Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014 Still in Amelia Island Yacht Basin!

The high gusty winds and the water slapping on our transom woke me up before 7 am.  Unless things settle, it looks like we're staying right where we are!  Wow, it's now 9:30 am and the winds are blowing even harder.  They are gusting 30 + and Happy Hours II is heeling at the dock.  These winds are cool because they are coming from the WNW to N.   The sun needs to shine to warm everything up!!
our ride!
We walked up to the office to let Debra know we are still here!  LOL  I asked her if anything was in walking distance from the  :(  ...but she checked on the courtesy pickup truck and it was available for 2 hours.  Yeah, this must be our lucky day!!  We can explore the surrounding area by truck... and we actually had it from 11-2:00.

When we left the marina, we turned right onto A1A.    This highway goes back over the Twin Bridges that we motored under on Friday.  A super Wal Mart is 4 miles to the west and I think this is called Piney Island.  We thought we best provision while we have a vehicle.  Who knows when we'll have this opportunity again.   When we finished shopping, we headed back to the boat to stow our groceries.  It didn't take us long and soon we were back in the Ram Pickup heading in the opposite direction on A1A.  We are not going into Fernandina Beach to walk the marina along the ICW and the historic district.  Historic houses, buildings, and cute little shops are all located in close proximity to the ICW.

We saw some friendly pelicans near the Fernandina Municipal Marina and the cafe there.  In town, we crossed over Florida's First Atlantic to Gulf RR and went into Florida's Oldest Saloon.

part of historic Fernandina Beach
When it got close to 2 pm, we knew we needed to take the pickup back to the marina.  We stopped to put fuel in the truck but Debra told has we shouldn't's a courtesy for their crusiers!  Oh well, we wanted them to know that we appreciated their gesture.  It got us off Happy Hours II for awhile.

Low tide is at 3:32 today and we are sitting on the bottom!  It's hard to believe that so much mud is left exposed in this channel at low tide.  The Sheriff's boat tried to motor out through the channel at this time.  He had his 2-250 hp motors raised and he came to a complete stop...he was in the mud.  After backing off the mud,  the Sheriff had his boat very close to ours...stern to stern.  Chuck caught his lines and cleated him to our dock so he could wait for 1 hour until the water started to come back into the marina.  He said that in 15 years, this is the lowest he's every seen the water in the marina basin. Plus, west winds always suck more water out of Amelia Island Yacht Basin.  The tide is slowly on the rise, so hopefully the Sheriff doesn't have to be anywhere in a hurry!!

sand exposed along our dock
While we're sitting in our cockpit watching all the channel action, we hear sv/Grace call Tow Boat US and then the Sheriff.  Apparently he's gone through Rayonier Reach at dead low tide and is hung up on R14.  I hailed him to give him Captain Rick's number.  Debra had just given me this Tow Boat Captain's number when we turned the pickup in. The sailboat captain said that he got grounded between R14 and G1 and just worked his way off. He was trying to hail someone to give him directions to navigate through this area.  I told him we've been talking to some locals about the best way to get through that area since we knew it was a trouble spot.  We were told to stay 100 feet from G1 when making the bend to starboard and continue 100 feet off the south shore.  Sv/Grace was going to try it....he hailed us back later to thank us because it worked!  He found deep enough water there to continue on his travels.  Why he would attempt that area at low tide is beyond us!  I guess we don't have to worry about passing through there tomorrow morning at 2 hours before high tide!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014 Happy Birthday to our son Chuck!

Happy Birthday Chuck...Chuckie to us!
my baby with his youngest/2010
It poured rain all night.  When we got up and checked the weather, we decided to stay put here at Amelia Island YB.    Rain and Thunderstorms are predicted for this morning and the better part of the afternoon.  Mix this wet weather with high winds and yes, we are staying!  In fact, Radar Now shows basically the same stormy weather up and down the southern east coast.  I spoke with Eileen, sv/Circe, this morning.  They are staying put in Bull Creek, SC due to the weather.  I then got a call from Rita , sv/Whisper, and she says that they aren't moving from their Thunderbolt, Ga dock either.  We are all hoping for a better cruising day tomorrow!!

