Wednesday morning, October 15, 9:30 a.m., we untied the dock lines and backed Sunshine, our 36' catamaran, out of her slip at Brunswick Landing Marina and headed south.
After a month and a half docked at Brunswick, just north of the Georgia-Florida line, we had grown soft and lazy. We had indulged in hot showers, letting the water run and run, free laundry, cable television, nightly cocktail parties on Dock 10, and our car only a few yards away, ready for a quick trip to WalMart or West Marine.
Mid-October was bringing a chill to the night air and we had promised ourselves to always be where the butter melted, so it was definitely time to begin our trek south, first to Florida and then to the Bahamas, where we planned to spend the winter.
We had spent the summer back home in Greenwood, Indiana. While in Indiana, we visited the Sailrite sewing machine factory in Churubusco, near Ft. Wayne, and purchased a sewing machine designed to make and repair sails and do canvas work.
All serious cruisers have Sailrites. With this marvelous machine, you can sew up to eight layers of canvas! It's definitely not a sewing machine for wusses.
My first project on the Sailrite was to make dinghy chaps (see photo). Inflatable dinghy's are like a car for cruisers. The dinghy is how you get from the boat to shore when you are anchored out. UV rays damage rubber dinghy's, so wise cruisers put coats on their dinghys, called "chaps." Chaps also prevent passengers from getting the dreaded "dinghy butt."
My friend Val, from La Buena Vida, encouraged me to make the chaps. She had made a set for her own dinghy. She got the fabric for me (Sunbrella) at a great price and gave me advice on how to make a pattern and fit the chaps to the dinghy. It was a week-long project, but when I was finished, the dinghy had a new coat.
A neighboring cruiser saw our dinghy chaps and said he had thought about buying some, but the price was $600. If our dinghy chaps are worth $600, we've nearly paid for our Sailrite already!
The second project was a screen for our companionway (another photo), which is the main door to our cabin, That project took only one day to complete and keeps the bugs out.
Our first day of travel took us outside into the Atlantic. Our traveling companions, Harold and Val on La Buena Vida, could not use the Intracoastal Waterway because their mast is too tall (66') to fit under some of the bridges and their draft (6') is too deep for the shallow ICW. Sunshine's mast is only 58' and our draft is less than 3'.
We had a fine wind and made good time with our sails up and the motor running, but the motion of the large waves and swells made both Phil and me a little green around the gills, so to speak, for most of the afternoon. Sometimes it takes a day or two to get used to the sea again after you've been away.
We anchored for the night in the shelter of Cumberland Island. The next morning, we decided to take the ICW and parted company with our friends on La Buena Vida.
The next two days on the ICW were calm and quiet. We motored seven or eight hours each day and found nice, quiet anchorages each night. Last night, we anchored in sight of the remains of Ft. Matansas, built by the Spanish in 1740 to try to keep the English from advancing down into Spanish-held Florida.
The ICW is not as fast as going "outside," but the scenery is incredible and the ride is fairly smooth. Some have described the ICW as how America looked before it was developed. There are no fast food restaurants, no filling stations, or malls, or subdivisions. In some places, especially in Georgia, you can travel for miles without seeing a house.
Now that we are in Florida, we see more homes, lots of other boats, and many people fishing. Wildlife is everywhere, including Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, brown pelicans, white pelicans, gulls, terns, and ospreys by the dozens. Yesterday, I even saw a huge wood stork fishing along the water's edge. Dolphins play around the boat.
As I write this post, it's Saturday morning, October 18th. We are beginning our fourth day on the water. The weather has been beautiful and all the systems on the boat are working well. We should be in Titusville, by tomorrow afternoon.