A Return to Savannah, Friends, and “Good Fortune”

We awoke in our marshy anchorage in the Vernon River to the sound of birds and dolphins swimming around (I still find it curious that there are so many dolphins in the ICW. There was a time when I thought of them as ocean creatures.) Although we skipped most of Georgia, we believe we did spend time in the two best places – Cumberland Island and Savannah.

Another morning wake up call with the red glow in the east.

Another morning wake up call with the red glow in the east.

We still had a 2-3 hour trip to our next stop, so we were underway in the early morning.

We still had a 2-3 hour trip to our next stop, so we were underway in the early morning.

Marshes along the ICW in the morning.

Marshes along the ICW in the morning.

The birds are wonderful to watch, but they can be pretty harsh to things that are under them. If you know what I mean. This green can is not white washed in paint.

The birds are wonderful to watch, but they can be pretty harsh to things that are under them. If you know what I mean. This green can is not white washed in paint. It won’t be long until boaters will not be able to tell if it is green!

Caught one!! These dolphins are fast.

Caught one!! These dolphins are fast.

We stopped in Savannah to visit two couples once again. Peter and Kay live on Skidaway Island in the winter months and Connecticut in the summer. We made plans to visit again and they insisted on waving to us as we passed by, even though that would be 7:30 am.

Peter and Kay waving to us from their neighbor’s lawn on the ICW. (The neighbor is in the bathrobe.) Now that’s a welcome! Getting up early just to wave as we go by. What nice neighbors they have, too!

Peter and Kay waving to us from their neighbor’s lawn on the ICW. (The neighbor is in the bathrobe.) Now that’s a welcome! Getting up early just to wave as we go by. What nice neighbors they have, too!

Our final stop for the day, just 16 more miles on top of the 86 miles from Cumberland Island, was the transient dock at our friends’ community in Causton Bluff. Al met Al (yes, they are both named Al) online through a trawler forum and learned that both own Mariner Orients 38. When we stopped in Savannah on our way south we met Al and Lynn in person.

After settling in at the dock, we began a much-needed cleaning of Kindred Spirit. Washing off salt from the offshore run would soon be followed by washing off the tree pollen. Washing the boat is a never ending project (If water is available. If not, just grin and bear it.)

The tides in Georgia are tremendous. Truly tremendous to boaters from Long island Sound like us. The normal tidal range is 8 feet here, but there was a little extra on each end due to the moon phase.

High & Low

Low and High – I tried to take a photo standing in the same place by the dock ramp. Hope you can see the differences in the angle of the ramp and the amount of the rocky berm exposed.

The Causton Bluff docks are just off the ICW and near the marshes. We could watch boats passing by on the ICW and watch the birds hanging around.

Pelicans!

Pelicans!

Snowy egrets

Snowy egrets

Peter and Kay invited us to dinner for a home-cooked Southern meal. Who could resist an offer like that? What a lovely evening we enjoyed with them -delicious food and lots of fun catching up on news. Peter and Kay’s boat, Cheers, will be Kindred Spirit‘s dock neighbor at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Connecticut this summer.

Shrimp and Grits! Kay is cooking the shrimp and I am stirring the grits (first time I've ever cooked, or stirred, grits.)

Shrimp and Grits! Kay is cooking the shrimp and I am stirring the grits (first time I’ve ever cooked, or stirred, grits.)

Southern meal – (From upper left, clockwise) Appetizers – tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese spread. Dinner – shrimp and grits with salad, finished with a dessert of pecan pie. Simply delicious!

Southern meal – (From upper left, clockwise) Appetizers – tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese spread. Dinner – shrimp and grits with salad, finished with a dessert of pecan pie. Simply delicious!

Peter and Kay - thank you for a lovely evening!

Peter and Kay – thank you for a lovely evening!

We had explored the city of Savannah for a day during our visit in November (Savannah, the City of Squares and found it be a gracious and beautiful southern city. Although we weren’t able to tour old Savannah again, we did have the opportunity to visit Bonaventure Cemetery, outside of historical downtown Savannah and just 2 miles away from where we were docked. Bonaventure Cemetery is a public cemetery located on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries and one of the most haunted locations in America.

