April 30-May 7, 2017: First week in the boat yard

The first week in the boatyard has been all about preparing to work.  We’ve been going over our list of projects and strategizing their order of completion.  We plan on being hauled tomorrow, and we will be on the hard for at least a couple of weeks.  Because we won’t have water or refrigeration during that time, I have been trying to cook up all of the food in the fridge and freezer.

Job one was clearing as much of the boat as we could so that we’d have room to work.  We rented a small 5’x5’ storage unit for the month so that we could easily segregate the items that would be put back on the boat.  We took everything moveable off the deck, emptied out the lazarette, and put all of those items in storage.  We then emptied out the aft cabin, which had become our moveable storage unit a/k/a garage a/k/a dump zone.  One change that we’re making is taking the cushions off of the aft cabin bed permanently; with those gone, we gain space and stability for the things that will remain.

Then we went through the boat, area by area, and removed everything that didn’t need to come back.  It’s easy to clutter up such a small boat, and the added weight doesn’t do us any favors.  We went through every drawer, cabinet, and storage locker, culled what wasn’t needed, and inventoried the rest.  That was a long but very satisfying process.

Job two was gathering the supplies and parts we’ll need for the long list of jobs we have planned.  We had some supplies in storage, but we ended up making a number of orders from Amazon and Defender.  We also restocked our supply of fresh water filters from Freshwater Systems and coir bricks for the head from Airhead.  One of the best things about being at a marina for a long time is the easy ability to get mail and packages, and we’re taking advantage of that.

Job three was making appointments for both of us at the doctor, the dentist, and the optometrist.  Since we store our car here in Oriental while we’re gone, this is the easiest place to attend to all of these needs.

And finally, interspersed with all of this were wonderful visits with friends.  It’s been a great week.

Posted in Boat Work, NC

April 28-30, 2017: Offshore from Charleston to Oriental, NC

This passage couldn’t have been a clearer example of an important principle we’ve learned in cruising:  plan well, and you will be well.

The Captain and I had been agonizing over weather forecasts before we even got to Charleston, trying to predict when would be the best time to leave Charleston depending on the route.  We managed to finagle extended marina reservations at Charleston City Marina to give ourselves some wiggle room if we had to stay longer than planned due to weather.  We spent hours researching and creating multiple routes, both offshore (Charleston to Southport, NC; Charleston to Carolina Beach, NC; and Charleston to Beaufort, NC) and via the ICW, both wholly or in part.  When it looked like we had a green light to go for a three day/two night offshore passage, I obsessively prepared meals and pre-sliced cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and bread for snacks if the weather was rough.

On April 28, we left the Charleston City Marina megadock at about 10:45 AM in order to take advantage of slack tide.  We exited Charleston Harbor and started northeast.  We stayed about 25-30 miles offshore for most of the trip.  It was great not seeing any land at all.

DSCF4069

The winds were light and variable for essentially the entire journey, and we motorsailed with a reefed main and staysail.  The swells were hitting us on the starboard beam or quarter and were surprisingly steep, up to 8 feet at times; fortunately the period was long, so we rode the swells rather than smashing through them. It’s amazing how a couple of days of that will wear out your quads and abdomen even when mostly what we’re doing is sitting.

While we were underway, we ended up putting three jerry jugs of diesel (15 gallons) in the tank using our jiggle siphon.  The siphon is self-priming once shaken, and the odds of spilling any fuel are virtually eliminated.  We had plenty of fuel in the tank, but a partially empty tank tends to slosh in large waves.  As fuel sloshes around, impurities are stirred up, and those can clog the fuel filter; a clogged fuel filter can lead to engine shutdown.  So, it’s easier to simply keep the fuel tank full.

We kept to the watch schedule that works best for us.  Generally the Captain helms for long stretches during the day; he enjoys it and doesn’t get as bored as I do.  In the afternoon we switch to three hour watches, and at 8:00 PM we reduce that to two hour watches.  The off-watch person sleeps in the sea berth that we rig below in the salon.  We put up a lee cloth along one salon settee and then stuff a bunch of pillows on the settee.  It’s amazingly comfortable to sleep in, and it feels very secure even in rolly seas.  By the second night out, it was a little slice of heaven.

