4,000 miles! That is the milestone we passed today on the boat since leaving Muskegon last June. And in those 4,000 miles (nautical miles, that is) we have seen and experienced a lot and feel so blessed to be able to be on this journey.
Today has been a bit crummier of a day, other than reaching the 4,000 mile mark and arriving at St. Mary’s, Georgia. The wind has been hootin’ all day and we have found that it is quite unsettling to be in such high winds all day while at anchor. Our anchor has held in the river just fine, but the sound of the wind and the water around us just puts us on edge. So we marked it up to a day we just have to get through as tomorrow is supposed to get better. Sharon and Max went to shore late morning, but the dinghy ride was horrible in the wind and waves so we opted to stay put this afternoon.
We made it to Fernandina Beach, Fl, yesterday and so only had about 8 miles to go to reach St. Mary’s, Ga. We are anchored off St. Mary’s in the St. Mary’s River, which is the borderline between Florida and Georgia. We were here last November and celebrated Thanksgiving while we were here. There is a Winn-Dixie grocery store nearby and we are looking forward to meeting Dave and Tonya Nelson for lunch. Tonya is the chef/owner at Hen House Bakery who special-made a pecan pie for us last November when we were here, and her husband is a chaplain and avid sailor. We had them both out to the boat last November and have stayed somewhat in touch with them. So now that we’re back in town we are getting together again, and Tonya has even agreed to bake some breads for us! How cool is that?!
So, the trip here to St. Mary’s from Vero Beach, and how did it go, you ask? It actually went quite well, although we put in some long days. We left Vero Beach Saturday morning, April 20. The two tall ship replicas, the Nina and Pinta, were at Vero Beach City Marina all week and they also left at the same time. We wanted to fuel up before we left but the Nina and Pinta were also fueling up so we decided to stop at another marina about 2.5 miles up the ICW for fuel.
After fueling up, we headed north on the ICW and ended up going about 50 miles to Cocoa Village. It was a sunny day, but the wind was tougher at 19 – 24 knots pretty much right on the nose most of the day. We put the anchor down about 5:00 pm so didn’t bother getting the dinghy down or going to shore as we planned on leaving the next day right away anyway.
At 8 am, Sunday, April 21, which also was Easter, we pulled up our anchor and headed north once again. The winds were lighter throughout the day and were more from the E to SE so with our headsail out while motoring we were able to do well with our speed. I think because our bottom paint is doing so lousy (argh!) we have growth on the bottom of the boat that is slowing us down a bit. So it’s good when we can get the headsail out to help with the speed. We arrived at Rockhouse Creek, a small and great anchorage area about 5 miles north of New Smyrna, Fl, about 3:30 pm. We were glad there were a couple of other boats there to see how they were anchored as this was definitely one of the places where you had to anchor with the current which was directly opposite of where the wind was coming from. One typically anchors into the wind, but that would not have turned out good here.
Oh, we did have an Easter dinner of ham sandwiches along the way! We also talked with our kids later in the day, which was good for us. This was probably a more difficult holiday to be away from kids and our extended families from some reason. Thankfully we are headed back to Michigan for a bit in the end of May, but this Easter was tough not being with family.
Bright and early the next morning, Monday, April 22, we pulled our anchor up from Rockhouse Creek at 6:30 am and headed up the ICW. We wanted to make a longer distance that day to St. Augustine so we got an early start. It ended up being a trip of 64.1 miles and we hooked up to a mooring ball at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina at 3:45 pm – a long day! The mooring field at St. Augustine is huge, but because apparently a lot of boats are heading north now we got the last mooring ball available. Whew!
We stayed at St. Augustine for three nights. On Tuesday, April 23 I spent the day fixing the forward head deck filling as it had frozen shut and ended up having to take way more than I wanted to apart to fix it – including having to remove the medicine cabinet in the forward head to get to the pump out hose. Thankfully there was a West Marine in town, only a 2-mile walk one way, and thankfully they had the part I needed to fix it.
On Wednesday, April 24, we spent the day as tourists in St. Augustine. We had visited the fort in our last trip through last November, so we only walked by it this time. But we walked all over observing the more touristy areas, but also the neighborhoods and homes that are off the beaten path. Many of the homes and churches are very old and have been kept up quite well. St. Augustine says it is the oldest city in the nation so the history was all around us. We had lunch at a great Cuban sidewalk restaurant that boasted of being on the oldest street in the city.
We finally left St. Augustine on Thursday, April 25, going through the 8:30 am opening of the Bridge of Lions bascule bridge, and headed north. We talked about going only about 36 miles to Little Sisters Creek, but if we were able to make good time we thought about going all the way to Fernandina Beach, which we ended up doing. It ended up being 52 miles, but since the weather was good, and knowing the next day was supposed to be not so good, we were glad to get that far. We anchored off the ICW at Fernandina Beach and once again didn’t even get the dinghy down. The current was again against the wind and the wind seemed to be picking up a bit, and we planned on leaving for St. Mary’s, Ga, the next morning anyway. When we woke up this morning, Friday, we wondered if we had dragged our anchor a little, but we had plenty of room all around us so all was good.
At 8:30 am we pulled up our anchor at Fernandina Beach and headed here to St. Mary’s, Ga, where we will probably stay until Sunday. The wind this morning was from the West and was gusting to 30 knots as we approached St. Mary’s, and it really has not settled down much all day. It is supposed to be calmer tomorrow, so that will be very nice.
Before I end this post I wanted to comment on the things we have seen along the ICW as we have traveled north. We have periodically seen wildlife in the water, including occasional dolphins swimming around and some manatees. At Fernandina Beach we watched a huge stingray jump multiple times 2 – 3 feet out of the water and flop back in. We have also seen huge and amazing homes along the water. They are most often accompanied by elaborate structures on the water that have lifts with boats or Sea-Doos. It is fascinating to see the different styles and shapes of the homes and we wonder what the people who own them are like.
Our plan is to leave St. Mary’s in the next couple of days and first head to Cumberland Island to see the wild horses and armadillos, and then continue north. We’ll let yo know how it goes!