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The Great Loop

Little River To Carolina Beach    Chart
(Lat: 34º 3.255'N Lon: 77º 53.373'W )

We got up, ate breakfast and took a long walk all around boardwalk area that covers all the 3 marinas in Coquina Harbour and the town houses along the ICW. After the walk, our friends, Dee and Ladd, picked us up and we had a very nice lunch. Dee is recovering from surgery and she has the most energy in the morning and then by mid afternoon she needs to rest so we knew we wouldn't see them again before heading to Carolina Beach the next day. Since it was only 2 pm, we thought why not make the 3 hour trip now and sleep in our townhouse and have the whole day to catch up on things.
We hurriedly got things ready and departed in time to make the Sunsent Bridge at 3 pm and we were off. The weather was sunny but a storm was moving in and the winds really started to pick up. We had no sea conditions issues or much traffic in the ICW. By the time we arrived at the Cape Fear the wind was really kicking up so we did experience 2-3 ft chop in the Cape Fear but it wasn't a long ride or a problem.
While we were on the water we heard the Coast Guard announce that some of the swing and lift bridges were closing because of strong wind building in the area so we were concerned about conditions at the marina for docking our boat. Sure enough, when we got to the marina the winds were howling and the current was really running. It was very challenging getting the boat in the slip and it took us 3 attempts but we got it in safe and sound. We sprayed down the boat quickly, took some food, medicines and a few other things off the boat and headed to our townhouse. We will unpack the rest of the boat over the next few days.
It was very nice being back in our lovely townhouse and we enjoyed the space and sleeping in a king size bed. Jackie took some pictures on the trip and they are shown and captioned below.
This will be our last entry for a while as we are going to take 6-10 weeks off before heading north on the boat. As you can tell from our web site, we have had a great time and a lot of adventure but it will be good to be on land and with our family and friends for a while.
Charleston To Little River    Chart
(Lat: 33º 51.621'N Lon: 78º 38.229'W )

This morning we left about 7:40 am in cloudy skies and about 15-20 mph winds. The ICW was relatively calm so we didn't have any water issues. Our intent was to go to Georgetown and stay there for the night. We made good time and we were at Georgetown 11 am and we decided it was too early to stop. So we called our friends in Little River to see if the slip they arranged for us would be open a day earlier than planned and they said no problem. We went the extra distance in 4 hours and arrived at 3 pm. We bought fuel, pumped out the holding tank, docked the boat and sprayed down the boat. We saw our friend Ladd who has the Sea Tow franchise for Myrtle Beach and talked to Dee but she is recovering from surgery and was having a difficult day. We told her not to worry, to get her rest and we will see her tomorrow. We went to dinner at Umbertos in the harbor area, they do a nice job and there is always plenty of food. After dinner we were tired so we decided to just chill out the rest of the evening.
On the trip Jackie was able to get a blurry picture of Ft. Sumpter (due to the choppy waters and overcast sky), the Charleston Light House catching it at the right time as the light shows in the picture and a number of other photos we will describe in the picture caption section (click on the picture and the captions will appear with a larger version of the picture).
Charleston, SC

We got up early and rode our bikes to the Coast Guard Station to do our personal identity check and finger prints to renew our Merchant Marina Licenses. We thought it might take all morning but they were very efficient and we were back at the boat by 9:15 am. We did a few things around the boat and then took the 10 am marina shuttle to the Historic District. We walked through The Market" and up Bay Street. On Bay Street we walked upon the start of a St. Patricks Day Parade. It was fun to watch the small parade, old cars, bag pipe bands, etc. In the pictures note the sign on the Irish Setter.
We then walked through the shops and had a nice lunch at Hymans Seafood House.
At lunch we talked about going to the SC Aquarium this afternoon since we had the time and then leave in the morning and take the boat to Georgetown instead of spending another day here. We walked to the aquarium and enjoyed it very much. We are aquarium fans and we help support the NC Aquariums. After visitng the aquarium we called the marina and they sent the shuttle to pick us up and take us back to the marina.
Tonight we are going to review the charts for our trip tomorrow, have dinner and just chill out.
Jackie took several pictures of the Coast Guard Station, the parade, a falcon and bald eagle in the aquarium and a few historical buildings.
Beaufort, SC To Charleston    Chart
(Lat: 32º 46.547'N Lon: 79º 56.985'W )

