Cape Fear (Southport), NC

Have crossed into the 4th state for this trip. Left Myrtle Beach in threatening rain but the weather looked more promising a little north. That and the fact that the actual thunderstorms seemed to be forming off shore. Probably had moderate rain for about 5 miles of the trip and under the hardtop it stayed dry. The last 1/3rd or more of the trip was full sun. Also experienced another swing bridge which I find interesting.

The total trip was just short of 44 nm and lasted 5 hours. I saw two familiar sights on the way. Last December I made a fast run with the motor home to Little River, SC to inspect a 45’ Silverton yacht that was for sale and I stayed in a relatively new RV park that was part of a marina on the ICW. So it was interesting to me to see the park, my waterfront RV site as well as the waterfront seafood restaurants I checked out then now from the water. As I approached the end of the trip, I cruised by Oak Island NC. In 2017 I camped at an Elks campground on Oak Island – a very unglamorous campsite nearby the ICW but with a great ocean view. Oak Island, it turns out, is quite a summertime resorty area and only a few miles from the Cape Fear Inlet. I didn’t realize that back then. Different time, different perspectives.

I am remembering that I was asked to put more fluff into these posts. Cruising thru the marshes and tidal flats doesn’t provide much fluff. So I’ll try something else.

For “fluff” I’m experimenting with time lapse photography on my iPhone. Replayed in compressed timeframe, the action is sped up. Here is the approach to one of the fixed bridges. This was taken while holding the phone in my hand – thus the jerking motion when my attention wandered changing course etc. I’ll figure out some method to keep the camera fixed in the future.
Here’s a regular video clip passing by Oak Island to starboard.

Southport is located at the Cape Fear inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. Further inland along the Cape Fear River is Wilmington, NC while the ICW parallels the Cape Fear River but closer to the ocean. Southport is a very old seaport. The restaurant area was probably a mile walk with the harbor on one side and old homes lining the other side. Most of the homes have plaques placed outside listing the original owner and year built. Most were built in the late 1700’s though probably modernized. The waterfront restaurant area is very eclectic with the half dozen or so eateries having outside wharf seating or open air ‘inside’ seating.

The marina itself was very modern and was adjacent to a full service boat yard. Took advantage of a couple night stay and the proximity of the boat yard to have the air conditioning system chemically flushed. They use a 5 gal bucket with a pump mounted inside and with inlet and outlet hoses in the bottom third. The ac seacock is closed and the boat ac pump hose is hooked to the output hose of the bucket. The boat’s ac overboard output hose is hooked to the bucket’s input creating a closed system loop. Then the bucket is filled with ‘Barnacle Buster’ which the bucket’s pump circulates through the 4 ac systems, the manifold and all the hoses. This ran for three hours with one refill of the chemical. The barnacles, crud etc that form in the system are dissolved. Unbelievable the crud that comes out. But the ac systems now do work better!!

Southport Marina consisting of 4 or 5 piers like this. I was slipped at the far end of this dock.
Bay Street home. For sale and can be yours for $949,000. The view is spectacular.
Another Bay Street residence
And another
Restaurant Row at the end of Bay Street
This restaurant is named “Provisions”
And like the others, is right on the water.
And THE REWARD! Shrimp and Crabcakes. I was about half done before I remembered to take a pic.

Georgetown to Myrtle Beach, SC

After one night in Georgetown, I left northbound to Myrtle Beach. It promised to be a nice day with thunderstorms building in the afternoon. The distance was just short of 42 nm and the weather held till about an hour after arrival.

It was an easy trip till just south of Myrtle Beach. There travel slowed way down due to all the homes and no wake zones. No really narrow water or significant shallows. Near Pawleys Inlet there was a very interesting vessel at anchor – vert pretty.

Shortly thereafter we came to the second swing bridge of the trip so far. Since FL there have been very few bridges that required opening for us and all of those have been lift bridges. As I recall, the only other swing bridge was on the first day and just south of Sarasota. I was so nervous then that I couldn’t devote any concentration towards taking a pic. No longer am I nervous about the protocols involved with calling a bridge tender, lock-master, fellow boater for permission to pass or a marina. This bridge was fairly busy and the wait for the bridge to pivot completely out of the way was about 15 minutes – holding the boat in place. Actually this boat is very easy to handle in slow and close quarters. Without all the bridge canvas, it presents a rather small sail profile to the wind and it’s 45,000# a rather large anchor profile to wind and tide. And with its big 4 blade dual props and great torque (moving the boat 3’ with every revolution) compensation for wind and current is simple.

