Continuing our Cocoa Beach trip. We cross into Florida and get nabbed by the Coast Guard!
Our departure from Jekyll Island was smooth. We got underway around 8:15, with a rising tide, and no wind (woohoo!).
The trip to the Florida border crossing was pretty uneventful. Nice deep water (due to the high tide), and smooth sailing. When we brought the boat north last April, we came through this section at low tide and passed a sailboat that had run aground. This time it was much easier with lots of deep water at high tide.
We passed the Submarine Base at Kings Bay and the boat with a 50 cal mounted to the front protecting the entrance. I wanted to pop in and see how our tax dollars were being spent, but Brenda said no. All the subs are in covered buildings so unless they are coming in or out, you can’t see much anyway.
We entered the St. Mary’s River and crossed into Florida! The first town is Fernandina beach. When we brought the boat home we stayed here for a night. We cruised past the Old Fort, Fernandina Beach Marina (which is in the middle of reconstruction), and then entered a section of the ICW that we skipped on our way home because we went outside in the ocean.
The first part was pretty standard ICW, deeper water than Georgia. We went through a long stretch of mostly grass and weeds and then turned onto the St. Johns River just north of Jacksonville Beach, avoiding some heavy cross-traffic as we came under the bridge. We went past the BAE systems shipyard with some large yachts and navy ships under repair.
As we rounded the corner into Jacksonville, we heard the Coast Guard scolding people for speeding through a Manatee zone so we were taking it nice and slow. As we approached the two coast guard patrol boats, I told Brenda, there’s a better than average chance we’ll be stopped and inspected. I should have played the lottery because as passed them the blue lights came on and they called over that they were going to board us!
Our first boarding! They pulled up on both sides, and 4 armed Coast Guard crew boarded the frog. They were very nice but thorough! They inspected all the safety equipment, fire extinguishers, flares, horn, and life jackets. They went through the documentation and registration. They crawled through the bilges, checked the sanitation system to make sure the overboard pump valves were closed and that all the placards were in place. We passed with flying colors and got kudos for a clean engine room and bilge, and having all the valves marked. (See being OCD pays sometimes!)
They thanked us for our cooperation and gave us our “Get out of inspection free” card for a year, it’s referred to as the “Golden Ticket” and the escort boats pulled up on either side and they jumped off.
Overall the experience was excellent, good to know we are safe. Compliments to our Coast Guard friends who are out there protecting us, the marine life, and our environment. I was really nervous when they first came on, but they were very friendly to both Brenda and me, even pointing out that Brenda (who was left in control of the boat while I was producing paperwork and pointing out valve locations) was heading for the side of the channel and might run aground.
After that adventure, the rest of the trip was uneventful. There is a 6 mile stretch of the ICW around Jacksonville Beach that is basically a canal lined with million dollar plus homes. Max speed through there is about 5 knots, and it’s straight as an arrow. So we set the boat at just above idle, engaged the autopilot, put our feet up, and watched the prices of the homes on Zillow as we cruised past.
Most of the homes, even rundown old fish camps were $800K and above. Empty lots (most you could see were teardowns) are running around $500,000 +.
After we got past the “slow zone”, it was a quick cruise to St. Augustine and Commachee Cove Marina our harbor for the night. The current coming into the marina is tricky, but we made it in, took our instructed first right then second right to our assigned slip K14.
We got the Frog (a 42 ft long x 14 ft wide) boat into the 38 ft long x 16 ft wide slip without too much drama (we used the piling as our friend to avoid the hard concrete dock) got tied up and then watched a large Hawk have its dinner on the top of a sailboat mast across from us.
We checked into the Marina, they remembered us from our last visit when we brought the boat home and we got the second in our set of Rocks Glasses (they give out very nice rocks glasses as part of your welcome kit). We went to dinner at the restaurant at the marina and another early night to bed.
Today’s stats were 6 hours 45 minutes underway, 79.1 nm, 11.4 knots average (that 6-mile slow zone ruined our average)
The weather was partly cloudy, with a temp between 52 and 62 degrees
Tomorrow we have a short day, from St. Augustine to New Smyrna Beach. We have our first drawbridge (The Bridge of Lions here in St. Augustine) and lots of go-slow zones.
Tom & Brenda