Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Closing the loop

We are anchored in the May River, across from Spanish Wells on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (map).  We are just about four miles, as the crow flies, from Shelter Cove Marina in the middle of the island, where we spent a month early this year.  As tempting as it is to pay them a visit, it is a very long side trip up Broad Creek.

While we have crisscrossed or retraced our path several times north of here, this is where we really started out on our own back in April.  Yes, we bought the boat in January a ways south of here, in Savannah, Georgia, but long-time readers may remember that our insurance would not allow us to operate the boat without a licensed captain aboard until we were "signed off" by our training captain, near the end of March.  Before we left Shelter Cove on April 2 (when our month lease ran out), our lone "solo" trip had been from our berth to the pump-out and back.

In the intervening eight months, a full four of which we were off the boat while it was in the boatyard, we've transited 1,528 nautical miles in 267 engine hours.  We've stopped in and passed through four states, docked the boat 43 times (including berths and services), and anchored 29 times.  We've also run the generator for 205 hours.  We are by no means "old hands," but everything is much easier for us now than it was when we left here eight months ago.

When we came back into Port Royal Sound, we had initially planned to anchor further north, perhaps around Skull Creek.  But we once again ran into our friends on Two by Two, who spotted us in the ocean as they were crossing the sound on the ICW, and we arranged by radio to meet here instead.  We had a nice evening with them aboard their boat -- once they had dealt with the fallout of having caught a crab pot somewhere near Beaufort that they dragged all the way here, with almost three dozen crabs in it.

My plan for tonight had been to mosey down to Harbour Town and spring for a berth for the night.  They have several restaurants on site and it is a nice place to stroll around -- we took Vector in there for a lunch stop on our last training day.  But the basin is apparently being dredged right now -- good thing, because we could only get in and out at high tide before, and there were only a couple of berths with enough water for us.  Besides, it's $3 per foot, and we'd need to leave at first light anyway.

We'll save that for another time, or perhaps just zip in and out for dinner instead of dropping over $150 on a night's dockage.  Our hope of reconnecting with our training captain, Gary, here will similarly have to wait. We opted to stay right here one more night, and we waved goodbye to Two by Two as they chugged out of the anchorage on their way south down the ICW.  They are headed for Florida, so we may yet see them again.

Given that we are just a week from Christmas, we've decided to spring for a week's dockage at our next stop, downtown Savannah, Georgia.  We love the downtown there, and were never able to get close enough to it in Odyssey, which is a common theme.  There are three marinas right along the downtown waterfront, and one across the river with easy access by a free water taxi.

Getting there requires a 16-nm run up the Savannah River, where the current on the ebb can exceed three knots.  That's a lot of current to push against in a 7-knot boat, and so we want to time our run upriver on the flood, to have the current behind nearly the whole way.  Getting from here to the river entrance, however, requires us to travel at mid-tide or higher, to have some safety margin in the shallower parts of Calibogue Sound.  Lastly, our plan to take the Sound route, rather than the much shallower and sometimes unkind ICW route, means we'd like to have a fairly calm ocean forecast.

The confluence of those factors turns out to be pre-dawn tomorrow morning.  If we wait another day, we won't be able to get the tide behind us but still travel in the daylight for several more days.  And so it is that we will weigh anchor here before first light, and push against the flood out Calibogue Sound.

The city of Savannah operates its own dock, which is free for three hours, or $1.50/foot per night.  That's the best deal in town, but is strictly first-come, first served.  They have room for several boats, and power for maybe three or four, and if there is space when we arrive that is likely where we will tie up.

Failing that, the Hyatt downtown also has a dock, and I spoke with them today and they have space for us for the week.  It's $2/foot per night with our BoatUS discount if we stay the week, and its probably a nicer facility.  The Hyatt is also one of our options for Christmas dinner, along with some of the other downtown hotels.

If all goes to plan, we should be tied up somewhere downtown by 10:30, when I will have 0.7 knot of current against me.  A week's stay will have us shoving off on Boxing Day for points south.  During the week we will try to get in some visits with local friends, including the nice folks from whom we bought the boat, if they can squeeze us in around all the family obligations of the season.  We can hardly think of a better place along our route to spend the holiday, as I am certain the city will be festively decorated and there will be a plethora of choices for a nice holiday meal.


  1. Well 1,528 nautical miles in 267 engine hours isn't bad almost 6 knots avg. It's a kick reading about you guys and your learning curve, I knew you be blue water boater sooner the later and how your go into ports that have a rough tide and put wind on top of that. Having not Captained any vessels in 10 yrs I love reading about yours. I see you guys boat like a sail getting the tide and wind to work with you, and not having a 4.5 draft and 13.5 beam as I did you really have to pick your way well in advance. Looking forward to your first crossing over to the the west coast.

  2. Make sure you go to Vic's on the riverfront for lunch or diner.
    Best restaurant in Savannah.


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