Wednesday, November 5, 2014

An Alligator in Every Pond Before Florida. Mile Marker 803

The original plan for the rest of this trip was modest progress, safe plans, and none of the fatigue or risk that a long day presents. But . . .

Currents were so good we skipped Port Royal and moved to Hilton Head. I know the weather up north is chilling and you've had some rains, we do follow the rest of the country. But our weather has been amazing. We ran the rest of South Carolina and Georgia in the 80s. We broke a 90 degree record in Hilton Head where we took a two day break just because. It was there we began to see alligators sunning themselves, some in the company of turtles, a fact I can't reconcile. We keep an eye open as they sit on the bank with their mouths open, you can't miss them.

We moved to Isle of Hope, Georgia, Sunbury Crab Company, St. Simon and Jekyll Island in successful hops. That required careful planning to make bridges with 6-8 foot tide swings, all successful until that last bridge before St. Simons! You guessed it, no bridge board going south, 63 feet going north. Normally, we would sail for the three hours we needed to wait; this year we had zero wind, but we waited anyhow. We were feeling really good about our transit of Mud River, but this long 11 hour day burst our bubble. Good news, we had a safe face dock, free muffins and a free morning newspaper delivered to the boat at Morning Star for the two day blow (45 mile gusts.) Following the cold front we moved just six miles to Jekyll. Check, safe in skinny water in Jekyll Creek, 7-8 feet at mid-tide on November 2. The state of Georgia, accomplished.

We are beginning to realize we should really keep moving in good weather. Something about the date on the calendar upped our motivation. We ran 59 miles to Fernandina, Florida, then the next day about the same to St. Augustine. We gave up visiting familiar haunts in order to prepare for the next days ahead as we can see weather turning, too. The new experiences here were Nana Theresa's Bakery in Fernandina (amazing!) and Comanche Cove Marina before the Vilano Beach/Uniso Bridge (mile 775) just before St. Augustine (safe in and out so we could wait for better tides in the morning.)

One of our biggest disappointments on this trip is the fact we have made few new friends or cruising companions. We are just enough ahead of the pack that days like today we sailed alone, not a boat ahead of us or behind us. But that's OK, our eyes are on the charts to Miami (just a week away,) Windfinder Pro and the Weather Channel. We can see weather ahead on Sunday so we plan to be in spend two days in Melbourne until it blows out. There is not such a huge tide swing here in the Daytona area (18 inches.) Talk on the dock is that the state of Florida has remeasured all the bridges and they read accurately now. We shall see. Tomorrow we don't leave until noon in order to slip under the next bridge and then run with the ebb tide all the way to New Smyrna. 
Dataw Island, SC,  is a lovely golf community on an old cotton plantation.
The properties, like those on Hilton Head, are dotted with ponds and marshes.
Every pond has a resident alligator. Look hard near the yellow stake.
His close up follows.