Charleston to Jacksonville Cruise
I'm planning my first cruise from Charleston to Jacksonville, to take place late September or early October this year, barring any major storms (if that's the situation, I'll be calling it off).
I'm currently planning to do this as a coastal cruise on the outside, attempting to stay within 3 NM of land, but certainly no more than 5 NM. I have a route plotted with my computer's chart plotting software (GPS Nav-X), which I will gladly export to someone else to look at if anyone wants it (I'm always willing to have someone else take a look at it!).
I'm looking for someone with local knowledge of the areas listed below to let me know if I'm making good decisions on the stopping points. I'm hoping to do this as a series of day sailing trips only (anticipating ~12 hours of daylight based on the almanac). I'll be either anchoring or pulling into a marina every night. The boat is an O. H. Rodgers 33 with a shoal keel; with the board up, she draws a little more than 3 feet.
Right now, I'm planning on:
Day 1: Charleston to Seabrook Island (40 NM). Planning on a stop at either the Bohicket Creek marina or anchoring in the North Edisto River.
Day 2: Seabrook Island to Hilton Head Island (65 NM). This is my longest sailing day, and probably the one with the most concern, because getting into Tybee Roads looks pretty interesting. Especially since it looks like a pretty tight squeeze around R14-R18 up to G3 enroute to the Calibogue Sound. I'm hoping to secure a reservation at the South Beach Inn & Marina for a night or two to enjoy Hilton Head. (Option B would be to stick in a "short" day to pull into Edisto Beach to reduce the sailing distance. That would open up many additional hours of sailing.)
Day 3: Hilton Head Island to St. Catherine Island (44 NM). I was looking to anchor in Walburg Creek.
Day 4: St. Catherine Island to St. Simons Island (53 NM). I'm hoping to stay at one of the marinas for the night.
Day 5: St. Simons Island to Fernandina Beach (38 NM). I'm hoping to stay at one of the marinas for the night in the area.
Day 6: Fernandina Beach to St. Johns River (38 NM). I'll be pulling into the new slip for Zephyr here.
You'll probably ask about my experience, so I'll tell you now. I sailed small boats (Lasers) in college, got my officer's commission in the Navy (where I've qualified as an officer of the deck, sort of like a third mate on a large ship; the process included learning about navigation, collision regulations, ship and personnel safety, etc), and I've been boating all around Charleston. This is my first large "cruise" trip with my sailboat. I'm really excited, because this is why my wife and I bought Zephyr, but I'm a little nervous, since it'll be my first big trip.
Since I don't think you can be "too safe", I'll have a crew of at least three, including one very experienced sailor. Navigation is by GPS Nav X, handheld GPS and a full paper chart of the Tybee Roads area (don't want GPS to fail me there), and St. John's River (new homeport). Hopefully, I'll have small printouts of the other charts just for reference. We're bringing along some big items (coastal viking liferaft, EPIRB, etc), and everyone gets an inflatable lifejacket, safety harness and tether to use with the jacklines. I'm NOT planning on having storm sails, but instead plan on opening distance to land and then dropping sails at the first indication I won't get out of the way of weather trouble and switching to engine. If that fails, I'm tossing out a coastal ParaAnchor.
I'm hoping for:
1. Good local knowledge comments about the stops that I'm making - anything will help alot. Good anchorages? Good marinas? An easy way to make sure you're not going to run aground in Tybee on the way to Hilton Head?
2. Any other comments about recommended equipment for this trip? (I can't be too careful here!)
3. Any other thoughts?
Thanks for your help - I'm hoping to get some great advice.
1981 O H Rodgers 33
"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea."
- Isak Dinesen