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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Relayer of Messages LOL/Tolamato River Anchorage
12/12/2008, Tolamato River Anchorage (30o00.043 x –081 20.168)

Watched several boats come & go - none seemed to want to come in or stay in the anchorage and one stayed at the mouth of the ICW and entrance to the anchorage then left at first light.

We waited until 10:00 to up anchor then headed towards the McCormick to make the noon opening. While we were only 4 miles from the bridge we also had the tides and currents working against us and only did from 3 to 4 knots to get there. Passing through another bridge the currents were amazingly strong and we did from 2-3 knots through there with Wayne fighting the currents at the helm the whole way through - they really buffeted us in the narrow channel. Once we got to the McCormick we had a half hour to wait and watched a couple of Coastguard Boats near us checking out some debris that looked like a mangled life raft in the water near us.
They were hailing the powerboats that came by - asking when the last time they had an inspection was...

We finally were able to pass the bridge (they're building a new 65 ft bridge but it wasn't listed that they were closing the bridge anywhere) and saw another boat from Port Huron - Rapscallion II. It was neat to see another Michigan boat and he was wearing a Santa Hat so I had to hail him to say hi. Another boat Jon Ray heard us and couldn't reach Rapscallion so I relayed messages back and forth while making grilled ham/cheese sandwiches for lunch (I got the burned one LOL). It sounded like we were all headed for St Augustine's for the night but we pulled off into this anchorage on the Tolomato River a few miles up from St Augustine. We decided we'd handle the tricky navigation in the morning.

As we were anchoring we saw them coming up the river too and both boats also pulled into the anchorage. This was actually the last feasible anchorage accessible to deep draft boats before St Augustine. One other boat came in later at twilight. It's a nice anchorage - plenty of room in 12-18 feet of water with a tree-lined shore. Beautiful full moon! Wish I had my old camera with the 250 lens - my little digital just couldn't pull it in...

3 Island Anchorage, Pablo Creek FL
12/11/2008, 3 Island Anchorage, Pablo Creek FL

Watched the weather with a close eye this morning. We were really rocking and pitching last night with high winds and chop and we were under a tornado watch most the morning. I thought it prudent that we should have 2 anchors out so Wayne put one out right before the storms hit. We watched the storms roll in and the winds and waves started tilting the boat. It got a bit scary being pelted with hard rain and winds but when I saw clouds dipping down and starting to spiral I had to go grab my camera. For some reason I forgot my fear and had to get pictures. It looked like water spouts starting to form in a band off to our east – scary and thrilling at the same time as the rain was really pelting us. There was one other boat anchored in here with us (that wasn’t a derelict or unattended one). He watched us and we watched him. He appeared to be a single handler from Canada but whenever I tried to hail him on the radio, I got no response. He left later in the afternoon. I wanted to tell him that the McCormick Bridge was closed and only opened from noon to 1pm then not until after 5 pm which signals night. We heard him on the radio later and it sounded like after finding out it was closed pulled into a marina.

Fernandina Beach to 3 Island Anchorage, Pablo Creek FL
12/10/2008, Fernandina Beach to 3 Island Anchorage, Pablo Creek FL

It felt good to break anchor and leave this morning but we’re anchored S. of Green Buoy 17 before a fixed bridge in an area where it looks like there are quite a few verrry unattended sailboats at anchor or moored. It’s kind of creepy to think that people just abandon their boats at anchor and leave them to sink or drift to shore. We’re in a spot though that there aren’t any more anchorages for the next 20 miles so it’d be iffy to try and make it to the next anchorage before dark. The bridge houses an interstate highway whose traffic we’re hoping will chill come nighttime. Weather is supposed to be moving in tonight/tomorrow so we may need to be here for a couple nights. A smaller boat from Canada was the only other boat to pull in and decide to stay for the night (Voyager) – a few others looked but didn’t stay.

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