30 November 2012

Days 134-140: St Augustine – 24/11/12–30/11/12

Well another week has passed, much in the same vane – work and wandering.  We promised ourselves that we would make sure that each day we spent some time enjoying ourselves by going out and seeing the sight and although we have done that, we haven’t done any where near as much of the enjoying side as we should have done.

Mike has been up to his ears in engine muck – oil and God knows what.  I practically have to hose him down each time he appears from the black hole but the engine rooms are beginning to sparkle.  No oil leaks, no greasy puddles, rust removed and new paint applied.  Very smart.

Having failed to find a steam cleaning service, I am cleaning the sofa cushions by hand with a fabric cleaning spray, a damp cloth and a lot of elbow grease.  They are coming up well.

The dehumidifier is working a treat and it has an added bonus – it throws warm air out of the back so we have been able to use it as an overnight heater to help out with the cold nights.

The weather has been up and down, cold and grey one day, warm and sunny the next but the pattern seems to have been set now for the latter for which I am very glad.

I have discovered just how much I like wood turning and have gradually been buying up some rather lovely bowls to take home.  I can’t wait to see them exhibited in my lounge.

Today we took some time off to meet up with some people we met in Boothbay Harbour, friends of Judy and Joe’s, who live not far away from us in the winter.  They took us to a restaurant called The Conch House where we had alligator tails as an appetizer.  The meat was soft and tender but as it was deep fried in a crispy coating, it could have been chicken for all I knew.  My main was delicious – whole Maine lobster with a prawn and cream sauce.

Naturally, eating a largeish meal at lunchtime and having a glass of wine (literally one) meant that it was time for a sleep when we got back although I had to drag myself out of bed and go in search of milk for our tea.  Of course I had to walk past the lovely wood gallery on my way and bought yet another bowl.  Well, it spoke to me!

St Augustine continues to delight.  I don’t know what it is about the town but there is just such a lovely atmosphere.  True it is very touristy – there are trolley buses, road trains and horse and coaches everywhere you look, and they are all packed – but it still manages to feel, I don’t know, right somehow.  There is so much history here and it shows in the architecture and the infrastructure and it has all been very well preserved.  I’m just glad that we get to come back here next year.  Hopefully we will be doing less work and more play then!

P1130907 P1130909 P1130915 P1130920 P1130921 P1130922 P1130923 P1130924 P1130926 P1130934 P1130935 P1130936 P1130937 P1130940 Photos:  Another week rolls by in beautiful St Augustine


Position:  29 deg 53 min N, 81 deg 18 min W

Distance so far:  3573 miles

23 November 2012

Days 120-133: St Augustine – 10/11/12-23/11/12

Yes, I admit it, I am still alive but have been a very bad girl in not writing the blog.  My lazy logic … we haven’t actually been sailing Jeannius … so I didn’t realise it was obligatory!  Apparently my daughter and husband think it is, so this is very retrospective!!!

We have spent our days since we arrived wandering around this beautiful town and working on the boat.  We are going to put her on the hard here for 6 months while we go back to Europe then come back out and maybe go to the Bahamas while our insurance still allows us to (we have to be north of 30.5 degrees by mid July).

In order to leave the boat in good order, Mike has been replacing hatches and all the valves on the heads to make them easier to switch from holding tank to straight over the side (and visa versa).  Not a nice job as it involved removing the old ones and having the lovely smell from the holding tanks come wafting through the boat.  Thankfully, the sun was shining the day he did this and we were able to have the door and windows over to shift the smell out – nothing to do with me obviously!

P1130853 Photo:  One of the lions at the Bridge of Lions – Jeannius in the distance

P1130855 P1130858 P1130860 P1130861 P1130866 P1130867 P1130871 Photos:  St Augustine in the sunshine

The weather when we first arrived, was glorious – sunny with lovely blue sky.  This lasted for five days then the grey stuff arrived, not so much in the form of rain, just gloom, light mist and windy.  Basically like the UK only warmer - just.  We felt quite at home and it certainly reinforced our decision not to go sailing ever again to anywhere cold and damp!

The pirate thing which was going on when we arrived, continued all weekend although there was much more happening on the Saturday.  I followed the parade for a while and watched the shenanigans – they really threw themselves into it and there were a lot of Mr Depp wannabes.

P1130840 P1130842 P1130847b Photos:  It’s a pirate thing

We were loaned boat bikes from a friend Mike knows from the BVIs who lives here but at the time of writing I haven’t plucked up the courage to use one although Mike has.  I find two legs safer.  I was  deprived as a child and never allowed to have one.  My policeman father wouldn’t allow us to have them in case of accidents - well that’s what he said anyway.  Consequently I am terrified of falling off one and things break easier at my age.

