Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Flaggler College
Every year the holiday season begins earlier and earlier and here in St. Augustine it’s no different.  We’ve been on a mooring in this beautiful city for the past week were fortunate to participate in the “Nights of Lights” celebration.  The city, businesses, and residents all go to great lengths to string over 2.5 million lights on every tree and building that they can. National Geographic twice named the event one of the 10 best holiday light shows in the world.  All at once, with thousands in the park counting down, the lights come on for the next month and a half. This is the 20th year for celebration and it’s a wonderful way to bring people together, stimulate business and make this already beautiful destination more so. 

We’ve had both beautiful days and challenging weather. Winds steady at 25 and the chop proved challenging for our little dink.  Nevertheless, we ventured in daily for walks with Murray, shopping, dining, and sightseeing. We motored about 5 miles in the dink (and about 70 years back in time) to Vilano Beach.  The 50’s vintage buildings reminded us of what Florida must have been like in that bygone era. 

Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are being celebrated aboard and our (small) turkey is roasting in the oven. Potatoes, squash, fresh green beans, and apple pie are also on the menu. A pot-luck on the dock may also be part of a progressive meal.  It’s all followed by either a long walk or a nap . . .

We have new friends including Vermonters Ken, Francie, and their dog Skipper who are sailing to the Bahamas on “Release.” We plan to leave Friday morning sailing along the Florida Coast on the outside when weather permits. Our destination is simply “south.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fernandina Beach, Florida

Leaving Beaufort, we moved south along the Beaufort River and Parris Island.  The extensive Marine training facility there graduates 20,000 marines a year. While Beaufort is clearly influenced by the presence of this base, there is far more to this community with its roots in the old South, farming, fishing, slave trade, and shipping.  We strolled the streets admiring the historic homes that have been beautifully preserved and imagining life in an enormous antebellum mansion.  Beaufort revitalized its waterfront with a beautiful park, restaurants, and shops.  Public access has been preserved in a town whose history was dominated by a class system that enriched a few and enslaved many.

The trip down the Beaufort River ended in Port Royal Sound at Hilton Head where we popped out for our outside run down the Georgia coast.  The winds were light requiring us to run the engine (aka Perkins) for 6 hours.  Then the winds freshened and we were able to set full sail for the remainder of the overnight journey.  Vice Captain Kay was slightly cranky when tacking added an additional 8 or so hours to the trip. Murray wasn’t that thrilled either since he couldn’t get to shore for about 36 hours. At sunrise, we were passing Jekyll Island and made the turn into St. Mary’s Sound with Georgia is on the starboard side and Florida on the port.  The forecast called for a gale powered by a cold front scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.  We anchored off of Fernandina Beach for one night and then decided to move to the dock at the marina and weather the nor’easter there.  While winds were high and temps low (still in the 60’s) we explored town and found it to be a gem.

Atalanta At Anchor
Main Street
Fernandina Beach, despite being surrounded by a commercial port and a paper mill, is a beautiful little village with lots of interesting shops, fine restaurants, and good marine services.  When the first railroad ran cross-state in 1850, it began in Fernandina Beach.  

We will leave Thursday (Nov.21) morning for the 60-mile trip       to St. Augustine.  We plan to travel the ICW since the weather will not settle for another two days with high wind and seas on the outside and the inlet at St. Augustine is shoaling and can be tricky to negotiate when the wind and current are opposing. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Continuing South ahead of the Winter weather

On November 14th we departed Charleston after spending a wonderful month at the Charleston City Marina.  The weather has been spectacular.  As our Vermont friends are welcoming snow, we have been able to enjoy sunny warm weather…. That is until recently.  The weather in Charleston has turned colder for a day or two as we prep for points south. Charleston has been a combination of family time with Liam, Ben, Amy, and Jason, Rachel, Pat, Lois and Grant and visits from friends.  We have also had the chance to meet new acquaintances and perhaps future friends.

Beaufort, SC
Beaufort, SC

Our next days will take us south.  While waiting for a gale out on the open water to settle, we decided to transit the ICW to Beaufort, SC.  The ICW offers its share of scenery but lacks the beauty of the open ocean.  Beaufort (pronounced BU-FORT) (not to be mistaken for Beaufort, NC (pronounced BO-FORT) is a charming and historic town that is also home to the famous Paris Island (Marine boot camp).  Richard has assured Kay that he has no intention of enlisting while there. Our hope is to sail on the outside for Georgia and enter St. Mary’s sound for our transition to Florida. 
Finally, Kay and Richard have commemorated their time in Charleston,  each getting a tattoo.  Yes mom, a tattoo, no Noah, it does not cover our entire body.  We will now always remember our time in Charleston, always.

Our next post will detail our time in historic Beaufort and our journey past GA on to Fl.  Stay Tuned.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Charleston, SC

It’s been three weeks since we arrived in Charleston, SC and we’re feeling right at home here in our City Marina slip.  We are within walking distance of the downtown historic district, shopping and some very fine restaurants.  Our pace is slow and the weather has been wonderful.

Grant, Lois, Kay and Richard
(Photo by Conrad)
We have been very fortunate to have visitors while here and have greatly enjoyed sharing Charleston with them. Grant and Lois (our future in-laws) came by on the way south for a lovely afternoon of conversation and drinks in the cockpit as well as dinner in Mount Pleasant.  It was great to see them before the February wedding.  Conrad flew in from Arizona to visit family in NC and dropped by for a few days.  Together we toured the historic homes of Charleston, sailed the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, and ate/drank more than our fair share.  It was great to have the time together.
Liam the Hungry

Richard and Martin arrived on “11-11” (an 85' Ocean Alexander) few days ago and docked near by.  We had a chance to visit, share a drink and a few meals as well as the Red Sox victory (which is a tad more important to some than others).  Soon they will be leaving for points south but we hope to cross paths again.

We are a week and a half from the end of our stay in Charleston and hope to spend as much time with Amy, Liam, Ben and Jason as they can stand.  Rachel and Pat will be here for the weekend.  Now that the farm has slowed down, they are able to break away and have a little time in a warmer place.  We can't wait to see them.

We are beginning to plot our courses south through GA and FL before launching off to the Bahamas in early December.  Out course south will include a combination of open water and inter coastal travel.  Each section of the inter coastal has its charm, history and interest.  Georgia tends to be a great deal of grass land, swamps and meandering creeks with a 6 foot tidal swing.  Florida's coast and the ICW tend to be more varied with a combination of populated areas and wilderness.  We are looking forward to it all.

Thanks for following our journey.

Ravenal Bridge in Charleston