Happy Veterans’ Day, to myself and all who have served our country in the armed forces, past and present!
Florida! Yes – we actually made it today and are safely moored at Amelia Island Marina in, not surprisingly, Amelia Island, Florida. The day started out fine, motoring out of our beautiful little anchorage in New Teakettle Creek and back into a nice, calm morning on Old Teakettle Creek, down and across Doboy Sound, along the North River for a couple of miles, then down the Little Mud River, across Altamaha Sound, down the length of Buttermilk Sound, on into the Mackay River, past St. Simons Island and across St. Simons Sound, then down the length of Jekyll Island on Jekyll Creek and Jekyll Sound, down and across St. Andrew Sound and into the Cumberland River, along Cumberland Dividings and into Cumberland Sound and finally, across St. Mary’s Inlet and into the Amelia River.
I mention the names of all those waterways to illustrate how complicated Carol’s job is, trying to keep track of where we are while at the same time keep me posted as to what’s coming up, both turns and avoiding shoal water. And sometimes the charts give the name of the particular body of water you’re on, and sometimes not, which obviously can complicate things. My job, in that sense, is easier because I spend a lot of time kind of staring at the chart plotter with the GPS image of the chart with our boat represented on it, and to a large extent I don’t much care what the name of this particular river, or whatever, is. Anyway, I’ve explained our navigation system before and it works, it’s just a lot more work sometimes than others as you weave your way through this network of marshes, rivers, creeks and sounds. You really could get lost if you missed a turn, at least temporarily, and you could run into some shoal water that the guide books warned about…but you have to know where you are.
Most of the day we were following 2 other power boats, which I eventually passed one at a time. Our plan was to find another anchorage – maybe behind Cumberland Island, which is a National Seashore and where there’s a dinghy dock that brings you to hiking trails around the island. So we stopped at Jekyll Island Marina to top off the water and fuel tanks so we’d be prepared to spend a couple of days away from a dock, and the folks at the fuel pier warned me that we were going to find St. Andrew Sound quite rough, as the wind had built to around 20 knots from the Northeast and the tide was going directly in the opposite direction. I thanked them for the local advice but figured we had already experienced our fair share of rough conditions, so how bad could this be. And a glance at the chart showed that the crossing of St. Andrew Sound would only be about 2 miles, so I definitely wasn’t worried about it. WRONG!
As soon as we came out of Jekyll Creek we first of all encountered the US Navy submarine base at King’s Bay, with warnings on the chart that if there’s a sub entering or leaving the base there would be armed patrol boats accompanying it and keeping boats like ours away. OK, so we didn’t see any submarines. But those 2 miles in St. Andrew Sound right after the Navy base were unbelievable, and were as rough – right on the beam – as anything we’d seen on this trip. The boat was rolling heavily side to side even though I was turning head-to the biggest waves as I saw them, and on top of that we had to head right at some breakers on a shoal about half way across, before finally turning into the Cumberland River, where we were in the lee of the quite large Cumberland Island. It’s very unnerving to deliberately head toward breakers on a known shoal, especially when you’re not familiar with the waterway. The short transit of that Sound was intense, and we couldn’t have been happier about suddenly being behind the island in peace once again.
St. Mary’s Inlet is the border between Georgia and Florida, so as soon as we entered the Amelia River we were in Florida. We were rather beat at that point and all thoughts of anchoring for the night went out the window, since the wind had not abated at all and we wanted the security and amenities of a marina. We first thought of stopping at Fernandina Beach Marina, only because it was the closest to us, but they didn’t have room for us and anyway as we went by we could see the boats in the marina being tossed around – there was no shelter from the wind at all. So Carol looked in the guide book and saw that Amelia Island Marina was next, a couple of miles down the ICW, she called them on the phone and made a reservation, and in we went, 2 very tired and relieved people. Fortunately, this marina is in a small man-made cove and is completely sheltered – exactly what the doctor ordered. There was even a restaurant on site so we didn’t have to cook or go restaurant hunting. It was nice to be shut down for the night and to be in Florida. We’re almost there – only a few more days to Cape Canaveral, and we can take our time getting there; we’re somewhat ahead of schedule at this point, so no more worries about getting there on time. Ahh…..
Today: 65.3 nautical miles
Running total: 1,265.1 nautical miles