Trees turning to rusty hues—time to head to more temperate climes. This time, our journey south, Fort Lauderdale-bound, was planned to be a hippity-hop down the east coast of the USA, stopping over at places we have never seen–guest crews joining us for some of the stages…
Cooked meals labeled and filed in the freezer, provisioning complete, last-minute maintenance list checked-off, we gathered our first-leg crew of Nora, Jon and Bosun Jonathon (who was joining us for the whole trip) and jumped on the last launch of the season out to Genevieve in Port Jefferson Harbor. We slept on board and were up before the gulls for a predawn departure down the LI Sound, NYC-bound. We had a spectacular day for our cruise along the East River to Brooklyn Marina, taking in the glass canyons of Manhattan, the growing skyline of LI City, and our old ‘hood, Williamsburg.
Once settled in Brooklyn, we hosted friends and family for multiple farewell toasts and took a ride over to the West Village for a social visit or two. But after two days of city livin’, it was time to put NYC on our stern and head out under the Verrazano bound for Cape May: a bright gibbous moon to light our way.
We scooted on to Hampton, VA to pick-up Bob who, inexplicably, had voluntarily selected the “around Cape Hatteras” leg of the trip! On the way, we were buzzed by a NASA surveillance plane and shortly thereafter were asked politely, but pointedly, to change course 30 degrees to avoid a rocket launch zone! During the night we were witness to three launches from the NASA pad on Wallops Island, Virginia. Cool! Like big fireworks without the bang.
After Hampton, with Bob in tow and watching the weather closely, we set off for the 36-hour sail around infamous Cape Hatteras. The weather was OK, but it was still a windward slog and we were all relieved to have the local Bottlenose dolphins guide us in to Beaufort, NC where we washed off the salt and dried out the bedding, wetted thanks to a couple of chronically leaky hatches.
In the marina we spied Genevieve’s old friend Sparrow Hawk and we made tentative plans with Colleen and Larry to meet again in the Bahamas in early 2022 if our rhumb lines cross!
After Beaufort was Southport, NC, a quiet, quaint town with lovely old homes. We left well before sunrise and had to negotiate with a big incoming ship or two with little room to spare for us in the channel. But soon the sun was up and we had a lovely 70-mile daysail with a brisk breeze on the starboard beam bound for the Winyah River. Instead of motoring all the way up the river to our planned stop in Georgetown, we exchanged plug-in marina convenience for a picture-perfect, just-us anchorage in the estuary, and as the sun set, dolphins and leaping sturgeon came by to say goodnight.
Another predawn start and egg sandwiches got us on our way to Charleston—not a moment to spare as a “bomb cyclone” was heading our way!
With the rush to take shelter from the weather, there was not a marina slip to be had in Charleston. We arrived in the nick of time and anchored close to the City Marina and carefully chose, and re-chose our spot as the wind and waves built. Wind speed accelerating during tea, we noticed an upwind abandoned scruffy boat getting closer and closer to us, eventually dragging close-by and heading for the other folks downwind. We called the Coastguard and they came to monitor but decided it was too rough to intervene. Miraculously the dragging derelict managed to miss everyone and disappeared under the Bridge never to be seen again.
One long war movie with dinner and the worse of the blow was done so we retired for a calm night, no anchor watches necessary. The next morning we saw two additional boats dragged up on the shore. All hail to our trusty anchor, Pam!
After a brief layover at tranquil Edisto Beach, we headed for Hilton Head and Windmill Harbor Marina, home to pals Deedie and John who waved us through the marina lock gates, loaned us their tricked-out golf cart, gave us a car to do provisioning and laundry, and had us to dinner at their lovely marina-side home.
The plan to take Deedie and John on our next leg to Savannah was thwarted by a band of cold, wet, very windy weather and they had to settle for a day sail sporting layers, hats and gloves along the Hilton Head shoreline. And our planned stop in Savannah was achieved only by driving there in Deedie’s car and exploring on foot on a chilly blustery day.
The weather clearing, we headed south again, stopping overnight on the Bear River, Georgia, anchored in a solitary bend in the estuary in the lee of Ossabaw Island. As the sun set we found ourselves floating on a pool of liquid gold with a sliver of new moon on the horizon. Gorgeous.
We made the effort to get the Spinnaker out, which wafted us to an anchorage just inside the inlet of St Mary’s River, which is the Georgia Florida border, before heading to St Augustine.
Unimpressed by St Augustine’s Ghost & Graveyard tours, Pirate Ship rides and tourist shops, we were glad to slip our lines, but were subjected to a rather anxiety-filled hot cross-current exit from the marina and a thick fog in the inlet to make things challenging…all before coffee! But as the pea-soup cleared we were on our way: the final 260-mile, 33-hour hop to Fort Lauderdale.
Back in familiar waters, and with the thermometer edging the 80s, it was a delight to pull into our “home” canal and have pals Pam Wall, Larry, Vicki and our new dock landlords greet us with champagne and brass band music. With 1500 miles added to the log, it was time to stay put for a while, reconnect with our FLL friends and get Genevieve ready for her second trip to the Bahamas.