June 23, 2021 was the day that all of the stars aligned. We had to leave our marina in West Palm Beach on a high tide because of the depth (right about our keel depth!). We also had to leave on a slack tide (water not moving), so that we didn’t get slammed into any docks or boats. We also had to leave in the morning so that we had enough time to get to Brunswick during the daylight hours of day 3. And the weather report had to tell us that we would have small seas and just a little wind. This day had it all. A high slack at around 7:30 a.m. It was also a full moon, so the high was even higher and hopefully we would have some light from the moon during our two nights at sea. We were getting close to our July 1 deadline (set by the insurance company) so decided to go straight through to Georgia, even though it’s not our favorite thing to do.
When we left the Bahamas in the early morning hours, we had a bit of trouble getting Slow Dancer into forward after backing out of the slip. We searched in Palm Beach for someone to look at our transmission, but with the 6-8 week wait, we decided to do some trouble shooting on our own. We had several sessions of tying our dock lines to allow us to put the gear shifter into reverse, neutral and forward. All seemed to go smoothly. Must have been a fluke.
Here we go…..the marina is calm, water smooth and high, it’s 7:30 a.m. and there is no one on the dock to help with our lines. OK, we can do this. While Ken puts Slow Dancer into reverse, Dale holds the lines on the cleats ready to let them loose as we back out. All goes well and we back out into the fairway between two rows of boats. OK, the moment of truth…..forward…and nothing! We are floating aimlessly toward a low bridge. OMG! Now what? Ken shifts from forward to neutral to reverse several times while Dale prepares to fend Slow Dancer off the bridge and hopefully toward a dock with the boat hook. All of a sudden, something catches and forward we go! OK, no more messing around, when we get to Brunswick we will for sure have it looked at. We had no more trouble with it for the rest of the trip, even though we shut the engine down to sail and then motored again. However, the thought of floating around in the Atlantic Ocean without a forward propelling engine loomed in our minds.
As we headed out of the marina we were thankful for our forward motion. This would be stopped soon after by a huge freighter coming into the cut that we needed to transit. Great, stopping, what will happen with our transmission?! Fortunately, nothing. We waited for the freighter to pass and continued out the inlet. We made great time under a sunny sky as we let the Gulf Stream push us north. No wind and minimal waves, making at times 8 knots.
Our first night at sea was beautiful! A full moon and calm weather. We passed Cape Canaveral and saw rockets standing upright. There would be a launch of SpaceX in two days. We saw SpaceX in Southern California! At Cape Canaveral we had to leave the Gulf Stream so that we didn’t get carried too far offshore. So now we lost our momentum and instead had a current against us. OK, slower, but we had made good time in the current and all was good. UNTIL the storm came! What?!! No storm was forecast. One thing that we have learned is that nothing is as predicted! Early on Thursday morning, the winds picked up, of course, against us. Wind, waves and current against us. The entire day we fought against all of nature, hoping for some calming to arrive. No such luck! We saw motor boats struggling in the 8-10 foot waves. We were grateful to be on a sailboat with a 6 1/2 foot keel. While we were not making much headway, we were stable. Thursday night we were lucky to make 2-3 knots against the seas, winds and current. Scratching and crawling we were getting closer.
We had estimated that we would arrive around daybreak on Friday, but found ourselves many miles away. We did not cross the Georgia border until around noon. At this time, the waves calmed down to 6-8 feet (still not great!). We were slamming into all of the forces of nature when, surprise, we were hit with a torrential downpour! Wait…..there was a shrimp boat up there, where did it go? Ken even donned his swim mask to see through the downpour but could not see the shrimp boat! Reduce speed and crawl forward with both of us looking into the rain to see the boat. We were only 10 miles from the inlet, but still making only 2-3 knots per hour.
Finally the rain subsided and we saw 4-5 shrimp boats cruising around us! We dodged them and finally headed into the buoys leading into the inlet. We noticed some structure inside the inlet. Wow! It was a salvage operation for a sunken “Roro” (Roll on, Roll off), a car carrier that sunk with 4,500 cars aboard! Guess we feel lucky!
Finally we were making headway into the 10 miles of inlet leading to Brunswick, Georgia. We passed a freighter and a cruising casino on our way under the bridge toward our destination: Brunswick Landing Marina
We arrived around 7:30 at night and were thrilled to see a couple of fellow cruisers show up on our dock to grab our lines! Here we were in Georgia!