Friday, April 12, 2013

Week 28: Apr. 10-16, 2013 (Day 190-196)

Week  28:

Wed. Apr. 10, 2013—Day 190:
Destination:  Seabreeze, Daytona (Mile 829.2) to St. Augustine (Mile 778.2)
Departure:  0650 hrs.                              Arrival:  1440 hrs.                                    Distance:  51 SM
Winds:  E <3K, increased late am to 5-7K, then <10K early afternoon
Weather:  warm sun but cool breeze, threatening rain clouds at times

Bridge of Lions

Thankfully it was a quiet & calm night + the current did not make any boats at anchor do any crazies & somehow the yahoos around us did not bump us.  We were out of bed before dawn & it was actually pleasantly warm.  We up anchored without difficulty despite the 2 yahoos on either side; I admit I was anxious to have the opportunity to blow the blow horn at them.  Even at this early hour there was a parade of 7 sailing vessels travelling north along the Halifax River with a near 1K current against us (travelling speed= 5.2 to 5.7K).  Lately we have heard much talk of the Marineland Marina, south of Matanzas Inlet at G89; $1.00 per ft., free laundry (1 washer & 1 dryer).  We experienced good depths, varying from 10.3 to 18 ft. around the channel markers of Matanzas Inlet, where we finally started to get a push from the current (6.2 to 6.8K).  Two of the yahoo boats caught up to us at the Crescent Beach Bridge (bascule) & of course wanted to pass; one had the audacity to call the bridge tender when he was over a mile away & asked that the bridge be held open for him; of course the answer was no & he sounded shocked & upset! Daw!!!   The east side of the bridge was undergoing repairs.  A falling tide was very evident as we were still being pushed towards St. Augustine.  Graeme was not paying enough attention & with the south mooring field close in sight he thought he could cut the corner between the red markers, only to go hard aground in 4 ft. water north of R12 & far west of G11.  Rocks for brains came to mind.  Unsuccessful in our attempts to get off after 5 mins. & with the tide still falling, he hailed Tow Boat US; we were unsuccessful in contacting the local office but eventually were successful in creeping towards the deeper water after about 20 mins., just as another boat went aground to the east of us.  Then it was a rush but we made the 1430 hrs. opening of the Bridge of Lions.  Our mooring ball assignment was in the north or San Marco field as requested—SM4.  With ease we connected up to the mooring ball, then Ken from ‘Sail Away’ came over for a beer & chat.  Now late afternoon, we dinghied to the marina office to register ($20.00/ night).  We met Dixie & Rex at the dinghy landing dock.  A welcomed shower & a brief internet connection, enough to email home before it cut out.  We walked to St. George St. & purchased an ice cream; nothing like having dessert before supper.  From our mooring ball we had a lovely view of touristy St. Augustine under night lights.  A clear sunny afternoon led to a cool, clear, red hued evening sky & cool, clear starry night.

Dixie & Rex (Wonderland)

Thurs. Apr. 11, 2013—Day 191:
Destination:  St. Augustine (Mile 778.2)
Winds:  calm SE, increased early afternoon to 15-25K & gusty & howling
Weather:  threatening rain clouds, clearing to partly sunny late am, then a partly cloudy evening

