PHOTO ABOVE: El Galeon heading for the dock in St. Augustine. The St. Augustine mooring field where can been seen immediately behind the galleon. As this photo was taken, we were picking up the mooring pendant. El Galeon Video
Cocoa, FL to New Smyrna Beach via ICW / Indian River
Distance: 45.2 nm (motor)
A mostly uneventful leg north except for the fact that the alternator regulator died and as such the alternator is not charging the battery bank. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
The good news was it only took me about 45 minutes to figure out why the regulator was out; no power. The 12vdc power supply line comes right off the positive alternator post and through a fuse holder. The recent installation I had of a new alternator and wiring harness necessitated a new power line to the regulator. The installation wasn't very seaworthy I'd say. The wire pulled out of the fitting attached to the alternator, probably because it was not crimped properly and there was undue strain on the connection from too short a wire. I had an alternate fuse holder and I simply cut out the old one and spliced in the new one, this time with plenty of play in the wire so as not to put any strain on it. Since then all has worked as designed.
New Smyrna Beach to St. Augustine
Distance: 59.4 nm (motor)
The excitement began just as we entered the mooring field. The Bridge of Lions sits just north of the large southern mooring field and as we approached I spied 2 very tall masts on the other side. Then as the bridge open a massive Spanish galleon began to make its way through the span. It was tight! What in the world was this galleon doing here? We came to learn a bit later that the ship, named El Galeon, was a replica of the Spanish galleons that first visited St. Augustine in the late 1500's.
From the St. Augustine Record: "El Galeon’s tour is part of the celebration to commemorate Florida’s 500-year history since it was first discovered by European explorers. St. Augustine is one of four Florida port stops for the Viva Florida 500 Voyage of El Galeón as it sails a historic route similar to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León’s 500 years ago. The ship set sail from Puerto Rico on April 1 and landed in Miami on Monday, where it will stay until April 28. El Galeón is a 170-foot, 495-ton, authentic wooden replica of a galleon that was part of Spain’s West Indies fleet. During the visit to Florida the galleon will cover more than 900 nautical miles, with 28 crew members on board maneuvering more than 9,600 square feet of sail area, the same way it was conducted in the 16th century."
History: Ponce de León sailed from Puerto Rico, when he was governor, in search of an island of riches and perhaps the fountain of youth. He spotted land April 3, 1513, and promptly named it La Florida. His arrival marked the beginning of a European presence in what is now the U.S. mainland, and Ponce de Leon is also credited with discovering the Gulf Stream, which led to development of the early trade routes between Spain and the Americas that brought galleons filled with treasures perilously close to Florida’s shores.
Once on board the size is impressive. It was really amazing to see up close the rigging of the ship which was nearly identical to the original. El Galeon does have the benefit of polyester lines, and lots of them!
St. Augustine to Port Royal, SC
Distance: 160 nm (motor sail) via Atlantic Ocean
We timed our departure from St. Augustine such that high tide occurred when we were traversing the infamous St. Augustine inlet, graveyard to many a sailboat and motor yacht. With a proper speed we would reach the offshore channel to Port Royal Sound right about the time of peak flood current. These were good combinations.
For 100 nm we motor sailed in pleasant weather with light and variable wind, though it never did move to the east and southeast as forecast. It never does. Instead we had a ENE wind that really did not do much for us. We were fortunate to pick up quite a north bound current, though it was clearly not the Gulf Stream.
A bit south of Tybee Island and the main shipping channel into Savannah, GA, the seas became confused. Swells shortened in period and increased in height. There was no significant wind we could use to stabilize the boat with the sails. We motored on in classic cork screw fashion. The last 60 nm of the trip was tiring and aggrivating, but there was no alternative.
Approaching the shipping channel about 5:00 am things were busy. Ships were calling for pilots and others were waiting. It can be very nerve wracking as it is extremely hard to tell speed and direction several miles away in the dark. I tried to pull up my iPhone AIS app but we were far enough offshore that the 4G signal was insufficient to pull AIS data off the web. So we used radar and monitored the VHF. We cleared the area safely and made for the sea buoy that marks the entrance to the offshore channel through shallow water and into Port Royal Sound. Once at he end of the channel we caught the flood current and zoomed down Port Royal Sound and past Paris Island on the Beaufort River at 8.5 knots. We were tied off on the face dock of Port Royal Landing Marina by 9:15 am. It was time to catch up on sleep.
We are going to keep Far Niente at the Port Royal Landing Marina for a while. Many, many maintenance items to address, repairs, and upgrades. These will likely take all summer. In the mean time there is a great boating community here at PRLM which is family owned and operated. The facility and staff are top notch.
If your vacation plans or your cruising agenda find you in Beaufort or Hilton Head, do contact us so we can get together.