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03 December 2007
Charleston, SC

The carburetor float in the outboard stuck again. And once again I simply took the thing apart, shook it a bit, emptied all the fuel from the float bowl, and put it back together. I have a theory that something gets stuck when I tilt the engine up. I'll try leaving it down and see what happens. In the meantime I've taken to carrying the tools required to dismantle the carb with me in my backpack whenever I go out in the dink..

I really want to sail south off shore and avoid the ICW in Georgia; it's shallow and twisty. There are too many places where the recommendation is "wait for high tide." From here, Brunswick, GA, is 147 miles. That would take only 36 hrs at 4.5 kts. Very doable.

I finally changed the oil and filter. The fuel in the port tank's filter is looking a little dark. It probably has a bio-growth problem. I changed the filter and it was just 'stained' black. None of the goo that you get with a real bio problem. So I bought some biocide and dumped it in both tanks.

The stuffing box is dripping at about 3 sec/drip. Way too much. But I'm hesitant about tackling that job. Last time it needed attention I couldn't get it loosened and wasn't sure I was doing it right. So I hired someone. Now it should be a lot easier. But still... I'm hesitant.

The weather is supposed to be very cold tonight now that the cold front has come through. The wind was up to 15-kts sustained and gusting to 20. But it was 72° and sunny. The wind v. current situation has all the boats skewed every which way.

I did a full backup of the laptop today. Don't want to loose all this wonderful prose.

1800 hrs

It's windy, windy, windy and cooling down quickly. I'm a little confused about Galena's position relative to the anchor. The GPS was set to show where the anchor was, but now it's showing the anchor position further and further away. My length marks on the anchor chain need to be redone. I might have missed one or miss read the last one out. I thought I had 100 feet of rode deployed. But the GPS is showing me 135-ft from the anchor's position. I'll have to keep an eye on it for a few hours.

Tom (s/v Evergreen) should be here tomorrow. If he doesn't want to go off shore then I'll just go alone.

04 December 2007
Charleston, SC

Tom called. He is at the dock in the marina. He and his new cruising buddy, Mike, arrived last night at 2000-hrs. Rather than try to find a spot to anchor they just took a place on the bulkhead. They will each move out to the anchorage this afternoon.

Today I finally untwisted the colors. The US Flag is flown on the backstay on Galena. And, when I leave it up for extended periods it gets itself all twisted around the backstay, the topping lift and the flag halyard. It takes a bit of effort to get the thing untwisted. But I can do it disconnecting the topping lift and using it to flip the flag around and around. Of course, if I took it down every day as I should that wouldn't happen.

Tom moved Evergreen to the anchorage. I dinghied over to him to watch him anchor. This solved a mystery for me. Tom had told me a story of his grounding when at the south end of the Albemarle Sound. He said he had anchored north of the island near ICW milepost 095. He was in the lee of the island at first. Then the wind came around and the island became a lee shore. The wind became brisk, the seas built, but his anchor held. Then, he said, his 'anchor tether' broke and he was swept ashore on the island. He said the figured the damage was done, he was aground on the beach, and so he went to bed. The next day he called for a tow. Towboat US sent a boat. it took hours to get Evergreen off the beach. But at a cost of over $5,000. On the bright side, they were able to recover his ground tackle.

As I watched Tom anchor Evergreen in Charleston I saw the problem. Tom let out a good length of chain rode. Then he tied a length of 3/8" rope through a link in the chain and to a padeye in the Evergreen's chain locker. I remarked as to how that was insufficient in any anchorage. I had him tie his heaviest mooring line to the chain with a rolling hitch. Then that was tied to a mooring cleat on Evergreen. Then I had him wrap the chain around the windlass and lock the gypsy. I suggested a second line to back up the first (just in case) but maybe that was going too far. I explained that a system such as this may have saved him from going aground earlier.

Tom and I went over to the local dock bar, Salty Mike's. There we met Tom Jones of s/v Ellida. Like everyone, he's 'headed south.' Just about everyone who had made this trip before says just that: south. Nothing more specific. We're all open to changes of plans. Tom Jones is heading to Ft Lauderdale at least. There he has some significant upgrades in mind for Ellida. Things like new standing rigging. Good luck, Tom. Hope you get Ellida up and running in time to continue south this season.

We're still looking good for an off shore run to Brunswick, GA on Friday. Or, maybe all the way to Florida.

