Since restarting our cruise after Christmas, our main goal as been to reach a warmer climate. We started out in Jacksonville where it was close to freezing,
made it south to St Augustine where it was just as cold,
took a LONG trip further south to Lake Worth/Palm Beach in hopes of putting the freezing temps permanently behind us, then finally pushed on to Ft Lauderdale on Saturday.
We can finally say we have escaped the freezing cold! The forecast this week: Highs in the upper 70's / lows in the 60's... Hooray!
Here's a brief run down of our adventures over the last few weeks:
Left Jacksonville on a VERY cold morning, headed for St Augustine. We had a GREAT sail and managed to get there with light to spare. St Augustine was a great city to visit and since we had a weather front forecast to come through with rain and strong winds, we made the most of it by exploring the city and working on boat projects.
During our trips to town, we visited Flagler College, explored Castillo De San Marcos, toured a number of art galleries, and walked around the old part of town.
5 art galleries are owned and operated by a wonderful family. We were lucky enough to meet the owner Len Cutter while admiring the art work of Anne Packard. She was scheduled to have an exclusive one woman show that Friday. We were going to miss the event but were lucky to see her painting as they were hanging them in preparation for the show. Anne's show: http://www.cutterandcutter.com/ap/ Watch the documentary on this page - Anne is a true American original!
Thanks to the friendly and knowledgable crew at the Cutter&Cutter galleries, I also now have a new, favorite artist! His name is Glen Tarnowski and he has been called the father of modern allegorist. I'm not at all sure I understand what that means but I do love his work! Check out some of his beautiful paintings here:
The Art of Glen Tarnowski
We also got a few boat chores done on the rainiest day. Our biggest accomplishment: pulling 50 feet of Cat5 cable from the stern to the nav station at the middle of the boat!
It was still below freezing most nights in St Augustine and not much warmer than 45 during the day. We decided to bite the bullet and make the long passage around Cape Canaveral down to Lake Worth (211 miles). Winds were stronger than predicted and we made the entire passage under sail in about 34 hours. Temperatures were warmer at our new destination but we saw a small weather window to keep going so we only stayed there one night.
Our most recent sail, from Lake Worth to Ft Lauderdale was also pretty good. We had to motor a while to be sure to get in before sundown but it was a pretty good trip. The biggest challenge? Avoiding the fishing boats! With the warmest temps they've seen in months and light winds, there were hundreds of them along the coast!
Now we're sitting happily on a mooring at the Las Olas marina in Ft Lauderdale, enjoying the mild weather and getting ready for our hop across to the Bahamas. We'll be here about a week getting a few boat things sorted out, waiting for mail, and goofing off a bit!
More pictures here on our FLICKR site: Escaping the Cold Weather
01/07/2011, Jacksonville, FL
After a wonderful Christmas with Friends, Family and even snow on Christmas Day (thanks to a visit to North GA to see Mom and Dad), we were anxious to get back to the boat we had left in Jacksonville for the month.
We spent 4 days getting things ready to go and installing a few new and repaired boat components. After waiting for some weather to come through Wednesday we checked the tide tables and picked out departure time to get under the Fuller Warren bridge at low tide. This bridge is fixed and has a clearance of 75 feet at mean low water.
At just under 77 feet off the water, with antennas, we had taken down everything from the top of the mast and planned a precise time to go under the bridge at the lowest possible tide. The Fuller Warren bridge has a railway bridge right beside it but this bridge stays lifted unless a train is coming so it is normally not a problem. As we squeezed under the Fuller Warren with inches to spare, the railroad lights started flashing warning boats that the railroad bridge was closing (clearance closed = 10 feet). We had literally made it through the bridges with inches and seconds to spare!
One last bridge, the lifting Main Street Bridge, stood between us and a clear run to the Atlantic. We called the bridge operator and stalled for time while he stopped traffic.
After the Main Street Bridge we pulled along side the Promenade at Jacksonville Landing for a tie up overnight.
Friday morning Charles got his gear together and all of the boat antennas so we could reinstall them and carry on with our cruise.