The cemetery is located on the site of “Bonaventure Plantation”, a 600-acre plantation with its own private cemetery originally owned by John Mullryne. Bonaventure means “good fortune.” In 1846 it was sold and the new owners formed the Evergreen Cemetery Company in 1868. Evergreen Cemetery Company was later purchased by the City of Savannah in 1907, making the cemetery public and changing the name to Bonaventure Cemetery.

There are over 30,000 interments (burials) in the 600 acre cemetery, including famous people and regular folks. There is actually a website finding specific graves in a any cemetery– Find a Grave. Who knew such things existed? According to the Bonaventure section of Find a Grave, there are 15 Watsons buried in Bonaventure.

It would have been easy to spend hours and hours, if not days, wandering through this cemetery. The Spanish moss hangs from the live oaks casting a sorrowful, but beautiful light over the graves. The tombstones are as varied as the time periods and the personalities of those who created or chose each one.

Without captions, let the photographs paint the picture. As it is, they only touch the surface of the experience.

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As you walk down the roads lined with the live oaks the first thing you notice is that the graves are organized in family plots, usually with a concrete boundary marker or fencing.

family plot 2 family plot

Headstones of "Father" and "Mother" were often surrounded by their descendants.

Headstones of “Father” and “Mother” were often surrounded by their descendants.

The small graves of young children are the saddest to come upon.

The small graves of young children are the saddest to come upon.

grave structures

Some sites are marked by simplicity and some, like the above, are notable for more grandeur.

Interspersed among family burial plots there were some above ground interments, as well as some very simply adorned burials.

Interspersed among family burial plots there were some above ground interments.

The statues that adorn many of the gravesites are works of art, evoking a mournful sadness. We overheard a guide telling his group about a sculptor named John Walz who became very well-known from his memorial sculptures here at Bonaventure. I do not know which of these were created by him.

statue 1 & 2 statues older statues

As we wandered in the sun and shadows, we also wondered if we would find anyone named Watson (this was before I stumbled upon the “Find A Grave” website.) Purely by accident, we saw the name Watson on the ground and the full name “Gracie Watson.”

Found a Watson

We paused for a longer time here to read about little Gracie. It was not until later that I learned how famous this little girl has become.

Gracie Watson plaque

The plaque above reads —  “Little Gracie Watson was born in 1883, the only child of her parents. Her father was manager of the Pulaski House, one of Savannah’s leading hotels, where the beautiful and charming little girl was a favorite with the guests. Two days before Easter, in April 1889, Gracie died of pneumonia at the age of six. In 1890, when the rising sculptor, John Walz, moved to Savannah, he carved from a photograph this life-sized, delicately detailed marble statue, which for almost a century has captured the interest of all passersby.”

Although this is the family plot, Gracie rests here all alone, which is so sad. After her death, her father and mother eventually left Savannah and moved back to New England.

John Walz

Gracie’s father had sculptor John Walz carve a monument to his beloved daughter. Using only a photograph as reference John Walz sculpted the statue that now sits upon Little Gracie’s grave site. It is said to be life size and a picture perfect representation of Little Gracie Watson.

Like the “Bird Girl” statue, little Gracie Watson has become very popular, and the grave is now fenced off in wrought-iron to prevent further damage. If you look closely you can see stuffed animal toys that people leave for her.

Like the “Bird Girl” statue, little Gracie Watson has become very popular, and the grave is now fenced off in wrought-iron to prevent further damage. If you look closely you can see stuffed animal toys that people leave for her.

Our brief time in Savannah came to a close too soon, but we did squeeze in a breakfast with Al and Lynn before we departed.

Lynn cut flowers from her lovely lilies for me to take back to the boat. The bouquet added such a touch of cheer to our little salon.

Lynn cut flowers from her lovely lilies for me to take back to the boat. The bouquet added such a touch of cheer to our little salon.

