We finally sold Willy! We definitely have mixed emotions about it selling. It is really disappointing that the guy who delivered our boat from TN was a month later than he said he would be. It also sucks that our rudder broke and pushed us back another three weeks. It also sucks that we cant afford to keep it stored over the winter while we are in Haiti and keep going next summer. At the same time, I am really glad that we don’t have to worry anymore about trying to sell the boat from another country. Its nice to have money in our account and to know that it is no longer going to be slowly disappearing in slip fees. Thanks to Jaqui and Captain Crunch (see earlier blog post) and Allison’s parents it all went down without a hitch.
We have been living in Haiti for about a month now. We came here a few years ago right after the earth quake so we knew already that we really like it here. We have been getting along great with the family that we are living with/ working for. We really dodged a bullet with that one…
View of Haiti from the roof.
Last week we took a trip down to the Irish Embassy for Scott’s birthday. I was really confused at first, the way they talked about it, I thought that we were going to an Irish restaurant in the Irish Embassy in Haiti… Turns out they just call the local Irish pub the embassy as a joke.
After enjoying our delicious fish and chips, and bangers and mash (we actually ate burgers) we were approached buy this German guy named Stefan. “Hello” he said “I have a proposal. If none of you have any moral, ethical, religious, or political objections I would like very much to buy you a drink.” None of us had any objections, but we did have to go pick up Scott and Aprils kids from work (the kids work for some friends at their pizza restaurant) so we really didn’t have time. However, before we could even respond the waitress brought out 6 beers and 6 gin and tonics… My first inclination was that he had slipped something in the drinks and was was planning on taking advantage of us all monetarily (and lets be honest probably sexually too).
He said that he just wanted to have a conversation about economics. When we asked him what he did for a living he slapped himself in the face repeatedly and then sniffed his armpits. When we asked him how long he has been in Haiti, he slapped himself in the face and sniffed his armpits. We decided pretty quickly that unless we wanted to wake up on the side of the road in Port Au Prince we should probably head out quickly.
It had been a hot minute since we’d been anywhere of any substance. Meaning – anywhere we could buy ice and coffee. That’s how we determine society nowadays. Our boat only has an icebox, and we hadn’t had ice since we left Sunbury. Between that and groceries running low we were pretty ready to be back among people even though the wild horses were good company for awhile.
We made the whopping hour trip to Fernandina Beach and picked up a mooring ball at the Fernandina Harbor Marina. This was our first mooring ball and I was nervous, but it was pretty uneventful.
We immediately freshened up and took the dinghy into town. The best part of Fernandina was the food, by far! There are a ton of places to eat. Our favorite was a little Cuban place called Hola. It was really inexpensive and DELICIOUS.
A plate full of fried goodness doesn’t look that pretty, but we all know looks can be deceiving.
They have a free concert series over the summer that was going on Friday night, so we got to see that too.
The best part of all was the fact that there was a farmer’s market (FRUIT…finally!) and ice at the marina.
We left Fernandina and headed down to Jacksonville where we are now. We have lots of fun stories on this place so stay tuned…
After we left Sunbury Crab Company, we headed for an anchorage at Blackbeard Wildlife Refuge. We had heard good things about this stop and it would be a quick, easy day to get there.
When we arrived there were already several boats anchored. The current was really strong and the winds were blowing. We don’t really have anchoring down to an art, so we were anxious. We motored past all the boats to a good spot. I was driving, and Josh was manning the anchor because we don’t have an electric windlass.
We tried three or four times and the anchor wouldn’t bite. We switched roles and Josh motored way closer to shore which made me nervous so naturally we got over our stress and acted in total kindness toward one another. Ha! Actually we called each other names and yelled a bit. I begrudgingly dropped the anchor anyway and of course when he hit reverse it held.
I proceeded to complain about our location quite a bit. We were both a bit stressed and the anchorage wasn’t as cool as our last one.
We decided to check the weather since it was windy, and it didn’t look promising which added to our happy moods.
The next several days looked stormy and windy. The anchorage wasn’t super protected either.
We decided to skip exploring the island the next day and head out in the morning. It sort of bummed me out so now we were super awesome and kind and loving.