From the ground, you can barely make him out up there.
I bet you're wondering what it's like to be that far up the mast. Charles took the camera with him this time to give you an idea!
Looking down on Main Street Bridge and Jacksonville Landing:
Antennas up and tested - we were ready to head down the river at noon.
We are a few miles down the river and safely anchored for the night. We'll make our way to the Atlantic tomorrow morning and sail down the coast to St Augustine. Stay tuned!
After our visit to Cumberland Island we motored a few miles inland to visit the delightful town of St Marys, Georgia. We arrived on the afternoon of the "White Lights" event and found out Santa was scheduled to ride through town that evening and arrive at the harbor around 6pm when the big Christmas tree would be lit up for the holiday season.
Before (and after) Santa's arrival, every dance class and singing group from the local area took the stage to entertain the crowd which was considerable. We watched the whole thing from a street side seat in a warm and welcoming seafood restaurant. The best of both worlds you might say...
After touring St Marys we headed over to meet our sailing friends, Larry and Eileen Murphy on Amelia Island. We met Larry and Eileen on their boat "Wayward Wind" during the Black Sea Rally of 2004. and have seen them a few times since; our most recent hook up was in the British Virgin Islands in 2008.
Larry and Eileen bought a really pretty house in Oyster Bay (just off Amelia Island) and happened to be home during our visit so they picked us up at the harbor for a tour around town. After a walk through the new 'historic town area' and a really nice lunch, we wen for a ride and got to see other parts of the island. The beach was very nice and reminded us a little of our cozy stretch of 'old Florida' on 30A. As we drove further south we came to Amelia Island Plantation and the Ritz Carlton and it felt a lot like our own Sandestin.
We dropped by the Ritz to check out their Gingerbread ship - it really is a gingerbread ship, complete with gingerbread crew. Very cool indeed....
We really enjoyed out stay at Cumberland Island, St Marys, and Amelia Island but we had to move on to Jacksonville so we can park the boat and come home for Christmas. More about that passage later...
We arrived at Cumberland Island on the morning of November 28th after an overnight passage from Charleston (165 nm). Since it was my birthday, I chose to be lazy all day - I caught up on my sleep, ate birthday cake (Charles baked it), and played with my new Birthday present.
We took the dingy ashore Monday morning for a day of exploring. It was overcast but warmer than normal so it was a perfect day to hike. We landed the dingy at the Sea Camp dock and paid our park admission fee before heading south on the River trail to the Ice Dock and then the Dungeness Ruins site.
Along the way we spotted a narrow trail off the main one and followed it off a few dozen yards. We were rewarded with an 'up close' encounter with a harem of wild horses. They were drinking water from a mad-made trough and seemed very tolerant of us being there. I snapped some photos and a short video.
The museum at the Ice House dock had great photos of the Dungeness house during it's prime. Built by the Carnegies in the 1880s, it was and still is an impressive site. The site was largely abandoned in the 1920s and burned down in 1959.
Aside from the wild horses we encountered on our way to the ruins, the other creatures that appear in large quantity on the island are Armadillos and wild Turkeys. I had never seen an Armadillo up close (not alive any way) and found them to be really cute.
We were eager to see the long beach on the other side of the marshes and dunes so we followed a boardwalk out into the marshes. We saw the sign pointing to the beach but decided instead to follow some of the horse trails in the other direction - this led to a rather LONG hike to the water. Note: horses do not travel in a straight line.
We arrived at the beach a little after low tide and enjoyed watching the surf and the seagulls as we walked north to the Sea Camp Beach access point. Along the way we saw the carcass of a sea turtle, it must have died during the turtle nesting period earlier this summer.
On the trail back to the the West side of the island we walked through a forest of ancient live oaks. The size of the trees and the spanish moss hanging everywhere made for a delightful walk.
It was a wonderful visit and we hope to return here in the spring to do more exploring.
Follow this link to see more photos.
Next stop - St Marys, Georgia - 7 miles up the river.