In an art gallery we came across the most beautiful glass blown pieces – small jellyfish encased in clear glass.  They were so amazing, so translucent and so life-like that at first I thought they actually are real jellyfish suspended in glass only to find out that they too are glass forms.  I cannot even begin to imagine how they are made and though expensive, given the amount of work involved, probably worth the price.  These little beauties are created by Californian glass artist, Richard Satava.  Mike said I could have one as long as it came out of my flat re-modelling allowance.  That stopped my credit card from coming out as there are things I want more than that.  Another time maybe.

Jeannie and Keith from the catamaran Mucho Gusto came down from Jacksonville on Tuesday to meet us for lunch at Harry’s.  We had first met them briefly in Beaufort, NC, then again in Charleston.  They had gone ahead of us under one of the bridges to check the height, them and their guests all whooping with delight when we managed to skim underneath.  They are from Albuquerque, New Mexico and I would hope to see them again.  The food at Harry’s was fantastic – good southern seafood – although we over-ordered and had to take some back to the boat with us.  Luckily Mike was still stuffed in the evening with an accompanying over-eating stomach ache who prevented him from having the left-overs for supper.  Not me though, and I even polished his off.

When we first arrived at the marina we only booked in for three days but we liked it so much we decided to stay here until the boat comes out of the water so we paid for four weeks.  We were told though that due to the annual Nights of Lights switch on a week later, they were fully booked and we would have to leave for two nights and go on a mooring ball.  What actually happened was that on the Wednesday before the weather changed – rain, cloud, and lots of wind.  Consequently loads of boats just didn’t turn up and we were able to stay on our slip.

The grand ‘switch-on’ was on the Saturday and at 6.30 pm the whole of the downtown area was suddenly ablaze with millions of small lights; treetops, tree trunks, bushes, windows, lanterns – everywhere flickered and shone.  There was live music in the square and people in period costume parading about.  The atmosphere was jovial and friendly although I couldn’t understand the people sitting around in their deck chairs, soaking up and enjoying the entertainment as it was so cold and damp although the rain managed to stay away for a few hours at least.

P1130882 P1130894 P1130902 Photos:  St Augustine’s Night of Lights

The next week continued with more boat work and wandering around town to break it up.  The bad weather also continued – not actually raining but cold, damp and a strong north wind which goes right through you. 

P1130875 Photo:  Jeannius in the grey stuff

Mike fixed four new hatches to the boat to keep Jeannius nice and watertight while we are away and bought a dehumidifier that has a timer and an outlet pipe so that we can drain the water into the bilges for the bilge pump to deal with.  With the solar panels and wind generator to power it and just keeping it on for a few hours a day using the timer, it should keep Jeannius nice and fresh.

The rather large birds continue to be a problem, shit-wise.  For a while we had an osprey sitting, shitting, at the top of our mast, and at night pelicans roost on the bow seat rails, leaving large mounds behind when they leave.  We have scrubbed it all off but know that this will be a recurring activity until we leave.  Thanks guys!

P1130876 Photo:  Something large and poop filled at the top of our mast

The weather finally started to change yesterday and although the sun shone all day, the cold north wind was still with us.  It was Thanksgiving Day and the town was not sure whether it wanted to be open for business or not.  Some shops were open and some not; the only restaurants open for lunch were those that we didn’t want to eat at or were finishing serving just as we found them.  The only people really wandering around were foreign tourists like us, to whom the day had no real significance.

Today it is sunny and warm and finally the wind has dropped.  We are now half way through our stay in St Augustine and I have to say, I am really enjoying it despite the work!


Position:  29 deg 53 min N, 81 deg 18 min W

Distance so far:  3573 miles

09 November 2012

Day 119: Jacksonville to St Augustine, Florida – 09/11/12

It’s a rocky old night.  Like Savannah, the heavy traffic continues through to the wee hours but unlike Savannah, they seem to go at full pelt and create a huge wake rushing across the river to us on the outside of the marina, sending us bucking like a little bronco.  I do not appreciate this.

P1130823 Photo:  Flat calm – it must be time to go!

The river is completely empty of traffic though when we leave the marina at 8.30 am and it’s a lot easier getting off the dock than getting on as the tide is relatively slack.  The same with getting out of the river and into the Atlantic Ocean again as we are going with the tide rather than against it.  Once out, we turn south.

The beaches are not exactly picturesque from our vantage point.  At about three miles out you can still see the high rise condos lining the shore seemingly never ending.

By midday it’s warm enough to sunbathe and with a totally clear sky and smooth sea I take full advantage of lying in the sun on the trampoline, only the second time I have done this on this trip.  For our last day travelling on the east coast it would have been great to have enough wind to be able to sail but it is not to be, and after trying the genoa out for a short time, Mike gives up.

