wall. There were some four up rafts as well. On the way up the river there was a lot of radio chat between the boats and Brian suggested we get together for a pot luck dinner; we finished up with an invitation to join Everden, Perfect Partner and Far Niente for dinner that night on board Far Niente. We had some cold pork and navel oranges on board and made up a pork and orange salad as our contribution. We were also once again shown how small the cruising community is when we met up with Peaceful Warrior who we had originally met in December at Barefoot Landing!

Everyone was leaving early from Barefoot Landing as there are not a lot of marinas before Southport, and fewer anchorages. We decided to go for Wrightsville Beach as the tide up the Cape Fear River would be favorable if we got to Southport at low water. It would be a long day but get us through the toughest North Carolina stretch. Once again it was a motor with jib up and total of 62.3 miles in just over 12 hours. Once again we found Snow’s Cut with the tide against us which slowed us down to 3 knots while Judy learned the effect of a tide coming in through an ocean cut when she nearly got pushed down onto a marker buoy at Carolina Inlet.

The weather this month has been a series of north easters about every 7 to ten days. We had sat out blows in St Augustine and Beaufort and now we found ourselves sitting out another in Wrightsville Beach for two days. At least this is a fairly well protected anchorage with an excellent municipal dingy dock. We felt sorry for the participants in the National Laser Championships that were taking place there. They raced in the confines of the bay behind Wrightsville Beach where we were anchored and we watched many of them capsizing in the conditions.

Finally left Wrightsville Beach on April 25 in company with Perfect Partner and Feral Cat for Mile Hammock Bay. This is an anchorage within the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune training area where we were treated to an example of our tax dollars being used for helicopter landing and take off training just behind the bay. That evening Rick invited us and Paul and Cindy from Perfect Partner over to Feral Cat for cocktails. He is single handing on a PDQ 38 catamaran and headed up to Nova Scotia for the summer.

The next day, on the way to Cedar Creek we saw another example of our tax dollars at work with a pair of Harrier jump jets practicing just off Bogue Sound. They came right over us several times so low and loud that you could not have a conversation. Cedar Creek is just before the Neuse River and our last stop before Fairfield Harbor and home. Rick had limped into Cedar Creek on Feral Cat having lost an engine just before Morehead City so we had him over for cocktails and cards to brighten his evening somewhat. He was able to contact a mechanic on Oriental and was headed there for repairs in the morning.

We had an easy morning and a late start for the final 22 miles to home where we arrived and docked in Northwest Creek Marina at 1315 on April 27. Our plans are to take everything we can off the boat to get the waterline up high enough to get into Duck Creek Marina where we will haul Forty Two to redo the bottom paint, sand and refinish the floors and some other maintenance and leave her there while we go to New Zealand for a month in late May.

Forty Two has done us proud in the past nine months, having carried us 4636 nautical miles with no major problems. She deserves the break and some TLC.

We have some new photos here.

Fair winds,

Brian & Judy