May 1, 2016
We checked the weather this morning and found we had a weather window that would work if we left right now. We slipped the mooring here at Green Turtle Cay and went out to see if we could find Mañana. We thought they were at an island five miles north of us. We headed north to Manjack and checked the anchorage there for Mañana but did not see them. We headed out and caught a glimpse of them as we left. We turned around and enter the anchorage to hail them by passing by not radio.
They were already up and ready to leave so they followed us out as we headed for Great Sale Cay about 55 miles to our west. The waters we are crossing are shallow and protected on both sides so it is an easy sail all the way. We round Little Sail Cay and drop our sails. We motor the rest of the way to the anchorage at Great Sale Cay where there are already four other boats anchored. We drop the hook in about twelve feet of water. Mañana showed up about a half an hour later.
We dropped the dinghy and went over to visit with Mañana for a while. We laid out our plans for the crossing on the following day. We would listen to Chris Parker's weather report in the morning and then check with each other around 7:45 on the radio before deciding to cross.
May 2, 2016
We listen to Chris Parker and he predicts winds at 17 to 21 out of the southeast with four foot seas. He says there is no chance of squalls or thunderstorms for today or tomorrow. It looks like we are a go for the crossing. We touch base on the radio and follow Mañana out of the anchorage and head out over the flats and towards the open seas.
The wind is behind us. This is not my favorite point of sail. We rig one of the boat hooks as a whisker pole to keep the genoa flying. The seas are confused and rolly. I can not get comfortable on this point of sail and in these conditions.
The day goes well. We get some visits from dolphins and see a few sea turtles. As the day begins to wane the clouds begin to thicken. The skies begin to look squally and the seas begin to build. We shorten sail.
I go below at 20:00 to get some sleep. When I get back on deck at 23:00 the winds and seas are building and there is lightning ahead of us. So much for Mr. Parker's forecast of no squalls. We are now doing 8+ knots in the Gulf Stream. We are charging into the storms in front of us.
The seas are now six to eight feet and still confused. The lightning strikes are all around us. It is raining. At one point a lightning bolt comes down and splits striking on either side of the boat. Mañana calls us to see if we are all right. I tell him we were not hit. My nerves are shot. I am standing in the companionway trying to keep dry and letting the boat carry us through the storms. Later Mañana calls to tell us he has lost his engine and are now strictly sailing. Things are not going well.
After a while things settle down a bit and I wake Karen so she can take her shift on the night watch. I tell her to call me if the winds start blowing over 21 knots. Within a half an hour she calls me back on deck. The wind are building. Soon they are blowing 25 knots sustained. We shorten sail further. I stay up another hour until things settle a bit and Karen begins to feel a bit more confident about being on deck by herself. I go down below and get another hour of sleep.
I come up on deck a bit later and the seas have not abated. It is still a rough ride. We travel through rough seas until we enter the Cape Canaveral Channel. We head up the channel to the Port Canaveral Yacht Club and tie off at the T-dock. Mañana is about ten miles behind us.
The dock master shows up a bit later and we move into one of the empty slips further down so that Mañana can have the whole T-dock to come in to when they are towed in. A bit later we see Mañana motoring in and they pick up a slip. Apparently the engine started when they needed it and did not have to call for a tow. Time to relax and catch up on some sleep.
Later in the day we shower and clean up. We wait out the local rains and then head down the road a bit and have dinner out. Good food and we forgot how cheap it is to eat out in the states after paying the outrageous prices for dinner in the Bahamas. Very nice.
May 4, 2016
We spend another day in the marina. There is rain and thunderstorms all around us. There is no sense in going out in those conditions. Mañana works on his fuel system all day but can find nothing wrong with his system. At night we wait out the storms again and then head over to the restaurants for another good cheap meal.
May 5, 2016
We get an early start and are off the docks at 6:00. We wait for the bridge to open and let us through and then head over to the lock to pass through. The lock will close at 7:00 all day for repairs so we needed to get through before 7:00. We pass through the locks and then drop anchor outside the locks. The next bridge is 2.5 miles away and will not open until 8:30 so we drop the hook and have breakfast.
