Cumberland Island: the last island before the Florida border.
There were a couple of wild horses on the beach, but my camera only zooms so far.
We anchored in the river behind Fernandina Beach, at the historic downtown area. Looking at the boat floating in the river gives you a feeling similar to seeing someone else drive your car.
The paper mill next to the marina was a treat. We were so hungry the first night we anchored, Femi and I thought it smelled delicious!
Parked the dinghy at the marina for $5/night, showers and bathroom included.
Didn’t know shrimp had nips
Hamm, Pool, and the Dismukeses were in town the same time we were, so we hung out at Hamn’s swank, luxurious, place of enchantment beach house for a day.
Dubi was allowed in all of the bars and restaurants in the historic downtown area. Good food, $0.25 beers at the Palace, and live music. We had a little too much fun and spent too much money. For a combination of reasons, I ran in flip-flops for 2 miles to get to Huddle House around 4:30am. Wherever we lack discipline, necessity will make us live more sustainably.
We met lots of cool people down there at the bars and playing in bands. Thanks Becka for the hospitality, Jodi for the resources, and Paul for the references. Jodi is the iconic surfer dude at first glance. After talking to him for a few seconds it’s apparent that he knows the score and there may have been a bromance between he and the crew. We all got along famously and hung out all night at Star Dog Tavern. Becka was a super cool, wicked smart chick from Alaska staying on the island for a couple weeks. She was part of operation Huddle #^@&#&% and I got to enjoy some It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia at their place across from The Green Turtle bar. Becka introduced me to Paul, a witty local also living on the water. Cool dude with a great demeanor; the kind of guy you would want with you during an emergency. Paul may be able to get us some day work in Ft. Pierce and Jupiter pushing cans at a recycling center or something of the sort.
Fred’s was an awesome local grocery store which allowed us to buy a week’s worth of Ramen and soup for about $10.50. That will help make up for the loss in the bars and a $70 ticket for not having our dinghy registered. Florida laws. Pshh.
BACK ON BIG BLUE
Now we’re out on the ocean passing Jacksonville, bound for Cape Canaveral. With decent wind speed/direction, we may make it there in 3 days.
Two dolphins are swimming with the boat and it looks ridiculous! They are huge! We’re about 20 miles off land, so the water is really clear. J
Morale is high. It feels good to be back in the ocean, back in international waters. The dolphin episode was invigorating and they ended up swimming with us for several hours. We also saw a sea turtle 15 feet away from the boat. Of course I didn’t get my camera in time for it or the flying unicorn-seahorses, but trust me they were there! It had lots of barnacles and stuff growing on its back and was about the size of a push-mower. A few more dolphins came and there was a whole flock of ‘em jumping all over each other. We are thinking they heard something about a bare-ass. Note to reader: dolphins are friendly to people, but as Google and YouTube have shown us in recent years, they can be too friendly.
It’s surprising how fast you get rusty on your boat skills, but luckily it comes back soon. It’s a good feeling when you can effortlessly scurry the foredeck. Your legs learn the waves and you’re always holding onto whatever it is you are working on (main halyard, clew outhaul, reefing points, etc.) so there’s really no need to balance. We are getting back our saltiness, but still haven’t managed to plan accordingly on land (we keep forgetting rum).
This is what F-n F looks like. The second F stands for flat. There are brave sailors and old sailors, but no old, brave sailors. The old sailors say only go out when it’s F-n F.
Dubi-doo’s stomach didn’t agree with the waves today.
A few minor problems have occurred, but nothing big. The dinghy got a hole in it from some cotter pin on the foredeck. The roller furling (shrinks the size of the front sail) was jammed and had to be re-spooled with line right as we headed into a storm with 50mph gusts. The storm was at Jacksonville, heading east, so it was gone by the time we got there. We almost lost one of the screws holding the boom on the mast. But almost doesn’t really mean anything on the water. We almost hit a lot of things.
The wind has been in our face and some kind of current is keeping us from traveling south, at least until we are 20+ miles off the coast. The Gulfstream is 100 miles off the coast, so it might be from big rivers nearby. The seas have been pretty smooth, maybe 3ft seas, so although we aren’t making much progress, it’s a safe ride. Like when Yogi Berra’s limo driver told him they were lost and he replied, “Yeah, but we’re making great time!” We’ve made about 20 miles in as many hours.
The next morning, we had decent wind and made about 20 miles progress in 5 hours. Morale is high again and the boat is so well balanced that I am able to leave the tiller untouched for 3 hours and maintain course! We think FSM might have wrapped his noodly appendage around the tiller. Later in the afternoon and evening it was no good and we tacked back and forth without making very much southerly movement.
For dinner we each had our own cup of ramen, with our own forks! Ballin! And to drink, Steve made us a big jug of Tang. We share on this boat. Around 9:30pm, we dropped sails and rocked in the waves. The wind is supposed to be good around midnight.
First scoop, a dozen bait fish. Throw it on a hook and pull up a little shark. He looked massive coming up because you can see 30’ down now. We thought we were in trouble, and he turned out to be only about 2 feet long. He was only gilled though and popped off before Steve could net him.
We couldn’t catch the sharks, so we went swimming. The first time you go under water with the goggles, everything looks fake and you feel like you’re on Discovery Channel. You can see really far and it’s pretty terrifying. On one side is the bottom of the boat, and it’s covered with barnacles (hasn’t been scraped in a year) and there’s about 300 little fish schooling behind the keel. On the other sides of you is unkown, but you can see so damn far you you have to occasionally look to make sure Jaws isn’t coming for a nibble. I cleaned some of the barnacles off and chased littlefish around with Stephen’s elastic fish spear.
About food on the boat. You do your best to stock up on variety, but there’s only so much space and money and there’s no room for pizza. Yet. You get creative with spices and sauces. But the base foods stay relatively consistent, much more so than we Westerners are used to. Once the appeal of trying new food is gone, you start eating out of necessity. “Hey you want some tatsy rice and sriracha?” Eh, I can wait a couple more hours.
Dubi’s favorite sleep position.
More dolphins, but not making much progress. Dubi finally dropped a duece, too! Femi got him a little green grass door mat to use. We were getting a little concerned after 3 days of holding it!
Our GPS. It’s really for geocaching, but it works.
A few more storms were dodged; we caught the edge of one and got wet but were not struck. We were gonna rename the boat The Unsinkable Storm Dodger, but will have to settle for Unstrikable. After almost 5 days and 5 nights on the water, we pulled into New Smyrna Beach Marina and are patching the dinghy, welding the motor mount, and stocking up for the next leg. We averaged 28 miles per day or a little over 1mph. Our course looks like it was drawn with a seismograph.
BACK ON INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY
The houses are ridiculous on the approach to New Smyrna Beach.
I like the unpretentious one on the right.
They even had a mangrove island. If a hurricane is coming, people drive their boat into one of these and tie it off in as many directions as possible. NSB is a cool town and Panhead’s Pizza is awesome. The people are really friendly and the whole town seems to know when you arrive. At least a dozen people came up to us, even in the middle of a meal and asked us where we were from and where we were going. We were there for a little over 24 hours.
Next town we landed in was Cocoa Village, across the river from Cocoa beach. Rebelution had a concert on the water. Now we are in Sebastian, FL at a sort of resort, chilling in a bar, posting this. Next major destination, Jupiter Beach. Tropical Storm 9 (Isaac) is heading our way and might hit Florida in a week or two.