June 4, 2016

Sailing To Savannah - A New Beginning!

Take the first step in faith.
You don't have to see the whole staircase,
just take the first step.

Martin Luther King Jr. 

Music Video:  
Click here for "Sailing To Savannah" Music video

Glory Days and I are currently on a mission to sail up the U.S. East Coast with a dream of sailing into New York Harbor by Labor Day.  Today's post is PART I, the first leg of that journey from St. Simon's Island to Savannah.  Thanks for visiting Part I of A New Beginning, and I invite you to stay tuned as things unfold in coming weeks!

This would be Glory Day's final night in the marina at St. Simons.  She has no idea what lies ahead tomorrow... or maybe she does?

This is the gate I entered at 10pm on May 10 after finally leaving Atlanta in the rear view mirror.

It is always a circus of the senses to feel the scent of the salt marsh and salute the moon rising over the docks.  It only took a spec of a moment and one whiff of the marsh to know I was back where i belong at this moment.

On the docks, wind sifted through the shrouds of sloops while halyards clinked on aluminum masts as I made my way back to home slip #B-14.  Giddy again, sneaking in a dream and  imagining Charleston in my sights.   I lay my body down in the quarter berth and quietly view the stars through the deck hatch. 

It is done.
I have left my home in suburban Atlanta. But this time is very different because I left my home of 16 years with a "FOR SALE" sign in the front yard. Everything is now cleaned and staged perfectly at Ruger Drive for realtors to work their magic. 

All I had to do now was prepare the boat for this epic journey north, at least epic on my small terms. My sweetie, Sherry, will join me in a couple days, but for now I am here, ready, and stoked to prepare Glory Days for another run.  Giddy up.

May 10, 2016 entry:

It has been a little over three years since the sailing vessel Glory Days adopted me. During that period, she has delivered me safely to many places in the sun. She has been patience with me as I push us both to new limits. She has covered my mistakes and she has celebrated my victories.  Now we are back at it once again for a New Beginning.

For the first time, I am heading NORTH instead of south to Florida, or east to the Bahamas. I have never sailed north to Savannah so I am chomping with anticipation and bridled excitement at the new water and life ahead.

I've longed to take her up the U.S. East Coast for quite some time, and now I have my chance, even if it turns out to be in 3 week sections instead of a huge 6 month bite like before.

So after a lot of careful planning, I am officially ecstatic to untie the dock lines from Frederica Yacht Club in St. Simons Island and venture into completely new territories for the summer months.  

B   r   i   n   g       i   t       o   n. 
We are officially under way!  After 8 months, finally leaving St. Simons Island!
"Hi mom! Everything is cool.  Don't you worry!"
This is the view from our first anchorage. By the time we got everything prepped and ready to go it was getting late in the day.  We opted to "get out of Dodge" but only for a mile up the ICW where we stopped for our first anchorage here. We are officially under way.  Thank you God. 
There we are after getting out of dodge. Staged, eager, ready, and restless.

Even a nearby anchorage like this is a piece of paradise that is simply no found at the marina dock.  Getting a start, no matter how small, is a start.  The first part of a thousand mile journey begins with one single step and so it is.   

It was here that the sun slid under the horizon, egrets mused, terns soared, pelicans dove, and dolphins surfaced as hymns from the church bells of Epworth By The Sea wafted across the water.

All systems go.

 "The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings 
than endings."  Dave Weinbaum
The following morning. These are typical scenes along the ICW on the way to Savannah.
Sapelo Island Lighthouse.

I've heard the word Sapelo for years, but now I've finally been there. The tidal current allowed us to make a frisky 6 knots under way as salty landscapes zoomed by us.

Shrimpers are a frequent sighting. 

It's truly amazing to see all the changes in topography on this leg of the trip.  There are skinny narrow sections you pass through, only to be followed with wide open waters in different sounds where you can turn off the engine and enjoy the lilting silence of winds kissing the Dacron sails. Heaven!

Our first full day was a long one.  Very long. Leaving at 7 a.m., we'd made 52 miles and were targeting a perfect anchorage in Walberg Creek.  Ah yes, I could feel it, and it was almost time to pop a beer and celebrate, but we weren't quite there yet. And then it happened.

For your information, yes, I do read the charts for navigation.  In fact, I read them carefully and frequently.  However, I was tired from 12 hours of sailing and I made a little error in judgement that changed the course of the whole evening.

Just a half mile from the anchorage at Walberg Creek, I thought it was safe to cut the corner on the entrance channel into the creek so we could get there faster.... oops... bad idea.  Before we knew it the depth changed from 8' to 2' in a matter of seconds and the lead keel of Glory Days slammed into the Georgia mud, or in sailor terms, she ran "aground."  It happens.  It's nothing to be ashamed of because at least you are out there sailing your boat.  But still, it's a little humiliating when the passing boaters wave at you in your sideways boat. A little embarrassing yes, but not a game changer, as least this time.

Pretty quickly, Glory Days began to tilt to starboard as the tide rushed out beneath her hull.

There are at least three ways to get off of a grounding.  Number 1 is to crank the engine and try to "wiggle" free by working the rudder back and forth. That did not work.  Number 2 is to call Boat U.S. (A tow service on the water similar to AAA) and see if they can pull you off.  Nope, no chance because the tide was going out meaning that our grounding would only get worse making it impossible to be towed off.  Number 3 is to just wait, which is what we did.  We grounded at 1800 hours during a ebbing tide which means we are getting more shallow by the minute.  Therefore, you just resign yourself to waiting until the tide goes completely out and the flood tide will raise you free, even if you have to wait 6 hours!  Thankfully, that worked. 

