The impromptu band on jekyll

Couldn't have said it better

The amazing Cumberland island roadway

The honey wagon being barged to Cumberland island

The rumpus end of the armadillo

Mike and Sue sharing with us

Mr & Mrs Claus in their dingy

Rut-roo...not good

Howdy fellows....you want me?

Sub coming in at St. Mary's inlet

Felix earning some tips playing tunes

Really? Sisters Creek free dock...sign not for us

The End Zone: the Bridge of Lions opens for just us three....

The Bridge of Lions opens for just us three....as we enter the end zone.


December 23, 2014

December 14th, Sunday: Jekyll Island proves itself to be another first rate stop. "Sea-Jays" restaurant is at the end of the dock and there is a golf cart you can sign out as well as free bicycles. The long face dock (no where near 1500 feet though) gives a memorable view of sunsets and the intercostal traffic. We used the golf cart and bicycles for supplies and sightseeing then returned for some impromptu musical performance by a few cruisers who just met up and used their talent for the diners this night. Very neat. poof.

December 15, Monday: We must move along. We get fueled, watered and pumped out and at 11am we're back out on the waterway with a plan of anchoring at the famed Cumberland Island. No people or settlements here. It's a National Park now and was at one time the playground of the Carnegie's in the 1880-1920s. Running out Jekyll Island Creek we had to bend towards St. Andrews Inlet before hooking back onto the ICW to run along the Cumberland River for the day. It is planned to get to the "Red 36" and leave it "abeam" turning east and then northeast into the anchorage. A nice sunny warm day helps cruising a lot and this is a pleasant ride. Not much traffic either. May be we see three boats all day. As we see the red 36 coming we notice two private shoal markers which is consistent with the charts and we hook around (also using "Skipper Bob's anchorage book) staying in water that is 15-20 foot deep. Aha. There are two other vessels in here. We find a spot, put down and set the anchor and watch for a while. All is good, so we have daylight enough to go on in and explore a bit...for me that's code for "look for a bathroom for future needs". Down with the dingy and motor and off to the island. No people. There's a cabin for handling people who ride over in the shuttle boat to camp, but not a sole around. Mission accomplished as we locate public bathrooms and take a short walk knowing it is about to get dark, so we head back to the boat. Leaving Jekyll we stocked up with hamburger for tonight. The gas grill fires up and we have the best hamburgers ever created while realizing, except for our anchored neighbors, this is isolation again. Very nice. The burgers are the prelude to the next event which you know is...poof! We're goners again. Woke up for the tide change about 1:30am to 2:30am but when the boat settled down again, so did we.

December 16th, Tuesday: Up just after daylight we percolate the required coffee and planned the times out. We want to go to St.Mary's tonight and it's only 6 miles away. Mike and Sue Kenyon who frequent "dock 5" in Watkins Glen have a condo there and way back in August suggested we stop in upon arrival. We should leave around 2:30. The move requires leaving the ICW and transiting the St.Mary's River for most of the 6 miles. Now we dingy back into the island to expand on what we did yesterday. First, we visit the bathrooms and discover the Park Ranger and an assistant cleaning them. A Little discussion follows only to learn the season is over and the ferry only runs twice a week. You can still camp here, but if you come out on Tuesday, you stay until Friday. There seemed to be no private docking, it is all "federal" but temporary dingy docking is permissible. We start walking the sandy trails towards the ocean side. Squirrels, Turkeys, Armadillos, various birds and horse manure are what we see. So there's horses, yes. Apparently, when Lucy Carnegie made a trust, it stipulated the 100+ horses kept on the island (36000 acres) would be set free here. We walked to the "Dungeness ruins" where these rich and famous folks sought solace and partied, but today it is bare concrete after fires have destroyed the much of it. We met four people walking around there who said they were camping on the grounds until Friday. The island has a very interesting history, including a young Georgia State Senator, named "Jimmy Carter" arguing for the island to be a park "back in the day". Well, we all three walked a lot and tuckered ourselves out so now we should fire up and move along to Lang's Marina in St. Mary's, Georgia. Up with the anchor and out to the red 36 again. All we have to do here is find the "Green 29" and hook to port to shoot straight west almost. Not quite as easy as it sounded. We found some shallow water and turned around to re-evaluate. OK, put those reds on the right. The reds and the range markers made a lot of things to see, but we moved left and found it. "It" being the right depth of about 12-20 feet of water all the way into Lang's Marina. "Nat" the Lang's guy only dealt with us on the phone, saying, take any slip, man, any slip. So we take one, but it's too short for us. We decide, along with "Jeff" who was a tenant that helped, we'll move back out onto the face dock which can accommodate our boat. Jeff helped again, and we realized we meet Jeff last year when we stopped here in Peter Honsberger's RV. Jeff was going to the tropics, he said last year. I recollected meeting him. He remembered too and asked us if we had any beer. Of course we have beer. That would save him from going to the store. We traded beer for his warm dock line assistance. We're at Lang's in St.Mary's. A very quiet and peaceful location. We ate boat food again and texted Mike and Sue we were here. The plan was made for them to come over at 10am, Wednesday. Enough of today, as great as it was, it's over. poof.