Off the main drag
A grim day of sad news today.  Graeme topped the boat’s diesel tank from the jerry can supply.  At shore he refilled the diesel jerry cans while I disposed of the garbage & did internet; amazing I maintained a connection!  But I learnt of a friend’s recent unfortunate ski accident.  Mid morning Graeme, Janet & I walked to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits on the corner of King St. & A1A; David’s ankle was too sore.  We continued on to Sailors Exchange & ordered a new Davis anchor light (2 have crapped out on us & the mast anchorlight is only working intermittently); the order is to arrive when the store opens at 0900 hrs. so we will likely be another day here.  We then walked along A1A to West Marine & met up with Mary & Blair (Strathsby) from Ottawa; they spent the month of March in Cuba—loved it & inexpensive.  Mary informed us that it was Pat from ‘Sun Cat’ that had fallen & died walking on the rocks at Hog Cay/Warderick Wells.  I was shocked & crushed.  We met Pat & Tom at Warderick Wells at Christmas & then again at Georgetown; we did daily yoga together, met at Beach Church each Sunday & she hosted a ladies’ luncheon one day.  Oh Pat, you were one wonderful, kind, generous, unselfish lady who thought of others all the time!  You will not only be dearly missed by your family but by your many, many friends!  I only knew you such a short time but your warmth touched me in a way that words can’t express!  You will remain in my heart & thoughts!  Sadly we walked back by the side streets around Flagler College to the historic downtown area, lunching at Scarlett O’Hara, then to St. George St. yet again.  A bit more internet at the marina & Graeme as well.  Lynn & Larry arrived & in the north field on SM7.   The SE winds were blowing 20-25K & the south mooring field was a mass of whitecaps & a vicious current.  Thus we dinghied under the marina ramp, along the new docks to their eastern end as the water was much calmer, then ducked under the Bridge of Lions visiting Lynn & Larry before reaching home.  More boats went aground today.  Threatening grey rain clouds in the evening sky, at sundown & at night. 

Fri. Apr. 12, 2013—Day 192:
Destination:  St. Augustine (778.2)
Winds:  SE 12-15K, decreased during am & clocked to W 10-15K by sunset & < 5K & glass like at dark
Weather:  warm, humid but decreased late pm, mostly cloudy although the sun tried to break through, H= upper 70’sF & L= upper 60’sF

The strong howling southerly winds + the wind & current driven chop decreased during the night.  It has become scary how well I sleep through the night till near 0600 hrs. no matter what anchorage conditions were like.  ‘Whiski Mak’ departed by 0700 hrs. followed shortly thereafter by ‘Sail Away’ then ‘Twomorrows’; Larry texted about 0930 hrs. saying they had anchored already at Pine Island (13.1 SM).  To shore for an early shower, Graeme refill ed2 water jerry cans, picked up the Davis light ordered yesterday while I took the opportunity to do 1 load of laundry (1 wash= $1.50 + 1 dry= $1.50), which would give me a great chance to do internet.  I just noticed today while I sat in the marina lounge for hours doing emails & updating & adding pics to my blog, that there was a notice re St. Augustine Cruisers Net each day at 0900 hrs. on VHF 72; cool!  We had a combo of a late lunch & early supper at Pizzalley (calzone halves); do you call that lunpper?  And once again we lumbered along St. George St. & the side streets closer to the harbour.  There are more tourists in Spring than Fall time for sure.  Once back at the lounge Graeme showered while I checked the weather forecast on the internet; nothing seen for a week in contrast to what some cruisers were saying about horrendous weather coming Tues. through Thurs.  I met Arlene & Al (Blue Heaven) who was with Pat & Tom when the tragic incident took place & performed CPR on Pat.  I thanked her for all she & Al have done.  The predicted rain & thunder of yesterday appeared to veer just to the north & today’s predictions for possible rain & thunderstorm thankfully did not materialize; the chop died down for most of the day, especially by sunset.  Lots of dolphins seen gracefully swimming through the anchorage each day of our stay here in St. Augustine.  Clouds at sunset, then a sudden burst of red sky through the clouds.  A cloudy night with flat calm water.

Dolphins in North Mooring Field

Sat. Apr. 13, 2012—Day 193:
Destination:  St. Augustine (Mile 777.8) to Bells River, Fernandina (Mile 716.5)
Departure:  0700 hrs.                    Arrival:  1630 hrs.                                Distance:  61.3 SM
Winds: NNW to N 10-15K, eventually E 2-8K & calm at sunset
Weather:  cloudy till mid am then clearer skies & sun to the north

