Turkey Trot: Sailing from Charleston, SC to Lanier Island, GA

in Intracoastal Waterway / Life at Sea / Sailing the World
lanier island morningside marina georgia

With two more New Yorkers on board Hideaway for the week, we attacked our mission to get south for Thanksgiving with double the fervor.

Having left charming Charleston (made slightly less charming for being unseasonably cold) with our friends Bill and Grace, we decided to take advantage of the temporary crew and do an overnight jump south on the Atlantic Ocean. The mission at hand, other than “get warm,” was to get to for their famed annual cruisers’ potluck Thanksgiving dinner, an event that has become a legend amongst sailors heading south each year.

With 4 competent crew on board, I think we all hoped that the burden of nighttime watches would be lessened. But, as it happened, with record low temperatures and rolling swells, that wasn’t the case. At one point, when my watch overlapped with Grace’s watch, she came up on deck wrapped in so much clothing that all I could see was her eyes. And after sitting in frozen silence for an hour, she said slowly, “I don’t think I ever really believed people when they said they were cold. Now I think I know what it feels like. It’s awful.” I would have laughed. But I was too cold. So instead I buried my face in my scarf.

grace atlantic ocean st marys thanksgiving

Grace at the helm on her first night watch.

We were all relieved to have a break on Wednesday night, when we pulled away from the seas towards the ICW and towards Lanier Island, Georgia, to anchor. We needed a hot meal and a full night’s sleep before taking on the last 35 statute miles to St. Marys, which we needed to get to by 1:00 pm to make Cruisers’ Thanksgiving.

Lanier Island turned out to be the perfect stop-off between Charleston and St. Marys. It offered a calm anchorage, hot showers at the rate of $25 per boat and an impressive menu at the Morningstar Marina’s Coastal Kitchen, where the owner Jeff must have judged us to be hearty enough to drink tequila, as he brought us several shots on the house. He wasn’t wrong.

jeff coastal kitchen georgia

Jeff, owner of Coastal Kitchen, with my hangover in hand

I cursed Jeff’s generosity just a little, though, when Ryan woke me up at 6 am on Thanksgiving morning to up anchor. And then I cursed myself when I remembered the night before I had insisted boldly that I should pull up our 44-pound Rocna and 120 feet of chain myself, just so I could prove to myself that I am capable. We don’t have a windlass on Hideaway (as Ryan says, “The anchor’s replaced my gym membership.”), so this was no small challenge.

Though I was half asleep when I climbed out onto the foredeck, I woke up quickly and with a lot of wheezing and grunting as I fought to pull up what felt like 1000 pounds of chain, inch-by-slow-and-painful inch. And then I got an additional boost to my early-morning cardio workout when the anchor was freed and Ryan shouted that we were drifting quickly in the 2-knot current, which meant I needed to pull up our chain even faster so we could drive forward without fear of dragging the anchor and chain back overboard again.

Though my arms and shoulders were sore, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for getting the anchor up, and I made a mental note to volunteer to pull up the anchor more often so I could keep up my strength. After all, it’s important that both Ryan and I know how to do all the jobs required to keep Hideaway afloat and safe. It isn’t sensible to have important jobs that only one of us knows how to do, if the other is also capable. What if Ryan hurt himself or was incapacitated and I didn’t know how to set the anchor or pull up the anchor?

By pulling up the anchor myself, I learned the intricacies of one more job on the boat and I gained confidence in myself as a sailor.

Next time, though, I might forgo the tequila the night before.

lanier island georgia anchorage

Anchorage between Lanier Island and St. Simons Island, GA

Anchorage between Lanier Island and St. Simons Island, Georgia

Lanier Island, Georgia

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