2014-04-28 North Carolina–Halfway and Twice The Fun

Magnolia had only made it halfway along our path though North Carolina but we have had more than twice the fun! We were able to connect with my friend and former colleague Pete Saunders in near Myrtle Beach. We was kind enough to come out and photograph Magnolia as we passed under the Sunset Bridge.




After our visit with Pete we were onto Southport, NC. Southport was another one of those places we wanted to visit in the fall but missed. We arrived at the Southport Marina, got Magnolia settled and began our exploration!



The Marina at Southport is a top notch facility and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.






The high-point of our Southport visit was meeting up with Joe & Christine Volpe. Joe is a former colleague of our friend Kathy Tennar. In addition Joe is the former CO of the USS Mobile Bay, a sister ship to Ticonderoga which I was a crew member on. It was a great visit!


We had a blast and shared more laughs than any four people deserve!


Sadly it was time to get Magnolia moving again. With the foul weather in the mid-west we will spend the week looking over our shoulder as we head up the coast towards the Chesapeake.


Magnolia lies as anchor near Figure Eight Island in a wonderful anchorage just off the ICW. We will be getting underway in the morning and spend tomorrow evening Camp Lejeune Marine Corp Base.

2014-04-22 South Carolina–Low Country Beauty + Friends

Magnolia enjoyed her port visit to Beaufort, SC…well minus the starter issue but that is all behind us. Beaufort always gets great reviews as a place to retire to so we were anxious to give the town a look see.



The waterfront is obviously quite attractive and the downtown area vibrant. Our initial take is the place is quite lovely but did not strike the right “vibe” for us.



We of course made a stop in Charleston to visit our friends Vicki and Mims. The one unfortunate parts of the weekend of was rain. We got tons of rain but that did not quash our visit in the least. 


Departing Charleston on a rainy & windy Sunday morning we crossed the harbor and made our way into the relative protection of the ICW. The section of ICW between Charleston & Winyah Bay is notoriously know for its many sections that have shoaled in. Thankfully we were able catch a rising tide and ride it across avoiding the shallow sections. We arrived Mimin Creek late in the day, dropped the anchor and had a wonderful bowl of chili in one very picturesque very isolated anchorages we have enjoyed.


As we transited up Winyah Bay and onto the Wacamaw river the sun came out and the day turned from nice to extraordinary. The Wacamaw river is know for its beauty as it is lined with Cypress Swamps for miles and miles. The water is quite deep considering it width. Just what us “explorers” want! Smile  


We excited the Wacamaw/ICW onto Bull Creek where we would anchor for the evening. Again we were blessed with beautiful views . Other than a one small john boat early in the afternoon, we saw no one on “our” creek the entire remainder of the day. We did what our neighbors did, relaxed and took a little sun. When in “Rome…..”




The “Admiral” enjoys a chore free afternoon.


As we departed in the morning, there was not a ripple to be seen.





There was a fare amount of dew but the sun was shining and that makes the Admiral, “Very Happy”


2014-04-19 Sometimes Things Break

Magnolia recently completed a hugely successful overnight passage from the St Mary’s River to Port Royal Sound and on to Beaufort, SC. Before arriving at our Beaufort Marina dock, Magnolia took the opportunity just before arriving to top-up our fuel tanks. As we prepared to depart the fuel dock the Admiral turned the key and nothing happened. Now I had seen the behavior several times before but chocked it up to not turning the key far enough because it ALWAYS started the second time. Note: The Admiral starts the engine 90% of the time. This particular instance when the Admiral saw the problem, well that issue just became a real unequivocal issue!

Upon arriving Lady’s Island Marina, Steve the manager put me in touch with Jim Demintis a local diesel mechanic. He was kind enough to come out on Saturday and take a look for any obvious problems. The diagnosis was the solenoid was likely slowly failing. Replacing the solenoid required removal of the starter motor so I made the call to replace the whole starter along with the solenoid. Not knowing the history or age of the current starter I figured we would replace both and send the old starter in for overhaul and keep as a spare.