Happy Birthday Colleen!
It was barely light when we were out of bed.  After an easy escape from the mooring ball, we announced our departure to the marina & had a VHF conversation with the Morrows as they were leaving Pine Island.  Janet & David made it yesterday to Jacksonville, but both they & the Morrows experienced 30K winds yesterday afternoon.  We departed on 2 hours into a rising tide, so were opposed to the current for a short distance until we rounded passed St. Augustine Inlet, then were pushed along the Tolomato River at 6.6K as far as the Palm Valley Bridge where we slowly felt the current opposing.  The tides in this section are now influenced by the St. John River; our speed gradually decreased to 5.7 down to 5.0K the closer we got to the river.  In Palm Cut I started noticing the increase in spanish moss & the more vibrant & alive shade of green to the trees & shrubs, another sure sign of Spring.  There was a parade of boats, particularly trawlers, northbound as there was a trawler rendezvous (84) in Fernandina starting tomorrow X 1 week; no marina space available, not that we wanted one.  Approaching the McCormack Bridge (known for it’s fast rushing current & eddies), a large motor vessel (Chinta Manis) continued to pass after I specifically said negative to his request, then he refused to respond to me; SETHING!  The St. John River crossing was benign & we never got a push on the north side of Sister Creek Bridge  (bascule-Mile 739.2) as expected; in fact we fought the current the whole friggin way (<5K).  Was water flowing here to the St. John River or in from the Nassau Sound?  Also, 90% of the day the clocking wind was on our nose. The route was multi directional as the ICW wound through the South Amelia & Amelia Rivers’ shallows.  Attention was necessary at R50 & G49 (can) of the Sawpit Creek & also Nassau Sound R46B, R46A & R46.  The only tremendous push was after Amelia City about G23, G21, & G19, past Crane Island & the Kingsley Creek RR Bridge (Mile 720.7).  It was a falling tide, therefore here the water must run along the Amelia River to Cumberland Sound & St. Mary Inlet.  I drove the majority of the day & followed the magenta line, yet I saw 5.1 ft. in the Amelia River, south of Kingsley Creek; SCARY!  It is very deceiving when the tide is falling yet not low enough to expose the numerous mud flats of this area & the circuitous ribbon of ICW water.  It was already 1600 hrs. when we arrived at Fernandina.  We had hoped to make it to Cumberland Island for the night, but we would have been fighting a strong current in Cumberland Sound.  Instead we anchored in the Bells River; 12 ft. water & 100 ft. chain.  Lynn & Larry anchored at Cumberland Island but they had started this am from Pine Island (-13 SM).  They will move on tomorrow, but this is likely my last trip, so weather permitting we will stop for a day there tomorrow.  A cloudless evening sky, a spectacular setting sun & ditto for the red sky after sunset.  Tonight we had a sliver moon high in the clear sky with the many stars.

Sun. Apr. 14, 2013—Day 194:
Destination:  Bells River, Fernandina (Mile 716.5) to Lanier Island, St. Simon Island (Mile 677.2), Georgia
Departure:  0755 hrs.                              Arrival:  1440 hrs.                                Distance:  39 SM
Winds:  NNE to NE 5K, increased to 13-5K & E by evening & gusting 20-25K
Weather:  cloudy, threatening rain, damp & cool in am & rainy & thunderstorm & tornado warnings early afternoon onwards

