27 November 2017
We decided to wait a few days in Port Royal, S.C. for a weather window to go offshore. The boat behind us, Kestrel, a sweet 28 foot Shannon, is planning the same. We decided to buddy boat. We have spent some time with Steve and Anick, having sundowners and playing Mexican Train to pass the time. They are from Vermont and I love their story.....boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, buy a sailboat and sail (with no motor) to the Bahamas.....that was 30 years ago. They are returning to the Bahamas this year after years of sailing, raising two boys, 2 years home schooling them in Mexico aboard their 37 Tayana, and building a boat canvas business. The winter is their off season and allows them to travel. They have down sized the boat by choice, but Steve says it is so small, they have to go out in the cockpit to change their mind. They have no heat and are anxious to get farther south.
Sunday November 26
After careful planning to time the tides in both inlets it is decided that we will leave at 11:00 a.m. We leave through the Port Royal inlet. It is the longest inlet we have ever been through. At least 12 miles. It takes us nearly three hours from the marina to get outside. It is a bit bouncy but we try to have faith in the weather predictors that this will get better. When we are outside the channel we put all our sails up and turn south. We continue to motor sail as winds are light and we need to time the next inlet on an incoming tide. It is 130 miles and we've calculated that it will take 24 hours. The waves are higher and the winds are different than predicted. No surprise. It is not terrible. It doesnt even feel as cold as I expected. We had a sandwich for lunch but the seas are too high to go below to prepare anything for dinner, so we just snack. As night time nears we bring everything up into the cockpit that we might need. Extra coats, knit caps, gloves, pillows, blankets, ditch bag, more drinks and snacks. We turn the navagation lights on, dim the instruments to not interfere with our night vision and put on our life jackets. As the sun begins to set, the colors are like a rainbow of pink, blue and yellow, 360° around us. I've never seen anything like it. Then the sun sinks into the water and the sky is the most brilliant orange and then red. "Red sky at night, sailor's delight". There is a waxing gibbous moon, which gives just enough light but doesnt interfere with viewing the stars. It is a gorgeous night. This makes it all worthwhile. We took turns napping in the cockpit. Carl went below and slept a few hours around midnight. I went below around 3 a.m. and slept through the sunrise. Carl took a picture for me. As we came into the St. John's inlet in Jacksonville, Florida there was a warship coming out and another one behind us going in. The warship coming out called us on the radio to say "good morning" and to confirm that we were entering the channel and would meet them port to port. That's "affirmative" and we copy "port to port". We stayed in touch with SV/ Kestrel. They stopped for fuel and we went to the dock on Sister's Creek. Just as we arrived, Wally Moran and his group of a dozen new cruisers called "Sail to the Sun Rally" also arrived. We slipped into the head of the dock. They all rafted together to fit all of the boats in behind us. Kestrel decided to anchor out when they arrived. If all goes well, we should be in Vero Beach in four days to start the next waiting game. The window to cross the Gulf Stream.