At first we freaked out a little and Sherry got all scared and started crying because she feared the boat could flip dooming us to a watery grave.  The towing company, Boat U.S., assured her we’d soon be in only an inch of water and drowning was highly unlikely. It wasn't long before our tears turned to laughter as we hopped off the boat and made the best of the situation playing in the sand and skinny dipping as the sun set magically in the west.

Side note:  (Actually I'm not so skinny anymore, so nowadays I call it "chunky dunking" instead of skinny dipping!) 

Next, I used the dinghy to motor out and set the anchor on the port side just to be sure we would not be pushed further into the shallows as the tide rose. It would be about 6 more hours before we could think about going anywhere.  Dinner and a snooze was next since I knew it was going to be a long night.  According to the tide charts, we should be freed shortly after midnight

sniff sniff... at least it made for a great photo op.

Why cry when you can laugh about it?

 This is what it's like standing straight up when a boat is hard aground.  Sleep was a real challenge slammed up against the hard walls of the boat interior.  Thankfully, when my alarm woke me at midnight she had floated us free! Wahlah!!

Click the link below for a 30 second video that sort of sums it up!

Once free, there was now the daunting challenge of getting safely into Walberg Creek to anchor and to sleep off the memory of this debacle.  We had a full moon which gave some light, but it was still a little creepy navigating by this shrimper in the middle of the narrow creek.  One of my favorite shots is below.

By 2 a.m. our Rocna anchor was safely nestled into the Georgia mud and the world was all fine again.  I was a bit hyper from all the uncertainly of the evening, so we toasted a couple of rum shots to ease the tension and prepare for a sunny day just a few hours away!  

And a sunny morning it was.  We remained anchored at Walberg Creek that morning and dinghyed over to St. Catherine's Island for some beach time and people watching.  Evidently, this is a local hang out where folks spend their Saturday, accessible only by boat.

By noon we had weighed the anchor and were onward toward Savannah!
A picture perfect day with light breezes eased the pain of yesterday's grounding.

As we got closer to Savannah, deserted marshland soon turned to beautiful home sites and a denser population of marinas and boaters.  I am impressed with the approach waters to Savannah, my first time by sea.
 "Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning."  John Henry Cardinal

Daylight was a slipping away, so we opted for an anchorage at Breakfast Creek, just south of the Skidaway Narrows.  We'd make our final parade entrance into Savannah tomorrow.  For now it was time to light the grill and enjoy a lovely anchorage as we watched a wedding party on the nearby shoreline.

Back at it the following morn, we had Savannah in the cross hairs.  Little did we realize just how much further there was to go.  Once you get to the Savannah river, there is still another 8 mile detour up the river to the downtown district of Savannah.  No problem.  With the tide timed in our favor we soared into Savannah growing giddy by the minute as we passed freighters and industrial sites that serve the Savannah community.

We made a brief stop at Savannah's iconic Thunderbolt Marina to top off our diesel and water tanks.  My 30 year cruising dream of making stops like this was coming true again. 

Passing historic Fort Jackson.

Boating with the big boys. We are getting close now.
Soon our bow pointed to the old familiar gold dome of Savannah's city hall and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge that connects Georgia and South Carolina.
Entering a major hub like this always gives me goose bumps.  It stirs great memories like entering Key West, Miami, Jacksonville, or Nassau .... Entering any major harbor under sail for the first time gives one a powerful buzz.

May 15, 2016. What a great day for a birthday I thought. By 1600 our dock lines were secure, and for two nights we opted for a swanky marina stay at the Westin docks in downtown Savannah.  Sherry treated me to the marina stay and the anchor got a break for a couple nights.  Being this close to all the Savannah sites turned out to be a fun choice.  Good times were ahead exploring the historic district and savoring great food in this lovely city on the river.

  Glory Days beamed with joy and grinned being the only sailboat at the dock.

Ah yes, and the amenities are sweet at the Westin!  I had my first visit to a spa and used their fresh towels with reckless, frequent abandon!

Pool and hot tub were just a few steps away.

This is the sailing vessel Mirabella, the largest single mast sailboat in the world, and she was tied up just across from river from us.  (I guess she couldn't afford to stay at the Westin dock like we did... hee hee.)

Some sights of Savannah.  Sherry passes her sailing school class with Capt. Joe.

Out on the town

  Preparing for departure the next morning, but not before some unexpected sail repair. Thanks Sherry. (It's good to have a textile art major on board for things like this.)  We would have to wait til Charleston to get a proper re-stitch job from a professional sailmaker, but this will do in a pinch.
So Long Savannah!  
It's been a great two days and nights.

The trip up the East Coast will continue with the next blog entry.  I am running 2-3 weeks behind on blog updates because I'm having too much fun cruising and schmoozing new surroundings.

The next leg, or Part 2, will take us through a Hilton Head thunderstorm and into the quaint little town of Beaufort, South Carolina where we will hang for a few days before  the final leg to Charleston.

"There's plans to make and dreams to keep.
Alive and not just in your sleep.
You know it's true without a doubt,
So why not just go all out.
And take a chance, go on faith.
Don't look back or hesitate.
You owe it to yourself to be
The master of your destiny.
Somebody's gotta do it.
And it might as well be you."

Night night Savannah.... thank you.


  1. captain.!.you seem to have acquired a new first mate!

  2. I lost track of how many times I grounded in Georgia and S.Carolina. But that's where my swing keel was a lifesaver and avoided any calls to BoatUS. There are places where you should only move during high tide. Anyway it always makes for a good story. Congratulations for the start on your next adventure. Fair winds and following seas.

  3. Ahhhh, the joys of sea and salt air! Your blogs always lighten my mood and transport me to wherever Glory Days has taken you. Keep 'em coming!