We reached Beaufort Inlet at first light on April 30 (the third day) and left the ocean for the final leg to Oriental, which had to be reached via the ICW.  We were so glad that we had gone offshore to this point; for over a day we had been hearing Coast Guard warnings about severe shoaling in NC inlets and areas along the ICW that we had heard had been recently dredged.  Whoops! Glad we hadn’t counted on that.

The stint along the ICW between Beaufort and Oriental was easy; there are no restricted opening bridges or major shoaling areas.  We did laugh because the only serious wind we had in 50 hours was in the last hour of the trip in the Neuse River, where it was blowing 20 knots.  It would have been some great sailing, but at that point, we were pretty wiped out.  We docked at Deatons Yacht Service, our home away from home for the next month or so.

This passage was 50 ¾ hours for 237.6 nm.

I thought it was interesting to compare our stats from this trip to those from our trip north last year.  Yes, excessively anal, but comforting to this nerd.

TRIP SOUTH 2017:                                                TRIP NORTH 2016:

nautical miles: 1840                                              nautical miles:  1703

total nights: 109                                                    total nights:  163

nights at marina: 19%                                         nights at marina:  10%

nights on mooring: 49%                                      nights on mooring:  30%

nights at anchor: 25%                                          nights at anchor:  59%

nights offshore: 7%                                              nights offshore: 1%

states visited: 4 (NC, SC, GA, FL)                 states visited:7 (NC, VA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, RI)

diesel used: 241 gallons                                      diesel used: 219 gallons

oil changes:  3                                                       oil changes:  2

10 lb propane tank fills:  2                                 10 lb propane tank fills:  3

generator run:  6 ¼ hours                                  generator run:  41 1/3 hours

gallons of water:  173 + one fill at dock           gallons of water:  287 + 5 fills at docks

Conclusions? We have gotten more comfortable with going offshore, which lets us travel farther faster.  We’ve gotten better at water management; we certainly weren’t profligates before, but we are misers now.  When we went south via the ICW, we were unfamiliar with the territory and ended up staying in marinas that we skipped on the way north.  Down south, the combination of sun and constant wind kept up easily with our power needs, whereas up north, we had many cloudy and still days that necessitated use of our generator.

So we keep learning and honing our skills for the next adventure.  For now, though, we will be working on Kestrel for a month or so in the boat yard.

Posted in NC, Offshore, SC

April 20-26, 2017: Charleston, SC

We were planning to make Charleston a relatively short stop, but predicted bad weather forced us to stay put.  Gee, rats! We ended up staying a week at the Charleston City Marina on the Megadock.  This is the closest thing to a vacation that we’ve gotten in a long, long time, and we took advantage of it.  After this, it’s back to Oriental for a month-long haul and all of the associated work.

DSCF4037

Here we are, nestled under Athena’s massive bowsprit.

But as always, before play: work.  We refueled, cleaned and recharged the composting head, and gave the boat a detailed wash down, which she richly deserved.  The Captain ordered and installed some cockpit mounts for the iPad and for the Garmin InReach.  I did many loads of laundry over several nights, which was made easier by the close proximity of the marina laundry room.

We hear over and over here that you don’t tour Charleston, you eat Charleston.  Anyone who’s known us for five minutes knows that we are all about a good meal, so we’ve been in heaven.  We started our “vacation” by eating breakfast at our favorite breakfast joint, Hominy Grill.  The Captain always has the Charleston Nasty Biscuit, which he describes thus:  a perfectly battered and fried chicken breast served on a fluffy Southern biscuit and drenched in delectable white sausage gravy, topped with a sprinkling of white cheddar cheese.  He says, “It is true perfection.” I get the omelette and home fries, both of which are fresh and wonderful.

Over the next few days, we had a terrific lunch at A1 Super China Buffet (Chinese place, check!), which is over in the West Marine shopping center.  We walked along the West Ashley Greenway through town, which was a great respite from the traffic and heat.

