Its not the people who are cold, its the weather. I know it is getting to be late December, but we're within spitting distance of Florida (assuming you can spit 25 miles), and its been in the 30's at night and tops out in the mid 50's in the afternoon. Its been plenty of incentive to keep moving south.
Riggs and I left Charleston (ICW mile 470) last Wednesday (as caught on video by Jeff Siegel here: http://takingpaws.blogspot.com/2009/12/bills-departure.html ) and spent the night in Mosquito Creek (mile 513), at the microscopic town of Bennetts Point SC. One thing we look for at an anchorage is some shore access for Riggs, and this is often in the form of a boat ramp with a dock we can tie the dinghy to. Riggs can then chase the tennis ball in the boat trailer parking area, if there is no better option. We did that, and Riggs met some local pooches, and we walked around a bit.
Thursday we continued on to beautiful Beaufort SC (important to pronounce it 'bew-fert') at ICW mile 536, and found several boats anchored there. A tour of the town explained why: very boater friendly with a nice waterfront park and free dinghy dock. The downtown boasts many restaurants and those along the waterfront have outdoor dining where dogs are allowed, so Riggs and I shared our 3rd restaurant meal of the trip. We had a 2-hour walk around town, and even found a marine store that stocked fuel filters for Spray's diesel. I thought of staying 2 nights in Beaufort, but a big rainstorm was predicted for the next day. Spray is actually pretty comfortable to drive in the rain, so we motored out on rainy Friday.
And rain it did! This storm ended up becoming the blizzard that hit the mid-atlantic coast over the weekend, but here it was warm (upper 60's) and rained 2-3" on coastal SC. We cruised up to mile 570 and dropped anchor in the New River, near Daufuskie Island, which has a rich history, and a new development where brother Steve has purchased a lot for his future retirement home. We went to shore at Daufuskie Landing (boat ramp!) and wanted to explore the island but the weather was too nasty (plus its a pretty big island).
The rain ended Friday night but there were gale-force winds which, combined with the strong tidal currents, made for a rockin time. When the wind aligns with the current its OK as Spray points her bow into the waves, but 6 hours later the current reverses, and Spray doesn't know where to point, and maybe the waves hit from the stern or worse, from abeam. On a night like this you put a lot of faith in the ground tackle. I've been working on improving my anchoring techniques and its paying off.
Saturday we quickly crossed into Georgia, crossing the Savannah River (we had to thread our way through busy ship traffic) and battling strong westerly winds (these raised a stiff chop in the sounds we crossed), we ended up near mile 614 in Kilkenny Creek (reference to South Park?), which had nice trees to block the west winds. We had a much more comfortable night here.
A word about dolphins (like Flipper). We see loads of those every day, and they always impress. They are quite large and very active. I had one great experience where a dolphin was riding our bow wave and I put Spray's helm straight and went to the bow to look down for a couple minutes as the the dolphin jumped forwards again & again. On the other hand its a bit disconcerting when we are in the dinghy and a pair of dolphins dives right underneath us and you can feel the wake from them.
And a word about channel depths. In parts of SC and especially in GA, maintenance of the ICW has been put off, so there are several channels that are shoaling, creating scary numbers on the depthfinder. On the other hand, the tides here are significant (8'), and we've been fortunate with our timing, with rising tides in the morning, high tides mid-day, and ebbing tides in the afternoon, usually after we have anchored.
OK, where were we? Oh yes, leaving Kilkenny Creek on Sunday morning. Still strong westerlies, but not as bad as the previous day. In fact, while its quite cold, we have wall-to-wall sun. Spray has large windows and gets a nice greenhouse effect thing going on a day like this. We cruise another 35 miles (have you noticed how much we like ~ 35 mile days? Leave at 9am and drop anchor at 2 pm) and anchor in the Duplin River, near ICW mile 650. Plenty of time to dinghy to the ferry landing at Sapelo Island, where the U of GA has a Marine Center, which we visit on a georgeous 4 mile walk.
A calm night Sunday brings us to this morning, when we continue south (for ~35 miles of course) to our present anchorage off of Jekyll Island (mile 685). Our anchorages since leaving Charleston (except for Beaufort) have a common factor of remoteness and poor (very poor) ATT web access. Here we are much more civilized since Jekyll is a resort island with hotels, a shopping center, and so on. We took a long walk to explore (a bike would be nice here) and made it to the broad beach on the Atlantic which Riggs loved. Tomorrow morning I will walk 1.5 miles to the grocery store to buy supplies. Then onwards: probably to St. Marys GA, a pretty town near the FLA border.
Note that we've developed a routine: leaving at a leisurely 9 am or so after shore time (empty the dog) and breakfast (Grits!), cruising for 5 hours or so, then time to explore the new location. I could get used to this.