The plan all sounds good except for one small exception, where do we get a replacement starter in Beaufort SC. Its not that large of town and though Jim was willing to order the timeline did not sound appealing. No big deal, we have all Sunday figure it out. As it turns out our friends on EleanorQ had a starter replacement last fall in Charleston, SC. Checking in with Frank & MMs sent us to a company named Masco in North Charleston.   A little Google research uncovered a Hertz rental car  2.2 miles from our current Marina on Lady’s Island.


Monday morning I arose and was off the boat at 0700 walking to Hertz. Along the way I called Masco to ensure they had the starter we required and then let the mechanic Jim Dementis know that I planned to drive the 73 miles to Charleston and get the part we required. While en-route I compiled a West Marine shopping list as well. After getting the starter from Masco and stopping at to separate West Marine stores I drove another 73 miles back to Beaufort. Upon arrival back at Magnolia I contacted Jim the mechanic who assured me he would get the starter installed by the end of the day. With some time to kill, the Admiral and piled back into the Mini-Van and made a brief provision run to the local grocery store. As promised Jim arrived and installed the starter and after paying the bill of $112 plus “something for the collection plate” Magnolia was restored and ready to go!

Tuesday morning I got up took the rental car back and on my 2.2 mile walk stopped in for a haircut before returning to Magnolia.

We have been EXTREMELY happy with the reliability Magnolia demonstrated this winter and we attribute this to a lot of preparatory work and maintenance we did over the last couple of winters. This small issue was resolved relatively quickly and with modest difficulty. As I have said before, everything takes longer and is harder but if it was easy I might have missed out on some great Beaufort Barbershop gossip!

2014-04-11 Moon, Wind, and Whales Align

Magnolia along with our friends Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class departed Cumberland Island, GA yesterday on a sunny wind-less morning. Cutting Class was making their way to Charleston, SC while Magnolia would be making a stop in Beaufort SC.


We departed in wind-less conditions but by late morning the winds had settled into a nice 12-15 on the beam which are simple ideal conditions in the calm seas. Thank you so much Mr. Wind! As sunset approached and the winds clocking to the south we rolled the jib sailing on main alone at ghosting along at 4.5 knots. At the slower speed we would reach the Port Royal MOA mark about 03:00 in the morning.  The slower speeds and calm conditions. In addition the calm quiet conditions over night gave a us a special treat. We were able to clearly hear the call of the Right Whales all night long. The Georgia Coast is is their primary calving grounds. We did not see any, but we sure could hear their symphony all night long. Thanks Mr. Whale! 


Annette was lucky enough to catch the watch as we passed the Savannah River entrance, one of the busiest shipping ports on the east coast. The ships truly line up to go in there. As you can see from the track (we are the little blue ship) Annette did a great job of avoiding traffic.


I on the other hand was lucky enough to catch the watch as w entered Port Royal Sound at 03:00. Keep in mind we had never done this before but with perfect condition it was the perfect time to push ourselves a little.



After approaching the MOA marker the next challenge is to sort through what you are looking at and get lined up on the entrance canal. We have learned that everything looks different from the boat and transcribing what we see from the charts overhead to what we see at eye level takes some time and patience. The scene generally “reveals” itself if you are just patient. In tonight’s case I could not get the lights to line up as I expected. As it turned out the light on G”5” at the entrance was not illuminated. Thankfully the moon had not set and I was finally able to see the mark and the scene quickly showed itself. 


After getting that first set of lights sorted out passing through the sound was pretty straightforward. The plan was to stop at Port Landing Marina to top up fuel so I timed our arrival there for dawn. It was pleasant 7 mile motor up the river to that point. Annette got up and we docked the boat had breakfast and coffee while we waited for the marina to open.


Once we took on fuel we had one more small challenge and that was waiting for the 09:00 bridge opening at Beaufort. They don’t open the bridge during rush hour (I know kills me too)  but once through we were in the marina and settled within the hour.




After a couple hour knap it was time to start exploring! We will be here for a couple of days and then make our way to Charleston for a visit with our friends Mims and Vickie. Exciting times aboard Magnolia…and yes we are thankful each and every day!

