We endured and endured and endured traveling the ICW from Beaufort, SC to St. Simon’s Island, GA, our last stop before Florida. First came, “death by dinghy at daybreak” when I attempted to leave the Beaufort dock in a four knot current on our stern with Dolce Vento parallel parked between two boats with about three feet clearance from each. My reliable arched turn away from the dock created an immediate crisis as the current caught me from behind and pushed our bow straight into the boat ahead. Suddenly people gathered on the dock. “Hard to starboard! Hard to starboard” they shouted as did Cindy and John. Was this the beginning of the end?
With only inches to spare, I wrested sufficient control from the current to turn hard to starboard, our dinghy scraping the anchor at the boat in front of us as I pulled away. Totally shaken, but with dinghy unscathed and the other boat untouched, I glanced back to see men on the dock shaking heads. Simmering in my humiliation for a good long four hours with tears bubbling up, John and Cindy reminded me that another boat ended up stuck sideways is a slip just the day before, so what we did was “not so bad”. As the saying goes, you always learn better from your mistakes. My lesson was clear. Obey the tides. Leave the dock at slack tide (no current) to maintain maneuvering control. This was definitely an experience I never had on the Chesapeake. I put the knowledge to use as we progressed. Dock leaving is much less stressful.
In the following days as we motored through Georgia on the ICW, we sat in dense fog one morning (we couldn’t see the bow even) that delayed us by three hours, were blanketed with torrents of rain through one night, were faced with unexpectedly cold winds as the ICW twisted its way through the waving fields of sea grasses and once again, held our breath as we passed under 65′ fixed bridges. However, none of this kept us from cooking a “make your favorite food” dinner and celebrating a most happy Thanksgiving, at anchor in Georgia the night before we arrived in St. Simon’s Island. John roasted a pork loin with a breadcrumb mustard crust, Cindy made mashed rutabagas mixed with butter, and, for my personal pick, I made a rich sage bread stuffing.
From St. Simon’s Island, we went off shore in two hops to reach St. Augustine where, finally our prayers were answered. We were greeted with sunshine warm enough to put away the winter gear and don on our sacred boat shorts.
People continue to “ooooo” and “ahhh” over Dolce Vento. She is one good-looking sail boat, despite missing a few instruments at the top of the mast. We enjoy living aboard her, but we do miss sailing her. I mean “real” sailing with the sails up and the wind filling them full to power us along instead of the “iron jenny”. Although, in reality, I knew this might be the case, I was disappointed with the off shore hops because they were windless, despite being sunny and warm. We had to remind ourselves that we were not up north with its truly cold weather so we should just “sit back and enjoy the ride”.
Every now and then, each of us has had a “moment” or two in the past two weeks. John, angry over the lack of workable wi-fi at marinas and the rate we swept through our “hotspot” data, boiled over the other night. But, the solution was simple — He upped our data plan. It saved our marriage, so to speak — I don’t have to watch him silently sulk around.
Cindy’s had a raging moment when, out in a cold wind one morning, raising the anchor and trying to wash mud off the chain and anchor, her pants and shoes were drowned in spray emanating from the holes in our wash down hose. The solution was two-fold — she started wearing foul weather pants and Wellies and I bought a new hose. My moment, well, you just read about it. The solution was simple — keep on docking and remember that being a jerk once in a while is better than being a jerk all the time.
Remnants of hurricane Irma are everywhere along Florida. Fernandina Beach marinas were completely wiped out, as were many of the those in the Keys as we discovered when calling to make reservations for February. Here in St. Augustine at the Municipal Marina, they lost over half their docks and much of their electrical. We bide our time, hanging on a mooring for three days, waiting for a slip to open up. At least we are putting the dinghy to good use, transporting us back and forth to town. It’s fun — as long as the sun shines!
Historic St. Augustine has come alive since I visited 30 years ago. No longer sleepy, it’s host to a vibrant tourist trade, has turned the famous Flagler Hotel into a thriving college, and yet maintains a cozy small town community feel. Some things don’t change — like the miniature golf place in front of the Municipal Marina where we are staying. Like last time, I bested my husband at the game. Could I be a closet golfer? I think not, but it was fun to win once again.
Life aboard Dolce Vento is good. John has his cockpit office. He proclaimed he saw an actual “Green Flash” tonight as the sun set. I’m not sure is was really green flash, but the sky had a distinctively green spot in it.
Here are some more pictures of our ICW travel:
Pictures of St. Augustine.