We didn't get a lot of rest last night as we had very dangerous weather from about 5 pm until 1 am. There were very strong winds, thunder storms and tornados all around us. We watched the storm approach and pass us on our Sirius Weather Satellite and TV. At 10pm we actually went out and added more fenders and lines to further protect the boat. We rocked and rolled quite a bit but had no serious incident. It is still very concerning being on a boat tied to a dock in threatening weather. This storm was very similar to the storm when we were in Fernadina Beach. Jackie took a pretty picture of the sky when the clouds first started to roll in but things went down hill from there in a hurry.
This morning we left at 7:30 am which is about as early as you can really have any real visibility. We started out in pretty high tide but as we went North the tide went South. We got through the really shallow areas early enough to still have decent water. As we arrived at Charleston, we were at low tide but the water there is pretty deep so not as big an issue. In a couple of places on the route we were in 5 -6 feet of water and it wasn't even low tide. I think some of the sail boats behind us may have had a challenge later. The day was sunny but with high winds so the sounds were a little choppy.
In a pretty curvy and narrow part of the ICW, we saw two good size center console boats hard aground way up into the grass. Not sure how they got there other than traveling in the dark and too fast. Must have missed their turn. Not sure how they are going to get the boats out as there are no roads there and they are way above even the high tide areas.
About 15 miles South of Charleston we passed a working boat yard and Jackie took a few pictures. She also took a picture of a different looking large boat near us at the City Docks. The trip took just under 4 hours and we fueled up, cleaned the boat and went to a late lunch. Since we didn't get a lot of rest yesterday, we took the afternoon and evening to watch the basketball tournaments and golf. Maybe even had a little nap or two.
Tomorrow we go early to the Coast Guard Station near by and prove our identity, have finger prints taken, etc, as we renew our Captains Licenses. You have to renew every 5 years. Since 9/11 you have to do this in person. After the Coast Guard we will probably head to the historic area to look around, have lunch, shop, etc.
Beaufort, SC

We had a fairly restful and fun day. After breakfast we walked the short distance to town and witnessed a community kayak race and saw two really neat Great Dane dogs. Male is Watson and female Molly. We then had lunch with our friends Gary and Lynne. We had a nice time catching up on things but wouldn't you know that we forgot to take their picture for this blog entry.
After lunch, Jackie and I took the horse carriage historical tour ride and it was very interesting. Beaufort has a great deal of history including, indian wars, Spanish/French/English intersts, Revolutionary War, Civil War, slave, great plantations and wealth, hurricanes and a great fire. Jackie took a number of pictures of some of the really lovely homes in the historic area. Horses name is Gilbert and they got him from an Amish farm in Ohio.
After the tour we borrowed the marina loaner car again and drove out to Lowes to get a few supplies.
Tonight we are going to eat light on the boat and chill out. Tomorrow morning we will leave at first good light which is about 7:30 am with Daylight Savings Time. We have about a 66 mile trip to Charleston. It is a pretty trip but we will have some shallow areas to go through so we have to be ever vigilant.
Hilton Head To Beaufort, SC.    Chart
(Lat: 32º 25.77'N Lon: 80º 40.439'W )

We had a short easy trip today from Harbour Town to Beaufort. Trip took only an hour and 40 minutes and at least 20 minutes of that was a very large no wake/idle speed zone as you approach Beaufort. It was overcast but we still saw some dolphins, a dredging vessel and took a few pictures when we passed Paris Island. We docked, sprayed off the boat and had lunch in town. After lunch we took the marina loaner car to the grocery and then just relaxed. I watched some ACC and Big 10 tournament BBall and then some golf. Jackie got the Easter Cards ready to send to the grand kids and also watched some golf. We are having dinner on the boat and then may do some more walking around town. Tomorrow we are meeting friends, Gary and Lynne, who live in the area and bought our 460 Sundancer a couple of years ago. They are going to visit us on the boat and then we will have lunch together. We are looking forward to seeing them again.
Harbour Town

Today we did a few things on the boat, walked and again took our bikes for a long ride. Weather is just perfect. Jackie took several pictures. One of bronz man, eating and reading called "Lunch Break", alligator in a pond, view from our lunch table at the South Harbour Marina and Shops and some really cool Maccaws. One of the two blue birds actually lifts his left leg and waves to people.
Tomorrow we are off to Beaufort,SC.
Harbour Town

