Friday, December 19, 2008

Leaving Beaufort, SC (finally!)

We had a wonderful day today and exciting, too! We left Beaufort, SC where we had been at a marina for a week. We’ve never stayed at a marina for that long, but we needed some time to get the boat and ourselves ‘together’. We got a lot of chores done and felt very good about leaving. These guys are called Ruddy Turnstones because they turn up stones with their beaks to find bugs, I guess. They are all on one leg to keep warm we figure. Anyway, they were our dock buddies in Beaufort. The boats below were in the Beaufort marina and showed their holiday lights!

The weather was beautiful as we left the dock at 9:00. It has been balmy and, for the past few days, the temperatures have been in the low 70’s. One certainly can’t complain about that! In SC and GA you have to carefully plan your route using the tide tables. There are numerous cuts that we have to go through. A cut is a man-made connection between 2 bodies of water. Unfortunately, both SC and GA have not been given the federal money they need in order to keep the cuts dredged. The draft of our boat is about 5 feet and some of these cuts don’t even have that amount of depth at low tide. So, we need to time our voyage to take advantage of the high tides in this area to get through without going aground, not a good thing.

The Captain and me with our morning coffee.

We had been doing fine and were slowly following a sailboat through one of the cuts. All of a sudden, one of the engines died. I guess we are getting used to the ‘things break on a boat’ attitude because neither of us spazed out! I took over the helm and Rick went below to see what the problem might be. He determined that the fuel filter was clogged and changed it and the engine was up and running in no time. Thank goodness for his diesel school training. (Ed. Rick: I had been watching the vacuum guages on the engines for some time, but they weren't indicating a problem until, of course, the port engine coughed and stopped. One learns something every day aboard a boat ...!)

Later we were going through another cut which would take us into the Savannah River which is a big shipping channel. We had noticed a Coast Guard helicopter going overhead for about 20 minutes but didn’t think anything of it. As we were getting to the head of the cut I happened to look up and saw a huge ship over the line of trees. It was making its way up the river. We knew we had to give way to the "big fella." As we turned the bend a small Coast Guard boat, with a machine gun mounted on it’s bow, came toward us very fast and hailed us on the radio. Nothing to make your heart pump fast when that happens! They told us to throttle back and stay where we were until the ship passed. No problem!! We were a bit surprised that the Coast Guard was helping to bring in the ship via sea and air but we guess that is Homeland Security at work.

We are now in an anchorage. It is a beautiful afternoon and we are the only boat here. The next two days will be a bit dicey as the tides aren’t really favorable for passage at the times we want to go so we may have to wait some of it out. Oh well, it is cruising and there is no need to hurry. Below, a dramatic sky as we cruised today.