Friday, January 27, 2012

St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and Some Time Off


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Leaving Palm Coast Marina was a bit of a tight squeeze as I thought it would be. We were tucked down at the west end of the marina on the fuel facing dock with a very sizable Cheoy Lee trawler but a few feet behind us and a narrow channel to pivot and come about in. But with a good bow push and a little tap of the stern on one of the dock pilings I was able to pivot her in about 120 feet. I figure that wasn't bad for a 45' single engine boat that likes to back up as much as I like having a hot poker jabbed into my eyes. Saint Augustine was our next stop on our four day dash to Jacksonville.

The cruise was very uneventful save for the interesting channel lanes starting north of the Cresent Beach bridge. From that point the landscape changed from tree lined canals and pools to open marsh land where the channel meanders in a slalom course. Beautiful, in it's own way, deep, and plenty of navigation room. The weather continued to be what we had grown accustomed to: Sunny to partly sunny, warm, calm in the morning with winds from the southeast notching up pretty much right on schedule around 11:30am. We arrived at St. Augustine city marina where they have ample wide slips available with very friendly people on the docks ready to lend a hand. They are a little more expensive then the others but the level of service and facilities certainly justified the slightly higher costs. As the marina is right in the the historical downtown area we did do a bit of sightseeing. Arrrrr! There be pirates in St. Augustine! Ghosts, too. Apparently. There were ghost tours, pirate tours, ghosts tours hosted by pirates. Unfortunately I was looking for a pirate tour hosted by a ghost. Alas, there was none. Rats! Note: The current is pretty hard there. No timid boat handling. To pull out of our slip the instruction was simple...get the rudder in position to back out straight, put it in gear and hit the gas. I did and true to Why Knot's form the stern immediately swung east instead of me getting it to swing west so I ended up backing it out of the marina. Did I mention the thing about the hot poker in my eyes?

This day's leg to Jacksonville was going to be a bit of a challenge in that it was our longest so far, currents were more prevalent, we were trying to beat out a cold front and it's accompany rain line, and we would be navigating smack dab into the St. John's river in Jacksonville. I had visions a millions of huge freighters dogging our every move, with mile-high wakes washing over the flybridge. Fortunately my vision was a bit off. Oh, there were freighters to be sure, but they were all at dock taking on or letting off cargo. Actually there wasn't much traffic at all...couple of sailboats. This was to be a stopping point for several weeks as we are going to return to St. Louis and Denver to take care of some business and let the winter move on with it's own inevitable course. These last two days it has been noticeably chillier. Still good enough to wear shorts but only marginally. Our marina of choice is a relatively new little marina called Dames Point Marina. It is small and a little rugged. I think Lisa came up with the right way to describe it. She says it is a "blue collar" marina. Why Knot is definitely the biggest vessel there. The owner, Will, is on-site and eager to help. He apparently has big plans. It lacks a few of the amenities that a  marina should have, like showers and a pump out station. But it does have gas and diesel. It also has a actual patio bar with bartender with live music Thursday through Saturday. Ladies drink free on Thursday. But to it's credit it is an economical month long dockage at only $10 a foot and it has floating docks. It also has a positional advantage in that it is pretty much dead center on the St. Johns between the entrance to the ICW and the ocean inlet and the more numerous marinas further south of downtown Jacksonville, which adds up to 20-some miles. Our flight home leaves Monday afternoon.

So here is the sum of it all. Since we took possession of Why Knot we have cruised 335 statute miles and reached our goal of getting to Jacksonville when we wanted to. We are safe and sound and better for the experience. We have learned our way here. And that's a good thing