Blue Turtle Cruising

ICW Cruising to Savannah, GA

Blue Turtle tied to the free docks on Savannah’s waterfront

We left Beaufort, SC, on a chilly Thursday afternoon. We motored about 25 miles and anchored at Bull Creek, just southwest of Hilton Head island. The next morning was no warmer when we continued to follow the ICW to the Savannah River. We’ve skipped visiting Savannah the last time we headed south and then north because of the lack of anchorages in the area. Most anchorages and marinas in the area are still a good ways and an Uber ride away from Savannah’s historic area. This time, since we were making good time coming south, we put a little more research into it and discovered that there were free docks right on Savannah’s downtown waterfront. We’d heard various rumors about the docks being closed for a while and then heard that others had stayed there recently, so I searched a few Facebook Groups to see if I could find more recent information. The Great Loop FB group had a recent post by someone who stayed there just days before. The post even mentioned a webcam where you could check just before arriving to see if there was space. The docks are first come, first serve, have no power or water and have a 48 hour time limit. As luck would have it, we arrived just in time to grab the last spot!

Prior to coming to Savannah, Randy had been in touch with our friend, Captain Ed, from Fort Myers Beach. Ed is the captain of Esterel, a 108 ft yacht that used to be docked at Salty Sam’s in Fort Myers Beach. We met Ed and his son, Locklan, while living aboard at Salty Sam’s. We discovered that after Hurricane Ian hit Fort Myers Beach, Captain Ed and crew brought Esterel to a large yacht yard in Savannah, GA to repair hurricane damage. Since we had just arrived in Savannah, Captain Ed had arranged for us to have lunch aboard Esterel and came to pick us up by tender. We had a great time catching up with Ed and Locklan and hearing their crazy stories about Hurricane Ian. They took us on a tour around the yacht yard where we quickly learned that Esterel was the smallest boat in the yard! Lunch on board Esterel was prepared by the ship’s chef and it was amazingly delicious. While there, Ed was quite busy overseeing various projects on board the ship including carpet laying in the quarters below deck. As Ed drove us back to Blue Turtle (by car) he gave us a quick overview tour of the downtown Savannah area.

Once back on Blue Turtle, we decided we had enough time to walk and explore a bit before finding a spot to grab a happy hour drink. Of course, the first thing on my list was to visit the Savannah Fabric Company. It was just a few blocks from the waterfront. I was thrilled to see that they had a bin of free fabric scraps for the taking! After buying some fabric (and grabbing a few free scraps), we walked down to the famous River Street, where shops, restaurants and bars line the historic Savannah waterfront. We finally stopped to rest our feet and grab a beer at Riverside Biergarten where we met a lovely couple and their daughter. It was great chatting Wayne and Natasha as their daughter played with Sophie.

The next morning, we set out to explore. It was still really cool with promises of warming up in the afternoon. We had no real agenda other than to walk as much as we could and see as much as possible. Thankfully, we love to walk and Savannah is very pedestrian friendly.

Savannah is known as America’s first planned city.¬†General James Oglethorpe¬†planned for the city to have a series of grids that allowed for wide open streets intertwined with shady squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. Cobblestone streets are prevalent in the historic area. We learned that the stones that make up the 200-year-old cobblestone streets were ballast material on ships that sailed into the Savannah harbor. Antebellum architecture, intricate wrought iron details, manicured sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages are the sights you see as you explore the historic town that played important parts in the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. I was also excited to see the city that was portrayed in John Berendt’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” After reading the book during my college years, and seeing the movie years later, I was always intrigued by the scenic ways that Savannah was depicted.

After walking an hour or so, we came up on the infamous Forsyth Park. As we neared the park’s fountain, which is one of Savannah’s most photographed spots, we saw that a wedding was taking place. Just on the other side of the fountain was the start of endless tables and booths selling artwork, jewelry, crafts, etc. As we continued walking, the booths turned to those selling jams, sauces, meats and produce. We happened to discover the weekly farmers market! After purchasing some produce and getting a coffee, we found a grassy spot in the park to enjoy the sun.

We continued to walk Savannah to the tune of 7 miles or so. We googled all the historic spots to check out and enjoyed the large shady squares and beautiful weather. Later that day, we wound up on River Street sitting outside a bar called The Warehouse that boasted the coldest and cheapest beer in the city. They were right about that. As we sit outside the bar with Sophie in her stroller, we met so many people passing by (most to see Sophie). It was a very nice way to end a long day. Walking back to the docks and Blue Turtle, we watched street performers, musicians and artists in the squares on the waterfront.

We ended up staying in Savannah through Monday morning. Technically, we should have left Sunday afternoon but since no one was trying to get on the dock, and 3 other boats there were there before us, we decided to enjoy Sunday afternoon and do some provisioning at Kroger nearby. It appears that Savannah plans to charge $1.50/ft for these docks in the future and it looks like there were more docks available further away from River Street. If you want to see the historic downtown Savannah area by private vessel, the docks on River Street put you smack dab in the perfect spot to see the city. You might get some waves from passing tankers (similar to Charleston) but for $1.50/ft, it would be the cheapest and best location possible. We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Savannah, but by Monday, we were ready to shove off for some quieter anchorages.

Beaufort, SC to Bull Creek 1 = 24.5 nm
Bull Creek to Savannah, GA = 17 nm

TOTAL miles to date: = 4,453 nm

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