For such a calm sea going south, the conditions for turning into the St Augustine inlet come as a bit of a shock.  Strange rollers form out to sea on either side of the inlet and crash towards the lovely white beaches.  Dolphins seem to be going mental in the water all around, no doubt having a ball in the turbulent water.  Myself, I’d like it as it was when we were on the way down.

P1130825 P1130828 Photos:  Strange water outside of St Augustine

The water here is uncharted to a large degree as the sea bed is shifting all the time, constant shoaling changing the picture.  There are many channels going in different directions and for a moment it is difficult to see where we are supposed to go.  Minutes later we are through, there are no waves and all is calm.  And that was on a good day!  Now I see why they say not to attempt this inlet in anything less than good weather unless you have local knowledge.  Luckily we had been told that the inlet had been dredged a few months ago so we were pretty sure we would be OK but a lot can change in a few months.  Luckily for us, this time it didn’t.

Frustratingly we miss the bridge opening, watching in the distance as four yachts go through.  We then jiggle around in the mooring field just in front for the next one, just 20 minutes or so as Mike had slowed down considerably once he realised we were not going to catch the previous one.

We can hear the marina staff being called constantly as boats attempt to get a slip and I find it difficult to get heard on the radio to see if there is one for us.  Cats have a much harder time getting slips because of their girth!

On time the bridge opens and we go through the rather attractive Bridge of Lions to find the marina immediately on the other side.  While we wait for a slip to be found, we idle in the bay and a dolphin does a huge leap in front of me, arcing high out of the water.  Beautiful but of course I have no camera as I am standing on the bow tying the lines on.  Typical.  By the time I am ready with the camera, he is swimming around somewhat more sedately.

P1130835 Photo:  St Augustine dolphin

Staff are on hand to help us tie up and we look around at our prime spot right between the promenade and the bridge.  Nice.

P1130837 Photo:  A nice spot in St Augustine

It’s nearly 4 pm by the time the formalities are once again completed and we sit outside with a cup of tea before going to explore our immediate surroundings.

We think we are going mad for a while – all around us in the street, there are pirates!  Then we find out that this weekend is St Augustine’s annual pirate weekend.  They all arrive here, dress up extremely well as pirates and do, well I’m not quite sure.  There’s a lot of drinking and raucous behaviour.  Still, it’s early in the weekend yet!

We wander around for a couple of hours, getting our bearings.  We have the time to look around the various art galleries, Mike stunning me by agreeing to do it.  I push my luck with a couple of clothes and tourist shops too, just to see how he copes.  He’s fine.  He must be ill so I take him back to Jeannius and give him a beer.  We will probably be here now until we leave to go back to the UK so there’s plenty of time to see the rest of St Augustine, but so far, me likey!


Position:  29 deg 53 min N, 81 deg 18 min W

Distance so far:  3573 mies

08 November 2012

Day 118: Cumberland Island, GA to Jacksonville, FL – 08/11/12

We wake up early and as soon as I have my hands on my first cup of tea Mike tells me that I won’t get my second one until we are underway because he wants to leave in 15 minutes.  It’s getting very near low tide, he wants to get out while there is still water in the river and we have over 40 miles to go.  He doesn’t add that the main reason we have to leave so early is that he likes to piss me off – he keeps that one quiet but I know.

There is a mist over the river when we pull the anchor up, gradually rising into the air as the sun starts to burn it off.  Burn?  Who am I kidding?  There’s no burn in the sun at the moment!  We meander down the river with the cloud getting thinner and thinner but it gets no warmer.  I am looking further ahead in the charts, looking for problems for me to worry about later on when we suddenly come to a very slow, soft stop.  I glance at the depth meter and see that we have run aground.  Looking at the charts for where we are with my heart in my mouth I can see that we have wandered into shallow water while I wasn’t watching.  Shit.

P1130780 Photo:  Oops indeed

I stand helplessly while Mike gently puts the boat into reverse.  For a while nothing happens then as I continue grovelling ten to the dozen, Jeannius begins to move slowly backwards then forwards into the middle of the channel and into deeper water.

P1130781 P1130782 Photos:  The river bends through the marshes with mud shoals  appearing all the time

I glue my bum to the chart table seat, completely embarrassed by my dereliction of duty and continue to shout course directions out to Mike, some of which he heeds and others which he doesn’t.  Half a mile further on, just as we join the Cumberland River, we come to another slow halt. 

