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We're finally heading north - going offshore this time for
our first time sailing overnight with just the two of us.
Our first leg is 230 nautical miles from Lake Worth inlet
at West Palm Beach to St. Augustine.
Loggerhead marina on Tuesday, 6/5 after topping off fuel
and water. Got to Lake Worth and anchored about 1745 but
went aground while anchoring because of low tide. By 1830
we were floating again. A squall came through with heavy
rain and gusts up to 24 kts; then another and then another.
It was pretty rolly until after midnight.
forecast on the 6th caused us to stay anchored for the day.
We got more stuff stowed and rearranged some of the lazarette
things while looking for the anchor snubber. Never found
the snubber. We had a few sprinkles of rain, but no bad
decided to leave on Thursday even though the weather forecast
hadn't changed. We expected that it wouldn't be any worse
than on the previous day and the marine forecasts looked
ok for where we were headed. We decided to raise the mainsail
while still at anchor and discovered that first reef line
was undone at the leech end of the sail. My guess is that
the rigger at Herrington Harbor messed it up when he was
doing the work on the third reef. We jerry-rigged a solution
but it needs to be fixed. We could never have dealt with
this problem if we'd waited to raise the sail until we were
the anchor at 0830 instead of 0730 as planned. Lots of fishing
boats going out so traffic was pretty heavy until we got
farther out. Weather was cloudy and wind was light. The
Smart Heading Sensor not working properly. Does it just
need re-calibration? Chart shows boat heading in wrong direction
but does show route properly. Can't do "HeadUp" display
so we're going with North Up. Radar display is not affected
and is working properly. We use a 3-hour watch schedule
which seems to work well for us. I'm on at 9 & 3 and Neal
at 12 & 6. This has me doing dinner and dishes at 6 then
going on watch at 9. We did get some rest but no real sleep
during the day but that's probably because it was the first
day and also because we had the adrenaline rush of being
on our first overnight.
lack of adequate wind we got a boost from the gulf stream
with our best SOG (Speed Over Ground) of 11.8 kts when boat
speed was 7.4 kts. Skies cleared as we got farther north.
The night sky was beautiful. Didn't see much bio-luminescence
because the stern light made to much ambient light. We saw
a few ships - some so far away that they appeared only on
the radar screen and we got no visual sighting.
last experience doing this was in '06 when we brought the
boat around from Texas without having the chart plotter
and radar at the helm. The Raymarine E80 system we have
at the helm now is worth every penny we paid for it. It's
not a substitute for careful observation, but it sure makes
things easier. When you lock onto a radar target, it tells
you that ship's bearing, course and speed which is a tremendous
help in deciding whether or not to take evasive action.
we headed toward St. Augustine on Friday morning, we encountered
hundreds - maybe thousands - of pink jellies. We passed
through them for at least 20 minutes. There were also dozens
of fishing boats heading out. We learned later that there
was a fishing tournament starting Friday.
When we called St. Augustine City Marina we found that they
were full because of the fishing tournament. The other close
in marinas were also full.
about 10:00 we were at City Marina getting fuel when the
Poker Run boats came in - about 30 of them. Noisy and gaudy
cigarette-type boats containing noisy and gaudy boaters
and each one with at least one "boat babe" in requisite
B was to anchor north of the Bridge of Lions. We tried several
places but only got a good hold at one place that put us
too close to another boat. One time the anchor came up with
a piece of line on it. But the worst was when we dropped
the hook in deeper water - still didn't hold - and brought
up the anchor to find that it had hooked a significant length
of chain that was probably someone's abandoned anchor. Tripped
the windlass breaker doing this. Neal used a boathook to
get the stray chain off the anchor then crawled into the
forepeak to reset the breaker and we went on to plan C -
anchor south of the bridge.
as the bridge was opening for us, the Poker Run boats came
out of the marina - two and three abreast so that all the
boats waiting to go the other way had to wait. They were
completely oblivious to the need to minimize the time the
bridge was open. They were coming through and just kept
coming while we and other boats were lined up and fighting
current waiting to get under the bridge and auto traffic
was stopped and waiting for the bridge to go back down..
They sure fit the stereotype of the super-macho idiot cigarette
boat driver. Maybe if they had bigger …… they wouldn't need
such gaudy over-powered substitutes. Eventually we went
under the bridge.
swear that part of the ICW must be paved with concrete.
We tried several places south of the bridge and couldn't
ever get the anchor to hold. What an exercise in frustration!
To top it off the wind came up to over 10 kts and the considerable
current was perpendicular to the wind. What a mess. We finally
decided to head south on the ICW a little way and I found
Oyster Creek Marina in Skipper Bob's book. They had a slip
available and so we ended up a couple of miles up the San
Sebastian River at a nice little marina. It felt great to
get a shower. They have a little restaurant, Hurricane
Patty's, that caters to a local crowd. There was a good
blues band playing and the food was good.
very happy that our first overnight experience with just
the two of us turned out so well. We took it easy and played
it safe - we never unfurled the big reacher. My opinion
is that we could do a longer passage. This one gave us confidence.
We bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate when we get
the chance - not tonight because we'll be leaving in the
morning. The two-way radios were great. They should be used
any time we're working apart from one another. No more yelling
to be heard!
Sunday we left Oyster Creek Marina at 8:30; made the 9:00
Bridge of Lions opening, and were clear of the channel by
9:30. We raised the main but there wasn't much wind. The
Gulf Stream is farther east here and continues curving east
so we weren't in it for very much of this passage and the
speed boost we got was short-lived. In the evening the western
sky started clouding over but we still had stars overhead
for most of the night.. Our angle of travel was such that
the waves pretty much had their way with us so it wasn't
as comfortable as we'd hoped. The Smart Heading Sensor is
working properly again.
the middle of my 3 a.m. watch the radar showed storm clouds
growing. They were all passing us by until one began to
form several miles dead ahead of us. I woke Neal so we could
make a joint decision on how to proceed. Our course change
completely avoided that storm cell. There was some distant
lightning in the clouds but it was so far away that we never
heard the thunder. We continued to see storm cells on the
radar for a while but never got more than very light sprinkles.
able to see storm cells on the radar in the black of night
is amazing. When there's no moon or stars, it truly is black
out there. The only water you see is your own wake out to
about 10 - 15 feet made visible by the white stern light.
There's no sky, no horizon. It's like being suspended inside
of a black sphere.
into Charleston Harbor was rougher than the water we'd seen
much farther out - we were really rolling. Until we got
to the jettys. Then things calmed down and we had a smooth,
flat ride. We're back at Charleston City Marina where we
stayed in December. It works well because they have a shuttle
service to downtown so we can get around without renting
a car. We'll be here long enough to get mail and then let
the weather determine when we leave. We had the champagne.
was a much more challenging passage that the one up to St.
Augustine and it left us much more tired. But it was good
to have a less calm situation to help prepare us for the
next even less calm one.
is still my favorite city on the southeastern coast. We
found a different BBQ restaurant, Jim & Nick's that
has the best ribs we've had so far. And we had shrimp &
grits for dinner at Hominy Grill where we got a complementary
little basket of boiled peanuts while we waited for our
order. I was surprised to find that they were very good.
We truly enjoy sampling the regional food.
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