Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Power to the People

Electricity is a beautiful thing. You’ll recall that Tide Hiker’s electrical system was upgraded in Annapolis. Since then we’ve enjoyed plenty of juice. The boat is now fully charged after a day of cruising so there’s no need to run the generator after cruising. There’s plenty of electricity to last until the next day. We used to have to run the generator every night which (a.) uses fuel which costs money, (b.) creates stinky diesel fumes which like to waft into the boat or wherever you’re sitting outside, (c.) creates peace-shattering noise (d.) and makes anchoring neighbors cranky because of b and c -- no wonder sailboats call us “stinkpots”.

There’s so much electricity that we are now able to run the coffee maker, the dishwasher, and the crock pot while underway. Crockpot cooking is perfect for a boat – no need to turn on the generator to use the stovetop or oven. The meal cooks all day and is ready when we get to the anchorage. I bought a new low-amp crock pot, so on a short run when the meal needs to cook longer after anchoring, it can do so on the battery. When we’re in hot weather, it will be nice to have a cooked meal without heating up the house.

Today’s voyage is three hours from an anchorage in the Brickhill River south of Jekyll Island GA to Fernandina Beach FL. We’ll get a mooring ball there and head to St. Augustine for Christmas. Sadly, friends are all around us, a few cruising days or a week away, but none will be in St. Augustine. Rick and Lynnie plan to be in Fernandino Beach for Christmas, the Gypsies and Steve and Di are in Stuart where we’ll be to celebrate the New Year, Joe Nekola parked his boat in Georgetown SC and rented a car to visit family for Christmas, Robin and Jim parked their boat at Palm Coast and got a car to visit family. We’ll miss them and see them soon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Protection in the Georgia Marshes

We were in Thunderbolt GA for two days, just 7 miles south of Savannah. Stayed at Hinkley’s Yacht Service, walked to the bus stop and took the bus into Savannah for a day. Did the River Walk which is where the cotton brokers did business in the 1800s. Would have liked to learn more of the history of the place, but the museum was closed for remodeling. The best part about Savannah is their squares. The town was laid out with 22 squares, two blocks apart. Many have a fountain or statue in the center, benches, and lovely homes surrounding them. We walked at least half of them and read the story of each in the tourist booklet.

The highlight of the trip to Thunderbolt was a visit by friends Wally and Karen. Wally and Norm have been friends since working together at Miller Brewing. They ran five marathons together and Karen and Vicki tagged along to the cool locations (NYC, Boston, DC). Wally and Karen were on their way from home in Ormond Beach FL to Milwaukee for a Christmas visit with the kids. They left on their trip a day early just to stop and visit us! They are very good friends, indeed. Wally confessed that he gets all the news from our blog through neighbor Pete who reads it regularly and gives Wally the highlights. According to Wally, Pete says it’s better than any reality show! We’ve never met Pete, but plan to call him when we’re near Ormond Beach.

For the past two nights we’ve anchored in the marshes of Georgia between Savannah and Brunswick – Kilkenny Creek and Frederica River. The anchorages in Georgia are typically tidal rivers running through marshland. Did you know that the tidal highs and lows are about six hours apart and move a bit later each day? I have to say that I (Vicki) didn’t know squat about tides until the start of this trip. Tides in Georgia are as serious as they are in Maine. Nine foot tides here between Savannah and Brunswick.

Tides affect the amount of rode (chain) put out when anchoring. It’s calculated using the depth of the water plus the distance from the water to the bow. Norm usually uses a scope of 5 times that measurement (more if stormy weather). Nine feet of tide adds a lot to the amount of chain put out. If the weather is stormy or windy enough that the chain will fully stretch out, we need to be sure that there is sufficient swing room. There wasn’t quite enough room one night near Charleston and we ended up starting the engine at o’dark-hundred to winch in some of the chain so as not to swing into the island behind us.

The Georgia rivers run through acres and acres of marsh with a single type and uniform height marsh grass. Not a lot of scenic variety and little protection from wind or storms. “Protection” would be trees or hills --of which there are few – just miles and miles of Marsh grass. Fortunately we haven’t needed protection because the weather has been very ‘settled’ --- that’s marine-speak for low wind, wave and no storms. The only reason we might need protection is that these remote anchorages seem quite Deliverance-esque. We’ve been the only boat anchored in the last three anchorages . Whenever the occasional boat goes by, I keep an ear open to make sure it keeps on moving! Norm mentioned yesterday that he needs to get to work on buying that stainless steel shotgun – yeah, Georgia’s outback will make you think of things like that.

The peacefulness of these places is incredible. Thebeauty last night was spectacular - the sunset was red, red, red. And the stars were so bright – they were reflecting in the water. God created quite a special place for us - the Earth is amazing. His is the real protection we need on this journey.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When Will It Get Warm?

Our most humble apologies for being absent from the blog for a while. We have been very busy with continuing our cruising south, anchoring, and visiting some historic places. We are currently anchored in a small creek off the Intracoastal Waterway near Hilton Head, SC. It was rated very well by several cruise guides but we have found that the depths are not “as advertised”. Took us a bit to find a safe spot. Anyway, we seem to be ok now.

We spent the last two nights in Beaufort, SC. On our way there, we had to traverse some "skinny cuts" on the Intracoastal Waterway. A cut is a man-made ditch that connects rivers, creeks, etc. Here is a pic of some unlucky sailor who aimed the pointy end on the wrong side of the channel. See what we mean about the depths on this waterway?

Beaufort is a charming small town with a nice marina and staff (only one in this town). There were good restaurants and the weather cooperated, although a bit windy. Come to think of it, it’s been windy for a week. Rick and Lynnie, aboard Rickshaw, stayed behind there to rest up and to complete some on-board chores they have wanted to get done for some time. So, Vicki and I are alone again on our journey south. Here we are just after lunch at one of the local restaurants. Nap time?

We spent the previous two nights in an anchorage just south of Charleston, SC. The weather was not good. So, we did not get the dinghy down. In fact, we were in a very narrow creek and when we spun around as the tidal currents and strong winds (up to 40 knots) changed, we almost found our stern in a patch of sea grass. Storms were present or threatening for the two days. We were glad to be out of there. Rick captured these pictures of a rainbow. It was a perfect arch, but the whole thing is not visible on the camera.

Prior to Charleston, we spent one night in a marina in Ocean Isle, NC because the temps were dropping to 27 degrees. When it gets that cold, we like to be hooked up to dock electricity for running the heaters all night.

Tomorrow we’ll make a short run to Thunderbolt, GA. Thunderbolt is a small town on the Intracoastal Waterway about 7 miles south of Savannah, GA. There we’ll meet with our good friends Wally and Karen Juzenas who will stop to visit while on their family holiday migration North to Milwaukee. We'll also take the bus into Savannah for some sightseeing.