Fernandina Beach



April 20th

Started the day with coffee, checked the wind was out of the north and decided to use the couple or so hours of down river current to head out to sea. The Cape Fear River will take 4 or so hours to clear, there's no way to ride a current all the way out. With a following wind the 2 knot slowdown can be a little mitigated by throwing up some part of the head-sail.

North winds, incoming current, oh my! Got more than a little bouncy close to the mouth.


Truly alone now. CSL Atlantic has cleared the spoil area and is heading north somewhere over the horizon. Wind is out of the east at a little under 10 knots and I'm heading WSW at about 5.5 knots, all canvas is up, waves are gentle and out of the north. The lying bastards at NOAA promised north winds for 3 days. I saw exactly 6 hours of that. Now the wind is out of the east and NOAA has changed their minds that it'll now be 3 days of out of the east. Still, east works pretty nicely. Jacksonville, FL is the next planned stop, its 250 nm away and there is no other life to be seen. Not even birds. Cell service quit about an hour ago.

Why Jacksonville? Why jump out into the Altantic and skip South Carolina and Georgia? Why not stay on schedule and run down the canal?

BECAUSE its cold! Bloody cold! Its been cold since day 1, surely Jacksonville is warmer. I'm wearing a beanie, a windproof jacket, 3 layers underneath, and mittens, the sun is full.

BECAUSE we've done a hell of a lot of motoring here in the last week or so and I'm sick of hearing the constant thump of the engine and smelling diesel fumes.

BECAUSE for the first time we don't have headwinds and its time to sail. And when I say headwinds I mean right on the nose, not slightly to port, or slightly to starboard, I mean on the nose. We came SW mostly, and the winds were all SW, sometimes at silly speeds. Finally there's something other than SW winds so its time to sail, no more motoring, for a while.

April 21st

Well that was one hell of a night winds out of the east 20 kts gusting to 30. Left too much sail up before I turned in and paid the price. Bouncy, bouncy all night long and no sleep. Waited until first light to reef the main and then things turned just merely uncomfortable. Finally got some sleep. Woke up to a nice surprise, sushi! There was a tuna on one of the lines. I had to sort out a tangle (the 2 lines had crossed) and then when I finally got the fish to come in it fell off the line when I tried to bring it on board. But no problem right after I threw the line back out another one bit, but again I muffed getting it on board. No problem! The next one bit immediately after I dropped the line back out and this one I got on board. Then the butchering started, blood everywhere, all over the deck, the bumpers and me. Still I got 2 very nice sized steaks and some sashimi off the bones after I'd cut the fillets. Took a little while to clean up after this. Thought about it a bit then I threw the line back out and immediately had a hit. This one was much, much bigger since the line was much harder ro pull in. I hadn't pulled in more than 10 feet when the line when slack. Turns out my line had broken at the wire tracer. That must have been quite a fish. Shame about the lure, only one like that I had. Still I have fresh fish now.

Dozed most of the day but kept the reef in, the wind had fallen off but the lying bastards at NOAA kept telling me it would be back up to 20, gusting to 25. It never happened.

Cooked a filet. Delicious, broiled it with lemon pepper. Fantastic, only issue was that it was so think I had to pop half of it back under the broiler for round 2.

Winds stayed down, slept well with the reef in, speed suffered.

April 22nd

Woke up to dolphins checking out the boat. Seen this for a lot of the journey. First thing that gets your attention is the huff as they surface next to the boat and breathe. Then you watch them cross under the bow and generally cavort. I never tire of watching them play like this.

Coudn't undo a knot in the reef. Thats it from now on, nothing but reef knots when reefing. Reef stayed in for the rest of the day despite falling winds.

Carl MacDonald, a guy I used to ride bikes with lives on Amelia Island, so I'm changing my destination to the St. Mary's river, a little closer but hey that's almost a 300 mile jaunt from Wilmington.

Entering St Mary's was a bitch, just as I doused the sails, that promised wind of 25 knots out of the east appeared. OK, but then couple that with a 2 kt current leaving the river and that was a roller coaster ride from hell. Fought most of the way in to keep the boat heading straight, sometimes I didn't win. Now throw in the submerged breakwaters either side of the channel and what you get was probably the most harrowing of sailing I've ever done. More than once did I think, thank God Hiam isn't here. Finally! Cell Service! I call Hiam and let her know all is good. I tell her I love her (she is what I think off most, damn I wish she could swim).

Entered calmer water a little after 6:30 and made the decision to go to Fernandina Beach Marina. No one on VHF there. Get there to find their transient and fuel dock (all 200 yards of it) is closed. No problem, they have a mooring field. Where all the balls are taken. No problem! There's a place a little further where there's 10 feet of water off the channel. Funny no one is anchored here, wait, what is that awful smell? Power plant? Refinery?not sure what that was coming out of those smoke stacks but it stank. OK back to the mooring field and and I'll anchor around the edges. Found a spot a little to close to the channel but oh well, its dark now and raining. I'm putting the anchor down. Winds got up and the anchor held.

April 23rd

Had a really solid nights sleep, interrupted only by the weather radio alerts. Mental note turn that sucker off at night. Got going around 9:30, decided on a lazy day, the weather forecast sucks, windy, rainy, no reason to leave a solid anchor on a day like this. I have cell service. This is not a pretty anchorage, very industrial, but with weather like this I'm inside for the day. Heard children's voices playing in the morning. They must be on the boat behind me. It gives me a lift to hear their voices and I think of how special it must be for kids to grow up in an environment like this.




Lighthouse at the mouth of the Cape Fear River


First tuna caught while sailing

Ah! Fresh Tuna