Wow Submarines and we're now officially back on US Soil!
05/04/2009, Fernandina Beach Florida to Charleston, South Carolina
Monday, May 4, 2009
Okay we called in to Customs at 9:15am and are now officially cleared back into the U.S.A. What a difference from clearing in at the Port Huron Customs. This time we weren't made to feel like fugitives - Thank you guys...I hated how the Port Huron guys made us feel like criminals... By the way I mentioned the Horse Latitudes yesterday... Way back in the day of the heavy sailing ships, when the tall ships ruled the seas, they would travel between 4-8 knots in the Atlantic crossings. But when they came into the mid-latitudes between 30-35* either north or south of the equator, the winds became weaker. These areas of weak winds would make a ships progress even slower. If the vessel was becalmed for weeks on end without proper provisions, the horses became the main fare so the crew would not starve. Other tales talk about throwing the horses overboard to lighten the load and save provisions. Either way, the horses were usually the first to go. Hence these areas were called the "Horse Latitudes"
Weather from Fernandina to Altamaha Sound GA looks pretty good for today and tonight. S winds 15 knots, 2-4 ft seas are called for the next few days with only an isolated shower or so.
12:30pm we raised our anchor and headed out of the harbor. As we were leaving we heard a call come in over the radio that a submarine was going to be coming into the St. Mary's Channel (the one we were departing from). Two Coast Guard boats came zooming by us at the same time so we thought it might be one of our subs (the Coast Guard acts as escorts for Naval Vessels). Seeing the Coast Guard reminded me that I needed to call my brother and let him know I was heading out for Charleston so I quickly called him then went on Sub Alert. I've always wanted to go on a working submarine and thought well, I'll at least try and get a picture of one. There's a sub base of some sort as you turn right into the St Mary's River (to Georgia). If you turn left you go to Florida, right you go to Georgia.
We've run into those carnivourous flys that plagued us on Lake Michigan. They've found us here - ouch! These little varmints take chunks out of you! I managed to get some distant shots of the sub and it's pilot ship. It wasn't a Naval Sub but one from Brazil (?). Exciting nonetheless to share a channel with a sub J
At 1600 Otto decided to come apart on us again so when Wayne got back up (1700) we re-McGyvered it with more strapping tape (what a wonderful tape - duct tape wouldn't work in this situation). So we are clipping along at 7.5 knots with Otto again. I've discovered that he steers the boat much better than Wayne or I, but the tape and belt keep separating, and the belt is falling apart. We are led by Strapping Tape...
Spotted another sea turtle again - they are so incredible looking bobbing along the surface with their little yellow heads and they can dive pretty quickly. More dolphins joined us around1800 but I didn't get any pictures of them this time. The waves are building and wave periods shortening. With clouds building on the horizon we decided that it was time to put a reef back in the main. Then decided to put 2 reefs in the main sail. With 2 reefs (shortened sail) we're still clipping along at 6.7 to 7.1 knots in speed.
On U.S soil again! Well.... almost...
05/03/2009, Fernandina Beach, at anchor...
Sunday, May 3, 2009
We approached the St. Mary's inlet around 5 - 5:30am. It wasn't as scary coming in this time. The waves were behind us, current behind us, and I could see the range this time and the buoys. This is a nice wide channel now that I can see it (even in the dark). Last time under the storm conditions, it was not fun. This time while I was apprehensive about coming into the harbor in the dark, it was not a painful experience for me. Past the petroleum refinery you could smell the paper mill fumes again. The fumes irritate my throat and have a unique odor that I'll always associate with this place.
We finally got into the anchorage as the sun was coming up. Twilight is nice - you can see where everyone is anchored. I'd forgotten what a strong current runs through here - ¾ of a knot to 1.5 knots - made it easy to stand still while Wayne dropped the anchor
6:30 am. We called the custom's phone number on our local boater's option card and got a message to leave a message. I'd say they weren't open at 7am LOL.
Anyhow, we're now anchored in 16 ft of water and are both heading for our berth. I forgot to mention - between the pillows and blankets and sidewall of the V-berth, it makes a nice little cocoon to sleep in while the boat is dancing. Soft, reinforced and snuggly while the other person has the helm.