We then embarked on a two-night barbeque spree.  While I am a vegetarian, the Captain is a meatatarian, and he does love him some barbeque.  First we went to Rodney Scott’s, which specializes in whole hog barbeque.  They serve up some mean sides, including potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and awesome hush puppies.  But what sealed the deal was the banana pudding.  Oh my god, the banana pudding.  We both gave Rodney Scott’s two thumbs up.

The next night was Lewis Barbeque, which specializes in Texas beef barbeque as well as pulled pork and a homemade sausage called—I kid you not—“hot guts.”  Sounds gross but the Captain said it was awesome.  Lewis was clearly insanely popular and was very crowded on a Tuesday of all nights.

DSCF4065a

This is a place that takes beef very, very seriously.

The Captain believes that brisket paves the path to enlightenment, and three quarters of a pound of Lewis brisket did nothing to dissuade him.  I give the green chili corn pudding, giant scoop of guacamole and chips, and soft sopapillas enthusiastic kudos.

DSCF4066a

Brisket, hot guts, onions, pickled onions, pickles, white bread, and sauce served on a piece of paper.  What more could a man want?

At this point we had to stop the meal madness, mainly because it was time to leave.  We did manage to walk down King Street and Meeting Street to see the many antique and fashion shops and to visit the Charleston Maritime Center.  We were hoping to visit Fort Sumter, but bad weather nixed that for this trip.

DSCF4052

It wasn’t ALL food.  Just mostly.

DSCF4060

DSCF4054a

Our plan is to leave tomorrow for a two-day offshore passage to Oriental, NC.  It should be an adventure as we’ve only done overnight offshore passages to this point.  Once we get back to Oriental, it’s time to do some work on Kestrel to spruce her up.

Posted in Marinas, SC

April 17-20, 2017: Offshore from Fernandina Beach, FL, to Beaufort, SC, to Charleston, SC

We left Fernandina Beach on April 17, 2017.  The overnight offshore passage from Fernandina Beach to Beaufort couldn’t have been more different from the last one we undertook (Miami to Vero Beach).  The winds were very light (0-10 knots), the seas were low (1-2 foot waves), and the wave period was long.  That made for some comfy motorsailing with the main only.

It was wonderful and relaxing to be back offshore and out of the ICW madness.  There wasn’t much to see other than the hypnotic motion of the waves and the sun sparkling off of the water.

DSCF4013

Before dark we put a reef in the main and rolled out the staysail.  We needed to slow down, so we cut the engine entirely and sailed for four or five hours.  Even with the light winds, we were going 3.5 to 4 knots; we must have been in some kind of favorable current, because we never would have speeds like that with such light winds.

While sailing offshore is more relaxing in many ways from travelling the ICW, there is still the press of a schedule, at least the way we are doing it in overnight hops.  If we were going multiple days, the schedule wouldn’t come into play as much.  Out of caution and prudence, we don’t like to enter inlets in the dark.  If we are making great speed offshore, sometimes we need to slow down so that we can hit the inlet at the right time.  This was such a case; we were going way under our normal speed so that we could hit Port Royal Inlet at first light.

I know I rave about night sailing, but there is something magical about silently cutting through the black waves, the hundreds of stars shining overhead, the moon rising bloody orange and then eventually setting bright white.  It’s like existing outside of time somehow.  When the sun finally rises, it’s like checking back into reality.

When we passed the Tybee Inlet near Savannah, we saw many huge container ships staging to enter the inlet.  Because we have AIS, we can get quite a bit of information about each ship (as they can about us).  The nice thing is that when we call them on the radio, they are always professional and treat us as equals even though their lifeboats are larger than our vessel.

