Tuesday, November 29, 2022


We are southbound in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Georgia coast, bound for the St. Marys River. We had a pre-dawn start, and the plotter is projecting a 5pm arrival, but that is optimistic in light of the fact that we will be pushing against nearly a 3 knot ebb when we arrive at the inlet.

Very shortly after last I posted here last Sunday, we dropped the hook off-channel in the Ashepoo River (map), just after transiting the notoriously shallow Fenwick Cut from the South Edisto at high tide. We made it through the cut in the last of the twilight and set the hook after dark; we sat down to eat more or less immediately thereafter, and had a very quiet night.

Last night's sunset over Sapelo Sound and Blackbeard Creek.

Monday morning  we got an early start to finish the Ashepoo-Coosaw cutoff, another notoriously shallow stretch, on a falling but still very high tide. We once again crossed some spots that were less than four feet deep at low tide, but we made it through without issue. At one point an off-station buoy was right in the middle of the deepest water, so we were glad to have a couple of extra feet of tidal help to go around it.

The early start had us passing Beaufort in the morning and crossing Port Royal Sound after lunch. With two nights before we wanted to be in Savannah, we made it an early day and stopped at an anchorage off-channel in Skull Creek on Hilton Head Island (map). That let us tender ashore for dinner at Hudson's, which has its own dock. There are two other dockside restaurants nearby. I was surprised how busy they were at 5pm on a Monday night, and, perhaps as a result, the service was lightning fast. We were back at Vector just an hour after splashing the tender.

We tendered ashore at the public dock on Daufuskie Island just to have a little walk.

It was a short two and a half hour cruise Tuesday on a favorable tide to reach the very last anchorage before the Savannah River. at the southern tip of Daufuskie Island, where we dropped the hook in a familiar spot (map). I grilled the last of the tuna steaks we had been gifted by the fishboat captain who had helped me move Vector around the southern tip of Nova Scotia ahead of Hurricane Fiona.

We wanted to be in this anchorage because we needed to transit the shallow Fields Cut at high tide, and wanted to be on the Savannah on the flood, and on Wednesday that meant 7am. As we were weighing anchor at 6:45 we spotted the pocket cruise ship American Independence entering Fields Cut from the river; with a draft of eight feet, a beam of 55', and a length of 220', she needs even more tidal help than Vector. It was no coincidence that they chose the same time to transit as we did; fortunately, we only had to linger a few minutes and she crossed ahead of us before we turned into the cut.

American Independence coming out of Fields Cut.

For exactly the reason that we don't want to come face to face with another large vessel in a narrow, shallow channel, I always make a Sécurité call before entering Fields Cut, and as soon as I hung up the microphone an inbound ship coming up the Savannah called us to arrange meeting. They passed well ahead of us, and we followed them up the river on the last of the flood.

Vector at the Rousakis Riverfront Dock, as seen from the web cam.

I had checked the riverfront web cam just before we weighed anchor and there looked to be just enough room for us at either end of the dock. But on our way upriver we passed a sailboat going the other way who had left the dock in the morning, so there was plenty of room, and we were tied up at the upriver end of the dock behind the Georgia Queen (map) before 8:45. This end of the dock has a working 50-amp outlet. As soon as we had all the lines on, we walked across the street to Huey's and had brunch, a sort of decadent treat after an early morning cruise.

Brunch at Huey's. Hey, it was five o'clock somewhere.

After brunch I took a long stroll along the river walk all the way up to the new Plant Riverside District. Workers were setting up booths for a holiday marketplace along the river that opened on Friday. I also passed our old nemesis Trumpet Dude, which gave me some concerns for our stay, but he seems to have given up on walking behind people in the plaza, and the weather limited his appearances to earlier in the evening.

Vector at the dock. One other boat is at the other end.

In the afternoon I deployed the e-bike and made a pilgrimage to Kroger for provisions, after a brief ride around town. The day before Thanksgiving is never my first choice for a grocery store visit, and the place was a zoo. I had a limited selection of some items, but nevertheless finished the provisioning list. I knew Thursday morning would be worse, and it was unclear if I'd have time Friday. At dinner time we walked down to River House Seafood, in the eponymous hotel, for dinner. Louise's shrimp and lobster roll did not sit well, so they're off the list now.

One of the many Ultra-Larges that passed by. The Talmadge Bridge is in the background.

Thanksgiving day was very quiet. Many of the waterfront shops and restaurants were closed for the holiday, as was the ferry service across the river. We had a quiet day mostly at home, although I had two nice walks, with Louise joining me for one, and a bike ride past the docks at the Eastern Wharf development to see if any restrictive signage had been added (no). I also put up our festoon lights that had been taken down for Fiona, and we started putting out some holiday decorations, including our lighted wreath on the aft deck.

Our entertainment for the day was watching the enormous Georgia Queen dinner boat, converted from a Mississippi River casino riverboat, go out twice on her Thanksgiving dinner cruises. She seats 250 and it looks like both cruises were sold out; the boarding line extended well past Vector and we could hear a number of people discussing our scooters, among other things.

Georgia Queen passes us on a quick promotional run for their "cruise with Santa," with the crew all costumed and dancing on the deck.

At one point I had three different Thanksgiving dinner reservations. The one we decided to keep was at the Chart House, which long-time readers may remember is where we had Christmas dinner on our first visit here, and we remembered it as quite good. The earliest we could get was 7:15. By mid-day, however, I was cancelling the other two earlier reservations because, while the times were preferable, we did not care for the menus. One, for example, was serving turducken instead of the plain turkey we were craving.

Vector on the waterfront, as seen from the convention center across the river.

