We departed on an extra high tide. Clearance under the bridge was down to 54 feet, but we still cleared it easily. Out into the harbor and out through the big ship channel we went, propelled along with an extra push by the falling tide.
The entrance channel at Charleston is quite long, having to get out far enough to clear the two massive ( and partially submerged) stone jetties, as well as clear some mining drillfields. As a result, we went out at least 10 miles before turning south.
Once we turned SW towards the St. Mary's River inlet, we put up the sails and shut off the engine. Woo Hoo! we were a sailboat again, instead of a really slow powerboat! This was the first good full sail we have gotten in on the whole trip so far!
And the conditions were (more or less) as forecast. 10 kts wind out of the NW let us do almost a beam reach, and the 2-4 ft waves with a 7 sec period were an easy ride. We set our course, doing 5-6 kts, and had a single long leg for 143 nm without a single tack!
The cold dreary weather lasted about half a day, with the sun finally making a much-welcomed appearance in the afternoon. The winds started to come around to WNW and piped up a bit and got gusty. Since they were forcast to be 10-20 kts, we decided to put in a single reef on the main now so no one would potentially have to go forward in the dark if the wind increased. It didn't seem to hurt us. We continued on at 5-6 kts, just without heeling so much.
And so we sailed through the night. Our speed held. We stood double overlapping watches, with one person coming on and one person going off every 3 hours. This meant each person had 6 hrs on watch and 3 hours off to sleep, and no one was ever at the helm alone.
Shortly after sunset, the full moon (a "super" moon!) arose and bathed the sea with light. It was like a big spotlight, actually casting shadows! The only thing it didn't do was warm us! Even with many layers and full foul weather gear on, we got cold! The last hour of each 6 hour watch seemed to drag on forever.
Our course took us in a straight line across the curved coastline from Charleston to St. Mary's, so at one point we were about 30 nm offshore.
We saw an occasional tug or sailboat or powerboat in the distance, but none ever came close.
Finally, the dawn broke, clear and sunny. Soon, we were peeling off ayer after layer as we started to overheat. This was much more like it!
Early in the afternoon on tue, the wind began to die. We shook out the reef, but the failing wind forced us to start the engine and motor-sail the last 30 miles to the entrance channel.
The entrance channel at St Mary's also goes out about 10 miles, and is marked like a superhighway, with pairs of channel markers lined up in a row into the distance. On one side, huge shrimp boats drag their nets, attended by hoards of hopeful hungry seagulls.
And it was warm! 72! People were on the beaches! This is MUCH more like it! :)
FInally, coming into the inlet we had a decision to make. Our preferred marina, Fernandina Beach Marina, was put out of comission for the rest of the year by hurricane Matthew. A quick phone call to the only other marina nearby revealed that they had a slip available, but with the tide at it's low point, the shoaling at their entrance from Matthew meant that we couldn't get in until after dark (they have almost 8 feet of tide here!!)
And so, we decided to head north, into Georgia, and go to a marina on the Georgia side of the St Mary's River. It's a bit run down, but friendly and cheap. And the nearby town of St. Mary's looks interesting. We may stay here an extra day to explore before heading south again.
|Sunset at Lang's Marina|