Reaching MB I encountered another water hazard. Jet skies. Dozens of similarly painted jet skies which seemed attracted to cutting in front and the across my even minimal wake. Then they’d disappear out of sight behind only to come roaring back. You really can’t hear them coming so their appearance from behind could be startling. It looked like a swarm of flies on the water.

Near the northern end of MB, I arrived at Grande Dunes Marina. Grande Dunes is a basin off the ICW with slips for a couple hundred boats. It includes a large hotel complex, pools and restaurants (even a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse) and there I found the source of all the jet skis. They have fleet of them and pontoon boats for guest rentals.

Pontoon and jet ski rental at the Grande Dunes Hotel & Marina – looking north
And looking south

They radio’d that I’d be in slip G2. Oops. Slip one is against the concrete wall where all the pontoons were. There was a 35’ boat in G1 boxed in with the line of pontoons off his bow and blocking my maneuvering room. The pier deck is also about 35-40’ long which meant that if I went bow in, I couldn’t get off the boat from the rear cockpit or transom (by far the easiest way to get on and off at a floating dock). So that meant I have to stern in and with a dockhand waiting to catch a line, I didn’t have time to think. Get in close, swivel the boat 180 degrees and back in! Phew. EZ, PEAZY.😰😓🤭🙄

And I’m learning what to do with the excess line off the dock cleat. Here are the bow and forward spring line tails off the forward deck cleat#

There was still time after arrival to grab some pool time and then dinner before the rains came. The ‘price of admission’ to the hotel pool was an ice cold Bud at the pool bar and though not much of a beer drinker, it was great. Ubered that evening to Capt George’s buffet for crab and more crab. It’s one of the better buffets that I’ve been at – been here a couple of times, their outlet at the Outer Banks twice or more and in Norfolk once.

And then the rain came and as I write, it’s been 3 nights.

Rainy day entertainment along with my Kindle.

North to Charleston and then Georgetown SC

I’m not sure what happened here but I had written a post covering the section from Beaufort to Charleston. Since I was going to be in the Charleston area for 2 weeks, I delayed posting it in case there was more I wanted to add during the stay. Instead, it appears that I lost the post and since Charleston was followed immediately by travel days, I’ll rewrite and combine it with the next two stops..

From Beaufort SC the route headed north towards Charleston where my crew had a plane ticket to Detroit to see her rheumatologist at U of Michigan. The days journey was pretty easy but very tiring due to the mid 90’s heat and high humidity. The total distance was 56 nm and we averaged 10.4 knots. If you been following and enlarging the maps, you already know that the Intracoastal is a combination of many rivers literally winding their way across the lowlands, occasionally connected by mostly narrow dredged cuts (shortcuts) and interspersed with numerous small ocean inlets and larger sounds.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the track of the boat is color coded with the speed of the boat. The coding is shown at the bottom of the map and most of the time the speed is just below 10 knots (green) to 12 knots (red). The green slower sections are a generally indicative of either poking the way thru shallow water (lots of attention paid to the depth sounder and the centerline of the channel) or of more built up area with ‘No Wake’ zones . The map is available in different formats. Above it is superimposed in a road map type of format and is easier to get a general idea of the track. Below is the same map but with the track superimposed on a satellite view which probably provides a better sense of the area. If there is a preference, let me know. You can easily zoom in as you wish.