This morning was cold. 40° this morning.

Tom had said that s/v Stella Polaris was right behind him. As yet I have not seen them (Tom and Joyce). I'd like to opportunity to spend a little more time examining that boat of theirs. I later found out that they had sailed through Charleston harbor and anchored a little way south on the ICW.

I checked the fuel: 21/10/13 (strb/port/deck).

06 December 2007
Charleston, SC

I moved Galena over to the fuel dock and took on 38 gallons (32/34/13 = 79 gal) $117.
Eng: 1436 hrs.

07 December 2007
Charleston, SC

Walked to the grocery store with Tom and spent $35.

08 December 2007

Departed Charleston (finally!!!). s/v Evergreen followed me out of the harbor.

We left in clear weather. Cold but clear. The sky was just light enough to see where we were going.

0825-hrs Just a little bumpy as we went out the inlet between the jetties.

On the way out I noticed a 30-something-foot sailboat heading for the inlet from the north. The problem was that she was headed for the inlet not the end of the jetty which sticks over 2-miles out into the ocean. It was almost high tide and the rocks are just awash and hard to see. I called on the radio as best I could "White sailboat approaching Charleston Inlet from the North...." over and over but received no reply. I gave five blasts on my little horn. But they were way too far away to hear. I resigned myself to watching them drive up on the rocks.

I was nearing the end of the jetty and figured if they went onto the rocks I would go around to the outside of the north jetty and go back to help them. But at the last minute, within a couple of hundred yards of the rocks the suddenly spun around. They headed back north for a minute and then turned east to come around the ends of the jetties. I guess they finally saw the bit of rock just visible over the water surface. Very lucky for them.

Looking back at s/v Evergreen I noticed that she was emitting a great deal of steam. Not smoke, steam. I called Tom and he said that was normal but he was watching it. I think steam means that you're not getting enough water into the muffler and what is getting in there is just vaporizing. What do I know?

At 0830-hrs I had turned southwest along the coast and put up all sails. But they didn't add much to Galena's speed with just the motor.

All sails up and sort-of-drawing

AT 0930-hrs I decided to deploy my fishing line. I ended up dragging it for the next 30 hrs and only got one hit, but didn't catch anything.

At 0940-hrs I decided to make breakfast: egg sandwiches and coffee. That's one of the great things about being out in the ocean. You can leave the cockpit for ten or fifteen minutes and not miss anything. In the ditch I can dive below for at most 15- or 20-seconds.

Evergreen is staying behind me even though he can sail and motor significantly faster than Galena.

At 1030-hrs I gave up on sailing and dropped all sails. They were just adding windage and slowing me down. The sea was glassy smooth and calm.

At 1500-hrs I started hearing a lot of radio traffic from south of me. Many, many boats were giving position reports. They were saying, "I'm at this position <lat, lon> and am heading <direction> at <speed> knots." It sounded like there was a lot of fog somewhere down there and people were being cautious. But we had clear skis where we were.

At 1530-hrs I noticed a fog bank approaching from astern, from the northeast. Shortly after that the shoreline disappeared. By 1545-hrs I looked up from my book and I was in moderate fog. Visibility was down to about 1/2 mile. That didn't make me too nervous. But by 1630-hrs I was in dense fog with visibility down to a couple hundred feet and the sun was completely obscured; couldn't even see a disk up there.

Evergreen was behind me with her nav lights on so I had a good gage of the density of the fog. That gave me a bit of confidence in the collision-avoidance area. At least I knew that I could see a boat at a range that might let me take action and get out of the way.

Evergreen behind Galena in the fog

By 1700-hrs it was getting dark and the visibility was back to about 300-yds. I noticed that Evergreen didn't have her starboard navigation light on. Tom said, yes, it was on. He said he could see it from the cockpit. I allowed as how he should not be able to see a side light from the cockpit. I drifted around Evergreen and concluded that he had put the light's cover on backwards. The screen was not allowing it to be seen from ahead. So Tom went out on the anchor platform and made it right.

We were approaching the entrance to Tybee Roads and all that Savannah traffic. I was concerned about crossing the channel and not getting T-boned by a freighter.

But by 2100-hrs the fog was lifting and by the time I approached the Tybee Roads sea buoy I had pretty clear visibility. I could see the channel buoys at about 1/2 mile. I crossed the channel without incident. And without seeing any freighter traffic. All the worry for nothing.

