Sunday, May 15, 2022

Out of the box

We are under way in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore of the Georgia coast. It is our second offshore day in a row, but with Louise still under the weather and not up to an overnight, we're merely avoiding the shallows of the Low Country rather than shaving any time off our journey. Still, it's more relaxing, and affords me time to write.

Friday morning we left our anchorage at Pablo Creek with the tide, figuring on a relatively short run to the free dock at Sisters Creek, just the other side of the St. Johns River. We were nearly out of water, and clean laundry, and we knew there was a spigot at the dock. We could have avoided this situation had we filled the tank at the dock in Moore Haven, but with the lake shallow, we were reluctant to add nearly two tons of weight in the forward end of the boat.

Sisters creek would have been a very early stop, meaning we have to make up mileage later. We also prefer to have shore power for the laundry, to run the dryer, which at today's fuel prices was going to cost close to $50 on the generator. So under way toward the St. Johns I spent some time looking again at docking options in Fernandina Beach, some 20 miles further

Sunset over the Low Country from our boat deck, docked at Oyster Bay Yacht Club.

A berth at the city marina there would run $142, making the generator seem like a bargain, but I wanted to see if there were more reasonable alternatives. And it is then that I discovered that the Oyster Bay Yacht Club, just a couple of miles off the route, had recently joined the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs, thus offering us a free night of reciprocal dockage. I called and they were able to squeeze us in, but warned us of high current.

Having left on an outgoing tide from Pablo Creek, we had an uphill run most of the day, but we found the Sisters Creek dock full as we passed by, so we counted ourselves lucky. We arrived to Lanceford Creek just past slack, which also put us at dead low tide, and we threaded our way into the creek between a pair of shoals. We did not have good soundings in the marina basin, and I promptly ran aground mid-channel after entering from the creek. The good water (by which I mean a foot under keel) turned out to be close aboard to the docks, and after backing off and probing our way forward we eventually arrived at our T-head (map), where there was plenty of water.

We were tied up by 2:30, which left plenty of time to fill the tanks and get the laundry done. I also set up the Starlink terminal, which had refused to come online at Pablo Creek, in the hopes that pointing at the sky all day and overnight would cure its ills. (It was claiming to be outside of its registered service address, even though I have purchase an extra feature that allows it to do just that.)

Vector on the dock at Oyster Bay Yacht Club, Fernandina.

At dinner time I masked up and walked over to the clubhouse to find some dinner. I texted the menu back to Louise, and we both ended up with burgers from their "all day" menu, with the more formal dinner options being either too heavy or less convenient for carry-out. The club had copious covered outdoor dining, an outdoor bar, and a nice swimming pool and deck, and we look forward to returning when we both feel up to eating out.

In the morning we dropped lines at high slack, with the extra six feet of water making the departure much less fraught than had been our arrival. The outgoing tide delivered us quickly to the junction of the ICW and the St Marys River. We had figured to continue north on the ICW, but as we were coming up to the river, Louise did a quick re-check of the passage weather, and we made the decision to hop outside instead, coming back in at St. Simons Sound. It was a bit weird to come in there and not see a single vestige of the wrecked Golden Ray or its massive salvage operation.

Aiming for a fuel dock today that might have sub-$5 diesel, we bypassed our familiar anchorage in the Frederica south of the causeway, and instead continued up the Mackay, under the causeway, and to an anchorage at the junction of the Frederica to the north (map). This particular spot showed on the Starlink map as still available for new service, and while we were offshore I changed our service address to a Publix supermarket nearby. The terminal came online right away after setting it up. I grilled some lamb chops for dinner.

The outdoor bar on the lovely deck at the yacht club.

The cheap fuel turned out to be fictional, and it would have been a challenging dock anyway, and so instead of continuing up the ICW this morning, we instead back-tracked to the sound and right back out the inlet for another offshore run. The extra mileage from the anchorage made the offshore route nearly five miles longer, but the current is more favorable and it's certainly much more relaxed out here. The plotter says we should have the anchor down just before dinner time.

Yesterday's other project, besides getting the Starlink working, was to replace the keyboard on my laptop. The new keyboard, shipped from Hong Kong, had been a bit of a pleasant surprise in the mailbox when I ran out there from Vilano (I expected shipping to take longer). I've replaced a lot of laptop keyboards, but this one took the cake for level of difficulty.

I was expecting the keyboard alone to be a replaceable unit, but it turns out it is permanently married to the upper case, and, moreover, the base of the keyboard is actually the substrate to which all the other components are mounted. The replacement included the top case, and I had to carefully remove the battery, speakers, main board, cooler, fan, ports, and screen all individually and relocate them to the new substrate. I did not count them all, but I would estimate five dozen tiny screws.

I took this photo of the innards of my laptop so I would not lose track of where everything went. I had to consult it a few times.

The hardest part was relocating the trackpad, which had been installed with about three square inches of strong double-adhesive tape, the sort that holds your cell phone together. It took 15 minutes with a spudger and a thin sliver of plastic to get it out. It was in the middle of that process that I lamented that I should have shipped the whole machine to Hong Kong for warranty service. In the end it all worked when I put it back together, and I once again have a working keyboard.

Yesterday offshore we crossed the magic line of 31° north latitude, putting us officially out of the "hurricane box" two weeks ahead of our deadline. Yet we can't slow down, because I have a new deadline to be in Wrightsville Beach in time for my flight back to Tampa for dental work. We are still on track, but we need to put in a full day on the water every day between now and then. As I wrote earlier, we're on a delivery trip.


  1. Oh my gosh! Sounds a little rough all around. I don't love delivery level travel, though this is how this year went for us, too! Now the diesel prices are truly yikes.

  2. Sean, we have found out, removing adhesive on our Spyders. Heat and dental floss works really well!
    Thanks for the updates!


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!