The computer program also distills the info in a journal format generally earmarked by statute mile location. (Norfolk VA is statute mile zero on the Atlantic ICW). Looking at the beginning on page one, you can see the day started 1.2 nm south of statute mile 535 which indicates the boat is 535 statute miles south of Norfolk, VA and looking near the last entry, the boat has moved north near to 475 statute miles south of Norfolk.
This is a photo of the navigation chart Left side is the route and right side depth sounder. . Left side shows the north end of the Ashepoo Coosaw cutoff with a depiction of the boat location. If you look at the “roadmap” at the top, you can see exactly where the boat was at 10:07 am and following the track easterly and then north up the cut, you can see where this snapshot was taken – north end of the cut just before the right (starboard) turn onto the Coosaw River. The heavier dotted line behind the boat is the actual track the boat took while the lighter dotted line is the recommended track. At the turn is a oblong green marker which is a physical green buoy maintained but the US Coast Guard. This bouy is taken on the starboard side of the boat.

Also so show are green squares. These represent the route take about a month ago by a fellow boater that differs a bit from the dotted line. It represents his actual track thru the deepest of water and since his route is very respected, I can import and overlay it in the chart and follow it. The navigatable part of the channel where the boat icon is located, is about 80’ wide.

The depth finder, right, side shows the current depth to be 8.6’ under the boat. We timed this run to be at high tide which at this location has a tidal range of 6’. We were running 10.5 mph at almost 10:39 am and putting out @14 volts.
And this is a video in that exact location. We had a powerboat in front and 2 speedboats behind. As the pic pans to the left, you can see a red crab pot buoy on the side. These are located all over and difficult to see in rippling or greater water. Not something to tangle with as there is a sturdy line running from the buoy to the pot below and catching the line in your props can ruin your day. As the camera pans back forward, you can also see evidence of the horse flies which are looking for dinner. Also can ruin your day and a few thereafter.

We stopped at St Johns Yacht Harbor on the south side of Charleston – about a 10 min car ride to Charleston’s downtown harbor. Slips were a bit cheaper and the marina much more protected than in the Charleston harbor itself. Very nice marina and pool facility. They have a loaner car available in 2 hr increments. In addition I used Instacart for reprovisioning from Publix so that was handy. Didn’t really do any Charleston sightseeing as there have been a number of motor home stops there in the past.

St Johns Yacht Harbor marina
St Johns Yacht Harbor marina

On to Georgetown

The next stop was Georgetown, SC – about midway between Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Another pretty easy trip though again tiring due to heat and humidity.

Crossing Charleston Bay, Fort Sumter, site of the first shots in America’s Civil War, was on the starboard side

Total trip was 66 nm. The 8 mile stretch south of McClellanville is known for its skinny (shallow) water but again we timed it for high tide and had no problem. The marina was nice though a pool would have been nice. The marina is located right off downtown Georgetown but was too exhausted to do much walking around. It’s also a town I’ve been through with the RV probably a dozen or more times.

I refueled taking on 301 gal of diesel. The last fuel fill was Savannah some 191 statute miles distant for an average of .63 miles per gallon with no generator usage (that averages about a gal/hr)

I also discovered when moving a plastic bin of stored yarn that there is a leak in the auto pilot pump. I’ve been in contact with the seller/installer in Ft Pierce. The fittings all seem to be tight s o it is probably leaking between the actual pump and the attached electronic computer module. It is very slow and so far the level in the reservoir hasn’t needed to be replenished. The reservoir is under pressure so I’ve reduced the pressure by half. The pump/ecm will have to be replaced under warranty at some future port. Meanwhile it’s still very functional.

Beaufort, SC

Sitting dockside at Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC. Pronounced like ‘beautiful’ in SC while Beaufort NC is pronounced boh fert as in Beauregard. They take their names seriously.

Had a pretty easy and uneventful trip. The only shallow area was Fields Cut between Savannah River and New River but we took that at high tide so with an extra 8-9’ of water, never saw less that 12’. Much of the rest of the way was wide and deep. Encountered rolly conditions crossing the wide Port Royal Sound. Total distance covered today was 41 nautical miles.

Most of the trip was through marsh lands except going past Hilton Head Island.

Increased boat traffic, tour boats and jet skis were proof of civilization and tourism

Parasailing (not me) at Hilton Head

It was a sweltering 91 degrees with 326% it thereabouts humidity upon arrival in Beaufort and we are now under a severe thunderstorm warning with a possibility of tornados (though no watch). Tied on some extra line and put out extra dock piling fenders as I am on the face dock and exposed to the river.