After 7:30 we pull anchor and start heading west for the 8:30 bridge opening. A few minutes later Mañana calls to tell us they has lost his engine again. They tell us not to wait so we press on. We make the 8:30 bridge opening and then head north on the intercoastal waterway. The winds are on the nose so it is slow going. A few hours later Mañana hails us on the radio to let us know they are up and running again. That is good news! They are only about ten miles behind us.
As we head through Haulover Cut we get to see many manatees out in the waterway. It's really cool to see so many of them playing about. We had to throttle back and turn to avoid one right in the middle of the channel sunning himself. I sure hope we missed him. A little later we hear Mañana calling Boats Us. They have lost their engine again and are looking for a tow to Titusville. They end up spending two days there draining their entire fuel system and putting new fuel in. Now it looks like they do have their engine problems resolved.
We make it to Daytona in the evening. The winds are still blowing 17+ knots out of the north so we look for an anchorage with good protection and drop the hook where there are at least 20 other boats anchored. Our first set leaves us in too shallow of water so we reset further in and now are in about eight feet of water at low tide. It's time to relax.
May 6, 2016
We pull up the anchor at 6:30 and make the next bridge opening before 7:00 am. The next opening will not be until 8:30. We clear that bridge and catch the next opening a few miles up. We now are clear for another 20 miles before we have to worry about another bridge opening. We continue our slow slog north dead into the wind.
Our trip upriver is uneventful. We arrive at St. Augustine Municipal Marina in the middle of the afternoon. We pull in and put in 15 gallons of diesel and top off our water. We then pick up mooring ball number 2. How cool is that? We are just outside of the marina. Usually we are on mooring ball ninety something way out in the mooring field. This spot is really great!
We head in for a hot shower, tie up our dinghy, and immediately run into Dreamcatcher. We talk for a while but I am fading fast. We make our excuses and tell them we will meet up later. We go in and shower and then head back to the boat to chill for the rest of the evening.
May 7, 2016
We went ashore early to catch a breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Company. The breakfast was great and not very expensive. They did have a bit of trouble getting the order right. We went from there and headed for the Sailor's Exchange. On the way there we ran into Dreamcatcher again. They told us they had a change in plans and were heading out today at noon. They were planning to go straight for Beaufort NC and then up to the Chesapeake. They asked us to come along but we declined. We wished them luck and continued on to the Sailor's Exchange.
We did the Sailor's Exchange and did not find anything we could not live without. We then headed over to the Winne Dixie to pick up some food for our travels north. On the way there we stopped at the Auto Zone and picked up some Shell Rotella for the engine. We headed back to town and found a Mexican Restaurant. The food was great and we at on the second floor balcony overlooking the harbor. We got to watch Dreamcatcher prepare for their double overnighter north. They finally left around 13:30.
We headed back to the boat and picked up an extra 10 gallons of fuel in our jugs for the trip north. We stowed everything on deck and made ready for tomorrows trek north. We chilled for the rest of the night.
May 8, 2016
We were up at 6:00 am for the Lions Bridge Opening at 6:30. We head out to sea with all the fishing boats. The winds were predicted to be light and variable but we have 18 knot winds out of the west so we set sail and cut the engine. We are now sailing at 7+knots in relatively flat seas. It does not get much better than this.
The winds fall off around 10:00 am and we start the engine and run it at 1800 RPMs to maintain a good speed. It is still cold. We are wearing several layers of clothing and our foulies trying to stay warm. It is hard to believe it is May in Florida. We have been fighting the cold here since our crossing.
We have a good day of sailing and arrive at St. Mary's Inlet around 15:00. The tide is against us. We are barely making three knots up the middle of the channel so I head for shallower water on the south side of the inlet to see if we cannot do better speed. Once in shallow water our speed is up to five knots. We find a spot to drop the hook inside the inlet in about 17 feet of water. The location we are in is quite exposed and the winds are against the currents. We have the chain grinding against the bow. We cannot do much about it until the tide changes. We just ride it out and it calms down at bedtime, thank goodness.