December 17th, Wednesday: After coffee, Mike and Sue come over. Well, it turns out, "over" is about 300 yards. Their condo is that close. Mike takes us to the ever popular "Walmart" which we need, and to the "Dollar General" too. By the time we get things put away, we are close to going over to the condo to enjoy a meal. A home cooked meal, our first one in forever, I think. Sue prepared cheese/crackers, salad, and Lasagna and twice deserts. We also enjoyed the sight of their Christmas Tree. A wonderful experience. Thank you. poooff.

December 18th, Thursday: We did see a Cabo Rico 42 on another dock and walked over to converse a bit with the owner. But by 11:15am we are headed out of the St. Mary's River, retracing our inbound course to the "Green 29" again, where we will hook to the south and be in Fernandina in an hour and a half. I'm loving these short days with new places to look at. We must get to the Post Office asap in Fernandina and we know where it is from previous travels. The inter coastal is not on our digital charts, so this is all by sight and word of mouth navigation. "Word of mouth navigation", you ask? That's Lisa telling me which way to steer via those blessed parallal rules, pencil lines and the printed compass rose on the chart page. Ok, catch this event. One of our last big ones for the year, I'm sure. As we move along passing the "Green 29" we have to pass three more reds, going almost out the St. Mary's inlet before we turn sharply to the right, coming back in, and south to Fernandina. I notice a large vessel coming in from sea and some other stuff. 'Can't quite make out what the other stuff is. As we get very close to our right turn, I tell Lisa to look at all these vessels and what is up. I still believe we are going to be out of their way because they look military, which means they'll be going right northbound, as we go right southbound, and all will be dandy. Lisa...That humpy looking black thing....she interrupts and says "That's a submarine"! Jeepers, I didn't hear the radio talk about the inlet being closed or anything, did you? No. Well we don't have to worry anymore because here comes an orange inflatable or two with uniformed personnel aboard. Uuh, the guy on the bow has a machine gun in, what I call, the ready position. Not pointed, but "ready". Our radio goes off on Channel 16 advising us to switch to 22A, "This is the US Coast Guard". On 22A, "This is the S/V southbound in the channel", our intention is to steer to starboard and southbound, if that's permissible" Reply, "That works for us, Captain. Thank you and have a safe trip southbound". That's all that was said. We're fumbling with phones for a couple photos, feeling funny about taking photos of a guy manning a machine gun. But, hey, he didn't say "no photos please" and he can say that anytime and we will abide. So we take photos. Done, gone, they go north, we go south. Shortly thereafter, we are closing in on the Fernandina City Marina and call on the radio. We receive our instructions and there is a lady waving us in. All's well and minutes later we are securely fastened in Fernandina and looking around on our way to the Post Office. A quick stop at the "Green Turtle Pub" and we meet nice people and "Felix" peddling cracker jacks, fruit and cookies throughout the tavern. Felix plays tunes on his harmonica too for tips. Back to the boat...we have left over lasagna and desert courtesy of Sue and Mike. Great stuff....and we are...pooof.

