Another 2+ weeks go zipping by and May is already half over! Lots of changes for us in this time as we crossed over from the Bahamas where we left off in the last update, and entered US waters for the first time on Möbius as we begin to make our way North along the East coast of the US. Here is a quick summary of our travels the past two weeks.
Bahamas to Florida
In the last update we were anchored off of Coopers Town on the NE coast of Great Abacos waiting for a storm front to pass and provide us with a good weather window to make our second “Atlantic crossing” over to Florida.
We left Coopers Town on May 3rd and anchored for the night on the NE corner of a tiny little island Mangrove Cay which Christine knew from past visits here on her boat, would provide us with a good jumping off point for the crossing.
Speaking of jumping off, SpaceX was thoughtful enough to provide us with quite the send off as you can see in this great shot Christine captured with the twilight launch of their latest “Falcon Heavy” rocket on our last night off Coopers Town. It was much more spectacular when seen from this distance compared to the close up view she got when we were anchored off Cape Canaveral last week.
My reference to “skinny dipping” in the title is because we have spent most of the past month dipping our very skinny boat in the very “skinny” waters with depths of under 3m/10ft in most places. In the Bahamas this is known as “The Banks” and you can see this very vividly in the sat photo here with all that light turquoise coloured skinny waters. This is one of the many reasons we worked so hard to keep Möbius as “skinny” as possible with a draft of about 1.3m/4.3ft so we are good in up to about 5 feet of water. Seeing these skinny depths is a bit disconcerting at first but you soon get used to it and just pay a lot more attention to depths on the charts as you go.
Our spot off Mangrove Cay was very peaceful and next morning we had the anchor up by 7am and headed for West Palm Beach which was just a bit south of due West. In this heat map you can see the warm waters that create the Gulf Stream that flows North at up to 6 knots at times so we “crabbed” our way across it with the boat pointing ESE at times in order to make the straight line across to West Palm Beach.
Our Furuno Auto Pilot worked well to make this very easy and the crossing went without any problems taking about 10 hours with an overall passage average of about 8.2 knots in spite of fighting the current a bit.
Back in the USA!
We have both been into West Palm Beach inlet on previous boat trips in the US and it provides a very easy entry and is an official Port of Entry which we needed as this was our first landing in the USA. As with most countries the checking in process is getting much faster and easier being done online and with aps on your phone. In the USA this is done with the “CBP Roam” app from US Custom & Border Protection which we have been using in the USVI and Puerto Rico so it all went without a hitch once we had anchored inside the inlet near the bottom of this photo.
With one more passage in the logbooks, it seemed worthy of a celebration so we popped the cork on a cold bottle of bubbly fresh out of the fridge and took in all the entertainment provided by all the commercial and recreational ships and boats in this very busy spot in the good ‘ole USA.
We anchored in the lower Right corner of what is labelled as the “Turning Basin” in this chart as this is where lots of the big cargo and cruise line ships dock over on the far Left of this chart. We were also back in more skinny waters anchoring in 5-8 ft of water but all worked out fine. Next day we took the dinghy ashore in the dinghy and I went to the nearby CBP office to get a Cruising License while Christine headed for the grocery stores to top up our fridges and freezers for the next few weeks.
Fun with Family & Friends
Our Grandson Liam lives just a few miles South of West Palm so Christine had made arrangements for Liam, Tim, Ashley to drive up for some more time aboard on the weekend. Ashley’s Dad Dan was also able to make the trip so he got his first visit onboard and even caught a feisty little Mangrove Snapper from the Aft Deck!
Christine and Tim cooked up some burgers on our grill to top off the evening. Tim & Liam stayed for a sleep over to put the icing on the cake and then Ashley came and picked them up on Sunday afternoon. Way too short but a great visit none the less.
From West Palm we made our way North along the coast before heading into the Intercoastal Waterway or ICW at Fort Pierce near Jensen Beach were our dear friends Steve & Kathleen live. A good anchorage on the South side of the bridge with a very well done dinghy dock to make it easy to come and go ashore and we spent three days anchored there enjoying some extended time with Steve & Kathleen both on Möbius and in their home where Kathleen treated us to a “low country boil” meal of shrimp, sausage, corn and more. Steve was kind enough to loan us his pickup truck for our stay so we were able to get lots done and had a great visit with them.
We continued up the ICW to Coco Beach that is close to where our friends Pam & Dave live and we were able to host them aboard Möbius for their first visit and then go ashore for a craft market that was going on that day. In the next few weeks we will be day-tripping our way North to Norfolk and we will do quite a bit of that travelling along the amazing ICW that you can see in the map above. The ICW is quite fascinating and though it keeps you busy steering the constantly winding narrow channel we enjoyed more “skinny dipping” our way along this scenic “Ditch” as it is often called.
