Sailing South on Solitude

John, Penni & Timmy

The Adventure is not over yet

We enjoyed another civilized day in St Augustine yesterday. Lunch, then a tour of the Lightner museum which is housed in the old resort hotel that Henry Flagler built in 1888. It is an impressive piece of architecture and used to hold the largest indoor swimming pool in the world. We also looked at Flagler college which is in the other resort hotel Flagler had built. The lobby and courtyard are amazing but we did not do the full tour. Instead we enjoyed a coffee at a local coffee shop. We then rounded out the day by picking up some half price pies at Kookaburras. They may not quite be English, but they are very good. We learned last time that they go on sale at 4 pm. I walked in at 3:55 and they said they would do the half price deal for me. Before I finished my transaction the store was filled with another eight people waiting for a deal. My timing was perfect! We took them back to the boat and settled in for the evening. We decided an early start was not required to get us to the St Johns river - 30 miles away. We slept well despite the revelry going on in St Augustine on a Friday night. We left at 8:50 with the tide helping us up the ICW for half of the way. We were able to use the jib to help us maintain a speed of 6 knots for the approach to Jacksonville beach. We have anchored just past the beach area close to the mouth of St John’s river. Next stop will be Reynolds Marina area to prepare the boat. We may anchor out one more night or go into the marina. Today, we dinghied Timmy in to a little beach close to our anchorage. He has been very tired all day as he recovers from walking around St Augustine. As we pulled up to the beach I noticed how brown the water is. Not as inviting as jumping off into the Bahama blue waters. There is another disadvantage to murky water. As John pulled the dinghy on shore we heard a tearing sound and air escaping. There was a sharp rock under the dinghy that we had not noticed. One side of the dinghy was gradually deflating. I instinctively tapped my pocket- no phone. ‘Do you have your phone?’ I interrupted John’s cursing. ‘Yes’ he replied with a frustrated look. ‘Well, that’s one good thing’ I noted. Otherwise, there was not much good news. We had a damaged dinghy, and engine threatening to give up at a moments notice, no food or water and only one life jacket (mine). We were on a beach in the middle of nowhere and Solitude was bobbing happily a quarter of a mile up the river. As Timmy chased fiddler crabs, John decided he would try to take the dinghy back to Solitude, fix it, and then come back for us. He reassured me that the boat has three separate chambers and hoped that would be enough. The engine splurted into action and I watched my husband of nearly thirty- four years head towards Solitude, slowly, listing heavily to the right, and getting lower to the water by the second. I turned to encourage Timmy to do his business. When I looked up again, John was heading back towards me. I was relieved while immediately beginning to formulate the next plan. John waited just offshore. ‘ It’s fine, you and Timmy can go in the front and we will all go back’. After nearly thirty-four years of marriage I have learned that it is best not to question or comment at this point so I waded in the dark brown water where crabs or goodness knows what may be heading towards my toes, and Timmy and I sat up front. John pushed off hard and I fell backwards onto the floor, legs still hanging over the seat. John laughed, Timmy readjusted his position so he was still sitting on the seat with his bottom on my legs. I was not phased by the indignity of my position but the image of the dinghy low in the water was stuck in my head. ‘I feel I should have my life jacket on’ I commented from the floor, where it was clear to everyone that I would not be able to put a life jacket on now. The injured part of the dinghy was getting lower in the water. We were sinking fast, but John remained optimistic. ‘The tear is under the water, so I think the air is holding’. It did not look that way to me but, you know, after nearly thirty- four years….Besides, we were nearly at Solitude. I was confident that, if absolutely necessary, I could swim in the disgustingly murky water to Solitude. Luckily for all concerned, that was not necessary and we boarded Solitude with relief and our lives. John looked down at the dinghy. ‘Oh’. In other words- ‘Oh Deary me, there really isn’t much air left in the right hand side. As he hauled the dinghy out it became clear that the only thing in the right hand side was water. Thank goodness for an inflatable floor. And so we live to tell another tale. It is at this point that I have to confess my thoughts. Well, not even thoughts, my feelings. I am pretty ashamed to admit it though. You see, I was the one who insisted on buying patches for the dinghy. I was the one who insisted we bought new glue for the patches. So the feeling that has engulfed me, unbidden, is a mixture of pride and superiority. I won’t gloat, but I am finding it hard to keep a smile off my face. John is too busy to notice as he is using the patches and glue to fix the dinghy.


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