Sunday, November 6, 2011

Horses you say

We had really really very nice weather in Charleston SC for the time we spent, temps in the upper 70's to low 80's with little humidity. Great sleeping weather with lows in the 60's, very near perfect in our opinion. I tried to take advantage of it and worked a lot outside and a few inside chores.  Jeannie returned from the west coast on a Wednesday and we rented a car to get additional provisions. We were looking to buy stuff like paper goods, frozen foods and basic staples; things that will last and are less expensive here than in the Bahamas. We made a pretty good run and were looking for places to store things by the end. I think we are sitting a little bit more in the water as a result. We will not starve, that's for sure.

As good as the weather was, I guess all good things come to an end. The day we left a cold front blew through and the wind picked up and the temps went down. We pulled off in a rainy mist and warmer clothes, the weather gods were certainly saying time to go and find warmer weather.
We have been having remnants of tropical depressions and cold fronts from Canada. The result of all of this is rough waters offshore  with an occasional break for a day or two. One of our favorite internet sites for weather is the Ocean Prediction Center along with National Hurricane Center, both give you a great over view. Mike's spaghetti models is another great site for a good overview.

Here is the wind and wave map. The waves along the eastern seaboard can be great one moment and awful the next. The seas are fairly shallow along the eastern seaboard allowing the waves to pile up and become steep and short. These are not rollers per se that you can ride up one side and down the other. Recently we have had big lows pressure systems far offshore generating waves which were then added to by local cold fronts moving through making it possible to wave on top of the rollers.
In addition to internet based weather we have on board XM Weather which is a satellite based weather service. To the right is a color pictorial of the waves along the east coast of Fla. The reds are wave heights of  12-19 ft and the yellows are 9-12 ft. While on the west coast of Fla the wave heights are a more civilized 1-2. What makes these waves more pronounced on the east coast is a combination of north-north east winds against the north flowing gulf stream in addition to the offshore lows. We also use a couple of IPad weather sites include my radar and National Buoy data ( both internet and Ipad app)
Bottom line: not a fun place to be.

As we traveled down the ICW we found a large contingent of boaters who would rather be traveling in the ocean rather than in the ditch, as the ICW is often referred to.  We like our boat because it gives us the option of either riding outside in the ocean if we want or inside when the weather is bad, both in comfort and safety, while our draft lets us travel in some of the more shallow spots.

We have a love hate relationship with the waterway in GA and parts of SC. There are big tides and shallow spots that you can only travel with a mid to high tide.  Yet some of the anchorages are really quite beautiful. We decided our time going south would be anchoring in some of the creeks. The first one is south of Beaufort  SC in Cowens Creek. This is just south of Paris Island the Marine basic training facility.

We were originally planning on using a Active Captain recommended anchorage but because of the wind direction we decided to move a bit further
up the creek to get a bit of of the lee of a small island.
One of our great pleasures is spotting the great
the great variety of birds. Here is a "little blue" heron in the low country marshes.

Surprisingly we have seen more eagles on this trip than all the previous ones combined. This one is an immature bald eagle.

We crossed the Savannah River by going through the bridge you see in the foreground and as we  approach, the commercial traffic comes first, in this case a large cargo ship  going outbound for the ocean.  Hard to show the scale properly but this is a big ship in a narrow but deep channel.

Our next anchorage was in GA on Cane Patch Creek. Again we went in a bit further than the recommended anchorages  to get some wind protection. In this case we found a large stand of trees amongst the marshes that gave us a wind shadow from the NNE. You can see the original anchorage in the left lower corner and the one we dropped the hook in in the center. Plenty of water with a depth of high tide of 20 ft. We put out 150ft of chain to give us a 7.5 scope at high tide. We also place our snubbers down to the waterline all to keep the shank angle of the anchor under 9 degrees. We have a lot of faith in our Rocna anchor and always pay attention to the needed amount of scope.

We traveled to St Andrews Sound on our way to the first stop in Fla. This sound which is quite large has the ICW going out into where the mouth and ocean meet. Many boats were taking a longer and slower route through the marshes as an alternative to the ICW. That was because the tide was going out and the wind was in the opposite direction so the waves, while not large, were turbulent; the best analogy is like a washing machine.  The depths here are quite shallow and the conditions were not the best but it is quick and we had some spray, otherwise uneventful. What we got as a reward was to see the wild horses on Cumberland Island, what a treat? There were easily dozens grazing along the shore line....An awesome sight!

Here the shrimping fleet is catching one of our future dinners. We always travel with pounds of fresh/frozen shrimp that we get locally. We think of it as edible ballast.

Cumberland Island is the farthest south we can go until November 1st. It is our navigational restriction from our boat insurance due to hurricane season. The day we went past it was the 1st of November!
We are Bahama bound.


  1. John,
    Saw your and Jeannie's picture in the latest issue of Passagemaker mag. Nice article and the two of you sounded like cruising pros in it.

    I see you are now in south FL. Hope things are going well.


  2. Barry, thanks....we are in Palm Beach and will get a few minor things done and fuel up. Headed to Marsh Harbor with two other boats NV and Coping when we all get together and have a weather window. Nasty off shore right now. Hope to have Thanksgiving in the islands.

    Hope all is well.


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