1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: North by northeast - NOT!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

North by northeast - NOT!

USCG, guns at hand, while sub
passes by see video below for closeups

The plan...obviously this post is going to be a comedy since there's no such thing as a plan when it comes to sailing...was to sail north offshore in the lovely southerly breezes that are the norm this time of year on the east coast. Really experience this sailing thing for a change, you know what I mean! No motoring...
So - leaving Melbourne, there's Arthur - not going outside till that bad boy is out of town (over a quarter million without power in Nova Scotia/New Brunswick provinces). Then, no winds at all, might as well make use of favourable tide on the ICW and make time. Except that the favourable tides are about 8 hours out of synch....so it's struggle against the tides from St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach, where I plan to jump offshore in those lovely southerly breezes...
Except - you knew this was coming, didn't you - the breezes shift to NE the day after I arrive in Fernandina....and guess what direction I needed to head in? Yep, NE.
So, back onto the ICW....I leave Fernandina Beach, heading up towards Kings Bay - good tide, nicely timed, making great speed - and the USCG boat comes over to me....seems there's a submarine heading out, I'm being ordered to anchor....by a guy with a 50 cal machine gun on the bow. That gets MY attention...
Of course, by the time the sub is past my position, the tide has reversed - the sub leaves Kings Bay at high slack tide of course...so I spend the next few hours plugging into the current at 3.7 knots, my early departure plans a shambles.
And so it's gone....I finally get to Isle of Hope, where the winds shift back to the south, but since my destination is Beaufort SC, there's no point in heading outside, the mileage would actually be greater. Turns out that was a good decision - the southerly winds never did materialize.
Oh, and did I mention the horrendous thunderstorms and rain I experienced? Well, let me tell you...
If this sounds like I'm complaining....I am...but it's still fun, just not the kind of fun I was anticipating, i.e. a nice sailing romp up the east coast to South Carolina.
For those planning on doing the ICW, I can tell you that Jekyll Creek is passable at low tide with five feet of draft...but God help any barnacles on the bottom of your keel, they're going to have it rough! I got through at a lower than normal tide, about -.7 - but only after grounding several times, backing off and then moving ten or fifteen feet to deeper water....and of course my trusty depthsounder was not doing its job because the bottom was so soft. Nothing like three dashes instead of 5.1 (I draw 5) to ramp up the pucker factor in shallow water.
Oh, and Little Mud River - it's good to about 6 feet...that one I got through with no problems. Also, the shallow section to the north of Fernandina Beach without markers - if you stay to the east side of the wide section, you'll see no less than 11 feet.
Hell's Gate looks like it's shoaled to about 6 feet at low tide - I went through at just after high tide, so I wasn't watching as closely as I might normally have done. From there, I finally got some wind behind me and sailed, beating up the one river against the current for several miles. Sure, it took lots longer than straight motoring, but it was fun, and I had lots of time to get to Isle of Hope.
From Isle of Hope to Skull Creek, at Hilton Head, one of my favourite anchorages - and also one of John Teach's, otherwise known as Blackbeard. The plan was to sail off with the ebb tide to the turn at Port Royal and ride the tide, wind and all, into Beaufort. Winds were predicted to be 10 - 15....someone misplaced the decimal point, that was 1.0 - 1.5.
Stopped to repack the stuffing box at Ladies Island Marina in Beaufort SC, and visit with some friends while here, as well as check out Waterfest, a big festival held on the waterfront.
Tomorrow, it's off to Charleston, SC.
In the meantime, enjoy this video showing a sub passing down from King's Bay to the ocean. This is raw video, there was no time to edit. Amazing machines...


  1. Cool Wally, I used to run TowBoat US out of Golden Isles in the late 90's, and Jekyll is still the same I read.. Those oyster bars in that area can be murder....

  2. paying attention to the charts and depth sounder is always a good plan!

  3. We had a similar experience there about 10 years ago and again 3 years ago...but the one in 2007 is the one ai will never forget...sub machine gun boats circling us...geez! Once we moves outside the channel...thankful it was high tide...they abandoned us.

  4. now that could create a major pucker factor! Not my idea of fun...

  5. What did the guy say when you asked him the name Wally? Instead of just taking off like that....

  6. I think I still prefer to be above water somehow - not in a long tube like that.

  7. He said he didn't know what the sub's name was....he probably didn't either.

  8. Debbie n Glen PennyJuly 27, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Sounds like good ol sailing fun! We too left early from Fernadina also running into an inbound submarine, it was quite the experience, we were told to keep the bow of our boat in the other direction and maintain 500 yards away. I was worried the machine gun boat might not like me taking pictures! All in a days fun of travels. Keep safe Wally and keep the keel off the bottom!

  9. 500 yards - almost impossible inside the inlet

  10. I noticed that there was no name visible on it either!

  11. Really surprised they let you get that close and didn't bother you about videotaping, especially when you queried for intelligence data, "Can you tell me what submarine this is?"

    Good job shooting. Camera and cameraman have good image stabilization.

  12. Wasn't a matter of getting close Tory - I was anchored about as far away as it was possible to safely get. As for the stability, thanks, I was hanging on to a shroud and trying not to get too badly bounced by the wakes from the various vessels.


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