We are docked at the Savannah Bend Marina in Thunderbolt, Georgia (map). Long-time readers may remember that Thunderbolt is where we first saw Vector, and where we took ownership of the boat some 17 months ago. We passed that facility, Thunderbolt Marine, on our way in, "closing the loop" in a way (although we also passed there on our way south in December). We opted to dock here instead, because it is significantly cheaper. It's really a small-boat facility, being also the local Sea-Ray dealer, and Vector is the largest boat at the docks by a fair margin.
Even though, in my last post, I said we would be anchored nearby Thursday night, we actually came directly here and tied up just before 7pm. That's because I made some phone calls under way, and we were able to line up a diver for yesterday morning to clean the hull. He understandably wanted to work at high slack, starting at 9am, and so we called the marina and booked the slip, adding perhaps an hour to Thursday's cruise.
It's all so familiar here, and yet being here after over 500 hours of experience driving the boat, and perhaps a hundred dockings, made it a very different experience. I ended up docking twice, because they assigned me the lone dock that is perpendicular to the current here, the largest spot they had. We were still mid-flood when we arrived, with over a knot and a half, and when we arrived we could not see a power outlet on the dock, So we tied up at the fuel dock, which was large enough and parallel to the current, in order to walk over and have a look at the assigned spot.
Although the marina had told us we could spend the night at that dock and move in the morning, once we found the power and had the lay of the land, we decided to just tie up right then, as the current was favorable and there was nothing downstream of the dock. That let me pull straight in about 30' off the pier, get lined up, and let the current bring us into the dock. The saying goes that you should never approach a dock faster than you want to hit it, and a knot and a half is actually pretty fast, so I had to jockey the rudder, engine, and thruster to try to make a somewhat softer landing. As a side note, the current is so strong that every flood has basically flattened the midships fenders.
The diver called me first thing in the morning to say he had double-booked and it would be noon instead, which was fine, but we probably then did not really need to come in Thursday night. Oh well, at least we got to drop a scooter and run over to one of our old haunts, Tubby's Tank House across the river. The scooter also got a workout yesterday as I ran around to hardware stores picking up project parts, and we went grocery shopping on our way back from our favorite local Italian place, Bella's.
We had a nice cruise up from Sapelo, but sea conditions got progressively rougher as we approached Wassaw, the result of an incoming storm. That made for a high pucker factor as we crossed the bar, especially since we found just a single extra marker beyond what was on the chart. The charted depths turned out to be pretty accurate, and we arrived mid-tide and rising, so we had an extra three feet, the result of deliberately running under six knots for most of the route.
After we crossed the bar, I cranked it up to the higher end of our cruise rpm, to give the stabilizers and rudder more to work with, as well as get us into the protection of the river sooner. Once we were well inside the sound, things started to calm down, and we got a great push from the current all the way upriver, making over seven knots at a much calmer rpm setting.
This morning I ran out to the auto parts store for engine oil -- we're out, and I am overdue for changing the main engine oil. I scored, in the sense that they had Rotella in the 5-gallon pail, so I picked that up along with another couple of gallons in jugs, strapped it all to the floorboards, and arrived back at the dock just in time to hoist the scooter on deck.
In a few minutes we will shove off for Calibogue Sound, west of Hilton Head Island, where we will anchor tonight to get an early start tomorrow for Charleston Harbor.