Under power at 6:55, not a breath of wind after a calm night. Motor past the black-hulled ketch anchored nearby. We exchange greetings, they tell me they are headed for their home port in North Carolina but I don't catch the name of the town. There are a few guys sitting on deck, relaxing, getting ready for the day, all drinking something hot - coffee, tea, maybe hot chocolate - out of mugs. And I find myself envious.
Just as I reach the channel a light breeze arrives. I see the tide is with us and soon making 4.0 on a clear, cool and beautiful morning. An eagle is perched on red marker "184", 3.0. Miles and miles of wide open marsh, a tree line to the distant west, hammocks here and there in the marsh with small trees and bushes, pelicans, cormorants and rafts of ducks.
7:40 the tide is against us. Turn to the E, bright sun reflected on the water hurts my eyes, difficult to follow the channel. After a few minutes I realize I have missed a mark, turn back to get on course. Blue skies and brown marsh grass. 7:55 Crooked Creek, a long stretch without any channel markers.
8:20 creek turns south. 8:40 on Altahama Sound. Terns hover near a tide line looking for bait fish. 9:25 motor sailing around a dredging operation. 9:50 full sail, making 2.7.
Buttermilk Sound at 10:35, 1.9 against the tide. Confused waters, choppy and swirling eddies at the mouth of Fridaycap Creek. 11:10 making 0.0, just holding steady against the tide. Motorsailing. 12:00 bring down the main and jib and watch for marker "227A," slip off to port into the deep winding Frederica River that runs behind St. Simons Island. First time off the ICW, save for anchoring, since beginning the trip.
All that deep water in a narrow river brings a strong tide that carries us south. Stately homes tucked back in the live oaks and Spanish moss to port, marsh to starboard.
The remnants of the old British Fort at colonial Frederica rest on the river banks further south. Just motoring at idle speed, the current carrying us along, swirling waters tugging at the rudder.
12:45 a powerboat slows down as they pass by, I thank them for that. Noticing the VA number on the hull the captain asks if I sailed all the way from Virginia. I tell him Charleston, he gives me a thumbs up as they move on.
Leave the Frederica River at 1:30 and enter the tiny Manhead Sound, soon on the McKay River. Once under the bridge feel the ocean breeze, round up and full sail, 4.9 with the ebb tide towards St. Simons Sound. 2:15 on the sound. Choppy with cool air coming off the ocean out of the SC. Close hauled and making several tacks to get out and around the shoals.
Around the shoals 2:35 and crossing a tide line, water calmer on the other side of the line. Wind forward of port beam, 4.0. 3:00 in the lee of Jekyll Island, motorsailing against the ebb tide. Passing ICW Statue Mile 680 at 3:10, soon drop main and jib as I can see the ebb tide rushing out of Jekyll Creek.
Six white pelicans stand on a sandy point as the tide runs out of the creek. A creek it might be at high tide, at low it is a ditch with wide muddy banks on either side.
Surprisingly hard motoring against the tide with little room for error in the channel. I'm tired and I look at the first possible anchorage but it seems so shallow and the wrecked sailboat lying on its side is not very inviting. I decide to continue on to Jekyll Creek Marina. The bridge is in sight and the marina is just beyond the bridge.
Tied up at the marina at 4:30. A young man with blond hair and a beard is working on his 40+ foot sailboat. He hops down to the dock, walks over and says "Nice boat." I thank him and say "you're Patrick, right?" He gives me a curious look, wondering how I new his name. I tell him my name is Steve, point to SPARTINA and say "you helped me out when I broke my mast about a year ago." I can see the recognition on his face, he laughs, points at me and shouts "YOU'RE THAT GUY!" I say yes, I'm that guy. Patrick was the BoatUS captain that towed me in after I broke the mizzen last year. I thank him for his kindness that day. Soon there are a couple of people from boats on the docks coming over to ask about SPARTINA, one guy taking lots of pictures, three women kayakers paddle over to talk, then a woman from a cruising boat comes by. Patrick looks at the small crowd, smiles, says he'll catch up with me later.
Dinner that night on shore at Zachary's River House, Caesar salad and seared tuna appetizer, excellent, with a glass (or two) of chardonnay