Week 55 – April 28-May 4, 2019,  84 Nautical miles this week, 4,885 Nautical miles to date 

Sunday: We will complete some chores today and complete our upcoming week’s cruise plan with Wild Goose today, then tomorrow, we’ll cruise again. It’s a hot day and I’m really not looking forward to working on the dinghy battery because it’ll be in the sun all day, but I’ve got all the parts I need and there’s no good reason not to complete the repairs, so today’s the day. But first, before I work on the battery cables, Tracy wants to have an hour giving the dinghy a good cleaning, so I give way and she has the boat sparkling and almost all of the rust type stains are gone. She also cleans out the forward storage compartment where I will install the new battery later on. It’s really clean and I hate to go to work on it after she’s got it so clean (no I don’t get away with that excuse!).

So I disassemble the old battery cables and install the new. I start at the motor so the wires are not live while I’m working on them. I connect the new positive and the new negative then, before securing the new battery in the forward storage compartment, I hook up the two cables to the battery and see if the motor will start.  Well as lady luck must take Sunday’s off, nothing happens when I try to start the motor with the electric start, rats. So I test the power readings at the battery and at the motor and I have 12.6 volts at the battery, 12.6 volts at the solenoid and 12.6 volts at the starter. So the power is not the issue. Next I check the solenoid and by crossing the posts with a screwdriver, the motor cranks up and starts. So I think (not sure yet) the solenoid is good. Then I call Nick, put him on FaceTime and show him the issue. He walks me thru jumping the starter switch and when I pull the wire connections and bypass the starter switch, the motor fires right up. So since I’m not jumping the solenoid and the starter switch at the same time, the issue is definitely the switch and not the solenoid. Nick searches for the switch and finds an E-Bay vendor right in CT who has 4 in stock. So he orders 1 for delivery to his house and when Dede flies down next Thursday, she’ll have the new starter switch with her and Nick & I will install, then the electric start components should start the motor as designed, with just a push of the starter button. That will certainly help Tracy’s shoulder heal better if she’s not using it to pull start this motor. 

In the marina office later in the day, I meet a couple checking in that are from Westbrook, CT and they know our friends Bob and Linda Lee who took us out to lunch back in 2017 so they could counsel us on all the beauties and potential pitfalls of the loop. Again, this is a very small world. 

Our plan is finalized for the cruising this week. We will take a short cruise tomorrow to Titusville Municipal Marina and moor in their mooring field for at least 1 night and possibly 2. We heard that there is a NASA Rocket launch scheduled for Wednesday morning at 3:59am. So if we can confirm that, we’ll stay in the mooring field for 2 nights and get up early to watch the rocket launch right outside our windows. Then we’ll cruise Wednesday to New Smyrna Beach for an anchorage, then Daytona Beach Thursday evening at anchor, then Friday we’ll cruise into Hammock Beach Resort Marina in Palm Coast for Friday and stay the weekend. Bill and Bobbie aboard First Forty are there and we will spend some time with them and also entertain Nick, Dede and the girls once again on Saturday as they will drive from Orlando ti spend the day with us. All in all this is a good plan, so we raise the dinghy up to the roof and tie her down before it gets dark. Then turn in for the evening ready to move tomorrow.

Monday: We have a short 18 nautical mile cruise today, so Wild Goose and Kailani have agreed to shoot for a 10am departure. That gives us time to eat breakfast, walk Frankie, get a pump out and return the rental car and still have plenty of time for filling the fresh water holding tank so we don’t run out of water while anchoring out all week. 

At 8am I see a dock hand out on the dock with the pump out hose, so I go out to help him and I can’t help but notice how happy and friendly he is for early Monday morning where he has to pump pooh out of people’s boats. It’s really quite amazing. The pompous is supposed to cost $5, so I hand him 2-$5 bills and tell him that 1 is for the pump out and the other is a tip for him. He tries to refuse the second $5 but I insist and he says that he will take the tip and put it into the tip jar where the rest of the dock hands can split it up. Now I’m totally amazed about this guy as he won’t even take the tip for himself. Later after returning the rental car I’m walking back to Kailani and stop in the office to buy a bag of ice and realize that the happy/smily pump out guy is none other than Ken the marina manager! Are you kidding me? Not only is he the friendliest guy while working with other people’s pooh, but he’s the manager besides! Now I see why there are so many positive review on Active Captain for this marina.

