The Duchess Speaks About South Carolina Challenges

Posted on Posted in Sailing/Boating
Saturday, April 22, 2017

Well, almost two weeks have gone by and so much has happened. Right now we are anchored at the Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina. Elmar is in the bowels of the sail locker, trying to find the wires for the depth sounder at the wheel, so he can connect it. I finally have some time to catch up on my blogs.

Mercedessy covered events up to April 10, so I will take it from there.

On Tuesday April 11, Pastor Roy and his wife came over to point out anchorages all the way up the ICW. We poured over several charts and I made notes on them as he spoke. He has done the trip several times and wished he could do it again. He is a wonderful man.

Wednesday I did last minute shopping and loading and on Thursday April 13, 2017 at 1130 we cast our lines off the dock with several residents waving us off.

It was a glorious, warm, sunny day. We settled in, Elmar motoring. We are not using any sails, they are too old. The wind tousling our hair, the sun warming our skin, the gentle rocking of the boat, the scent of salty water, it was wonderful to feel and smell it once again. As we turned north into the ICW, we waved goodbye to Stuart.

All went well until we tried to turn into an anchorage on the south side of the Fort Pierce Inlet. There was an extra buoy that wasn’t on the chart and I mistook it for the one to lead into the channel that we wanted. Well, we ran hard aground! It was evening, a falling tide, and a big sailboat sailed between us and the offending buoy, which was only two boat lengths away from us! How could he not get stuck, going right over the shallow spot, and he was much bigger than we were?

Even though we thought we would  have to wait till the tide came up again, eventually Elmar wiggled us free and we drove up the channel and anchored. Day One was done!

Friday took us to Merritt Island, Saturday to New Smyrna Beach and Easter Sunday we anchored at the old cement plant in Flagler Beach were 18 years ago it was so full of boats that we invited the Relax from Holland to raft up to us and thus made new friends. This time around, half the anchorage was roped off, leaving only space for one or two more little boats, but none came, we were the only ones.


Sunset at Merritt Island, Space Coast                     Anchorage in New Smyrna, Florida

Monday we negotiated the dreaded Matanza Inlet with 8 ft of water under the keel. What a relief not to have to dig our way through like the last time! But, we celebrated too soon.

As I went down into the cabin, I saw steam coming from the sail locker. Something was boiling in there! Elmar checked the engine temperature and it was HIGH. He turned off the motor. I checked the charts and saw the St. Augustine anchorage two buoys down. Elmar turned the motor back on and headed towards it. I watched the liquid bubbling like mad in the container, leaking through the lid and then the lid blew off, spewing most of the boiling liquid over the stuff in the locker. But we made it to the anchorage. Almost. We ran aground. The boats in here seemed to be live-aboards. One of them watched us and yelled something, to get closer to shore. We finally did and he came rowing over. It turned out he was from Toronto and willing to help a fellow Canadian. He told us where Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowes were located, in case we needed parts.

By now Elmar was an expert at moving all the stuff out of the quarter berth in order to get access to the engine. He found a broken fan belt that he had inspected two weeks before and had found it fine. He quickly installed the spare he had brought along.  But he still could not find why the engine was not getting any cooling water.

Once everything was back in order, we finally fell into bed. In the middle of the night I felt and heard a ‘bump’. I went outside to see our bow kissing another sailboat, which was kissing another sailboat. Where in the heck did they come from? I woke Elmar, who was oblivious to all, and it turned out that the tide had pushed us over our anchor and into them. Elmar, still half asleep, drove the boat around for quite a while before he oriented himself and re-anchored. Oh well, just another day in paradise.

Shortly after we left St. Augustine the next morning, we argued which buoy lead out of the inlet and which one we ought to follow. I got hot under the collar; because I was convinced he was going out an inlet that is too shallow for us. He insisted on going his way – following two other boats – and it turned out that he was right. A huge dredge hid the crucial buoy where we needed to turn. The other boats obviously knew that this buoy was hidden behind the dredge and therefore drove around the dredge, while I was trying to convince Elmar that he ought to turn before the dredge. Which would have put us right up onto the sand bar.  Sometimes it is good that Elmar is stubborn.

A couple of hours later we approached the Palm Valley Bridge, a picture of which had hung on our fridge for a year to entice us to fulfil our dream of cruising. I had taken a picture of it again when we went through it on the way down and I now wanted to take another picture – this time going home. Elmar called and called the bridge for an opening, but it just would not answer. Well, of course it did not. When we came close enough, we realized why. This time around, it was no longer a bascule, but a 65 foot fixed bridge! And they don’t talk!

We anchored in Jackson Creek in Fernandina Beach in front of an old, stinky factory. Well, some things have not changed in 18 years.

It took us six days this time. 18 years ago we covered the same distance in 12 days, but that was with a few days of rest in some places. So far, so good. It was a perfect week with just a few hiccups. The weather was beautiful, bright sunshine every day, temperature in the 80’s, not too windy, no waves, gorgeous.

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