Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here reporting on the latest movements of Still Waters II. With a week long lay over in St. Augustine, she is on the move to Brunswick, Georgia. Our crew is fond of Georgia after spending two years living in Atlanta from 2011 to 2013. They are eager to get back to the ‘Peach State.’
To navigate the 88 miles to Brunswick, they plan a three day cruise with stops in Palm Cove Marina located in Jackson Beach, Fernandina Harbor Marina on Amelia Island, and then on to Brunswick.
Voyage to Palm Cove
The crew departed the dock at 1000 and then immediately went under the Lions Bridge. The bridge claims a height of 25 feet, the cruising guide said 22 feet, and the water level marker said 21 when she slid under due to tides. Seems the bridge tender was a little nervous though because she stepped outside and watched the vessel pass under. With an air clearance of 17 feet 6 inches, there was plenty of room to spare.
A right turn towards the St Augustine inlet gave a pretty view of the Atlantic Ocean off of the bow. But with the strong currents, there was little site seeing for the skipper as he negotiated the navigational aids in the inlet.
Next obstacle was the Villano Beach Bridge as they left the inlet but entered the headwaters of the Tolomato River. They stayed in the river for about 16 miles when they then entered the Palm Valley Cut.
The waterway guide mentioned strong currents at this bridge that tend to push your boat sideways. This was a spot on warning. To compound problems passing through this bridge, there also just happened to be a young lady fishing in a kayak in the middle of the bridge. She began to paddle out of the way as the crew approached. As luck would have it, she caught a fish on one of her poles and the fish made a run directly under Still Waters II. Not sure what pound line was on the pole, but the boat snagged her line and pulled the kayak towards Still Waters II before the line finally broke. Our skipper does not need these kinds of special challenges while crossing under bridges.
The rest of the voyage proved uneventful as they motored the cut and admired the homes lining the east side. After passing under the final bridge of the day, our crew arrived at the Palm Cove Marina and docked at C-Dock on the T head at 1445.
After taking a short break and cooling off, our crew took a swim in the pool and then headed to Publix to buy a few groceries since the store was only a half mile down the road. They then finished off the day by listening to a pod cast of a 12 Stone Church sermon.
Voyage to Fernandina
The crew was up and about making ready for the trip to Fernandina. They left the dock at 1000 and headed north in very calm and glass like water. The 5 miles along Pablo Creek, before crossing the St John’s River, were eerily calm. Oh, and did I mention that the chart plotter stopped working just as they got ready to cross the St John’s River.
The skipper had his paper charts out already, but one could tell he was more than a little stressed with the chart plotter incident. He quickly called Claudia to the helm as he went below to get a different chip for the chart plotter. Hmmmmm, that one did not seem to work either. Oh well, guess the crew will just cross on the paper charts.
With a big tug coming to meet them, they moved further to the west in the river. Problem is they were looking for a right turn up Sisters Creek. They missed the turn, but quickly recovered when they found red marker 26 which was north of the creek. They made a U-turn and found Sister Creek on the second try. After passing under the Sister Creek Bridge, Claudia took the helm again as our skipper found the chart plotter smarts book and tried to trouble shoot the plotter problem.
He called it troubleshooting, I call it Easter egg hunting. But it seems if you push enough buttons and flip enough pages in the smarts book, the chart plotter will respond and come back to life.
Sister Creek ran for about 5 miles and the joined Sawpit Creek which ran for another 5 miles to the Nassau Sound.
A ‘sound’ refers to a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land. In this area, and all the way to Virginia, the crew will cross many sounds. With the chart plotter working, this crossing was a piece of cake.
On the North East side of the sound, our crew found the navigational aids and entered into the South Amelia River. They navigated to Kingsley Creek and then into the Amelia River. At the transition from the South Amelia River to the Kingsley Creek, the waterway guides warn of shoaling. Well our skipper found some shallow water. The depth sounder was consistently showing 7 feet of water when suddenly the depth went to 3 feet. The skipper immediately took the throttles to neutral and there was a small thud sound as the props hit the mud bottom. Claudia was down below fixing lunch and came up to see what that sound was. They slowly started hunting for some deeper water and found some to starboard.
I overheard the skipper tell his mate that it is days like today that make you understand why the crew has ‘docktails’ once they safely reach port. You need a shot of something to calm the nerves.
After reaching Fernandina, the crew went ashore to see the sites. The first stop was the visitor center at the end of the pier. The lady working the desk had just gotten back from the DFW area visiting her grandkids. After talking Texas for a few minutes, she gave the crew the skinny on Fernandina, and the crew set off exploring.
The skipper is nicknaming this the fish & chips, fudge, and cream loop. He seems to be trying to find the best in each category. To find the best though you have to sample all in each area. And yes there was both a fudge and ice cream store in town. The name of the joint is Fantastic Fudge and they have been in business here since 1988.
Our crew made the stop at Fantastic Fudge on the way back to the boat. Seems the mate purchased a drop leaf table for the dining room and the skipper is carrying the table back to the boat. He claimed he needed to stop to get some energy to make the trip all the way back to the boat. Likely story, and he is sticking to it. And yes, the fudge and ice cream were great.
Voyage to Brunswick
With a little further to travel today, our crew was up and leaving the dock at 0905. They have Georgia on the mind. By 0928, they were entering the Cumberland Sound and into Georgia waters.
The sound played a few mental tricks with our crew though. They had been warned of this back in their training, but this was the first time they actually saw these strange markers.
Up until now, as they travel north, they have kept red markers to port and green markers to starboard. The red markers also have a yellow triangle, and the green markers have had a yellow square. The triangle and square denote the marker as an ICW marker.
Today, as they were crossing the Cumberland Sound, they were actually in a channel from the Atlantic Ocean, so the markers were in the red right returning mode. Red markers to starboard and green markers to port.
However, the yellow markings stayed the same, so now the green markers had yellow triangles and the red markers had yellow squares.
Very tricky and confusing for our skipper. With a little help from the mate, they managed to cross with no issues.
The next obstacle was crossing the Jekyl Sound. The markers here took an interesting set of twist and turns as the ICW made its way north.
By days end, the crew entered passed through Jekyl Creek, which was very narrow and shallow. Five miles of five feet of water makes for a weary skipper.
After exiting the creek it was an easy cruise over to the Marina for docking. Once docked, they discovered their electric cord did not reach, so they got to practice docking again and moved over one slip.
Time to take a day of rest before moving on to Savannah.