Tues. Apr. 19, 2011 (Week 29, Day 197) Destination: Titusville (Mile 878.2) to Seabreeze (Mile 829.0—First Coast) Departure: 0735 hrs. Arrival: 1525 hrs. Mileage: 49.2 SM/42.84 NM Weather: hot & sultry, humid & hazy, brilliant sun Winds: very light & variable 1st of the am (SE, W, S), ESE 8-10K late am, SE 12-16K early pm
A warm night & hot am. SE winds 10-15K predicted for today; certainly not the case at the start of the day. Lots of marine activity as we left the Indian River to Mosquito Lagoon via Haulout Canal & it’s bascule bridge--> 1st & foremost were dolphins, cormorants, ibis, osprey, pelicans diving for their breakfast, a ray that flew out of the water 3 times, fishermen wading in water & on land, & even the back & tail of a manatee. Fortunately the current was with us. Late morning ESE winds increased & we motorsailed on our jenny on a broad reach towards New Smyrna. Early afternoon winds shifted to the predicted SE & blew 12-16K with gusts to 21.6K as we entered the Halifax River through the Ponce de Leon Inlet area, a lovely area of sand dunes & beaches that would be interesting to explore, then through Daytona--> several dolphins. Two bridge openings requested before we set anchor on the NE side of the Seabreeze dual Bridge. Thunder clouds in the western sky & an interesting picture as the sun was lowering but behind these clouds. By sundown there were now 6 of us anchored & the winds had laid down so no more whitecaps on the water of the Halifax River. I made reservations by phone for a mooring ball at St. Augustine Municipal Marina for tomorrow. No news from the Morrows--> that was not good news. We both had refreshing boat showers. Supper= leftovers of chicken noodle soup & bun for Graeme & curried peanut chicken for myself. I guess since we have returned to the USA we have been slowly reintroduced to reality; the night skies were no longer dark but filled with lots of city lights, tranquil anchorages replaced by traffic noise, emergency vehicle noise, motorboat noise, bright stars obscured by city lights & no more crystal clear turquoise coloured water but smelly, very cloudy, muddy brown coloured water. Then again we have been so very lucky to have experienced this all!
Wed. Apr. 20, 2011 (Week 29, Day 198) Destination: Seabreeze (Mile 829) to St. Augustine (Mile 778.1) Departure: 0645 hrs. Arrival: 1440 hrs. Mileage: 50.9 SM/42.7 NM Weather: sunny, hot blue skies till mid pm then clouds & dark threatening thunder clouds Winds: light & variable in strength & direction with gusts about 10K
The winds settled right down during the night & it remained quite warm. The alarm went off at 0600 hrs.; wanted to be sure to have an early start as there were many miles to our destination of St. Augustine today. A calm start to the day both in regards to wind & chop, but also somewhat boring & uninteresting geography as the Halifax River narrowed to the Halifax Creek. Through this stretch we past Ormond Beach, Ormond-by-the-sea (shallow), through J.B. Knox Bascule Bridge to Flagler & large homes & condos flanking the shores of Fox Cut, Bon Terra then into the Matanzas River. Fortunately it was high tide as we motored through the caution area of shallow shifting shoals between G81D, 81C, 81B, 81A & R80 by Matanzas Inlet & then it was north on the Matanzas River to St. Augustine. Karen Goodyear: you would have cried with joy at the incredible number of white butterflies flying about all day yesterday & today! We tied up at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina’s fuel dock for diesel, water & pump out & even had a chance to wash down the cockpit with soap & fresh water; yah-h-h! We picked up our mooring ball assignment #M9 ($20.00 X 2 nights + tax= $42.40). We saw that ‘Artful Dodger’ & ‘Firecrest’ were in the north mooring field. The sun was suddenly replaced by cloud & dark thunder clouds in the SW by mid afternoon & evening; there were unpredicted WSW winds gusting from calm to 10K. Supper= hot dog & strawberries with rum & chocolate sauce & 2 peek frean cookies. Although we had put the engine on the dinghy & could go to shore it was easier to take a boat shower. ‘Monk’s Vineyard’ (Crogan 36) whom we met in the Bahamas were moored in front of us; Linda & Jerry came & said hello when they were returning to their boat. At nightfall the wind & water was flat calm, skies cloudy & the Bridge of Lions was light right up.
