Free at last……

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November 18, 2012 by Last Star blog

15 November 2012

OK, so after having to hole up in Jekyll Island next to my new BFF Legacy we again tried to get the hell out of Georgia.  We had two routes to link together to get to Fernadina Beach; what we had tried to do the day before.  As mentioned in the previous post I was up at 0530 watching Legacy trying to bump into my Last Star.  At first light Patricia was up and I said lets go NOW.  Breakfast would have to wait, we could eat underway.  The anchor line was wrapped tight under the boat as our stern was to the wind due to the strong current.  My anchor line is generally blue due to the bottom paint that inevitably gets on it–it is rather attractive.  When we had the motor going and were ready I had Patricia turn the rudder and I tugged on the anchor line and that was enough to disrupt the balance and get us away from the line so we could at least power the prop without it getting tangled in the anchor line–that’s still on my “to do” list.  We actually spun in a safe direction AWAY from Legacy, Patricia powered up and I pulled in the anchor and we were FREE! We scooted out of there and towards the south post haste.  As we entered St Andrews sound I could see a sailboat descending on us from the right about a mile away, he fell in behind as we rejoined the ICW.  As the light was just up and the cloud-cover relatively thick I dutifully followed the “pink line” that the Garmin was giving me.  Patricia went below to make a simple breakfast of fresh strawberries, bananas, cereal and yogurt, some toast and coffee.  As I continued SE towards the inlet to Andrews sound it got rougher and rougher, I mean crazy rough, like a freaking washing-machine.  I could see breakers, shoals were left and right.  The tide was running out so we were doing a good 9 knots but it was a beast.  I told Patricia if she wanted she should come up top-sides as every few minutes I could hear a crash from below.  It got worse before it got better.  Eventually it was time to turn and maybe put this mess behind us.  I timed the turn as best as I could and we were now on a following seas wild ride; this was as bad as the day we spent off-shore if not worse, steeper waves.  Fortunately this was for maybe 30 minutes and the boat has enough power to get through a mess like this.  Still not a good way to start the day after a hellish night.

We got back into the security of the ICW further up the bay and there was that little boat that was behind us shortly before?  Huh?  Evidently the locals know of a cut to use during a high tide and rough seas.  That would have been nice.  So we now are back in the ICW with about 4 hours ahead of us to Fernadina Beach and we’ll be there by noon–that happens when you leave before 7:00 AM.  As we are nearing Kings Bay Georgia I am below doing something when Patricia tells me the Coast Guard is along side of us and wants to talk to us on Channel 22.  Uh OK I say and spin the radio to 22.  They pass to me that we need to hold our position as a boat is moving from the Sub base and some other gobbledygook BS about keeping me hostage in Georgia longer.  Their dialogue goes on and on but I rapidly lose interest and just tell them “roger”.  Now in front of us is a large bayliner holding at Marker 73, I have “Just Ducky” the shortcut boat coming up behind in a few minutes.  I hear the Coast Guard send him to 22 and pass the same litany of security and no-passage and hold position etc.  Well there is no kick-stand on a boat, holding position is similar to holding in an airplane; you need room.  I get on the radio and raise “Just Ducky” and suggest rather than pile up like cord-wood at Marker 73 that he and I each make oval “race-track” patterns in place and stay away from one another.  After a bit of explanation we are in agreement that this might be a good idea.  So after 30 minutes of “waiting” and seeing no less than 10 USCG ships of various sizes zipping across the bay like mad bees we are told that we are free to proceed.  Evidently the USN ship was NOT ready to proceed as expected.  Hah!  Finally we will be free of Georgia’s clutches.  We press away at a blistering 7.5 knots and head to Fernadina Beach.  We get there about 1120 and need fuel.  So we pull up to a large dock and are aided by the two deck hands and the whole process goes remarkably smoothly–maybe we are getting a bit better at all this?  Roy, the guy helping us is very nice, huge southern guy with a name-tag and an easy disposition.  I ask him the going rate for overnight stay and he says $2 a foot, that’s 90 bucks for me.  I tell him I can stay at the Hampton Inn across the street for less and he sort of rolls his eyes and says yet it is a lot to pay for a slip and then you stay in your own boat.  He does tell me that for 20$ I can have a mooring ball, use ALL the facilities at the marina and that is a better deal–I tell him SOLD.  We get the fuel, fill the water tanks, do a pump-out (if you don’t know what that is then maybe when that goes horribly wrong (and it will) I will clarify).  After we get the boat squared away, Roy wants to slide it forward as the boat behind us is not comfortable pulling away as with the strong current he could get pushed into us–and we’ve met our quota of collisions for the month, thank you.  I offer to help Roy as he is short handed and am interested in the best way to do this with the head wind and current running opposite.  He seems pleased for the assistance and it goes well, I then ask him a good place for lunch, ask if the restaurant at the marina is good.  He laughs and says it is expensive (surprise) and too fancy.  He suggests another across the street (and some additional RR tracks for Patricia to negotiate).  I say can I leave the boat here and he says sure.  We lock up the cats below and bug out for lunch.  Now we look like two homeless people.  I’m wearing a blue hoodie from wal-mart and some russell athletic fleece pants.  Patricia looks slightly better.  I have not shaved in about 5 days so that looks good too.  We’ve been up since 5 o’clock and are operating on minimum sleep.  Hopefully they will seat us.  Well we plop down at a table and are served up some fine southern cooking.  I was famished and had the sour-cream fried chicken with 3 sides; potatoes and bacon, lima beans and rice, and field peas and peppers.  Oh and with corn bread and sweet tea.  Nirvana after the last few days.  Patricia had the fried grouper sandwich with cole slaw.  We needed a substantial lunch.  Well we stroll out of there, go buy two cruising guides, one for Florida and the gulf-coast and the other for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.  Our old guides for the Chesapeake and ICW from Norfolk to Florida were now toast.  The lady at the book store asked us if we lived on a boat?  Really, the homeless look and book choices didn’t tell all?

After returning to the boat we took long hot showers at the marina facilities and then got the boat ready for the next great adventure–grabbing the mooring ball.  Now using a mooring is a good deal… sort of.  You don’t have to worry about your anchor, you only have to worry about the mooring.  In the Caribbean the moorings are sort of privately owned and the condition of the ball, line, securing device are all a bit sketchy.  These were world class–solid.  Patricia and I decided I would drive and she would grab the ball.  Most of these things happened.  First pass she missed the ball to the port side, second pass she got the boat hook on the line and I had put the boat in neutral and was skipping forward to help.  I got the line up to the level of the deck but too late to get a line through it.  OK, new approach, Patricia will drive and I will do the hooking and securing.  We also tried different directions in regard to wind and current and Patricia’s great wheel skills got us where we needed to be and hooked up on the next try.  Time for a nap and then a good night’s sleep in Florida.  Hopefully the wind won’t turn and bring the smell from the paper-mill nearby!

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