A "Shortcut" to Florida
24 September 2011 | Fernandina Beach, FL
Well our time in Charleston was well spent. We had some great meals and were able to spend some time with some great friends, Captain Buddy, LeeAnne, Lorna and Steve.
On Friday morning, we were up before dawn and away from the dock at 6:30. We watched the sun come up as we approached Fort Sumter again. The Tidal current pushed us out of the inlet at about 8.5 knots which was great. However, there was a strong wind opposing the tidal current which made for some big swells as we were passing through the jetty. In that kind of S/E wind, I think it would be better to wait for slack tide even if its slower going... Oh well, we made it although we buried the bow a few times and got bounced around pretty good. (We even had a few sodas explode in the cabin which made for a pretty good messs for the first mate to clean up)
As you proceed south from the Charleston Sea Buoy, the coastline falls away to the west pretty fast so within a few hours we were well offshore. We passed some warships doing something just after turning SSW. Apparently we never got close enough to cause them any concern as they never called us.
Offshore, we found sunny skies and fairly strong winds (on our nose naturally). Looking to the west, it appeared that it was rainy over the mainland all day and night. As we continued, we found that an unfavorable current was slowing our progress although I don't think we were in the gulf stream but we may well have been. Whatever it was, it had our speed knocked down to about 4.6 knots for many hours.
Late in the afternoon, we decided to start tacking back and forth to pick up some boat speed and just to relieve the boredom. Well, we sure did THAT alright. After our third tack, the head sail tore loose from the base of the forestay and went fluttering in the breeze. We tried to furl the sail and discovered that the furling line had also twisted and fouled. I got to go up on to the pitching foredeck and untangle the mess. We were then able to get the headsail back on the furler. Well, so much for boredom!!
Now here we were about 50 miles off shore with one fewer sailing option... We were hoping that there would be no more malfunctions. About an hour later, as if by design, a pod of dolphins came by to cheer us up. They kept pace with us for about 40 minutes. They kept swimming along side us and under the boat. They would also frequently jump clear out of the water, sometimes in groups of two or three. There were several adults and two or three babies. By the time they left we had pretty much forgotten about the head sail.
We ate dinner as the sun went down and prepared for a moonless night at sea. All night, we could see lightning in the distance but (thankfully) it stayed well to the west and we were spared any real weather-related excitement. I can tell you that when there is nothing in sight in any direction but flat ocean, and you have a 62 foot aluminum mast over your head, lightning is pretty high on your list of things that you DON'T want to encounter.
Dave and I napped intermittently in the cockpit throughout the night, taking turns watching the horizon while the autopilot steered us along. After midnight, the winds shifted enough that we were able to use the mainsail to get some additional boat speed. We also got away from the opposing current as we started to close with the coast.
Dawn found us off the coast of southern Georgia. Through the binoculars, I could see the spans of the Brunswick Island Bridge. We came through the jetty at the St Mary's Entrance around noon and entered Cumberland Sound.
By 1:00 PM we were tied up at Fernandina Harbor Marina on Amelia Island. Nap time!
Here's a picture from the trip.