2014-04-09 Fernandina Beach / Cumberland Island

Annette and I arrived Fernandina Beach and had a bit of trouble escaping. It is such a quaint little place we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.



Just as we started thinking we should start moving on the cool rainy weather started so we decided to stay on a couple more days. Annette made great use of the time at the dock by finishing a number of projects such as a screen for the enclosure.


As we were preparing to depart our friends from SV Cutting Class (They are both former school teachers) arrived so we all headed to Cumberland Island about 8 miles to the north.


Cumberland Island is an amazingly beautiful place. We went on 4-4 mile hike and walked through amazing forest areas with Spanish Moss across the Oaks to expansive march lands to the wide beach above. Annette and I saw a story about on 60 Minutes once and have wanted to visit ever since.






Our morning view from the boat anchored off shore.


Dan discovers our first “hazard” of the day, a comfortable horse taking a rest in the middle of the trail. He 2014_04_14_11_45_42_AWB-039


After finding an alternate route around we discovered he had a pal and they were in the middle of a sit down. I suspect wanting more apple trees planted. He way, they were not moving!


Nearby stood one of their more photogenic pals!





The mansion Dungeness, was built my the Carnegie family who at one time owned 90% of the island. “The last time Dungeness was used was for the 1929 wedding of a Carnegie daughter. After the crash and the Great Depression, the family left the island and kept the mansion vacant. It burned in a 1959 fire, believed to have been started by a poacher who had been shot in the leg by a caretaker weeks before. Today, the ruins of the mansion remain on the southern end of the island.”





Magnolia will depart in the morning for an overnight transit to Port Royal Sound and a visit to Beaufort, SC while Cutting Class will continue on to Charleston.

2014-04-05 Magnolia Launches From Cape Canaveral

The Admiral personally came up with this weeks title. She was exceedingly proud of it! Smile

After Magnolia’s short “Maintenance Availability” near Melbourne we continued north along the ICW to Cocoa Village, FL. This was one our favorite stops heading south in the fall and looked forward to visiting again. In addition it was a great location to meet Second Sally (Greg & Marie) before heading offshore at Port Canaveral.


As you might remember from 2013-11-05 Dealers, Enablers, “What is Possible”, All in 5 Years, Greg and Marie patiently trained and mentored us for this trip. It was going to be a real treat to sail with them from Canaveral, Magnolia to the St Mary’s River and Second Sally to the St Johns River in Jacksonville.

Port Canaveral is a huge shipping port as well as the base for many cruise ships so it was not surprising we quickly found a large ship making her way through the inlet. As Greg reminded us, “its just like the interstate, stay out of the way of the big trucks!” So off we went. Magnolia’s portion of the passage was expected to be 180nm and take us about 32-36 hours to arrive in St Mary’s/Fernandina Beach.




As usual the Admiral did a great job on maneuvering us through the traffic. The buildings off Magnolia port side the NASA Vehicle Assembly Build and Launch Pass.




It was a lovely day to be on the water the only problem there was no wind. Shockingly the prediction by the weather forecaster for the winds to “fill” later in the afternoon never materialized. It no better out here than on land! I did capture a lovely sunset with Second Sally in the distance. She would continue to move further north west to make her entrance to Jacksonville while Magnolia stayed further offshore to the east to make landfall as St Mary’s.


The Admiral and I took 3 hour watches through the night and I was lucky enough to enjoy a terrific sunrise.




The terrific thing about sailing into these historic inlets is we actually can imagine what mariners of yesteryear saw as they entered. Below is Fort Clinch as we passed upon entering St Mary’s inlet.



After arriving Fernandina Beach Marina and settling Magnolia was treating ourselves to a fine dinner out. In my case whole flounder, it did not stand a chance!


Annette had been to Fernandina Beach before but my first time. It is a lovely town with a very attractive water front.




It was not long after this picture was taken that we were both fast asleep.


Oh yes, the actual track of our trip below came in at 179.71 nm. I would say we were pretty close to our prediction.


Next stop, historic Cumberland Island!