Walked a couple of blocks of downtown late this afternoon till near collapse from heat. A waterfront town lined with shops kind of like Pentwater, MI – though much older. In the short walk, old large houses were also in evidence.

Savannah, GA

As mentioned in my last post, Savannah was the next port of call for some service work. Arrived Weds., June 5th, and hope to leave either tomorrow or Thurs., the 19th or 20th. It’s been a mixed bag. Not everything is a storybook adventure on a boat but rather some prove the definition of a boat buck. B.O.A.T. = Break Out Another Thousand. We are docked at Thunderbolt Marinawhich is next door to Thunderbolt Marine.

The diver came and cleaned the bottom. It was overdue not having been cleaned since it was painted in late Feb and marine growth, barnacles etc. can occur quickly in these warm waters. However the diver said it was in pretty good condition. He checked the props and all were well aligned with the shaft spline and bolts tight. He said I did have a nick on one blade (of 4) on the port side but since I have zero vibration, I’ll let it go until I really do something stupid that requires repair. I had him pay special attention to cleaning the thru hulls as far as he could because of what seems to be impaired cooling water flow.

A marine electrician was aboard 3 different times. He reported nothing wrong with the Pilot house air conditioner circuit breaker which trips immediately when that ac units comes on. He did say the compressor was drawing 57+ amps at startup vs specs in the high 20’s. He also replaced one solenoid for the bow thruster which fixed the mysterious intermittent start ups but not the faulty motor operation. There was a reverse polarity fault (a bad thing) when operating on the inverter. Power was fine when hooked up to shore power and when running on the generator but not when converting battery dc power to ac power via the inverter. A new inverter was installed by Owl Creek’s electrician but something is wired wrong. Surprise – not. The electrician traced the fault back to one circuit, which includes one of the fridge/freezers, but ran out of time to determine the exact culprit and fix. So that will have to be done at another stop and another time. We’ll just remember when off both shore and genny power to turn the breaker off on that circuit and not open that fridge as much.

I got all the oil changed in the engines, trannies and generator as well as all the oil and fuel filters. Some 15 or 17 gal of various weight oils if I remember right. So now I have a good preventive maintenance baseline. They also replaced both transmission oil pressure sensors both of which has a stud broken off. Strange. Received a good report from the Cummins tech on the engines.

The TV antenna dome was not working and on arrival KVH, the manufacturer, had a tech on board. It was not something fixable on board so they removed the dome on the flybridge roof and the signal hub from under the pilot house settee and sent it to KVH in Rhode Island. When I had called KVH tech support at first, it was a weekend and no one answered except voice mail. So my message included a complaint about the company only believing that problems occur between 8-5, Eastern, Monday -Friday. Usually my blunt comment get me in trouble. This time it got the attention of the national service manager and he called me and from then on he’s been shepherding the process. It is supposed to arrive back in Savannah today for reinstallation. Maybe I can then catch up on the news of the day.

Being without TV had a benefit. I figured out how to use the sophisticated sound system on the boat. I can now insert my flash drive containing about 8 hours of some of my favorite songs from favorite artists like Johnny Cash, Waylon & Willie, Sandi Patti and the Gaithers. With the email help of the former owner (he has to do that from time to time) I also found the secret to moving the sound to the speakers on the various levels of the boat. Woot!

Then there is the issue of the Pilothouse air conditioner. Three of the air handling systems had been replaced within the past couple of years but the Pilothouse unit was still original and failed. A few posts ago, I reported that a new Dometic unit was installed in Ft Pierce just as we were ready to leave. We did not test it before we left and it has never worked. It would blow the breaker within milliseconds of start up.

So Thunderbolt Marine sent their air conditioning tech to troubleshoot the problem. My electrician had already confirmed that the breaker was not faulty and that the ac unit was drawing more than double the specified amps. Mr AC specialist with “40 yrs of experience” spent little time on the boat and, without so much as the benefit if a screwdriver, meter or any other tool, proclaimed that Ft Pierce’s Whiticar Boat Works installed it wrong having “changed the gas, having overfilled it and having not installed an inline dryer all of which made the motor freeze and draw too much current.” Over the next days, this was repeated numerous times. Finally I got an email from Thunderbolt Marine stating that Dometic had (past tense) voided the warranty due to these installation “sins”. The next sentence stated that Thunderbolt Marine would sell me a replacement for $4,075 plus nearly a grand for installation.

