Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1044 Miles and Counting

St. Augustine! I just dropped the hook minutes ago, and am now anchored somewhere in the harbor in St. Augustine FL, where exactly I have no idea, but I know I am in anchorage, and out of the channel, and as tired as I am that is good enough for me. There are several other boats right around me, so I know that this is at least a reasonable spot to stop in.

I came into the channel tonight just as the sun was setting, was a gorgeous sunset, but I really had to concentrate on getting in, as it is a fairly narrow channel that is constantly changing, and I wanted to be through the breakers before the daylight disappeared. I barely accomplished that. I made the inner channel just as darkness fell, not something I recommend, but the option was to anchor out in the ocean, and with weather coming in tomorrow, that really didn't seem like an option. So in I went, sort of a "damn the torpedoes" situation, and here I am, safely at anchor.

I guess the last post was from Fernandina Beach. When I left there my goal was St. Augustine, and I thought that I would be here yesterday, but, going on the outside (the ocean) I sail, and the wind just was not cooperating. At all. Almost no wind, and what wind there was to be had was coming right from where I wanted to be. So here we go again, tacking, tacking, tacking - zig zagging all over the place just trying to get somewhere, anywhere. Had I been headed to Bermuda the winds probably would have been great, but....I was trying to get to St. Augustine.

No matter, I made it to Jacksonville yesterday afternoon, and as I turned into the channel, here comes a submarine, complete with Coast Guard escort and a tug. They passed by me fairly close, and a USCG patrol boat pulled up alongside and advised I hug the channel markers tight...and I was thinking to myself, "well no S#!! buddy, not gonna get in his way" but I kept my mouth shut, and stayed right where I was, hugging the channel markers until the sub and escorts had passed. The dolphins were out in force, surfing the bow wave of the sub, and every now and again they would become completely airborne as they played in the wave ahead of the sub. As usual my camera was not fast enough to catch the dolphins, and then the patrol boat told me to put the camera away. Not wanting to get hassled to0 much, I complied, but I did get a few pictures of the sub before that happened.

Had a great night on the anchor in the St John's river, and then got underway again this morning. When I got up this morning I made a quick breakfast and coffee, and then got to watch the dolphins around the boat as the sun came up. What a way to greet the day, hot coffee, pancakes, and dolphins right around the boat. I did the dishes really fast and then got underway, I knew I was probably in for another long day sailing. On the way out bound I passed an inbound USCG cutter, a sister ship to the one my son Mike is on. Ironically, Mike called soon after, and turns out that the cutter I saw is the one that is slated to relieve Mike's boat, which is now assuming station off of Haiti, providing support for the relief effort there. Due to OpSec reasons he didn't divulge much on what they were doing, and I will let out even less, but the Pacific patrol they were on was cancelled and his ship was rerouted through the Panama Canal and over to Haiti.

I did notice one thing while at anchor last night, you can hear the propeller noise of other ships through the hull as they pass, much like the movies of the WWII submariners depict, it is a very distinct noise that takes a bit of getting used to, I know this because the St John's river is a major shipping lane up to Jacksonville, and huge ships passed by my anchorage all night long.

Today was pretty uneventful, just lots of sailing, a good bit of sunshine, and 42.8 miles under the keel, for a 28 mile trip. So far the tally is 1044 miles since I left Solomons, and about another 800 to go, if I am to get to Key West.

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