We went to bed with the boat swinging all around. Luckily we slept pretty well regardless after much apologizig to each other over our bad moods and cold words.
The next morning the other boats left around nine and we weren’t far behind. We had decided to go to the town of Darien. It’s about 7 miles off the ICW but they have free docks and that sounded good to us.
We made good time and pulled into Darien just after lunch. The docks were easy to use even though the current was nutso. After docking, we cleaned up and got checked in. Darien reminded me a little bit of my hometown of Headland. It definitely had that small town vibe! There were also about a gazillion historical markers so I was in heaven.
Waterfront Park in Darien, Ga
Willy on the docks in Darien
I love historical markers so much!
We walked to a super ghetto laundry mat and got that out of the way. Then we cleaned up and got dinner at a place called Skipper’s Fish Camp that was on the water downtown. It was delicious!!!! The blackened shrimp was pretty much heaven.
We called it a night pretty early after walking around the town and the docks a bit.
Dinner in Darien.
The next morning we grabbed breakfast at a little cafe called The Purple Pickle. The owner was the nicest and introduced us to the dockmaster and his wife who were super awesome. They let us know that the wine bar would give us a complimentary drink! Free anything makes me happy bit free docks AND wine was just too much.
Later, we took the longboards about a mile down the road to Fort King George historic site. The rangers were really mesmerized by the fact that we longboarded there. It made me feel sort of bad ass but if they had seen me going all of a quarter mile an hour while simultaneously freaking out the entire mile my cover would have been blown.
Tabby ruins in downtown Darien
Fort King George
In the museum.
The fort is just a remodel of what it would have looked like back in the day, but I can be nerdy about history so I enjoyed it. We sat through the cheesy film and everything. Did you know that Darien, Ga was settled by Scottish Highlanders? I didn’t until the cheesy film told me so.
Scottish Highlander house
Cemetery at Fort King George.
On the way back to the boat we bought some fresh shrimp for dinner. There was going to be live music at the park we were docked at, so we wanted to eat on the boat.
After cleaning up, we walked to the wine bar for our free drinks. This place was adorable! After the wine, we both got a beer and listened to their live music. There was a gentlemen at the bar with a Bama cap on and I was really trying to refrain from yelling Roll Tide across the bar. I mean, it wasn’t a sports bar it was a fancy wine bar. After the wine though, it was getting harder to control myself so I walked over to finally get it out of my system. We basically became immediate best friends. He was a council member and he gave me his card along with permissible to stay in Darien as long as I wanted.
FREE wine at the wine bar.
After he gave us a history lesson. On Darien, we decided to go make dinner and listen to the band downton.
It was such a picteuresque night. The past two weeks have involved less and less engine work and more seafood and wine. I am a fan. Although I don’t mind knowing my way around an engine, I’d rather learn it later. Like when I am not dependent on the engine daily and when its not located I’m the middle of my living space.
I really didn’t want to leave Darien. It was too easy and too free. But we did move on. We want to do more offshore but the weather isn’t cooperating.
We headed down the ICW to the Ferederica River. It wasn’t super far, but we had to time it all right with currents and tides which is a huge pain in the ass. There was a narrow and shallow cut we had to get through. I read horror stories about how bad it was. Deemed “the single worst stretch of the icw” Little Mud River was giving me a headache already. It’s these twisty, scary, shallow stretches that make people go offshore and swear that Georgia is a place to be avoided. To add to my nerves the weather was predicted to be stormy and there was a patch of storms headed our way.
Honestly, Little Mud River was no big deal. Like…not at all. Once you get the hang of how rivers shoal in the currents it makes it easier to find deep water if things get shallow and don’t match up with the charts. Also, I read somewhere to think.of yourself like a barge and don’t take close turns. That helped too.
Right as we were coming out of Little Mud River, the sky got really dark and we could see the rain coming. There wasn’t a good place to anchor so we decided to press on.
We shut all the hatches and put on our rain gear. I stayed inside making sure things stayed dry and that we were on course since we use our laptop.
The lightning popped close enough to make Josh nervous but we crossed paths with a fee other boats who were pushing through so we knew we weren’t crazy.
