Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 08:27:09 -0500
To: Trawler World List
From: "Sandy & Bob" (by way of Georgs Kolesnikovs)
Subject: Cruise report: Sabo heads south on ICW

December 1

We just couldn't resist passing on what a wonderful time we are having and what we have been doing since signing off TWL in October.

We have been traveling from Virginia, south on the ICW with our 70 pound dog, Bear - got a picture of her? And what a trip this has been for us novices with only Chesapeake Bay and Bahamas experience!

We had heard some complain that they do not like the waterway. Now we understand why. The ICW is a ditch and it is not a place for a fast boat. We can imagine that it is a pain in the posterior for anyone that is trying to make distance quickly in the midst of "No Wake" and passing slow boats. We lost almost all of the fast boats at Morehead City. Apparently, they travel outside. After that, the traffic became light on the ditch. We are late in making the transit and, at most, we see two dozen boats a day - unless we are around Hilton Head, St. Simon's, or another resort area. There they cluster. The captains of industry in their gleaming white birds, heading south. The snow birds. Some of the boats are unbelievable. In Charleston, we watched the yachties and their wives lay the 70 and 80 foot vessels snugly against the dock as comfortably as the delivery crews. Above that size, almost all of the boats appear to be crew handled. At the pier next to us at Charleston there where two gleaming yachts in excess of 100++ feet, each with a crew of three. Now that is a high maintenance mistress.

The sailboats are as numerous as pigeons in the park. Hey, we have even passed a couple. We topped off the tanks at Swan Point, NC for $0.589/gal. Just could not pass that one up and was sorry / glad that we could not take more. As for our travels - we have been at: 19-Oct NORFOLK, 20-Oct COINJOCK, 21-Oct BELHAVEN, 22-Oct BELHAVEN, 23-Oct ORIENTAL, 24-Oct MOREHEAD CITY, 25-Oct SWAN POINT, 26-Oct WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, 27-Oct WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, 28-Oct SOUTHPORT, 29-Oct BAREFOOT LANDING (Myrtle Beach, SC), 30-Oct BUCKSPORT, 31-Oct GEORGETOWN, 1-Nov GEORGETOWN, 2-Nov WHITESIDE CREEK, 3-Nov CHARLESTON, 4-Nov CHARLESTON, 5-Nov CHARLESTON, 6-Nov DATAW ISLAND, 7-Nov BEAUFORT, 8-Nov BEAUFORT, 9-Nov HILTON HEAD, 10-Nov THUNDERBOLT (GA), 11-Nov KILKINNEY CREEK, 12-Nov BRUNSWICK, 13-Nov BRUNSWICK, 14-Nov BRUNSWICK, 15-Nov CUMBERLAND ISLAND, 16-Nov CUMBERLAND ISLAND, 17-Nov CUMBERLAND ISLAND, 18-Nov ST MARYS, 19-Nov ST MARYS, 20-Nov ST MARYS, 21-Nov ST MARYS, 22-Nov ST MARYS, 23-Nov ST MARYS, 24-Nov ST MARYS, 25-Nov ST MARYS, 26-Nov ST MARYS, 27-Nov CUMBERLAND ISLAND, 28-Nov CUMBERLAND ISLAND, 29-Nov ST MARYS, 30-Nov PINE ISLAND (FL).

Until Brunswick, GA: Average daily distance: about 32 miles. Average speed: about 7 mph. Longest leg was about 85 miles. The shortest, about 20. We are doing the ICW slowly as opposed to trying to get some place. We are sorry that many miss this part and the real flavor of the little communities along the way by "doing" it on a delivery trip. If we had traveled faster, we would have missed the splendor. Had we been in a rush we would have just passed over the ICW and been discouraged by the endless ditch, the bridge opening schedule and vast stretches of marsh grass. As we travel we consider both weather and charm. The multiple nights in Belhaven, Charleston and St. Marys (at first) were to let a front pass but they also afforded us the opportunity to see quaint, local charm and sample the restaurants. Georgetown was super and demanded two days. The most picturesque (to me) was Southport. I thought it in a class by itself. And Charleston!

For the most part boating and navigation has been following the "ditch". Although, we did get passed twice by a boat from D.C. who acknowledged that he had missed the last turn. Oops! The stretch above St. Simons was the most challenging. We watched a fellow run aground. We offered assistance but he was too upset to accept and just waived us by. He then turned around and followed us through the dozens of range markers heading back from whence he had come. He had apparently done some damage as he was unable to even keep up with us and we were going darn slow through there! This stretch is a plethora of range marks and narrow channels over long zig - zags of open water.

In SC and GA we found the currents to be very strong. Tides (full moon) are from five to nine feet. Once, we were entering a channel at idle speed and the GPS was reading 6 knots. We even got up to 10.4 knots (hull speed is about 9) with a following current at half throttle. We had to put the goggles on to screen ourselves from the high speed wind. Also met a tug and barge as we were leaving a canal. Naturally, we offered to move anywhere he wanted us with all haste - he accepted our offer and we got on with it.

Each day is totally different in its sights and waterway. Every moment is crammed with activities. We just cannot believe how busy we are and how quickly the time passes. Whether it be steering and navigating, walking through a new town, or even the frustrating job of sending e-mail, the moment is the thing and time does not seem long enough.

We have seen many of the same boats as we have all the way down the ICW. By boats, I refer to sailboats. Most power boats just move on down to the next marina and we have not seen any of the high speed boats on a regular basis. Traveling at the same leisurely pace as the sailboats, we keep meeting. OUTLANDISH, OVERDRAFT, IMAGINE, CAVIAR and a bunch more have been within radio distance since Norfolk. We have played leap frog with RUMBA, MYSTIC MOON, RENAISSANCE AND MOBY DICK, all KK-42's like us. All the boats must be doing the same as we (monitoring the radio for the names) as when we end up at a marina together we all act as if we had known each other for years. Everyone trades the locations of the closest grocery store, how to do the next section of channel or bridges, where to buy fresh seafood and where parts are available. We have loaned tools between us and hitched rides from those with cars on several occasions.

