Our first week in Florida has finally resulted in some warmer weather. Once we finished our offshore passage, we stayed at Amelia Island Marina for 3 nights. We didn’t originally intend to stay that long. But each morning with the weather forecast not looking so fantastic, we decided we’d wait another day…then another. But we made use of our time in a marina and utilized their courtesy car to make a couple trips to town to get some items from Walmart and Home Depot. Richard worked on getting a new LED light fixed up to use as an anchor light in the cockpit. I got out the sewing machine and made a bosun chair which is used to hoist a person to the top of the mast. We did a few other odd jobs, relaxed, and continued planning where we were headed to next.
Once the weather broke, or at least, wasn’t as bitter cold, we headed out of the marina. Leaving this marina was a bit tricky having to time the tide, as they had a shallow entrance and we needed to leave closer to high tide in order to not ground. We didn’t have far to travel that day, about 15 miles only aiming for St. George River, anchoring across from the Kingsley Plantation. We arrived early in the afternoon, and although they allow dinghy boats to dock and tour the plantation, I determined I was too cold to venture out. I did do my reading up on the plantation though, and it is a part of the National Parks Service and free to visit. The main house was under rehabilitation, and not able to be toured except on weekends, so being mid-week, there wasn’t as much to see.
Back to our anchoring, because we were arrived early afternoon, we thought we’d be alone for the night as we had been most places. To our surprise, about 5:00, we poked our heads out of the companionway and low and behold two more boats had anchored! It was the first time we had been at anchor with other sail boats, and we were pretty excited to not be alone. The next day, we led the pack out after getting my morning coffee brewed. The other two boats quickly caught up to us, and passed us by mid morning. We tried to maintain speed with them, but being a smaller boat and having a smaller motor, it didn’t last long. We did watch in the distance as they passed under a bridge that we were worried about. It wasn’t one we had to call to open for us, but we read that the current could reach up to 6 knots. They both made it through, albeit not easily or quickly. So we figured we’d give it a shot. Well, we made it with our mast past one girder of the bridge before the current was too much and we started to go backwards with our motor going full speed ahead. So, we quickly realized that we’d have to just sit and wait for the tide to switch the other way before we’d have a chance at getting through. St. Augustine was now no longer our destination for the day, and we’d have a couple hours until the tide switched to figure out plan B. (Richard’s Note: It was an interesting experience stalling this large of a boat and then trying to steer it out of the bridge with that much of current…) So we dropped the hook, and settled in for lunch outside the channel waiting for the tide to change. We watched a handful of boats go through the bridge, both power and sail, and both getting tossed around in the current swirling before the bridge pilings. We waited for the tide to change and approach slack we saw a smaller sailboat than us make it through, we determined we could pull up the anchor and try ourselves again. We
finally made it, but even with full power, we probably went about 1 mph until we passed to the other side. Our plan B was to now anchor about 10 miles north of St. Augustine, and be able to make it there early the next day. We watched as the smaller boat who passed us going under the bridge turned into the anchorage, and also saw that the same 2 boats from last night as well as another boat. We turned in and found a spot between
everyone and dropped the hook for the night.
There was no wind that night, and we all left early and continued South to St. Augustine. We picked up a mooring ball at the St. Augustine City Marina and packed up the dinghy and rowed into town. Easier said than done. I’m not all that comfortable in the little Walker Bay 8′ dinghy just yet, so although Richard had rowed around in it a bit, I haven’t had any experience in it. It’s a bit tippy and I don’t feel steady in it yet. But we made it, got showered, and toured the town. We visited Sailor’s Exchange which is a marine consignment shop, got some lunch, and explored the historic district. I think we walked up and down St. George St. a couple of times, visited the Cathedral of St. Augustine, and toured the fort.
We then continued on the next morning towards the Palm Coast Marina, and the next day continuing to the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona, FL. We made it to Daytona pretty early in the day with the hopes of getting to West Marine to pick up a few things. It was confusing on the map where exactly West Marine was located because it used to be right next to the marina, but then was moved down the road a few miles, not really walking distance. When we were asking the dock attendant how to get there, the guys in the slip next to us overheard our conversation and offered us a ride once they finished waxing the boat they were working on. They were locals and knew lots of transients came though marinas without cars, and they were headed that way to check on something for work anyways. So that was a plus! A free ride back and forth and we got just about everything on our list, including a new 11 pound propane tank. The regular grill propane tanks are 20 pounds that you can get almost anywhere, but for the boat, we were converting our Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stove to propane once we run out of gas in the tanks we have. Older boats like ours were initially made to use CNG, but it has become difficult to get tanks refilled in the US, and about impossible outside the US. So, we bought the equipment necessary to convert it to propane. Once we got back from the store, had some homemade tacos and nachos for dinner, we headed over to the Marina View bar for a couple of happy hour margaritas and enjoyed some live music.
The next morning we headed out towards Titusville, where we found an anchorage just south of the Titusville Railway Bridge, just a few miles north of the Kennedy Space Center. We had anchored there almost through the next day, researching some other items we thought we might want to get before leaving the states, like a motor for the dinghy, or a different dinghy, and how we’d have to find a car rental, etc. But that afternoon, we
got a call from the friends we had been wanting to meet up with to cross to the Bahamas and they had delayed their crossing so we’d have a chance to catch up. So we pulled up anchor and made it about 20 miles before we decided to anchor for the night.
We tried to make it to Fort Pierce, FL to meet our friends the next day, but knew it would be a shot in the dark to cover 60 miles that day. By the afternoon, we called and reserved a slip at the Vero Beach City Marina. Where we met some nice people next to our boat, who were also planning to cross to the Bahamas in a few days and we compared our provisioning lists. She even shared a small bag of seeds to start my own sprouts. We then decided to try and do at least half our provisioning for the Bahamas that night, so we wouldn’t have to do it all once we got to Fort Pierce where our friends were waiting. There was a free bus that went into town, and I thought if we could at least get a ride there, we could just Uber back. Well, I caught the bus operator and got a schedule, and even with my many years of riding the RTA in Cleveland, and UTA in Utah, I still managed to read it backwards and miss the bus. So, Uber both ways was now the plan. We got to Publix with our 3 page list in hand, and set off to see what we could knock out. Checking out, 2 shopping carts later, our Uber ride home was there to pick us up. I felt bad filling up her entire Nissan Altima with groceries where we almost didn’t fit. We made it back to the marina, unloaded the car, loaded up the cart, down the ramp, relaying bags down the dock to the boat, and then found places to put everything. I threw in one last load of laundry, got a hot shower, and we were in bed by midnight.
We woke up, headed to the fuel dock to top off our tanks with diesel, water, and emptied the holding tank. Then we made it the last 15 miles to Fort Pierce by about noon. Once we got there, we quickly chatted that we’d be leaving for the Bahamas that afternoon about 4:00-4:30 to catch the outgoing tide. We still needed some more groceries (hard to believe, but we were trying to provision staples for about 3-4 months. So, I grabbed the
list and headed out to Walmart with our friend we were crossing with, and she and I made it through the store getting just about everything else I thought we’d need. Again, I had an overflowing cart, which filled up the trunk of the car, and hoped Richard wouldn’t kill me when he saw how much more we had to find somewhere to store in the boat again. Somehow it was all put somewhere. And with that, we made a quick meal, and were headed out towards the Fort Pierce Inlet…next stop Bahamas!!
Below are just a couple photos of homes we passed by in Florida…They really did keep getting bigger the further South we traveled down the coast!
Thanks for reading! Any comments, suggestions, what you want to hear more about, please let me know!
PS. Stay tuned for our first week in the Bahamas!!