We took advantage of the great weather and free time to explore by foot and bike. We went to a little bakery/cafe place and while there met a couple who live here and since there were no seats available we invited them to sit at our table. We had a great time talking and found out they have purchased an older house on the golf course and are redoing it. They invited us to stop by and see it when we went on our bike ride. After breakfast we walked around the marina and looked as the boats, most of which make our boat look tiny.
By 11 am the temp warm enough to ride and we hoped on the bikes and went to their house. They are doing a great job redoing the house and they really will have a gem of a place on the #7 tee which is a great par 3. This is the course where the Heritage Tournament is held the week after the Masters. We had a great time talking to them and invited them to stop by and see the boat, which hopefully they will do tomorrow. He is also interested in buying a boat and we told him we would be happy to work with them in that endeavor.
We then hopped on the bikes and road to the Sea Pines Ocean Club for lunch and decided to ride on the beach. We rode all the way along the ocean to Sea Crest which is the North end of the island. We then road via the bike paths all the way to the South Harbour Beach and Marina area to look around and then back to Harbour Town. I was leading the way and missed a turn and we ended up all the way to the horse stable area and then had to retrace our trip and got back to the boat about 4 pm. Great day and great exercise.
Jackie took some pictures of the day and they are below.
Tomorrow we think we are going to ride back to the South Harbour area and have lunch and spend a little more time there.
Tonight Jackie is doing some laundry, we are watching TV, doing email, etc.
Right Whale Spotted    Chart
(Lat: 31º 44.555'N Lon: 80º 48.706'W )

On our way up via the ocean from St. Simons Island to Hilton Head we spotted a Right whale off the coast of northern GA. You are not allowed to get within 500 ft. of any whale and if you see one you need to be cautious because there could be more. We stayed more than 500 ft. away and just slowed down to observe from a distance. Jackie snapped a couple of pictures but you can barely see it as the distance and bobbing of the boat in the ocean. If you click on the picture it will enlarge and you might be able to see it.
You are required to call in the spotting to the Coast Guard and we did that. They then put out broadcasts to all boaters in the area of the spotting and telling people to stay away. It was very exciting. Jackie was driving the boat at the time and spotted what she originally thought might be dolphins but then realized it was much too big to be a dolphin and then we thought it might be a large log but as we got closer it was clearly a whale. This entry should show you where we spotted the whale. In a second entry we will put our position at Harbour Town at Hilton Head.
St. Simons Island to Hilton Head    Chart
(Lat: 32º 8.32'N Lon: 80º 48.706'W )

We were able to go outside today for the 115 mile trip. The ocean was very smooth and we started in sunshine and then went in and out of clouds. It was much more relaxing then zig zagging our way through the shallows of GA. In a separate entry we talk about spotting a Wright Whale and even show the location.
Trip took us 4 hours and when we arrived we fueled up (highest fuel price by far $4.26/gal plus 7% tax/very concerning), pumped out and then docked and sprayed the boat down. Then a late lunch and now some relaxing. We love the marina at Harour Town and we plan to spend 3 nights here before heading up to Beaufort, SC. Jackie took a few pictures and we will add more as we explore the next two days.
St. Simons Island

Today we spent the early morning getting some tax work and other paper work done and reviewed the charts for our trip tomorrow. It looks like we will have to go via ICW because ocean is forecast to be 2-3' and NE winds. That means we would have the waves on our bow the whole trip and that makes for a messy and long day.
The marina has loaner bikes and around 11am we started riding them all over the island exploring and doing some shopping. We had a nice lunch on the balcony of pub in the historic area where we could see the inlet water. We rode the bikes along the waterfront park area and by the light house and then to the shopping district where we went to a branch of our bank and did some banking business. We then went to a drug store and bought a few items and finally to a grocery store. All in all we spent about 5 hours on the bike excursion and it was a great way to see the island, plus the weather was wonderful.
Jackie took a few pictures along the way and a sunrise picture early this morning.
Fernandina Beach To St. Simons Island    Chart
(Lat: 31º 9.965'N Lon: 81º 24.905'W )

The strong winds disappeared last night and we were able to head to St. Simons Island. Georgia is know to have large tide changes and a lot of shoaling so you have to be really attentive to reading your charts, chartplotter and the markers to stay out of trouble. We did leave on a rising tide so it did give us the most favorable water conditions but if you lose focus and get just a little bit out of the channel you can have a serious problem. We did well and arrived with no issues but it is a relief when you get off the water.
Jackie took pictures of the paper factory and a fishing fleet as we left Fernandina and then several pictures while were on the water.
We are staying in St. Simons tomorrow and plan to ride our bikes around the island. They have good bike paths and as long as it doesn't get too cold we plan to spend most of the day exploring on our bikes.
The marina has an old car, they will left transients use for an hour and we used that today to do a quick drive around so we could decide where we want to take the bikes tomorrow. The trip took us a little less than 3 hours and when we arrived we cleaned the boat and filled it with fuel. We then had lunch at the marina restaurant and then explored by car. St. Simons is a very pretty island. At sunset Jackie took some great pictures of the marina, a frieghter heading toward Brunswick and a beautiful sunset.
Fernandina Beach

