From Fort Pierce inlet we traveled 160 nm (184 statute miles) up the ICW to St. Augustine FL. It took us 3 days of motoring 8 hours each day (motorsailing with minimal sailing). We gladly took a mooring and didn’t think twice about the splurge, anchoring anywhere else looked painful.
St. Augustine is the oldest lived-in city in the contiguous US. It was founded by the Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain in 1565 and has a killer oceanview sidewalk. St. Augustine in a nutshell has a long and turbulent history, grand and beautiful architecture,and that beautiful seaside walk. sigh… so nice. St. Augustine holds its’ history front and center. This is clearly seen as you walk through the forts and stroll past well-preserved buildings. It would be a great place to visit again… Mom, Dad… you mentioned retirement, you really need to look into St. Augustine.
Our next big destination was just over the boarder of FL, Cumberland, GA. And unfortunately, not without peril. Up until this point, we had really only one hard blow (see the Abacos and how we dragged – post), sure there were the crossings and sustained 25 knot winds and 10-18 foot seas… but our boat was built to sail that caliber of seas. And besides, you can only be so terrified for your life for so long before you realize (on the second day) you’re actually fine… Keep a sailors eye out and you’ll be fine, period.
The day we motored through one hell of a devil storm we were snaking our way around a very flat and shallow salt marsh. The air was humid and tall seagrass lined the channel, neatly outlining our path northward. The wind was light coming in from the East but an encompassing dark mass of storm clouds were coming in fast from the northwest. I buttoned up the hatches and Mike stayed at the helm. The air suddenly died and a gathering breeze took its place from the opposite direction. And as quickly as the wind had shifted so too did the pelting rain. Fat rain drops clobbered the boat and we watched in giddy curiosity. That giddiness was smashed when lightening began to strike all around us. We put on pfd’s and I turned on the steaming lights and put on my foulies, joining Mike in the cockpit. At this point rain was darting into our faces making it near impossible to see the channel ahead. We slowly crept along, relying solely on the GPS and pressing buttons on the autopilot to turn left and right. The idea to drop anchor in the channel and wait it out on the hook was not lost on me… but it also encouraged a whole slew of different concerns. A boat stationary at anchor is a likelier target to be hit by lightening, we didn’t know what the bottom consisted of, and if we dragged – we’d certainly be pushed far onto a muddy shore.
The boat heeled over in the gusts, now ranging from 30-43 knots. Incessant cracks of lightening were coming down all around us and booming thunder rattled me to the bone. I did not feel safe; not with one but TWO aluminum masts sticking straight in the air. With the boat as safe as we could make it, all that was left was to sit tight and hope the storm didn’t get any worse. I looked up at Mike, hoping to see some form of resilience that we were fine but all I saw was the same damn fear and uncertainty as I felt. And that’s when I knew what fear was. Fear was complete and utter lack of control in a perilous environment. The only thing that gave me comfort was from watching the storm earlier. It had ascended upon us quickly, which meant the storm was moving fast….to my logic that meant the storm would continue at its clip and it would end soon. The rain let up about 40 minutes after it began and just in time, we were approaching a bridge with a narrow channel – visibility would be nice to pass through it.
The afternoon brought sun as we passed by the industrious part of St. Johns inlet and St. Mary’s. We made anchor by the southern end of Cumberland Island, GA and relaxed in the stifling heat for the rest of the day.
Next post… Cumbiiii! I want my cheap quality Cumbi coffee….. no not that Cumbi as in Cumberland Farms…. Cumberland Island, GA – Cumbi.