A group selfie of Lynn and Alfred and Michele and Alan.

A group selfie of Lynn and Alfred and Michele and Alan.

Southern hospitality and warmth is not a myth, it is a fact. Not only did we have that early morning wave from Peter and Kay to welcome us, but Al and Lynn came down to the dock to wave goodbye and send us off in style.

Waving farewell from the dock.

Waving farewell from the dock.

We may have only made two stops in Georgia, but both were filled with friends and “good fortune.”

Georgia on My Mind – Cumberland Island

How nice it was to awake on Sunday morning to a beautiful day in a beautiful place. We had bypassed Cumberland National Seashore, Georgia’s largest southernmost barrier Island on our way south during our impulsive overnighter from Savannah to St. Augustine.

Kindred Spirit at anchor off Cumberland Island

Kindred Spirit at anchor off Cumberland Island

We did not want to miss this “magical and mysterious” place again. Our memories from 2013 of the island called us to stop again, even if only for a day. This national park is 36,000 acres of maritime forests, wild beaches, freshwater lakes, saltwater marshes, and 9,800 acres of protected wilderness.

Cutting Class had arrived later after a very long and tedious day from St. Augustine. They were anchored nearby so we went over to say hello and goodbye again simultaneously. They would be leaving in a few hours for a 26-hour offshore run to Charleston. Would this be a case of “ships passing in the night”? When cruising, your paths will cross from time to time which is what makes it such fun – connecting with good friends, meeting new ones, and reconnecting with folks you have not seen in awhile. Belle Bateau, a Gozzard 44, is a combination of both new and reconnecting friends. We had met Dudley and Cheryl at the beginning of our 2013-2014 trip through mutual friends, Magnolia and Eleanor Q at the SSCA GAM in Annapolis.  Cheryl and Dudley were still land-based at that time, but in the intervening two years, they found the Gozzard of their dreams and cast off the dock lines. Although they did not make it across to the Bahamas, we had been in touch through email and FaceBook and hoped that our routes would cross at some point on our northward journeys.

Memories of 2013: ~Anthony & Annette from Magnolia ~ Us from Kindred Spirit ~Cheryl & Dudley ~ Frank & MaryMarie from Eleanor Q

Memories of 2013 at the SSCA GAM in Annapolis:
~Anthony & Annette from Magnolia
~ Us from Kindred Spirit
~Cheryl & Dudley
~ Frank & MaryMarie from Eleanor Q

As Cutting Class prepares to leave, Belle Bateau arrives.

As Cutting Class prepares to leave, Belle Bateau arrives.

Belle Bateau, a Gozzard 44

Belle Bateau, a Gozzard 44

The four of us became reacquainted again with a visit to Belle Bateau. Gozzards are exquisite boats with an incredible attention to details and well-thought out storage and space configurations.

Cheryl And Dudley are standing in what is both salon area and the master cabin. A couple of easy slides and pulls and a queen size berth appears. Yes, that is Al photo-bombing the photo.

Cheryl And Dudley are standing in what is both salon area and the master cabin. A couple of easy slides and pulls and a queen size berth appears. Yes, that is Al photo-bombing the photo.

Eager to hike around the island, we dinghied to the Sea Camp Dock. There were quite a few people, families around, probably because it was the weekend. It also appeared that quite a few had camped overnight.

We stopped on the boardwalk to the beach to re-enact our tree photo from 2013.

We convinced Cheryl and Dudley to have their picture taken in this tree, just as we had in 2013.

We convinced Cheryl and Dudley to have their picture taken in this tree, just as we had in 2013.

Back in the tree again. Oh to be ten years old again! These live oaks are just begging to be climbed.

Back in the tree again. These live oaks are trees that are begging to be climbed. To be 10 years old again…………

Us in 2013 ( I think I like this photo better.)

Back in 2013 – Same tree. 

The walkway over tot he beach.

The boardwalk over to the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

It was heaven to walk on a beach again. Pure heaven.

