The best of Saint Augustine and traveling offshore once more.
We had a ton of fun on our family road trip. But, as the end rolled around, we were anxious to get back to the boat. The next evening, after returning to Cary with Joel’s family, we caught a 9:30 pm train to Savannah, Georgia. This overnight train was the beginning of a series of sleepless nights.
Don’t get me wrong. I would suggest train travel to anyone. You don’t have to drive and the seats are luxury compared to buses and airplanes. But, on an overnight train, every time you finally start drifting off to sleep, the train screeches to one of it’s many stops. The lights turn on, people get off, and more people load on. Not the best conditions for a good nights rest. Anyways, around 4:30 am the train finally screeched into it’s Savannah, Georgia stop. We got off, caught an uber to the marina, and collapsed on our bunk to sleep until sunrise.
After a grocery run, we threw off the dock lines and eagerly put distance between ourselves and the marina. All day we had been weighing back and forth whether or not to go offshore. With a great weather window, we could make it to Jacksonville, Florida the next day. The idea of being in Florida in less then 24 hours was enticing, but all I could think about was not sleeping all night….again. My vote was no. I could barely keep my eyes open then, much less for a four hour shift in the middle of the night. But, as we puttered towards the inlet that evening, Joel made the call to go for it. He was eager to make up for our extended stay on land and volunteered to navigate all night (which I knew was impossible).
So, as the sunset, off we went into the sleepy ocean. Florida Bound.
Our weather window was perfect. With the wind behind us, we raised the mainsail and turned off the engine. We bobbed with the sea in the light of the full moon. For several hours, we made great time being powered only by the wind. Around midnight, our wind dwindled to nothing. So, on went the motor. And on, it remained. Through the night, we motored across shipping channel after shipping channel. Not wanting to converge paths with a tanker, we scanned the horizon constantly. Straining to see any moving lights. Staring at them until it became apparent which direction they were running. We even pondered a low hanging star for a good hour.
We made it through the night, thanks to a pack of Starbucks espresso shots. (though it pained us to drink corporate coffee)
Around 2pm the next day, we pulled into the crowded Saint John’s river inlet. Racing a cargo ship to port, we pulled in a near by marina. And, after checking in at the office, we slept until dinnertime.
We were excited to finally be in Florida. It felt like we’d finally made it to a destination. You know how good that feels after a long journey. Finally it would be warm and sunny.
Little did we know, the warm and sunny Florida would only last us a day or two. We’d soon be hit with a series of cold fronts that had us pulling the cold weather gear back out.
After recovering from two nights of no sleep, we headed for Saint Augustine.
By then, we knew of the cold front, which would bring heavy wind and cold. Not wanting to leave the boat at anchor in gusts up to 30mph, we hooked up to a mooring ball right by the famous “bridge of lions.” The mooring was a safe place to wait out the bad weather. And, it belonged to the Saint Augustine Municipal Marina. Which, we found to be the nicest marina(stayed in mooring field), for a reasonable price, out of all that we have visited (did I mention our last marina had so much sulfur in their water our showers smelt like rotten eggs?).
Even with the cold (we even saw a hand full of snowflakes fall!!) we still had a great time exploring Saint Augustine. We tried a little bit of everything. Spanish bakery, “America’s best pizza,” and a cute Australian coffee shop.
Ever since we returned to the boat, we’ve been having trouble with the dinghy engine. And in Saint Augustine, it finally cut off on us, half way to shore, with heavy wind, chop and current. Trying to make it to shore, we got the paddles out to fight the current. The current won. We were going nowhere. Until, a sweet couple on their 42’ Catamaran came to our rescue. They shouted across the wind that they’d be happy to tow us to shore and invited us aboard. Letting the current finally take us, we drifted over and boarded their boat. Touring their boat was well worth our dinghy engine troubles. I mean, their boat had heat! And that was enough to make us happy on such a frigid day. The wife, Denis, gave us each a cup of coffee and showed us around the boat. To us, it was equivalent to a mansion. Flat screen tv, Full kitchen sink, three berths with full size beds and each with it’s own shower. Our luxury boat tour was definitely a highlight of Saint Augustine. But, the best part of Saint Augustine had to be getting to catch up with one of my life long friends, Danielle.
After leaving Saint Augustine, we headed south slowly for two days. The cold front passed and left us with some sunny days. Taking advantage of the calm weather, we anchored in a couple secluded spots and explored. The wildlife around us seemed to be recovering from the cold spell as well. Fish jumped all around us. with loads of birds and dolphin happily chasing after them.