Thursday, November 21, 2013

There Will Be Blood.

by Riley

Well, there's been a lot of heavy wind here for a few days and the sound just south of Jekyll Island is pretty nasty. Unwilling to go out, a lot of southbound boats are trying to find a spot here at Jekyll Harbor so they don't have to worry about their anchors holding. Trying to fit another boat on the face dock, I was asked to move to an inside slip that no one else could fit in. Against truly their and my better judgment, I agreed. With about 30 mph wind and a strong current, trying to fit a big boat in a tight spot was a bad idea. When I tried to make the turn into the slip, the wind and current grabbed and flung the boat, pining it to the corner of the finger pier on the dock. Somehow in the process of trying to power it in, off the dock, and fending off the other boats, I managed to rip a deep gouge in my hand… nine stitches deep. But fortunately, only a few scratches to the boat from the dock (although, I haven't had time to inspect thoroughly). Good thing I got that GPS tied to the autopilot yesterday to help steer, I'm going to need it. Other than this mishap I've been having a great time here. The marina staff are awesome. And they have free bikes to borrow and bike paths everywhere on the island. Good thing I have a bit of mountain biking experience on my resume, because losing a hand mind have hindered riding around the island.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Real Trip.

by Riley

So, here we are at Jekyll Island. Getting here was, well... A real trip. Pun intended.

We left Savannah intending to sail straight to Jekyll island via the Wassaw inlet. A lot about these inlets is only local knowledge, something I didn't have. If I did have it, I don't think I would have tried to sail out at the tail end of a nor'easter with the tide coming in. It wasn't pretty. After beating into BIG waves and wind, things that I thought were firmly secure in the boat were apparently not. Everything got rearranged. The plan was to sail overnight to Jekyll, but a night like this seemed most likely miserable. So with enough light left, we turned around and headed for an anchorage just up the sound. 

So, if you've been following along, you probably already know that the chart plotter "GPS" doesn't really work very often. It wouldn't really come on at all after that experience unless I hit it really hard and then, it didn't necessarily stay on. On down the coast in the Sapelo sound, I found out how nice a working one would be when I found myself in some real thick fog. So thick I couldn't even see the channel markers, although I was pretty sure they were there. I would have used my iPhone but I didn't have service enough to download the chart I needed. But at least my depth gauge works! And man did I watch it. Truthfully, I felt kind lost. Eventually, the fog lifted. Phew! But it was too late in the day to make Jekyll once again. 

Well, we're here now and we'll probably be here for a few more days. Another nor'easter is blowing through and man, is it blowing. Some other boats left this morning only to turn around. But it's ok, I needed to tend to some things while also enjoying the island. There comes a time when you just have to suck it up and buy a chart plotter. A very nice guy that works and lives at Jekyll Harbor offered to take me to nearby Brunswick to get a new one. While I did get what is probably considered to be an out of date model, it's overwhelming how much better it is. I mean it WORKS! Because it is newer, I saw that it could be wired to communicate to the autopilot through a NEMA connection and follow the route. While the two units were different brands, I was able to work the kinks out to bridge the gaps in wiring. Now I have a real fancy yacht. Maybe they will even let me in the Jekyll Island Club. I'll have to tell more about the island when I have explored thoroughly.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Favorite Freebies: Savannah Style.

by Riley

So, it's about time I started my Favorite Freebie thread. Being in the right spot at the right time, recognizing an opportunity when it's in front of me, being willing to ask, and just being darn lucky has gotten me some pretty cool stuff over the years.  When it comes to cruising on a budget, finding anything free is well, priceless.  There are a lot of things I've planned on being on this list, but have never yet taken the time to post on the blog. 

Oh Savannah, you're a pretty place and you've treated me with good ole southern hospitality. I was a little hesitant to come here, mainly because there were no anchorages, so paying to tie up to a dock was necessary. Upon arrival to the city dock, which was located smack dabb in the middle of everything on the waterfront, and after a small effort to find the place to pay, we were assured by everyone already there that no one cared to collect the money. We'll, you don't have to tell me twice! Apparently it's kind of a cruiser's secret that only the fortunate know about. So we've been squatting right in the middle of downtown Savannah, hooked up to power to run the heater.   Heck yea! And borrowing free wifi from a hotel across the street. All of this along with the cobblestone streets, parks, and nice eateries. After lunch at one of these locations, I stumbled across Byrd's cookie store. If this town hadn't given enough already, they had free samples to boot! So after trying just about all of the different kinds of cookies they offered, I felt like I had a sufficient dessert to finish off my lunch. This whole place has great freebies! 

