Onward’s Cruise Journal 2012
Cruise N on the ICW to MD and New England

Updated 5 June 2012

May 2012

17 May 12; Thursday; Loa Angeles to Ft. Pierce

  • An easy flight back and drive to Onward which found her safe and sound -- always a good ending for a trip away.
  • I'm already missing Elena!

18 May 12; Friday; Ft. Pierce
  • A lazy day getting ready for the trip up the ICW and principally getting my body back on East Coast time and cruisers' schedule.

19 May 12; Saturday; Ft. Pierce
  • Got enough energy back to run a bunch of errands and do some boat chores. I got the engine oil and filter changed with little mess. I still have some improvement to make in my technique.

20 May 12; Sunday; Ft. Pierce
  • I picked Ron Draper up at West Palm Beach International and we headed back to St. Lucie. I picked up my fraternity brother Bob Langevin at his home and we headed off to Shrimpers restaurant on Manatee Pocket. Bob had taken us here last year and we decided it deserved a return visit. Ron and I were starved so we enjoyed a good seafood lunch while Bob joined us in raising a glass or two.
  • We then headed off to Sunset Bay Marina to visit Ingrid and Ron Libitsky on the Post sports-fisher that they purchased after selling their C470 High Priority. Since taking delivery late last year they have been busy working their usual magic in making the previously owned vessel into a showpiece. Again, Ingrid managed to raise my feelings of maintenance and detailing inadequacy because of the beautiful restoration work. They made the engine room look better than most sport-fishers salons. Come on, how many people would strip paint off of SS hose clamps and bring them to a high polish shine!. As always, I basked in the warm glow of their friendship and enjoyed catching up on "things".
  • We retired to the marina's bar for another sampling of the beers of FL before returning Bob to his home and depositing Ron and his gear aboard Onward.

21 May 12; Monday; Ft. Pierce
  • Ron and I spent the day shopping and getting Onward ready to dash up the ICW. We could have departed today but I decided to wait until the early-season Tropical Storm moved N and started to die.

22 May 12; Tuesday; Ft. Pierce to Cocoa
  • Onward was away from the pier at 0700 on its way to the fuel dock. Moving slowly in the fairway, I discovered I couldn't move much above slow idle speed without stalling the diesel!. This was a real puzzle until I remembered that I'd cleaned the fuel bowl of the port Raycor filter -- but hadn't remembered to tighten down the cover! This provided enough of an air leak that when I tried to go above idle speed, air would get drawn into the fuel line leading to a stall. Well, I got that quickly fixed and we pulled into the fuel pier. I took on 61.5 gal of diesel and found that I'd used less than 35 gal to move from Compass Cay to Ft. Pierce on my return.
  • At ~0800 we were underway headed N up the ICW.
  • About midday, I texted my nephew Michael Acciaioli in Orlando to see if he was available to meet us again at Cocoa for dinner as he did last year. Timing was good and he readily agreed.

23 May 12; Wednesday; Cocoa to Halifax Ck
  • An early morning departure with the winds still >15 kts. The trip up the ICW through Daytona proved uneventful -- Good! We pressed on to make use of the daylight and decided to try a new anchorage at a wide spot in Halifax Creek. It turned out to be a good spot that I'll use again.

24 May 12; Thursday; Halifax Ck to Fernandina
  • It was another early morning departure and our trip N through St. Augustine was easy and uneventful until we crossed the Halifax River. We headed N from there on a falling tide and managed to get through the shallows at the S end without issue but then found creeping sandbars where the flow from inlets impinge on the ICW. The first was a soft grounding and quick back-off. The second was a touch and go in the center of the channel. The third was a hard grounding in the center of the channel that took some struggling to get off. We waited an hour for the tide to come off and ware passed by a USCG rib -- but not close enough to bounce us off. A sloop passed us by on the W shore and by VHF we learned they had seen a minimum of 6.2' there. So we finally got off and went to the W shore where we had no problem passing the shoal area. I then remembered that I had anchored Onward on my first trip S in Dec 2007 in a pool just E of where we grounded -- then I remembered the tip of the shoal we'd found which has gotten worse in the intervening 5 years.
  • We made it the rest of the way to Fernandina without a problem and began to turn off the ICW to anchor about 30 min after sunset when we noticed 2 USCG rib in the channel. We went around them and headed up to the anchorage when we heard a Whoop and got a request to board for a safety inspection. So we continued on and anchored in near dark and then the USCG guys came aboard. As with the previous boarding at Hobucken in 2009, everything was in order and we had fun chatting with the young men who were very polite and friendly. They got a kick out of seeing the photo with a USCG sea hawk chpper at Rum Cay in the Bahamas. We also learned that they were in the rib that passed us while we were grounded -- and they touched the bottom of the shoal as they passed!
  • After the USCG departed and we began to prepare something to eat, the captain of a boat anchored nearby yelled over to tell me he was a "professional captain" who "worked for a congressional committee that oversaw the USCG and that they had too much money and were ruining the country by boardings" such as what had just occurred. I absolutely do not subscribe to those opinions and decided the best thing to do was to terminate the communication quickly by telling him I actually enjoyed the boarding and was pleased that they did it. I think people with attitudes like that are exactly what IS ruining this country.

