Wednesday, 11/25/09

It’s Wednesday, November 25, 2009 and we are in St Marys, Georgia. Laura took advantage of a local service to truck boaters to the closest grocery store and I walked about ½ mile to the community center where there is free Internet.

On Thursday, November 19th we received our “new” transmission late in the afternoon. I worked until 8 pm that night to install the transmission and hook up the new water lines to the cooler. I had removed the old transmission and purchased all the water lines and fittings I thought I’d need. The technician I talked to at Hansen Marine told me our transmission was “on the border” of being too small for our motor and the cooler would prevent future problems. The cost was only $150 so I couldn’t turn it down. Hansen Marine was excellent with us and even paid for the overnight shipping of the new tranny which I’m sure was a couple hundred dollars.

Friday we spent the morning cleaning up the boat and bring the broken transmission to a local UPS Store for shipping back to Hansen. As usual, we found friendly people at one of the docks who let us tie up our dinghy and leave it while we took a short walk to the UPS Store. There was also a nice grocery store right next door so after we dropped off the big package, we used our wheelie (little fold up cart) to truck back a couple bags of groceries.

Just before noon we pulled up the anchor and put our new transmission to the test against the strong currents in Snows Cut. There were no problems this time as we motored against the 3 knot currents for the next 1 ½ miles. As we popped out onto the Cape Fear River, the currents were just switching to the ebb which would help us go down to Cape Fear. We zoomed down the river at 7 – 8 knots while letting the mainsheet out to catch the following wind.

The weather forecast was good for an offshore run so we decided to exit the ICW just before Southport and were off-shore around 2 pm. After getting the boat on course for Charleston and setting our 3 sails for the broad reach (wind aft of our beam) we enjoyed one of our nicest ocean sails ever. The swells were 3-4 feet but they were behind us and very long. As each wave would catch us, it would gently lift up the boat and push us forward. Then, as it passed underneath us, the boat would settle on the back side of the wave and start picking up speed again on the next wave. It was very nice.

The seas were so calm, we decided to grill a steak on deck and eat dinner in the cockpit while underway. From what we can remember, this is the first time we’ve done this while on the ocean. Dinner was excellent but the seas and winds picked up again shortly after dinner. The boat was sailing nicely as we headed farther and farther from shore because the land bows away from our course around Myrtle Beach. I guess the farthest we were was about 25 miles from land.

Winds and seas picked up a little overnight which made it a little rough for sleeping. But, we usually don’t sleep well during our first night at sea so we were prepared to nap and relax during our off-watch time.

Things calmed down a little in the morning hours and we sailed into Charleston Harbor after a 120 mile run without running the engine. We continued down the ICW toward Beaufort, SC and anchored about 30 miles from Charleston. We had covered about 200 ICW miles in the last two days (and one night). Nice!

Sunday morning we continued down the ICW and anchored in Beaufort, SC around 2 pm. Turns out we had helping currents and winds almost all day so we made great time. It was a relaxing evening on the anchor and we watched a little TV before going to bed early.

Monday was to be another off-shore day so we left Beaufort around 7 am for the trip down the Beaufort River and out the Port Royal Sound. This was the first time I had gone through this inlet but there were no problems other than the typical Georgia scenario of having to go about 12 miles off-shore before turning south toward our destination – the shore in Georgia is very shallow for a long way out. During the night we were about 25 miles off-shore and the water was only 40 feet deep.

It was another lovely night on the ocean – especially since we were in no hurry. We only had to make 4.5 knots to be in St Marys inlet after sunup. Once again the winds were behind us so we had the full jib and mainsail out all night. The boat kept a decent speed until about 8 pm when we started the engine and ran at low RPMs the rest of the night. We could see many sailboats and shrimp boats around us all night.

Around 7 am we entered the channel just outside St Marys and slowly made our way up the St Marys River to the great anchorage right in front of the town. This time we had slept fairly well as the boat just barely moved all night.

St Marys has a great Thanksgiving celebration for boaters that was started 9 years ago by the locals. Now it is an all week party with something different every night. Tuesday night was a “painkiller” party where you bring your own rum and the mixers are supplied. They went through 10 gallons of mixers (fruit juices) before we left there and headed to a local pub, Seagles, for a pot-luck snack party. The place was hopping with about 100 boaters plus many locals. I was surprised to meet several people who were not on their own boats but drove into town just for the great party!

Tonight (Wednesday) there is an oyster roast with cash bar. Tomorrow the Thanksgiving feast starts around 1 pm. The locals supply turkey and ham while boaters bring all the fixin’s. I’m looking forward to a great meal but we both will miss our families during the holidays.

We’ll probably leave here on Friday or Saturday and our plan is to pay for our first marina in St Augustine. That will give us a chance to do laundry, fill up our water tanks and spend a little time ashore before heading down the Florida coast to The Keys.

Happy Thanksgiving from Second Wind!


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