November 30, 2014, 20 miles north of St. Augustine, FL — by Amy
The sun came up today for the second day in a row! I know because I saw it emerge and paint the seascape with dawn’s pink and blue pastels and a hint of bold orange neon behind the edges of the clouds. To add to my joy a couple of frisky dolphins came to play in the bow’s wake. Hanging over the bow pulpit, I made eye contact, so my day is complete and it’s only 7:30 a.m. and we are in Florida waters and it is WARM!
When we departed Southport, North Carolina two days ago it was freezing. The deck of Mary T was iced over, forcing us to move with great care. By mid-morning it had melted and we raised sail in a brisk northerly and pointed SOUTH. As the sun rose higher in the sky, it’s rays took the chill off our frigid bodies. In cold weather we roll all the vinyl windows down and our cockpit becomes a floating sun room.
As the day wore on the wind wore out and by nightfall we were motoring. The sun’s setting brought on more layers of clothing. By the time I came on for the midnight to 3 AM watch, I had on two hats, five layers on my upper body, three layers on the bottom and two pairs of socks. Although it was cold and we were noisily motoring along, it was a beautiful evening and literally stellar. All the constellations and the Milky way were on full display and a nearly half-moon provided just enough light to perceive the horizon.
Sun rise found us in the waters off Charleston, SC and it was feeling much warmer than the previous day. We started peeling off layers and melting into the warmth. The weather looked benign so we decided to push on for another day and night with our sights on St. Augustine, FL, Americas oldest colonial city and home to the Tini Martini Bar.
Southward we motored in a glassy, satin sea. Four dolphins came to play in our bow wake for several minutes and I hung over the bow pulpit to talk to them and film them with my little Go-Pro camera. That evening was much less frigid requiring fewer layers and no hats. The stars put on another show and the phosphorescence in our wake was unlike any I’d ever seen. I sat on the cabin top and stared at thousands of glowing, baseball-sized, neon-blue jellyfish flying past. It started to make me dizzy and returned to the cockpit.
Now we are only miles from landfall in St. Augustine. We made the mistake of turning on the radio. Sad news about Ferguson, MO, and another story about three innocent men who spent 40 years in prison came crashing into our perfect world of water and sun and dolphins. Maybe we should just keep going…
December 1, 2014, St. Augustine FL — by Kenny
Below is some back story…
From Oriental, North Carolina we motored the short distance to Beaufort, NC, where we anchored in Town Creek. Only one other vessel shared this popular anchorage and so we were reminded again, how late we are in the snow bird migration. In the distance we heard a lot of thunderous noise but the sky was clear and no forecast for t-storms. Then I thought, maybe it had to do with the construction of the new roadway and bridge that was being built from Moorehead City to Beaufort. However, I realized that there was no bedrock around here that would need blasting. Then it occurred to me that it must be Camp Lejuene. After some online research, I found a phone number to call regarding this live fire exercise as it can mean that the ICW will be closed. Sure enough–it was closed that day and would be closed the next as well. That meant we would stay longer in Beaufort which wasn’t such a bad thing.
So, then it was off to the aptly named Piggly Wiggly for some grocery shopping. They seem to specialize in pork products. The following day was spent enjoying the comfy but deserted downtown area of Beaufort and trips to a few of our favorite establishments. That evening, our friend from Shipwright Harbor Marina, Mike, aboard Enterprise, happened to dock at the nearby marina. Mike, his crew, Lesley, and us, enjoyed a fine dinner at the City Kitchen restaurant.
We headed out on Friday morning bound for Mile Hammock Bay. Things were going quite well until we saw what looked like a three car pile up off in the distance. It was actually two boats aground and a third one hanging back. Undaunted and with some advice radioed by one of the groundees, we proceeded slowly through the shallow passage. Then, with a nice soft thud, we too, were aground. More boats were on their way and so, the pile up was now a real blockage. We knew the tide was rising so were not too concerned–plus we have unlimited towing from Boat US. Mike, on Enterprise, heard us on the VHF and called us for some advice. Since his boat only drew four and a half feet, he was confident he could make it. Amy gave her best estimate about where the deeper water was and also suggested he gun it. Well, so much for Amy’s best intentions–Mike went aground so hard his bow was pointed at an unnatural angle skyward. Luckily, he is very good-natured and bore no ill will towards us. Several other boats simply anchored nearby and patiently waited for the tide to rise. Within about 45 minutes we could feel the boat start to move and were able to back off and proceed on our way. Once anchored at Mile Hammock Bay, we rowed over to Enterprise and enjoyed Amy’s expertly made cosmopolitan cocktails.
The next day was another cautious motoring trip down the ICW. Although we bumped once again, we were never stuck in the muck. We ended up in the mooring field Carolina Beach, NC, where we were stuck for several days. Paralyzed might be a better way to put it as the weather forecasts were so fraught with impending doom but at varying percentages throughout each day. Should we stay or should we go? We’d check and re-check a variety of weather sources and nothing ever appeared definitive. The models, as meteorologists say, were not in agreement. After three days, we made a dash for Southport, NC, where we found free dockage at the Fishy Fishy Cafe–a fine harbor-side restaurant. Then came more bad weather. But Southport, like Beaufort, is a great place to be delayed. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at the Pharmacy Restaurant and enjoyed walking around the town where it seemed each house was more quaint than the next.
Ahhh, but nothing compares to St. Augustine around Christmas. The town is all lit up, decorated, and alive with holiday spirit. The best part is that the coming week is forecast to have highs in the 70s every day.
From the Department of Self Promotion
For those interested in seeing my documentary, Red Dot on the Ocean, about sailing legend Matt Rutherford: