Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Arrival in Florida!
We crossed into Florida at 3:45 this afternoon. Funny, there was no "Welcome to Florida" sign on the Intracoastal Waterway. We simply crossed the St. Mary's River and there we were.
But let's back up a little. When we last talked, I was getting ready to put a couple of loads through the Maytags at Two Way Fish Camp Marina. Luck would have it, the first load went through the wash cycle, but the Maytag Dryer had evidently dried its last load. No amount of cajoling would make that dryer work.
We hauled two loads of dirty laundry, and one load of clean, wet, clothes back to the boat. Fortunately, I had lots of clothes pins and the sun was shining. We pulled out of Two Way Fish Camp Marina with sheets and underwear hanging from the life lines, flapping in the breeze. Wish I had taken a picture. Suffice it to way, we looked like the Beverly (or Greenwood) Hillbillies floating down the ICW.
Tuesday was a fine day for motoring. Temperatures were moderate and we even enjoyed some sunshine. We haven't been moving very fast, because our bottom needs cleaning (the boat's bottom, not the crew's). When a boat sits for a while, lots of flotsam and jetsam grows on the bottom and needs to be scraped off. But even with a dirty bottom, we managed about 30 miles. We ended the day anchored off Jekyll Island.
Jekyll Island, Georgia, is famous as the winter home of the Rockefellers, Astors, Goodyears, Morgans, Pulitzers and Vanderbilts. In the 1880's, the ultra-rich and famous built what they called "cottages" where they could ride out the northern winters.
Each "cottage" was huge, what we would call mansions, but none of the homes included kitchens. The families took their meals at the "club," a main building where a staff from Delmonico's in New York prepared the meals.
By World War II, the membership of the Jekyll Island Club controlled one-sixth of the world's wealth. However, in 1942, a German U-boat torpedoed a tanker in nearby St. Simons Sound, and the US government decided the island was too temping a target. The island was evacuated and, in 1947 the state of Georgia purchased the island. Today, the mansions have been restored and are open to the public and Jekyll Island is a tourist destination. (Thanks to "Managing the Waterway" by Mark and Diana Doyle for the historical information.)
Early Wednesday morning, we pulled the anchor around 7:45, headed for a dilemma. On our trip north last June, we had endured high, turbulent seas as we crossed the St. Andrews Sound, just south of Jekyll Island. (A sound is an entrance from, or exit to, the ocean.) A bad combination of high winds from the north and strong current from the south had tossed us around like a toy boat in a bathtub with a three-year-old. The boat held up well. The crew took the brunt of the punishment. We'll never forget that experience.
So, here we were, staring at the mouth of the dragon once again. Our choice was to brave the crossing of St. Andrews Sound, which forced us out into the Atlantic and back to escape shoaling at the mouth of the sound, or take the "chicken route," which would avoid St. Andrews Sound but would add five miles to our trip.
We called TowBoatUS, the towing insurance that we carry, to ask about local conditions. The young man who answered assured us that we wouldn't have a problem. We forged ahead. Phil called it a "confidence builder." I hoped he was right.
As we motored into the sound, a thick fog enveloped everything. We switched on our strobe light, hoping that would make us visible to other boats, especially the large freighters that might be entering from the ocean.
We encountered some significant swells (the rising and falling of the seas), but no breaking, pounding waves like before . It took about an hour to navigate the sound and return to the more protected area of the ICW. We had indeed built our confidence.
It's now Wednesday evening and we are securely anchored in Fernandina Beach, Florida. We can see the lights of the old city across the bay in the nighttime sky and we are glad to be here and to have made it to Florida. We've cooked dinner on the grill and are enjoying the peace and quiet of this anchorage. The weather is getting warmer and for now, everything on the boat is in working order.
That won't last.