We are surprised by the number of Canadian boats - most from Quebec. At one anchorage it was in the order of 25% and most places have at least one. We have also seen British and a few French boats and some flags which we could not identify - one turned out to be Welsh. People do travel and we have no doubt that nearly anyone could do the ICW, do it easily and have a ball.

Two weeks out of Brunswick found us only thirty miles south of there. That clearly was not a time of distance. We visited a place called Cumberland Island. We ducked into FL and then right back out and then sat at a marina at St. Marys for a few days to allow weather to pass and to walk the town.

Cumberland Island deserves special comment. What a place! The island is 18.5 miles long and about 1 mile wide. It has been occupied by the Indians, Spanish, French, Americans, Confederates and wealthy. One of our revolutionary leaders, Nathaniel Greene, built a plantation there in the late 1780's. Robert E. Lee's father was buried there and other notables have lived there. In the late 1880's, the wife of Thomas (Andrew's brother) Carnegie bought 4000 acres on the south end, where we were. This was later expanded to 90% of the whole island. Several Carnegie family "cottages" built here through about 1920 and then the Carnegies moved away. The main Carnegie mansion burned down in 1959 (arson to conceal some other crime) and the tracts were purchased by the national parks service in 1972. While we were there the temperature was a warm 65 at night and 80 during the days. A semi-tropical breeze blew, the moon was just a sliver, and the sky was wonderful as the sun rose over the island every morning and then set back across Georgia every evening. The water was mostly like glass as the tide and current changed together. And it's a mile off the ICW!

In any accessible place, the history of the area would have been destroyed as the area was cleared for development. Because it is not easily accessible, the history remains. The park has a maritime forest, many paths and a few roads. The use of the word "road" brings forth a very incorrect image. If you think about the section of a single lane, dirt, driveway that passes along with bushes on both sides and trees hanging low overhead, you will have an idea of the road. A walker needs to enter the woods to let one of the golfcart sized service trucks pass. There was not room for the vehicle and the person in the cleared area. The paths were much less. Just wide enough for a man to walk between the small palm bushes (palmettos). The palms, live oak and Spanish moss were full on both sides and there was the natural forest all around.

The main Carnegie complex consisted of a complete city of buildings. They included guest houses, recreation center, power plant, machine shop, ice house, carriage house, stables, house for the estate manager, house for the captain of the Carnegie fleet of eight yachts, employee's houses and vast gardens and the ever present grave yards. It was all abandoned and left to deteriorate. It was finally burned by poachers and is now occupied only by diamond back rattlesnakes. What a sight it makes today! Sandy and I were awestruck by the brick and stone remains of the house. How grand it must of been in its cultured and manicured prime.

We saw some of the wild horses in the yard next to the stables. Unfortunately our dog saw them and they saw Bear, so they came to investigate. We were advised to stay clear of the horses so when they approached within twenty feet, we retreated (with dog) to the carriage building and out the back door. Out back there were the remains of several of the old cars used on the island. They appeared to be Fords and Packards from the twenties. They were just rusting there. We continued our walk through the pristine white sand dunes and over the tracks of the horses, deer, raccoons and other wild life. Not an human in sight here or on the gently sloping beach (absolutely gorgeous) for as far as one could see in any direction - only the horses taking in the sun. We walked the beach for a mile and a half and finally came to some people as we returned to the dunes.

That night we opened the ports and heard the ocean on the other side of the island. What a way to go to sleep and to wake up!

We saw two of the big boomers (Trident submarines) return and depart the Kings Bay Navy base while we were anchored. Every time that I see one I am amazed at how huge they are! They were trimmed for minimum draft and looked like islands moving by.

We left Cumberland Island and went to Fernandina Beach. We walked around town and returned to the marina to find all but a few boats drying on the mud as low tide approached. It seems that the marina is built at a location where Nature wants a shoal. The marina digs out to 12 feet and Nature fills in to make it dry land. So far, man - 0; Nature - 2.

To this point, the repair business had been light. We had repaired the vacuum cleaner, sanded and oiled some of the teak, rewired the coffee maker, rebuilt the engine room blower and repacked a valve in one of the heads. I also discovered that if you dent one bottom corner of a Fram oil filter, their $3 part will replace the $12 one that Westerbeke sells. Now if I can just track down equivalent fuel filters instead of their $8 units. But the real story started the following Friday.

Sandy smelled something funky in the forward state room. She thought that it was just the humidity. Well, at that point on Friday (Yes! FRIDAY!) morning, we were really in the boat repair business and we were in St Marys, GA. We had a leak in the sewage holding tank. The repair actually took four days. We repaired and re-built the sewage system with plastic plumbing fittings from the local building supply and hoses from the NUMEROUS auto supply stores and the local Wal-Mart at the shopping center.

There is another physical law that has filled up the last few days and complicated the repair. I have a theory that tanks grow in dimensions and shrink in capacity once installed in a boat. Our ex-holding tank had grown to a foot longer and four inches wider than the hatch opening. I got to know Earl at the building supply store and Danny at the auto store on a first name basis during the effort. Earl said, "see you soon" as I left for the fourth time. I asked him not to rub it in.

Sandy & Bob

PS. The Norfolk - Georgia BBA chart book has an error at mile 704. The magenta line goes on the wrong side of markers 60 and 62. The Florida book shows it correctly.