May 9, 2019
swing bridge opening for us
We left Vero Beach on Saturday morning with Alicia, a boat from Sweden, following close behind. The first stop was Titusville, then Easter Sunday we made it to Daytona Beach. I had a big ham on board so we invited the crew of Alicia to join us for dinner.
Lightner Museum entrance – thousands of 1″ tiles
Santa Maria entering port
We headed to St. Augustine the next morning. We love that city and stayed a couple of extra days to do the trolley tour again and to visit the Lightner museum one more time. We hopped off the trolley at a marine supply store and bought a second bilge pump….I wonder why! The highlight of our stay was watching a replica of the Santa Maria arrive in port for an extended visit. The ship, built in Spain, is an exact replica of the original and was built as a fiberglass hull, then covered in wood planking to make it look like a wooden boat. Amazing workmanship when you see it up close.
closer view of the Santa Maria
The sun is rising earlier every morning now so we were underway before 7 am the next day, heading for Cumberland Island, just over the Florida border into Georgia. Poor Adamant wanted to turn into Tiger Point Marina right at the border but we wrestled with the helm and persuaded her to keep heading north!
Cumberland Island, a national park, is 17.5 miles long and is home to 150 wild horses. The island has had a varied history over the centuries, but the most famous part started in 1884 when Thomas Carnegie built Dungeness, a 59-room mansion, as his summer home. Unfortunately the mansion burnt in 1959, but many of the walls are still standing. It must have been a beautiful castle judging by what is left. At Dungeness is where we found many of the wild horses. There is plenty of grass for them to graze on and most of them seemed healthy.
Cumberland Island bicycle path
At the supply dock we encountered a group of marine biologists that were in the process of tagging manatees. We watched them capture one in a net, bring it up on the beach, and over the next 40 minutes they gave it a complete physical. They then attached a transponder to its tail and used a yellow marker to highlight marks on its back so they could identify it later from the air. The 600-pound animal stayed quiet for the whole procedure and appeared to be grateful when they got him back into the ocean. What an amazing thing to have witnessed. One biologist had stayed beside us the whole time giving a blow-by-blow commentary. (As I am writing this, a manatee surfaced right beside the boat!)
The next morning was breezy; okay the wind was howling! Across the ICW from Cumberland Island is the naval base King’s Bay. As we approached the base we were given an armed escort until we were out of range of the base. When you have a manned machine gun and a sniper beside you, it’s prudent to behave. We must have been good because they didn’t shoot us. Moments later we saw a submarine leaving the harbour, so that was why they were being cautious.
Dungeness castle ruins
We had two long open stretches to do in the 35kn of wind, and of course it was on the nose so we couldn’t sail them. We crashed and rolled a lot and we took a ton of water over the bow. But we had the enclosure buttoned up tight, so no issues. It was just really uncomfortable. After a long, bouncy day we were able to find a creek to hole up in for the night. We have stayed a few nights in creeks. They were calm and quiet. And we had paddles!
As we passed through Beaufort SC we were treated to an air show. Americans love their military might and brought out their big war birds. They even dropped bombs! Everything was so loud. Have you ever tried steering with your elbows while you had your fingers in your ears? Challenging!
Tagging and marking manatee
Today was uneventful and we made it to Charleston. Now for some downtime. I need to find a laundromat. It’s been a month since I saw one….the hamper is getting gamey. Not sure if I should wash the clothes or just burn them!
Until next time…..
– Longtime CY staffer Lynn Lortie and her husband Pat left Midland the summer of 2016 to make their way into the Great Loop and head out on a three year sailing odyssey. Follow their progress right here in CYOB.