Savannah is our last stop on our southern tour. Nick, Dede, Natalie & Brianna will fly in on Sunday to spend the week with us here in Savannah, then when they fly back home, we’ll start our loop, joining the 2018 fleet. The Westin Savannah turns out to be a complete disappointment for us and others on the docks of their marina as the front desk staff has no idea how to be hospitable to cruisers docked here. We speak to every other cruiser that comes in while we’re docked here and all speak of the same incompetence from the Westin Savannah team. That’s enough said about the facilities, if I went into some of the stories, you may not even believe them.
Forward v-berth before and after preparation for the grandkids! -tc
That aside, we are here to enjoy, so we’ll make the best of the time here in our own way. There’s a beautiful pool and hot tub here that are open to guests from 6 am to 11 pm daily. The pool is heated to 85 degrees and the hot tub is heated to 104 degrees both making for very comfortable pool activities. Over the entire week, Tracy & I get lots of use out of the hot tub and the kids use the pool quite regularly.
A fact about Savannah is that shipping is the number one economy here ahead of tourism. So at least eight times a day (or night) we have ridiculously large cargo ships going right by us on our dock loaded with cargo containers or brand new cars. Amazingly, the cargo ships don’t really make bug wakes for their size, but the obnoxious tugs that accompany each of the cargo ships make enough wake to start a wave park and all the vessels tied up on each side of the river get a Disney World roller coaster ride each time a tug goes by.
On Saturday, I’m out on the dock when a beautiful, brand new Grand Banks motor yacht docks right behind Kailani. As the cruisers are setting the lines, I go over to talk to the owner and he mentions that he noticed we were from Connecticut. He says “I’m Tom from Essex, CT” and I tell him that our home port is Chester, just north of him and he says that he knows our marina very well. He explains that he’s heading north after just buying this lovely new boat two weeks ago at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. So after learning that his name is Tom and he just went to the FLBS, I ask him if his full name is Tom Wilde (Wilde Yacht Sales) and he tells me that no, his last name is Whidden. So I look at him and say, Tom Whidden from Essex, do you happen to know Denis Conner? To which he replies, yeah, that’s me. I tell hem that I’ve been using his famous name for years to tell people where we keep our boat (close to where Tom Whidden is from!).
Sunday morning comes and Tom and his new Grand Banks motor yacht are gone. This is a good thing because the next day an extremely large sailing yacht docks right behind us. This vessel, the Christopher, hails out of Grand Cayman and is 154 feet long! As soon as it docks, the pilot gets off the vessel with a duffle bag and leaves while the rest of the crew are still securing the lines. So when I get a chance to talk to the real captain, I ask him why they had a harbor pilot bring her in and he said it was a maritime rule that any foreign recreational vessel with a draft of more than 8 feet, must use a harbor pilot to bring the ship up the river. So now, Kailani is sandwiched between a 154 foot sailing yacht, Christopher and a 100 foot motor yacht, El Tio. That’s good company!
Nick, Dede and the kids arrive safely with the rental car and Tracy and Dede go out to stock up the galley for the week ahead. When they come back we fill the boat cart fuller than ever before. But the food lasts the whole week without running out of anything, milk, bread, eggs, etc.
Early in the week, the weather is cooler than usual and a bit rainy so we take the kids to an indoor trampoline park for a few hours. Natalie and Brianna are having some fun, but they keep asking their dad to pay to come on the trampolines, then they really enjoy themselves with Nick jumping also. The three of them have a fun two hours and we enjoy ourselves watching them have so much fun.
We also take a ferry trip across the river to Savannah for a full day on a trolley tour of the city. It’s part historical, part comical and part factual as the driver describes the sights as we pass each one. On this tour, you can get off the trolley your on and walk around for a while, then re-load onto a different trolley whenever another trolley passes by. This is a nice feature and we use it a few times to spend extra time at some of the locations that are of particular interest to us.
On Wednesday, we plan a day of cruising with Kailani to go out and get pumped out and fueled up. We cruise to Thunderbolt Marina and back which is about 24 nautical miles round trip and there’s some beautiful scenery along the way. We get a full pumpout and take on 40 gallons per tank. I don’t want to fill them up completely because we still have to navigate some shallow water when we start heading back north, so the higher we are in the water helps us in the shallow water.
On Thursday, it’s a beautiful day and we drive to Tybee Island with a stop along the way at the Oatland Wildlife Preservation to see some animals in their natural habitat. We see some alligators, eagles, owls, snakes, egrets, wolves, flying squirrels, bison, and other wildlife before heading to Tybee Island for lunch and touring.
We find the North Beach Bar and Grille for lunch, then Tracy, Dede and the girls head off to the beach for sand and shell collecting while Nick & I head over to the Tybee lighthouse and Museum to climb the lighthouse. It’s only 178 steps to the top and there’s some great views in all directions from here.
We can see all the way back to downtown Savannah, south to more of Georgia, North to Hilton Head Island and east out to sea where a few cargo ships are heading into Savannah. After coming down from the lighthouse, we get to walk through the lightkeeper’s house as part of the tour to see what life was like for the lightkeeper, his family and staff during the 1800’s when the lightkeeper or assistant lightkeeper had to carry fifty gallons of kerosene up those 178 steps every few hours to make sure the light burned 24 hours a day, seven days a week for ships to make a safe entry into Savannah harbor.
Friday comes much too quickly and after spending a leisurely day with Nick & I working a few projects on the boat and the girls at the pool, we finally finish our projects and Nick gets one more chance to use the pool, then they have to start packing up for their flight home. Tracy and I are sad to see them go, but in less than two months, we’ll be back home and we’ll see everyone then. Friday night we set our cruise plan for returning to Port Royal and Port Royal Landing Marina where John Whidden will pick me up on Sunday for a round of golf before we continue our loop north. We’ve had a great week with family in spite of the issues we’ve had with the Westin and tomorrow, we officially become loopers!