We came back inshore at the Port Royal Inlet and took a slip at the Port Royal Landing Marina.  We hadn’t been in a marina in months, and the luxury of being able to just step off the boat onto a dock was dizzying.  And fresh water, all the fresh water we could want! The marina itself was everything we had hoped for.  The transient dock is a long face pier; it is floating concrete and looks brand new.  The showers and heads were spotless, the staff was exceptionally helpful, and there’s even a courtesy car. And did I mention the limitless fresh water? Oh, and the endless electricity because we could plug in at the dock? I think I turned every light on down below just because I could.

We borrowed the courtesy car to take our jerry cans to a gas station for filling.  The marina’s fuel dock is down due to hurricane damage.  We also went to a hardware store and ate lunch at Agave, a Mexican restaurant.  After some much needed showers, we took a nap (which was almost more needed than the showers).  We would come back to Port Royal Landing Marina in a heartbeat.

These two days were 27 ¾ hours for 121.8 nm.

After an essentially 24-hour stay at Port Royal Landing Marina, we left at noon on April 19, 2017, to do another offshore leg, this time to Charleston.  It would have made more navigation sense to simply do a two-day offshore passage from Fernandina Beach to Charleston, but our marina reservation in Charleston didn’t begin until April 20.  We had a heck of a time getting the reservation at all, as it is concurrently Charleston Race Week and an in-water boat show.

The winds were freakishly light on this passage, averaging between 5 and 10 knots.  The seas ranged from glassy swells to maybe one foot.  We raised the main basically to act as an air brake to keep us from swinging back and forth in the swells, but that was all it was doing.  Before dark we put a reef in the main and rolled out the staysail.

Our overnight passage was uneventful weather-wise but jam-packed with other ships.  We were travelling through a busy shipping corridor, and the AIS was constantly lighting up with large cargo vessels.  There were also a number of large fishing boats out, some of which did not have AIS.  Fishing boats make me nervous because they are dragging large nets, and it’s important to stay away from those.  At night, depth perception is less reliable, so it’s a little nerve wracking.

Like our passage from Fernandina to Beaufort, the challenge lay not in maximizing speed but in making sure we would arrive at our destination at the right time.  It can be a complicated dance, and these were the parameters we had:

  • We had to leave Port Royal Landing Marina by a certain time because the incoming day’s boats were starting to arrive.  Our departure time was earlier than we would have preferred.
  • We wanted to enter Charleston Harbor in daylight.
  • Our slip in Charleston wouldn’t become available until noon.
  • The current was at maximum strength at noon.
  • We wanted to be there no later than noon in order to take advantage of empty spaces along the dock, thus making our docking experience easier.  The later the day gets, the more crowded the dock gets.
  • The boats surrounding our spot on the megadock are VERY large and VERY expensive.

Given our total distance and those parameters, we calculated the speed we should travel.  Sounds easy.  Ahh, but there’s more.  We can raise a sail to make our ride more comfortable, but when you raise the sail, that increases speed.  Given the fluid (pardon the pun) nature of the wind and water, we are never travelling exactly at the “correct” speed.  So for the whole voyage we are constantly managing the boat’s speed.  It’s a challenge.  But when all was said and done, we arrived within five minutes of our target time and as the dockhand was driving up in his golf cart to assist.  Boom shaka laka!

Entering Charleston Harbor this time was a much different experience than when we entered it in mid-January.  That time the entire harbor was socked in with thick fog; this time it was crystal clear, and we got to see the city and its many sights.

DSCF4017

Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

We took a spot at the Charleston City Marina megadock and are tucked underneath—literally—an enormous sailing vessel named Athena.  Her bowsprit covers probably 10 feet of our boat.  Kestrel isn’t a huge boat to start off with, but we feel positively puny now! We plan on staying in Charleston into next week to wait for a good weather window for our next offshore jump.

These two days were 23 ¼ hours for 87.1 nm.

 

Posted in FL, Marinas, Offshore, SC

April 15-16, 2017: St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach, FL

We left St. Augustine on April 15 for a short trip to an anchorage off of Pine Island.  While it only took us a couple of hours to get there, we were treating it as an investment in the next day, which was to be long.

