December 1, 2014 – Charleston to Hilton Head

Our last blog entry covered our arrival in Charleston from Georgetown and departure for Maryland in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  When we left the polar vortex had arrived, and we saw temperatures in the high 20s.  The temperatures moderated a bit when we got back to Maryland, but not a lot.  We would have been longing for the temperate climate of Charleston, but it was no better!

We traveled to Connecticut for the Thanksgiving holiday.  The temperatures were cold and we had a nasty nor’easter come through on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  But all of the family made it safely despite the cold and bad weather.  We had a wonderful turkey day at my younger sister’s house with her family, my older sister, father, our kids, Andy’s girlfriend, and my brother-in-law’s mother and sister.

Our plan was to drive back to Maryland on Saturday, spend Sunday relaxing and getting ready for our return to Charleston and then flying to Charleston first thing Monday morning.  All during the Thanksgiving holiday we were checking the weather in Charleston and south.  Sunday and Monday looked to be fantastic weather for ocean cruising with conditions deteriorating as the week progressed.  We decided to change our plane reservations so that we arrived in Charleston on Sunday instead of Monday and could begin our cruise south on Monday instead of Tuesday.

We worried that we would have horrible lines at the airport if we traveled on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but the travel gods were with us.  We had one of the first flights out of BWI, got at the airport early, quickly checked our bags and then breezed through security, thanks to TSA Pre.

When we got to Charleston, it was what we had hoped it and the southeastern U.S. would be: sunny, warm and beautiful.  We rented a car so that we could pick up some groceries and the picture for the boat we had purchased before we left, “Thelma and Louise.”  It was so warm we could drop the jackets and sweaters.  Some people were running around in shorts and t-shirts.  It was fabulous.

Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise

With the boat stocked, our new painting up in the salon and our course set, we were ready to begin the next leg of the cruise.  The forecast for Monday was perfect: 0-5 kt winds, sunny, seas 1-2 feet.

We left Monday morning just after 6am.  It was dark, but the channel out was well marked, and civil twilight was about 20 minutes away. The tide was ebbing at about 2 kts, allowing us to travel at 11-12 kts out of the channel.   We made the turn toward Hilton Head, our destination for the day, just before 7am.  We could not have asked for a better cruising day.  The winds were virtually non-existent and the seas were glassy.  There were very few boats on the water. We only had dolphins and sea birds for company.

Red Sky in Morning - Charleston

Red Sky in Morning – Charleston

Rising Sun

Rising Sun

The Sun Rises

The Sun Rises

We were able to make between 10 and 11 kts for most of the trip.  As a consequence we arrived at the Tybee Roads Channel, which leads into Hilton Head, about 1:30pm.  The Tybee Roads Channel leads to Savannah, as well.

Tanker in Tybee Roads - Leaving Savannah

Tanker in Tybee Roads – Leaving Savannah

To get to Hilton Head you need to leave the channel to the northeast and travel across an area that has seen significant shoaling the past few years.  We followed the directions on Active Captain to cross this area and had no difficulty.  It helped that we were coming in on a rising tide.  But the tricky part was at Green 3 and a new red nun that marks the western edge of the shoal.  We had plenty of water, but just on the east side of the nun we could see shallow waves breaking over the shoal. Not a heartwarming sight.

After we got through this area we entered a section of 20-40 foot water, which leads to Hilton Head.  It was an easy entrance into the Harbour Town Marina, our destination for the night.  Jim pulled us into the slip and we were tied up at about 2:40pm.

The weather was as fantastic in Hilton Head as it was in Charleston.  Jim actually put on shorts to rinse down the boat. We finished our boat chores and then went for a stroll around Harbour Town.  This was our second time in Harbour Town.  Our first was 4 years ago when we were bringing Sea BLyS up from Florida. That was in May, and the marina was filled with people enjoying the late spring weather.  On Monday, however, things were quite different.  Even though the weather was beautiful, only a few people were out and about.  The area around the marina was decorated for the Christmas holidays and the shops were open, but there didn’t seem to be too many takers.  But it was perfect for us.

Hilton Head

Hilton Head

Christmas Lights - Hilton Head

Christmas Lights – Hilton Head

By about 4pm, however, I was beginning to fade.  We had been up at 5am on Sunday to catch our flight to Charleston and then up at 4:30 on Monday for the cruise to Hilton Head.  Tuesday would be another early morning for our cruise to Brunswick, GA – some 82nm south of Hilton Head.  So it was an early dinner at the Crazy Crab just steps from our slip and an early night for us.

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