- Ron Hesmer
Bahamas-Bound 2 | November 21, 2022
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Wilmington, NC to Ft. Lauderdale, FL
This is Ron's account of KORKZcrew's latest journey southward, headed once again for the Bahamas. Greta and Skeet and I will join him and Steve in the Abacos in mid-December. I'm continuing to play "catch up" on my blog from KORKZcrew's adventures in the Exuma Cays last spring. Please bear with me as there'll continue to be posts "from the past" that chronicle our journeys through early May 2022. For more "real time" updates, follow me on Instagram here. I typically post current news about KORKZcrew in my Stories. - Katharine
From Captain Ron:
So now... we sit.
We (myself and a crew of 3) left our homeport of Wilmington, NC on November 5th. Destination: South Florida and eventually, hopefully, Elbow Cay in the Abaco islands of the Bahamas. The “plan” is that George will ride with us for a week down the waterway and then fly back home to the responsibilities of gainful employment. Paul and Steve (the dog) will continue southward and help me navigate a Gulf Stream crossing once a weather window presents itself.
KORKZcrew leaving the dock in Wilmington, NC
Remarkably balmy weather for a November jaunt down the Intracoastal Waterway…short sleeves, shorts, sunscreen and Paul announces his intention to take a plunge off the stern at each day’s end. The water is warmer than usual for this time of year, but it’s not warm.
Daylight savings time ends and we’re faced with shorter travel days.
Wilmington to the South Carolina Border Nice run down the river and beyond Bald Head Island.
Little River through Myrtle Beach
A hot, muddy ditch bracketed by a hodge-podge of old fish camps and newly constructed homes that nearly warrant the “mansion” label. No one likes traversing this unredeeming part of the ICW…myself included. This is “Steve's” and my 5th passage through this area and we’re thoroughly unimpressed. Paul is eager to take the helm so I appreciatively hand over the lion’s share of navigation to him and George.
Georgetown to Edisto Island
This run through the South Carolina low country is remarkable. Charleston is everything it’s cracked up to be, but the serenity of the low country steals the show. It is pristine and full of wildlife. The miles of unencumbered marshland and tidal creeks are somehow accented, rather than interrupted, by the traces of civilization. On this particularly beautiful morning, the experience is moving.
Paul shared this pic of white pelicans, which he said are extremely rare.
Edisto Island to Hilton Head Island WTF — Perfect weather succumbs to a goddamn hurricane…in November! Hurricane Nicole is headed for the Florida coast. Now we’re faced with questions of “How bad is it? Where’s it going? How many days before it gets here? How bad will it be when it gets here? Do we get a slip somewhere? Do we just plow through and drop two anchors in a hole somewhere when the shit hits the fan?"
The blue dot on the map is KORKZcrew's location.
Captain (?) Ron 😳
The problem is that the further we travel south, the more directly we’re heading into the storm. I make the executive decision to get a slip in Hilton Head. I too, want to carry on but this boat catches a lot of wind and 20 knots with gusts to 40 won’t make for a pleasant passage. We get a slip…and promptly lose our collective minds to boredom and the angst of being “stuck” for 3 days in a marina. Our neighbors are nice, our dock is well-protected and there’s a restaurant on the premises. Could be much worse; still sucks. 11.8-11.11.22
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island to Fernandina Beach
The Hilton Head detour also cheated George out of reaching South Florida (he returns home for work in just a few days), and now we’re forced to search for the most logical destination with proximity to an airport. We wind through Georgia for a day and then reach Fernandina the following day. Cool little town…we dine out and return to our mooring ball for the night.
Leaving Hilton Head en route to Fernandina Beach
George can hardly contain his excitement as they make their way toward the Florida border
Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine We hit St. Augustine on a cold and cloudy Sunday. Wish he could stay but George will disembark after supper tonight and get a hotel room…then fly out at crack-o…land in Wilmington two connections later…then drive 2 hours home to Raleigh. For his final meal aboard, we cook the last of the monster steaks. NOTE: George brought tons of provisions, including cases of excellent wine, gourmet bone-in steaks aplenty...and picked up the tab for several meals. EXTREMELY generous. (Come back anytime!)
St. Augustine to Edgewater
George picked a bad time to leave, as the clouds parted and Paul, Steve and I had sunny skies en route to the Canaveral Coast.
