Ormand Beach (OMN) was nice a little airport to put up for the night. We parked overnight at Sunrise Aviation and took a cab down to South Atlantic Avenue. Although we intended to stay at the Best Western on the beach, we ended up staying in a condo rental called Georgian recommended by our cab driver. The Georgian is a recently renovated condo community with beach access. The decor resembled and gave the impression of living on a cruise ship. The studio apartment itself had a kitchenette, a bedroom and a living area with a sofa bed (with convenient shades to keep the light off the bedroom if necessary from the morning glare or for privacy) and a sheet of heavy glass french doors opening out into a balcony facing the beach and Atlantic Ocean. At $74 per night this was a steal, the lowest price we had paid for a room on this trip! There were plenty of restaurants within walking distance. After dinner it was pleasant to walk on the beach and hear the sound of the waves crashing gently on to shore.
The next day we arrived early at the airport. We wanted to be fueled and off before Nemo arrived. There was a sliver of hope, we could get the best of Nemo. We were one hour further south than we originally intended to be. But there was always hope. The skies at Ormand Beach were clear with no sign of the oncoming storm. Almost. This was the last leg of our journey. If we could stay ahead of Nemo, we would be able to get home by evening.
After topping off at the self serve, we departed and raced north. With tailwinds, there were times when we recorded almost 144kts ground speed. At times, I thought it was possible. I could see gaps in the radar images. If we got to Lumberton before the storm arrived, there was still a chance we would be able to get home that evening. The best route north was to stay ahead of the storm, and this meant over the ocean. What chances did we have over open water? We had already returned our vests at Fort Pierce. Instead we tried to sneak behind and headed towards Jesup Wayne County Airport (KJES). It almost looked like we could get as far north as KJES or so we hoped.
“What are you intentions,” asked Jack Center.
“We are trying to get as far north as we can,” I reported to Jack Center. “We will likely land soon”.
It did not look good on the airways, as we heard Jack Center offer re-routes to commercial aircraft and talk about cells and options. Linda and I had finally figured out the NEXRAD option on the G1000. We already had our two iPAD’s showing the weather. This looked like one big scary storm. There was no way we could race past it in a C172.
“What are you intentions,” asked Jack Center again as we tried to head toward KJES. ”Restricted areas 3007 are active”.
“How about a vector?”
The new heading put us almost on a course for KSSI, which until a few minutes ago had been reporting IFR. We listened to the ATIS again. The storm system ahead was already bringing rain and thunderstorms at Savannah. We knew we had to act quickly. If we missed KSSI, we would be over the ocean and no where to run from Nemo. There was a time for a challenge and a time for caution. This was a time for the latter.
“Jack Center, I think we are going to land KSSI, ” said I.
“A few minutes ago KSSI was IMC,” responded Jack Center.
“It is VFR now, we can see it. We are landing there,” I said.
And so we landed there. Maybe we could had gotten a little further north.But Nemo was bigger, faster and ahead of us sooner than we anticipated. We had time to wait it out. It was prudent to do so.