We had never been to this anchorage area before and were quite pleased with it.  It is easy off and on to the ICW, was calm and quiet, and had great holding.  There is a noticeable current running through the area, but despite the fact that the boat switched directions, we never really felt the current.  The anchorage is ringed by marsh grass and trees, and we saw many snowy egrets.

DSCF3964

We anchored in 10.4 feet of water and shared the anchorage with three other boats by the time darkness fell.

This day was 2 ½ hours for 12.1 nm.

On April 16, we left our anchorage at Pine Island and headed up the ICW to Fernandina Beach.  The Fernandina Harbor Marina took a real hit from Hurricane Matthew, but at this point in their repairs, they have 12 mooring balls available.  We called first thing in the morning to reserve a ball; the marina accepts same-day reservations only for the mooring balls.

We certainly had no shortage of stimulus as the day wore on.  First of all, it was Easter Sunday.  Second, it was a beautifully sunny day.  Third, it’s the ICW near heavily-populated areas.  Add those together, and you get ten million motorboats and jet skis flying up and down the channel at top speed.

This stretch of the ICW is bordered by interesting houses, some fancy, some not.  We saw two of our favorite statues at two different houses:  Ronald McDonald and The Hamburglar.

DSCF3968a   DSCF3972a

Why put those in your backyard? Who knows.  All I know is that I look for them and give thanks that there are wacky people like this left in the world.

 

 

Later we saw a homeowner standing on his dock, spraying down into the water with his garden hose.  It looked quite odd.  As we got closer, we could see that he was hosing down a manatee’s back.  The manatee then stuck his head out of the water so that the man could hose down his face.  This went on for minutes as we passed by.  It was too cute.  Spa day for the manatee, I guess.

We also saw dolphins all day.  The highlight for me was seeing a pod with a cow and calf.  There is nothing—and I do mean nothing—cuter than a dolphin baby.  I’m a sucker for puppies and foals, but dolphin calves are so cute they make me want to scream.

It was a great bird-watching day as well.  I saw my usuals:  osprey, brown pelicans, great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, and laughing gulls.  But this day we also saw white pelicans and, for the first time, swallow tailed kites.  I get a kick out of identifying birds, but the gulls and terns are very difficult for me to discern.  I’m going to have to buy an identification book for them.

The only hairy part of the day was going under the San Pablo Atlantic Blvd. Bridge.  It’s a fixed bridge that is notorious for the fast current that runs beneath it, particularly at max flood.  I’ll give you one guess when we hit it.  The current was so strong beneath the bridge that there were standing waves, whitecaps and all.  We also had a 3.3 knot opposing current.  The Captain lined Kestrel up, murmured endearments to her, and in we went.  Now I know how clothes in a washing machine feel! We made it through rattled but unscathed and kept motoring up to the Fernandina Harbor Marina moorings.

The moorings were all full when we arrived, with the exception of one left for us.  Thank goodness we made a reservation! We hadn’t been to this field before.  It was certainly easy to navigate in and out of, but it is also right next to a large manufacturing plant of some sort.  The air smelled strongly of plywood; it wasn’t a gross smell, but it wasn’t great either.  But for a one-night stop, that field fit the bill.

This day was 10 hours for 42.6 nm.

Posted in Anchorages, FL, ICW, Moorings

April 10-14, 2017: St. Augustine, FL

We spent five nights on a mooring at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.  The moorings were full pretty much the whole time we were here.  Since it’s later in the spring, the tourist traffic has picked up dramatically, and the town is bursting at the seams.

Whenever we go to a mooring field, we’re always wondering the condition of the mooring ball and whether it will hold us.  Any concerns we might have had here were allayed when the Spirit of South Carolina took a ball near us.  She is a 140 foot long sailing schooner of the type built during the 1800s.

DSCF3939a

It was built by two Charleston businessmen and is used primarily for youth educational programs in sailing, SC history, and the low country ecosystem.  She is based out of Charleston Maritime Center in Charleston Harbor.  This week there was a Boy Scout troop aboard.  It refreshes your faith in humanity seeing those kids having a great time and working as crew; it will have a positive impact on their lives forever.

