Title: View of the new Cooper River bridge in Charleston from the docks of the Charleston Maritime Center. Yikes, we have four alternative title shots this time.

November 16, 2006 - Charleston, South Carolina
After a windy night here at the Charleston Maritime Center, we were happy to learn that the dock was available for another night so we don't have to go find an anchorage on this wet day. I've changed the oil and filled up with fuel (15.7 gallons) so weather permitting we should be ready tomorrow to go back out into the Atlantic for an overnight trip down to St. Marys, Georgia.

November 18, 2006 - Cumberland Island, Georgia
We're safely at anchor at Plum Orchard on the Brickhill River off Cumberland Island after a long but uneventful trip down the coast. We left Charleston at 7:15 AM and headed into the three foot seas of the Atlantic feeling alone, but that soon vanished as another half dozen boats were doing the same trip. The seas died down to about two feet while the wind stayed steady from the west and then the northwest. We sailed with the engine off for several hours and the sails provided a good percentage of the propulsion the entire night.

Lagging behind as usual, we were the last boat of the flotilla to enter the St. Marys Inlet, right as a nuclear submarine from Kings Bay was coming out. One whistle or two, Captain? Of course, we didn't actually get to talk to the submarine. A Coast Guard boat escorted us along the side of the channel, keeping their boat between us and the sub while guardsmen stood ready at the machine guns on the fore and aft decks. All the other overnight boats were anchored off the Sea Camp dock at Cumberland Island when we came by, but our destination was another five miles further: Plum Orchard on the Brickhill River. We learned from talking with the trawler Ocean Pearl that they had seen six feet of water at the southern entrance to the Brickhill and the ICW, but we were an hour later getting there and the tide could easily have dropped another foot in that time. Worst of all, there was a 1.5 knot ebb current sweeping into the shallow water. I'd planned to nose in slowly and try to find a channel, but the stiff current would very likely have made any grounding permanent until the tide came back up.

We detoured ten miles around to the northern entrance of the Brickhill and arrived (eventually) at the Plum Orchard anchorage where five other boats were already in residence. Following a long series of highly efficient cell phone coordinations, my sister Krissy and husband Robert met us en route in their skiff and later gave us all a lift ashore. I was dead on my feet after the long night but enjoyed a walk around the tremendous yet somewhat neglected mansion, the largest of the homes that Lucy Carnegie built for her children on the island.

Plum Orchard mansion Plum Orchard Anchorage

Photos: (1) The Plum Orchard mansion is huge (it doesn't fit well into a vertical photo...in fact it doesn't even fit horizontally unless you back up about a quarter mile). (2) Plum Orchard Anchorage.

November 19, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
We left the anchorage at 7:00 AM, about a hour before high tide, and saw nine to ten feet at the southern entrance to the Brickhill, which means there was probably five feet or less yesterday when we contemplated going through. Good decision to abort! I would not recommend the southern entrance except on a rising mid-tide or better.

We motored into St. Marys, stopping to tow Drifter upriver for a ways while they sorted out an engine problem. Dave from Destiny came over to welcome us and tell us about the Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday. Later, thanks to Krissy and Robert's chauffeur service, we had a very productive afternoon of laundry, a Chinese buffet and shopping for propane, light bulbs, and fuel filters. The weather was perfect today but it will be getting colder and very windy by tomorrow night.

St. Marys Fountain Swinging on the Waterfront St Marys Waterfront

Photos: The waterfront park in St. Marys is a wonderful and popular place by day or night.

November 20, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
Bother! Our freshwater circulation pump has gone bad, dripping water into the engine bilge and making a bit of noise. I can wiggle the pulley a quarter inch with my hand! Looks like we may be at anchor here in St. Marys for a couple of days after Thanksgiving while I try to get a new pump from Vosbury Marine. The Cruiser's Thanksgiving lunch is shaping up nicely with about thirty boats here in the anchorage. Hope we all do well during the high winds tonight.

November 22, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
When we first anchored on Sunday, we were all alone off the town dock with all the other cruising boats in the shallower water upriver. As time went on, other boats came and anchored around us. We came back one night to find that a big cruising powerboat had put down two anchors (everyone else was using just one) and as a result was just twenty feet away. There was no one aboard and darkness was approaching, so I felt we had no choice but to move. We're in even deeper water now and with 150 feet of scope out we're wandering about quite a bit when the wind opposes the current. The current pulls the boat back, but then the wind pushes it forward until it sails over the top of the anchor. Fortunately, the winds never reached the predicted thirty knot or greater velocity here in the anchorage.

Krissy and Robert were kind enough to take us to dinner with Robert's mother last night, and we also enjoyed lunch with Ron and Debbie on Drifter. It's been cold and rainy but the temperature should come back up as the winds drop in the next couple of days. Unfortunately there's been little sun for our solar panels. I'm trying to avoid running the engine but we may have to do so later today; we'll want hot showers eventually, anyway. The engine parts have been ordered and should be here Friday.