Braving the storm
Luckily, it was a short lived storm and we came out on the other side fairly quickly and pretty close to the Frederica River. It was also nice because it cooled everything off!
We motored on down the river to Fort Frederica. Honestly, its a little underwhelming from the water. Tomorrow we might go to shore if we ha e time and do some exploring…we’ll have to see!
Last time we posted, we were docked next to a dead guy.
Finally, things are working out and the last few days are what we thought this summer would be like all along. We’ve had a few more bumps in the road, but nothing like stewing in corpse fumes on a boat with a broken engine.
We finally left Turner Creek. We ended up being there a week. First, we had alternator issues that my Dad helped us resolve. We woke up ready to leave, and the boat would crank up and then die as soon as Josh let off the key. We checked EVERY electrical component we thought it could be, and nothing made a difference. Finally, we dismantled the carburetor and cleaned it out some even though it didn’t look THAT gunky to my super professional eye.
Anyway, we put it back together and it worked so I’m not going to question it.
We had decided to run offshore for a change. The ICW is a narrow waterway that connects sounds and rivers so that you never have to see the ocean. That is not what sailboats were made for, right? Josh was excited, I was nervous.
We made it out of the Wilmington River and into Wassaw Sound. I had read a million blogs and reviews about this sound…all of which said “get local knowledge” because there are shifting sand bars. The guy who ran our marina said, “It’s pretty straightforward.” We went for it.
As we left the sound, the waves (which were forecasted for 3-4 feet) were about 6 feet and rolling. We bounced around and I was beside myself with nerves. I devoted myself to looking for buoys through the binoculars for a distraction. Luckily, it was a pretty straightforward route to the sea and once we got out of the sound the seas evened out a bit.
Right when I started feeling really good, Josh started feeling really bad.
Those rolling seas got to him and he proceeded to puke up all his breakfast.
Once he got that over with, he felt better and we hoisted the sails and turned south.
We ended up making really great time and I did enjoy getting to actually sail in the ocean. It was sort of surreal.
We made it to St.Catherine’s Sound and sailed our way inside. We were almost to the anchorage in Walburg Creek and started letting the sails down and getting things ready to crank up the engine…guess what?
The engine gave us problems.
Basically the choke had to be pulled all the way out for it to run and the choke wire is messed up and you can’t pull it from the cockpit.
So, Josh had to get down there and keep it pulled out while simultaneously watching the laptop screen and navigating me through the creek to our anchorage.
We made it though and parked the boat in the most gorgeous setting we’ve seen yet.
Excuse the crazy hair.
On one side of us is an undeveloped island and the other side is a gorgeous marsh. A lot of people don’t like the stretch in Georgia, but it really is beautiful to us. There were dolphins EVERYWHERE. They’d swim right next to the boat.
I don’t care who you are – seeing a dolphin never gets old. It’s exciting every time. If you disagree, well then we’d never be friends and you should probably not read our blog.
We were planning on getting up the next morning and trekking onward, but slept a little late and really needed to resolve our engine issues.
We started what is becoming all too familiar and broke out the tools to fix the Atomic 4. We knew it wasn’t getting enough fuel so we took apart the carb AGAIN thinking that maybe something didn’t get sealed up well and there was an air leak. In the meantime, Josh tried sucking gas up the fuel line and realized something was blocking it. So, he just blew through it instead, we put it all back together, and it wall ran fine. I think our fuel tank which was running low on fuel got tossed around in the seas. Who knows what sort of crud needs to be cleaned out of there since we haven’t installed the fuel filter that is sitting on the boat. Alas, we’re not going to worry about it too much.
We read in the Skipper Bob guide that you can take your dinghy down the creek to the beach on the point of the island and do some exploring through a “tree graveyard”. So, out came the dinghy. We packed up a picnic and headed over. The beach is pretty desolate and really beautiful. There are these old dead trees everywhere.
The trees were worn down like this from the tides.
While exploring we noticed all sorts of weird animal tracks on the beach – more on that later.
I was feeling really good about finally getting to do some relaxing on a beach. Josh even got to swim about 20 feet from these dolphins who were playing in the water.