25 May 12; Friday; Fernandina to Cowpen Ck GA
  • As we departed Fernandina anchorage, I overheard two boats discussing the weather and I listened in. That morning, the NHC had posted an alert that an unusual formation off the coast of GA was sure to turn into a tropical storm later in the day. There was no mention of a future track so I just noted this as a good reason to not go offshore for the next segment. However, one of the boats I was listening to had tuned into Chris Parker who warned that the depression was highly likely to intensify into a TS and make landfall near Fernandina! That got my attention.
  • First I alerted the two boats to the yacht club where I had stayed last November as a good place to hunker down if the continued in their plans to stay put. Next I went and read Chris's email warning and got my eyes opened as he talked about how the storm would make landfall and then turn around and retrace a course up the coast.!
  • After looking at this, I decided the best course of action was to move Onward up the ICW as fast and as far as possible over the 5 days or so that it would take the TS to form, make landfall, and then reach about where Onward would be up the ICW. So a flat-out run N up the ICW began with Ron and I looking over our shoulders and what would become TS Beryl.
  • We made it to Cowpen Ck in GA, a place where I've anchored several times in the past and enjoyed a quiet night.

26 May 12; Saturday; Cowpen Ck to Coosaw R
  • This AM I awoke and checked the NHC to find that the depression is now TS Beryl and is projected to head SW from its position ~300 nm E of the GA - SC border to make landfall near Fernandina. This woke me up! Nothing for it but to book it N as fast as possible!
  • We weighed anchor at 0645 and headed out. About 0800 Bill Kimbell called to make sure I had seen the weather report and I told him we were already safely N of the current projected landfall point.
  • We passed through Isle of Hope GA about 1130 and I called and left a hello message for Noel and Ruth Wright who've hosted me at their pier on a previous trip.
  • Onward pressed on and passed Beaufort SC about 1730. This is one of the stops that Ron and I both enjoy but it was not to be this year due to Beryl. We kept on until just after sunset when we anchored off the channel in the Coosaw River. Not a very sheltered anchorage except when you compare it to the anchorage I've used on the Grand Banks.

27 May 12; Sunday; Coosaw R to Whiteside Ck.
  • The day started off fairly nice and partly sunny. During the morning the clouds increased and a N wind built up - the results of air from a high NW of us being sucked into the outskirts of Beryl's low. By the time we got to Charleston we'd been moving through constant 20-25 kt winds with gust to 30-35 kts. Charleston harbor was a bit rough -- but nothing like what Onward has seen on Delaware Bay. We got to the Ben Sawyer bridge at 1500 without taking any water over the foredeck only to learn it would not open because of winds > 25 kts. So we anchor SE of the bridge and waited. No joy at 1600. At 1700 the bridge operator took pity on us as the winds had dropped almost 10 kts and we got an opening. We continued until sunset and put into a new anchorage at Whiteside Ck. I was very careful to make a sharp 90º port turn to head into the center of the channel and avoid the shoaling on the N & S corners. It turned out to be a very nice anchorage.
28 May 12; Monday; Whiteside Ck to Myrtle Beach
  • Onward was underway at 0615. Unfortunately the Captain decided to chat with Ron as we were exiting the creek and he dug in the keel on the NW corner shoal of the exit. It was a hard grounding that I couldn't back off with the tide still having a bit to fall. So we waited for the tide to turn. Then the ENE wind came up and I deployed the genoa to heel us over and with a lot of power from the Yanmar Onward was finally off and on the way N by 0900. This was not a good time for a delay as Beryl was scheduled to get to the Myrtle beach area by Tuesday night and I wanted Onward hunkered down in the marina at Grande Dunes well before that.
  • The rest of the day went quickly and uneventfully we took advantage of the favorable ~15 kt wind to move quickly and as a consequence that with the help of favorable currents averaged > 8.5 kts SOG for most of the day. We flew by Georgetown -- another of our favorite stops and up the Wacamaw River which I always find delightful.
  • Onward arrived at the Grande Dunes Marina in Myrtle Beach at 1910 and tied up at the fuel pier. Whoosh! How good to have stopped running and to be able to hunker down and relax for a few days!
  • Ron and I celebrated with a few cold beers in the cockpit. Ron showered in preparation to checking out the nearby marina's bar & grill. When he came up to prod me into action he found me so hard asleep that he just went off to party by himself. Boy, did I need that downtime.

