Back Onboard Bravo

Winter Migration
We return from our trip helping to move the 59' boat "SeaFox" from Louisville, KY to Fort Meyers, FL. Always glad to be back onboard Bravo.

Now it's time to stock up and move out.
As November approaches, cruiser boats prepare for the southern migration. We continue to buddy boat with Gale and Mary on Worknot. Still at Homer Smith Marina in North Carolina, we take advantage of the local seafood industry and stock up on fresh shrimp and fish.

The shrimp and fish boats offload their daily catches at our marina.

Can't get any fresher than this!

The fish is processed as it comes off of the boats.

From our boat we get to see Boeing V22 Osprey's coming and going to the nearby airport.

How cool is this?!

Beaufort, NC to Beaufort, SC
As the days grow shorter, and the winter storms begin, we have to pick a weather window to run offshore and get south of the coast of Cape Fear. We choose to run offshore because this portion of the ICW is fraught with shallow sand bars that would make travel slow, tedious, and subject to regular groundings. To time our entrance into Charleston Harbor for daylight, we make a very early departure morning from Beaufort, NC.

Left in the darkness, and the sun greets us.

The offshore run will be in excess of 24 hours. Daytime cruising is relatively uneventful, and we make good progress. As night falls, the weather deteriorates. Lightning on the horizon. By 1:00 AM it starts to rain. By 3:00 AM the wind is 20-30 knots with gusts to 40 knots. The picture below shows how the squall appears on our radar/chart screen.

The squall only lasted about 30 minutes, but you sure knew it was upon you!

We initially enter the Charleston channel in the dark with several commercial boats also seeking to get away from the weather. As the sun rises on a grey and rainy day, we continue through Charleston and reenter the ICW heading through South Carolina.

There are several bridges and numerous very shallow areas to pass through. The antennas on Bravo must be lowered to pass under one of the bridges as our air draft is 36' (height from waterline upwards). We finally stop and anchor around sunset on day 2, just past Beaufort, SC.

Another peaceful evening.

The offshore and ICW run from Beaufort, NC to Beaufort, SC was 36 hours… nonstop.

Savannah, GA
Up early, we continue on the ICW to Thunderbolt Marina in Savannah, GA. We stop for the night, borrow the courtesy car and head into town to pick up some famous Georgia BBQ ribs. We join the locals who line up at “Tricks” and “Randy’s” to get some ribs for dinner and to pack some in the freezer for future enjoyment!

This is "Tricks" BBQ, and we bought the last rack of ribs.
...and the folks in line behind us were majorly disappointed.

This is where the BBQ magic happens.

We then went to the next BBQ joint, "Randy's, for additional ribs. Mmm good!

Jumping offshore again, we continue south to the busy port of Brunswick, GA. Shrimp boats along the way are reminiscent of Bubba Gump.

Lots of shrimp boats in this area of the country.

Brunswick, GA... Car carrier aground!
Oh my gosh!!! Transiting the channel into Brunswick Harbor we pass the grounded car carrier ship, Golden Ray. This huge ship, built in 2017, is 660' long and has a capacity to transport 7,700 cars. It was carrying 4,200 new Hyundai and Kia cars at the time it was intentionally run aground on September 8, 2019. R
eports on the incident state the bar pilot made the decision to run the ship aground just outside of the main shipping channel because the ship began to lose stability, and there were reports of a possible fire onboard the ship. All souls on board were rescued. The last four crew members were trapped inside the ship. They were extracted by the Coast Guard by cutting a hole in the hull of the ship to rescue them after being trapped for 30 hours in the dark interior of the ship. The pilot was praised for his decision in grounding the ship outside of the main shipping channel. If the ship was grounded in the shipping channel this would have hugely affected the port operations. Unfortunately when the ship was grounded, it then proceeded to capsize onto its port side, and is now a total loss. 

The pilot ran the ship aground just outside the main channel.
He did this in order to not block the shipping lane.

Extensive salvage operations are now underway 24/7, and at this time it was decided to totally cut the ship apart for removal.

We see something out-of-the-ordinary as we approach.

It's hard to believe what we're seeing. A massive cargo ship lying on its side.

This view is showing the aft end and topsides to the ship.

And now we see the bottom of the ship.

As we exit our anchorage the next morning, we say farewell to the Golden Ray.

The salvage plan is to straddle the ship with a large floating structure, and then a large diamond chain via pulleys would slowly cut through the the hull. The ship would be cut into 8 large pieces, to be barged away. There is an animated video on the web showing the process for this salvage plan. 
To see the animation, do a Google search on "Golden Ray Salvage" or to go directly to the video "https://youtu.be/_3nr-Bb0VUM".