By 10:15am Wild Goose and Kailani are squared up north in the Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway and headed towards Titusville. Wild Goose takes the lead and with the only exception being a big wake overtaking by Sea Dog, the day’s cruise is very uneventful and pleasant. By 12:15pm Wild Goose is grabbing a mooring ball line and Kailani is entering the marina channel to go in and fuel up before coming back out into the mooring field for the two nights. We take on 165 gallons and both tanks are full. We go into the office, pay for the fuel and the mooring balls, then take Kailani out to the mooring field for a hookup at a ball. Since we have never done a mooring ball hookup procedure, I call Barry and he talks me through the procedure. He cautions that even though this ir ordinarily a simple procedure, in this mooring field, it’s a bit problematic because the tag lines are shorter than he’s used to and you really have to get your vessel close to the mooring ball before you have enough room to run you own line through the eyelet. 

So our first attempt is with me at the helm and Tracy on the bow, but soon the line is getting pulled out of her hands without the connection getting completed. Luckily she is not injured, but we switch it up and Tracy takes the helm and I work the bow. Our first pass with this configuration yields the same result as the line is yanked out of my hands, but on the third attempt, we get Kailani secured to Mooring ball A2 and all’s well.

Tracy gets her fishing gear out and works the waters looking for some good catches while I relax in the salon. Soon Barry and Carol are calling asking if we want to dinghy into the marina dinghy dock and walk/Uber to a restaurant for dinner. We all agree on 4pm, then delay that until 5pm to let the seas calm down a bit. Once on shore, we call an Uber and go to the highly recommended (by the marina staff) restaurant called Dixie Crossroads. We have a spectacular meal at this location topped off with ice cream desserts and we head back to our respective vessels for the evening. We all agree that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring or what we will do, but whatever we do, we’ll certainly enjoy ourselves.

Tuesday: Our plan to stay here for 2 days is decided in part on the fact that there is a rocket launch scheduled for Wednesday morning at 3:59am. So we have positioned ourselves in the best viewing spot for the takeoff by choosing this mooring field. We are actually speculating that this mooring field will fill up rather quickly today as people jockey their vessels for the best viewing of the rocket launch. This is an unmanned rocket launch in the SpaceX Program which is Tesla’s space company but they are funded in part by the government and use all the NASA facilities for launches. So we’re situated in basically the front row for Wednesday’s early morning launch, then we will depart for New Smyrna Beach. 

So today is a day for chores and taking the dinghy into the dinghy dock then walking into town for some local exploration. We know there’s a NASA Space Museum nearby and that will be our target. So we lower the dinghy and run into the city marina docks for tying up the dinghy. Then we start walking towards downtown Titusville. As we’re walking past Sand Point Park, we spot a white Ibis standing next to a sign warning people not to swim in the ponds due to alligators.

White 2-footed alligator

Shortly after the Sand Point Park the sun was beating down as usual and we spotted a Burger King one block ahead, so we agreed to go into the Burger King and get lunch and a nice cold beverage. As soon as we walked in we spotted a little lounge area right in the front of the dining area with 4 lounge chairs and a small coffee table. So we sat down and relaxed in the air conditioning before walking up to the counter to place our order. As we were sitting there cooling off, we could hear a customer yelling at the manager and claiming that they were giving her food that was different than she had ordered. Her voice got very loud and very vulgar (luckily there were not any children in the place at the time). We were afraid something violent would start happening when 2 of Titusville’s finest arrived in 2 squad cars and pulled the lady from the store and separated her from her boyfriend to wee if they could sort out what had happened. The store manager was quick witted (and most likely trained for this occurrence) and had set her cell phone to record the entire conversation so when the police asked for who said what, she simply pulled out her cell phone and pressed play. Soon the inside of the Burger King was quiet again and we were ready to place our order. 

After lunch and some cold beverages, we continued walking up the main street of Titusville and turned right on Pine Street to get to the NASA Museum. Once inside we had a retired employee of a NASA Contractor that walked us through the exhibit rooms and gave us personal information on some of the systems exhibited. The museum had true artifacts from all the space programs to date from the earliest unmanned rockets thru the shuttle program to today’s SpaceX Program supplying the International Space Station.

