A Travellerspoint blog

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Monday, our first day out, was a difficult day, intense and tiring. We got underway for Fernandina Beach, a trip of about 45 miles. The first mile or so went pretty well, down the East River from the marina. When we hit the main channel the tidal current slowed us to 1.0 knots, sometimes less. So, out went the new mainsail at the 2d reef point, maybe 25% of the sail surface; with the wind assist we managed to hit 3.5 knots, a casual walking pace.

The transit behind Jekyll Island was OK, if slow. When we hit St. Andrew’s Sound the wind picked up and it got way rough. The trick in the sound is that, more or less, you go out into the ocean and then double back behind Cumberland Island. Of course, the tidal current was against us for hours, speed in the area of 3.0 knots.

The channel was poorly marked: markers where none were indicated, others missing that should have been there, and two buoys were washed up on the beach at the north end of the island. And all the while, winds approaching, sometimes exceeding, 25 knots. Hooray for chart plotters with GPS and way points; technology beats smarts.

The bit of good luck came when we got near King’s Bay Naval Base. There, the tidal current started glowing south and, since the wind was on the stern, we put out the jib, but not very much of it. At one point we were making better than 8.0 knots with tide and wind.

As we neared Fernandina Beach, south of the naval base, a Coast Guard cutter hailed us. There were three US naval ships getting underway and they wanted us to clear the channel, which we did. The USCG guys were nice and polite; but, the forward gun mount was manned, just in case. One was a submarine, if you can pick it out. P2010192.jpgThe other was a vessel, the type of which I had never seen. If you want to know why spies may become obsolete, google HOS Black Powder. There's an amazing amount of information on the web.

At Fernandina Beach, when we were trying to secure the boat to the mooring ball, Carol, in the space of about 5 minutes managed to loose her hat overboard, bend the boat hook, then drop the bent boat hook over the side, it floats, and finally to foul the two lines to the mooring ball. First day nerves I guess, although in her defense it was very windy in the mooring field. Fortunately, someone going by in a dinghy recovered the boat hook and returned it.

Inside things didn’t go too much better. The electric blanket we were counting on doesn't work. Not a problem but the bed wasn’t be toasty warm. I decided to try the electric heater though the inverter, just to see what would happen: Bad Idea! In the space of a minute or so the batteries went from 13.8v. to 12.7v. Curiosity satisfied, we’ll only use that piece of equipment with the Honda generator. And the anemometer was having a quiet day showing winds of 2~3 knots when they were blowing 20 knots plus. On the good side, after a full day of fighting the boat due to the wind, the fair return was that the wind generator was really cranking out power, topping off the batteries in short order.

Carol and I hit the sheets before 8:00 pm, partly to stay warm and partly because we were feeling our age. With enough expedition weight thermal underwear, two blankets and a comforter will keep you warm, and we were. The extra clothing also serves as an ad hoc form of birth control: old folks cannot stay awake or stay interested long enough to get all those clothes off. We actually slept until about 6:00 am, unusually late for us.

On Tuesday, plan B went into effect. The VHF weather forecasts had a series of high and low pressure cells passing, each about 24 hours apart. If there was a weather window to go offshore, it has slammed shut. So, we are putt-putting down the ICW which is an acronym for boring, boring, boring. Of course, as I bemoan having to go down the ICW in stead of offshore, I am reminded that on Monday, we heard the USCG announce that one sailboat had an EPIRB, an emergency signal, broadcast and another sailboat called in a distress signal. Way too much physical and mental stress to save a few days in transit, not to mention the actual risk.

One interesting thing that we noticed today was clumps of birds huddled along the shore line. P2010194.jpg It’s not apparent why they weren’t foraging: weather, tide, moon? From a distance they look like snowy egrets; these birds are larger, about the size of a blue heron, and not so pure white as egrets; and, they have a black band on the underside of their wings. Maybe we can find a Roger Tory Peterson book in St. Augustine.

Today we stopped at a marina in Jacksonville Beach, under duress. St. Augustine is too far for us to make in one day and there are no good anchorages between here and there. It rained pretty good this morning so at least we can dry things out.

The sort of plan is to stop tomorrow in St. Augustine, run some errands and then to head south to Vero Beach, maybe even to see the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Posted by sailziveli 15:41

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Comments

Good to hear that you are surviving...and that you have put to sea! Now as for the birds. The picture was not large enough for me to tell too much, but the likely candidates are White pelicans or wood storks. The pelican has yellow feet...the wood stork has black legs...The pelican is about 62 inches tall/weighs 16 pounds. The wood stork is 40 inches tall and weighs about 5 pounds. A third option might be the Northern gannet, but I have not seen them in large numbers like that...and they are more likely to sit on the water. You would have seen them diving in to the water from about 30 feet in the air.
If you are buying a guide book, look at the Kaufmann book or the Sibley...both are excellent field guides. Peterson guides do not have the quality of illustrations
I have seen some of the submarines when I was going out to Cumberland before...quite impressive, arent they?
Sounds like you are off to a great start! Here is to the smooth sailing. A and M

by SCfriends

So excited to hear that you are underway. A&M started sending us your blog a while ago as we are hoping/planning to taking off too in the IP we just bought in December, but right now it is in dry dock in Green Cove Springs on the St John's River, and we are still at home. Could just see myself trying to pick up that mooring ball, but probably will fall overboard trying to do it! Great to see the ships and birds too. Wouldn't have seen those at sea!
Sunday we read online about Bridge of Lions on the ICW at St. Augustine that is closed for construction. Confirmed it on www.fdotbridgeoflions.com
Probably you've already found this info, but just in case.
Love to keep up with your adventures.

by AnnandBill

So excited to hear that you are underway. A&M started sending us your blog a while ago as we are hoping/planning to taking off too in the IP we just bought in December, but right now it is in dry dock in Green Cove Springs on the St John's River, and we are still at home. Could just see myself trying to pick up that mooring ball, but probably will fall overboard trying to do it! Great to see the ships and birds too. Wouldn't have seen those at sea!
Sunday we read online about Bridge of Lions on the ICW at St. Augustine that is closed for construction. Confirmed it on www.fdotbridgeoflions.com
Probably you've already found this info, but just in case.
Love to keep up with your adventures.

by AnnandBill

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