Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Georgia on my mind

We are under way northbound in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore of Blackbeard Island and coming up on the Sapelo Sound entrance. Our destination is St. Catherines Sound, and an anchorage somewhere along the Bear River.

Fort Clinch to starboard as we departed St. Marys Inlet.

Notwithstanding my prediction that the flood would catch up to us on our inbound transit of St. Simons, the tide change was later than predicted, and we pushed against it all the way to the anchorage. We skirted well to the north to clear the ongoing massive Golden Ray work site. They are down to the last three sections of hull, and it looks like the VB-10000 is poised to lift the next section shortly, with the cables hooked up and under strain.

Winds were 20 out of the south and gusting higher when we arrived. That meant our preferred anchorage to the north, up the Frederica River, which is open to the south, would be a bad choice, and we instead turned south, dropping the hook in a familiar spot off the Jekyll Island Pier (map). A large crane barge was spudded down nearby, and I called the towboat to make sure we were out of the way.

The VB-10000 hooked up to the next hull section. This photo belies the true size of the wreck.

Even with the protection of the island, it was pretty lumpy, and we had the occasional wake from a go-fast boat on the ICW or an enormous RoRo leaving port, but it was a mostly comfortable afternoon and night. We had a nice dinner on board, watching a pleasant Sunday afternoon at the nearby park and beach. We were well positioned to run right back out the next morning to continue north.

Yesterday morning, however, two out of three ocean forecasts were no-go, with conditions looking much better today instead, and so we opted to just wait another night. With the winds no longer out of the south, we weighed anchor at the afternoon slack, and headed up the Frederica, dropping the hook in the corner of the special anchorage there (map), between Lanier and St. Simons islands.

Our neighbor off Jekyll, a spud barge with workboats coming and going, pushing up against the side.

We splashed the tender and I went ashore at the historic Gascoigne Bluff Park just to walk around a bit. Town is too far to walk, and with no need of a grocery or other services, there was no need to bring the e-bike ashore as I did on our last visit. I fueled up the tender at the marina on my way back, picking up the gate code so we could go to dinner.

We returned to the marina at  dinner time, tied up at the fuel dock, and walked to the Coastal Kitchen, which we remembered as quite good from our visit back in December. Unlike then, the place was very busy, and we had to settle for counter seating in order to be outdoors. Still, the paella was quite good, and we returned home satisfied, decking the tender upon arrival.

Post-prandial sunset over Lanier island, from the pilothouse.

This morning we weighed anchor at the start of the ebb and headed out to sea. I snapped a few last photos of the Golden Ray, which I hope will be gone entirely when next we pass by here, on our way out. With five feet of tidal help, I cut the corner across a shoal well before our usual turn, cutting a good three miles off today's trip.

Between yesterday and today, I've made a dozen or so phone calls trying to resolve our stabilizer problem. I still don't have a firm plan, but I have learned a couple of things, chief among them that I really need the special $400 tool to remove the torque pin, or I risk making the problem bigger. So now I am on the hunt for a yard or technician along our route who already has that tool.

The view astern departing St. Simons sound, with the Sidney Lanier Bridge at left and the Golden Ray at right.

In the meantime, we are working our way toward Savannah, where we have friends and where we are very familiar with the lay of the land. We are in no rush to get anywhere in particular, now that we are out of the "hurricane box," and we'll loiter here until I either solve the problem, or have a firm plan to fix it further north.

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