1st Trip Down ICW – Part II

Anchorage on the ICWThis sailing log (e-mail) was first sent out on November 14, 2001. We made it to Florida!

Well, here we are in sunny Florida, HA! HA! But more on that later

We left Beaufort, NC on Saturday, Nov. 3 on our own and apparently we made the right decision. We heard from the group we were travelling with and they got laid up there for an additional three days after their intended departure date. Winds picked up after we left, boats grounded and one was reported as partially submerged. Our trip down the ICW was really very nice for a number of days; the wind was a little breezy but nothing unbearable (nothing to sail with either, most of the time it was right on our nose).

We spent the next few days of travel just motoring along and enjoying the vast differences in the scenery. For three days we ran very close to the Atlantic Ocean; at times it was as if we could reach out and touch it. We passed through the numerous, gorgeous, golf courses in Myrtle Beach, passed busy fishing ports, saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and finally got to see some dolphin. As much time is spent in “land cuts” where there is barely enough room for two boats to pass each other as time spent in more open water. Even in these wide bodies of water you could look to you left or right and see birds (pelicans, loons, and seagulls) resting on sand spits; with a tidal range of 3-8 feet much of the land is exposed at low tide, we really have to watch where we are going. More than once we have watched a boat go aground; it’s so nice to have a catamaran and we have heard from others that they wish at time they had one!

Georgia had the flattest landscape we’ve seen yet; the creeks and rivers serpentine through marshlands. Anchored in a creek all we could see for miles was a sea of grass and perhaps another boat miles off in the distance. For the most part the winds picked up around 2:30 when we anchor or tie up for the night and has totally become calm for the night.

And then we reached Florida. We sailed into Florida at 12:05 p.m. on Monday; The winds had picked up steadily since late morning and we used our headsail to help push us along. By the time we anchored the winds were howling between 15-25 knots. It is needless to say that we spent a very uncomfortable, sleepless night at anchor in Fort George River among other boats. Weather reports indicated that the winds would remain for several days. We decided to pull up anchor and head south to St. Augustine and dock at a marina.

We pulled in at the Camache Island Marina yesterday; it is a beautiful place with concrete floating docks, gas available on each dock, laundry facilities, stores, internet access and much more. We intended on spending just the night, but it has rained all night and all day and right now we are in gale force winds (35+ knots) and we may be here yet tomorrow. We used the marina courtesy car to drive into St. Augustine (actually 1 mile away) but the rain and winds were so intense we couldn’t actually see much of anything. We did see the anchorage where we had intended on going and there were whitecaps in the water and the boats anchored there were bobbing around like little toys. Here at the marina we have been watching huge sport fishing (Viking-beautiful) boats come in to tie up and get bounced into the docks. A huge Viking has pulled in behind us and looks as if it will swallow us. At present the winds are howling at 25-35 knots and it’s raining again but we are happy to be here; at least the air is warmer and we are not all bundled up in our winter garb.. If this were blowing at home we can imagine the wind chill factor!!! And we were worried about MICHELLE!!! It really is amazing how we watch the weather now. We used to take it for granted–never having to worry about it so much, but now it’s our life!

We are approximately 210 miles from Stuart, FL our first destination. With any luck we shall be there by Sunday or Monday at the latest, weather permitting and then hope to spend some relaxing time there enjoying the sights.

We Depart Gibson Island Marina

Gibson Island MarinaHope this message finds everyone healthy and well.

We have not gotten too far as we have spent the last four days waiting for our drugs (PRESCRIPTION). They just arrived today. It is a little cold today—when we woke it was 46 degrees on the boat; it made it a little tough to get out from under the covers.

We tied up here on a bulkhead between Great Bridge Lock and Great Bridge bridge on Tuesday afternoon along with several other boats (most are from Canada). We are basically in the heart of Chesapeake City and have all the conveniences, stores, library, etc within walking distance. Brother Bill lives approximately 500 feet or so from where we are tied up–makes it convenient to plug in and take showers when we want. You can look out his front window and see all the boats going down the canal.

Since last week we have not traveled too far but it has been interesting to say the least. We had to motorsail all the way since we were heading dead to wind (what little wind there was) all the way. We anchored in Willoughby Bay (near the Norfolk Naval Air Station) on Monday night. Helicopters and planes buzzed us most of the night with training exercises. We sailed past Naval ships and submarines in dock on our way down the ICW.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful up until yesterday. We all were in summer attire until then. Now we cannot seem to put on enough clothes.
We have met many liveaboard cruisers here at Great Bridge. They are an extremely nice bunch of people…very helpful and they all seem to have a great deal of information to share. Two other couples we met are heading down the ICW for the first time along with us. Several others make this a yearly trip. The time frame of living on board has been as low as 18 months to 7 years–I guess that makes us the new kids with only 5 months on board.

Hopefully we should be heading south again tomorrow. Right now we are waiting for the weather; there are 25-35 knot winds in the Albemarle Sound (a bay we must cross) through tomorrow night. If we leave tomorrow we shouldn’t get there until Monday when things should calm down.