Our Ocean Leg From Beaufort, SC to Fernandina Beach…FLORIDA!!

As of this morning, we are officially in Florida!! With the journey being approximately 18 hours, we chose to leave Beaufort, SC at 4pm. That would prevent us from coming through the St. Mary’s inlet near Fernandina Beach in the dark, something Scott feels is the smart thing to do.

Our trip went off without a hitch. We had glassy water coming out of the Port Royal Sound inlet, south of Beaufort. The swells were still calming down from the previous day’s big winds and rain, but they gave us no trouble. Scott took us out of the inlet, and up until 7pm, when I took over until midnight.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoy the night watches. In the dark, I can’t see what’s causing the boat to roll, making it less stressful. I just keep an eye on the radar, and the gauges, and keep the music going! With an almost full moon, it was very bright out there, when I did need to see boat traffic (which was good, considering we crossed two shipping channels in the dark).

Howard did amazingly well on this trip. I chose not to try and medicate him, and got much better results. He’s getting used to the louder sound of wave noise, versus the more quite waters of the Intracoastal. The rolling motion of the boat is becoming more tolerable for him too, although we do try to put pillow and/or blanket “bumpers” around him.

We’d put the paravanes out just before the 6am shift change, as the winds picked up a bit. As we came close to our turn for the St. Mary’s inlet, we met a  wicked current coming at us. It knocked our speed down from 7 knots to just over 4…sigh. Once we were around the corner from Fernandina Harbor Marina, Scott slowed the motor to an idle, so he could bring in the paravanes. Luckily, the opposing wind and current kept us somewhat in place, while he got them in and secured.

So now it gets interesting….We called for a mooring ball assignment in Fernandina Harbor. (For those of  you who don’t know, a mooring ball floats on the waterline, with a line that is secured to the ground below, and another line that extends from the ball with a loop on the end of it. You bring your boat up to the ball, snag the loop, tie to it, and you’re done) They told us to choose any one that we wanted, which we did.

However…this is where the “without a hitch” part ends. Once you tie to a mooring ball, it settles in off of the bow of your boat, to one side or the other. Because our boat catches more wind at anchor than a sailboat, the opposing wind and current caused the mooring ball to go one one side of the boat, and the loop (which was metal) to go on the other. Now we had the ball beating against one side of our hull, scratching the paint, and the metal loop (did I say it was metal?) beating against the other side of our hull, taking the paint off!

Scott proceeds to tie as many random things off of our stern, to create drag. In other words, he wanted enough drag for the current to grab it and pull the boat back, causing the ball to completely go to one side.

In addition to the round fender, Howard’s emergency life line, a wooden step stool and a bundle of blue towels, there is an empty gallon jug, and a orbital sander case, and anything else that was not bolted down, under the waterline.The reason that the blue towels and sander case were used, is because Scott discovered that a tupperware bin in our lazarette had filled with water, so they were water-logged.  This was caused by a clogged hatch drain and an ajar lid, go figure.

The glob of stuff helped for the moment, as the ball and it’s line went off of our starboard side. In addition, Scott duct-taped a towel around the metal loop, to stop it from taking more paint off of the hull.

So now that the mooring ball and loop are behaving, Scott gets our inflatable dingy out, so we can go to shore (our aluminum dingy on steroids is not quite ready for prime time). He finds that his waterproof, meaning submersible bag with dingy attachments (lights, lifejackets, etc.) is also full of water! Really?!!? Waterproof?? Submersible??

After he gets all of that out to dry, and hopefully still work, he attaches the dingy motor, that has had issues since we bought it. He, of course, has to spend time working on that, so that we have a prayer of starting it.  This is the motor that goes on my dingy.  Scott wanted to replace it with an electric outboard, but funds ran out.

In the meantime, the current and wind are now going in the same direction for the next six hours, so Scott’s glob of “drag” is now alongside the boat, instead of behind it. We have to untangle it from the dingy, and haul it back into the cockpit. Oh, and along the way Scott slammed his finger in a hatch.

So our timing for ocean travel was terrific, but timing for a mooring ball was terrible! I suggested that we just relax and stay onboard for the rest of the day, and venture into town tomorrow. Ha! Scott is determined to go to shore, after the circus of events. Cross your fingers folks! While you do that, here are some photos of our ocean journey from Beaufort to Fernandina Beach.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

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