Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fernandina to Charleston

We took the ocean from St. Augustine instead of the ICW but made a pit stop in Fernandina Beach to wait a day for better weather and a bit more wind in order to make a big jump to Charleston. Fernandina was nicer and far more charming than we expected (especially since its known for uts foul smelling paper mill),with beautiful old buildings, cute boutiques and antique shops, and a delicious burger joint called Tastys, which I recommend if you're near (have the fresh tuna burger).
There are forts everywhere!
I mistook this for an original roller coaster 
The scenery

Love it

Along the water we saw a little otter poke his head out, he was so cute! I asked the guy in the fish shop how we could see them again, and he snuck me a fish to feed them. Clearly I have not had much experience feeding otters, and when I threw it in the water, we watched it quickly sink to the bottom with no one coming to eat it, not even a bird. The little boy next to us said he named one of the otters Melvin, and he likes fish skin-I think I was only supposed to give pieces of the fish, not the whole thing...not sure, but the little boy was far more knowledgable than I.

The little boy and his friend 

The next morning we set out for the ocean, and when we were far from land we were visited by a little birdie. You may recall Petey who was the bird who came aboard on our way down, this little guy looked like him but a bit smaller. I'd like to think it was Petey Jr. and he was told that if he ever got too tired, the nice people on Topanga would happily give him a lift. Poor guy could barely flap his wings anymore he was so pooped. 

I think he's going to be a sailor when he grows up!
We had a smooth passage, though the wind picked up a lot a the end and we were flying (8.5 knots!). The wind was so strong we couldn't get the front sail in until we were in the protection of the Charleston harbour. 170 nautical miles later, we were anchored in Charleston (we did not anchor in the same anchorage as we did on the way down, that landed us very much on the ground), and taking a break for a few days.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Night on the Town in St Augustine

St. Augustine was one of the only places we really wanted to see on our way back up, since we barely got a chance on the way down. It is America's oldest city after all. After recovering from our exhausting travels in the ICW, we set out to see the city.
Couldn't help myself :)

We made a trip to Flagler College, a once very prestigious hotel that only the richest of the rich (both in money and in the social hierarchy) were allowed to stay, and they had to stay (or at least pay) for the entire "hotel season", about 5 months. Built by Henry Flagler, along with some help from Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, this huge and beautifully ornate structure only took 18 months to build. It is also covered in Tiffany stained glass, and is the first use of Tiffany Blue. It was really beautiful, and I'm so jealous of the students that get to study in here, it reminded me of Hogwarts, but several decades earlier.
The first use of  Tiffany Blue
Admiring Thomas Edison's clock

 We also took a tour of the distillery, and the guys bought some vodka (which to me tasted far too close to my nail polish remover), but it was interesting to see behind the scenes. 

We decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner and night out on the town (I mean it was a Friday night, not that we needed an excuse). Turns out the nightlife in St. Augustine is not quite what it is in Montreal. Leaving the restaurant a young guy driving a bicycle rickshaw offered us a free ride, but I don't think he new what he was getting into, since there was only enough room for 2 people, but we made it work for 4. We made for a heavy load, and I'm pretty sure the poor guy retired for the night after. We ended up at the local Legion (does it get cooler than that?). There was very cheap drinks and a colourful crowd. We didn't think we'd end up there (at least not the whole night), but the next thing you know we are actually getting kicked out the back door because they were closing, that's how you know you're having fun, when they make you leave.

Don't ask...
John making friends at the Legion
The next day was a bit rough for everyone, so I spent the day with Dexter roaming St. George street, in the many little boutiques and shops. I was exhausted after, because walking with Dexter can be exhausting when every second person wants to stop and pet him and chat. I love meeting people, I even enjoy small talk, but after the first 100 times, it gets a bit much. There were also many many other dogs out and about and Dexter would get very excited about each and every one. I feel like every time he sees another dog he freaks out and says "Help! Help! I'm trapped on a boat with 2 crazy people! They only give me a 2'x2' patch of grass to pee on-its torture! Save me!". Sorry Dexter, there's no use. It could be worse, I saw a dog walking the streets actually wearing human hipster glasses, or the stroller full of tiny dogs dressed in costumes labelled "pet therapy". When those dogs saw Dexter they started freaking out and barking, probably saying "Stop complaining! At least you don't have to play dress up EVERY day of your life-only on Halloween or special holidays, you don't know how good you have it!". The woman pushing them made many an excuse, "They're not supposed to bark, they never do this!", I felt especially sorry for the one dressed as a sailor. I'm very happy we decided to stop back into St. Augustine!

Did he leave a message?

A little creepy 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Back to Bridges

We made a quick stop in Vero Beach to do some re-provisioning, and of course go out for sushi with our friends Pierre-Luc and Isabelle from Océane (it's been like 8 months since we've had sushi! I'm sure I have some sympathizers our there!). And then we had to get reunited with the Inter-coastal waterway again. We had a quick stop over in Daytona Beach before heading over to St. Augustine.
Back with the beautiful spanish moss
Clearly he didn't see the sign
Dexter's heaven
I have noticed a definite change in temperature, it is pretty chilly here, in comparison at least (I know, I shouldn't be complaining, everyone else had the worst winter of this century, but I got used to heat and sunshine!). This is the first time in 6 months that we started using a blanket to sleep with, I'm wearing sweatpants for gods sake! Ok, I'll stop.

We had also forgotten what a nuance it can be to wait for the many many bridges to open, it can really slow you down if they only open on the hour, and you arrive 10 mins past. We also got so used to our beloved autopilot, but while in the ICW, it's a narrow channel that you need to stay in, that is very windey and there's lots of traffic. We realized how much we dislike standing and doing nothing for 10 hrs a day.  
One of the many bridges,  Dexter is not impressed
The pelican parade!
A short moment of elation after eating chocolate
On our way to St. Augustine via the Intercoastal, we ran aground, hard. Well, I ran aground, John was sleeping. It was a weird part of the ICW, the buoys had been moved and weren't where they were on the charts, and were very close to shore. I started to veer towards them (I needed the green buoy on my starboard side, but it was on my port), but saw that were in 4.5 ft of water (we draw 4'11"), so I chose instead to follow the channel and chart, and that's when I hit. So apparently I should have continued to follow the buoys, oops...but on a positive note, there were lots of dolphins around us!

We were stuck good, and the tide was low, and getting lower. We backwinded the sail, hoping that we could heel the boat over enough to get unstuck, but there wasn't much wind. I even tried to use my weight to help heel us over. Just then mother nature thought she would test us and throw a storm our way, what fun! It began to pour and thunder like crazy. This was not fun, and since we were heeled over, water started pouring in the boat through the doors. With the storm also came some much needed gusts of wind. A half hour later, with the help of the wind and the pressure of the sheets of rain hitting the sails, we made it off. This was a very happy moment, despite the fact that we were soaking wet and freezing (poor Dexter was soaked and shivering, I bet he's wishing I hadn't cut his hair so short!). If we hadn't been able to get off, we would've had to wait 7 hrs for the tide to rise.

We caught up to Océane, who were waiting for us, who then also ran aground, but with a little less drama, and got off pretty quickly. We also ran aground about 2 more times before actually reaching St. Augustine. Low tide + ICW = hitting the bottom & no fun.
Just some friendly neighbours
A consolation gift after the storm-a full double rainbow!
You can almost hear my ooohs and ahhhs