We wake to calm winds and a calmer Beaufort River. Today is shaping up to be a good day for cruising one more time south. We have a thirty-nine nautical mile cruise scheduled for today and our plan for the tides shows that we can depart between 9 and 10 this morning to maximize the high tide for shoaling areas to be encountered. Frankie gets his last licks at the grass and I check with Michele in the office who confirms that if we want to come back next weekend for a few days, they will have dock space for us. When I return to Kailani with Frankie, Tracy is already working on pre-cruise protocols. I lift Frankie aboard and start assisting with the preparations. At 8:55 am we’re blowing the horn signaling our departure and I take Kailani out into the center of the channel and immediately pass under the Lady’s Island Bridge (McTeer Bridge).
On the right after passing under the bridge is the Beaufort Naval Hospital and right after that, the next tract of land is the US Marine Facility at Parris Island. So its apparent that there is a large military presence here in Beaufort/Port Royal. Once we pass the southern tip of Parris Island, we are in Port Royal Sound and five miles south would put us into the Atlantic Ocean, but rather, we turn west and cross the sound to enter Skull Creek and stay on the ICW. Once we enter Skull Creek all the land to our port side is Hilton Head Island. We stay on Skull Creek until we come out in Calibogue Sound. Once in Calibogue Sound we can spot the famous Harbour Town Lighthouse, home to Harbour Town Marina and the site of the PGA tournament, RGB Classic.
Soon we’re turning out of Calibogue Sound into the Cooper River to stay north of Daufuskie Island. The Cooper River takes us to a couple of problem areas known as Walls Cut and Fields Cut. Both cuts have experienced issues with shoaling, but since we’ve timed our cruise to follow the tides, we’re navigating these two cuts approximately one hour before full high tide and we don’t have any issues. After successfully completing Fields Cut, we are turning north on the Savannah River and heading our last ten miles of the day.
As we’re coming out of Fields Cut, there is a gorgeous eighty foot blue motor yacht travelling north already in the river, so we decide to nestle behind her and let her guide us up the river running interference with commercial traffic. (Whenever possible follow a bigger boat, if they don’t get stuck you won’t. – tc) Soon the blue motor yacht disappears around a bend in the Savannah River as she is making slightly more knots than Kailani. But this bend in the river signals the point where our chartplotter says we are thirty minutes from our destination. So as per a conversation we had with the Westin earlier in the week when we called to confirm our reservation, we call them at thirty minutes prior to destination and they’ll have someone on the dock to greet us and grab our lines. During this call, Tracy explains to them that since the current is about a two knot push up the river, we’d like to go past the dock, turn about and dock Kailani approaching the docks into the current. She gets the sense that they aren’t really comprehending what she’s trying to explain, but they say that its okay with them to complete the maneuver. So we proceed north towards our destination as planned.
As we approach the Westin dock to our starboard, there is a Nordic Tug docked to starboard at the southern end of the long pier and that big beautiful blue motor yacht docked to starboard up at the north end of the pier. We look at the real estate for planning our about face maneuver and it looks very narrow on the back side of the pier so we determine that if we tied up on the inboard side of the pier, either we would get blocked in, or we would be blocking anyone else from using that side of the pier. Consequently, we just nestled Kailani up to the pier on the starboard side going with the slight push current. Oh, by the way, we don’t see anyone on the dock to grab our lines, so Tracy starts aiming for hooking the dock cleat herself which is doable, but certainly more difficult than handing the line to a dock master who completes the tie up on the cleat. Thankfully there are two of the professional crew of the big beautiful blue yacht on the dock and one of them comes over and takes the lines from Tracy. Soon Tracy tells me we have three lines tied to the pier and I shut down the engines at 1:20 pm. We’ve made excellent time on this cruise. Once we have all lines secure and hooked up the power and water, we decide to walk up to the hotel front desk and check in. We still haven’t seen anyone from the hotel in spite of our thirty-minute warning (about forty-five minutes ago). So we walk up the ramp towards the hotel and at the top of the ramp there’s a gate preventing un-authorized access to the dock. It is accessed with a code, however that code must also be punched in to get off the dock, so since we still haven’t seen any Westin Hotel personnel yet, we actually have to call the front desk to ask how to get off the dock and come to them to register. They politely inform me that I’m not allowed on the dock without a reservation to which I explain to them that we are aboard Kailani and we do, in fact have a reservation. So she provides me with the code and I punch it into the keypad…. Gate doesn’t open, so I have to call them again to send someone out to open the gate. This brings us to our first meeting with Westin Hotel personnel. He graciously opens the gate, shows us the mistake we were making and off we go to the front desk to check in. We are given some information about the resort including maps, dining options and the ferry schedule for going across the river into downtown.
Walking back to the boat, Tracy is compelled to toe-test the supposedly 85 degree water of the swimming pool and confirms that the water is heated. So Tracy and Frankie retire to the stateroom for an afternoon nap and I get my bathing suit on for a long awaited dip in a refreshing swimming pool. After a dip, I’m relaxing on a chaise lounge basking in the southern sun re-hashing the adventures we’ve experienced in our last five months and how much we’ve done, learned, experienced and grew together as full time cruisers. Since November 7th, 2017 we’ve cruised 1,051 nautical miles over 29 cruising days and sat at the helm for 125 motor hours. That works out to an average of 36 miles and 4-plus hours per cruise day. We’ve met some great people, been to some very hospitable locations and travelled some extremely beautiful water to get here. We’ll greet the kids in two days, spend a week playing with them here in Savannah, then after they leave, we’ll untie the lines, face Kailani north and start our next adventure on America’s Great Loop. What an amazing ride!