I said OK but first I needed a copy of whatever Dometic put in writing voiding the warranty on this unit and why, listing the serial number, so that I could go to VISA and dispute the Whiticar charge. All I got was nada, zilch, bupkus and crickets from Thunderbolt. So I wrote Whiticar, told them of the Thunderbolt diagnosis, sales attempt and subsequent silence and Whiticar responded that their install was perfect. I got a Thunderbolt email the next day with the bad news that there wasn’t even one of these new units in stock anywhere in the country and that it would be two weeks before this model was back in production by Dometic. Meanwhile I’m hearing from Whiticar that they’d been in contact with Thunderbolt and that Whiticar continues to stand by their installation. I challenged them to arrange a conference call by 10 am the next morning between themselves, Thunderbolt and Dometic to resolve the issue or I would dispute their VISA charge by days end.

We also sent an email to the Dometic exec in charge of the marine division about how it looks for them to have two of their authorized service centers feuding and name calling and copied to him the Thunderbolt warranty void/sales pitch email. Received word from Dometic that their records did not show the warranty voided nor even any inquiry.

The next morning, last Thursday, around 8 am the phone rang and it was a gentleman from Dometic’s warranty department. He said that the Whiticar installer was in the Thunderbolt marina parking lot and that Dometic would like permission for him to come aboard to inspect the compressor. It should be noted that Savannah is 350+ miles from Ft Pierce. I readily agreed but noted to Dometic that it might serve to settle the issues if Thunderbolt was also present. He said “it’s your boat but we’d prefer that Thunderbolt not be aboard the boat.” Message received loud and clear.

Joe, the original installer from Whiticar came aboard and within 15 or so minutes was back up out of the engine room with pics. He’d opened up the electric part of the compressor and had pics of his meter showing that there was a internal electric short. He reported that he had already spoken with Dometic and that the 2-3 week old unit was under full warranty. In that short period of time, Dometic also located a new one on the shelf at a S FL dealer. Joe reported he was driving back to FL, would pick up the new unit and would be back in Savannah first thing Friday morning. He was good on his word and spent most of Friday swapping units. Testing it, we had air in the Pilothouse!!

Checking below decks, Joe was concerned that the unit was running hot and discovered that it was not getting enough cooling water. Having already been concerned with Owl Creek’s so called flushing, I had a chemical flush scheduled for the AC lines with Thunderbolt. Though it was now 4 pm on a Friday afternoon and Joe was still a 5 hour + drive from home, he disconnected the water hoses and manifold, took them on the dock and cleaned and reinstalled them. Not as good as a chemical flush but the stateroom ACs work better too. Apparently the 3 times Owl Creek said they flushed, and I paid, didn’t actually happen. I’ll still get the chemical flush, which would dissolve barnacles, done but at someplace other than Thunderbolt Marine. Interestingly, Thunderbolt is trying to bill Dometic for 4 hours labor and me for 4.5 hours labor for troubleshooting (incorrectly) a warranty issue. Wonder how that will work??😂

Now hoping that the KVH system does arrive back in Savannah today and gets reinstalled tomorrow so I can leave.

It hasn’t all been a bust. The marina is nice with good floating docks (9.3’ tide range) power and water.

They have good fuel prices and I took on another 430 gal of diesel. They have a loaner car available for 2 hrs at a time so re-provisioning was easy. They have a very nice “crews quarters” with lots of comfortable indoor seating, computer room, large furnished exercise room, pool table, kitchen and two luxurious showers. Outside is a massive covered screened lanai with a fully jetted huge spa or small swimming pool. The patio is large with various chair and settee seating areas, ping pong, dining table and chairs and large barbecue pit. Outside is also a nice park bench to use while waiting for Uber or Lyft.

A block away is a shrimper dock where the boats come and unload their catch. It’s a short walk to pick up fresh jumbo shrimp for $10/very generous pound. Did that a couple of times. Delicious! I could eat shrimp every night.

