When cruising the ICW, it is wise to make reservations at marinas along the way if deciding not to anchor out. For most of our sailbatical, we’ve been fortunate to secure a slip when and where we needed it, occasionally modifying reservations due to changing weather patterns or simply altering plans. Unlike hotels, marinas don’t demand a credit card number to hold our spot, and we are always courteous to cancel early or modify so that slips will be available for other cruisers if needed. Occasionally, we’ve been denied a reservation because the marina has been booked, usually due to events like race weeks or music festivals. We hit such a roadblock in Savannah. After calling two preferred marinas, we were placed on a waiting list for Isle of Hope. In the meantime, we found Coffee Bluff Marina that could take us for the entire dates we requested, but their remote location was far from ideal. We had planned to visit with several friends while in Savannah, so were hopeful (pun intended) that we’d move up the waiting list at the Isle of Hope Marina.
We left Kilkenny anchorage before sunrise on the morning of Day 170, in order to cruise through the notorious Hell Gate at high tide. Royal Serf, our buddy boat from our outside ocean jaunt, led the way and neither of us experienced any shoaling concerns through Hell. Yay! Royal Serf continued on the ICW while we turned up the Forest River to find our first marina. Dudley was at the helm when all of the sudden the depth sounder plummeted from 23 feet beneath our keel to 6 to 2 to less than 1, in a span of thirty seconds. What?!! The charts said we were in the middle of a channel that ran 28’ or more in depth! I quickly called the marina and the dockmaster was able to send an illustration that confirmed our situation.
Hmmm, would have been good to know that ahead of time. The irony was priceless though. We overcame several timing obstacles to avoiding grounding in Hell, only to almost run aground near Coffee Bluff in what was supposed to be volumes of water. Go figure!
Anyway, our stay was brief with only one evening at Coffee Bluff because we called Isle of Hope and were moved off the waiting list for arrival on Day 171, and we could stay a few nights. They did however warn that we may encounter some delays due to a movie that was being filmed during our stay. Okay. Whatever. I didn’t think much of it at the time. It didn’t even occur to me to ask what the movie was. I figured it was a SCAD film major who was using the marina for a school project.
However, when we docked we learned from our two young dockhands that the movie was Baywatch, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, Kelly Rohrbach, and Alexandra Daddario. The marina had been transformed into the Emerald Bay Marina, with signs that looked so real that for a moment I thought we may have docked at the wrong place.
In order to pay at the marina office, I had to be escorted across the set after someone yelled “Cut!” and then back to the boat in likewise manner. When “rolling,” spectators had to keep quiet of course, as bikini-clad women ran excitedly to and fro. Yeah, that’s Baywatch!
Before learning about this Hollywood hubbub, Dudley and I had invited friends to spend a day with us in Savannah. Jan, her teenaged daughter Zoe, and 7-year old granddaughter Ella, were vacationing in Sullivan’s Island SC after driving down from Michigan the previous weekend. Jan wanted to explore Savannah, so our timing happened to work out. The weather was perfect. And the tinseltown drama at the marina added excitement to our rendezvous. We were asked not to take photos of the celebrities, but Jan did manage to see The Rock as her trio was escorted through the set to the docks leading to Belle Bateau.
Once on board, our Michigan friends enjoyed learning about life on a boat. Ella was especially inquisitive and we had great fun showing all the nooks and crannies on Belle Bateau, and the salon (living room) which converts to bedroom as well as dining room.
That’s always a favorite with visitors. All three girls marveled at my 18” wide hanging space and limited storage of shoes. LOL!
After that, we were off to explore historic Savannah. We had lunch in the City Market, meandered through a few of the park squares under Spanish Moss, window-shopped on Broughton Street, and strolled the cobblestoned riverfront.
Finding the famous candy store on River Street was a special treat, and we all enjoyed ice cream there too. Fun times!
As Jan and crew dropped us back at the marina, we met Hollywood crews blocking street access close to the marina. So we bid farewell, and Dudley and I walked back to Belle Bateau, escorted through the set after “Cut!”—still makes me smile to think about it. We paused for a few minutes to watch a scene being shot, and noticed the Baywatch boats close to shore, and the Emerald Bay patrol cars. Quite an interesting day to arrive the Isle of Hope!
The following morning, the celebrities and filming crews were all gone, and by the end of the day, the marina signs were back to normal.
We spent that afternoon at Wormsloe Plantation, which was a mile walk from the marina, and then another 1.5 mile walk down a dusty lane to the museum and other sights.
But the nature at low tide in this part of Savannah trumped the plantation ruins. We watched fiddler crabs for quite awhile in the marsh at the edge of the Wormsloe. Fascinating creatures.
Our friend Margo picked us up from Wormsloe and we enjoyed wine at her house nearby. We missed her husband Jake by one day, as he was away on a business trip, but it was wonderful to visit their home and see the fruits of their renovations.
The three of us capped the day with a delightful dinner across the marsh at Saltwater Grille. Truly one of the top five meals I’ve enjoyed during this sailbatical!
Alas, it was time to bid farewell to Savannah. The weather forecasts had changed, again, and we needed to depart one day earlier than expected. Savannah had supplied quite the drama with Tinseltown excitement. But quite frankly, we rather enjoyed the time spent with friends in a historic city that we’ve grown to love.