A Travellerspoint blog

Heading North

After a good night's sleep to recover from the two day trip from Marsh Harbour, we went through the required immigration stuff to get ourselves legally back in the country. It wasn't an onerous procedure but it still had its complications which, due to Carol's patience, we survived. The guys all had guns after all, so keeping me quiet was a good idea.

We rather thought that we had just a few days of dull and boring ahead of us as we motored north, that we had left excitement at the waters edge of the coast. Inland waters are easy.

We got underway about noon for a short days cruise to Titusville, less than 20 nm. All of the assumed easy was true for about 20 minutes. While we were waiting for a bascule bridge to open the engine overheating alarm sounded. So, off goes the engine, Carol got the big anchor down, and I put out a security warning on VHF 16. There were lots of possible reasons for the engine to overheat, most of them bad, and I had no idea what I would see when I opened the engine compartment. It was good news, of a left handed kind: the alternator belt, which also turns the raw water pump for the cooling system, was hanging in shreds. We got out one of several spares, the socket set and several wrenches; I have all the nut/bolt sizes labeled and memorized. In 15 minutes the engine was running and the anchor was up. It was almost a pleasure to have a problem that could be easily identified and repaired.

Just to ensure that the day didn't actually become boring, two squall lines hit us, about an hour apart; one from the NE and the second from the west. Both had winds in excess of 35 knots and at one point, for about a minute, the boat was actually being pushed backwards by the wind. High winds are much more easily handled on the open water where the period of the waves is usually much greater, but we through both of them with no problems other than at the end of the day my hands actually ached from squeezing the helm.

We arrived at Titusville without further events on Thursday.

Friday should have been a dull and boring run north to Daytona. In order to spice it up we decided to run hard aground just south of New Smyrna Beach. Dead center in the channel and the boat dug in hard and deep. We tried to get off with no success so call Tow Boat US to help us. Some big boats came by with large wakes which we used over several tries to make some head way and, finally broke free. Having watched all the other boats go hard by the green marker we headed there at were aground in another 100 yards. This time the bottom was soft and we were able to "plow" though it.

The run from Daytona to St. Augustine was interesting. We lost the channel and ran aground once but got off ourselves. We hit something in the water. We were in 13-ft. and felt a good solid thump and then saw a boil of water off the stern. It was either a porpoise or a manatee. Porpoises are quick and smart; manatees, not so much. So, it was probably the latter. The good news is that we hit it with the keel, not the propeller; so it was just shaken up, not cut.

The high point of the day was transiting Ft. Matanzas Inlet/River, the most notorious place on the Florida ICW for running aground. On the way south we left St. Augustine with four other sailboats. In the transit all four ran aground, but were able to free themselves. We hit bottom several times but never got stuck. I don't know why but I was intimidated by it this time; I expected the worst. So, in preparation I turned on the computer while underway and went to Cruisers net. There were several recent postings there about how to get through. When we went through it was almost dead low tide with 3.5~4.0 feet of barnacles showing on posts and pilings. It turned out to be mostly a non-event. We came close with water as low as 6.0 feet, but we probably had 9-inches to spare and never ran aground. Today, two days later, the USCG was announcing a notice to mariners about the same area with water as low as 3.0 feet at low tide. Good timing on our part.

When we hit St. Augustine on Saturday, it was way hot, over 90 degrees. Sunday morning a front had passed and the temperatures had dropped into the 60's and the winds were way up. We planned on getting underway Sunday morning but the winds and currents were so bad that after I talked to a few guys from the area that we decided to stay there an extra day. It was Mother's Day after all, so St. Augustine seemed like a good deal, which it was. Carol got the dinner of her choice, cheap, and a gift of her choosing, not cheap.

So, today, Monday morning, we had our first no-brainer transit of the Bridge of Lions and the St. Augustine inlet. About time! We're in Fernandina Beach on a mooring ball after a 60-mile run today. Tomorrow, sometime, we will hit Brunswick and the journey will be over.

Posted by sailziveli 16:18

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Hopefully you will slide on in and make the journey home just fine! Hope it is all smooth...you have not had a whole lot of that yet, have you? Take care. A and M

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