For animation, go to https://youtu.be/_3nr-Bb0VUM

Surprisingly, on our delivery trip of Dennis Fox's boat "SeaFox" from Kentucky to Florida (see previous blog), we saw this humungous apparatus which we had no idea what it was until we later read about the Golden Ray's salvage plan. 

In Mobile, Alabama, we saw the actual fixture that will be used for the salvage of the Golden Ray. 

You can read more about the details of the incident, the quick thinking of the bar pilot, and the USCG rescue efforts by doing a Google search on “Golden Ray Pilot Praised for Intentional Grounding".

Florida at Last!
Brunswick, GA to Fernandina Beach, FL
We depart Brunswick, GA, make another offshore daytrip, enter St. Mary’s River inlet and anchor across from Fernandina Beach, FL. Repairs to their marina, from hurricane damage, are still underway therefore the dinghy dock is inaccessible. So, we anchor out in a small cove, relax and watch life on the water from a front row seat.

An ultra-light airplane swings by to check us out.

A peaceful evening with a full moon and lots of lights on shore.

Fernandina Beach to Palm Coast, FL
We are up early, exit St. Mary’s River inlet in the dark, and head offshore.

Another gorgeous sunrise as we make our way offshore.

We cruise offshore and reenter the ICW via St. Augustine’s Channel/harbor with breaking waves and rollers just outside the channel.

The wave action increases as we enter the inlet, but it settles down the further in we go.

For the rest of our journey through Florida, we will be cruising on the ICW. Many curious sights pass us by.

There are more houses in this stretch of the ICW.

An avid fisherman perhaps?? ...Showing off his big catch??

A collector of driftwood? 

Because of stormy weather, we stop at Palm Coast Marina for two nights and enjoy long walks along jungle canals and waterways in the park that follows the ICW through town.

Well maintained walkways here.

Some of the waterways look like they are from the movie "African Queen".

Other areas look like you are truly in a jungle.

Palm Coast to Fort Pierce, FL
Welcome to Florida… the land of bridges.

There are a lot of bridges on Florida's waterways.

Fort Pierce City Marina, Fort Pierce, FL
Fort Pierce City Marina will be our home base for two months. We have a long “to-do” list for Bravo and ourselves including doctor and dentist appointments, sightseeing, visiting friends, boat cleaning, and provisioning.

Sunset at Fort Pierce City Marina.

Fort Pierce is a great location, for all of these activities. Every Saturday, they have an awesome farmers market.

The marina was rebuilt after extensive hurricane damage and includes new islands to protect the marina and promote marine life.

The man made islands help to protect the marina.

The project is very successful as the marina is now full of a variety of fish, eels, dolphins, manatees, pelicans, herons, seagulls, and other shore birds.

A small manatee munches on grass next to the docks.

A swarm of fish behind our swim step.

Unbelievable number of fish in the marina!

This little guy came to visit us everyday!

Marine services are also readily available. With recommendations from fellow cruisers, we line up AJ a diver from Down Under Service, to clean Bravo below the waterline, and Chris from Fargo Marine to buff and wax Bravo. Chris has a neat dog, Toby who visits us every day when Chris is working on the boat.

Look at that face, and you can tell that Toby is a happy dog!

Chris does a fantastic job and also recommends a stainless cleaner/wax combo that we now use on all of Bravo’s exterior rails.

We also decide to refinish the teak stern deck cap rail ourselves. This is a loooong project. Stripping the old finish, sanding, sanding, sanding. Then ten coats of varnish with more sanding in-between each coat. Our neighbors stop by each day to check progress on the project.

Off with the old, as we carefully remove the old varnish with a heat gun.

Finally after much prep work the 1st coat of varnish is applied. One down, nine to go!

We make side trips to many attractions in the area. We visit a working orange and grapefruit orchard.

This is the packing house at Al's Family Farms.

We spend a day at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce.

The museum is located here because Fort Pierce was the initial training ground for the first Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). These teams were established during World War II as advance specialists whose job was to remove beach obstacles to invasions such as D-Day on Normandy Beach. In successive wars and conflicts, especially Vietnam, UDT evolved into the SEAL Teams we know today.

The museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits filled with authentic artifacts actually used by UDT and SEALS.

The outdoor exhibits include a memorial honoring all the SEALS who have died in action.

A section of the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum. Well worth the visit.

The memorial wall. I love and respect their motto: "Forever HOOYAY!"

Nora takes pictures of the memorial.

Our time in Fort Pierce is busy with new adventures every day. Proximity to Cape Canaveral also provides us with the opportunity to witness Space-X and Boeing Space launches from our front deck!

We see the Space-X launch from our front deck. Pretty awesome!

Next blog... Bahamas!!!

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