Onward Cruise Journal 2007-2008

ICW Northbound 13 April – May 2008

13 Apr 2008 Lake Worth to Vero Beach

  • Got my ICW hat on and made quick time through the bridges up the Vero Beach to spend a couple of days working on my income tax returns – Oh Joy!
  • Treated myself to dinner at the Riverside Café on the ICW just below the marina. Had a “normal” American meal and realized that it was 3 times what I had gotten used to eating in the Bahamas. A challenge to try not to revert to US habits.
14-16 Apr 2008 Vero Beach
  • Monday. All day working on tax returns. Could be worse: I could be ashore in the cold doing this. Did enough to decide to just get an extension so I have time to check things over.
  • Tuesday. Rented a car to run errands. Mailed tax extension form and then off to shop till I dropped – almost literally: Marine Liquidators; West Marine; Sams Club; Home Depot; Bed Bath & Beyond; Office Depot; 3 used book stores looking for Patrick O’Brien books; 3 autoparts stores looking in vain for a fan belt tensioning tool; Helseth Marine; Radio Shack; West Marine #2; Publix. I also indulged my craving for an Outback steak dinner. I was beat by the time I got everything back to the boat. I had just enough energy to talk to Kelly who is now in Nassau.
  • Wednesday. Plan was to turn in the car and leave to head north. When I got back to the marina, the wind was increasing and was up to >15 kts by the time I was aboard. It continued to increase to 25 kts so I elected to stay until I could safely maneuver Onward off the raft and up to the fuel dock.
17 Apr 2008 Vero Beach to Titusville
  • Made a quick passage to Titusville and anchored off the town marina just before sunset.
18 Apr 2008 Titusville to Daytona Beach
  • Had a relaxing morning, as I wanted to go into town before moving on. I dinghied ashore to shop: West Marine – bought one of those aluminum handcarts that I saw at Black Point. Also bought some fresh scones from the bakery before going to the used bookstore. They had no O’Brien novels but I was able to purchase a complete set of paperbacks of C.S. Forrester’s Horatio Hornblowere series.
A long uneventful trip up to Daytona Beach where I anchored just N of the last fixed bridge at sunset.
19 Apr 2008 Daytona Beach to St. Augustine
  • Arrived in St. Augustine in early afternoon and anchored off the fort where I had anchored in Dec. I quickly went ashore for a walk and had dinner.
20 Apr 2008 St. Augustine to Cumberland Island
  • The weather forecast was for very light winds and no appreciable seas so I make the decision to do a segment of the return trip by “going outside” for the first time. I had avoided ocean segments on the way S because I was still feeling my way singlehanding Onward and I also wanted the experience of doing the ICW for the entire trip. Now, more than 4 months later with numerous ocean crossing segments to, from and between Bahamas island chains, the idea of taking Onward out to sea by myself no longer seems to be a big thing to me. In any case the seas and winds were calms. I traveled about 3-4 mi off shore and saw very few boats. The autopilot commanded the boat it motored N. I took the opportunity to put on my harness and tether and sunbathe on the foredeck for an hour or so.
  • The entrance to Cumberland Sound / St. Mary’s was very easy and I anchored just before sunset off the Ranger Station on Cumberland Island.
  • I went ashore early in the morning and took Ranger Rene Noe’s tour of the island. Nathaniel Green had purchased the island and was developing it as a plantation and live oak lumbering operation just before he died. His wife, Caty, carried on built her mansion, remarried and raised their family there. Thomas Carnegie and his wife bought the derelict site in the 1880s and built a huge home and support structure. She built homes for many of their children there too. Unfortunately arsonists burned down the main mansion
  • early in 20th century. The family donated most of the island to the US in the 1970s and it is now a National Seashore Park. Beautiful beaches, walks through the forest. Quiet except for the sound of the wildlife. Definitely a place to go back to again.
22 Apr 2008 Cumberland Island to Birthday Creek, St. Catherine’s Sound
  • The weather was again favorable so I made another offshore passage: back out Cumberland Sound and up to St. Catherine’s Sound. The wind picked up from the N after a couple of hours and the seas with it – but still easily manageable for Onward. With the seas and the occasional clouds there was no sunbathing on the foredeck this trip. The inlet was easy to traverse and I continued N until I found a quiet creek to anchor for the night. These deep creeks in the marshes are amazing. It is only a short step from the busy ICW to an anchorage where you are alone with the marsh. A neat experience.
23 Apr 2008 Birthday Creek to Beaufort
  • Make an easy trip up to Beaufort and anchored just S of the marina. I went ashore for dinner.