NASA Museum-Titusville

After we were done in the museum, we decided we’d had enough excitement for one day and called for an Uber ride back to the marina. Oh and by the way, at some point during the day we found out and confirmed, that the rocket launch scheduled for tomorrow morning has been delayed until Saturday at 3:11am, so I guess we’ll have to wait for the launch from Palm Coast on Saturday. I just don’t know if we’ll be too far away to see anything. This is a disappointment since we were sitting on front row seats now. 

Back aboard Kailani, we planned for tomorrow’s cruise to New Smyrna Beach Where we’ve also decided that we will be staying in the city marina rather than anchoring out because it will be a very warm night tomorrow and if we have shore power, we can run the air conditioning. So a marina it will be. It’s a 29 NM trip so we agree with Wild Goose to shoot for a 9am departure and say our good nights.

Wednesday: First thing we must do this morning prior to departure is to raise the dinghy, so with Tracy in the cockpit and me on the roof, we lift the dinghy up to the roof where I settle her into her cradle and tie her down. Then we can complete the remainder of our normal pre-cruise preparations prior to 9am. At 8:45am Tracy is releasing the lines from the mooring ball and we’re off for the day. 

We cruise out of the mooring field and into the ICW where we can see motor yachts and sailing vessels in both directions as far as we can see. We’re not really sure why there’s so much ICW traffic for a Wednesday, but for sure, they’re out here. Most of the motor yachts are being driven by blind captains today also! We can see the numerous vessels, but we don’t really interact with any of them until we’re just before entering Haulover Channel. Again we are faced with motor yachts in both directions that have no idea of the force of the wakes caused by their vessels. So obviously, we look forward to the overtaking and passing situations with sailing vessels rather than motor yachts, however, that turns out to be wishful thinking also as most of the sailboats don’t seem to know how to work, or turn on, a VHF radio. We call them for slow passes and get dead air space in return, amazing! 

Soon we are entering a tight area of the ICW and there is a no wake zone for 5 miles, so we will be cruising at 5 miles per hour for an hour! But due to the narrowness of the ICW the winds are nullified and the waves are neutralized and the ICW is very calm to cruise. This stays that way until about 2 miles before New Smyrna Beach. Our instructions are to call the marina on VHF #16 when we are passing under the bridge, so we do just that and Darrell talks us into our slip where he’s waiting to grab the lines from Tracy as I back Kailani into Slip 32. Soon afterwards, Barry is backing Wild Goose into the adjacent slip and after 3 hours and 50 minutes we’ve knocked another 29 nautical miles off on our way towards our wake crossing in Savannah.

There’s a few loopers here in the marina and a few more come in after us so by the end of the day we’ve met 3 more looper boats of people. I take my bike off the boat and go for a bike ride into town to check out some of the sights. We had talked about going into town tonight for some pizza and Darrell told me about a great place for pizza, so I thought I’d check it out and see if I could pick up a menu for everyone else to review before walking there. I also rode through the nearby waterside park with veterans memorial statues, picnic areas, playgrounds, etc. I also find the Panhead’s Pizzaria and get a takeout menu for reference. 

After returning to the marina I spend the rest of the afternoon chatting with Barry and Carol aboard Wild Goose where we decide to delay the short 20 mile cruise tomorrow into Daytona Beach and rather, make one longer cruise on Friday straight to Palm Coast. Barry calls Darrell and confirms that we can stay an additional day with no problem, so our decision is made and we’ll get to see more of New Smyrna Beach tomorrow. 


At 6pm we walk up to Panhead’s Pizzeria and have a great pizza dinner with each of us getting a personal pizza of our own choosing, then it’s a leisurely walk back thru the Canal Street Historic District to the marina for the evening. 

Thursday: We decide to use the day in port cleaning Kailani in preparation for Nick & Dede visiting on Saturday. So I work on waxing the cockpit while Tracy works on deep cleaning/vacuuming of the salon. The sun is very hot today so we work in short shifts so as not to get overheated doing these chores. Later in the day I take a walk into town for a long awaited opportunity to check out Dana’s Canal St. Creamery. I opt for their Strawberry Cheesecake flavor and after enjoying two full scoops, I end up not being able to resist their display of cakes and desserts. I end up buying two squares of coconut-pineapple cake to bring back to the boat. 

Everyone around us is talking about tomorrow’s launch, so we make plans with three other looper boat crews to get up at 2:30am and walk to the park where we should have a clear view of the launch scheduled for 3:11am. Consequently, everyone turns in early for the evening and I use the quiet time to complete our cruise plan for tomorrow. 