10 beach

9 beach

11 beach

On an island where very few humans live, a herd of feral horses, numbering 150 – 200 roam around the wild environment.  The horses here today are most likely descendants of horses brought by 18th Century English settlers. Since the 1920s, few new horses have been introduced to the island. Concerns about inbreeding and the lack of genetic variability led to the introduction of four Arabians to the island in the early 1990s, with hopes of diversifying and bettering the existing population. Science and environmental concerns aside, the horses are a major part of the intrigue and magic of Cumberland. They aren’t mythical, Mary Marie, they really do exist!

Prints of horse hoofs in the sand mark the beaches. The horses must be nearby.

Prints of horse hoofs in the sand mark the beaches. The horses must be nearby.

A mare and her foal. We had some concerns that the foal was not well.

A mare and her foal. We had some concerns that the foal was not well.

 

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Three horses roaming the along the beach.

Three horses come roaming along the beach.

 

A different trio of horses munch on beach grasses farther down the shoreline.

A different trio of horses munch on beach grasses farther down the shoreline.

We meandered back to Sea Camp dock through the paths that led to the ruins of the mansion built by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie in 1884. The mansion had been built on the foundation of the four-story tabby home constructed in the late 1700s by the Revolutionary War hero, Nathaniel Greene’s widow, Catherine. Both homes were known as Dungeness.

Dungeness ruins

Dungeness ruins

Ruins of other structures on the grounds of Dungeness.

Ruins of other structures on the grounds of Dungeness.

Cumberland Island is one of the most hauntingly beautiful islands we have visited. I would love to stop and stay here again for days and explore more of it.

The crews of Belle Bateau and Kindred Spirit enjoy a potluck dinner together, and continued our conversations about cruising, boating, and Cumberland Island.

The crews of Belle Bateau and Kindred Spirit enjoy a potluck dinner together, and continued our conversations about cruising, boating, and Cumberland Island.

Decisions about our next travel day were grounded in weather conditions and the simple fact that the ICW in Georgia is long and winding. Monday’s weather looked good for offshore travel and we jumped at the opportunity. Offshore, or “outside” as we also call it, would be 86 nautical miles to Savannah.

Route comparison pic 110 vs 86 miles makes a big difference when your speed only averages 6.5 -7 knots per hour.

A comparison of ICW (inside) and offshore (outside) routes :
96 miles averaging 6.5 knots vs 86 miles at 7 knots makes a big difference (15 vs 12 hours.)

A waning crescent moon accompanied us as we began the journey.

A waning crescent moon accompanied us as we began the journey.

 

We wanted to get an early start for the long journey, so we were up and ready to depart before 5:00 am. As a major inlet, the St. Mary’s is well-marked due to commercial and military (submarines) traffic in and out.

 

 

 

 

 

The pre-dawn light appears over the ocean as we exit the inlet.

The pre-dawn light appears over the ocean as we exit the inlet.

Dawn over the ocean. I usually prefer the dawn of a new day over the ocean to the setting of the sun as the day ends.

Dawn over the ocean. I usually prefer the dawn of a new day over the ocean to the setting of the sun as the day ends.

Kindred Spirit moving nicely along offshore. We enjoyed seeing the bluer and brighter water out here after days of the ICW's murky greenish brown water.

Kindred Spirit moving nicely along offshore. We enjoyed seeing the bluer and brighter water out here after days of the ICW’s murky greenish brown water.

It was a very good 12 hour run offshore, well worth it. Surprisingly, we saw very few boats and no sea life.

It was a very good 12 hour run offshore, well worth it. Surprisingly, we saw very few boats and no sea life.

The offshore day ended with a turn into Ossabaw Sound and another couple of hours through that little Hell Gate. We anchored just off to the side of the ICW in the Vernon River near Skidaway Island. And fell asleep right after dinner.

Impulsively Changing Course – Georgia, Offshore!