12” pan filled 5 times

About a half block further is a very popular indoor/outdoor seafood restaurant (Tubbys Tank House). Also went there a couple of times. Hint: The shrimp on our boat were bigger by far, fresher and more plentiful – half pound at the restaurant = 8 smallish shrimp.

Ubered to downtown Savannah several times. Ate at Paula Deens twice and at an outdoor pizza restaurant (Vinnie Van Go Go’s) in Market Square. Market Square is a very interesting 4 block square – veeeerrry old – and charming but not enough diversity of stores. Lots of homemade candy stores and even two pet food stores – one dedicated to dogs and the other entirely to cats.

Market Square, downtown Savannah

On the other hand the river walk area downtown is fantastic. My guess is about 2 miles of small stores of every type interspersed with charming restaurants along the cobblestone street and opposite the river plaza with boats, freighters, and paddle wheel cruise boats. Eye candy wherever you looked. That one block wide, river to store, area is about 40-50’ below the rest of downtown grade level and the steep hill and historic old staircases make it somewhat of a pedestrian challenge – one that thousands apparently accepted. I chose to get to that level by going into the downtown level of a hotel and taking the elevator down.

From the river plaza towards the shopping side of the street. Pictured is downtown Tubbys restaurant with indoor seating and two level outdoor seating. The top level of the building would be street level downtown
Savannah is a major working ocean harbor

So there have been discussion on the boat about the continued feasibility of doing the Great Loop. Eight weeks of delay so far haven’t helped the schedule. Most Loopers by this time are in NYC and beyond with many much further north awaiting some of the flooding to subside in Canada for their locks to become operational. My boat has the engines/size and speed sufficient to go off shore and catch up but the trade off is to travel every possible day, long days and not stop and smell the roses. That’s a serious trade off. There is lots to see and do and not physically beating oneself up were both part of the goal. I am truly surprised how exhausting a day of boating is.

Further, catching up costs fuel efficiency. Boats aren’t exactly the most fuel efficient mode of transportation anyway and increasing one’s avg speed even 50% from 10 to 15 mph is significantly more than a 50% fuel penalty. So do you want to spend significantly more to see and experience less just to say “I did it”. Who will care?

Weighing on the other side is 2020. This is most probably my last chance. I’ve read so far of a couple of 80 somethings doing the Loop and though most Loopers are probably retired, I’m guessing most are very recently retired and physically younger.

The Great Loop pretty much can’t be done next year. There are a number of locks in IL that will be shut down for major repair to all summer traffic next year. There’s really not a navigable route around which means one has to be in position to do upper IL in the Spring or join all the pent up commercial river traffic in late fall but before marinas and fuel docks close for winter – assuming the construction finishes on time. As my home, I don’t have the option of interrupting my Loop and having the boat hauled for the 2020 winter somewhere in Michigan or Wisconsin and restart in the Spring of 2021. So it’s pretty much now or never.

The alternative isn’t bad. I can either stay a month here or there or continue leisurely and get well into NY or Canada or even head to Maine and then turn back towards FL by the same east coast route this fall. Next winter in a FL, Keys or Bahamas marina(s) needn’t be impacted. So the next few weeks and how things go will probably be decisive. My crew needs to be at the U of MI at the end of the month for a doctor appointment so the current task is to figure a good port from which to fly or drive.

I’ve had two requests. I’ve been asked to include more “fluff” in my posts – as in pictures. This post certainly does not do that but I will try. I get out of the habit of taking pics – underway there are things to do and in Sharon and my prior 14+ yrs of full time traveling we’ve been to or near lots of these places albeit from a road perspective and I don’t think to take pics. And anyway, who wants to see pics of workmen carrying a wrench and there would have been lots of those. I will make an effort though. What I think would be interesting to see might be videos taken over a mile or two of a pretty canal or of locking through or going under a bridge that had to open. I don’t know how to do that effectively. You don’t want to watch a 15 minute video and I don’t want to upload one. I’ve experimented with iPhone slo mo and time lapse but not very successfully. Suggestions for how and settings would be appreciated.

Pictures are pretty easy to upload to this site but videos have to be hosted (and of course require a good internet connection). I’ve only tried YouTube and it is hard for me. I apparently haven’t watched their instructions often enough and they assume I understand their language. Any hints there would also be good.