Friday: At 2:30am Tracy and I are walking off Kailani with cups of hot coffee to meet the other three crews, but two of them have not woken up, so Gary & Terri of LunaSea and us walk over to the park and get ready for the experience. At this our there are three people fishing on the town docks right next to us and wile we wait for the launch, we watch them haul in a few catches. Tracy has the NASA launch info on her cell phone and at T minus 12 minutes the launch is aborted for a hydrogen leak issue. Oh well, neither of us has ever witnessed a live launch and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but maybe as we travel down here more often another opportunity will present itself. 

Back to Kailani and we try to get a few more hours of sleep before shoving off for Palm Coast. There will be a window of good weather leading up to noontime, but there’s still a chance (but smaller than previously forecasted) of thunderstorms from 11am thru the afternoon. 

At 8:15am we’re pulling away from the dock with Barry helping on the dock lines. We say our goodbyes but only for a day as they will join us at Hammock Beach tomorrow. The skies are beautiful and we hope they stay that way for our entire 38 nautical mile trip. The winds are also cooperating as there is a light breeze out of the west. Our trip today will involve only one bridge to open and it opens on request, so there’s no need to try and plan a specific time to arrive at the bridge. We have the waterway mostly to ourselves today with very few other boats and thankfully, the only boat that overtakes us politely asks for a slow pass and we comply. We keep a sharp lookout on the skies above and they remain mostly clear for the entire cruise. So overall, today’s trip is definitely another of our pleasant days on the water. 

At 1:15pm, exactly 5 hours after departing, we are nestling up to the dock at Hammock Beach Resort and Neil is there waiting to take the lines from Tracy as she hands them to him. We go thru the post cruise procedures and soon we are both napping after the early morning safari. After I wake up, I walk over to the parking lot to check it out for Nick’s arrival tomorrow and I bump into Bill and Bobbie aboard First Forty. We are all glad to see each other and soon, we are making plans to go out to dinner together tonight. We all get into their car and we drive over to the main resort for one of their restaurants, the Atlantic Grille. We have a nice meal while catching up on each others adventures, then we return to the marina for the evening. It’s easy getting to sleep tonight as we are still a bit groggy from this morning. Tomorrow, we’ll spend a nice day with Nick, Dede, Natalie and Brianna. 


Nick & Dede along with the kids show up and we have a great time together for the day. Remember how Nick had ordered a new ignition switch for our dinghy and he was going to bring it with him today so I could install it? Well it got left in their room at the Doubletree Inn back in Orlando, so we won’t be installing our new switch anytime soon.

But we make our plan to go to the Hammock Beach Resort for the day because they have 10 pools along with a beautiful beach and restaurants where we can get cold beverages and food when everyone is hungry. Our first stop will be at the outdoor pool with water slides and a river ride on tubes. It’s a great facility and we are there in perfect time to enjoy the water for a while, then order lunches to be delivered to our pool-side table. Our waitress provides great service and we are well taken care of until after the meals are eaten and digested, the rains start and the trip to the ocean beach area is on hold for now. So we change our plans and go into the indoor pool with hot tubs and enjoy that amenity for a while until Nick & Dede are decided that the kids have had enough fun for one day and they want to get back to their hotel in Orlando so they can be ready for tomorrow’s flight.

So we say our goodbyes to them and turn in for an early evening. We’ve learned that 9pm is referred to as ‘Looper’s Midnight’!


Week 56 – May 5-May 11, 2019,  195 Nautical miles this week, 5,080 Nautical miles to date

 Sunday: We had originally scheduled a departure for today, but both Tracy & I felt a bit under the weather, so we decided to stay and fully recuperate prior to leaving. Barry & Carol borrowed the Bristow’s vehicle, so we tagged along with them and did some Publix and WalMart shopping. We didn’t need to go full bore, we just wanted to add some small items prior to leaving and Tracy was looking for some hobby type kits for keeping busy when underway. 

After our shopping spree, we returned to the marina and spent the afternoon relaxing and preparing for tomorrow’s departure while Barry & Carol were thinking about staying for another day. We learned from Bill & Bobbie that a great Gold Looper friend of theirs who has a dirt house here in Palm Coast has invited us over to her house for homemade pizza and docktails! So we all pile into the Bristow’s car and take the short drive over the bridge to Susan’s house. Her husband is up in Buffalo, NY preparing their vessel for spring cruising while Susan stays in Florida with their Portuguese Water Dog (and stays much warmer than him!). Her pizza’s are spectacular while Tracy makes her delicious crab puffs and Bobbie makes a full garden salad. 

