14 December 2017 | St. Augustine
The overnight sail from Charleston to Fernandina Beach, FL started out great- and if you asked John, remained great except for Ann being seasick again! 15-24 kt winds and choppy 4-6 ft waves, during pitch-black night, with no visual reference points, and freakin' cold .. makes Ann a sick and useless girl. John was happy, but cold, with wind on the beam and ocean spray making its way through our lovely cockpit enclosure to soak the captain & crew. Cold, wet, tired, and a dry heaving crew- well, you get the picture!
Arriving in Fernandina Beach, we picked up a mooring for $25/night, ate, and slept. This was the first marina that we've come across that sustained significant hurricane damage- still having docks closed and no fuel available. We were entering a very small part of the ICW with warnings of "many vessels going aground here" and " don't follow your charts or the magenta line on your chart plotter- they are not correct". The ICW is FULL of these areas which requires a lot of planning the night before. It is not what we imagined the ICW route to be, which is why going offshore seems easier.
We followed waypoints obtained from "Active Captain" on the internet- it's a forum for boaters to add comments and advice about troublesome areas on the ICW.
We left Fernandina Beach on a rising tide and had no trouble 😅.
Having only 10ish hours of daylight and having to wait for bridges and slow down for passing barges, getting 40 miles done in a day is the usual. (going offshore & overnight we can get 160 miles!).
Arriving at Beach Marina in Jacksonville, we were greeted with a sign saying " slow- no wake- manatee area"! (I was so psyched!). The dockhands were great & competent as we landed in high winds & current. However, we were told not to worry when (not if) we go aground- " it's soft mud and you can power through it". These are not comforting words! So we left early AM at high tide.
This was our favorite part of the ICW, with beautiful waterside homes and uncomplicated waterway. Dolphins, pelicans, egrets, and lots of boats to look at as we motored toward St. Augustine.
The St. Augustine City Marina has $25 moorings and are located right in historic St. Augustine. What a great city! We did all the touristy things, and met up with some boaters that we met during our stay in Charleston.
They have a "cruiser's net" here at 8 am every morning- dial in to 72 on our VHF and people chat. I joined in and connected with another boat from Maine also at this marina. "La Luna" hails out of South Portland and authored the book "Hart's at Sea" ( thanks to Lisa Borrows for telling John about it!). The people we've met are great, and as we keep meeting them along this journey, it makes us feel less lonely. Everyone is in a similar "boat" and everyone has stories to tell.
Today was a glorious day , with temps around 70, bright sunshine, and our first dinner in the cockpit since it wasn't too cold. With wine, music, good food, and a few friends nearby, we looked at each other and wondered if this is real! It's amazing to us that we've made it this far, that we've learned so much in the past month since leaving Norfolk, and that the Bahamas are now a little more than 300 miles away. I'm willing to be sick overnight a few more times to get there! The sun felt so good today, Christmas is coming, and I want to swim in warm water!
Planning on leaving Saturday morning for at least one overnight to Fort Pierce, FL ( Florida is a LONG state and we can't cross the Gulf Stream until we are further south).
We'll let you know how that goes....
BTW- Dr. Steve Katz gave John an awesome " battle flag" to fly when we are in port- we flew that flag today as we sit on a mooring in front of the "Castillo de San Marcos" Spanish fort in St. Augustine. Thanks Steve! Super cool!