32 Jekyll Island, GA to Camp LeJeune, NC

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The quiet elegance of the Jekyll Island Club lured us in. We had been exploring the island for two days with Rick and Joan. Bike riding the day before and a morning of touring the Historic District, the former cottages of the super rich in the early 1900’s, left us tired from all our exploring. The elegant old hotel built in that same time period and now run by the Raddison Hotel Corp captured us. We admired the enchanting design of the exterior with people playing croquet on the front lawn. The charm of the place pulled us inside. We loved the courtyard and sleepy porch overlooking the fountain. It would be a perfect place for lunch and it was tempting to try the deli service available there. However something lured us further inward. We were met with the coolness that always seems to accompany high ceiling rooms, especially if they have dark wood paneling. The soft light of the dining room beyond the elegant reading rooms beckoned us and we followed the hostess quietly into its lovely atmosphere for lunch.

Jekyll Island Club Entrance

The service was outstanding but never obvious. You took for granted that your server put your napkin in your lap and that your water glass was always full, but you never noticed someone filling it. Each of our luncheon dishes had the flare of someone who knew how to both prepare and present an outstanding serving. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, one of the best in a long time.

Our friends on Samum arrived. We had enjoyed lunch so much at the Jekyll Island Club that we went back with them. We walked through the Live Oak forest and checked on the mother alligator and her brood of 6 little ones.

We began moving north again and Rick and Joan headed south to continue on their vacation. It was a long day of motoring sailing and as we were exiting the Sapelo Sound into Johnson Creek we watched a line squall coming in from the northeast. I was just beginning to take in the jib when the wind from the squall hit. The wind shifted forward and jumped in velocity from 10 to 25 knots. The jib began to make a terrible racket as it luffed. Just then, the vibration from the engine stopped, and the engine-warning buzzer overrode the noise of the jib. We had lost power. We got Tranquility sailing again, shut of the buzzer, attempted to restart the engine. No luck. I started to look for the engine failure just as Ruth shouted that we were fast closing on the weather shore and had to tack. We hadn’t regained enough boat speed and as we came up into the wind it was painfully evident that we wouldn’t make it.

Ruth shouted she was gong to jibe us around bringing the wind over the stern instead of over the bow. She swung the wheel and I began moving the sail. We both spent 20 painful slow seconds watching the bow swing back toward the weather shore while we gazed at the depth sounder. Water under the keel rapidly dropped from 8 feet, to 3 feet, to 1 foot. We both expected to go aground. The reading dropped to .5 feet and then began to increase. We had made it around. However there was little joy. We had limited maneuvering room and line squalls to deal with.

We sailed back out into the sound and I began to sort out the problem. From what I could find, we had fuel filter problems. We considered attempting to clear the filters while sailing, but with the line squalls rolling through, we decided that was a bad idea and began to look for a place to anchor. I radioed Samum explaining what happened. A trawler that was just ahead of us heard our transmission and came back to scout the lee side of the sound for quieter water that had depth. We sailed over, dropped the hook and went to work on getting the engine operational again.

In the middle of clearing the fuel filters, Tom on Samum called and commented that some people would do anything to get a good journal entry. All I could do was chuckle since I was buried in the engine changing both the primary and secondary fuel filters. To our great relief my guess of the problem was correct. Water in the fuel had finally blocked the filters. Once cleared, with new filters, and the fuel system bled of air, our engine restarted.

I went forward to pull up the anchor and found that the combination of high wind and maximum tidal current had caused the anchor rode to go under Tranquility and we had a bear of a time getting up the anchor. It took 30 minutes of pulling, trying to winch it up, and boat maneuvering to finally get the anchor back aboard. Once up, we motored the final hour to a sheltered anchorage and celebrated our recovery from a potential major problem.

Samum is working to get back to the Great Lakes as fast as possible. We elected to tag along as far as the Chesapeake or until we get tired of the long days. We have been averaging 60 miles a day, which for a sailboat averaging 6 mph is a 10-hour day. The tide works both for and against us. Going through some of the cuts, we hit over 10 knots when the tide was with us, but once we crossed an inlet, we dropped to 4 knots as the tidal flow reverses.

Evenings have been calm. Calm enough that we have been rafting Samum and Tranquility together for the evening. One boat drops their anchor and the other ties off along side. Much easier than both anchoring and then putting a dinghy in the water to visit for happy hour. Ruth and Marilyn alternate cooking dinner so evenings are easier after a long day.

Some lessons we learned haven’t helped. We ran aground twice today. Ironically it was at the same spot we had run aground coming down last fall. In both cases, the grounding wasn’t serious and we got off easily.

As we moved north we came to the camp LeJeune Firing Range. A Navy guard boat explained we’d have to wait because Camp LeJeune had live fire exercises along the ICW. Samum dropped their anchor and we rafted along side. Marilyn invited us aboard and in her best Scottish tradition brewed a spot of tea. We sipped tea and talked about getting unstuck from the bottom during the morning. In the background was the sound of machine gun fire coming from gunboats working up and down the ICW within the camp area. After a half-hour delay we were allowed to proceed. Heading north we passed the source of the sound, a very lethal looking gunboat sporting 3 machine guns.

Shortly past Camp LeJeune, we pulled into a cozy anchorage and settled in for the night as the rain started. We shared dinner with Tom and Marilyn and then snuggled in below to read. Overhead is the soft patter of rain falling on the cockpit canvas. Off in the distance we hear the occasional burst of machine gun fire. Makes for an evening of unusual sounds.

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