Since we had already “touristed” ourselves thoroughly here on the way south, we took it easy while we were here this time.  We walked about 2 miles to the shopping center with a Winn Dixie and West Marine to do some shopping.  The West Marine is mid-sized, and the Winn Dixie is huge.  We also ate lunch there at Yummy Wok, which was a fantastic little take-out Chinese place.  Chinese place:  check.

One of the neat things about walking everywhere is that fun opportunities arise unexpectedly.  Walking 2 miles to the grocery store isn’t always fun, but this time, we passed a wonderful farmstand with absolutely gorgeous fruits and vegetables.  The owner kept cutting slices of fruits as samples to entice the shoppers, and the peaches and watermelons were to die for, and we left full.  I got 3 pounds of tomatoes for $2.50.  My absolute favorite sandwich is tomato with Duke’s mayonnaise (it has to be Duke’s) and salt and pepper on squishy white bread.  Heaven! Had we been driving, we probably wouldn’t have stopped because the parking was tight.

DSCF3944a

Another neat sight that is best drunk in while walking.  This bus was covered with sweetness and wonderful thoughts.

We ate lunch one day and dinner another day at Borrillo’s, which is a terrific pizza place on San Marco Avenue.  It’s a little bit of a walk from the marina but well worth it.  It’s in “uptown,” whereas the tourist side is “downtown.”  The prices are cheap, the quality is high, and the portions are humungous.  Pizza:  check.

We didn’t just shop and eat, though.  This time we went to the pubic library, which is great.  It has lots of seating at tables, plenty of outlets, and smoking fast wifi.  We spent the afternoon there working on routes, downloading movies, and checking the internet.  There’s a huge park outside with an honest-to-goodness working calliope.  I wanted to ride, but it felt a little creepy because I’d be the only adult with a bunch of kids.   The library is also a hike, about 2 miles, but an easy walk along sidewalks.

DSCF3946

We also did boat work like refilling our diesel jerry jugs and changing the oil and all filters.  The marina has an oil recycling tank, which is great.  We make it a point to dispose of our oil properly, and we are so grateful when it’s easily done.

Our plan is to leave tomorrow for an anchorage about 14 miles north near Pine Island.  That will be a really short day, but it sets us up for a long leg to Fernandina Beach the next day.  Then the plan is to hop offshore overnight to Beaufort, SC.

We wanted to just keep going, bypassing Beaufort and heading to Charleston instead, but that didn’t work out.  We haven’t found any decent anchorages in Charleston, and the marinas are all booked solid due to race week and a boat show.  We managed to get a reservation at Charleston City Marina for late next week.  Bypassing Beaufort and going straight to Charleston would work with the weather, but we’d have no place to go once we got there.  Rats!

We’re eager to get out of the ICW and see some open water again.

Posted in FL, Moorings

April 7-10, 2017: Vero Beach to St. Augustine, FL

We left Vero Beach on April 7, 2017, and had an uneventful day motoring up the ICW to an anchorage in Melbourne, FL.  We have been travelling offshore for so long now that we had to get used to the ICW again.  There is a consistent stream of northbound traffic, and the VHF radio is alive with constant chatter between boats.

DSCF3875

Ahh yes, back to the ICW bridges.

It was sunny but in the mid- to high 60’s, and I ended up putting on a hat and gloves to keep warm.  The breeze off the water can really chill you after a few hours, and I’d rather just avoid getting cold altogether.  The wind was blowing 15+ knots on the nose (of course), and we were taking quite a bit of misty spray.  We had an opposing current until we made it through the Sebastian Inlet area; once through there, our speed picked up.

We anchored just north of Melbourne Bridge in 10.4 feet of water.  We had anchored in this spot on the way south and really liked it.  There are a number of crab pots to dodge, but other than that, it’s a nice anchorage.  We were all alone that night and enjoyed the solitude of anchoring out.  The moorings at Vero Beach are terrific, but we have missed the freedom of anchoring out.

This day was 7 ¾ hours for 30.7 nm.

