Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Greetings from Sunny Florida!

We finally had a decent distance to cover and weather window to get out of the ICW and out on to the ocean. On Tuesday at 11:00AM we weighed anchor and headed out via Wassaw Inlet of the Wilmington River, GA. Winds were to be west shifting to north overnight and we thought that to be just right for a 90 mile run to Fernandino Beach Florida. We figured maybe 18-20 hours at 5 knots. By leaving at 11:00 if we're early it's light and if we're late it's light. There is so little light to work with this time of year!

This inlet is "not recommended" by the cruising guide for who knows what reason. It is true that the charts don't show red buoys 4-8 becasue they often move them. So? Our timing was such that we were out at that inlet at nearly high tide and slack water in fine weather. No problem. We made the last buoy and turned south...70 miles from here to St. Mary's River and into Fernandino Beach. We were sailing too! Not fast but we don't want to be too fast or we'll arrive at dark!

At around 3:00 pm Sue said..."Hey, THAT'S not a dolphin! Sure enough it was not. It was a WHALE! We still get silly when we see dolphins but this sighting just about put us over the edge. In a flash I rememberd that you were to call the coast guard with whale sightings. (Why? Coast guard needs more to do?) So I called out our Lat/Long for Sue to write down and hailed the coast guard on the VHF radio. It went something like this...

Me: Coast Guard, Coast Guard this is sailing vessel Nouveau Vie.
Coast Guard Guy: Yes, boat hailing Coast Guard. Can you spell the name of your vessel.

NOTE: Now it turns out that I cannot. This is the name from the previous owner and I just can't get all those vowels in the right place.

Me: N e a ...uh...u v i u V i e
Coast Guard Guy: Was that nickle, edward, able...

NOTE: Now if you've ever had someone spell an entire word for you using those military standards you'll know that it doesn't work. As soon as he said, 'nickle', I'm thinking, 'why is this guy saying nickle' and then he is 5 letters on down the line.

Me: Hang on!

I grab some paper and try writing out how I think the boat name is spelled.
ME: Yeah, Coast Guard that is NEAUVOU VIE.
Coast Guard Guy: Roger that (sure!)...What kind of whale did you spot?

Note: Now I'm a Lake Michigan sailor and I can probably tell a Walleye from a Bass but you really got me on kinds of whales

ME: Coast Guard, I'm kinda new at this so don't really know what kind.
Coast Guard guy: OK, was it a Bull, Cow or calf?
ME:( you idiot it was a WHALE!) Not really sure.

I finally gave him the lat/long of the sighting and WAS able to gaurantee that the whale didn't have a dorsal fin (the one on top, right?) but did indeed have a blow hole. (also on top I presume!)

Note to you young writers out there: Anytime you can work the word 'blowhole' into a sentence you should go for it.

Just before dark the wind died but the the slow rolling waves from the north-east did not. We were in for an uncomfortable but not dangerous ride. Clear skies though and beautiful stars and crescent moon. Around 10:00 pm Sue thought it was easier for her to just steer than mess with the autohelm so she disengaged it. But it DIDN'T disengage. This is the autohelm with the motor with a little gear that runs a big gear around a drum on your wheel. With it not disengaged it is very hard to turn the wheel as you have to now turn the little gear with the big gear (high gear on your bike!). After some prying with a screwdriver...I mean I adjusted it carefully...OK, I pried it apart so we could turn the wheel again. Now the night just got longer because it does get tiring staring at the compass late into the night. Oh well...Columbus didn't have an autohelm!

After midnight the wind began to come up again out of the north east. We rolled out the genny and not unlike our sail from Long Island to Norfolk, sailed along about 10 miles off the coast at around 4 knots. Plenty fast for making Fernandina Beach at day light. I love sailing at night. I could see maybe 1 or two running lights of other boats far away from me. Billions of stars and the only sound is the hull swooshing through the waves.

We made the outer buoy of the St Mary's inlet around 4:30 AM and the wind had built some more. We rolled in the genny and turned on the engine. Following the 10 mile stretch of buoys is not a big problem but the 3-4 foot rollers coming under the starboard quarter made steering a real chore. Our timing was good though because as we reached the entrance to the breakwater near shore light was filtering in from the east. We made our way nicely to the anchorage across from downtown Fernandino Beach. Finally we are in sunny Florida. Here's a picture of the city from our anchorage.

Apparently paper mills are a big thing here. Weather prediction is for 30 degree nights, up to 3 inches of rain, and winds with gusts to 30 knots.

How far south do I have to go?


Andrea said...

Possibly the equator could be warmer..... and I have given "Capt. Snappy" a new name. We can now call him "Capt. Ishmael"

Gracie Liberation Front said...

Captain, my Captain:

Ha ha ha!

That wasn't a whale! Madame Meow and Young Sam Guevara left me to swim amoung the manatees near Fernando Beach. That was not a blow hole - that was just the Chairman coping with too many peanuts after watching Da Bears.

Sorry to take the tinsle off your tree (metaphorically speaking).

Yours (up to the teeth) and let's remember John Lennon today!

Chairman Meow

Randy said...

Thanks for the chuckle, well as I read your post it started as a chuckle but turned into an all out guffaw.

Too bad you missed St Simons, one of my all time favourite places.

Living vicariosly from Lake Huron,