For a few days at least, because all good things must come to an end, and it's time to head back to sea. I plan on sailing around most of Georgia's shallow waters from here on, since I haven't had much luck on their ICW and should have a good weather window after a front passed through last night.

Monday, November 11, 2013

(mis)Adventures of a Sweatpants Sailor.

by Riley

The sweatpants sailor, if there is such a thing, I believe is what I have become. You see, I really enjoy being underway to watch the sunrise. It's a spiritual experience for me by way of reminding me what a great God there must be to create such beauty, and I don't mean all of the mega mansions dotting the shoreline. To me, sunrise is one of the best times to admire this beauty. The air is crisper and there is less commotion...

... then, in the height of enjoying the morning, the gps dies again, just as we're entering an area with shoals.  I have to scramble quickly to locate myself on those good ole paper charts that I've been so thankful to have and that Allison had the forethought to already have laid out.  Now once again I can enjoy my morning, and a beautiful one it is. A bit warmer, clear and we're on our way to Savannah, Georgia... 

...then in an instant, we're thrown into action again. The boat hook, a long expandable pole used to do an assortment of mariners tasks, was grabbed by a moving line on deck, flinging it into the water! That thing was expensive! I'd be darned if I would loose it. So, maneuvering the boat and sails around with less finesse than I would like to admit, I turned in pursuit of the hook, in shallow waters, without a gps to quickly say for sure how close I really was. Then, with Allison hanging over the side in her pj's we retrieved our boat hook. 

If you couldn't already tell, all of this has been happening since I started writing this post. So now, let me get to the point about the sweatpants. While most people see a sailor as someone in khakies and polo shirts, I'm so excited to see what the morning holds, I tend to leave the anchorage still in what I slept in, sweatpants. This morning I haven't been disappointed!

*And then, after I finally finished writing this post, we ran aground.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Making Adjustments.

by Riley

Well, time to catch up on our progress. We spent last night in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was a real nice town with a convenient waterfront. We grilled out for dinner, and with the use of a few paper plates, I was able to get away with only a knife to wash, since dishes are one of my most dreaded chores. For about the past week it has been really windy. While causing some hardships, I'm finally starting to get the boat dialed in with the sails. Bad performance, which I had originally blamed on poor sail shape, was solved with a lot of adjustments to everything from snatch block location to halyard tension. It took a while and I'm still working on it, because it tends to change quite a bit depending on my wind angle. But when you see your speed increase after it all, it's a very rewarding feeling. 

In the mornings, once I get everything the way I want it, I sight see for a while. But there's only so much of that I can do. The other day I came across a resistance band that I had brought, you know, keep up the muscle tone! It was a cold morning, so what better way to warm up? Now I'm nice and sore, so it makes trying to pull the anchor up even more amusing. But it is very refreshing, especially with all the fresh air, new sights and rewarding sailing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ocean Sailing.

by Riley

So the other day I got a little bit of a chip off my shoulder. If I had a dollar for every rolled eye I got when I was asked if I had ever sailed in the ocean and my answer was "no," it would pay for this adventure. I can finally say yes to the question and in fact, it is WAY easier than sailing inland. There's nothing to hit, no worrying about running aground, and a lot less wind shifts... so, less work! If it wasn't so much shorter to go inside the next 2 days, I'd definitely be out there instead. 

We arrived in Georgetown South Carolina yesterday after a quiet night in the middle of nowhere the night before. It's a nice town, although, there's a large steel mill in the back drop. The sounds gave me flashbacks to my days as a working man, much like PTSD. The holding here is soft mud, which is bad for keeping a boat in place, but after the howling wind last night it must have been good enough (we're still in the same spot, which is encouraging). I must be getting better at anchoring. There are high winds today, so I think after I walk over to the Kudzu Bakery and get a muffin, I'll try to keep myself occupied here for the day.
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