We left Fernandina Beach on Monday morning and had a relatively short day of motoring down the ICW to a point just north of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL. We could’ve gone farther, but it would have meant anchoring in an area that was exposed to strong currents and the wind. We opted instead for a protected anchorage just north of the Sisters Creek Bridge. We spent a pleasant afternoon on the hook, but it started getting cold as soon as the sun went down. The temperature dropped into the low 30s overnight, and it was 40 degrees inside the boat when we woke up on Tuesday morning. Thankfully, our down sleeping bags kept us warm through the night.
As soon as the sun came up on Tuesday, we hauled in the anchor and continued south. We were lucky to be heading in the same direction as the tidal current for much of the day, and made good time. We reached our planned Tuesday night stop around noon, so we decided to keep moving and aim for St. Augustine. We arrived by mid-afternoon. The picture above is of Suzy enjoying her favorite pasttime — taking pictures of points of interest along the way. That’s downtown St. Augustine. You will note the various jerry cans lashed to the boat’s railing: yellow for diesel fuel; red for gasoline; light blue for potable water. We also have a spare propane tank there. These are reserves in case we run low. Not much chance of that in Florida, but they will probably come in handy in the Bahamas. Needless to say, the bow is definitely a No Smoking zone.
This is the historic Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. Most states are building new bridges over the ICW with clearances of 60-65 feet — high enough for most sailboats to go under. In fact, the Sisters Creek drawbridge that we stopped next to on Monday night is currently being replaced. The contractor building the bridge is one that worked with me on a couple of projects at the World’s Busiest Airport, so it was like old times watching them working on the new Sisters Creek Bridge. Anyway, I doubt that the State of Florida will ever replace the Bridge of Lions. It’s too much of a landmark. The bridge opens every 30 minutes to let boats pass. In contrast to the tales we’ve heard of most bridge tenders, the guy working the Bridge of Lions when we passed was helpful and personable.
That brings up a point I need to make. In all of our preparations for this cruise, and of all of the people that we’ve dealt with, we have been blessed to receive generosity, patience, encouragement and helpfulness from every one. I once read a quote that went something like, “Don’t share your cruising dreams with anyone, because the folks who’ve given up on their dreams will try to sabotage yours.” Well, we’ve shared our cruising dreams with everybody, and nobody has been anything other than supportive. I was leery of telling my colleagues at work of my plans, but felt I owed it to them to give them full warning of my pending departure. Instead of booting me out the door immediately, they worked with me to reach a reasonable completion of my projects, and even expressed a desire for me to return when our cruise is completed. Other cruisers have shared their logs with us so we can get a better feel of the places we want to go. They’ve given us charts, books and helpful advise. Friends have loaned or outright given us gear and equipment. Our neighbors in St. Marys are looking after our house. Our families are supportive. The only imperative we’ve been given is, “Don’t drown.” Of course, that goes without saying. I mention all of this in order to express how deeply grateful we are for the support of our colleagues, friends and family, and to say a great big “Thank You” to them all.
So, here we sit on a pleasant afternoon, sipping wine in the cockpit — before the sun goes down and it gets cold — looking across the mooring field at St. Augustine. The wind is calm and the water is smooth. It’s been a wild ride to get here, but my perspective is finally starting to shift. It’s beginning to feel like cruising.