Day three we woke to a great sunrise at Thunderbird Marina in Georgia As we started to get the boat ready to go, a pod of dolphins stopped by to say Good Morning. We caught the moon again setting behind the big megayachts just before we cast off around 8:00 AM.
We had planned a 110 nm day so it was going to be a long one. There was plenty of open water so we hoped to run a bit fast most of the way. The weather was clear, the wind was much lighter, but it was colder (45 degrees when we departed). The going was easy, very few marinas and lots of open water. We meet a few boats heading north and passed 4 heading south, everyone was playing fair and we made great time.
At 9:30 we reached our mental mountain “Hell Gate”. Hell Gate is a narrow channel with a reputation for “eating boats”. At low tide, the channel is very narrow and shallow, basically a ribbon of water through the mud. Fortunately, the tides in this area are 9+ feet, and we were transiting at just about high tide. (Thanks again to Geoff our instructor for teaching us that timing tides is part of the game!) We had picked last nights stop at Thunderbolt so that we’d only have 2 hours to travel and could reach Hell Gate at the right time for an easy pass.
The rest of the day was easy, we were able to run fast most of the time and cruised for long periods at 18 knots (21 mph). The ICW route in Georgia is mostly a whole lot of nothing, just marsh grass with a few trees as far as the eye can see. Just after Hell Gate, we passed the tugboat and barge that we’d passed in Charleston and saw again yesterday at the big Boat Yard. (This evening just after dark, he cruised past us heading south. It looks like they run day or night as long as the tide is high.) We passed Kilkenny Georgia where we’ll spend the night on our way back waiting for the tide.
We reached Jekyll Island Harbor Marina in Jekyll Island Georgia (about an hour north by boat from the Florida border) at 1:30, way ahead of schedule. We considered continuing on but Jekyll Island has one of the “Grand Old Hotels” from the 1920’s, that we saw briefly through the trees last year when we brought the boat home from Florida, and wanted a closer look. We tied up at the marina and checked in.
The Marina has free loaner bikes, so we grabbed two and headed out to explore the island. Every major road on the island has a dedicated bike path next to it, and there are paved bike paths all through the hotel grounds, and along the oceanfront. It was great riding! (No hills). The hotel is spectacular, and the island is full of “Winter Homes” from families with names like “Vanderbilt” and “Goodyear” to name but a few. Most are now owned by the hotel and rented out for conferences. There is an antique car convention going on this week and they had several parked on the front lawn of the Hotel.
Jekyll Island has its own private airport for the “Island Club Members” and as we rode across the island we passed the airport light. The Eagles have decided it has a bigger purpose and have built their nest on the top. We reached the ocean side and rode down along the beach watching the large breakers coming in and feeling good about our decision to stay in the Intra Coastal waterway rather than going out into the open ocean. (We heard this evening that a container ship had 70 containers blown overboard just off the coast of North Carolina yesterday!)
We stopped at the Island shopping center and checked out a few shops and restaurants. There was an Irish Pub “McGarveys” and we decided to have dinner there. It was still early so we rode the bikes back to the boat and did a little maintenance, then at 6:00 just at sunset, we rode back across the island (about 3/4 of a mile) for dinner. Then rode back in the dark.
Today’s run ended up at 86 nm (we cut some corners) and we ran for 6 hours averaging a speedy 16 knots. Tomorrow we cross into Florida, and head for St. Augustine.