Yet again, we’d planned on making a big run down the coast. We were going to have to wake up early and make it to Brunswick, Ga for gas. We knew we were getting low. This seemed like a stressful idea, so we made another plan.
There was a little restaurant/ marina called Sunbury Crab Company about 6 miles off the ICW in St.Catherine’s Sound. We decided we’d head there instead.
So, we got up and made the not so grueling trek to the marina where we are currently docked. This place is the bees knees.
It’s a family run place. The owners live next door to the the restaurant and let us use their pool! We splurged and got dinner here. Apparently this place was in Coastal Living Magazine recently as one of the top 22 Seafood Dives and I can see why. First of all, they have “cocktail hour” for boaters which translated to free wine or beer. We also got a bucket of crabs and a lesson on how to eat them properly. The food was amazing! This place has that comfortable atmosphere that Josh and I love. A lot of the marinas on the way seem rather stuffy. This definitely wasn’t like that at all.
Eating crabs at Sunbury Crab Company.
This place is the best! Sunbury lit up at night.
Also, the owner here told us a little bit more about St.Catherine’s Island that we had explored. It turns out that the island has a really cool history and there is a plantation on there that used to be owned by Button Gwinnett who was an original signer to the Declaration of Independence. Now, the island is run by New York Zoological Society and is used for research…aka there are tons of crazy animals on the island. Apparently they raise endangered mammals there which explains the crazy animal tracks on the beach. However, we totally didn’t explore as much as we would have had we known we could stumble upon gazelles or lemurs. There’s also some really cool history involving Spanish missions that used to be on the island.
There are some other boaters here who told us not to pass up Blackbeard Wildlife Refuge on Sapelo Sound. I had originally wanted to go there anyway, so we’re going to head there tomorrow sometime.
We’re feeling super happy now that our bellies are full of fresh crab and we’ve had a few days of good sailing and nice anchorages. Hopefully things keep going well, because we’ve only got eight and a half weeks before we head off to Haiti!
Yesterday was crazy. It was awesome, it was intimidating, it was my childhood Treasure Island fantasies come true (that sounds dirty), but most of all it was worth it.
We shoved off from Marsh Harbor boatyard at 9:00 am. Said goodbye to the friends we had made over the past several weeks and were off. About two miles from the boatyard is a drawbridge. Just as the bridge was opening for us our engine died. We hailed the bridge on the vhf and told them not to hold it open for us. We got the engine started quickly and went to anchor nearby to steady our nerves a bit. We
decided to try again, but guess what? Engine died again. Once again it started back up quickly. At this point Josh figured out it was dying when we pushed the engine too hard. The mechanic had adjusted things a bit and we were giving it too much gas for the new tweaks. So we tooled around in am open area for a solid 45 minutes to make sure that was it. Another boat was coming through northbound so we radioed in to let them know we’d be trying one more time. Josh thought it was funny to say, “Is it third time’s the charm or three strikes your out.” Allison did not think that was funny, but it turns out third time is indeed the charm. We made it through!
Before we knew it we were in a beautiful open sound! We both kept saying it was all worth it. We got the the north side of Hilton Head island and were following the buoys well, until Josh decided not to listen to Allison’s awesome navigational skills. We ran aground…like barely…but couldn’t get off and didn’t feel like waiting. Luckily we had just purchased our Boat US membership with unlimited towing and Allison sort of wanted to get our money’s worth anyway so we went ahead and called them. A really nice guy came from Boat US, hauled us off in 5 minutes, and then showed us the best place to anchor for the night.
Anchoring went well although you wouldn’t know that from the way Allison acted. She was so nervous, she barely slept (and kept josh awake all night as well) and checked our coordinates constantly.
Guess what, we didn’t move!
Now we are sitting here plotting our next course of action. Hopefully we’ll make it most of the way to Savannah.
We have been in Beaufort three weeks now. Last Thursday the boat finally got put back in the water, but we couldn’t head out right away for two reasons. One being a tropical storm that decided to show up. Another being that water was coming in the boat.
Yes. Water. Inside the boat.
Turns out when the rudder was removed it cracked the area around the rudder post just a little so that a very small, but steady stream of water was coming inside. Just enough for concern.
