Happy Thanksgiving!! Without the changes in the seasons we always experienced in Michigan it’s almost hard to think it’s Thanksgiving already. It’s ok to not have to go through raking the leaves in the fall and starting to shovel snow, so we’re good with it, but it is different. We just had a Thanksgiving Dinner served by the community people of St. Mary’s, GA, and it was a full-fledged feast with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, beans and even pumpkin pie. They put this on for the cruising boaters every year and it is a big hit! Apparently they started it a bunch of years ago after hurricane Floyd went through and there were many boaters stranded here on Thanksgiving Day. So the community got together and put a Thanksgiving meal together and they have been doing it ever since. Very nice!
We did some reflection this morning of the many blessings we have, and even just being on this journey is a huge blessing. But our family and friends are one of our most important blessings and we thank God every day for them. We can’t spend time with them now, but are thankful for them every day. And most importantly, God has been so good to us in these adventures and we are so thankful for His protection and provision for us in so many ways. Praise be to Him!
Speaking of family, one cool thing is that my sister, Shelly, came to stay with us last night to spend Thanksgiving with us today! How cool is that?! She is spending a couple of weeks at her condo in the Ft. Meyer, FL, area and decided to make the six hour trek up here yesterday to be with us today. It was so cool to have her on board! She just left a little bit ago as her kids are coming to spend a week with her starting tomorrow, but it was so great to have her! We had great conversations over Happy Hour and dinner, so thanks for coming, Shelly! And thanks for the amazing pie, coffee cake and wine you brought for us!
This morning started out relatively well weather-wise, but wind started picking up, as was predicted, about two hours before dinner, and with the current opposing the winds boats were once again “dancing” all over at anchor. A number of boats ended up dragging and having to re-anchor and because of this chaos some ended up staying on their boat and skipping dinner. We had some drama with a couple of boats around us, but they ended up re-anchoring and we seem to be weathering it pretty well. We are continually monitoring it and hoping the current will switch and match the wind, which it’s supposed to do, so the boats will swing in the same direction. The issue comes when boats are pointed all over that they end up getting close to each other. The closest one of the boats by us, that re-anchored, was 10 feet and that starts to feel uncomfortable.
With all of this wind and the boat swinging all over it’s kind of fun to go back and forth between the states of Georgia and Florida. I don’t know if we really do that, but the river we are anchored on is the dividing line between Georgia and Florida so the joke is that depending on the direction of the wind determines which state you are in at any given time. It’s amazing what makes us old people laugh anymore!
On to what happened in this past week: On Saturday, Nov. 17, we left Windmill Harbour Marina and headed offshore into the Atlantic on our way to Jekyll Island, GA. As it was too far to go in one day we broke it up into two days and anchored in Walburg Creek. We came in off the ocean at St. Catherine’s Sound inlet. It was 42 degrees and chilly when we left in the morning but the sun was out, which was great! We entered the Atlantic at Tybee Inlet and it was a smooth ride down the coast. The winds were only 6 – 8 knots directly behind us and there was about a two foot swell. We put the headsail out for about 45 minutes, and it helped a bit when the wind was off our quarter stern, but we took it back in when the wind swung to straight from behind. We don’t have a whisker pole so it just kind of flopped.
The only issue we had out there was after a bit of motoring in the beautiful sun our alternator light came on! What?! Of course I immediately checked our alternator for too much heat, checked the smart regulator which was working properly, and checked the batter monitor which showed there was a charge going into the batteries. I also checked the alternator belt tension and it was good. The numbers on the solar panel showed it was producing power as well, but it was my understanding you can have the solar panels working along with your alternator. Yes, it did sort of ruin my trip as I have a tendency to worry about things, but aside from the light coming on all seemed to be working well. Since connecting the solar panels in Charleston, we had not as of yet motored in the sunshine, so this was something totally new.
There were about seven boats that took this outside passage to Walburg Creek and we all arrived about two hours before the boats that went inside on the ICW. Walburg Creek was a great place to anchor and even had a spot to get Max ashore and go for a walk.