29 May 12; Tuesday; Grande Dunes Marina, Myrtle Beach
  • We topped off Onward's fuel tanks as soon as the marina opened; taking on 111 gal -- not bad for the run from Ft. Pierce to here. After a pump out we moved Onward a bit down the pier for the remainder of our stay. I spend the morning getting ready for the expected torrential rains.
  • I spent most of the afternoon working on two computer problems. the firs was remedying my sudden inability to upload updates to this website. The second was working out how to manage, store, retrieve, erase and restore waypoint and route files on the E120.
  • I had finally had enough by late afternoon so I showered to wake up. Ron and I then walked to the great Lowes grocery store across the parkway. There Ron found some of the New South White Ale he discovered on the last trip. After returning our ourchases to Onward, we headed over to the marina's Anchor Cafe for happy hour.
  • It was a beautiful sunny day all day here as Beryl was still down the coast beating up Charleston by the time we went to bed.

30 May 12; Wednesday; Grande Dunes
  • Beryl arrived in the form of heavy rains about 0200. While heavy, they were not continuous as the outer rain bands were broken up by this time. By 0800 the rains were over and it was quiet. Winds picked up from ~1100 - 1500 with gusts to ~ 40 kts. Then it was over. Onward was spared any real effects due to the nice shelter provided by this marina.
  • I spent most oft the day wrestling with my two computer problems. I finally got the Onward.ws website straightened out and then started having problems with email.
  • Even after carefully editing all my waypoints on the E120 to move the problematic characters from names and
  • Ron & I got a ride via the marina's van up to the Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment area. Ron did some shopping for Linda and I found a new wallet on sale that reduced its price from $52 to $10. I checked out the Greg Norman restaurant that I've sailed past for the last 5 years. Beautiful! Great, huge bar, great dining rooms inside and on the deck overlooking the ICW. I may have to arrange to stop here on one of my transits.
  • We saved ourselves for a good dinner at the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in the marina complex. We were not disappointed. A beautiful bar, great happy hour prices, great service. Great meal.

31May 12; Thursday; Grande Dunes to Wrightsville Beach
  • Onward departed Grande Dunes at 0630 and headed up the ICW. With good offshore conditions forecast, we headed out the Little River Inlet and thence N to the Cape Fear River Inlet. The wind was SW at < 10 and the swells were ~ 2 feet so we got no help from the wind and had to endure a bit of gentle rolling from the swells. Along the way, I was hailed by Steve on Fine Lion who was also in route to Wrightsville.
  • The entrance through the Cape Fear River Inlet was easy. By 1630 Onward was pulling into the anchorage at Wrightsville Beach. I had the con for the stretch from the Carolina Cut N and for the last hour I could barely keep my eyes open. So, as soon as we were safely anchored, I made myself an Onward Toddy and tried to take a nap. However, all the normal todo associated with anchoring had woken me up to the point I couldn't nap. So, I headed below to work on my waypoint editing problem again.
  • I was just getting to the point of deciding it was time to cook dinner when there was a hale from alongside. Steve and Kim had anchored Fine Lion nearby and had come over to say hello. We had been in the anchorage at New Bight together and had drinks ashore while in the Bahamas but I'd not been able to have them over for dinner so I took the opportunity now. After dragging them aboard we had cocktails. As I retired to the galley to prepare some a batch of my angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, and chicken sausage, my guests were entertained by the local 420 & sunfish fleets starting a race alongside. We had a great dinner and enjoyed talking until cruisers' midnight approached. After Kim and Steve departed we called it a night.