After the tropical storm passed, Josh filled the crack with epoxy and covered it with resin which solved the problem.
BUT, Sunday I came down with a fever and a few aches. Nothing terrible, but enough to make me want to sleep all day and be pretty useless helping on the boat.
So, I rested today and drank a ton of water. We are hoping and praying really hard to head put at high tide tomorrow. Say a prayer that all goes smoothly and that Willy finally decides to cooperate along with the weather and my body.
So our first outing on this trip was so stressful I don’t want to think about it and write it up. I NEED to document it because one day it’ll be funny, right? That’s what they always say.
6:00 Working on getting masthead light wired so we can anchor out. Problem is, we can’t really tell if it’s working because it’s daylight. It seems pretty straightforward so we assume we have it right but it’s getting dark so we need to hurry out.
6:15 So we say what the heck and try to go. Start the engine up, head out but our charts won’t pull up now on our GPS. Snap.
6:20 JUST out of the side channel and the rudder goes HAYWIRE. It won’t turn so we’re spinning in circles.
6:22 Drop the anchor and try to figure it out. Josh jumps in the water thinking something is stuck on it or something. No such luck. It’s just stuck to starboard.
6:23 See a dolphin 🙂
6:25 Peer into the locker where we keep lifejackets. It’s itty bitty, but if I squeeze just right I can see down in it. I squeeze and figure out how the rudder works but that part of the set up looks fine. What do I know though? This is my first time looking at it, haha.
6:30 Our options are slim. Josh starts blowing up the dinghy to possibly tow us back but that’s a bad idea because we basically have no steering and an opposing current.
6:35 The southerner, or something in me takes over. I’m usually a panicker, but I decide,”I can rig this. I can get us back.” So I crawl into the tiniest place ever. You’d never believe a person could fit. I hold a flashlight in my mouth, a socket wrench in one hand, and a pair of vice grips in the other and completely rig this junk. It’s not fixed, but after thirty minutes crammed down there I think it’ll get us back.
7:15 The tide is going out and the docks are shallow, we get really really close to getting back into our difficult spot at the docks…it’s getting dark now. My rig job gives way last minute.
7:30 We’re drifting around near some really nice boats. I should mention that we haven’t called each other any bad names still which is impressive under this stress.
7:35 Josh falls in the water and and we somehow still manage to stay away from boats and get to the end of the dock.
7:45ish We’re holding onto the end of the dock thinking about what to do next when the nicest man ever drops from the heavens. Carlos (the angel) works at the boat yard and lives on a boat at the dock. “Need some help?” he asks in the calmest tone ever to two soaking wet clearly frustrated idiots.
7:50 Carlos the Angel finds us an easy spot to get to that is usually occupied by a yacht. He helps us get there and tied up. I want to hug him, but I’m all wet.
7:55 “Hey I smell gas.” Yup, we have a gas leak. It’s easily fixed but we have to get it ALL cleaned out so we don’t turn into a bomb. No cleaning up and going to bed for us. We turn on fans and blowers and soak gas up out of the bilge with a shammy. Run water and dawn through multiple times and shammy some more.
9:00 Finally crawl into bed.
12:00″ OMG I am sore.”
7:00am Um, I pretty much look like I’ve been in a car accident because people aren’t meant to fit in a space that usually holds a few lifejackets. I am cut up and bruised. No wonder I could barely sleep.
8:00am “Should we sell the boat and hike the Appalachian Trail instead” Perhaps.
Haha. But really it was a long night. We’re waiting to hear what happened with the rudder. Everything hangs on that. We’re not going to throw a ton of money into a $4000 boat. Yes, it only cost $4000 + a zillion hours of free labor from us. If it’s too expensive we really will sell it and hike for the summer instead. We’re pretty much good doing anything as long as it’s adventurous and not expensive. Plus, we are NOTHING if not flexible…and apparently really good at rigging things under stress.
On a happy note, the mechanic at the boatyard told Josh our engine was in excellent shape. Seeing that Josh put more than a few hours into our old Atomic 4 to get it up and running, he was pretty proud!
So stayed tuned, next time you hear from us we could be in Maine hiking our way South. 🙂