It continued to rain and thunder and lightening here...I took advantage of the free wifi and did my banking for next month.  I also was busy talking or playing phone tag with Chrissie, Rita, Eileen, Chrissie, Mom and Dad, Chrissie, etc.  Chrissie and our two grandsons drove home late last night. She along with Tiffany have been trying to settle the issues that have arisen with Mom McKee while at Rehab at Beeghly Oaks.  She not only wanted to visit her grandmother but make an appearance after speaking with the Head Nurse yesterday......hopefully things will be better......Once the rains cleared out, I decided to now take advantage of the $1 washer and $1 dryer.  Two dollars sure beats the $8  I paid in the Abacos!  It's just a good thing that it isn't a busy laundry day since this marina has only one washer and one dryer.
channel this evening
salt marshes to right of channel

HH II at dock

check the evening skies
looking into the marina basin

This is a pretty nice facility.  They've painted both the shower as well as the restroom facilities...inside and outside.  This was done since we were here last fall.  The Galley Restaurant has a limited menu but the food is good.  Everyone who works here are very pleasant and helpful.  They are trying to remedy their channel problem.  Their new dredge is due to arrive next week.   From what we can see, with the mud banks and the salt marshes, the dredging is going to be continuous!!

Friday, March 28, 2014 Amelia Island Yacht Basin

Palm Cove Channel
Marsh lands next to our dock
 Our plans for today are to leave Palm Cove Marina with enough water so we don't get stuck and get to Amelia Island Yacht Basin by late afternoon. The night before,  we figured  the longest it would take us would be a little less than 6 hours. So, if we left Palm Cove at 10 am, we not only would catch a slack current at our first bridge but get to the marina 2 hours after low tide....perfect planning and timing! Yeah right!!  Part of our plan worked....we did motor under the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge at slack tide.  This was a good thing because today the
current is to be 11 kts at maximum ebb! Wow, I can't even imagine motoring into that current!!!  It was a short trip into and across the St John River and through the Sisters Creek Lift Bridge.
Boatyard at the junction of St John River and Sisters Creeik
The second part of our planned failed immensely! We picked up a strong wind blowing and pushing our stern as well as strong currents in our favor.  Even slowing down to navigate the tricky water and shoals from Nassau Sound through South Amelia River....touch and go... and just drifting, we got too our destination at 2 pm.  This isn't good since low tide in this area today is 1:54 pm.  We just can't believe that we're 2.5 hours early!!  And, we can't continue pushing north to Fernandina Beach because the next 4 miles is Rayonier Reach( Kingsley Creek) and due to its depth, we need to be passing through there at mid rising tide.  Obviously, our only two choices would be to find a  deep enough area
 off the ICW to anchor or drift around for a few hours.  Chuck didn't want to anchor in the MUD, so we drifted up to the bridge, and motored every so slowing into a strong current until 3:45 and then turn 180 degrees and drift back to Twin Bridges and the Kingsley Creek Railroad Bridge...right next to each other!  We actually passed two barges while tooling around during our wait!

Kingsley RR Bridge-open until train comes
At 4:20, I hailed the marina twice on channel 16 and they didn't respond so I gave Debra a call.  I told her we weren't waiting until 5 but coming through their channel now.  We had no problems at 2.5 hours after low tide and Debra had a dock hand waiting to take our lines.

Just a note,..  Active Captain has become our ICW Bible to help us navigate through some of the trouble spots along the way.  A sailboat motoring about 2 miles ahead of us  today, grounded in the South Amelia River.  A trawler passing by did readings for this sailboat and also asked that captain if he had any electronic  Well, this same sailboat got ground again in the Rayonier Reach. Calling Tow Boat US or Seatow ahead of a trouble spot and asking for their advise on navigating an area is also a good move!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hi everyone!  Well, today ‘s the day!  When we woke up, it was 57 degrees…warmer than yesterday’s high of 52 degrees!!  Chuck undid the bridle lines to the mooring ball at 8:15 and I called the Bridge of Lions tender to request an 8:30 opening.  By the time we got into position for the opening, 3 other boats also motored in to wait. We all went through the bridge out toward the St. Augustine Inlet and around the marker, then through the Vilano Fixed Bridge.  The navigational aids are very close to the ocean that it would be very easy to go out to sea!  Once through the Vilano Bridge it feels like we’re in a race with the other sailboats!   A few are fighting for the lead.
motoring toward the inlet
look at the ocean

marker takes boats close to shore
We’re not sure where we’re going this afternoon.  We would like to make it to Fernandina Beach but the currents are working against us .  Right now we’re only cruising at 4.2 kts and that’s with our headsail  out!  So, I think we’ll probably only make Jacksonville  Beach and stay at Palm Cove Marina.   We stayed here on the way down.  The fuel dock is easy to go in and out of.  Publix is within walking distance and West Marine is just a little further.  Plus, there’s a Wendy’s nearby.  We have fond memories of this place because we ate here a few times with Al and Colette from sv/Euphoria  last fall! 

