I now understand why the Devil went down to Georgia looking for a soul to steal …
There are plenty of souls waiting to be spared from the Intracoastal Waterway that wends its way through the Peach State.
We left St. Augustine, hoping to have a 30-hr jaunt offshore to get to Beuafort, SC to see good friends for a few days. WELL…. that lasted all of 4 hours or so: We couldn’t even make it to Jacksonville…. we turned around and went back to St. Aug to enter the ICW. We were hoping to beat a weather front that was to roll in that evening… well… we got to 11:00. The front rolled in early [really early!!], and kicked our a$$es!!!
At the end of the day, we could still see the F&M Usinia Bridge in the distance… the 65 ft bridge just north of the Bridge of Lions in downtown St. Augustine.
We trekked the next day– ALL DAY– and got all the way to Fernandina Beach, FL. You can still see the real effects of Hurricane Matthew in Fernandina. The docks at the main marina are looking good now (They were damaged in the hurricane according to reviewers on Active Captain). The fuel and pump-out docks are still closed, and the mooring field is closed. There are some sunken sailboats on the south side of the mooring field: some serious hazards to navigation!
People are anchoring in the mooring field… but you can’t use the morning balls: they’re still not certified for use after the hurricane. We anchored there with about two other cruisers, and few other apparent liveaboards waiting for the mooring field to reopen.
The next morning…. we entered Georgia.
SO, the first day, I didn’t see a tree. Really. I saw lots of pelicans and marshland. That’s it. AND, we weaved back and forth, east and west. [Did I mention we were supposed to be traveling NORTH?!?!]
We did see the strategic nuclear submarine base at King’s Bay, and the Navy patrol boat came out to meet us in the ICW…. but no trees.
We had wicked northerly and then easterly winds that day, and we were searching for a place to anchor that offered a little protection. We had been traveling through marsh land all day with little-to-no protection, and we knew we couldn’t *just* pull off the ICW for the night.
Then, I found an ICW side route that hugged a short patch of coastline.
We anchored off of Ft. Frederica. It was beautiful, and I wish we could have stopped to visit. It’s nice when we find these little patches of quietude. We LOVED this anchorage, and we highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to evade the Devil on the Georgia ICW. I don’t think he knows of Fancy Bluff Creek!
The Devil does know of St. Andrew’s Sound apparently. As we left the shelter of Cumberland Island, we heard the USCG Sector Charleston Issue an unscheduled notice to mariners for a hazard to navigation in the vicinity of Horseshoe Shoals in St. Andrew’s Sound. Well, I am the “SWO Mama” onboard, so I am always reading charts. James is great with the chart plotter, plotting our courses every night for the next day(s), and keeping track of our tactical view on the chart plotter. Me: I am looking at the strategic view on the charts.
So when that call came over channel 16 on the VHF, I grabbed my chart, and started scrambling. I knew we were in the vicinity of St. Andrew’s Sound. James did not; just because we have different foci onboard, even when it comes to navigation. I am typically OCD with navigation stuff, and I’ll totally admit, I love it…. so I geek out. But typically when the Coast Guard safety broadcasts go out, we’re no where in the vicinity.
So, chart in hand I was looking intently, and James thought I was being a total dork. Something else was going on that (to me) was pretty minor, but (to him) was fair-to-midland major. He thought I was having another “SWO Mama” moment. Not so much. This boat had just sunk on the edge of the channel we were approaching. The Coast Guard had already retrieved the man aboard… but it was definitely a hard to navigation.
While this ship was not spared, the soul aboard was. For being “protected’ and intracoastal, the ICW still has quite a few places that sailors need to watch the weather when transiting. St. Andrew’s Sound is DEFINITELY one of them. We only passed this vessel because we decided to transit a slightly alternate route through the sound, in an attempt to stay farther away from the mouth. Little good it did for the guy in this sailboat!
One thing we’ve learned from our time (albeit the time is limited in comparison to some) is that you STILL need to pay attention to the weather when you’re transiting open sounds. We’ve learned that the hard way in the fall crossing Albermarle Sound evading Hurricane Mathew. At tis point in our cruising adventure, St. Andrew’s Sound seemed like small potatoes.