We had to spend another day here as the winds were too high to safely move the boat. Wind was from the West at 25mph sustained with gust to over 40. Jackie took several pictures of the water and trees to show the wind strength but the water ones always make it look calmer than it was. The waves were breaking over the outside floatind dock at the marina. The marina also refused to pump any fuel as the conditions were too bad. The winds combined with New Moon ebb tide really pushed the water out of the bay and marina. The dock master said the water was the lowest he had seen in 25 years.
We went to the hardware store and on our walk found a nice little farmers market to pick up some veggies, etc. We did a few more maintenance items on the boat and I finished reading a book I had been reading for a while.
Since we couldn't get to St. Simons, our friends (Dee and Ladd of Captains' Choice Yacht Sales) who were vacationing in the area drove down to us so we could see them and have dinner. We had a really fun evening and will see them again when we stop in Myrtle Beach on our way back up the ICW.
We are ready to get moving again and the weather on Sunday is supposed to be very good for the trip.
Fernandina Beach

We watched our Sirius weather satellite and it clearly showed that we would not move the boat to St. Simons, GA. It rained heavily with severe thunder storms and even a tornado watch pretty much the whole day. I have taken 2 pictures of our Sirius weather image on our chart plotter to show the storm conditions. If you look at the picture closely you can see a little circle with a boat image. That is our boat and the weather related to where we are. The top of the first picture you can even see our Lat and Long coordinates. Click on the picture and it will enlarge so you can see the boat. These digital cameras are really incredible.
Weather days are part of the trip and we try to use them to catch up on cleaning side the boat, reading, paying bills, boat maintenance, etc. Some areas on the boat are too tight for me to fit in to do the maintenance but Jackie can get in there and is really becoming quite the boat engineer.
We received a call from people we know in the Pinehurst area and they were on Amelia Island and had walked by our boat. We met them in a near by restaurant for a drink and then we showed them around the boat. It was a nice diversion from the stormy day.
St. Augsutine to Fernandina Beach    Chart
(Lat: 30º 40.2'N Lon: 81º 27.998'W )

We had a very nice day of cruising to the very northern tip of FL. We made good time as there were very few restricted zones and very little traffic. The weather was great the whole way and sea conditions very calm. The trip took a little over 3.5 hours and when we arrived we fueled up and then docked the boat. On the way passed the Navy Base at the Jacksonville Inlet, then a really large boat yard where they were restoring or repairing very large boats and rebuilding a recovery boat. Just before reaching our destination we met a large tug and barge head in a pretty narrow channel. We exchanged information with the tug so he knew how we were going to pass each other. The tug Capt. was very hard to understand because of his garbled talking. He could have been a train station announcer in Grand Central Station.
We walked around town a little and had lunch and then took a taxi cab to the grocery store as we were really in need of stocking up on items. We probably bought too many things but we were not sure when we would get to a real grocery store for a while so better to be safe than sorry.
The historic town is very nice with a lot of little shops and restaurants. This is our last night in FL unless the weather is to stormy to move the boat tomorrow. We plan to go to St. Simons, GA, tomorrow for a couple of days and then on to Hilton Head.
St. Augustine

We had a nice evening last night walking the town and having dinner at Columbia Restaurant. We really love their salad and Spanish dinners. Ryan took some really good picture, even one reflective picture of the St. Augustine Cathedral.
They also had quite a few bikers from Bike Week in Daytona up here probably stopping on their way to or from Daytona. They had welcoming signs up for bikers and special parking places to encourage them being here.
Today we went out for breakfast and then got a box for Ryan to pack his clothes to mail back to Ohio vs. fuss with them through the airport. We then walked around town and looked in a number of shops, had lunch at A1A Brewery overlooking the marina and generally relaxed. The shuttle picked Ryan up around 4:30 pm and Jackie and I cleaned the inside of the boat and did some laundry. We had a great time with Ryan and will miss his presence. He plans to join us several times on our trip and we look forward to those visits.
Daytona To St. Augustine    Chart
(Lat: 29º 53.526'N Lon: 81º 18.566'W )

Today there is a storm front passing through so we left before 8 am and boated up to St. Augustine. It started sunny but then clouded up and the wind was really blowing hard. We had more unrestricted water than anywhere else so far so we made good time getting her in under 3 hours. We took a few pictures along the way of some boats and some historic landmarks along the way. Winds and tidal currents were really whipping around when we docked but we got in without any issues. We cleaned up the boat and then had lunch at A1A Rest/Pub. We love their beer cheese soup and pumpernikle bread so we were happy campers. We then walked over to the historic Fort Castillo de San Marcos. Then we were all running out of steam from all the walking yesterday and so we are back at the boat resting and preparing to sit out the storm that is close by. Tomorrow we are staying in St. Augustine and Ryan will catch an airport shuttle in the afternoon to Jacksonville for his flight back to Ohio.