Upon our return to the marina, we make arrangements to depart tomorrow morning and Bill & Bobbie say they’ll be over to help us shove off. This marina has been spectacular as far as economics and amenities and we definitely are considering putting this marina on our short list for future snowbird trips to Florida. 

Monday: It’s another beautiful morning on the Florida coast and when I go out to walk Frankie for the morning, I find out that Barry  and Carol have decided to leave today also and join us on the cruise to St Augustine. They will stay in the St Augustine City Mooring Field next to the famous Bridge of Lions while we will cruise past the St Augustine Inlet and turn into Camachee Cove Marina.  This will be a short and easy 24 nautical mile cruise with some slow Manatee zones but no bridges to open. So after Bill & Bobbie arrive at 10:15am to assist us with our lines and say goodbyes (for now), we are pulling away from the docks at 10:30am and following in Wild Goose’s wake as they lead the way today. 

We’re followed by the usual dolphin show(s) and an occasional ray taking a fantastic leap out of the water and splashing back down. This show is virtually impossible to catch on video, however they are truly spectacular when they leap completely out of the water, then splash back down a mere second later. It’s fun to watch for obstructions, other vessels, bridges, buoys, channel markers, dolphins and rays all at the same time. The time at the helm really passes by rather quickly. 

Exactly 3 hours ofter departure, we are radioing Wild Goose as they turn into the mooring field and we continue into our marina. Camachee Cove Marina is familiar to Tracy as she stopped here three years ago with Geoff and Steve when she was bringing Kailani up to Connecticut for the first time. So everything is starting to feel familiar to her while I’m still experiencing everything for the first time. However, by the end of this week we will have crossed our wake and everything will be familiar to the both of us. We have a dock hand waiting at slip A-17 to grab the lines from Tracy and soon we are all secured with electric hooked up also. We will spend the remainder of the short afternoon preparing for Matt, Katie and their two children to show up at 4:30pm. I take the long walk around the entire marina to enter the marina office while Tracy hitches a ride with the dock hand who showed up using one of the marina’s tenders. After a short wait by Tracy, I arrive on foot and we walk up the stairs to the office and pay for our evening’s stay and a bag of ice. The dock hand offers to  return us to our slip so the ice doesn’t melt and we immediately say yes to his offer. We are far from the office, but directly in front of the marina pool, so we can watch if there’s a crowd in the pool whenever we may want to use it.

Right at 4:30pm, Matt, Katie, Jax and Elle show up for their visit and it’s instantly a big hug between Matt & me as we haven’t seen each other in at least five years. In fact, I think we haven’t seen Katie since their wedding day. So we have a great time with the visit. First thing to do with the two children is get them into the pool for some sun and fun. This works out very well as five year old Jax is a perpetual motion machine, going non-stop the entire time he’s here. Elle has fun in the pool also and once everyone is hungry, we all change into street clothes and walk about 100 yards from the boat to the KingFish Restaurant (on marina property) and select an outdoor picnic table for our meal. We are seated right next to a corn hole game with three bean bags, so guess what Jax does until the meals show up. Of course, he plays with me for a while, with Dad for a while and with Mom for a while. In the meantime, Elle tries unsuccessfully to run down the boat ramp into the river at least 4-5 times. Either Matt or Katie catch her before she gets a chance to start her sprint!

The meal is delicious, however all the games and running do not slow the children down for a minute. After dinner we walk back to Kailani and Tracy gets out the fishing pole so Jax can try his luck with the fish here in the marina. They drown shrimp for about 30 minutes and Matt & Katie determine that it’s time to get home for bed. They live about 25 minutes away from here in Ponte Vedra so Katie leaves with Elle and Matt will take Jax, however Jax asks for a few more minutes to try and catch a fish, so on they go fishing! Soon however, Matt tells Jax that they must leave and we’ll get together again sometime so he can fish some more. In fact, they’ll be coming up to CT for the first week in July to visit family, so maybe we’ll be able to get together then. Well as Matt & Jax are walking off the dock towards Matt’s car, Tracy finally latches onto a catch, so we holler to them to return and Jax comes running down the ramp, takes over the pole and reels in a nice catfish. He has a great time and we’re so glad he had the opportunity tore in a caught fish. Now they leave for real and I hope we’ll be able to get together in July when they fly up to CT. Before turning in for the night, we decide to stay another day here and go do the touristy thing tomorrow with Barry and Carol.


