In the morning we listened to the forecast which called for a much better day then the previous. We pulled anchor at 7:00 am to get an early start. We put up the sails again but the wind was more SSW instead of SW and were still blowing 20 knots. We were pointing too much into the wind and couldn't sail the line we needed. We started the engine and began motoring. We reached Matanilla Shoals, the furthest Northwest part of the Bahamas around 7:00 pm. From here it was open water until you reach Florida. Most cruisers at this point hurry across to either West Palm Beach or Fort Pierce. We chose to aim for Fort Pierce until we got into the Gulf Stream and make a decision there. The Gulf Stream runs North at about 3 knots so it will move you along quickly if you can stay in it and ride along. Once in the stream we were doing nine knots and set our sights on Cape Canaveral. The weather was holding but the wind was from behind us too light to sail so we continued motoring. We passed Cape Canaveral sometime in the early morning and reset our course for St Augustine.
Things were still going well so we bypassed St Augustine and decided to make for Fernandina Beach. The weather was still good, the winds did not cooperate so we had to keep motoring. The forecast of course was totally different then what we were getting and the front we were expecting to have to go ashore and hide from was constantly changing to the point that it didn't happen. Thing were still going well but we had a wind shift and it started blowing out of the North. The shift was forecast but the velocity we got 20-30 was not what they predicted. The seas built up very fast. A North wind blowing against an opposing current will build some bad waves quickly. At this point we opted out of the Gulf Stream and decided on going in at Brunswick GA. Once out of the stream the seas dropped, the wind shifted and we decided on going to Savannah. At this point Cori was trying to fish again and did actually pull in three nice fish. Unfortunately they were not ones that are listed as good eating so back they went.
As we approached Savannah we were seeing more ships heading that direction. We had been warned by a friend that when in the Savannah River to watch out for fast moving ships. We crossed paths with several of them at varying distances and at one point could see five lined up to go in. I don't like playing with these big boys so we decided on going in at Port Royal Sound, the next entrance up from Savannah and go to Beaufort SC. By this time we were also low on fuel, this being Wednesday and we had been motoring almost the entire time. Once withing reach of the entrance we contacted a marina to stop for fuel and possibly stay there. We contacted Customs to let them know we were back and to find out how they wanted us to check in. They have a system where you can check in just with a phone call. We did not file a "float plan" with them before leaving so we could not check in by phone. We had to go to either Savannah or Charleston. We explained that we did not have enough fuel to do that and got the OK to stop at a marina, get fuel and continue on. We were not to step foot off the boat. By now the marina had closed for the evening and we chose an anchorage to spend the night.
In the morning we continued up the river to Beaufort SC and fueled up. We had paid over $5.00 a gallon for diesel in the islands and were happy to pay $2.93 a gallon. On our way back out we heard a warning issued by the Coast Guard warning about 20-30 knot wind with higher gusts from the Northeast and 4-6 foot seas in the area. We checked with Customs and as long as we did not get off the boat we could continue using the Intracoastal Waterway, the good old ICW aka"the ditch". As we went through Beaufort we were approaching our first bridge and it was scheduled to open in six minutes. We called them and were told if we reached a certain green marker before they opened we would make it. I ran the motor up to 3500 rpm and with the incoming tide we were doing 8 knots. We made the opening, if not we would have had to wait an hour for the next opening. From then on it was a scenic, winding ride up and down several rivers and channels connecting them. By 5:30 we were beat and pulled into a very nice anchorage with several other boats and settled in for the night.
We had one light rain shower overnight and more were forecast for the day so we decided to get an early start and pulled anchor to continue on to Charleston. We only had 17 miles left to go and we were tied up at a dock by 11:30, just as the rain started. We contacted Customs to let them know where we were and soon a nice man came to our boat to clear us in. We are now officially back in the USA. We put on 519 nautical miles or 597 statute miles from Monday to Friday, most of it nonstop in the ocean.
Our plan for the week is to leave the boat here and rent a car and drive up to Virginia to attend Cori's dad's retirement. At 81 he has decided to retire.