Now it just a matter of staying awake all night. Since I was motoring I set up the laptop computer on the nav station where I could see it from the cockpit. I put in a DVD and sat out in the cockpit watching movies all night.

I didn't get really groggy-tired until about 0500-hrs. But by then the sky was starting to lighten and I started to wake up.

With the rising of the sun the temperature increased. By 1000-hrs I was down to a T-shirt! I hadn't been that warm since this trip started. I guess I was finally getting south.

Since we were motoring and making at least 5.5-kts I made it to Brunswick earlier than I had planned. So I decided to continue on to St Mary's inlet. That was only another 20 miles or so down the coast. I could stop at Fernandina Beach and spend the night there before heading on down to St Augustine, my next major stopping point.

09 December 2007 1430 hrs
Fernandina Beach, FL
Trip: 171nm Total: 791nm Eng: 1470 hrs

By 1430-hrs we were tied up at the Fernandina Harbor Marina ($1.75/foot plus elec).
Fuel was 13/32/13 (stbd/port/deck) so I didn't get any fuel. When I got in I headed into town for the obligatory burger and beer. I found a nice bar named O'Kane's Irish Pub and Eatery. Tom went back to the marina early and I stayed around for a while.

On the way back to Galena, I stopped in at The Palace Saloon and got to know some of the locals.

Back at the marina I talked with Jim on s/v Drum. Jim was also heading south and we agreed to find someplace for breakfast in the morning. Which we did.

10 December 2007
Anchored in the St Johns river near Jacksonville, FL

We had a quiet run down the ICW.

We did motor past a lot of nice houses along the ICW.

I was going to stop at a little ox bow off the side of the ICW. I slowed down to half a knot and nosed in. I watched the fathometer drop from 13-ft to 6.5 in a boat length. I tried to stop and by the time I did I was reading a depth of only 4.7 ft! Finally Galena started backing out.

Tom had passed me up and so I let him lead for a while. I decided to continue down to this anchorage. Not too bad. Since I'm off to the side of the river the current isn't a strong as I remembered from the marina about a mile downstream.

Tom anchored to the east, then there was me, then two other boats that I had seen earlier.

By morning Tom was far to the west of everyone. During the night he had dragged through all of us and didn't touch anyone! That's a bucketful of luck.

There was a bit of fog but we left at 0830hrs and headed to St Augustine.

11 December 2007
St Augustine, FL
Trip 54nm (two days)/ Total: 845 nm Engine: 1480

Fuel: 6/32/13 (stbd/port/deck)

Another day of uneventful driving down the ICW.
Once here I showered and walked across the street to the tourist section. I stopped by the Peter O'Neill Gallery, one of my favorite galleries in town. Again I stood and stared at a couple of his paintings that have always 'called to me.' Then back to Galena for dinner.

Later, at the A1A Ale Works I met Pete and Runi. They have a Westsail 39. A very rare animal, indeed! He liked my earring and I told him where he could buy one. But he needed one for a dinner tonight. So I loaned him mine. He returned it the next day.

The A1A Ale Works is directly across the street from the marina.

12 December 2007
St Augustine, FL

I like this town and plan on hanging around for a few days. On one hand I want to get to "The Islands" but when I think back on all the places I've spent a few days and didn't even enjoy myself... well... I figure I can afford a couple days in a place I like.

Besides there's a front coming through Saturday night: 20 kts of wind for a couple days. I'll be good right here, thank you very much.

The town has lights on the buildings along the waterfront. From the anchorage we have a very nice view.

Tom is having problems with his electrical system. Little or no charging. He thought it was the alternator so I loaned him my spare. Before he tried it he found an alternator shop nearby and they said the one he has was fine. But they replaced the bearings for $100. Tom eventually found out that his Link 2000R had had a momentary brain-freeze. Their tech guys said to reset it. He did. Everything seems fine now.

13 December 2007
St Augustine, FL

Pancakes for breakfast. First time I made them. Better than my usual bowl of dry Cheerios.

I discovered the Trade Winds bar on Bettye Smith's recommendation. Great music. Cheap beer. Good people. Sort of a cross between a biker bar (there are usually a lot of bikes parked out front) and a sailor's bar (sailing motif inside). It's just a very comfortable place to hang out. On the weekends it gets crowded early and they sometimes have a nominal cover charge of two dollars.

The Trade Winds Lounge, just north of the town square

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