P1130783 Photo:  The whirligig at the top middle shows where we dance off another shoal that isn’t there according to the charts

This time I have heeded the charts and Mike has heeded me but the shoaling is not where the charts say it is.  Again Mike calmly gets us off after a few minutes although it’s not obvious exactly where we should go as there are channel markers all over the place and some of them are knocked over on their sides.

Eventually though we are into the Cumberland River and headed towards Cumberland Sound and the sea.

On our way we pass King’s Bay and its submarine base.  Dire warnings are posted up along the shore telling you in no uncertain terms to keep the hell out of the way.  Our course takes us within viewing distance but just as we get a bit too close for comfort, a security boat arrives.  They don’t say anything but shadow us, staying between us and the base until it is obvious that we are just passing on our way to sea.  Then they turn around and leave and that’s when I whip my camera out.

P1130785P1130786 P1130788 P1130789 P1130787 Photos:  King’s Bay submarine base and their security patrol

By now it’s 11.30 am, the sun is high in the sky, there’s not a cloud and it still really cold.  Mike skulks like a cold blooded animal in a little patch of sun in the cockpit trying to soak up any available heat.  He is not a happy bunny.

P1130790 Photo:  Look at the miserable face!

We are now in St Marys River which forms the official state line between Georgia and Florida.  As we pass the white sand on the tip of Cumberland Island, the story about the wild horses there turns out to be true as we see two of them on the beach munching on the grass nearby.

P1130792P1130796 Photos:  Georgia - white sand and wild horse on Cumberland Island

However, on the northern tip of Amelia Island, Florida, things are not quite as pretty!

P1130797 Photo:  Florida – well I suppose it’s got to go somewhere!

As we leave the relative protection of the sound, once again we are buffeted by the waves.  They are coming side on to the boat and it’s not nice.  Neither are the manners of the captain on the shrimp boat heading in as we are leaving.  He heads straight for us in the channel when he should be changing direction to stay on his side.  I could understand it if he was still trawling his nets – then it would be our job to stay out of his way, and rightly so.  But this ignoramus forces us to change direction at the last minute to avoid a head on collision, only changing direction at the last minute to avoid hitting us full on the side.  Bastard.  He doesn’t even answer Mike on the radio.

P1130802  Photo:  Shrimp boat heading straight for us

P1130803 Photo:  Another shrimp boat passes adorned with seabirds

Once we turn south, we have the wind behind us and a following sea.  With the decrease in wind, the temperature takes a more pleasant turn and I am able to lie out for a while on one of the trampolines, albeit with jeans, socks, shoes, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt and fleece!  Ah Florida!  While I am doing this, Mike manages to get decent enough internet to watch the Liverpool match.  He shouldn’t have bothered – apparently.

P1130805 Photo:  Watching Liverpool fails to warm the cockles of his heart or any other body part!

We have decided to go outside the ICW for the rest of the way to St Augustine because Mike read the following in the ICW guide.  Quote “The high-level bridges here are unofficially considered to be the “lowest” of the 65-foot bridges on the ICW; expect no more than 64 feet at high tide.  If in doubt, check the clearance boards and go through at half tide.” Unquote.


We need a 65-foot bridge to be 65 feet high at high tide and we still need to go under at low tide.  I have never heard such nonsense.  Are the bloody bridges sinking?  And tide boards would be great but they are missing more often than not, at least so far they have been.

Twenty miles down the coast and we are heading back in.  We haven’t got enough time to get down to St Augustine and that inlet is not one you do in the dark.  We head in at the St Johns River, nearest town, Jacksonville.  The water in the channel is all over the place and the dolphins seems to love it, playing in the whirlpools produced by the rather strange and very strong current.  I had planned a route to an anchorage at Sisters Creek but seeing how the water is Mike decides that another marina is in order.

We pass yet another naval base – war ships galore and helicopters constantly flying overhead and arrive at George Island Marina, the newest marina in the area and the one nearest to the mouth of the river for a quick getaway in the morning.

P1130811 Photo:  More war machinery

P1130813 Photo:  I bet this returning shrimper has more birds than shrimp aboard

We tie up, Mike signs in and we get our internet going so we can use Skype.  I decide that I need some chocolate and as there is nothing but beer in the marina shop, we have to walk down to the local petrol station shop to get some.  We are the only people walking.  There are no pavements and I am convinced that some waiting alligator wants me for his dinner.  We get the chocolate but see no alligators – thankfully.

A beautiful light falls over the water at sunset and if I had been quick enough with my camera, the side of this freighter as it passes would have looked like it was covered in gold leaf.  But I am not quick and have to settle for it disappearing into a pink tinged horizon.

P1130819 Photo:  Disappearing into the pink


Position:  30 deg 24 min N, 81 deg 25 min W

Distance so far:  3536 miles