Sunday, November 15, 2009

St. Augustine? Why the Devil Did We Come Here?

St. Augustine, FL
November 15, 2009

Sitting out five days of rain in Beaufort left us a bit eager to put in some distance. When the remnants of Ida finally departed taking with them the cold and the rain it was time for Meredith to Head 'Em Up and Move 'Em Out.

This was too bad as we had anticipated enjoying Beaufort, always a favoured stop, for a few days and even getting some labour intensive work done.

Lady's Island Bridge which separates Factory Creek from downtown Beaufort opens at 7 a.m. and not again until 9 a.m. Eager travellers were up and off by 7, not so Meredith. Our intention was to slip out of the waterway at Royal Island Sound and run outside to St. Simon Sound where we would reconnect with the ICW and anchor in the Fredericka River. We look forward to a day or two in the Fredericka River, just North of Brunswick GA.

Winds were forecast light - 15 knots out of the North West declining to 10 knots over the afternoon. Waves were to be 2 - 4 feet. It is a short trip Beaufort to Brunswick, not more than 24 hours and you have to keep your speed down to stretch it to this. The reason you want to keep your speed down is so you do not arrive at St. Simon Sound in the dark - never a good time to try to enter an unknown inlet from the ocean. Arriving in the dark meant we would have to waste turning circles in the black water from our time of arrival until daylight.

A light wind gave us a slow speed and with a late departure we calculated we were in good order to make Brunswick GA in daylight.

Tide was with us as we ran the section of the Beaufort River from Beaufort to the Sound at 8 to 10 knots. You begin to get an idea of the effect of tides - we set the throttle to an engine speed that should have delivered 6 knots and we sat back and enjoyed 8 to 10.

Getting into the Atlantic we started with a nice 13 knot breeze from the starboard quarter driving us along at an acceptable 4.2 knots. The waves were magnificent - 6 feet not four but travelling on a six second period - nice long slow waves pushing us along. Sadly the waves were off the port quarter, nearly the port beam.

Still all was looking great for an afternoon of comfortable sailing, just what we wanted to check out our new headsail.

As the day wore on the wind did not fall so much as collapse. When the actual wind hit 7 knots we hauled in the headsail and I set up the gennaker. Gennakers are special very large very lightweight sails designed for light wind. Slightly easier to sail than a spinnaker the gennaker is still a pain to set up. So what else do you have to do when you are 1/4 of the way done a 24 hour sail? Quit your bitching.

Just as I finished tying the after guy on the whisker pole (used to hold the sail out as far as possible to catch wind) the wind finished its decline. It had to. It had hit zero.

Boat speed was .5 knots, all of it attributable to the steady southbound near shore current which affects much of southern North America.

Patiently we bobbed in the ocean enjoying the tremendous view - nothing in sight in any direction. How else do you wait when there is nothing you can do. Bobbing is much more pleasant without a six foot wave pounding your boat every six seconds. Or we presume it would be.

Thirty minutes and we realized we would have to use the other sail we keep in reserve: our trusty diesel.

We reversed our work on the gennaker, stowed all the loose gear and cranked up the Beta.

Now we were going too fast to make Brunswick after dark (it is not healthy for a diesel to be run at low speed or under light load for very long) so we looked at the charts, closed our eyes and pointed.

St. Augustine it was. Just far enough. We arrived for the 9 a.m. opening of the Bridge of Lions.

Our dilemma now is what to do next. We are leaving Meredith at Green Cove Springs which is North of St. Augustine so we will backtrack to Jacksonville and up the St. Johns River. Enroute we will likely extend our Northerly venture to include a day at Fernandina Beach and a d
lengthy lavover at St. Marys, Ga over the Thanksgiving break.

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