I also had a suggestion that I post in this blog the boat pics that I originally posted to Facebook when I bought the boat. I can do that and will append to this post since it’s pretty void of much interesting travel material anyway.

Port side
Flybridge seating
Flybridge helm
Rear cockpit with hatch to the lazarette
Bow seating/ sun pads
From rear cockpit looking forward into the salon, galley to the left and stairs to the raised Pilothouse to the right
Starboard salon seating. Rear cockpit visible thru glass doors on the right
Port side seating and entry to galley
Galley and breakfast bar
Pilothouse helm
Pilothouse seating and stairway down to staterooms
Pilothouse door to starboard side deck and bow
Pilothouse stair to flybridge
Master stateroom
Master stateroom head
Forward stateroom/ modified V berth. Anchor chain locker access behind mirror.
Third stateroom/bunks
Second & third stateroom/guest head
Washer dryer
Engine room looking forward. Barely visible left is the white generator. Beyond that (red) is the fire suppressant system. Beyond that is the port engine with port transmission out of sight. Behind the engines tucked out of sight are the air conditioner compressors/condensers. The tubes hanging from the back silver wall is the automated oil change system for changing engine and generator oil. The silver back wall is the site of the 850 gal fuel tank and on the other side of the fuel tank is the rear wall of the master stateroom.

Across the black walkway is the starboard engine. The white box to the front right is one of 4 large battery boxes. The two round strapped cylinders on either side of the aisle are the primary engine racor fuel filters. The fuel is filtered here and then passes to a smaller much finer filter spin on filter before it reaches the engine. The aisle is composed of a number or removable floorboards providing access to bilge pumps, thru hull valves and the like.

Out of sight behind the battery box is the fourth air conditioner compressor and inverter. On the back wall behind the camera, the wall is covered with various electrical connections all protected behind thick plexiglass.

Expensive uncomfortable room! And the domain of my crew.

Access is via a hatch in the rear cockpit floor and down a ladder into a lazarette which is separated from the engine room by a door. The lazerette provides bulk storage, has a small tool bench and chest, all the rudder equipment, and the central vac. Both the engine room and lazerette have large blowers to help cool the rooms but even so they are hot for hours after use.

Jekyll Island to Kilkenny Creek, GA and then to Savannah, GA

Decided to stay an extra rest day (Tues) at Jekyll Island. Marina was pleasant, one of the surprisingly few island restaurants was located right off the dock and the marina had loaner golf carts – and on the Island golf carts are legal on the streets.

There are three basic areas in the Island. 1) The Beach development anchored by a Westin Hotel plus a couple of streets of new shops (similar to the Orange Beach, AL waterfront) with a great ocean beach. A good area to take the golf cart for an ice cream cone on a 90 + degree day.

Looking from the beach boardwalk back towards Westin (left) and the shopping street

2) The Historic District and they mean it. Probably 3/4 mile west faci waterfront “cottages” and a Mackinac Island type Grand Hotel built in the late 1800’s at a cost of $48,000. Situated off the waterfront are the homes of the servants. Those houses still around now function as eclectic gift shoppes while the hotel appears to still do a brisk business. Within the enclave are the large “cottages” of people like the Goodyear’s. Also in this area is the Georgia Sea Turtle Center devoted to the study, care and rehabilitation of sea turtles.

This was the full time Admiral’s house – now gift shop
Another house converted to a gift shop
The Jekyll Island Resort hotel.

3) The rest of the island – golf course, campground, Holiday Inn and other such motels and the many homes of the regular folk and long stretches of road thru woods and wild.

Dinner was enjoyed at the marina restaurant (Monday nite crab cake sandwich and Tuesday nite a pound of peel and eat shrimp accompanying a glass of chilled white Z.

