19 Beaufort, SC to Jekyll Island, GA

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Beaufort held us for 3 days. We’d visited a couple of times by car and loved it. This time was very different. We were now on the waterway and part of what we always dreamed about. It made it even more special. We were greeted by lousy weather. 1.8″ of rain in one day. We spent the time exploring town in foul weather gear and umbrellas. As always enjoyed walking the streets and seeing the old homes. Wandered into the old Episcopal Church and spent an hour Map Beaufort, SC to Jekyll Island, GA talking with the docent about the church and burying ground surrounding the church. Some of the gravestones had been used as operating tables during the Civil War. Poking and exploring took away the gloom and made town fun for us.

We had reached a parting point with Samum. Tom and Marilyn needed to travel at a faster pace. We wanted to slow down, relax and kick back. Ruth had dinner aboard, we said our good byes and they prepared to take off the next morning. The lousy weather held them for another day.

The lousy weather had held most of the cruisers at the dock. On the third day, the weather cleared and as Samum left with most of the fleet. I can now understand why birds travel in flocks. As our loose association of friends left, we almost cast off the dock lines and went with them. The urge was very strong. Instead we stayed and did long needed boat work. Ruth washed down and scrubbed the decks. I took a deep breath and opened up the stuffing box worrying that the rush of water would sink Tranquility. There was a flow, but not as strong as I suspected. Five minutes latter I had the new packing in place and the stuffing box closed back up. The major prop shaft water drip stopped and I no longer had to pump the bilge twice a day.
We experienced VHF problems. The speaker failed. Could just be a loose connection, but that requires opening up the VHF and I was reluctant to do that. Instead, I improvised, and wired the VHF into the stereo speakers using the VHF’s external speaker plug. A quick fix that worked very effectively.

On the 4th day we woke to high winds. It was now easy to rationalize ‘dock lock’ and stay another day due to high winds. Instead we got off early and had a fun motor sail for part of the way along the ICW. As we reached Hilton Head Island it was tempting to pull into one of the marinas and experience what the very rich people do on vacation. However, we were more drawn to a wilderness setting and poked up Bull Creek. Working the tides carefully since the tide was now 9′ we found a great place to anchor and had hot dogs for lunch off the grill as we watched the tide go out and the knot meter register 0.9-knots in the resulting current. We spent the afternoon reading, watching the shoreline change as the tide receded and then refilled the creek.

We pushed on to Savannah, Isle of Hope actually; a small community of old homes along the ICW but only a bus ride away from Savannah. We added Isle of Hope to our list of towns we might have to live in someday. It has a unique charm.

As we waited for the bus, a red truck turned around, crossed over the street and stopped facing the wrong way in traffic. The very southern gentleman asked if we were boaters heading for the Piggly Wiggly and would we like a ride. We explained that we were heading for Savannah and the bus should be along shortly. He proceeded to chat, and we were entertained by his conservation and by the traffic jam he was causing. Ruth finally asked him if we should move because of the traffic problem. “No traffic problem ma’am, I’m the fire department,” he said. Sure enough, there was a light on the top of the cab (turned off) and it was apparent he expected traffic to work around him. It did. No one honked, no one complained. They just waited their turn to go around him by driving on the wrong side of the road. We chatted for another 10 minutes and ended only when the bus came.

Savannah has been taken over by what the locals call “The Book” which is Midnight In The Garden OF Good and Evil. We were amazed. When we visited two year ago, The Book was an interesting point and on sale everywhere. Now it’s a major event. There are tours showing all the places mentioned in The Book and the town is going nuts over the movie. They figure it will do for Savannah what Gone with the Wind did for Atlanta.

Had a chance to experience how the top 2% of the boating community lives. A Grand Banks 46 trawler pulled in. We had talked with them in Savannah and they invited us aboard for wine and cheese. Large salon kept comfortable by the central heating and air conditioning. We got talking about engines and Doug and I went into the engine room. Carpeted of course. Looked over the generator, water maker and twin engines. Could almost stand up in the engine room. Doug explained that the water maker made it easy to run the combination washer/dryer and that they did washing almost every night. That way they didn’t have to accumulate dirty clothes. Nice way to live.

Before leaving Isle of Hope we walked to the Wormsloe historic site. Discovered we needed to walk an additional mile down the straight entrance road flanked on each side by huge live oaks. It was early morning and the sun was streaming in through the branches, leaves and Spanish moss. The canopy of light and shadow stretched out before us and we enjoyed a 20-minute walk down an enchanted lane to the actual historic sight.

For all the boats traveling on the ICW we are delighted to find that we can head up a side stream, Buckhead Creek, and find a place like tonight where we are totally alone, not a light, boat or other sign of civilization in sight. We spent the evening watching the sun work down into the marsh grass as the tide ever so slowly revealed more of the creek bottom. Our only company was the calling of Great Blue Herons unhappy about whom owned the territory.

The second day of travel brought us into the area where you continually had to follow ranges to stay in the center of the channel. The one’s in front were easy, the back ranges were more difficult. We rapidly worked out a system. One of us faced backwards watched the ranges and with hand signals indicated which way to steer. The frustrating part was that one or the other of us would report dolphin sightings that the other could not see. That night we anchored up Old Teakettle Creek in the company of 8 other boats spread out so that no one felt their privacy had been compromised. Again another super sunset with the colors hanging in for a very long time after the sun had set.

For our third day of anchoring in the marshes of Georgia we picked a side trip off the ICW to Fort Frederica National Park. It’s a 1740’s British town and fort site. We anchored out in the center of the river and dinked ashore. A small dinghy dock welcomed us. The tour of the former town and fort site was delightful. A very enthusiastic park ranger took 8 of us on a tour, and then we poked around the site and went back to the visitor center to watch the movie about the area. The site made history come alive. We even got to watch Turkey Vultures accumulate to munch on a dead raccoon. Not part of the tour, but a definite part of nature.

We had tied up to the dinghy dock at high tide. It was now three hours past high tide. What we had thought was a ladder going down to the low tide level, only extended down a two feet to the mud shelf the dinghy was now sitting on. The water level was another foot below the shelf. After various contortions two very muddy sailors were aboard an equally muddy dinghy for a now very long row back against the current. After much clean up, this is really sticky mud, we got back to normal and enjoyed another glorious sunset over the marsh. Life is good when you can sit and watch the sun set and enjoy the after glow with a glass of wine in the wilderness.

During the night the weather changed and we kicked off the goose down comforter. Morning brought warmth and for the first time in a month I was comfortable out on deck with just a tee shirt. We made the short trip down to Jekyll Island and changed to shorts. The warmth was finally back.

Jekyll Island has always been a favorite stopping spot for us. The island has a feel to it that we enjoy. We’ll stay for a number of days.

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