10/12/2009/4:47 pm, Fernandina Beach, FL
There is something about this bit of northern Florida... we feel very much like we've arrived somewhere home-like. Perhaps it's the fact that we have several friends here (an oft-mentioned benefit of cruising), perhaps it's the friendliness of the folks around the marina and the town, perhaps the way those huge old trees laden with spanish moss just envelop a person, but this is a place to linger.
After the best night's sleep in a long time, we left Steve and Sandra's (in their graciously loaned car) to see how Madcap had fared overnight. All was well, fortunately. We picked up Ken and Connie and drove to K-mart and the other big stores on Sadler Road. Jim managed to replace our cell phone that stopped working, we picked up some other odds and sods and Ken and Connie took care of some things.
In the evening, the four of us returned to Steve and Sandra's for dinner and, once again had a lovely, conversation filled time. These folks are superb hosts!
We have checked in with the Cruisers Net on SSB a few times. We've often been able to connect with the Bahamas. Today, Karin on Passages just down the dock relayed for us so our buddies know where we are!
After Wednesday's wild night of wind and rain that had us straining at the dock lines and every line/halyard/assorted other pieces of rigging on the boat rattling loudly, we woke up to cold weather again.
Thursday saw us at work on computers and phones. Jim ordered a new condenser unit and freezer bin from Sea Frost, I caught up on postings, and we booked ourselves into a slip at Fernandina Harbour Marina for a month. We had planned to fly home from Nassau on Dec 17th. That is clearly not going to happen so we're trying to negotiate a change in departure locations. After much discussion about getting farther south, and weather windows and fronts and possible marinas, we decided to just stay here. We got a good rate at the marina - they'll deduct the daily fees we've already paid from the monthly rental, and we don't have to be trying to meet one more schedule. We will just have to hope for decent weather after we come back to get us on the move again.
We're off to Tina's tonight for more fun and keeping our fingers crossed that everything falls into place!
08/12/2009/9:23 pm, Fernandina Beach
(This posting replaces the one in which I told you that 27 hours after we left Charleston, we arrived back there again!)
Those overnighters are always tiring, even when we maintain watches and get some reasonable sleep. But boy oh boy - is it ever nice to turn 4 or 5 ICW days into 27 hours on the ocean!
We departed Charleston on the ebb tide - about 1230 hours with a reasonable wind and I really thought we might be able to sail this one. No such luck. Once we turned out of the channel, heading southwest, that very nice NE 15 knot wind was right behind us. I always get grumpy for a bit when I realize we'll be motor sailing, but fortunately, Jim has learned to expect this and cope with it, knowing it will pass. We tacked a bit for the first while, trying to get a somewhat comfortable angle of sail so that we weren't yawing and pitching quite so much and eventually settled into a reasonable compromise - being basically headed in the right direction, with small adjustments for comfort.
The evening was quite magical, really, despite the noise of the engine. We were treated to a fabulous display of dolphin play. They leaped and dove, coming in close to the boat and moving away again. The sun was setting and both sky and sea were a subtle shade of pink. I managed to catch glimpses of sleek dophin bodies zooming along barely below the surface - grey under blue-grey just touched with pink. The magical part appeared when I looked up to the sky and saw a dolphin shaped cloud just hanging there low in the sky. It was pretty impressive! No pics - I decided to sit still and absorb it all.
I had cooked some pasta earlier in the day, so despite my wildly swinging stove, I heated up the Bolognese sauce, added in the fusili, tossed some freshly grated parmesan on top and voila - pretty decent dinner! The only thing missing was the red wine due to the Madcap rule of no drinking on passages.
We weren't alone out there this time - Oz flew along ahead of us, and Restless was travelling too. Restless had some engine problems for a while, but got them fixed up and came in under their own power. We saw a couple of "big ships" during the night bound to and from Savannah, but nothing that we had to take major pains to avoid. With our enclosure up, we were really quite warm, and hot chocolate and granola bars at watch changes took care of blood sugar levels and kept us alert. We have found that roughly 3 hour watches work for us - 4 hours are too long to stay fully awake, and 2 hours don't give us enough continuous sleep. Kind of like Goldilocks - we had to find out what feels "just right!" for us.
We turned into the St Mary's entrance channel just after slack tide so the ebb wasn't too strong, and made the turn to Fernandina Beach. By 1530 hours on Tuesday, we were pulling up to the Fernandina Harbor Marina. On past occasions, we've picked up a mooring ball here but there weren't any deep draft ones left so we pulled in along the inside of the long floating dock. (I am getting way too used to this!)
The temperature was 76F and humid so the first thing I did was take off my socks and roll up my pant legs. Yeah! Then, dark'n stormy's in hand, we were off to debrief the trip with Oz. At 6 our good friend Steve arrived to whisk us away to dinner at his and Sandra's house. It was absolutely joyous to reunite with them. Tina (our other local friend and my Healing Touch soul sister) and Mike, (currently doing some work for Steve) joined us so warm and wonderful conversation flowed as we dined on chicken, veggies, roasted potatoes and salad with a banana/custard concoction to satisfy our dessert stomachs. I managed to totter off to a comfy bed there before I fell off my chair and had the best sleep in weeks. Jim wasn't too long following me either!
07/12/2009/11:30 am, Charleston, SC
I did laundry in the morning while Jim took the marina shuttle back to West Marine. The new chart plotter wouldn't recognize our radar or AIS and after some sleuthing, he discovered that new software updates were not installed on it. Back he went to rectify that, and pay another little visit to Harris Teeter for some more of their wonderful bread.
Jim arrived back just about when the clothes were dry and we headed off to walk along Broad Street where we caught the end of the Christmas Parade. We saw group after group of high school marching bands and cadet groups, several enthusiastic church floats, a group of vintage corvettes and at the end, Santa Claus himself! We chuckled at the highly stressed parade-traffic-director on our corner and figured he was seriously in need of come Christmas cheer! One float was from a BBQ place and the aroma had our stomachs rumbling so much that we immediately took ourselves off in search of food.
First was a stop at that wonderful sweet shop on Market street that Sue and Terry introduced us to last trip. We stocked up on to-die-for pralines of creamy brown sugar and pecans, and carmelly/chocolaty bear claws. One of our taxi drivers earlier in the week recommended Jim and Nick's BBQ on King Street, so with that smell from the float still tantalizing us, we walked up and along two or three blocks to find it. It was just about 4:30 but half the tables were filled with families so we sat ourselves down and ordered up a couple of platters of pulled pork and ribs. Delicious!
With the idea of finding some Christmas music, and having done laundry instead of following Jeannie's suggestion of going to church in the morning, we visited First Baptist Church for their service of Lessons and Carols. It turned out to be mostly a church school affair, but it was endearing to see the children with sweet smiles, clear voices and doting parents with cameras. Perhaps we'll find Christmas music of a finer kind further along the way. Our long walk- very long because we went a few blocks in the wrong direction first - helped work off that huge dinner and despite the blisters on Jim's feet, allowed us one more enjoyable browse along streets lined with Charleston mansions.
On Monday morning as we were gathering ourselves together in preparation for departure, a Bayfield 36 came cruising by - Kolibrie with Pat and Wayne on board. Pat come down the dock for a chat after they got tied up and made me feel so good by telling me that she'd followed and enjoyed our blog on our first trip. It was great to meet her and we'll look forward to meeting again in some harbour in the Bahamas. That's what happens in the cruising world!