Thurs. Apr. 21, 2011 (Week 29, Day 199) Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1) Weather: sunny & hot, near 90F, blue skies Winds: flat clam at dawn, S 10K at nightfall
Nice comfortable temps during the night & a beautiful bright & sunny morning. There was a need to use some bananas so I made up a batch of banana pancakes for breakfast. Then to shore for a marina shower bright & early; oh-h-h, a long shower with warm water without having to turn the tap off more than on! Back to the boat & we dressed for a warm day of touring on shore. Slowly we walked the beautiful, historic, old city; quite busy by the afternoon with many school groups; an ice cream cone before noon, a late delicious pizza at Pizzalley Chianti Room for lunch & finished the day at A1A at 1600 hrs. for a beer for Graeme. ‘Sea Mist’ was arriving as we were setting out back to shore for 1 load of laundry ( $1.50 for wash + $1.50 for dryer; 4 washers & 4 dryers in total + an ironing board & iron) + internet only available in the marina lounge. I received an email from Norton’s in Deltaville that a tornado had touched down there last Sat. & caused destruction in the community, but fortunately not to the boatyard--> how devastating! ‘Artful Dodger’ & ‘Firecrest’ postponed plans to go offshore tomorrow. Graeme wants to stay another day & tour the Lightner Museum then I would like to attend the Good Friday Service at The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine at 1500 hrs. Lynn’s meds arrived today & she saw the doctor--> still some evidence of pneumonia (IM Cortisone + antibiotics)+ affects of Spring pollen producing a persistent, nagging cough, but will leave Vero at dawn. We dinghied back home in the dark under clear skies & stars with the current (low to high tide—coming from the north) but opposing south winds; current is strong here & the major factor, therefore south winds coming in via the stern.
Fri. Apr. 22, 2011 (Week 29, Day 200) Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1) Weather: another amazing summer not spring day--> sunny & warm (80F), less humidity, only blue skies Winds: light to nil at dawn & SE 10-12K winds built during the day
Good Friday! And our 200th day from leaving Ottawa! Another marina shower on shore for me in the am, whereas Graeme waited & did his near the end of the day. We did the Ripley’s red train sightseeing tour starting from the marina on Avenida Menendez shortly after 0900 hrs. X 1 hr. 20 min. ($20.00 per person good for 3 days with on & off service along their route). We were dropped off at the Castillo de San Marcos. It was US National Parks Week therefore free admission inside the Castillo from Apr. 16-24; at 1130 hrs. they had a reenactment of the firing of a cannon as it would have occurred in Spanish in the 1600 & 1700’s. Then we lunched at ‘Downtown Grill’ (good) on Cathedral Place. Graeme toured the Lightner Museum while I sat in the park of Plaza de la Constitution, right across the street from The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, then attended their 1500 hrs. Good Friday Service. A beer for Graeme at A1A before we dinghied to the boat to pick up my computer then back to shore to the marina lounge; I posted weeks 27 & 28 on my blog, picked up a few emails & renewed my McAfee subscription. Near 2000 hrs. as dark was approaching we packed up & dinghied home & readied the dinghy for an early morning departure tomorrow. Many more days could easily be spent here but it is time to make some northern miles. Supper= tomato soup with rice, tomato basil dip with crackers, then strawberries & banana with rum & chocolate sauce for dessert. A clear sky with stars, SE wind diminished & the boat facing north as a flood tide was occurring.
Sat. Apr. 23, 2011 (Week 29, Day 201) Destination: St. Augustine (Mile 778.1) to Bells River, Fernandina (Mile 716.5) Departure: 0650 hrs. Arrival: 1715 hrs. Mileage: 61.6 SM/53.3 NM! Weather: bright, beautiful & sunny with blue skies Winds: flat calm when leaving mooring ball then just likes past days variable winds built around noon from E then SE at 12-22K
Six of us from the southern mooring field caught the 0700 hrs. opening of the Bridge of Lions to proceed northwards + 2 from the northern field. Two of the 6 proceeded to the St. Augustine Inlet to travel outside but we found out later that 1 did turn back. Another stat: this was the start of my 4th pen I use to write my journal during the day before composing on my laptop in Word at night, every night. The sun had just broken over the treetops & the orange glow off the stainless steel Great Cross at Mission of Nombre de Dios was breathtaking. We passed under the Villano Bridge & motorsailed along the Tolomato River now against the current. For & against currents, winds & increasing differential in tides was the story of the day as we meandered from the Tolomato River to Palm Valley Cut then again unfurled the jenny in the Pablo Creek through Jacksonville Beach & Atlantic Beach, across the St. Johns River into Sisters Creek--> lots of weekend Florida motorboat traffic! We continued motorsailing up Sampit Creek, across Nassau Sound into the South Amelia River, Kingsley Creek & Amelia River towards Fernandina at high to mid falling tide fortunately & unfortunately; fortunately because of the good to fair water depths & unfortunately because we couldn’t see the shallows & muddy sandbars. We suddenly went hard aground in 3.9 to 4.3 ft. water, right after Jackson Creek (G5) at G3 to G1, despite the warning earlier in the day from a gentleman who works with Waterway Guide. Lucky for us a powerboat happened to be passing by & took our bowline + the sheriff created waves with his boat & in less than 20 min. we were pulled eastward & off the muddy sandbar that apparently traverses across the ICW from west to east on a falling tide! Favour the green side! From chatter on the VHF it sounded that Fernandina Harbour Marina was full; we planned on anchoring in Bell River anyway--> 15 ft. water & 100 ft. chain. Current rules in this area despite the strong SE winds. Today was our longest & furthest day yet. ‘Artful Dodger’ & ‘Firecrest’ anchored close by about 1830 hrs. Dave was still having prop shaft problems & sounded down. We all said we would spend Easter Day in Fernandina & thus give the Morrows a day to get closer to catching up. Low clouds across the setting sun, some pink sky & at dark, clear skies & stars, lots of lights from Fernandina & smoke rising in the sky from the pulp & paper mills’ stacks.