WEDNESDAY. Left port on a rising tide. The balance (6 mi) of Jekyll Creek is shallow and problematic for my draft at low tide. Paying attention and with the tidal assistance, it was navigated without incident. Planned on taking two days to get to Savannah where I’ll be for few days to get some work done. It was a fairly long day covering 75 statute miles. The wind stayed nearly 10 knots the entire day and Last Resort crossed a number of ocean inlets/sounds where the wind had a chance to make waves. With the area going under a sever thunderstorm watch in mid afternoon, pulled into a small marina on Kilkenny Creek. Besides the t’storm issue, it was nearly low tide and ahead is a short waterway section known as ‘Hell’s Gate’ – another skinny water area for which I need mid or higher tide and preferably a slack current. My navigator keeps me updated with info like that.

Is that Forrest Gump??
At Kilkenny Creek Marina. Floating dock piling gives some idea of the tidal range

THURSDAY. Left Kilkenny Creek to finish up the remaining 27 nm to Savannah, GA. Arrived at Hells Gate at high tide and nearly slack current. Joined two other boats, both Gold Loopers having already completed the Great Loop, and so crossed with experienced company. It wouldn’t have been a problem without them but they provided a confidence boost after having read other poster’s grounding stories. Got a slip for the weekend at Thunderbolt Marina a few mile Uber ride to downtown.

I have some work scheduled to be done. Complete change of oil and filters for the engines, generator and transmissions. Also need two new tranny oil pressure senders. I have a diver scheduled to scrub the bottom and check the props for damage after touching the rocks at the Mayaka Locks. Haven’t felt any vibrations but… I have a tech coming to see why I’m getting an antenna fault for the KVH (Directv). And am having service on the air conditioning sea strainer and bow thruster. The Ft Myers yard apparently doesn’t understand the word “hand tighten” and I am not strong enough to loosen it to clean the strainer. Cleaned the strainers on the genny and engines at Jekyll Island and they were dirty so am guessing the AC strainer is as well and the system is not getting enough water flow.

The bow thruster is a mystery. The bow thruster is a small electric motor connected to a small prop located in a tunnel cut crossways through the bow. It provides short term sideways thrust to the bow for maneuvering in tight quarters. A few days ago it started up by itself and wouldn’t shut down, until it overheated-even when the circuit breaker was turned off. It has turned itself on and off several times since – disconcerting to hear when you are asleep at a dock and something you for sure don’t want happening while at anchor. And of course, it is not functional when you do want it. Go figure.

We’ll do some sightseeing as well in this historic town. Been here a couple of times RVing but never really walked around and boating is helping me walk better so am looking forward to that. On the next dock over is a comm’l shrimper and the dockmaster said to walk over and buy some freshly caught shrimp to cook for an onboard meal! Not so good for me though is that every morning the marina delivers a complimentary newspaper together with Warm Krispy Kreme donuts.

Sisters Creek Jacksonville to Jekyll island, GA

Out of FL in time to beat the tax man and only two days beyond what is allowed by my insurance (have to be north of FL by the beginning of hurricane season). Left our Jax dock on a rising tide and spent most of the travel day at mid to high tide which made some of the skinnier areas easier. Total distance today – 50.5 nm or 58 statute miles,

Channels are often laid out on the chart plotter but those are updated only annually. More up dated surveys are done by the Corps of Engineers and available online via the internet. Finally there is crowd sourcing – online word of mouth, so to speak. One of those sites is Bob423 both online and on Facebook. He runs southbound from the Chesapeake to southern FL each fall and back north in the spring. Like in the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, chart plotters drop ‘breadcrumbs’ so you can see the trail of where you’ve been. When Bob423 sees a change in the channel/route, he saves his ‘breadcrumb’ trail and publishes it. Many cruisers subscribe (free) and contribute comments and further additions. I am able to download the USACE (Corps) overlays and Bob423 tracks to a microchip and I have a card reader that is cabled to the chart plotter and the chart plotter channels and the USACE and Bob tracks all identifiably appear together on the screen.

Made good use of this feature today to get thru and past many shoaled areas. Arrived hot and tired at Jekyll Island Marina and tied up for the night. Jekyll Island appears to be a neat little area. The marina has golf carts which can be used for 1.5 hours at a time to take to the newer shopping beach area or to the what used to be hoity toity exclusive historic district and now includes home to a sea turtle hospital. Probably will stay a second night to take advantage of the pool and sightseeing and Tuesday morning’s tide is more favorable (+/- 7’).