Okay I found out that the Customs Office here is only open M-F from 8:30 to 5pm. Bummer because we can't leave the boat and you can hear all kinds of music from the town and the most delicious smells are wafting this way like barbeque and seafood! We are stuck on board until we can clear customs. The music has my feet tapping. Some oldies, some Cajun, some country, etc... I found out that the first weekend in May they have a Shrimper's Festival in Fernandina (considered the birthplace of the shrimping industry). In 1913 the fishermen began modern shrimping when they replaced the old row boats and casting nets with power driven seines and trawlers. Today they equip their nets with turtle excluders (see public opinion counts) that force larger critters out of an opening and siphon the smaller ones into the net compartment. This area has one of the largest shrimping industries - the boats average 250 to 500 pounds of shrimp per boat as they trawl the waters from dawn to dusk, providing roughly 80% of Florida's Atlantic white shrimp. As Bubba & Capt'n Dan says - you can serve m up here broiled, baked, sauted, with lemon, garlic, in casseroles, LOL... Oh man this is killing me. Sitting here in shrimper's paradise with all kinds of shrimp during this festival and I can't go ashore.... There's a parade of Shrimp boats going by...
Okay call to let my bro and daughter know we're anchored securely, then I'm going back to bed... May first was one lonnnnng day.... We're now back in the Horse Latitudes (between 30-35*N & S).
A continuation of 05/01
05/02/2009, Somewhere in the Atlantic on the way back
Saturday, 5/2/09, 01:30 I was sitting in the cockpit staring at the waves next to me, watching the phosphorescent creatures caught up in our wake flashing and twinkling at me in the water. They reminded me of stars shining at me but from below. The sky cleared nicely so I had stars above me and in a manner, stars below me as the critters strobed from darkness to brilliant little stars in the water. As I was watching this amazing phenomenon, a fin came up near the side of the boat and shocked me. I thought, "You did NOT see what you just thought you saw - it was a wave that was all". Then again, closer to the side of the boat as a wave was rising, a fin rose out of the water breaking the reflected moonlight pattern on the wave. I couldn't believe it. I had a dolphin riding waves, in the dark, next to the boat. I sat in the cockpit mesmerized, watching him swim right next to me. I could have reached out over the railing and touched him. I was literally in shock. A dolphin, swimming next to me in the dark. I don't know if our boat ran into his resting area so he was swimming to figure out what the heck we were doing, or if he was a night child, out for adventure, swimming along at night and decided to have a peak at us. It was an unexpected treasure for me though.
I continued watching the 1st quarter moon as it got lower on the horizon. A red semicircle of shimmering light that got dimmer the lower it got in the sky. Larger, dimmer, more red, more fuzzy, until it disappeared below the waves around 2:30am. I couldn't believe how dark it got without the moonlight. The only light besides my instruments were the stars in the sky and my phosphorescent stars below me in the water.
3am and all is quiet. Wayne gets the sunrise watch this morning. I'll miss it, but am really in need of a couple of hours of sleep. The auto helm is still working (fingers crossed here). The tape has separated from the belt near the bottom, but where the belt is not in contact with the gear, the tape is working marvelously! We decided DON'T touch it. As long as it's working, let it work so we don't have to stand with our hands on the wheel the entire watch. 4am, Wayne's watch - time for some shuteye.
7am - Back on duty. 0715 we decided to change course for St Augustine, so I reset our coordinates to head inward more and then Wayne went below for some much needed sleep. There's not a lot to look at - nothing on the horizon so to speak of other than waves, and more waves. I'm thinking though that since Otto is still holding up, and the day looks pretty good, that perhaps we should continue onward to Fernandina. I'll confer with the Capt'n when he gets back up.
9:30am Okay we're back on for Fernandina Beach Florida. We have 2-4 ft waves with 6-7 second periods; SW winds 8-10 knots and it's 74* out.
12:00pm Dolphins on the bow again! How wonderful they are! They came zooming up to the boat and started swimming along with us, beside us, under us and criss crossing back and forth in front of us. Our own personal vanguard (laughing out loud and pointing at them now). Of course I had to grab my camera again! One came leaping out of the water right next to me near the bow and splashed my camera when he entered the water as I was snapping his picture. Hope it comes out. This pair was definitely enjoying our company and was all around our boat before finally darting off again. They disappeared as fast as they came.
1900 (7pm) the sun is getting lower in the sky. Not much has happened today since the dolphins. I did see a sea turtle riding the surface current earlier. Not sure which kind - kind of yellowish so I don't think a Ridleys, maybe a green one. Seemed strange to see it out in the middle of nothing. Some mac salad and brownies for dinner - time for me to hit the sack - I'm a tired little puppy.
24:00 Wow, Wayne let me sleep - but I guess I really needed it. I'm not the marathon driver he is. I remember on our road trips with the kids, he'd only stop for gas. I always thought he'd have been happy as a truck driver - mile after mile of highway. LOL - I'm sure the girls would agree!