December 19th, Friday: A lazy day at Fernandina. Lisa does laundry, I perform some paperwork stuff, and we walk some more. To the Post Office again and some window shopping until the appetite guides us to Arte's Pizza where we have a great eating event. Anchor's in the bag. That's it for Friday. May be now I will describe the mysterious crackling. At Charleston, we noticed a crinkling noise, crackling, like someone frying bacon or balling up wrapping paper. It was somewhat muffled but enough to not let you forget it's continually going on. We talked about it a bit but it wasn't alarming. Then again in other places and finally in Jekyll Island we were wit's end. What is the crackling! Looking here and there and everywhere, until we did the ultimate. Google the "crackling noise under your boat". Lots on it. "Crill Shrimp" or "Pistol Shrimp" snapping it's claw at 100km/hr to create an aggressive ploy to stun and grab it's prey. The move creates the noise and it's sonics is absorbed into the hull. It's been three weeks now and everywhere we stop it's there. Who would'a thought...pistol shrimp. Anyway, after Arte's pizza we are pooofed into lala land.

December 20th, Saturday: So again, we must move along to reach our goal of St. Augustine by Christmas. We only have about 62 miles to go but we have to cross the St. John's River and stay one night out there somewhere knowing we can not do 62 miles in one day. There is an anchorage at Sister's Creek that sounds okay and it's 29 miles away. Off we go out of Fernandina. Down the Amelia River, through Kingsley's Creek, out the South Amelia River, across the Nassau Sound, and into Sawpit Creek, Gunnison's cut and finally getting to the days end at Sister's Creek. So, this is a popular launch ramp here and we have been seeing a lot of little fishing boats as it is a Saturday. The anchorage is north of the Sister's Creek bridge, but south of the "green 85". Crap, there is a boat already anchored there. There is enough room for two, I guess, so we go midway between the "G85" and the other boat. Drop and set and it seems okay. However, the wind comes up from the north to a steady 15-20 and the current is opposing the wind and I do not like the behavior of the boat. The bridge is so close, and we are spending the whole night here. It's only 3:30pm. We have an hour of daylight left. Let's move up to between the "G83" and the "G85". We do, but at the same time we notice a "big'ol" floating dock that looks very new. Narry a boat on it. We wonder why. Could we go to it for our sake and the "Anchor's" sake? Nice green grass out there. After researching the park we are at, Lisa has all kinds of information and phone numbers. It's the "Jim King Memorial Park" and it reads that you can dock there free of charge. It does not state what the depth is. How about our uncaped crusader's from "Tow Boat US". Let's call and see if we can get the local guy to tell us if it's deep enough there for us. What a resource...a minute later I'm talking to the "man". The tow boat Capt. who advises me he's only pulled one boat out of there who went in too far and it should be over six feet in there at low tide. Our tide is on the way up, so we should be good. Let's give it a go, for we have the tow boat Capt's number already dialed in. We shoot for enough space so I can spin around and starboard tie so we can get out in the am. We do it, with Lisa "on the ready" with fenders out and midship line in hand we pull along side the floating dock. No issues. The rushing tide tried to push us into the shallows but we had enough power and space to ward it off and get secured nicely. A very isolated spot but a park and a wonderful spot for "Ankie-Pankie" to run around and enjoy. It's about dark and we've only been here ten minutes when a fellow gets out of a car and says, "Are you our cruisers?" Yes, did you get our phone inquiry about the dock? We called numbers on the website to see if we can dock. Apparently so, as this is "Capt. Browne Altman", here to greet us at the park. Browne stayed for awhile telling us local stories and listening to ours and then bid us farewell for the night. We did boat food and were very grateful for our good fortune putting us right into the land of pooof for the restful night. The weather is not supposed to be good tomorrow and we're only 39 miles from what we believe is "paydirt". Well, at least a place to relax for as long as we want. Saint Augustine.