Even though today is mostly cloudy, the sun did poke through a few times and the 62 degrees feels warm after yesterday’s high of 51 degrees!  Today’s trip has us motor/sailing through the Tolomato River and then through the Cabbage Swamp Canal.  I loved this stretch on our way down and I’m loving it again today.  On the Tolomato River, I feel like our boat is in the low country of South Carolina when we look west.  On the eastern shore are beautiful homes.   The Cabbage Swamp is even narrower with the houses close to the ICW on our starboard sided and vacant land to port(west).   The canal goes on for 10 miles….and we didn’t hit once!  In this stretch, we passed a guy in his canoe-stern sailboat with full sails a flying.  He also had his dinghy up against his port stern.  It appears that his sailboat’s engine isn’t working and he’s using the wind and his dinghy to move him along.

When we got to Palm Cove, I call about a dock for the night as well as inquiring about the condition of their channel.  We’ll be entering one hour before low tide.  This could be a problem!  The woman who answered the call said the channel was 6 feet MLW, but be sure to stay in the center of their day markers.  Okay!  Chuck navigated us into the marina basin without any problem but when he steered over to the fuel dock guess what?  We got hung up in the mud...45 minutes before low tide.  Let’s back up and try this again….yeah…we’re moving!  We made the fuel dock, fueled up, and pumped out.  They then assigned us to the face dock near where we’re getting diesel.  It’s exactly the same dock we stayed on last fall.  The wind was blowing in our favor so Chuck pulled off the fuel dock and backed down the fairway using the wind to push us broadside to the dock.  It’s not working!  What the heck!  We're not moving…we’re in the mud again!! LOL  Chuck moved the boat back and forth and finally I threw the bow line to the dock hand and he muscled the bow over.  Chuck then threw him the stern line and he once again muscled the rest of our boat over along the dock.  Wow!  This is a first….Once we start to float again, we’ll adjust our docklines!!

they have bird problems too!
at dock looking at marshland


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014...still here!

And I thought it was cold yesterday morning!  It was 41 degrees when our alarm went off at 7:00 am.  Neither of us wanted to get out from underneath our nice toasty covers.  We laid there for another hour thinking  the temperature would warm up.  Yeah right!  Finally I called the marina office and told them we were staying one more night and we’d be in to pay when it warmed up…  that’s not going to happen today.  The predicted high is 52 degrees!! 

I’ve been wanting to go over to the other side of the Matanza River and
visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse.   The dock master told us about a shuttle that would take us and it only cost $1 each way.  He told us to get it in front of the Red Train Depot which is directly in front of the marina.  Hey, this is going to be easy.  We went into their booth and were instructed to go to their main station about 8 blocks away.  To make a long story short, the gal led us on a wild goose chase.  All we had to do was wait for the Sunshine bus, which also stops in front of the Train Depot.  It only cost us 50 cents each way for seniors!   The driver told us that he would stop or drop off anywhere along his route.  While we waited we saw a horse and carriage.

We did have to walk about ¼ of a mile from A1A to the lighthouse and museum.  The St. Augustine Lighthouse is painted very similar to the Cape Hatteras Light.  It has the same black and white spiral but the top is painted red where Hatteras is black.  They have a wonderful display of lenses, light keepers’ skiffs, cannons, and other memorabilia they’ve been either given or excavated.   I was disappointed that we had to pay to climb the lighthouse but it also got us into the keeper’s house, trails, and other outbuildings.  We climbed 219 steps to the top.  What a great view.  In fact, we could see all the way west to the mooring field where Happy Hours II is moored, to the north is the Matanza Bay and Vilano Beach Bridge  and St. Augustine Inlet, and east is Salt Run and the Atlantic Ocean… and breezy!

lighthouse store
side of light keepers' house

front of light keepers' house

another skiff

blooming flowers!

north to Vilano Beach Bridge
Mooring field to west

west to Salt Run & Atlantic
looking up the spiral stairs 
Old rudder

Alligator Farm 
We waited about an hour for the Sunshine bus to take us back to the marina.  Traffic was backed up by the Lyons Bridge so we didn’t get there until around 3:30.  Since we didn’t have lunch and our food supplies are low, we went back to Pizzalleys for their happy hour specials.  Back to the boat to grab our clean clothes and shower bags and then back to our boat.  Once again we’re planning on leaving tomorrow morning so we lifted our dinghy and motor.  Hopefully tomorrow will be the day to continue our trek north.