  • I decided to spend the morning sightseeing so I took a carriage tour and walked around a bit. I the course of my walk I came across an outfitters store where Alice, the very nice saleswoman, talked me into buying a “Tilley Hat” with a wide brim for sailing. I actually look pretty good in it.
24 Apr 2008 Beaufort to Tom Point Creek
  • Moved N and found an anchorage in another small, deep creek in the marshes just off the ICW.
25 Apr 2008 Tom Point Creek to Georgetown
  • Again it was neat experiencing sunrise while anchored in a creek in the SC marshes. Standing on the deck, I could look our over the sea of grass and feel totally alone with Nature. No noise but birds out fishing early and the gurgle of the tidal flow past Onward. Only the masts of a couple of sailboats anchored a nm or so away in other creeks could be see
  • A long day motoring through the rivers and dredged channels of the ICW. No real problems although I apparently plowed through the soft muddy bottom at a couple of points at low tide. I decided to push on to Georgetown even though it was nearing sunset. I had to change the engine oil and filter and the same for the generator and it is best to do this someplace where I can get assistance if needed. I anchored in the creek at the N end of the boardwalk at 2030. I was beat so it was early to bed.
26 Apr 2008 Georgetown
  • Up early to work on the oil & filter changes. Pumping out the old oil using my small electric oil change pump was simple and took < 1 hr. Getting the oil filters off & cleaning up the attendant mess took 3 more hours. I tried 3 different oil filter wrenches and none worked well or could be used in the limited access space for the Yanmar’s filter. To my great surprise I found that my 4” pipe wrench actual did the best job! I got a number of ideas for how to make this easier (and cleaner) in the future.
  • Having done my day’s boat chores, I showered and took the dinghy into town for lunch and a walk.
  • I experienced another example that kindness and friendliness pays dividends. I had noticed a man was working all morning on the foredeck of a houseboat tied up to the boardwalk. As I went by in the dinghy, I saw him at the stern and went over to say hello. We chatted about there always being plenty of boat chores to do when you live aboard. I then asked him for advice on good places for lunch and dinner and he gave me some good choices. I then asked him where I could get rid of the waste oil from my morning efforts. He replied there was a recycling place on the edge of town and he would be happy to take my 1.5 gal and dispose of it for me. I was pleasantly astounded. Another example of people willing to be helpful in response to being approached in a friendly manner.
  • I had a delicious flounder lunch at Thomas’s Café. I then took a long walk about town visiting art galleries looking for that original painting for the salon bulkhead. I saw one with a style and nautical subject that I really liked – but I think I want something slightly larger. While walking back to buy some gumbo starter from Morsels, a new specialty food store that just opened up, I came across an antique store with a neat antique carved wood sign for a store called “The Lighthouse”. I turns out the antique store had been using it out on the sidewalk to attract customers and I was able to buy it for 2/3 of the price because it had been outside. This actually added to the character of it in my opinion. Now all I have to do is find a good way to hang it.
27 Apr 2008 Georgetown to N Myrtle Beach
  • Left early to see if I could make it all the way to Southport today. The river and tidal currents were against me so it was slow going. Just before getting to Myrtle Beach, it dawned on me that the chart chip I am using in the chartplotter does not cover all the way to MD. I then paged it ahead and found I was only 60 mi from where its data gave out! I called West Marine in N. Myrtle Beach. They were out of it but suggested the West further N on the ICW. I contacted them and they have the chip for me. They are located in Wrightsville Beach NC and only 0.7 mi from the ICW – walking distance. So the task for tomorrow is to get there and pick up the new chip as I move N.
  • I stopped for the night at Harborgate Marina, just N of the swing bridge. There are no anchorages along this long, narrow cut of the ICW. After docking and refueling I showered and walked next door to a waterfront tiki bar that was recommended for good burgers: Captain Poo’s. It was a unique experience. A combination of marina / beach tiki bar and biker bar. Apparently “Biker Week” is coming up and some bikers were in town early along with some locals. The bikers were all in their late 40’s or early 50’s as were most of the bar patrons. There were 3 young, attractive women bartenders who amused the crowd by having ice cube / water fights with each other with ice cubes going every conceivable place on their persons. It was great to watch the women sitting around the bar as they enjoyed the antics more than the men did. It was also the first bar I’ve encountered with Margaritas on tap! The food was good and the beer was cold while the entertainment was free.