December 21st, Sunday: Up we go, coffee and the "Jim King Memorial Park Bathroom". Beautiful. The weather is crappy. It is also predicted to be crappy. Not so crappy that we don't feel like moving on though. Look at that water move by the boat. Hope we can get off of here. In a perfect world, Lisa holds the aft spring tight while I reverse with the rudder to port and the bow pulls away. I just need to perfect it a bit and with an opposing current, forward has to come hard and fast to maintain what you gain using the spring. It works to some degree but what helped more was the fisherman who agreed to push us off as we moved forward. It wasn't pretty but we are gone. Uh-oh. Sister's creek bridge is only a half mile away. We called the tender ahead of time to prepare him for our request and he was timely. He stated he saw the current and gave us an early opening. Whooosh, we go flying through and out into the fairly massive St.John's River. The word was you can have four knots of current here, but what's more intimidating is the hazy, rainy atmosphere limiting our view to the marks. Scary for a little bit, but the marks prevail over the limited sight distance and the current subsided when in the River itself, and without further ado, we were into the ICW again and putting along at a reduced rate of 3.8 or so knots now that that same pesky tidal current was against us.. We're not going to make St. Augustine at this rate so we have a plan to anchor again at "Pine Island" which will leave us 12 miles to St. Augustine on Monday morning. Now we are going through the "Palm Valley Cut" and it's 12 miles straight and long. No turns and we're doing nicely. Some rain upon us once in a while. After this is the "Tolomato River" and the current has flipped on us and we are speeding along at 7.7 knots, only slowing when I get nervous about seeing 6 foot depths a few times. Oh boy, we are at the "Pine island" anchorage and it's only 1:36pm. May be we can make it twelve more miles. Let's give it a try. We buckle down and add a little throttle and start paying close attention to how far we are from the Milano bridge and that this Milano bridge is 3.75 miles from the "Bridge of Lions" and it is the end. Our marina is just after the "Bridge of Lions" by no distance. After that bridge opening we turn to starboard to pull in. The Milano is a 65 footer and the "Lions" opens on the hour and half hour. Zipping along with a purpose, we go under the Milano at about 3:20pm and now it gets twisty. This is St. Augustine harbor and we have to, again like the other places, go out towards the ocean a bit, passing some very shallow water and then a hard to starboard turn into the inbound channel. Although it's still cloudy and dusk is approaching, there is plenty of light and Lisa has every angle covered for us. She adamantly instructs me to steer to port after the Milano bridge looking for a "red"...then it gets narrow. The "59 and 60" are tight and you can't miss them. "Okay, Okay, I got it". On the turn in, it gets to 7 feet for a while then it returns to a respectable 12-15 feet and finally we're putting along at 25 feet deep, and there...up ahead...is the...end zone bridge for us. It is only 3:35 and we hear the radio traffic from the bridge's last closure, so we have 25 minutes to kill waiting for the next opening. Not a problem here. There is plenty of room and no extreme water pushing us around, and no boat traffic. We call the "tender" to be sure he knows we are waiting for the four o'clock opening and he assures us were good to go. "DINGDINGDING, ROOOarrr, and the traffic stops and our "Bridge of Lions" opens. It is opening just for us as we pass through on our final move for a little while. Calling the marina, we get instructions to prepare for a starboard tie and pass the dock office turning to port, looking for slip #22. As we do a dolphin rises out of the water to greet Lisa and said she can see his/her(?) teeth. She says he was smiling at us. There's our dock guy standing at attention waiting for our lines. A little current here pushing us backwards, but not too bad. We are in and we are tied and we are done for now. Hopefully this will be a good stay. Lots of lights and lots of people around. We check in and tell the dock man we want to sign up for a month which is no problem. We already have some emails welcoming us from other cruisers who are here and we see boats we've seen along the way here, too. Our friends Alex and Lisa, who call this home port, told the cruisers net here that we were coming. How neat. The "Santa Maria" restaurant green neon lights are about 500 feet from us. Lets go over there and eat something. We do and it's over. POOOOf. So we did make it Sunday after all. It turns out to be day number 99 since pulling out of Watkins Glen. On day 100, Monday, December 22nd, we listened to the Channel 72, 9am cruiser VHF broadcast which welcomed us and was full of other information. Tomorrow at 5pm is a social hour across the street and we are starting to learn about the daily shuttles to all the spots. Boat stores, grocery stores and all the goodies. Graham and Jackie just came over to see if we have Christmas plans because their putting together a diner event. Brian and Michelle who we meet at Portsmouth, Va. also stopped over to see how we are doing. This is one big network of water people all bumping into each other as "free radials". Amazing. We walked town a little last night to see a light-up urban extravaganza. More amazement. Should be fun.

The Exploits should take a break now, do you think? The interesting parts of this for our boating friends has been the water travel more than the stopping parts. Now we plan on being stopped for a while. If we move along, or when we start back, I'll see if John who performs the magical work putting it all up on the website is up for more. I thank John for all his efforts and we loved getting comments or questions on the various happenings along the way. Please email me individually for more and if you are going south and we may be close, give us a heads up. Thank you all and Merry Christmas!!!

Terry

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