Friday, October 25, 2019

Home Again

The boat is safely back at The Ford Plantation. I had considered taking the ocean route home yesterday because of construction at the Causton Bluff Bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway, but it turned out to not be necessary. I called the bridge tender early in the morning and was told it would be open to boat traffic all day. Besides, winds in the ocean were 15 to 20 knots from the east, blowing against the outgoing tide from the Savannah River, meaning it would be a bumpy ride.

I departed Harbourtown Marina at 9:15 as I had currents to fight, and I wanted to get through an area called Field's Cut before the low tide made it impassable for my six-foot draft boat. As a result, I arrived at Causton Bluff Bridge at around 11:30 am when the tide was nearly low, giving me a bridge clearance of 30 feet so that no opening was necessary. By noon I was in Thunderbolt and by 1 pm I was passing Isle of Hope. I was way ahead of schedule as high enough tide to re-enter Ford's marina would not be until near 7 pm. So I idled and dawdled most of the day, drifting in wide spots while I did little projects on the boat. As it turned out, I still arrived at the Ford marina by 6:15. It was a high tide day and I had no trouble at all getting back into the marina.

There are numerous small projects with the boat, so it will be nice having it a block away for the next month or so. I'll be fiddling around on the boat and Mike Lamson's crew will be finishing some waxing and varnish touch up. I've also got a checklist of items needed for the Bahamas such as charts and guidebooks. Our overall game plan is still to depart south right after Christmas and on to the Bahamas from south Florida. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Alone on the boat

Our original Hilton Head trip was delayed by terrible weather last Saturday. So we started Sunday afternoon and made it to Isle of Hope, and on to Harbourtown at Hilton Head Monday. After a pleasant Monday evening with dinner at CQ's here, and a relaxed morning yesterday, we left the boat here overnight to get back to The Ford Plantation for a meeting for me and work demands for the Lovely Laura Lee. This afternoon I returned to the boat by myself, and I will take it back to Ford tomorrow, weather, bridges, and boat gremlins permitting.

Our only issue coming up here was the Causton Bluff Bridge near Thunderbolt. It is a drawbridge between Thunderbolt and the Savannah River that we can normally go under without a bridge opening except at high tide. The bridge is under construction to be replaced by a high fixed bridge and was closed Monday to all boat traffic because the construction crews were lifting the massive concrete spans for the new higher bridge. We were informed by a marine patrol officer on duty in his boat there that it would be closed all day to traffic. However, he ventured that we could probably pass under one of the side spans not normally used by traffic. He said the depth there was 11 feet (we need six feet) and that the span was 25 feet above the water (we need 23 feet). So we tried it, with Laura Lee standing atop the dinghy on the upper deck and me driving at a pace of about 1/10 of a knot, fully prepared to stop dead if need be. As the man said, we cleared it by about two feet and went on our way.

So if the bridge is open to boat traffic tomorrow, I will be fine getting home. Otherwise, I will need to consider taking the outside route in the ocean from Hilton Head down to the Ossabaw Sound. I called the number listed for the bridge tender tonight and was told "I'm not sure. You'll have to check back first thing in the morning." Bridge tenders are not the most talkative people, but he was polite and really had no information. I do not want to go that route and be stuck, requiring me to turn around and backtrack to a different route, or spend the night anchored in the waterway. 

The forecast for the ocean route tomorrow is "NE winds 10 to 15 kt with gusts to 20 kt. Seas 2 to 3 ft." Acceptable on this boat if not ideal.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Isle of Hope

We are at Isle of Hope Marina near Savannah. We left The Ford Plantation at 2:45 pm today, after waiting patiently for the tide to be high enough to depart. Our problem was to try to get down to the Savannah area during daylight, which we did. We arrived here at 6:45 pm, just before sunset.

Isle of Hope is one of our favorite places. We kept our previous boat here for about half a year. It is a secluded little neighborhood very close to metropolitan Savannah, but seemingly a throwback to an earlier era. It is a community of old waterfront houses along a road beside the Intracoastal Waterway. A great place for an evening stroll. Tomorrow we shall press on to Harbourtown Marina on Hilton Head. We will only have tomorrow afternoon and most of Tuesday to enjoy our visit. We plan to rent a car to drive back home Tuesday afternoon for work and meetings. I will return Wednesday afternoon to pick up the boat and bring it back home Thursday. It is a quick getaway, but great to exercise the boat and have a little down time.

After a sub-tropical storm on Saturday, this afternoon was spectacularly beautiful. We travelled down the Ogeechee River and through the marsh grasses to join the Intracoastal Waterway. Pictures do not do justice to the marsh here, but trust me, it was spectacular.