Barbara and I flew home on March 25th. I flew back to Jacksonville on the 29th with Barry and Amy Ruble. Barry and I have known each other since our days at Shelby County High School. We have seen each other at reunions and every once in a while when he stopped by Central Equipment. We had talked about the Great loop at the last reunion and the seed was planted. As I asked a few people to travel with me, everybody I had asked could not clear their calendar in order to be able to go. So I was very happy about it when Barry said yes. His wife decided to come along and was a added bonus as well.
We flew on the same flight, so we road together from our home to Cincinnati The Direct flight was great and we used Uber to get to the Marina at Ortega Landing. We hung out, unpacked, went out to lunch and the grocery that afternoon. On the 2nd day we stayed around the marina pool and hot tub. I told them that this was going to be the nicest marina they would most likely experience during their stay.
So for our first travel day we cruised to Cumberland Island. We were going to anchor out and ride the dingy over to the national park to see the island.
Amy ponders getting in.
Amy swims at Cumberland Island
We left the anchorage early and moved North to Jekyll Island. We only had to move 23.9 miles to get to the Jekyll Island Marina. Barry and Amy did a great job handling the lines and fenders at their first docking experience on Balahula.
We decided to take the marina loaner car and go out to lunch. After that we took out the loaner bikes for a ride around the island.
Our next Northern move would require us to transit through Jekyll Creek. The lack of depth required us to go through on high tide. So a very short travel day was planned to go to Saint Simons Island, only 7.8 miles, 1 hour and 7 minutes.
We were moving again the next day. I looked on Navionics for our next stop. We decided after reading some reviews to check out Darin Ga. I made a call to the listed number and spoke to a very nice Lady who oversaw the city docks. They had 1 spot left and had a promotion to give 1 night free for first time users. All you have to do is say you read about it in the ICW magazine. The docks were a little tired, but we really enjoyed our night here. It’s sits about 8 miles west of the ICW.
We walked to the top of the hill next to the marina and found a very neat vegetable store with lots of other kitchen needs.
Next up was dinner. We eventually went to Skippers Fish Camp.
Skippers is located just on the other side of the bridge from our dock. It is attached to the City Free docks. No electricity, but you can stay 2 days free.
Skippers Fish Camp was a great spot for dinner, plus the food was wonderful. Darin was a very quiet stop over and the price was right.
We left Darin right after high tide so we could get a little boost on our trip back out 8 miles to the ICW. We needed to move close to Hell’s Gate in order to hit it at high tide. This was a 47.5 mile trip and took most of the day, we arrived at Redbird Creek about 5:30. This put us within 3 miles of the dreaded narrow, shallow passage to be done the next morning.
For dinner we grilled hamburgers and as an appetizer we finished off the last of stone crabs from Marathon.
The next morning we started the engines around 7:30 AM to time our arrival at Hell’s Gate. Well our timing was great, we never saw depth of less than 10 1/2 feet. With a draft of 5 ft and the tides being 6 ft in this area we could not get through at low tide.
With an early start we were going to get in early to the Isle of Hope Marina just South of Savannah GA. So it was time to buy diesel fuel for the first time since we left Fort Myers. I had been shopping fuel prices for few days. The stop that would have provided the cheapest price was Two Fish camp, a call to confirm their great pricing was successful. However they said their pump would only supply 4 gallons per minute. So the estimated fill up would take 3 1/2 hours. So we went past the Isle of Hope Marina to Thunderbolt Marina to fill up. 804 gallons we pumped in about 45 minutes. It cost 20 cents more per gallon but we saved a lot of time. Isle of Hope Marina was a planned 2 night stopover. We had lots of loopers docked along with us for this stay. They offer 2 free loaner cars and 2 bikes for boaters to use, the loaner cars are limited to 2 hours use. We hooked up with Doug and Lynn from DougOut so we could keep the car for the last 2 slots of the day. So we left at 5:00 and could keep the car overnight. We went to downtown Savannah to the riverfront to walk around and see the sights.
Lynn had grown up near Savannah and had local knowledge of the area. After dinner we toured the city by car. Next stop on the way back was the Walmart grocery. I think we both had 4 bags of Groceries to pack back to the boats, after we dropped the car keys in the Marina mail box.
