It is hard to beat the St Johns River for cruising, and we didn’t as we heading up the coast in wind and rain.
Our trek north to Fernandina Beach was uneventful, but was highlighted by a visit from our good friends Roger and Linda Moffett.
We had a wonderful dinner at a “farm to table” restaurant within walking distance of the boat. It is so much fun to catch up with friends, especially from the Monk owners association.
The next day we took off to Cumberland Island. That is where John Kennedy got married. I wanted to go there, but when we got there it was so windy and rainy that we did not even go ashore.
We headed up to Jekyll Island Resort the following day and met up with Brook and Nina Heider. Brook and Tom started NCIS together and Brook recently retired. We arrived early and spent the day riding bikes around the resort which has an eighteenth century theme of wealth and elegance.
We had stayed there before (at the beautiful hotel in the second picture up) during an NCIS conference and had a wonderful time. Brook and Nina graciously took us out to dinner at a lovely restaurant called Latitude 31.
The meal was great, but the fellowship was even better. Brook and Tom exchanged war stories from their adventures around the world. Nina and I were thoroughly entertained.
We were all set to get underway early the next morning, but were socked in by fog. It lifted at about 10:30 and I got the boat ready to go just to have the curtain of fog fall again. We finally left at noon and had a beautiful run to an anchorage in the Altamaha River. Although we have radar, it is not effective in close quarters on the intercoastal. The anchor guide showed a rough landing that we could take Mango ashore while there. Unfortunately, we were at low tide and our ‘rough landing’ was all mud. What a mess. This anchorage was very remote and equally as beautiful.
We continued on to The Landing at Delegal Creek just beyond Hell Gate. Of the entire Great Loop, the Georgia Intercoastal waterway is the most treacherous for going aground. We were in very skinny water as we approached the worst of the worst, Hell Gate. Only one hour from the dead low, we slowly went through the jaws of Hell at idle speed. We had less than a foot of water under of keel. BUT, we made it. Delegel was a beautiful marina built in a gated resort community. The owner/operator, Billy, was intent on making our stay the best it could be. Tom wrote a great review in Active Captain. Billy recommended Ladies Island Marina in Beaufort SC as our next stop. It was so cold and rainy, we did not even venture out.
This was one of the funnier things that happened. I fell on the boat and sprained my wrist. Well, of course, I did not have an ace bandage, so Tom got creative and wrapped my arm in duct tape. This was my red-neck cast!!
Our good friends, Wayne and Kristin Tries, contacted us and offered a slip they own at the beautiful Harborage at Ashley Marina in downtown Charleston SC. We couldn’t believe our good fortune, seeing as the marina would cost us a good $90 a day, so we spent a week. We invited Sandy and Scott Evans to come down for a long weekend. It had been pouring down rain for the past week or so and we were praying it would stop before Sandy and Scott arrived.
The night they got there was cold and rainy, but the next morning the sun was shining and it was a warm, wonderful day!! Charleston is one of our favorite ports, and we have docked ‘Journey’ there numerous times. The four of us spent our first day sightseeing on a carriage tour.
The next day we walked the back streets of Charleston, breathing in the history of this historical port city.
We had big lunches out everyday at some of Charleston’s most famous restaurants and then a light dinner aboard Journey’.
We met Susie and Stanley Marshall aboard the Monk 36 ‘The Pearl’, also staying at Ashley Marina. They are heading south to the St. Johns River so we went over the charts with them and showed them our favorite ‘dock and dines’ and anchorages. The Harborage at Ashley Marina was a first rate marina with a very accommodating staff.
Next port of call was Leland Oil in McClellanville NC. It is a sleepy little fishing village with shrimp boats up and down the creek. We had docked here before, but now they have new floating docks, which are always appreciated.
Walking around, you get a sense of an old southern town full of giant old live oaks. We walked about a little less than a mile to a cute little local restaurant for lunch.
Next stop is our second favorite place on the waterway, Georgetown. It was a beautiful day, so we headed out to the grocery store. We spotted a bakery along the way and stopped in for a cookie. We were chatting with the young sales girl, asking for directions to the Piggly Wiggly. She said “It is really a long way, why don’t you take my car”!!!!! We will never get used to the kindness of strangers. We just laughed and told her we would walk. It was only a mile and a half there, but the mile and a half back with two big bags of groceries was the killer.
We decided to forgo our usual stop at Osprey Marina, and went on up to Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach.
I was in heaven since it is located beside an outlet mall. We walked around awhile and had dinner at T-Bones. They were having a St Patrick’s Day celebration and beer was half price. Oh woe is me, since I gave up alcohol for Lent. What bad timing.
We have been traveling in cold weather, with rain and wind. I am so glad Tom put in this diesel fired heating system. We have stayed toasty on board.
Our journey to Southport was in a cold, driving rain. We arrived at the free dock there in the middle of “The Blessing of the Fleet.” My friend Hazel and her husband, Russ, met us for dinner at Fishy Fishy.
It was wonderful seeing an old friend. We did a lot of talking and catching up. We left the next morning, again in the pouring rain, for Wrightsville Beach. Tom had been in contact with Chris and Durene Zingelmann who were interested in a Monk 36. Chris wanted to know if the boat would fit comfortably in his slip at Bradley Creek Marina. Tom docked the boat beautifully in his narrow slip and we took off for lunch at a Calabash seafood restaurant, with Chris and Durene.
We spent the better part of the day, talking and laughing and selling them on a Monk. We got underway on a rising tide for our last days run on the “Great Loop”. We were caught in 30 mph winds and rain but it not dampen our spirits as we discussed our previous 10 months of cruising and all of the new friends we made.
We crossed our wake at the convergence of the intercoastal waterway and the New River where our marina is located. The wind continued to rise and with our visibility reduced Tom told me it may be too rough to dock so we may have to anchor under the lee of some land and wait out the storm. We arrived at our marina at Camp Lejeune and noticed we had some wind break from the land so we went in. Patty Timm welcomed us and took a line from our stern which was a big help. We got all the lines over and settled into the cabin. We looked at each other and laughed. We did it, we completed the “Great Loop”. Today was one of the worst weather days on the trip but still a great day with our sense of accomplishment. The white flag indicates that we are doing the Great Loop for the first time. Now that we have completed the Great Loop we are flying the gold flag!
I looked at Tom and said “I don’t want to go home today” He agreed so we stayed onboard our “Journey” one more night. Wow, what an adventure, what a way of life and it is just the beginning.
Our ‘Welcome Home’ party at Marrakesh Restaurant. Starting with Tom and going clockwise, Tom, Kim, Ron, Norm, Patty, Marshall, Evon, Tom, Scott, Sandy, Bernie, and Tom. (You think we have enough Tom’s?)
Even though the Great Loop is over, we will still post on our journey to the Chesapeake this summer and then on to the Down East Loop next year. Thanks for following us. Your comments were greatly appreciated and fun to read. Until next time….
We want to send out a huge “Thanks” to Patty and Marshall Timm for keeping the home fires burning. The house looked better than when we bought it!!
PS I am posting some more pics I took in Charleston. I was fascinated with all the gates. The designs were so intricate. After those pictures, are the colorful houses of the east coast. Some of these were SO BRIGHT. I thought you might like to see some.
Next up, Colorful Houses