Sub Degausing in Kings Bay
Last night was our last night in Florida.  Tonight was our 1st night in Georgia.  And today was one of those very infrequent ugly days.  No surprises last night; so calm the wind generator did not even budge.  From the Florida rat race & busy lifestyle, industrial & cramped residential areas that line the ICW, the light turquoise, green & murky brown water & many miles of white sandy beaches off the beaten path & seldom seen, to the southern more relaxed, calm, laid back lifestyle, miles of salt water grassland creeks & rivers filled with abundant sea life away from much civilization, white sandy beaches & wilderness of Georgia.  A cloudy morning when we up anchored & it was looking worse to the west.  When we turned at the appropriate marks in Cumberland Sound & being pushed nicely on a flood tide, we disappointedly abandoned plans to do the beach at Cumberland Island.  Instead we pressed on confronting an opposing flood tide from St. Andrews Sound after Kings Bay (sub in water under overhead garage).  We had good depths of 15-40 ft. except for one 10-11 ft. section.  A bit of the jenny was unfurled when the channel widened into St. Andrews Sound & the wind was slightly off our starboard bow instead of on the nose.  We saw no wild horses on the northwestern beaches of Cumberland Island.  As it was high tide, we were able to keep R32 out in the Sound well off to starboard & headed to G31, then a beam reach motorsail to G29 at Jeykll Island point.  We travelled through Jekyll Creek at high slack with good depths, even at G19 & G17, except when the ferry boat stirred up the bottom.  Out in St. Simon Sound the rain began & continued on & off throughout the rest of the day & night; some thunder heard.  ‘Twomorrows’ pulled into Morningstar Golden Isles Marina for water & fuel, then proceeded to Frederica River for the night.  I had hoped to arrive, get anchored early afternoon & then walk the 1-1/2 mi. to the lighthouse & shops etc.; ‘Rainbow Inn’, a resident of St. Simon, provided some very useful & helpful info of this historic area—a new dock under the low bridge to tie up dinghy.  Thunderstorm & tornado warnings announced on NNOA, winds shifted to the east & were dramatically up & down, but the tidal current was master of the boat’s position at anchor.  At low tide we barely had 6” under our keel.  We were the lone anchored boat tonight.  No visible sunset, no red sky, no stars, no moon, only cloud, heavy rain, strong gusting & howling winds.

Mon.  Apr. 15, 2013—Day 195:
Destination:  Lanier Island, St. Simon Island (Mile 677.2)
Winds:  NNE to NE <10K
Weather:  fog+++, mix of cloud & sun with decreasing humidity by afternoon

Addendum to add to last evening’s blog:  rain prevented us from getting off the boat yesterday afternoon.  In fact in the late evening hours the rain became heavier & at about 2030 hrs. the southerly winds intensified & became very gusty, at least 25-30K.  At 2015 hrs. we turned the VHF on & thunderstorms with heavy rain & hail & a tornado warning was issued for Glynn County & the surrounding area, but especially Fernandina to St. Augustine, just south of our location; Marineland was mentioned imparticular.  Between 2100 & 2230 hrs. we experienced horrendous gusting & howling winds, heeling us over.  I hope our 100 ft of chain & anchor hold us!  Afterwards the winds became calm, as if a switch was flicked on.  We learnt this am that boats tied up at the marina also heeled heavily into the dock & winds were reported at 65 mph. 

St. Simon Lighthouse
A heavy fog surrounded us when we got up this morning & the air was humid.  Since the winds were calm, the fog did not disappear till 1000 hrs.  While waiting for this to occur, I buzzed Graeme’s hair.  We decided to stay here another night so I could have my own way & tour St. Simon Island & the lighthouse.  After all I missed climbing Ponce de Leon lighthouse & visiting Cumberland Island.  By even only taking a few hours to tour St. Simon Island Lighthouse then leave, would set us completely wrong (at low tide) to pass the Little Mud River, a caution shallow water area.  Now with the fog dissipated & the clouds breaking up, we dinghied under the St. Simon Causeway (low bridge) to a new dock at Gascoigne Bluff.  Locals were fishing off the dock, sitting in their chairs, & Graeme was all concerned now that the dinghy might get stolen.  The boat lock was rusted shut & non functional, so we used the dinghy motor lock to lock the dinghy & motor to the dock.  We walked a minimum 3 miles along Kings Way, past Retreat Golf Course (David Love III) & Retreat Village spectacularly beautiful!  Large expensive homes now & apparently site of cotton plantations before the Civil War; also site of ruins of house & slave hospital + the impressive Avenue of Oaks , now the entrance to Sea Island Golf Course.  Eventually we arrived at the lighthouse area, shops & pier on Mallery St., then along Neptune Park to St. Simon Lighthouse & Museum on Beachview Dr.  I climbed the 129 steps up then down the lighthouse; my lower quads were quivering & screaming; how out of shape I am—disgusting!).  Graeme’s knee was too sore so no more walking along Ocean Dr. to Massengale Park & Beach & East Beach & the Maritime History Museum.  I very highly recommend bikes as this is an ideal way to see all the sights ie Maritime History Museum, Bloody Marsh National Monument, Retreat Village (shopping), Redfern Village, Stables, Christ Church & Cemetery (1883) & Ft. Frederica National Monument.  We took a taxi back to Gascoigne Bluff ($10.00); we waited a long time for it to show but learnt that all taxis come from Brunswick & apparently there are no local form of transportation eg bus, as St. Simon is too small an area.  We met a number of friendly locals finishing board paddling & kayaking & fishing, & our dinghy was exactly as we left it.  Graeme topped the boat’s diesel tank then we both dinghied to Morningstar Golden Isle Marina to refill 2 jerry cans.  A German tall ship had just arrived.  ‘Dyad’ was anchored right behind us & so we went & introduced ourselves & spoke with Kathi; ‘Dyad’ was purchased in Nova Scotia, but is registered in Delaware because it was one of the easiest states to do so.  They enjoy Canada especially Newfoundland.  A 2nd sailboat (Flying Free) was just anchoring who were Canadian from Regina, Saskatchewan.  Most suppers these days since DST & crossing back to the USA have been eaten in the cockpit with a few exceptions only, like last night.  In contrast to last night, the sun tonight was a ball of fire as it fell in the western sky; an orangey sky afterwards.  There was a ¼ moon even before dark + stars in the clear night sky.

