Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Swing Baby

Still January 14, 2010
Still at anchor in St. Augustine

Conditions were flat but very cool today. The weatherman promised 64 degrees degrees today but 2 p.m. had only delivered 50 of them. The wind was bitter. Must have been warmer on land out of the wind.

In 5 years we have been in Florida 3 times over winter months. It has been bitter cold every single January and February. This year pipes are freezing in people's homes and the northern third of the state is operating under energy conservation rules due to the load imposed on the grid by so many additional space heaters. It seems that Florida can handle a Force 4 Hurricane with relative aplomb. Give it 2 weeks of sub zero weather and the place falls apart.

Feeling the effects of a shared cold Connie and I ditched our initial plan to run outside the waterway to Vero Beach. Neither of us was up to a 2 day offshore in potentially subzero weather. We are still sleeping 12 hours at a stretch.

So today we ran inside and in 50 nm saw only 2 other boats.

Arriving at St. Augustine we took on fuel at Comatchee Cove Marina, our favourite for good fuel at a fair price and proceeded through the Bridge of Lions to the main anchorage. The northern anchorage had but 1 boat riding on rode. It was empty.

The Bridge of Lions gave us a timely opening which was good as the tide was running 3 knots flood and boat control was a handful.

The southern or main anchorage at St. Augustine had maybe 6 boats at anchor which were not full timers. The anchorage was 75% full though, full with near derelict hulls being lived on by a crowd of miscreant landlubbers looking for cheap housing. Many boats do not have masts, all are filthy wearing run down paint covered in guano and worse. All ride on two or even three anchors so they do not swing. In this way they discourage transient boats from bothering them as setting two anchors is just more work than most boaters are prepared to invest for a night's sleep.

We swing baby!

If St. Augustine does not take some action to limit the loss of anchorage many boats will not be able to stop. Too bad because this is a pretty little town.

Since arriving on Monday we have used the generator each evening to power our ceramic heater for comfort and tonight is no different. It is warming however.

We were pleased to make 50 nm today despite adverse tide on 2/3 of the journey.

The lack of cruising boats is eerie and has never been experienced by us before. It may just be the cold but we suspect that more than just the Gulf Stream is putting a chill on boat traffic in Florida.

Arriving at St. Augustine at sundown we realized that 75% of the anchorage is now occupied by full time residents: people living on near derelict hulls anchored permanently. Most of the full time boats carry two anchors which restricts their swing and makes anchoring for transient boats quite awkward. Tonight as we prowled the darkening anchorage for a clear spot most of the boat occupants emerged to conduct an angry watch to ensure no one anchored near them. Meredith produced only frustration for the onlookers as Connie located a vacant spot and we set our hook on short rode despite being advised that "this boat swings you know" by the occupant of a neighbouring vessel. re we will use a small anchorage a couple of miles out of St. Augustine. Holding has never been that good near the Bridge of Lions and the locals seem to be growing increasingly militant.


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