The following morning was boat chores morning. A full bath was commissioned for Balahula. It was much faster with Barry and Amy helping out. So then it was time for the Captain to pay back for the extra effort they had expended. So we asked about the loaner car and got the 3:00 slot. We drove around the community and checked out a historic site near by Wormsloe. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormsloe_Historic_Site
We decided to not take the tour, the original buildings were gone with only foundation left. They were built with mud and vines to make the walls and did not hold up over the years. The 1 1/2 mile Oak tree lane was the high light for us. So next up was a few cocktails to award for the wash and wipe down of Balahula. We drove around and ended up doing a google search that located Tubby’s Tank House. We sat at the bar and toasted a few with the locals. It is located by chance just across the street from Thunderbolt Marina where we bought fuel. So we pumped some dollars into the Thunderbolt area. We called the office at Isle of Hope Marina and found out nobody had taken the car slot behind us, so we had the car overnight two days in a row. We decided to have dinner at Tubby’s. The car keys are not due at the office until 8:00 AM. So Amy was able to make a latte run the next morning also.
After the coffee run it was time for Barry and Amy to untie the lines one last time. We were moving to downtown Savannah to the Westin Harbour Resort Marina. The spot they will Uber to the airport and where Barbara will Uber to from the Airport.
It’s was a very peaceful morning.
We passed the Savannah Yacht Club shortly after leaving Isle of Hope just after dawn. We spotted an older wooden boat docked there. The boat named Jonathan IIIhttps://www.staugustine.com/article/20120209/NEWS/302099981
We were traveling with 3 other looper boats today. That was until we turned left to head downtown and they continued up the ICW. Then things got interesting. We became a small fry swimming in a river with monsters.
These are the type of boats that would be passing our dockage all night long for the next three nights. More on that later. Arrived perfectly at high tide so docking was a piece of cake. Shortly after we arrived and got tied up a 125 ft sail boat arrived. Roseway is part of the World Ocean School.
So here we are docked downtown at the marina. A city owned free Shuttle travels across the river from the end of our dock twice ever hour until 12:30 AM. They do not throw much wake and did not keep us up.
We had one last full day in Savannah before the crew change with Barbara’s return. We started the day hanging out the pool for around 3 hours.
After getting cleaned up we rode across the river and took a quest to see where the bench was that Forest Gump told his stories from. There are lots of small squares with various monuments that were erected to honor men around the American Revolution time frame. We went straight south on Bull street. Not very far along we made a side stop at Savannah Bee Company. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything 1/2 price and our Hotel/Marina had a deal through out Savannah that we could show our hotel room card and get something free or a deal. The deal at this shop was 5 dollars instead of 10 dollars for a flight of Mead tasting. Well since Bud Light has been talking about Mead I felt we should give it a try. Honey is used instead of sugar to make the product. They have some that taste close to wine or champagne and other more closer to beer .
After the 6th sample, we were refreshed to continue on our Forrest Gump quest. Photos taken along the way to get to Chippewa Square further down Bull Street.
Well turns out the bench was a studio prop and is in a museum somewhere. The spot where it sat has been replaced with a bunch of ferns. So now our quest turned to dinner and returning to the boat to pack.
We did find the front street along the river to resemble downtown Gatlinburg TN. Lots of tourists shopping, taffy, candy, chocolate, and lots of restaurants and bars. The area is old historic buildings that supported the shipping trade warehouses and such. Found these markers to explain the arched storage bins.
If we stayed up late we might have considered a special tour. But we are on boat time.
Well it’s now April 8th and I already have washed the boat, the sheets washed, the towels washed, the bathrooms cleaned but I’m sure Barbara will find a shortage in my prep somewhere.
So many thanks to High school classmate Barry Ruble and his wife Amy. They were great help and we had lots of fun in getting from Jacksonville FL to Savannah GA. In all we travel over 210 miles, anchored out 2 nights. And only 25 oysters and maybe 1/2 bucket of shrimp were consumed on their 11 night stay with me. They really took my advice on packing light as you can see in their parting photo. Barry said she usually packs lots more for a weekend trip. 😉