Tues. Apr. 16, 2013—Day 196:
Destination:  St. Simon Island (Mile 677.2) to Wahoo River (Mile 630)
Departure:  0820 hrs.                       Arrival:   1620 hrs.                                 Distance:  47.2 SM
Winds:  NE 8K, increased my mid am to 15-20K & 18-20K most of the afternoon
Weather:  light fog then mostly sunny with few clouds but cool breeze

Sidney Lanier Bridge to Brunswick in the background
The fog dissipated quickly this am.  We up anchored with mud stuck to the tip of the anchor; not surprised, in fact relieved, after the blow the night before last.  The sun was warm, the breeze was cool & with it’s strength it was too cool to sit out on the deck.  We followed the circuitous route on a rising tide along the MacKay River at about 6.0K & 8K of wind (with the current) then followed the markers as well as the most helpful ranges towards Buttermilk Sound (against current) at +/- 4.5K & 20K wind on our nose to boot (1115 hrs.).  Big flies like horse flies started invading; the fly swatter was resurrected & was frequently in full swing.  The saltwater marsh grasses had wonderful, new bright green Spring colour to them.  At 1205 hrs. we entered the Little Mud River 1 hour before high tide as planned, therefore with current; 11-14 ft. depths (great) but 18-20K winds & whitecaps (not great).  At 1515 hrs. we passed through Creighton Narrows, a 2nd caution shallow area I dread almost as much as Little Mud River because there are no markers throughout this section; but it was a high falling tide, so good depths except in one spot on the straight before the 2nd last turn northbound where we saw 9.8-10 ft.  The winds were still on our nose heading out towards Sapelo Sound & opposing 1-2 ft. waves, but at least with the tide & current until we turned back towards land at R138, then opposing again.  We decided with wind direction & it’s current strength that we would anchor in the Wahoo River rather than pushing onwards.  We set the anchor around the bend of the Wahoo in 15 ft., but the current was too strong & the boat was being pushed ahead of the anchor; dolphins.  So we reanchored before the bend, away from the crab pots in 15 ft. water & 100 ft. chain, although Graeme did cut the corner & went aground in 4 ft. but powered off the mud.  We were only 2 boats anchored out here.  The winds calmed as the fiery red sun set, a clear sky of orange, then a clear dark sky of stars & ¼ moon.  The peacefulness, the tranquility, the dead total quietness with only salt water marsh grasslands all around is out of this world beautiful & something to experience, yet hard to describe.  And then there is loneliness…

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