It was time to move on again before the grass grew under our feet, or in boating terms, before the algae and slime grew on our bottom (boat’s “bottom”, not our bottoms.) Although we had said our goodbyes to Lynn and Alfred the evening before, they were waving to us and from their deck on the ICW.

Lynn saying goodbye – you can just barely see her as she sits on the rail of their deck.

Lynn saying goodbye – you can just barely see her on the right as she sits on the rail of their deck.

Kindred Spirit departing Savannah. I love this photo! Thank you, Lynn.

Kindred Spirit departing Savannah. I love this photo! Thank you, Lynn.

 We needed to refuel and also needed to wait for Causton Bluff Bridge opening, delaying our departure until 8:30 am. Our intention was to stay in the ICW the first day and then maybe go offshore the next day from Sapelo Sound to St. Mary’s Inlet and then Cumberland Island. We weren’t certain of our timing so it was possible that we would be in the ICW for the entire length of Georgia.

A very close look at the gears of the on Causton Bluff Bridge.

A very close look at the gears of the on Causton Bluff Bridge.

After the bridge and refueling, we passed Bonaventure Cemetery on our starboard side. Reminder – this is the cemetery where the Bird Girl statue lived until the fame of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil put her at risk and she was subsequently moved to the Telfair Museum. Bonaventure is a public cemetery located on a scenic bluff on the Wilmington River, a part of the ICW, and is considered to be the most beautiful cemetery in America. On our way north I hope that we can visit Savannah again and include a walk through Bonaventure in our experience.

Bonaventure Cemetery – our quick glimpse of the cemetery from the boat did not do it justice at all.

Bonaventure Cemetery – our quick glimpse of the cemetery from the boat did not do it justice at all.

We could not believe our eyes when we spotted this yacht covered with ….what is that? Al realized that the structure is for the “winter cover.” That is some winter cover!!

Now that's going to be quite a winter cover - look air that framing!

Now that’s going to be quite a winter cover – look at that elaborate framing! It’s going to take more than one guy to do this one.

Dolphins!! We are seeing so many more dolphins on this trip than on our first one, and we never get tired of it. Sometimes I try to take photos, usually without success, but most of the time I just enjoy their beauty.

Dolphins, dolphins! I got a couple of pics.

Dolphins, dolphins! I got a couple of pics.

The American flag that came with the boat when we purchased her was rather worn and in poor shape. A gentle but thorough washing had cleaned the mildew, but the flag was shredding on the edges, and developing holes. That bothered us, especially since we fly the flag every day. With our planned trip home to Connecticut, we bought a new and stronger flag from the American Legion and had it shipped there.

Al putting new flag on pole and flying collage – It seemed fitting that we would install and fly our new American flag on Veterans Day.

Al putting the new flag on our pole. It seemed very appropriate that we would fly our new American flag on Veterans Day.

 At 11:45 am we carefully transited Hell Gate, an ICW short cut in the Ogeechee River that passes between Little Don Island and Raccoon Key. The cut is a known “ICW Trouble Spot” because of the shallow depths at low tide. Georgia’s high tidal swings mean that the water could be as low as 3 feet at low tide, so timing is critical. Three feet is too low even for our trawler.

Hell Gate – It seemed strange to be in another “Hell Gate.” As northerners, we only associate that name with our New York Hell Gate. Totally different look and feel to this one!

Hell Gate – It seemed strange to be in another “Hell Gate.” As northerners, we only associate that name with our New York Hell Gate. Totally different look and feel to this one!

Once on the other side of the Ogeechee River we turned west to follow the ICW. At this point, now noon, we made a very impulsive decision and changed course. At that moment, several things came together for both of us –

  • It is a beautiful day, and it looks like it is going to stay that way for at least 24-36 hours.
  • We both had an itch to get out on the ocean again.
  • Watching for shallows is tedious.
  • The winding and meandering through Georgia’s ICW just wasn’t appealing today. We know this is beautiful stretch of the ICW, but ……

A quick study of the charts and inlets with an extended look at the weather forecast told us that it would be possible to go outside. Within a 10 minute time span, Kindred Spirit was turned around and heading east out Ossabow Sound to the ocean. Was this a good idea? After considering all factors, we felt comfortable with our decision. And I didn’t have to spend hours worrying about it ahead of time. I guess Nike has it right – Just Do It!