The deepest sections are typically about 8-12 feet deep at best but is well marked on the charts and with Red/Green markers like this one to guide your way. Popular amongst the animal kingdom as well!
Traversing the ICW involves going under lots of bridges, some that are fixed such as this one and others that are draw bridges where we have to time for an opening to get through.
We have an air draft of about 8.2m/26.9ft so there are also some bridges with clearances of around 30ft that we can go through without needing them to open. From Coco Beach we decided to head back out of the ICW to make the jump up to Charlottesville South Carolina offshore and avoid the tighter sections along Georgia that Christine is not too fond of having spent a LOT of time cruising the ICW in many of her previous boats over the years.
Launching Off Shore
If you click to enlarge this photo, the one below and the chart above you will see how interesting this route out to the Atlantic was. We took a hard right turn off the ICW just North of Coco Beach as per the chart above, to traverse the canal you can see at the top of this photo. That involved just making it in time for the 17:00 opening of the bridge that is just off the top of the photo that is looing due West.
Here is the opposite view looking due East towards the Atlantic with Cape Canaveral off to the far Left. We anchored just to the Left of the breakwater sticking out near the bottom of this photo to put us right beside the entrance into the lock on the Left.
The Canaveral lock opens for business at 6am so we had the anchor up about 5:50 to catch the sunrise and round the end of the breakwater into the lock just after six. Christine slid us alongside the well built rails on our Starboard/Right side and I tied two lines fore and aft just to secure us while the doors closed behind us and then soon opened in front. Not too dramatic as there is less than a foot of height change but still a fun experience.
Exiting out of the lock we called the bridge keeper to ask for his next opening and soon slid our way through.
Passing several large cruise ships and then some commercial docks you see here as the sun rose to welcome us back out into the Atlantic.
As usual, Weather Wonder Woman Christine continues her masterful work at scheduling our passages in just the right weather windows.
The passage up to Charlottesville was about 300 nm/345 miles/556 km and we had the anchor down in the ICW just North of Charlottesville just under 31 hours after entering the Canaveral Lock. That averages out to 9.7 knots which is our fastest passage time ever thanks to getting off shore enough to catch some of the Gulf Stream which had us doing up to 13 knots at times. Fuel burn for this trip was equally as great averaging 1.38L/nm or 2.75 USG/nm
We knew when we left that we would likely get “spanked” a bit by Mother Nature just before arriving in Charlottesville and things were a bit more “sporty” for the last two hours as we made our way back to shore and into the welcoming arms of the breakwater.
However we were soon back into calm waters once inside the breakwater leading into Charleston.
Back in the ICW
Once inside we turned Right to get back into the ICW for about an hour of smooth sailing up the ICW and pulled over into a small waterway in the tidal grasslands where we enjoyed a very peaceful anchorage and a great sleep that night.
The green on this screen grab from Google Maps is all grasslands and marsh and will give you a bit of an idea of our fascinating scenery the past few days as we snaked our way along rivers that all interconnect to provide a shallow passage inland. We anchored for the night of May 15th just off the SW corner of Butler Island which I’ve tried to show on this crude little map.
There was a big blow forecast for last night (Wednesday May 17, 2023) so we motored about 15 nautical miles (28km/17 miles) further up the Waccamaw River and then took a fork to the Left at Bull Creek where we have now been anchored for the past 2 nights just off to the side of this narrow river. So far we’ve only seen two small boats with local fishermen go by so we’ve been enjoying the eXtremely relaxing scenery and wildlife.
The tidal based currents flowing through these rivers gently swings us around about twice a day and this our view looking South.
It is quite the amazing feeling to be so truly isolated in this magical wilderness where the only sounds are the wild birds ashore,
the buzzing of dragonflies like this one that wildlife photographer eXtraordinaire Christine managed to capture on one of our lifelines.
and the occasional splash of alligators alongside the boat. Click to enlarge and look close in about the middle to see one that stopped by yesterday. Turned out to be a smart spot to lay over as we have been far enough inland that we hardly got any of the 40+ knot gusts apparently happing over on the cost beside us. Today (Thursday) has been an overcast and drizzly day so we’ve been enjoying a quite day in the SuperSalon surrounded by this ever so peaceful greenery surrounding us allowing us to catch up with some online jobs such as getting this update put together and posted for you.
We’ll pick up the anchor tomorrow and continue to day hop our way up the ICW and various rivers as we make our way North to Norfolk where we have a reservation in a marina there starting on June first and where we will likely stay put for the rest of the summer.
Lest you think I’ve forgotten I am still working on the second installment of what has worked out best and least well of the features and equipment on Möbius and will get that uploaded in the next week or so as time allows with cruising every day. The logbook says we just passed 7900 nautical miles in the past 8 months with an eXtensive range of experiences along the way and hope that sharing those with you will be of interest and use so do stay tuned for that and my chronicling of our travels as we work our way North through all these awemazing waterways.
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