February 10, 2012
We had a great rest stop in Savannah. It’s a great town, filled with history. Sherman spared Savannah from destruction during the Civil War (known in these parts as the War of Northern Aggression) so it has wonderful old buildings and cobblestone streets. Walking the old downtown is fun and educational. Staying at the Westin’s marina allowed us access to all the resort facilities, so we enjoyed the hot tub, fitness center, sauna, and golf course. A free water ferry provided transportation across the river to downtown. Bradley and I had a chance to catch up with a long lost friend Ann Marie, daughter of one of my closest friends. We enjoyed meeting Ann Marie’s husband Matt and son Jack. Matt is an Army helicopter pilot and he took us to the military base to see his Chinook. It’s quite a machine and we greatly enjoyed the chance to see it up close and personal! We walked through many of the squares reading all about the history of Savannah and visited the Ship Museum and the Mickve Israel Temple, the third oldest Jewish congregation and only Gothic-style synagogue in the US.
Our dockmate at the Westin marina was a 102 foot boat called Who Cares, which travels along with its two fishing vessels named So What and Whatever. We loved the names and enjoyed meeting Captain Richard. We hope to catch up with the boat in the Bahamas in a couple months. After a great few days of relaxation, good food, and nice people, we were ready to make the 320+ mile trip to North Palm Beach, a journey that would take a little less than two days. The Savannah River has 8-foot tides, so we departed just before noon in order to make it out of the Savannah River on the ebbing tide (so as not to go against the current on the way out) and to arrive in Palm Beach after sunup two days later. Conditions were good, though not quite as smooth as the previous legs. Since leaving Jarrett Bay, we’ve been keeping a list of the things that aren’t working quite right – there are quite a few things on the list which we will address in Florida, but none that we can’t work around (and these will be reported on in a separate post for those who are interested).
After an uneventful night during which we saw little traffic, we had some morning visitors – literally dozens of spotted dolphins that swam along with us for over an hour, frolicking in our bow wake and performing stunning acrobatics. No matter how often we see dolphins, we just never get tired of it! Next it was time to give the fishing poles a try. Out went the lines and then – nothing. Hours passed, the wind blowing about 20-25 knots, and waves building to 4-5 feet. Suddenly, we heard it – the fishing line making its distinctive noise! When we hook a fish, we slow the boat down in order to bring it in. Even a small fish is difficult to haul in at a speed of 8 knots! And this did not appear to be a small one. But when we slowed the boat down, the autopilot immediately sounded an alarm and lost its heading. Other alarms started going off. As we stopped our forward progress, the stabilizers lost their ability to hold the boat steady and the building waves started to rock us nicely. Mind you, the boat has no problem with this, but it’s amazing how different it feels to the crew when you’re getting knocked about. John was on the back deck trying to reel in a monstrous fish, with Leanne assisting, Bradley and I were trying to get our electronics settled down, and meanwhile several things in the galley and salon went crashing to the floor.
Things were soon under control again and we made a note of all the things that had set off alarms. Mostly it was caused by our satellite compass losing heading information – a problem we had experienced in similar conditions during our shorter sea trial in Beaufort. This remains on our list to fix once we reach Palm Beach. However, it became clear that we could not slow the boat enough to recover the fish (we were doing 6 knots in neutral) and if we wanted it, we would need to turn into the wind and waves and go back towards it. Regrettably, we decided not to do that and cut the line. Although we lost the fish, it was an excellent sea trial, confirming a few things that need to be fixed. Besides the fish, we also lost a bottle of wine which crashed to the galley floor during the rough part. Fortunately, it did not fall on our brand new carpet!
As night fell and we cruised along the Florida coast, the traffic increased. We passed several ships and tugs, including the Carnival Pride cruise ship, which it seems we pass on every trip up or down the coast! As dawn approached, we arrived at Palm Beach. We entered Ft. Worth Inlet and dropped our anchor so that the guys could dive and inspect and clean the bottom of the boat. They did this with great efficiency, pleased with how everything looked and giving the bottom a very gentle wipe to remove any burgeoning growth. We raised our anchor and continued on into Old Port Cove Marina where we will be for a few weeks while we wrap up our repairs.
Click below to see a video of the sights and sounds from our passage to Savannah (on Youtube). It is meant to show various aspects of a passage and is not set to music so that you can hear some of the actual sounds. It lasts a little over 6 minutes. Continue down for more photos.
And finally, here is a video of the dolphins we saw along the way.