The route shows the winding ICW, almost shows the quick turn-around after Raccoon Key, and then out Ossabow Sound to the ocean.

The route shows the winding ICW, almost shows the quick turn-around after Raccoon Key, and then out Ossabow Sound to the ocean.

Gentle swells and a nice breeze, with plenty of sunshine – all is good.

Gentle swells and a nice breeze, with plenty of sunshine – all is good.

Shrimpers kept us company for awhile.

Shrimpers kept us company for awhile.

This is a 92-foot yacht being towed by Boat US, that tiny little red boat. We watched and listened to it on the VHF for a few hours late in the afternoon until it passed behind us to go in for a necessary engine repair. Even fancy boats have problems- Bigger boat = bigger problems??

This is a 92-foot yacht being towed by Boat US, that tiny little red boat. We watched and listened to it on the VHF for a few hours late in the afternoon until it passed behind us to go in for a necessary engine repair. Even fancy boats have problems- Bigger boat = bigger problems??

Now that we were outside, we had to figure out where we would return inside and when. Although I really wanted to stop at Cumberland Island again, it was obvious that it wouldn’t fit into this new plan because we would have to enter St. Mary’s Inlet in the dark of night. That does not appeal to us. It’s sometimes ok to leave in the dark, but entering and anchoring in the dark is not an option we like. Looking ahead, we determined that we could go straight to St. Augustine and be there by early morning. In fact, we would need to slow down at some point during the night so that our arrival would be in daylight.

Zoomed way out on the iPad - This is our full route for 143 nautical miles and 22 hours.

Zoomed way out on the iPad – This is our full route for 143 nautical miles and 22 hours.

Sunrise and sunset are special times of the day, and even more so on the water. The sunset on the ocean with nothing else around, no land, no buildings, no man-made lights is simply magical. The colors change, the glow shifts, sometimes the colors are bright and sometimes they are muted, even in the same sunset.

The sun begins to set.

The sun begins to set.

As the sun touches the horizon, the glow reddens the sky.

As the sun touches the horizon, the glow reddens the sky.

6:34 pm

Zoomed father out with the camera and you get a different look.

6:34 pm

We are amazed at how quickly the sun sets, and yet the glow lingers.

Sunset's last light

Sunset’s last light

The sun sinks below the horizon.

The sun sinks below the horizon.

Still glowing

The  sky still glows with red.

A last bright glow after the sun disappears.

A beautiful last bright glow after the sun disappears.

For those of our boating friends who are “hard core” and do offshore overnighters all the time, please remember that we aren’t that experienced. I can count our offshore overnighters on one hand– 3 New Jersey ones (which were really only 13 hours that began in the darkness) and 2 previous trips across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Hmmmm, I guess that would mean this time was only our 3rd true offshore overnighter. Still rookies. And this was the first time with the Mariner Orient 38.

We moved from the flybridge to the inside helm for dinner and the rest of the night to escape the chill and dampness of the night. We decided on two-hour watches. That’s a short watch period, most sailors do four-hour stretches. If this were a multiple day offshore run, four-hour watches would be better, but for the expected 22 hours, this would work for us. What’s important is that we decided what works for us. You can listen to all the advice from experienced cruisers, but in the end you really have to digest it all and do what works for you, as long as it is safe.

The instruments cast a glow at night, even in “night mode” so we covered them with a cloth to improve our night vision. Every 15 minutes, the person on watch checks everything – radar, chartplotter, autopilot, AIS, and looks 360 degrees around with eyes to confirm that everything agrees. We stayed about 15 miles offshore for most of the time, with only an occasional sighting of the lights from another ship. The ocean is big, even just 15 miles off the coast.

The instruments at night.

