November 10, 2013.
After spending 7 nights in Factory Creek we decided that we should try the $10 steak night at the Filling Station. We walked in and imagine our surprise when we found Kathy & Mike from Sapphire seated at a table. They've decided to spend the winter in Charleston this year and I thought we wouldn't get to see them this year. I never considered the fact that they have a CAR and they can travel at speeds in excess of 60 knots per HOUR. It was great to see them and it sucked saying goodnight.
The next morning we were up and underway for Florida. Along with the Fine Lions we decided to skip Georgia and dive down the coast of Florida to Fort Pierce. The following seas were still uncomfortable after the last few days of huge wind from the north. The wind was close enough behind us that it was usable but not the greatest point of sail. We sailed for about 13 hours before the wind veered enough that we couldn't keep the sail full. We were in danger of exploding the headsail so we had to start the engine and motor.
When dawn broke we were south of Jacksonville, FL. We weren't able to feed Tucker yesterday or today because it was just too rough to get him on deck to do his business. I also had an issue. Being a Flexitarian I don't really eat a whole lot of meat. Ever since we walked out of the Filling Station I had been in bowelular distress. I hadn't had a big juicy, dripping piece of steak in so long I think my body was doing its best to reject it. Thats right, the shits at sea. I'd rather have faced a Kracken in a hoolie at night with a plastic spoon.
The ocean didn't want to let us go. Five miles after altering course we hit something big enough to make the entire boat to shudder. We were in 70 feet of water so it might have been a log, a large sea turtle, a basking Shark, Right Whale or God knows what. We never saw anything before during or afterwards. Ten miles out of the inlet the Jacksonville Coast Guard had a Notice to Mariners. It was to inform everyone that a sailboat was breaking up in the Saint Augustine inlet and there might be a debris field. Great, just great.
When we could see the inlet the remains of a sailboat was the least of my worries. The tug Sega was towing a dredge barge out the inlet. The inlet basically runs east and west with a dogleg in it. The wind was from the north with 5 footers rolling across the inlet. The tug and barge were crabbing their way out the inlet at 1.8 knots while we were getting swept in at 9 knots. The tug was all the way to the red side of the channel. The towing cables to the barge were taking up most of the inlet and then the barge which is the size of a football field was coming sideways down the green side. Ugh. We were already committed so I arranged a port to port pass with the tug but it was a little nerve racking to cross his bow within a hundred yards at the dogleg. Once across his bow we turned tight against the red side and slid past the whole lumbering clusterf@#k. We never did see any sailboat debris.
Once the ocean was done being mean to us the ICW decided to be our friend. We wanted to push on to get south of Mosquito Lagoon before this weeks big blow comes through. So we'd have to cover some ICW miles today. We went through the 1100 opening of the Bridge of Lions. I decided to gamble a bit. Daytona was 50 miles away and we had 6 ½ hours before sunset. For the first 20 miles there’s plenty of places to anchor, for the next 30 miles there’s pretty much nothing. So it was Daytona or bust.
We rode the flood tide at over 8 knots for 2 hours just watching the miles click off. We never fell below 7 knots for the rest of the day. The three lift bridges we encountered were all on request due to it being Sunday. We dropped the hook in Daytona at mile marker 831 just off the ICW at sunset.
The ocean was mean to us, the ICW was our friend and between the 2 of them we knocked off 300 miles off the ICW.