Guided by Venus
16 January 2020 | St. Augustine
Eighteen years ago, Christoph posted a profile on match.com with a tag line that seemed like a lifeline: "Sculptor Looking for Venus." Goddess of beauty, love and sex, Venus was born of seafoam, symbolized by scallop shell and dolphin. I can trace a magenta line from those four words through all of our sailing journeys together, to this mooring in St. Augustine, where the setting sun casts a red glow on the gray clouds beginning to gather in the west, harbinger of an approaching front. The water in the harbor is silver and preternaturally still, soon to be churned by the coming wind. The famous night lights of St. Augustine cast a soft golden glow, outlining the gables, windows and rooflines of the Victorian, Spanish and modern waterfront structures.
We motorsailed last night from Brunswick, Georgia, with a south wind that eventually came around to the west. As I stood my early evening watch and Christoph slept below, Venus blazed in the western sky. The pulsating planet, the waxing half moon, the patterns of wheeling stars in the inky sky, and Joe Morton's outstanding reading of Ta Nehisi Coates' "The Water Dancer" were equally captivating. The trip was only 85 nautical miles, and we had to slow down in order to enter the channel just before slack tide at 06:30.
Operating on little sleep, we thought it would be relaxing to take one of the trolleys that loop around the city and stop at its many historical sites and tourist attractions. We found the experience uncomfortably Disneyesque, and much preferred meandering along the narrow streets and back alleys, peering into shady courtyards, stopping to read historical markers every few yards.The complex history of the city can be pieced together through a self-guided walking tour––still-occupied former homes of Spanish notables; cemeteries of multiple Christian denominations; Catholic missions, forts and Victorian buildings. Founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Avilés, the city, like the state, was fought over by Spain, England, pirates and privateers, France, Loyalists, Minorcans, and Seminoles––over 450 years of continuous settlement.
We ate lunch in a courtyard restaurant, listening to reggae music. A Trump 2020 banner hung over the wall of an adjacent apartment building. While we ate, the Chief Justice was sworn in as presiding officer of President Trump's impeachment trial.
Preparing to Set Sail from Brunswick, GA
14 January 2020 | Brunswick Landing
Delfina has been at a dock at the Brunswick Landing Marina in Brunswick, GA since mid-November, when we sailed here from the Chesapeake Bay. We then returned home to Lambertville, New Jersey, to celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year's with family and friends. The weekend before we left, Christoph and I drove up to see our granddaughter Juniper, who at 2 1/2 is engaged in an incessant stream of conversations and observations. Missing her is the hardest part of leaving.
We arrived a week ago, and have spent the past week repairing, detailing and provisioning in preparation for sailing south to Florida and the Bahamas. In addition to dozens of minor maintenance jobs, Christoph replaced the hot water heater, installed a buffer on the water maker and changed the sensors for the propane system.We have cleaned thoroughly above and below decks and reorganized the lockers. We feel just about ready to go.
This wonderfully hospitable marina features a huge lending library, free laundry, morning yoga, free beer and happy hours at least 3 times a week. Yoga sessions and happy hours have provided great opportunities to exchange information with other boaters and to discover on who is going south and when. The wind has been adverse for southern travel, but it looks like we may have an opportunity to head south to Florida tomorrow afternoon, as soon as UPS delivers our wifi device from My Island Wifi.
The marina is within walking distance of downtown Brunswick, which is one of nine finalists for The Small Business Revolution TV series. With new restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops, the developing downtown is filled with signs that say "Were in the Top Ten." Some say that Brunswick is on its way to becoming the next Savannah. Brunswick also boasts a beautiful Victorian old town. When we sailed Defina here in November, we arrived in time for Porchfest; we rode borrowed bikes from the marina through the district, stopping to listen to live music played from dozens of porches. I even got a chance to practice my hoola-hoop skills.
Flocks of blackbirds have been roosting on the masts, leaving brown dribbles and nutshells all over the decks...there are also great blue herons in flight and snow white egrets dotting the coastal pines like ornaments. The fat full moon this past week shone brightly, illuminating the 14 docks, still packed with sailboats and trawlers; the train tracks adjacent to the marina, where freight trains pass in the afternoons, and the churning paper mill down the road. Soon we will be on the open water, leaving all development for the expanse of the sea.