Northward! (Br-r-r-r)


I will remember this cruising day for Hellgate – which actually wasn’t hellish -and for the cold and sudden start. When you cruise northward this early in the year, you expect a few frigid nights. We got it last night — down to the 20s — waking before sunrise to a frigid morning. We were comfy enough in the boat with the electric heater going and blankets hung strategically to keep the heat near us, as long as we stayed away from the walls. The wake-up was jarring, to me, for a different reason: a very quick “launch!” We had coordinated our early-morning departure with the other two boats due to the currents and other issues. Many Moons was designated to leave first. I set my alarm with that in mind. (When I sleep in the dark V-berth, I sometimes need an alarm to wake before sunrise.) But somehow, the other two captains were on the dock minutes after it went off, tossing our lines to us, and just like that, we were under way — before my first cup of coffee. We then did a dance for a few hours through crap-pots and mist, with the sun in our eyes, wiping the windows as needed. Hours later, we approached the ominously-named Hellgate, a channel that is quite narrow and very shallow at low tide. It gets “buzz” among boaters. But we’ve learned some things about tides, and timed it right, and it was no big deal. Several dolphins played at our bow afterwards, as if to congratulate us on our passage.

One thing about this segment of the intracoastal…the land is so flat, and the rivers so meandering, it’s hard to know sometimes where the next turn comes until you’re almost on it. Whole segments have no physical channel markers. So we rely heavily on instruments and electronic charts, just as we do in fog. What happens if “the net” goes down? We don’t want to think too much about that.

We rest comfortably tonight at anchor at Mile Marker 593 of the Intracoastal Waterway, on a curve of the Skidaway River, just south of Savannah. (From here on, it will be easier to estimate distances because Mile 1 is in Norfolk.) Marsh grasses surround us. Houses are visible, but not many and not close. We came almost 67 miles today, more than planned, to find just this type of almost-private anchorage. It will be interesting to see if the 7-foot tide spins us around during the night. We’ve anchored in strong river currents, but tidal currents are different. We might swing into the grasses at low tide but would just swing right out of them later. Photos below…

Our shipmates on This is It took this photo of Many Moons pulling out from the Darien dock before sunrise.
Many Moons gets under way in 28 degrees for our 67-mile journey. The water is calm because we timed it that way.
Pretend you see dolphins here. I wasn’t quick enough to catch them in the lens!
After our first intense hour or so, it was a relaxing cruise. This looks a bit like The Outer Banks.
Sunset from the stern.

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