Monday, November 11, 2013

St. Catherines Sound, Ga to Jacksonville, Fla

The morning of Oct 24th started out as a very peaceful morning with winds forecast to be NW 20-25 knots, so off we went under full sail out onto the ocean for a leisurely sail down to Brunswick, Ga. We quickly passed a fellow Gulfstar owner (Gulfstar 37) and continued on our way down the coast. This pic was taken by Jon, on Jessie Grey.

The winds were perfect and under blue skies the pelicans got a wonderful lift off our main sail.
 This pod of dolphins consisted of over a dozen mammals who were having a great time entertaining us. There were about 12 in all.

We were having a great day until mid morning when the wind piped up to NW 30, then quickly built to 35 then 40 knots. We were getting gusts to 50 knots with four foot waves coming from the land. After deciding to head in towards the 10 foot contour on the chart and staying about 2 miles off the land, the seas subsided quickly to about a foot and a half and we had a comfortable run down to Brunswick.

Once at the approach to the ship channel at the entrance to Brunswick Harbor we had to turn to the east and stay about 5 miles off shore to stay in deeper water. As such, the winds piped up again and the seas increased to about 3 feet. No problem….. put on the life jacket and safety harness, go forward and take down the mainsail. OK…. That wasn’t so bad. Now it was time to turn into the shipping channel and the outcoming current from the Brunswick River.

I’ve never seen a buoy travelling at 6 knots before……. Well, at least that’s what this one appeared to be doing even though it was chained to the bottom.
Once inside we got out of the shipping channel and went over to the Morningside Marina where we got topped up with fuel and water and spent a comfortable night. The next morning we had a long day ahead of us as we planned to run “inside” again on the ICW to avoid the strong winds and large seas forecast. We would be running down inside Cumberland Island to Fernandina Beach….. a route that was reported as very shallow in places. We avoided this area on our last trip south. The trip down this part of the waterway was uneventful and actually quite pleasant. As we approached the Georgia/Florida border, we rounded a bend and discovered these HUGE buildings. It turned out that this was a Trident Submarine Base for the US Navy and housed 7 very large submarines.
Our next stop would be Fernandina Beach which is the first landing in Florida. YIPPEEEEEE !!!! we made it to Florida in just under 5 weeks. We stopped at the town marina for the night to cheer our arrival. While making our approach we came across this fine example of a sport fisher.

Oops, there’s something wrong here. It’s blue on one side and yellow on the other.
…. And catch a look at the power plant on the stern…… twin 150hp Yamaha outboards.
Ron finally got to display his “Catch of the Day…… NOT !!
…… While Jan got to make a new friend!

The next morning we were off again before daylight as the planned trip was to go all the way to Jacksonville then on to Green Cove Springs Marina before dark…… a trip of some 75 nautical miles. Ron explained to the other boats that we were going on ahead so as to get there before dark. Unfortunately, as we were about two hours ahead of the other boats we arrived at the Jacksonville Railway Bridge, AND IT WAS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE. And wouldn’t be opened for approx. 2 hours. So much for that!!
We turned and went back to Jacksonville Landing to wait and the other boats caught up to us.
ALAS, at the advertised time, the bridge re-opened and we continued on. We had the last 25 miles of our trip to go to arrive at the Green Cove Springs Marina.
Along the way up the St. John River we were escorted by yet more dolphins.

The boat is now safely riding on a mooring at Green Cove Springs Marina. Jan & I have flown home to Halifax to spend Christmas with our friends and family until the end of December when we return to the boat to continue our 2013-2014 trip to the Bahamas.

Stay tuned……. It’s going to be a blast as we explore the outer islands, Ragged Islands and the Jamento Islands. Ron wants to stand in the footprints of Christopher Columbus on San Salvadore Island where he first made landfall in the western hemisphere, and Cat Island where the beaches are the finest in the world.

We’ll be meeting new friends, and re-aquainting with old friends.

We’re also hoping to share this adventure with family and friends when they come for a visit.
Merry Christmas from both of us on Wind Warrior 1.

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