On April 8, 2017, we motored up the ICW from the Melbourne Bridge to Titusville.  We put the enclosure up in the cockpit to cut some of the wind chill, and that made our journey more pleasant.  The winds were light, and the sun was out.  But the day was excrutiatingly boring, as only a day on the ICW can be.

DSCF3886

Gotta appreciate the humor.

We caught a mooring at the Titusville Municipal Marina.  There are anchoring opportunities nearby, but the moorings are comfortably spaced and inexpensive ($19.26 with BoatUS discount).  We draw 5’ when heavily loaded with fuel and water, so we caught a mooring ball on the outside of the field on the river side where the water is deeper.

This day was 7 ½ hours for 34.8 nm.

On April 9, 2017, we motored up the ICW from Titusville to Daytona Beach.  We continued our place in the parade of northbound boats, and at this point, I feel like we know many of them.  The weather was gorgeously sunny and a tad warmer.  The winds were light.

We had tons of wildlife sightings throughout the day, including dolphin that stuck their faces out of the water to peer up at the boat.  I know they aren’t really smiling at me, but it makes me laugh with pleasure anyway.  As we transited the Haulover Canal, I finally saw manatee.  That area is known for having a large manatee population, but I didn’t see any when we went through earlier this year.  It was exciting to see them, even though they were basically just brown blobs surfacing and then receding.

 

DSCF3881The Haulover Canal has a bascule bridge with one span permanently raised.  The canal is quite narrow and has been choked with motorboats each time we’ve been through.  This view of the boat in from of us gives you an idea of how little room there is to maneuver.

It seems that the ICW has two faces:  soul-crushingly boring or terrifyingly busy.  This day was the terrifying variety, as it was a weekend day with gorgeous weather.  The boat traffic was insane, particularly the damnable jet skis and the small motorboats driven by maroons, as Bugs Bunny would say.  It got manic in New Smyrna, and I had to give the five-blast airhorn warning on two separate occasions.

We had an anchorage picked out in Daytona Beach near the Seabreeze Bridge, but friends J and C on m/v Seamark were anchoring south of the (now defunct) Memorial Bridge.  Once they got there, they radioed us with depths and condition, and we decided to join them.  We anchored off of the red 44 in 11 feet of water.  There are some boats on moorings in that location, but there is room for anchored boats as well.  By the end of the night, there were eight or nine anchored boats, and it was a good anchorage for us.

This day was 9 ½ hours for 41.3 nm.

On April 10, 2017, we motored up the ICW from Daytona Beach to St. Augustine.  It was another beautiful day, and we were again in a pack of northbound boats.  The current was kind to us, and once we got past the Matanzas Inlet, the current from the St. Augustine Inlet sucked us along.

This leg of the trip has a few problem shoaling areas, particularly where water from the Matanzas Inlet joins the ICW at mile marker 792.5.  There is a sharp turn with four green marks, and when we were going south, notes on Active Captain had us hugging the red side tightly, which feels like it puts you practically on shore.  We knew that there was dredging going on between mile markers 792 and 795, and we were worried that we’d have to dodge dredges through that narrow channel.

This is where the miracle of the cruising community comes in.  Other cruising sailboats were radioing conditions back to those of us that were behind them.  Fortunately, the dredges weren’t running on that day.  We ended up leading another sailboat, s/v Northern Goose, through that tricky spot as they draw 7 feet.  We were able to give them depths on our track as we went through, and that made their trip a little less hair-raising.

Everyone says it, but it’s true:  the cruising community is tight-knit and incredibly generous with help, encouragement, and information.  We’ve seen time and time again how cruisers help one another without hesitation and how quickly friendships are formed.  It’s a wonderful world to be in.

Fortunately we had made reservations for a mooring at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, as the field was slam full when we arrived.  We got a ball mid-way down the south field, so our dinghy ride isn’t too long.  We’re too far out for a decent wifi connection, but hey, you can’t have everything.

This day was 9 ¼ hours for 47.3 nm.

Posted in Anchorages, FL, ICW, Moorings