Hello Sunshine State

Warming up nicely. And still heading south.

Our trip down the long and winding ICW from Beaufort has not been unpleasant. But it was definitely a pleasure to get out into deeper water and really sail for the first time in several months. After an enjoyable two nights dockside in Charleston (and many long walks around the city) we took advantage of a brief weather window to run offshore South Carolina and Georgia to the St Mary’s River inlet and Fernandina Beach, Florida. There was great sailing weather for the first third of the 28 hour trip. We covered many miles on a three-sail broad reach about 5 miles offshore before the wind got fickle and died. That left us with an overnight motor in glassy seas under a nearly-full moon. Not unpleasant at all.

At the entrance to the St. Mary’s River we were greeted by the guns of Fort Clinch. Andante was not intimidated. We were a bit taken aback by the industrial waterfront of Fernandina Beach and the odors of the pulp mill but we found a nice secure mooring to hold us through the gale that arrived overnight. My instruments recorded a max wind of 52 knots. Wheee!

Its still blowing 35-40 kts as I write this –so expect to stay put until at least tomorrow to allow the wind and seas to moderate a bit. The goal is always to sail the boat so wind is good — but wind direction and sea state matter a great deal. As we head south along the east coast of Florida the ideal weather is something like 15-20 kts from the west. These conditions would allow us to sail at full speed a few miles offshore where the wind is strong but locally-generated waves are fetch-limited. We might still see swell from distant storms but even large swell is more comfortable than short steep waves. These are the general conditions expected beginning late Monday through Tuesday and into Wednesday. I hope to take full advantage of them. The near-term plan is to push south to Port Canaveral and possibly further (Ft. Pierce? West Palm?) as the weather allows.

We should be in South Florida (somewhere between West Palm Beach and Miami) by the end of next week. Once there I’ll take some time to decide whether to head further south to the Florida Keys or make the short hop (around 60 nm) to the Bahamas. Either way, things are definitely looking warmer and sunnier. Yay!

Later today I’ll work on updating the “Trip” link, above, to provide a summary of the 2022 trip legs.

Dockside in Charleston the night before departure.
Red sky at night, sailors delight. Or, if you prefer, from Matthew 16:2-3: He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Regardless, the sky was extremely red the night before we left Charleston suggesting a pleasant day ahead.
We had some traffic on our way out of Charleston harbor. The entrance channel is fairly narrow and with ships and tugs moving in both directions we chose to run just outside the channel between the green buoys and the jetty. I spoke with both the tug and the container ship to let them know our intentions.
Finally making some progress under sail. This was just after turning off the engine outside of Charleston with winds 10-15 from the NW. Almost perfect.
Sunset at the end of the first day out. Wind has now died to less than 5 kts and shifted to the south — no more sailing for now. Serious chemtrail action around here.
Sunrise on glassy seas the next morning. The entire trip crossed an important right whale conservation area and had hoped this would be a good whale watching day. I did see lots of dolphins and birds and a lone sea turtle but no large whales.
A little later that morning we saw a nice example of a mackerel sky. These high puffy clouds (cirrocumulus) look like fish scales and indicate that a change is coming. “Mackerel sky, not twenty-four hours dry” is the saying. (Source unknown, but not Jesus). Another correct prediction – by late evening we were being walloped with strong wind and heavy rain.
Fort Clinch on Amelia Island at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. Lots of beachgoers and kayakers on a warm Saturday morning. The opposite side of the river is Cumberland Island, Georgia. I’m pretty sure we strayed across the centerline so we’ve now passed through all 12 states between Massachusetts and Florida.
Heading south on the Amelia River. I’m guessing this is a pulp mill but can’t get past how the big pile reminds me of the mashed potato mountain in Close Encounters. Also tough to get past the smell. Fortunately we’re upwind today.
The view from our mooring in Fernandina Beach before the wind started blowing.
The view in the other direction. Given today’s winds I don’t expect to put Dinghy in the water and explore the town. Instead I’m using the time to catch up on some cleaning and maintenance. And baking some bread — because I actually need bread and not just as an excuse to heat the cabin.

2 thoughts on “Hello Sunshine State”

  1. Wow! Beautiful sunset and sailing pics. Never thought I’d see Dave quoting scripture. I have marked my calendar.


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