The instruments at night. Radar above at the top of the screen, next blueish square is chart plotter, red circles are the engine information (rpm, temp, etc), small square on the left is the autopilot controls, the green square is the depth meter, the four little green squares on the right are the VHF buttons. Lots of information to look at, but as you can see just blackness out the front window. No moon but the stars were shining brightly.

We listened to reports all night long on the VHF concerning a sailboat, Sea Popper, which had an electrical fire and was disabled 4.5 miles off Crescent Beach, Jacksonville, Florida. The Coast Guard sent a boat and helicopter out and was asking for assistance in locating the missing vessel. We never did hear what happened. Curious, and worried about the boat, I googled it the following day. Much to my surprise I read that the USCG now considers the Mayday call to be a hoax until there is evidence that a ship was actually in distress. The Coast Guard is trying to determine whether this call is connected to any other recent hoax calls off the coast of Northeast Florida. Really???? Why are there people who would do such a thing? (I guess that is a foolish and naive question.)

Our autopilot suddenly malfunctioned at 5:30 am during my watch. I was running through my checks and leaned across the instruments to see the radar and plotter better. Without realizing it, I was leaning on the autopilot control buttons which confused it, forced the rudder too far and for too long to the side, overloading the hydraulic steering pump, which blew the fuse. I did not know that at the time – “we” didn’t figure this out until after the fact. All I knew was that the boat was not behaving the way it should have been. What did I do? I yelled for the Captain! For the rest of the trip, we hand-steered without the autopilot until Al could investigate the problem properly.

The day was just barely awakening, but there would be no gorgeous sunrise this time.

The day was just barely awakening, but there would be no gorgeous sunrise this time.

 With some daylight beginning, we were close to entering the St. Augustine inlet. Except for one problem…….FOG. Morning fog had descended before the sun could even fully rise. I dread fog.

The St. Augustine entrance buoy. You can see the STA marking on it. We found it by slowly and carefully moving along in the fog.

The St. Augustine entrance buoy. You can see the STA marking on it. We found it by slowly and carefully moving along in the fog.

There are no red and green markers for the outside entrance on the chart because they are moved often due to shoaling, so the chartplotter doesn’t show them. It’s eyes only, IF you can see! We were each hanging our heads out the sides of the boat, searching the fog for the nuns and cans to guide us in.

Big boat coming out – This BIG yacht comes charging out the inlet towards us. I’m thinking, “you see us, right? He must see us.” Al hails the boat on the VHF, just in case. The captain assures us that the fog is very light in the harbor.

This BIG yacht comes charging out the inlet towards us. I’m thinking, “You see us, right? He must see us.” Al hails the boat on the VHF, just in case. The captain assures us that the fog is very light in the harbor.

 Not so, the fog became thick and heavy. It is hard to steer straight in the fog without getting disoriented. Really missing the autopilot then.

Can't see much at all!

Can’t see much at all!

Our fog route into St. Augustine -- I’m on portside looking to find a green can and Al is steering and looking on the on starboard side and for a red can. I see one come out of the fog, but it is a red can on our port side – not good, wrong side. Oops – Captain makes a very quick correction to get us back in the channel.

Our fog route into St. Augustine — I’m on portside looking to find a green can and Al is steering and looking on the starboard side for a red can. I see one come out of the fog, but it is a red can on our port side – not good, wrong side. Oops – Captain makes a very quick correction to get us back in the channel. Can you find where that happened??

As we creep through the channel through the fog, farther into the St. Augustine area, the markers are now on the chart and it was easier to find our way. We had to anchor because the city marina had no moorings available. We headed to a spot that our friends on Magnolia had told us about and anchored nearby a blue hull sailboat. I check the name out – Hi-Flite! We had met Cory and Dale in Connecticut while they were cruising in New England.

Hi-Flite (Cory and Dale) are here in St. Augustine.

Hi-Flite (Cory and Dale) are here in St. Augustine, barely visible in the foggy morning light.

Our 22 hours/143 miles came to an end. We straightened things up around the boat and crawled into bed for a 2-hour nap. It felt good.