Only four boats, including us, did the outside passage again the next day, Sunday, Nov. 18, to Jekyll Island, and it proved to be a much bumpier ride. The projected wind was pretty accurate at about 7 – 9 knots from the NE, but the projected waves of about 2 feet ended up being more like 4 – 5 feet with occasional larger ones. It was manageable but it was definitely more uncomfortable as often the waves felt like they were coming from all over. It was also very cloudy and rained a bit, and the alternator light never came on! However, as we came in at St. Simon’s Inlet the sun came out a bit and the alternator light came on. I had a theory of what could be happening and this kind of confirmed it. With my basic knowledge of alternators, I knew the light came on when it was not producing power. If the solar panels, since they were the new factor this this whole thing, were producing power then maybe the alternator stopped producing as it didn’t think any power was needed. This could explain why, then, the light would come on. What do you think? This seemed consistent as when clouds would cover the sun the light went out, and then came back on when the sun came back out.
We pulled up to the Jekyll Island Marina where we would stay for two nights. It ended up being a great place and a fun island to explore. On Monday, Nov. 19, we walked all around and Sharon toured the Georgia Sea Turtle Center while Max and I visited the beach. At 5:00 pm that afternoon the Rally members gather for Happy Hour and even enjoyed a fire in their firepit. It was a delightful stay and a wonderful island to spend some time at.
Tuesday, Nov. 20, we threw off the lines at Jekyll Island and headed for St. Mary’s, GA. Our itinerary had us going to an anchorage at Cumberland Island, but a number of boats, including us, decided to head straight to St. Mary’s which was the next night’s destination. It was only five miles further and would allow us to get settled there. We knew the anchorage would be filling up because of the huge Thanksgiving Dinner for cruisers. We were able to find a great place to anchor, even though there were probably already 25 boats anchored, and we enjoyed a spectacular sunset!
Wednesday, Nov. 21, was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and mid-60 degree temperatures – just perfect! The afternoon we arrived at St. Mary’s, Tuesday, we took a walk around town and discovered an amazing bakery called The Hen House Bakery. In talking with the owner, Tonya, she agreed to make a pecan pie that night for us from her grandmother’s recipe to be ready for us on Wednesday. Not only did we meet her to pick up the pie, she brought her husband, Dave, along who shared an interest in sailboats. We were even able to bring them out to the boat for a short tour and to hear of their interest to take the same trip someday!
Wednesday was also the first day we have been at anchor with the sun shining so I was very anxious to see how they solar panels did in keeping our batteries charged. And if I say so myself, they did superb! They literally kept our batteries topped off all day without having to run the engine to charge the batteries. How cool! I am stoked that they are working, and this means we are even more fully self-sustainable in our power needs onboard. Too much fun! Sharon may have gotten a little tired of me running to the battery monitor and exclaim, “Look, it’s working!”, but I couldn’t help myself!
Anyway, that brings us to today, Thanksgiving Day, and where I started this post. The wind is still howling outside as I finish this, but the current has switched and most all of the boats are at least pointed in the same direction. Whew!
It is our hope and prayer that you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving Day! Ours is certainly memorable for being here on our boat on an amazing adventure, and for having Shelly here. But it’s also different that we are not able to see and spend time with Kristi, Lisa and Ryan and the rest of our family. We miss you all!
Just before I end this post I have to write some technical stuff for those that are interested. If you’re not interested in that type of stuff, then you can stop reading here.
You may wonder what happened with the alternator light issue? On Monday morning I called Balmar, which is the brand of alternator we have, and they were super helpful with my alternator light. Dale, from Balmar, said what was happening was certainly to be expected and was no problem at all. He said it is perfectly fine to run it as we have been, and my theory of what was happening was actually correct. (Surprise!) The smart regulator of the alternator indeed was detecting no power, or electricity, was needed and so it just shuts itself off until power is needed. I can go into the Advanced Programming of the smart regulator and increase the float level range if I wanted to, as the alternator would already be in its float stage, but he said it is no problem and it is not damaging the alternator at all – which was a huge concern of mine! Or I could see if I could decrease the power from the MPPT solar power regulator, but I already have it programmed to my AGM batteries.
The long and short of it is I will, for now, leave it as it is and will realize the light comes on because the solar panels are working! If the light burns out, then it will screw with my head again, but I’ll deal with that then! J
Enough of the technical stuff, and the post is done!