November 24, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
I believe around 58 boats attended the Thanksgiving feast yesterday--quite an event! Thanks to Allie and Chuck on Kairos saving us seats, we got to eat with Dave and Peggy of Destiny and Bentley and Jim of Salty Paws, two boats we've heard all year on the radio but never had the pleasure of meeting in person. It was also nice to see Capt. Dave Hurd from Newport, who was down visiting Kairos. Earlier in the day Laura had a real treat when we met the nice folks on the catamaran Spoony, including three wonderful girls who provided a full morning of entertainment. Spoony left this evening but perhaps we'll be lucky enough to see them again.

This morning I attended a small nautical flea market where I attempted to get rid of a small 12 volt wet/dry vac that we haven't used in long a while. We needed to free up the space. As I might have known, I came back carrying not just the wet/dry vac plus several new items. The good news was that the parts for the engine had arrived so I went back to the boat and started working. About eight hours later, I had installed over a thousand dollars worth of parts: a new freshwater circulation pump and three new motor mounts. I'd replaced one mount previously so now we've got a complete set. You have to take off the freshwater pump to get to one of the mounts anyway, so it made sense to do it all at once.

Annie and I have been trying to decide whether to extend or curtail our cruise (see Whither Next), but as of tonight--pending changes tomorrow--we are planning to spend the winter in Florida and go back to Chattanooga in May.


Photos: Laura hangs out after the big meal with Dave from Destiny, along with Allie and Chuck from Kairos.

November 26, 2006 - Cumberland Island, Georgia
With the boat doing well after its repairs, we motored for an hour and found ourselves back at the anchorage just off the Sea Camp dock at Cumberland Island with about ten other boats. Despite following the "beer method" of anchoring (drop the anchor, then go have a beer while it settles before applying power to set it), the Delta wasn't biting in the 15 knot Nor'easter. I left it out and dropped the Bruce, which grabbed immediately. We dinghied ashore and walked across the island to the beach, which was littered with shells and dead horseshoe crabs of all sizes.

In the morning I untangled the two anchor rodes and after a hearty breakfast we went ashore again. Cumberland Island is a wonderful place, with twisting live oaks draped in Spanish moss, armadillos poking through the underbrush, ruins of the Carnegie era standing vigil as wild horses quietly graze where gardens once stood.

Coleman Avenue Beach Creek Boardwalk Kite fun Fishing Net

Photos: (1) Walking down Coleman Avenue towards the Dungeness. In the 1800's you'd see horse-drawn carriages here. (2) Scoping out Beach Creek from the boardwalk. (3) Not long after this picture, Laura started tying things, like horseshoe crab tails, to the kite to see if it would still fly. (4) Abandoned fishing net and other debris on the beach--very uncool for turtles and other marine creatures.

November 28, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
The St. Marys Christmas Parade was a treat. Santa comes down the main street in a horse-drawn carriage, turning on the town's Christmas lights as he comes, preceded by dancers who stop every once in a while to perform. The people on the street watch, then join in the parade as it moves towards the waterfront, growing ever larger as it goes. Following the parade, there is more dancing and singing on stage while Santa meets and negotiates with an endless line of youngsters.

Yesterday was also an interesting day as Robert came to take us to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse and over to the evil Big Boxmart for a massive shopping spree. We've certainly enjoyed our stay here in St. Marys. The nice anchorage, the playground, the waterfront park, high speed Internet at the Welcome Center, a water spigot, a favorite relative to drive us around in search of 12 volt light bulbs...it's these things that add to the pleasant memories of a very cruiser-friendly town.

Presbyterian Church Laura and Santa St. Marys Parade Orange Hall

Photos: (1) The Presbyterian Church in St. Marys was predestined to be founded back in the early 1800's. (2) Laura wanted to check with Santa about the fancy stuffed cat toy she had seen in town. No need--I had already e-mailed him. (3) Some of the crowd near the stage following the parade. (4) Orange Hall is considered one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in America. I just thought it looked pretty with all the lights.

November 29, 2006 - Fernandina Beach, Georgia
It took us all of an hour and a half to motor from St. Marys to Fernandina Beach, Florida, where we filled up with 16.5 gallons of diesel and topped off the water tanks. We enjoyed a walk through the very nice downtown, including a lengthy stop in a toy store, and eventually found ourselves at a nice playground. We are anchored right next to Grace, a nice Moody yacht with a family of four (Megan, Brett, Finn, and Teague) from Portsland, Maine. We originally met them while doing laundry at the Capital Yacht Club in D.C.

Coleman Avenue Beach Creek Boardwalk

Photos: (1) The Fernandina Beach downtown is very nice, with many buildings dating back to the 1800's. We picked up a free color guide to the walking tour at the Welcome Center just across from the waterfront. (2) Laura never approaches a new playground at anything less than a run.

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