Navigating the ICW through Georgia is tricky – not dangerous, but some areas have tides of 8 feet or more (compared to a foot or so in the Chesapeake). Some areas cannot be passed at low tide, so you need to know not only where you are, but when. The end result is a series of short days, traveling when the tides are high, then anchoring and waiting for the next day’s tide before continuing. The helmsman gets a good jolt of adrenaline picking our way over some of the shoals nevertheless. The route winds back and forth, adding 30 or so miles to the straight-line distance. On the way south in November it took us about a week to do this section of the trip. But now in April, the weather was mild and with a fair wind from the south, we decided to do it in one continuous 30-hour run on the ocean. We exited at St Augustine Inlet guarded by the lighthouse we’d so recently climbed, and turned north.
The day started off mild and benign. The winds began building in afternoon and we were racing along, making great time. We took turns napping in the cockpit while the other stood watch, and trusty and tireless autohelm Baron Otto von Pilot did the steering. We had island-style rice and beans for dinner as the sun quietly dropped behind the western horizon. The magnificence of a moonless night on the ocean is the exuberance of stars, many more, and more brilliant, than we ever see where they have to compete with city lights on land. Once or twice we saw the lights of another ship, but none came close. The winds continued to build, though, and 3-foot waves would come up from behind us, pushing us forward, then breaking in a hiss and stream of white in the starlight as they passed under the hull.
By dawn we were approaching Port Royal Inlet. We welcomed the shelter of land now that the seas were becoming rough. Not that the land gave much shelter, as we learned once we were inside. If anything, the funneling as the waves came in from the ocean and battled the outgoing current made things less comfortable for a few hours. But when we turned onto the ICW it became a placid sunny morning, and we looked at each other and grinned, as if to say, “Wonder what the fuss was about? Who would believe us, anyway?” A few more hours and we were anchored in Factory Creek again, Beaufort, SC. According to our log, we were last here for 4 days of wind and rain waiting the passing of the remnants of Hurricane Ida, and never got to explore the city, an omission we were determined to correct this time.
PS: I added a photo to the previous post "Northbound Through Florida" - my absolutely favorite item at the Lightner Museum - a working model of a steam engine, made entirely of handblown glass. Sorry, I missed including it when I first downloaded my St Augustine photos.