The decision proved to be a bit of a mistake. The Chart House normally opens at 4:30, but for the holiday meal they opened at noon. At 7:30 our server told us she'd been there since 11am without a break, and we could see that the entire staff was just done. Everything was lackluster, especially the turkey, which had been thinly sliced like deli meat and then rolled up. They had already run out of our preferred dessert. Still, they were all the traditional flavors, we had leftovers to take home, and at the end of the evening we felt no pressure to rush. We have, as usual, many reasons to be thankful.

The lobby of the J.W. Marriott, formerly the generator hall of the powerplant, with the gantry crane still hanging overhead. A stainless dinosaur fills the space above, and myriad geodes grace the room.

The Port of Savannah's deepwater expansion, in progress since our first visit here, is nearing completion, and we saw no fewer than four Ultra Large Container Ships make their way in and out of port, which is upriver from downtown. Most sound their horn as they approach the bend under the Talmadge Bridge, always a crowd-pleaser for the tourists walking the riverfront. The big girls always have assist tugs, and the tugs hustling down river can make for a rough time at the dock. One wake that had us pitching more than usual caused the sailboat behind us to pitch so violently it was stuffing the pulpit into the water.

This enormous gingerbread house was tucked in a corner.

The city's usage policy for these docks has been a moving target. Since the pandemic they seem not to want to have anyone come into the office to pay, so the current policy is free but with a two-night limit. That meant Friday was departure day, but the dock was nearly empty by the time the tide was favorable in the afternoon, and I called the office to see if we could get another night. Unsurprisingly they were closed for the holiday, but I left a message with an offer to pay the published rate and that we would shove off if the dock filled up. It did not, and we spent another night.

This original smokestack, now cut down to about half its original height, houses a dining room for the restaurant. This steel door would have been the ash scuttle.

Friday afternoon I walked through the holiday market, which was really no different from those ubiquitous Saturday markets in many cities, other than being in sturdier booths and open every day. We both walked through the J.W. Marriott, which has an impressive geode collection spread throughout the lobby, formerly the generator gallery of the powerplant.

One of the many geodes throughout the lobby. This one is about 4' tall.

The extra night gave us the opportunity to have dinner at another of our old standbys, Corleone's, which is just far enough from the tourist district to be a more local crowd. Maybe it was the holiday weekend, or the pandemic labor shortage, but we were disappointed here, too. We waited a long time for service, the salad arrived undressed, a plate of bad seafood had to go back, and things were generally not as we remembered.

Saturday we had to wait till 1pm for a fair tide, and so we had a nice stroll in the morning to the Waving Girl statue, returning on the ferry. I stayed on the ferry for a brief visit across the river to the convention center and the Westin, both of which are under construction right now. I think the Westin's holiday guests were having some inconvenience as a result.

Framed by holiday bows on our final morning.

We dropped lines at 1pm to ride the ebb downriver. The otherwise unused Eastern Wharf docks were full up with boats preparing for the holiday lighted boat parade Saturday evening, which started from those docks. We had enough tide to take the South Channel Bypass, a shortcut to the ICW, and we had fair tide all the way to the Skidaway River. We dropped the hook off-channel in the Skidaway, near where it empties to the Wilmington (map) for a quiet night. I watched the boat parade on the river web cam; all the boats including the Georgia Queen and the festively decorated tug Florida went up and down the waterfront twice, but rain meant few spectators other than those indoors.

One of the projects I completed in the past week was to finish importing all our old tracks from our previous plotter software, before it quits working altogether. That let me make this nice plot of everywhere Vector has been since we bought her.

Sunday we weighed anchor on a fair tide and continued south on the ICW to the Ogeechee River, where we turned off for the six mile detour to Fort McAllister to connect with our friends Laura Lee and John, who live nearby. John sold us this boat nearly a decade ago and we have been fast friends ever since. We dropped the hook in the river across from the state park (map).  We met them for dinner on the deck at Fish Tales; our last two passes through here had us waving off any visits due to Covid, and it was nice to finally be able to get together in person.

We had to wait until after 10 yesterday to have enough tide to get back down the Ogeechee, and as long as the tender was already in the water, we ran across to the state park dock for a walk. Georgia does a great job with its state parks, and Fort McAllister is no exception. We enjoyed our walk but did not go through the earthen fort or the museum.

Vector looking rather lonely anchored in the Ogeechee.

Louise has been watching the weather for outside passage windows, and today was the day. So yesterday we used what was left of the day to position ourselves for the outside run. We had favorable tide to St. Catherines Sound, but if we had left from there we could only make it as far as St. Simons Sound today. That would have us running the shallows around the back side of Jekyll Island tomorrow. We prefer to bypass Jekyll in the ocean, which meant pushing against some tide to make Sapelo Sound yesterday, where we dropped the hook off the beach near Blackbeard Creek (map).

In order to have a fair tide out the inlet, and any chance of arriving in the daylight, we were weighing anchor this morning in the pre-dawn twilight. Our tide ran out just as we were making the southward turn to the long seven-hour leg to the St. Marys jetty. The forecasts were correct and we are having a great passage, with just a mild swell on the port beam.

Sunrise this morning departing Sapelo Sound.

We should be in Fernandina Beach for a day or two before continuing south to the St. Johns River. We'll be headed upriver to Jacksonville for a few days, where we have some Amazon packages en route, and where we can put a scooter down to go get our mail, including some new blinds we ordered for the staterooms. Beyond that, we have no particular plans for the winter, so we are just winging it.

1 comment:

  1. My wife Ellen has turned me on to your blog. We too are aboard (only since April) and like you with flexible plans. We are currently in NC aboard our trawler Salud! Your blog is well written and illustrated, with useful links. Thank you for sharing. //John


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