Wednesday, June 29, 2016

27-Jun to 29-Jun: Overnight Run To Hilton Head

Hotel Alcazar Original Pool
We had a fun time yesterday (Sunday) during our 1-day weather delay; we went into old St. Augustine and did the tourista thing with Kathy – eating lunch at the historic Hotel Alcazar building (once home of the world’s largest indoor swimming pool, which now hosts the CafĂ© Alcazar restaurant and the Lightner Museum.)  We also did a lot of walking in the historic Lincolnville District, or put another way, Rick got conned into a geo-caching exercise with Kathy and Michelle.

From Pool to Restaurant
We slept late the next day, made final departure preparations and tossed off the lines around 1345 on Monday 27-Jun.  The exit via the St. Augustine inlet was straightforward and uneventful thanks to a high tide and very benign conditions on the outside…although it’s notable that charts do not depict the channel markers, as they get moved around a lot to accommodate the constant shoaling there.  In good visibility (daylight) it's fine, but otherwise the interval and size of the markers would be challenging to pick up. The channel also extends to nearly 2NM offshore before you can be sure you’re in deep enough water to make the turn north.

Harbor Town Lighthouse from the FB
Winds were light from the northeast, with seas running around 3 feet, but with comfortable intervals, initially around 8 seconds, then later in the day down to 4 seconds – it was similar to a smooth rocking chair ride.  Sky conditions were mostly “severe clear” – some widely scattered high cirrus clouds in the distance, with the radar and XM weather screens clear of precipitation along our track.  We ran sans generator but with an ambient temperature of 85F during the day, and around 80F after sunset, with the sea breeze we remained comfy underway.
Harbor Town Marina from the FB
As darkness fell Rick took the first night watch, manning the helm until 0200 (Tuesday), with continued good weather and sea conditions.  Moonrise wasn’t until 0145, so it was IMC for a good part of the night.  Chelle assumed the watch from 0230 to 0700, and then Rick took it from there into Hilton Head.  We approached from the east through the Savannah entry channel and then veered off to the north to enter Calibogue Sound, and while that area is subject to frequent shoaling and some interesting cross-currents, we maintained adequate depth and steerage throughout the approach (with some local advice), arriving Harbor Town Marina shortly after 1100, making for just under 22 hours of sortie time.
View of Ghost Rider from the Harbor
Town Lighthouse / Museum

 Then it was bath time – both for the boat and ourselves – followed by an afternoon of the usual boat chores and casual distractions.  We also hung out here again on Wednesday 29-Jun to explore the local area, and lunched on fresh grouper and shrimp before the TRWs moved in.

Exactly when we depart for Edisto will depend on when we can find a suitable weather window, and right now we're sandwiched between a nearby cold front and an upper level trough (which are occasionally triggering some severe cells) -- and the so-called experts can't seem to discern where they're going or when.  In cases like this it's best to wait until the next morning to see what's cooking out there.