Tomb of Henry Flagler in Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine

St Augustine really is a tourist-based city with the claim to be the oldest city in the United States as it was discovered by Spanish explorer, Pedro Menendez de Aviles on September 4th, 1565. That makes it 454 years old! So we talk with Barry & Carol and decide the best way to see the old city is by the Trolley. So we buy tickets and meet at the Trolley stop. The trolleys run continuously all day and you can get on and off at any of the 23 stops, then get back on another trolley later on. So we pool our thoughts and decide the best thing to do is ride the entire 23 stops, then decide where we want to get off for a more closer look. After we complete the circuit, we decide we want to see the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine which was funded in large part by Henry Flagler and he and some of his family are buried there. We also stop at the oldest schoolhouse in America, old fashion street colonnade shopping village and the Fountain of Youth.

Henry Flagler came here from up north and built the railroad that would run from St Augustine all the way to Key West. If you travel some of the east coast resort cities in Florida, you’ll see his name on numerous buildings and streets, etc. 

The Old Senator, 650 year old Southern Live Oak

We also saw, (but did not exit the trolley) the oldest tree in America. It’s a Southern Live Oak affectionately called ‘The Senator’ and it is reputed to be 600 years old! That means it was already 150 years old when St Augustine was discovered. Then we rode down one of the 5 most picturesque streets in America called Magnolia Lane. This is a tree lines street where the trees form an enclosure arch over the entire street. The only rub is that the trees are not Magnolia trees! They were replaced with Southern Live Oaks and the Spanish Moss that hangs from the branches really makes the street beautiful.

Magnolia Drive-St Augustine

We couldn’t come to St Augustine without drinking from the Fountain of Youth, so our last stop was there and we learned that the park not only contains the fountain that Ponce de Leon discovered, but there is also a live archeological dig being conducted here with all kinds of artifacts that are teaching us more of the lifestyle and tragedy of the Timucua Indian civilization. The grounds are also home to dozens of peacocks and albino peacocks. We saw many of the peacocks open, but we could not get any of the albino peacocks to open for us. I really must admit, I don’t feel like I’ve aged since drinking from the fountain!

Back aboard Kailani, we prepare for tomorrow’s departure with our cruise plan and study of the charts, then we’re in bed a tad early since we have a seven hour cruise tomorrow.

Wednesday: We are both up ready to get off the dock and get a pump out before leaving the marina. Our plan is to be at anchorages for the next three days, so we must make sure we have enough fresh water and empty holding tanks to make it thru the week. At 9:00am we are releasing the ducklings and moving Kailani over to the fuel/pump out dock. We complete the pump out, buy a 25 pound bag of ice and we’re leaving the Camachee Cove Marina at 9:30am headed for Georgia. That’s right, today is our last day in Florida. We’ve been in Florida since January 17th when we left The Wharf Marina in Orange Beach Alabama. That’s nearly 5 months and we’ve had spectacular weather, great stops and great visits from family and friends. 

The cruise today again is free of bridge openings, so there aren’t any delays in that regard, however, there are some shoaling spots to be aware of that we are fully prepared for when they occur (so we think) When we get to the paper mill in Fernandino Beach the buoys and markers show a conflicting and confusing path. The ICW has been re-routed to newer, deeper water, but some of the old channel maulers are still set in the water, so as we approach, we are not clear which ICW markers to follow. So we slow to nearly idle speed and follow the deepest water. Soon we are safely thru the area, but not before a few choice words by me, the Captain, and passing thru 7.4 feet of water. 

20190508_201716Our destination today is Cumberland Island in Georgia. Cumberland Island is mostly un-developed and it is home to an entire civilization fo wild horses. They are completely self sufficient and feed on their own off the island’s sources. Many loopers have cruised by Cumberland Island and not spotted one horse, however, as we crossed St Mary’s Sound and were headed directly towards the southern tip of Cumberland Island, we were greeted with the sight of two wild horses right out there on the beach. It was truly spectacular and made our day to be fortunate enough to spot these two beauties. Soon we were pulling into a cove in the southern half of Cumberland Island into the Cumberland Sound Anchorage right off the Ice House Museum. We are one of probably 15 vessels in here so it’s obviously a popular anchorage.

