We stayed in Cocoa Village from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. On Thursday and Friday, Brenda and I explored Cocoa Village which is a revitalized downtown area with lots of antique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. There is an old hardware store called S.F. Travis established in 1885, with the most interesting collection of inventory I’ve ever seen. Rows and rows and rows of nuts bolts and screws, over 200 feet of PVC pipe parts, wagon wheels, wood stoves, mining equipment, woodworking equipment, machine tools, pots, pans, I don’t think that they know everything they’ve got.
The other residents of the marina were an interesting mix of permanent liveaboards and other transients. Some came and went while we were there, some had been there for a few weeks, and a few for a few months.
Friday morning, Carlos and Wilson from Hartman Yacht maintenance arrived to fix an engine seal on the boat. The seal was replaced last April when we first bought the boat, but it started leaking after a month or so. It was under warranty, but we waited until we were back in Florida so we didn’t have to fly a technician up to SC to fix it. It took them about 3 hours and Brenda did laundry while we had the floor out of the boat.
On Friday afternoon, the marina hosted a pot-luck meet-and-greet for the current residents and we were able to meet quite a few of our fellow boaters that we’d just waved to passing on the dock.
Bethanny arrived on Friday evening and we went out to dinner to a Tapas Resturant in town. She spent her first night on the boat, and on Saturday morning we took her for her first ride. The weather on was excellent, clear, not to cool, and no wind. We headed north up the ICW past the NASA launch facility, then turned around back toward Cocoa Beach and Bethanny got her first opportunity to drive the boat. We took the NASA canal over to Port Canaveral and went past the big Cruise Ships. Port Canaveral is the home base for the Disney Cruise ships. There were two Disney and one Norwegian Cruise ships in port. The wind started to come up so we headed back to to the Marina. When we returned I checked on the repair and found that it was leaking worse than before they fixed it! A quick call and the tech’s promised to be back on Monday morning to do it again.
Saturday afternoon while we had access to Bethannys car, we went over the bridge to Merit Island and Cocoa Beach for a walk. We did a bit of re-supply shopping and then back to town for dinner at a German Beer Garden themed restaurant. On Sunday, Brenda and Bethanny headed to Orlando to see her Condo, and I hung out at the marina and washed down the boat. Brenda spent Sunday night in Kissimmee at Bethannys condo and did some shopping to re-arrange her patio.
On Monday, Carlos and Wilson came back to re-repair the shaft seal again. It looked like the seal got damaged when it was being inserted. The engine room is very tight and you have to lay on your back wrapped around the engine to insert it so it’s not surprising that something might happen. This time when they finished we ran the boat for about a half-hour to make sure that it was not leaking.
Bethanny and Brenda arrived back in the early afternoon and we went into town for dinner again. After dinner, we said our goodbye’s to Bethanny and turned in early for the start of our trip home in the morning.
Tuesday morning we left Cocoa Beach just after 8:00 AM. The weather was good but cold. On our trip home we were trying to make as much time as possible so we planned some long days. Traffic was pretty light, we past a few boats heading both north and south with little drama. In the afternoon, we kept hearing a boat named “HB107” calling boats arranging to pass them. We were averaging 18 knots and when I saw them pop-up on AIS (sort of like radar) and they were gaining on us, I was impressed! We got to a fairly long straightaway and were able to see HB107 for the first time. It was a large NYC Catamaran Ferry heading north. Looked like delivery or repositioning and they were in a hurry, so we pulled over a bit and let them blow past us.
We traveled 83 nm and arrived at Palm Coast Marina in Palm Coast FL just after 4:00. The marina is just off the ICW and was an easy tie up at the fuel dock. We topped off the tanks, settled in and then walked about a half mile to a place called European Village. A planned development with restaurants and shops on the first floor, and apartments and condos above. We had an excellent meal at Mezzaluna and Italian restaurant, then walked back to the marina and turned in for the night.
