Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Saturday, November 29, 2003
We rocked last night when the tide came in with the wind to the north, and we creaked when the tide went out.  The current is very swift, and the tides are 8 feet here.  We waited awhile this morning for the wind to drop from 15 to 20, and for the slack high tide.  Pearce tried to keep himself busy, but he ran out of small projects.  He declared the wind was abating, and we should take advantage of the tide to help us up Port Royal Sound.  We left our dock of refuge and headed down Cowen Creek toward the sound.  We could see some very large cruisers headed north with spray over their hulls.  The spray went as high as Kibon's bridge and covered the lower windows with salt.  Not only couldn't Kay see out, she didn't care.  Things were flying out of nooks and racks that had never moved before as Kibon rocked in the 15 to 20 knot wind and 4 to 5 foot waves.  God and Pearce's talent brought us the 7 miles down the river and across the sound.  Pearce admitted that the wind was a bit stronger than he expected, but once we were committed we had to keep going.

We had planned to visit the Hanleys at the Landings dock, but with a late start we didn't have time to go that far before dark.  We arranged to meet at the Outdoor Resorts Marina in Hilton Head.  Jack tucked us behind the gas dock where we had some protection from the wind and wake.  Pearce needed a nap after his exertions, and Kay settled down with a book.  Later in the afternoon Ann and Jerry Hanley drove over from Savannah, and we had a wonderful evening with them.

Sunday, November 30, 2003
We had a peaceful sleep last night and woke to a calm morning.  As we walked up to the Ship's Store to get the Sunday paper, Kay pointed to several cruisers that had probably left Beaufort this morning and had an easy crossing in the light wind and seas.  Pearce said, "I won't do it again."

We're heading south again, but this cold weather seems to find us.  There was a hard freeze prediction for the coastal waters last night.  Luckily we were plugged into shore power, so we kept the heater going and woke up toasty warm.  We passed by the rest of Hilton Head and crossed into Georgia.  We could see Savannah off to starboard as we followed the ICW.  Several boats passed by all dressed up in holiday lights and decorations.  The holidays lights parade must be coming soon.  I had brought our extra tree lights and Pearce's Santa suit for the parade in Boynton Beach, but I don't think we'll be home in time. But anyway, Sunday is a great time to call children and grands... Kay spent a while on the 'phone, as usual.

The marshes of Georgia are still golden, and the tides are still spectacular.  We followed the ICW as it wandered around the marshes, crossed St. Catherine's Sound, and headed down the east side of Walburg Island on the alternate route.  We found a side stream off the river and anchored for the night.  Pearce watched the depths until low tide, and we went to bed for a quiet, calm night.

Monday, December 1, 2003
We headed out this morning at the last of the falling tide, and made it safely back into the ICW just in front of a sailboat that we passed yesterday.  We stopped last night just before sunset, so these sailors must get up at the crack of dawn (or before) to put in their miles.  That may be fine in good weather, but during these cold spells, those sailors have a great deal of endurance and a lot of sweaters and muffler.
As we travel along the ICW of Georgia, it crosses many sounds and rivers that lead out to the ocean.  When we came up last June we must have had good winds or something because all of the crossings were beautiful.  We admired the shrimp boats and all the boating traffic heading out to sea or transversing the sounds.  Now we seem to be crossing each sound with the winds from the north or west (or in between) and the tide is always coming in.  So we always have choppy waters -- not like Port Royal Sound -- but there are white caps and bow spray.  This is definitely not the time to be traveling.  Next year we need to be earlier.

We crossed Sapelo Sound, Doboy Sound, Altamaha Sound, and St. Simon's Sound today.  We came up the Brunswick River to dock at Brunswick Landing Marina.  We walked into the historic town looking for dinner.  The marina gave us a list of restaurants, but they were all breakfast and lunch places.  We were lucky and found a wonderful place, the Oak Grill, where we had a fantastic meal.  We asked the owner, Chad Butler, who is his great chef... "She's young, just starting out... trained at Indiana University in Pennsylvania." Sounded like Chad doesn't want another restaurateur to learn about his find! We found the place early, about five, and were the first diners. By dessert most of the tables were filled. A good spot to put on your map.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003
The weather prediction was for strong winds and rough water today.  It was quite breezy this morning, so we decided to stay in port.  Kay went to the Farmer's Market and came back with the boat bag full of vegetables and fruit.  Pearce headed to the hardware store to get a new valve for the head.  They sent us to another place about half a mile away.  From there we were directed to a plumbing supply store that was a mile away.  Luckily we were on our bicycles.  We have the replacement parts, and Pearce will install them the next time it leaks.  One of the plumbing customers offered to give us a ride to the grocery store, so we loaded the bicycles in the back of his truck and took off to Wynn Dixie.  Loaded with the rest of the fresh food that we needed, we headed toward the 900 year old live oak (the Lovers Oak) to see what a venerable tree looked like.  We decided to head back to the boat to stash the groceries and then go out for lunch.

We realized that the winds had died down, and when we listened to the weather report we decided that we could safely head out.  We cast off and headed back to the ICW.  Just past Jekyll Marina, we turned left at G25 and went to Umbrella Creek and Dover Creek.  We are anchored just off of the channel where it enters the Satilla River.  Pearce is testing his shrimp bait but hasn't caught a fish for dinner.  Kay bought two steaks at the store today, so she's not too worried.  The sun is setting and turning the clouds into streaks of pink and red.  Even the water is reflecting the DuBarry Pink of the sky.  We can see the lights of houses off to the west and the blinking lights of the waterway marks.  The only other lights are from the stars and the half-moon.  You've seen a moon strake, right?  Have you ever seen a planet strake?  Venus was so bright in this lightless environment that we could see her reflection in the very calm waters of the creek.  Very spectacular.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003
Our night was calm and peaceful, and we awoke to a beautiful sunrise.  We continued down Dover Creek, across the Satilla River, and entered Floyd Creek.  There is a major fish processing plant on this creek, and we are told that commercial boats use it.  We only met one crabber, and the passage was very good.  There are a few very narrow spots, but they are well marked and the depths are good.  The signage has changed, but once that is noted, everything is consistent.  St. Andrew's Sound must have been kicking up a good one, because we encountered whitecaps when we reentered the ICW five miles below the sound.  We only had a few good rocks 'n rolls as we crossed the waterway, and then we turned south with the wind and waves behind us.  The ride along Cumberland Island was quiet, and we passed Kings Bay Naval Station without any sightings of naval activity.  We crossed the sound and stopped at Florida Petroleum in Fernandina Beach for diesel.  Their price was $1.21 plus state tax and an environmental fee, so it worked out to $1.304/gal.

The route down to Nassau Sound was fine.  The guide books note that there is a shoal extending further out into the sound than the charts indicate.  Kay, always the observant  navigator from her warm spot in the cabin, called up to point this fact out to Pearce.  He had already seen the shoal from his higher elevation in the bridge, but he was kind enough to thank her for the information.  Hey, two heads are better than one, right?  We decided to anchor in St. George River where we had anchored on our way north.  It is a quiet place off the ICW traveled only by small fishing boats, and it has a dock for dinghies to visit the Kingsley Plantation.  There was already one sailboat at anchor when we came in, and three more came in after us.  We were the only boat here last June, and we presumed that was because we were late in the season.  Now, here we are in December, and there are four other boats with us.  We thought we were really very late, but I guess there are more boats coming down from further north.  Our very good news is that we are finally in Florida.  We have 300 miles to home, not much when you consider all we have traveled, but we are getting very anxious to find our home port.

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