28 Apr 2008 N Myrtle Beach to Wrightsville Beach
  • With an early start I was off to Wrightsville Beach and the West Marine store that had the Navionics chart chip I needed for the rest of the journey to Baltimore. Within 5 nm of Wrightsville, I came upon a sailboat that I had seen earlier on the trip: Patuxent from Solomons MD. I raised them on the VHF to say hello and it turned out they were on their way to Wrightsville Beach. They told me about the great anchorage there which was not obvious from the guides. I throttled back and followed them in. It is a nice big anchorage behind the outer barrier island with > 10’ of water and good holding. The town has a dinghy landing at the E end of the fixed bridge that connects to the barrier island. As I was about to anchor I discovered Anania at anchor.
  • After getting anchored I called Tom to say hello and invite Sandy and him to dinner. They had another engagement but he got me a ride to the West Marine. I was able to get my chip and a few other items I’d been searching for there. I also found a Harris – Teeters food store – great place- to do a bit of shoppin and then walked back to the anchorage, > 1.5 mi. About a half mile out, a local man stopped and gave me a ride in his truck to the dinghy docks. Another example of people being kind to cruisers.
  • I found Arlene and Alan from Patuxent at the dinghy dock but they had already had dinner so I went across the street to a Baha Mex restaurant. It was a jumpin place because I ended up standing up at the bar to have dinner. The food was good and the folks who made room for me were nice to talk with. I got to watch surfer videos and decided it was better not to see these as they would make me thing of what Joe was doing in Hawaii for more than a year. I never fully appreciated the size of those waves and it was better that way.
29 Apr 2008 Wrightsville Beach to Beaufort NC
  • On the way down the ICW, I lucked out on 3 swing briudges. First, I decided to weigh anchor at Wrigthtsville Beach only 12 min before the bridge opening. As I was now familiar with the Mott Channel, I made > 6 kts and called the bridge while still 0.5 nm from the turn onto the ICW. There were boats waiting to pass in both directions which gave me more time and a peedestrian decided was caught on the bridge which delayed the opening. On top of that the bridge tender was nice and held the bridge because he could see my mast approaching the turn. Next I encounterd a push boat and barge. They were traveling more slowly that I was but I determined they would get to the next swing bridge before its scheduled opening. Since bridges open on demand for big commercial vessels, I would get an early opening so I throttled back to follow him through. This turned out to be important because the next bridge was being maintained and was opening only on the hour. There were > 6 powerboats stacked up to get through and the workmen delayed the opening a bit so I just managed to be close enough for him to hold the opening for me.
  • I made it all the way to Beaufort NC where I anchored off the town dock on the E side. I had heard Anania on the VHF but did not find them in the anchorage. It was a long tiring day so I decided to have an early dinner aboard and get some sleep and also take Wednesday off to tour the town and relax.
30 Apr 2008 Beaufort to Oriental
  • I had a lazy morning and went ashore at 0930 to tour Beaufort wichic I had seen very little of at night last November. I visited the NC Maritime museum – worth the visit. I again visited local art galleries on my quest for the origial painting for the salon bulkhead. I also took a walking tour of the town and had lunch at Clawsons where I had stopped for dinner on the way S. Fantastic onion rings – so many I gave some away to the folks at the next table. After lunch, I returned to Onward an decided it was still early enough to make some distance North.

May 2008

1 May 2008 Oriental to ?
  • Went ashore early for a walk and stopped for a coffee. Met cruisers from Chicago and NY. Stopped at the local marine / general store and found a recipe book for 500 apetizers – something for me to study up on before going back to the Bahamas cocktail circuit in the winter. After the walk I weighed anchor at 1000 and headed north.
  • After passing under the Hoebucken Bridge, I passed the Hoebucken Coast Guard Station and took the opportunity to report the terrible reception I had been getting of CG Group NC – they sounded like they were in a tunnel with a lot of static – unique to them of all the other VHF I’ve heard for the last several days. Shortly after passing, a CG RIB came up and asked me when the last time I had been boarded was. I told them years ago. They then said they were coming aboard and the RIB came alongside and 3 CG climped aboard. We chatted as they asked questions. All was in order and Onward received “Gold Seal of Approval” copy of the boarding inspection. Most amazing was the I was able to put my hands on all ship’s papers instantly – organizing them for the rentry to the US paid off.