Saturday, March 27, 2010

Poised to Leave Florida

I left St Augustine at day break this morning, after my new alarm clock, my dad, called to make sure I was up around 5am (I was) and I made my morning carafe of coffee and started to get the boat ready to go. I checked the engine again, oil and coolant were good, no leaks, nothing loose, and I hauled the dinghy aboard to deflate and stow it. What a pain in the butt that is. I almost went in the drink twice as I pulled it over the lifelines, the wind was pulling on it almost as hard as I was, but in the opposite direction.

As`soon as the sun was up I was off, North bound again, and making good time. I have to say I was the first boat out this morning, and I was alone for the first hour and a half, and then the exodus caught me. I was passed by 3 boats that were north bound and that I recognized from the marina and the anchorage, and there were another 3 trailing behind, but catching up quickly.

Around 11 or so that group of three boats caught up, and after letting the first 2 pass, I dropped in behind S/V Heron, which belonged to Tom and Margaret, out of Maine. Heron is a Westsail 32, very similar to Arden, and I had met Tom and Margaret yesterday at the marina. We spoke for some time yesterday, and it was good to travel with them today.

I had luck on my side again today, the voyage was 62 statue miles, and I thought it would take around 12 hours. I figured on making Fernandina Beach sometime around 7pm. For once the tides and currents were really in my favor, and we never really did run into an opposing current or tide. There are many inlets that indent the Florida coast, many of them are not navigable, but, they all influence the ICW with the in flow and outflow of tides. If you catch it right, you can get pushed by an incoming tide, or pulled by an outgoing one, and you might get lucky where the inlet influence overlaps and catch a slack tide. We did all of the above today. When we made it to where one inlet stopped pushing, we rode on a slack tide, and then got pulled by the outgoing tide of the next inlet. I don’t think my speed today ever dropped below 4 knots, well except in the current of the St john’s River, which has a very strong current of its own, and at one point I almost hit 10 knots. I was not able to sail at all today, the wind was on the nose all day, and, it was blowing pretty hard, 20 kts and then some all day. It was definitely not a day to sail out on the ocean, I probably would have been soaked, exhausted, and lucky if I would have made Mayport by dark.

So instead, I headed up the ICW, and made 52.9 nautical miles in 9 hours and 25 minutes. I was in Fernandina Beach by 5 pm, on the anchor and stowing gear.

So here are a few numbers to throw at you. So far I have sailed 1703.1 nautical miles on this trip of mine, that is 1958.56 statute miles. I have been sailing for 4 months now, 129 days since I left Maryland, and 93 days since I seriously got underway and left Manteo. I have covered more ground in the past week and a half than I did in the entire month of February, when I was bebopping down through Florida. I am now back in Fernandina Beach, the place where I entered Florida after a 22 hour sail from South Carolina. I will leave Florida in the morning, and unfortunately, it looks like the weather on the ocean is not going to be good for sailing to SC, so I will slog through Georgia on the North bound leg. (128 miles via ocean, 150 miles via the ICW. On the ocean I sailed it straight, 22 hours, but on the ICW I will make at least 2 stops in GA, perhaps more if the tides nand currents conspire against me) I have no idea when I will have internet again, or, how long my cell service will last once I head into Georgia. It looks like there is a lot of barren marshland on this leg, so I have no idea how cell service will be. Worst case scenario, I will be back online when I get to Beaufort, SC, where I will probably break for a day or half day and rest.

As a footnote: the pizza I made was surprisingly good, not bad considering it was a crust mix, I substituted cheddar for mozzarella, and the only meat I had aboard to put on it was canned ham. I was either that hungry, or, it wasn’t half bad.

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