2008/12/12

12th December 2008

We have been moving along very slowly for the past four days since we last posted anything on the blog. The weather has been cold and for the last two days extremely windy, which has not made for pleasant traveling.

The 9th was a short travel day from Jekyll Island past the Trident nuclear submarine base on the St Mary’s River to Fernandina Beach and our first stop in Florida. Having left at 10.00 hrs we were tied up by 14.30 hrs so were able to spend some time exploring Old Fernandina. A wonderful ice cream and fudge parlour beckoned so we indulged and then walked for what seemed like miles looking for wedding magazines for our friend who is already in Hope Town. Her daughter is getting married in May thus she wants some ideas. Amazingly enough we could not find a store that sold magazines .

The following day was a longer trip….. we cast off at twenty to eight in the morning, a bright and crisp day, heading for St Augustine. An uneventful day but with quite a lot of current in various places. Just before leaving I had asked the dock master what the situation was with a bascule bridge which is being demolished and a high bridge being built to replace it. We knew that there were only certain opening hours. A helpful tug skipper answered the VHF call and told us that the bridge would only be open before 07.00 hrs – from noon to 13.00 hrs and after 17.00 hrs. Our timing, even if I say so myself, was perfect we arrived at Noon and barely had to slow down! However the current coming through the opening was in excess of three knots against us and we were happy that we had such a good and powerful engine !

We had chosen to stay, once again, at Camachee Creek Marina, where we had stayed on our previous north bound trip. It’s a very nice marina, very clean and lots of room, although quite a distance from the town of St Augustine. We tried to take fuel but the pump was on strike so nothing doing there. The next day dawned very windy and we decided to remain where we were, as we knew that a strong frontal system was going to come through Florida. It was warmer however.

Boy did it ever. About 10.00 hrs the boat started to lean to starboard and the wind started to howl with some very, very big gusts. The highest wind we saw was just on 42 knots and we were glad that we had paid attention to the weather charts and forecasts. It blew at a steady 25 knots for most of the morning and then started to rain…. and rain some more. Some time after lunch the rain stopped and although the wind was still gusty the sky cleared and the sun shone but the temperature had decreased significantly. We chatted with other cruisers as to what their plans were and it seemed no one could make up their minds as to whether to go the next day or not.

This morning therefore we did not exert ourselves unduly but after listening to the weather on the VHF and reading NOAA’s web site decided to go. The wind was 15/20 knots but from the north west and thus mostly on the starboard quarter or astern. Not so bad. We missed the 09.30 hrs bridge opening at the Bridge of Lions since our ensign decided it didn’t wish to continue the voyage with us and jumped overboard. A rapid man overboard drill ensued and I am pleased to say that we rescued the ensign and the pole within a very short time and at the first try. Bravo to the mate who caught it well and truly by the material. (our ensign is our Canadian flag, in case anyone thought we had lost crew overboard!….ed). The result of all this excitement was that we had to hang around until the 10.00 hrs opening. All went well and the voyage proceeded smoothly. The Matanzas Inlet which is notorious for shifting sand bars and odd currents proved testing but we passed safely through at reduced speed. We needed to be particularly careful since we were very close to low water… the worst we saw was a six foot spot on the depth sounder which would translate into about eight feet . Our depth sounder is set for about two feet less than the actual depth shown(we hope ed).. it’s a safety margin!!

The skipper however was getting very cold and it was not particularly pleasant cruising so we decided to stop early at this nice marina named Palm Cove and we are still about 30 odd miles from Daytona. We took fuel here and then berthed and went for a walk around this rather smart but very quiet development. It has a shopping square on the lines of a European village square. There’s nobody about and several of the stores have obviously bitten the dust.

Tomorrow, it will be a long day as we are going to try and push through to Titusville. With some luck and minimal delays we should be able to do it, we’ll let you know how we get on in the next installment!

Bye for now.

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