Sun. Apr. 24, 2011 (Week 29, Day 202) Happy Easter! Destination: Fernandina (Mile 716.5) Weather: warm, sunny & moderate humidity Winds: light & variable SE, maximum about 10K
Yes, Easter Sunday & a bright, beautiful day it was! We dinghied to shore, checked in with the Fernandina Harbour Marina & the gentleman only charged us $2.14 for dinghy dockage, nil for showers & garbage nor the usual $10.00 deposit for the shower key pass with the promise to return this pm. I called Mom shortly after 1000 hrs. from shore & whereas we were having great weather Ottawa was cold & had had quite a bit of rain to date. The other news was the federal election on May 2; can I vote online, will I have internet? The day was well spent on Centre St. in & out of shops, although some were closed for Easter, + visiting the Amelia Island History Museum (233 Third St.). We lunched at an Irish Pub. Since the Tourist Information Center was not open in the am we popped in on our return towards the marina. At the marina we had internet but a strange thing happened whereby I lost all old emails; only the recent emails were present. Lynn called & they were in St. Augustine as of this afternoon & for tomorrow; they plan to arrive in Savannah on Fri. through to Sun. We met the people from ‘Dawn Treader’, ‘Dream Weaver’ & Linda & Jerry from ‘Monks Vineyard’. As we were about to take shore showers we met Patric, Karin & Dave once again; they had moved their boats from Bell River to the Fernandina anchorage in the am. After our showers we also met Bette & Bill, ‘Sea Mist’; we thought they were still in St. Augustine, but changed their plans, arrived here today & will depart offshore tomorrow pm to arrive in Charleston on Tues. X 1 week. After 1800 hrs. we started to dinghy home & stopped by ‘White Lillie’ to say hi to Carole & Jim whom we met in the Fall in Norfolk. See how social this cruising is! Finally home, a late supper= ham with sweet & sour sauce glaze, potatoes, raw carrots & celery. The rest of the evening was spent planning our route with regards to tides, currents & destinations as these now become major factors. The sun set behind low clouds again tonight as we ate dinner in the cockpit, a norm for a while now. Clear dark skies above with stars & the occasional sound of train horns.
Mon. Apr. 25, 2011 (Week 29, Day 203) Destination: Fernandina, Florida (Mile 716.5) to Back River, Georgia (Mile 651.3) Departure: 0635 hrs. Arrival: 1700 hrs. Mileage: 65.2 SM/52.44 NM Weather: hot (80F) & sunny Winds: breathless till mid am, variable SE 8-18K
Yesterday was our last day in Florida & today our first day in Georgia! Some boats in Fernandina had already left or were planning to exit Cumberland Sound & go offshore to Charleston or Savannah. A morning mist hung over the water & landmass as we departed soon after dawn with dolphins everywhere, then a beautiful moderate windy day. No wild horses seen along the western shores of Cumberland Island. Oh, how I would have loved to meander the island again! We motorsailed most of the am along Cumberland Dividings & Cumberland River till we approached R32 out in St. Andrew Sound. St. Andrew Sound was actually tame & the tides were mostly in our favour. Depths were O.K. along Jekyll Island, the 1st caution area of the day, except at G19 which was very skinny ie ?4’4” depths showed on the depth sounder--> perhaps recalibration required. We motorsailed again in St. Simon Sound into Mac Kay River, past Lanier Island, St. Simon, another place on my wish list to visit, & Frederica River as it was only 1330 hrs., too early to stop. We decided then were committed to take advantage of the late day high tide & get through the 2nd caution/grief area, Little Mud River. This allowed us to better set up for tides for tomorrow. After 65.2 miles we dropped the hook in Back River with the strong, dominating current & not the wind--> 15 ft. water at present, >6 ft. tides, therefore 100 ft. chain (I think some of our chain markers have fallen off). The horse flies & deer flies were horrible & in great abundance; never experienced before. At the end of the day we both felt exhausted, yet there was little physical exertion today. I had a very brief boat shower to try & revive myself. A welcome drink, a clouded sunset, a late supper= ham, carrots, celery, dill pickles & semi early to bed after my journal entry on computer. Complete blackness, only stars above & mastlights from the 3 vessels anchored here tonight.