Tuesday 26 November 2019
This post began at midnight while we were still 44 nm from our mark off St Augustine's Inlet. Throughout the night conditions were very calm, almost no wind, and we motored along. Besides the calm night and how well the boat and engine is functioning, the other plus is that although the weather isn't warm it isn't really cold either. The seas were so calm that I could see the reflections of some of the brighter stars in the water.
I am also struck by how shallow it is. Thirty miles from land and it is shallow enough that I could safely reach the bottom with scuba gear. In fact, I could do it with the hookah system that we have aboard.
One thing I forgot to mention that we heard on the radio all day yesterday. The Coast Guard hailed three vessels that I noted and told them that they were in violation of laws that prevent vessels over a certain size from travelling faster than ten knots through a right whale sanctuary and that they, the Coast Guard, were turning over a recording of the radio transmission to NOAA for prosecution. Nice to hear that they are taking conservation seriously.
The other thing that we heard of was the Coast Guard asking mariners to be on the look out for missing sailors. As of supper time today the count is up to four separate boats. It’s terrible that someone is having a bad day but I wish they would broadcast resolution to the searches as quickly as they do the PAN PAN ones. It'd be nice to know if the lost weren't really lost or if they had been found. I mention this because folks that follow this blog may remember that we found one of the announced missing boats when we were bringing Nelleke home from Indiantown two years ago. That was not a happy ending. What we found was the sunken upturned hull with the deployed but empty life raft attached to it by a painter. Today there was one where the Coast Guard was looking for a particular boat that might have a woman named Helen aboard. The boat wouldn't answer their hails so they expanded the search to include other boaters whom they asked to keep an eye out. After about four hours of this we heard them talking to a boat who had "eyes on" the subject boat. This sort of thing makes the imagination run riot. A runaway child, bride, wife; an abused wife being abducted by her abusive husband; or a Paris and Helen of Troy sort of scenario perhaps.
On a more pleasant note all through the night at intervals there would be dolphins playing in our quarter wave. When it first happened I was a little startled until I figured out what it was. I wonder what they think of us, we two legged, air things that look back at them from our moving islands. Especially when they act like goons as I do cheering and laughing when I see them there.
At four thirty we saw the first boat I ten hours when a small commercial fishing boat came out and crossed astern of us. That triggered a higher state of alert for us since he was unlikely to be the last.
I am surprised at how spotty the internet connection is in the US. I can understand that there would be no connection when you are fifty plus miles at sea but there have been a number of places even inland where you can only get one bar and even that is very low speed. You would think that in a country like this there would be broad and blanket coverage. Right now I am quite excited. We have two whole bars!
We reached our turning mark off St Augustine at five thirty, made the course correction and are heading for Cape Canaveral which we should reach by eight o'clock tonight. Then, after another overnight we should be at St Lucies Inlet by ten o'clock Wednesday morning and into Stuart FL, our planned stop, by mid afternoon. We are going to take a mooring at Sunset Marina where we have stayed before and quite enjoyed it.
I downloaded another forecast and the original weather outlook remains the same so we are going for it. We do also have a number of bolt holes to tuck into along the way if things turn nasty as well.
We motored along the Florida Coast. Yep, the Florida Coast. For a while I was afraid we'd never get here. We are not that far, less than fifteen miles from shore but since the state is very flat and low lying we can't actually see the shoreline. What we can see are any buildings that might be on the shore - hotels, office buildings, and soon, space centre. They look like islands in the distance.
Around lunch time a small wind from the NW sprung up so we were able to motor sail a wee bit as we passed Daytona Beach.
We are beginning to make Christmas plans. Our very good friends Bob and Louis who live in Fort Myers will be coming to visit us this weekend and then we will be driving up to visit them later in December, perhaps right after Christmas. Bob is from the mid west but Louis is a native Floridian so we will have him to act as guide. We know Stuart quite well to begin with but he might know some of the environs.
As for today's leg, I believe that this was the first time that I actually felt warm while underway. Yesterday was sunny but there was still a chill to the air. Today, on the other hand, I began with my parka, mitts and wooly bear from my night watch and by ten o'clock I was down to jeans and shirt. Hurrah! I don't know what to say. We are finally south!
I was even motivated to put a trolling line over the side to see if we could entice a finny neighbour to join us for dinner. We use a Cuban reel system as it is the simplest and easily storable. You just haul the lure behind the boat attached to a nylon line with a metal leader. The other end is comprised of a piece of bungee cord and a snap hook which you fasten to the boat. The bungee cord folds back and is held in place by a clothes peg so that when the fish stroked there is a brief slackening of the line and then it snaps taught setting the hook. I am always remain fed when fishing of the old adage a watched pot never boils. Well, a watched troll line never catches a fish, either. Every time we have caught something has been when we have been ignoring it.