Thursday, December 3, 2015

Running From The Cold, The Captains Birthday And An Endless Job List!

Wandering Star on a mooring with the Christmas lights of St Augustine, Florida
After running from the cold for the last few weeks we have finally arrived in sunny Florida. Temperatures are perfect and yet I feel a little sad. Florida is the end of the line for us, the last state we will be passing through before we head over to the Bahamas and back to the East Caribbean. And though we are excited to return to a place that is as familiar to us as any 'home' has been, we can't deny how much we have enjoyed the US.
Sunrise at Sisters Creek free dock, Jacksonville, Florida
After leaving Beaufort, SC, Sim would have liked to sail on the 'outside'. Our plan was to head down to Hilton Head, do a quick shop at the very nice Kruger supermarket, then head out of the Caliboque Sound for an over night sail to Florida. But it was very cold and we would have had to wait another 3 days for a good forecast. We could be there by then. In the end we opted to take the waterway route, on the inside, to keep moving, and to safely tuck up warm somewhere at night at anchor (because the waterway is no place to be moving in the dark). The days were mostly long, grey and drab. We passed through some of the shallowest areas - the notorious Hells Gate and Fields Cut, timing the 9ft tides to clear the shallowest spots of 2ft MLW. We rose and retired with the sun catching some of her awesome early morning or evening displays. 

Hurrying south, I now wonder what the rush was for? But here we are, in time to celebrate Sims Birthday in sunny St Augustine, Florida. A fun 'historic' town with a good atmosphere. We had a mooring right next to the seawall. What a fantastic spot. On one side we had the old fort 'Castillo de San Marcos' and to the other the ornate Bridge of Lions - the whole waterfront lit up at night. It was gorgeous and a very lovely contrast to the marshy anchorages of the previous weeks.
The Birthday Boy at Georgie's Diner, St Augustine
We started Sims Birthday, with an epic breakfast at 'Georgie's' - a very cool, typical American diner - it was fully decked out in chrome, and red and white leatherette seating. We loved it. Then a fabulous dinner at A1A on the waterfront that evening. The whole of St Augustine is covered Christmas lights and festive decorations, it looks amazing. We have passed through At Augustine many times but always with an agenda or schedule and then we move on. This time we really enjoyed our time  - walking the red bricked streets and taking in the ambiance. It's been wonderful.
The old district at St Augustine
But now, again, we must press on, we hope to be in to Vero Beach next week to change some more clevis pins on the rigging, to pick up some packages, to do our last load of mounting laundry and to hire a car for a last big provision before we head over to the Bahamas. And to deal with some of the jobs mounting up. We haven't even left America and our list is piling up. Our hopeful solution of replacing the ($200!) cable for the radar hasn't changed a thing. It fires up, the radar scans but we receive nothing. Because of the short days our batteries are starting to dwindle. We hauled out our brand new generator that we bought at great expense for the very same reason in the Bahamas earlier in the year, but guess what? It won't run. I've no doubt that Sim can fix it but it sometimes feels like there are not enough hours in the day or $$$$ in the bank. Where do we draw the line between the necessary and the nice to have? We've managed for a decade with no radar or watermaker.  It's one of those times when we feel things getting on top of us. It might be time to put the kettle on.

Passing the ubiquitous shrimps boats so familiar on the east coast at Fernadina Beach

Endless days of sky and water just after passing Hells Gate on the ICW

On the free dock at Sisters Creek, Jacksonville, Florida

At anchor in Hilton Head with a full moon.

Freezing and another early start to the day.

Sim has made several trips aloft to measure for new rigging pieces.

A one legged pelican....there has to be a joke in there somewhere.

The Bridge of Lions, St Augustine, Florida

The Christmas tree in the square at St Augustine

Sims birthday evening stroll - St Augustine -all lit up.

All the trees are wrapped in fairy lights

Even some boats in the marina are all dressed up

The birthday boy in the birthday boy hat.

Thats a tall one!

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