Tracy tries her fishing prowess off the stern and, in addition to the other various fish she reels in, actually gets a ray nearly to the boat before he’s able to spit the hook out! While she’s out there she spots two dolphins swimming together which is very common and ordinary to us for this trip, however, the odd thing is that one of the dolphins is completely white! We’ve never seen an albino dolphin before. We are anchored adjacent to King’s Bay Naval Sub Base and we can see the lights of the base thru the night. Tomorrow we will pass right by this sub base and we will have to be diligent to stay in the channel or risk being pulled over by the USCG. Also, we must check with radio broadcasts for a sub entering or leaving the base as the regulations require us to maintain 500 yards of distance during the escort of the subs.

Thursday: Today’s trouble spot is Jekyll Creek and should only be traversed during a rising tide. So we need to leave this beautiful anchorage between 8:00 & 8:30am in order to pass thru with the deepest water. So Tracy is out fishing by shortly after 7:00am knowing that we would have to leave. She was really enjoying her time because she was catching some nice fish, but we both came to an agreement and split the difference for a 8:15am departure. There was no nuclear submarine traffic this morning, so we would have a clean shot past King’s Bay Submarine Base. 

The ICW was very calm today between inlets, but in the four inlets we had to traverse, the winds and waves were vicious. So Kailani got rocked around a bit during the crossings of the inlets. The vessel traffic was nearly non-existent as we only got passed by 2 southbound vessels and we only had to pass 1 northbound vessel. In fact, the northbound vessel was ‘Together’ which we had passed three days ago cruising from Palm Coast to St Augustine. 

Then when we pulled into our anchorage, there was a sailboat already anchored in there for a total of 4 vessels today. 

We passed the anchored sailboat and searched for a spot with 8 feet of water, but it was high tide, so we looked for a spot with 15 feet of water that would be about 8 feet at low tide. We tried one spot, but the winds pushed us too close to shore as Tracy let out the 150 feet of anchor chain, so we wound it back up and moved to another spot where we found a perfect spot and dropped the anchor again and it grabbed nicely and we were all set for the night. 

The whole day was filled with horsefly attacks and we knew that tonight’s anchorage would be a problem if the evening air did not send them scurrying. So Tracy went into her bag of tricks to design a suitable setup for the bug net in a location that would also be semi cool overnight since the forecast is for the temperature to only go to 74 degrees. In the past, she has strung the hammock across the Sundeck and hung the bug net aver the hammock, but tonight we’ll probably have to find a design that provides netting for both of us. If there was any breeze at all and the windows would provide ventilation, we could use the stateroom, but without any breeze, the stateroom will be too stuffy for Tracy. You’ll find out how we did in tomorrow’s blogpost. 

If all goes according to planned, tonight will be our last night before we cross our wake Friday in Savannah. This has been an incredible run for us with adventure at every bend. Truly a once in a lifetime experience, but we may do it again, you never know! 

Friday: We awake with great anticipation. Today we will cross our wake when we reach Thunderbolt Marine in Savannah, GA. Once again, the Ultra anchor held us right where we had stopped yesterday. This anchor was a special addition to our bag of tools and we’ve been so pleased with it’s performance. From the calmest of anchorages to the raging waters of Little Diversion Channel on the Mississippi where we had Sea Wolf and Duette rafted to us and enough timber caught on our anchor chain to start a lumber mill, our American-made Ultra anchor has held us perfectly. So at 8:00am Tracy is raising the chain and I’m at the helm taking direction from her as the chain slowly creeps thru the windlass and back into the chain locker. Soon we are cruising past the sailboat that was our overnight neighbor here in New TeaKettle Creek and out onto the ICW headed north towards Savannah. 

We’ve set out departure to coincide with high tide at Hell Gate. Hell Gate is a notorious spot in Georgia for uncontrolled shoaling and it’s reputation is treacherous to say the least. We don’t want any part of Hell Gate unless it’s a few hours before high tide to full high tide. So our 8:00am departure should get us there at 2 hours before high tide which is at 2:06pm and 55 miles ahead. 

The weather is cooperating today as there is calm seas and negligible winds even when we cross inlets. The dolphin activity is pretty much the usual with the exception that we come upon one area where it seems like there are 15-20 dolphins all playing in the same area and they all start heading towards Kailani as they hear and sense the presence of a vessel. We also get 3 opportunities to see rays jumping completely out of the water a good 3-4 feet before violently splashing back into the water like a sheet of plywood. There are a few more vessels today than yesterday so we have a few vessels that overtake us and a few that we overtake, but everyone today is pleasantly obeying the rules of the waterway and passing in slow mode so as to reduce wake activity. It’s always a more pleasant ride when everybody plays nice in the same sandbox! 

With the ICW taking us from one inlet/sound to another, we are constantly cruising with, then against the tide. So as we cruise out of an inlet into the ICW the incoming tide pushes us to 10.0 knots, then as we approach the next inlet the incoming tide slows us to about 7.0 knots, so we average about 8.5 knots for the day and we are approaching Hell Gate at straight up noon which is 2 hours before high tide. Our plan works this time and Hell Gate doesn’t disappoint as we find less than eight feet of water in one spot, so at low tide, that would be around three feet of water! Thats the effect of the 6-7 foot tides here in Georgia.

Kailani entering Hell Gate, Georgia

Once past Hell Gate, we are nearly home free with about 20 more miles to go and a large body of water in front of us called Vernon River, so we take this opportunity to open her up and take care of the ‘blow by’. We run her up to 2,000 rpm’s and she’s easily making 18.5 knots. Again, we don’t see any dark smoke out the stern so either she’s burning real clean, or we’re not completing the blow by drill properly. But Kailani is already a Platinum loop vessel so who are we to say she doesn’t perform as designed!!!

Kailani Tracker showing her ‘Crossing Her Wake’ then returning back up-river to the slip, Thunderbolt Marina

The rest of today’s journey is smooth with a few no wake areas and  no more trouble spots. So at 2:50pm we are pulling up to our assigned slip at Thunderbolt Marine to revel in our accomplishments. Just to make this official, as we approached the marina we intentionally cruised past the entire marina, then turned around to cruise into our slip, sort of like crossing the finish line before returning the horse to its stable after a race. 

There are two other looper vessels here in the marina but only Karen Tillman aboard KA’RE-N ON is on-board, so we meet her and ask her to take some pictures of us taking the white burgee off the bow pulpit and replacing it with the brand new gold burgee signifying to all who see it that we have completed our loop and we are now ‘Gold Loopers’! Later we get a chance to meet Mike and Mary aboard Forever Friday and everyone congratulates us on our accomplishment. 

This has been one year and one month of time aboard Kailani as we started last year on April 14th and completed the loop today, May 10th. We travelled 5,080 nautical miles or 5,846 statute miles. We travelled an additional 1,071 miles to get from home to Savannah, so we will add another 1,071 miles to our journey getting home, so from Chester, CT to Chester, CT we will have travelled 7,222 nautical miles or 8,310 statute miles. We’ve locked thru over 110 locks and requested bridge openings for over 50 bridges and cruised a total of 135 days on the water over the nearly 400 days for the loop. We have helped countless vessels dock safely to pay it forward for the endless help we’ve received from others whenever we pulled up to a dock. We stayed at hundreds of marinas, lock walls and anchorages along the way and each is a special memory, but the best memories will always be the people of the Great Loop. We’ve been handed car keys from strangers, been invited into peoples homes, shared meals and miles with hundreds of new lifelong friends from all over this wonderful country and Canada. The experience of this adventure is hard to match anywhere else in life. Our relationship is put to the test, our skills are put to the test, our planning is put to the test and our trust in each other and fellow boaters is put to the test all while being in sight of land, for 99% of the journey. But it all works out safely in the end and the personal rewards are hard to describe. There is great weather, there is extremely bad weather, there are periods when the vessel works flawlessly and there are days when she doesn’t want to work at all. Everything culminates in relief and an extremely great sense of accomplishment when the crew and vessel ‘cross their wake’. 

We walked downtown to Tubby’s Restaurant for a celebratory dinner and sat on the patio eating while listening to a three piece band entertain the crowd of diners. After dinner we walked along the waterfront towards Kailani to got ready for another departure tomorrow as we start our journey back home for the summer. 

This is the last entry in our loop blog. We will provide updates on our cruise travels via Facebook for the remainder of the cruise. We want to thank all followers of this blog for their continued interest in our adventures and prayers for our safety. We are very grateful for all the wonderful people who’ve taken a special interest in our dream. We’re glad to have provided this blog so all of you could follow us along the way and we hope that in some small way, we were able to provide stories that made you feel as if you were right alongside us aboard Kailani during the journey.

Gold Burgee replaces the white