Wednesday we left Palm Coast at 9:00, and headed north again. Again it was cool, but the weather was clear. We drove the boat from inside for part of the day to stay warm. In St. Augustine, we passed a smaller cruise ship, went under the Bridge of Lions again, and met our friends from Customs and Border Protection with their fast boats again. As we went through Jacksonville, we passed a Tow Boat US towing an old Chris Craft full of furniture!
In the afternoon the wind picked up and was blowing pretty hard when we arrived at Amelia Island Marina in Fernandina Beach FL just after 4:00. Docking was challenging, the wind was blowing pretty hard, it was low tide and the marina is quite shallow (less than 1′ under the boat at times), there were 3 boats that arrived at about the same time, and the computer system was down so they were trying to put us in slips that already had boats in them. The dock hands were scrambling to get us all tied up. After about 15 minutes of back and forth, turning circles our turn came. They changed our slip at the last minute so rather than having Brenda swap the lines and fenders again, I backed the boat into the slip. With the wind pushing us around, it was not pretty, but no dents or dings so successful in the end. We had dinner at a small pub right next to the dock and again an early night.
Thursday morning dawned clear and cold. The tide had come in overnight, so leaving was much less of an adventure than docking. At 9:30 we headed out past Fernandina Beach, crossed into Georgia and past the Sub Base, and Jekyll Island with a Navy Helicopter doing touch-and-go’s, then into the Georgia marshes!
The tide was high so we made good time and at 4:00 we turned up Kilkenny Creek to the Kilkenny Marina. Kilkenny is a favorite of Geoff our training captain that helped us bring our boat home from Florida last year and even though it’s “Rustic”, we liked it too. Also, Kilkenny is pretty much the last marina headed north before Hell Gate so if you want to time your crossing and not anchor out, this is the place. With the boat tied up to the “2×6” boards nailed to the side of the dock (no cleats here even with an 8-foot tide), we walked to the nearby restaurant Marker 133 for dinner. After dinner, we watched the sunset and the dolphins swimming past the boat and went to sleep listening to the shrimp clicking under the boat.
Friday was an early morning so that we could catch the tide at Hell Gate, we were up and on the water by 7:15. Within an hour we were at Hell Gate, just as the tide was reaching its peak. Again a smooth passage with 11+ feet of water below us! We planned a long day for Friday to beat the weekend traffic as much as possible with our marina for the night St. John’s Yacht Harbor in Charleston SC, which made it about a 125 nm day (150 statute miles). With mostly high tides we made good time through the rest of Georgia, no issues crossing the Savanah River back into South Carolina or through the cut where we touched bottom on our way down. The weather was nice, in the mid 70’s (warmest day of the trip!) and the sky was clear however most of the day was hazy and smoky from the numerous brush fires we saw along the route.
On Saturday we woke to high tide and overcast skies, there is some low water near McClellanville SC so again we planned our departure to take advantage of the tide and make for an easy and fast trip. Brenda dressed the frog for St. Patrick’s day and strapped her to the bow of the boat. After a smooth cast-off, we went through Elliots cut just at slack tide, so no issues there, crossed Charleston Harbor, and entered the channel at Isle of Palms. Aside from a few slow zones due to docks on both sides of the channel through Isle of Palms and a few northbound trawlers around McClellanville, it was a quick trip up to Winyah Bay and Georgetown.
As we crossed Winyah Bay the wind came up and we felt a few raindrops. After going under the Georgetown bridge, it was a quick 60 minutes home to Wacca Wache! We had the boat tied up in her slip by 1:15, just as the rain started. So aside from the cold, we had perfect weather for the entire trip. 76 nm in just over 5 hours.
Stats for the trip:
- 16 days – 5.5 days down, 6 days in Cocoa Village, 4.5 days back
- 79.6 hours underway
- 923.5 nautical miles (1063 statute miles)
- 11.8 knots average speed (13.6 mph)
- 1016 gallons of diesel (Average: 12 gallons per/hour or about 1 gallon per mile)