We stayed in Daytona to take a break from boating and boy did we have a non boating day. Our whole focus was getting around the Bike Show both on the mainland side and over on the beach. Most of the hardware things like cycles, trailers, all kinds of paraphalia were on the main land side on Beach St. Most of the partying was on the beach side and it was jammed with bikers and observers, having a good time. We must have walked 8 miles up Beach St. and then over the Main St. bridge to Daytona Beach. We walked past all the shops, looked at a huge number of bikes, clothing stores, food places and bikers dressed and un-dressed in all kinds of biker clothing. We had a great time bike and people watching and even climbed in or on a few to see how they felt. It was fairly wild for mid day but I understand tonight would be even more open. It was a lot of fun and great exercise walking so far. We even took a long walk on the beach. We sampled a few food fair type items, took pictures of bikes and people and then we had a wonderful dinner in a new restaurant right on the marina property called the Aquarium Restaurant and Bar. It is on the water and is beautifully decorated to look like an aquarium and had lights that changed colors on some of the table, in the restrooms, etc. The food was very reasonably priced and well prepared and served. It has only been open 3 days and they are still completing some of the finishing touches but it is a great place to eat. Their menues light up when you open them for easy reading and so does the folder holding the dinner bill.The following pictures are from our day that we felt we could include in our blog as Ryan took some other pictures more suited for emailing friends and probably not appropriate for the blog. Tomorrow we move up to St. Augustine and hope to get there before the next storm front passes through.
Cocoa Village To Daytona    Chart
(Lat: 29º 12.182'N Lon: 81º 0.864'W )

We had a good trip on a very pretty day. The first two thirds of the trip went quickly as we were able to run a 25 mph. Then as we approached the waters leading to and from New Smyrna Beach the ICW was primarily no wake for Manatee protection or traffic. From New Smyrna to Daytona we were at low tide and the water got quite shallow even in the ICW. Two sailboats were aground in the channel but toward the edge. We picked our way through the shallow waters and even helped a larger boat trailing us stay out of trouble. When we got to the entrance of our marina it was low tide and I mis-read the sign on the water and turned to enter. I was uncertain so I went at idle speed and then I looked up and saw the green marker I was looking for but instead of having a 1 on it, it had a 3 which meant it was the second green going in. I put the boat in neutral but gently got hung up in the raised silt area. I might have been able to rock the boat out but I didn't want to damage the props or fill the cooling systems with silt so we shut everything down and waited for Sea Tow to easily and gently pull us free. We ran the boat up and down the main channel to make sure we had not damaged anything and everything was fine. We entered the marina, fueled up and pumped out our holding tank. We then went to the slip they assigned and were finishing tying up when a guy came up to the Dock Assistant who lead us to this slip and said that he has rented the slip full time and wanted to put his boat there. I told him I didn't mind moving to another slip of the same size, etc, as long as one was available. The Dock Assistant called the Dock Master and we were assigned a very nice slip in a different area of the marina. So we untied, drove the boat over to the new location and hooked everything up. We then sprayed down the boat and headed to town.
This is Biker Week and there are 500,000 bikers here. Since Ryan, Jackie and I all ride cycles we explored for the evening and had dinner at a restaurant called My Cousin Vinny's Italian Rest. We were on the upper balcony serenaded with a combination of Dean Martin songs and the roars of cycles passing by. The aroma was also a combination of Italian food and cycle exhaust. All in all a very different by fun evening.
Ft. Pierce To Cocoa Village    Chart
(Lat: 28º 21.466'N Lon: 80º 43.543'W )

We had clear skies and calm seas for our run up to Cocoa Village. We also had a lot more open water so we could ran at 25mph most of the time. Ryan drove about half the time and did a great job. He is really getting a sense of handling the boat. Jackie took pictures of the an early morning water scape, a sail boat hard aground, a frieghter entering Ft. Pierce Harbor with tugs front and back, etc.
Before the trip we walked next to the marina for a farmers market festival and Jackie took some pictures there also.
When we got to our slip in the Cocoa Village Marina(previously called the Whitley Marina and Yacht Club), we cleaned the boat and then walked up to Cocoa Village, only two blocks away, and they were having an arts festival with 2 streets blocked off and all sorts of crafts, food, etc. We came back to the boat to relax a little before we go back to town for dinner at a Brazillian Steakhouse.
Jackie was in the cockpit area and she saw a Manatee next to the boat. It is pretty hard to see but she took a pictures.