Leaving St. Augustine
Our anchorage for the night in Edgewater wasn’t really an anchorage, but we were running out of daylight so we dropped the hook just outside of the channel (in about 5’ of water). Neither Paul nor I have ever experienced so many dolphins fishing along side of us and among the nearby mangroves. All night long there was a crazy chorus of surfacing dolphins circling the boat. By morning they were gone…most likely because we were HARD AGROUND! I should’ve planted a stern anchor, but alas... I remain an idiot. You’re not supposed to power off a grounding, but that’s what we did. Essentially digging a trough with the newly painted props and overworking the bow thruster…until we luckily escaped a 6-hour tide change. I’ll check the damages when I’m in clearer (warmer) water.
Edgewater to Palm Bay
Sunrise in Edgewater
Morning engine check
Approaching Artemis the day before it was due to launch! Read more about the Artemis mission here.
Paul filmed the Artemis launch at 1:47 am on November 16, 2022
We stopped in Melbourne at a small park that had a dock. It wasn’t meant for a boat our size but we were meeting Paul’s mom for a brief rendezvous where she was kind (and generous) enough to provide us with more provisions. Short but sweet…we were tied and untied within 30 minutes. Good to see her tho…and she looked pretty damn spry for 92.
Continuing on…I had researched fuel prices (via the waterway guide) and found a spot in Stuart FL that touted $4.79 a gallon. That’s less than we paid back home, so I thought I’d top off the tank before getting closer to Miami and grotesquely higher fuel costs. Welp…in reality the price was $4.97 a gallon…then they added a “convenience” fee of $30…then taxed the whole deal for what came to $5.48 per gallon. Nice.
One good note: Our fuel burn from NC to FL was 1.86 gph — That’s a crazy low number for a combined two engines + generator.
We anchor in a small bay with 15 other boats…and roll out the next day hoping to make Lauderdale. The boredom of a slow roll down a straight line is taxing on the psyche. I’m used to it now, but for new crew it can take some getting used to. Paul’s an active guy, and being stuck on a boat for two weeks with little to no exercise can take its toll. Not one to pass up the chance to get in the water, Paul decided to attempt to skurf behind the boat. He’s in such tremendous physical shape that he made it look easy. It was anything but. He successfully got off and back on the the boat without my having to adjust course or speed. Pretty damn impressive — so I posted a video of it on the Great Harbour Forum and the consensus from readers was that it was most definitely a “first” in the history of Great Harbour trawlers.
Paul skurfing (water skiing on a surfboard) behind KORKZcrew in Port St. Lucie, FL
Palm Bay to Ft. Lauderdale
Who knew Paul has his very own island?!😜
Welcome to opulence.
Not even to Miami yet, but from Jupiter to Lauderdale it is a road show of eye-popping wealth. Paul mentioned he felt like he was sitting in the stands of a tennis match, our heads continually turning left and right as we poked along in awe of the Architectural Digest real estate…accompanied by yachts at their waterfront beckoning. It’s a tad obscene, but it’s a REALLY entertaining part of the ICW.
Pics taken from West Palm Beach to Pompano
Boca Rotan, FL
Lake Sylvia, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Twelve days, a few groundings and one hurricane since departing Wilmington: We anchor in Lake Sylvia…a nice little protected cove with maybe 15-20 other boats. If the tide is low enough we can dinghy under a nearby bridge and get to all kinds of restaurants, laundry, hardware, grocery stores, marine supplies, etc… It’s a good little staging area for a gulf stream crossing, only problem being the weather doesn’t look favorable for a crossing anytime soon. Like…a week or more. Ugh. There may be a slight window in a couple of days, but I know this boat well enough now to err on the side of caution. That’s not my nature, of course, but I know from experience that poor conditions will make a 10-hour passage in this boat feel more like 20. Homie don’t play dat.
Doing important errands at places like West Marine, Railings Unlimited,
and South Port Raw Bar 😜
I’ve gotten some supplies for the watermaker, which we may need to run in a day or two.
We tweaked the dinghy davit — it was fine but, much to Paul’s dismay, I decided to add a second pulley to the system. Too soon to tell but it was probably a lot of work to achieve the same result.
We are bored. But more than bored we are bummed. It’s disheartening to come all this way and then sit and wait for a weather window that doesn’t even appear on the horizon.
We’ll get some laundry done, clean the boat, watch the World Cup and hope for a break in the weather.
Approximately 506 nautical miles traveled (I used this chart to make the calculation.)
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