We thought we had the situation sussed out. We knew St. Marys was in for it the following day. Our friends in their Manta had already left St. Augustine and were somewhere out riding in the Gulfstream, heading north to Newport.
So the obvious thing to do is get up at the crack of dawn, get diesel and water, pop out the St. Marys inlet and join them. Of course there’s a small matter of a tropical something or other and 20 plus knots of wind on the nose until we turn north on the western edge of the stream. Not a pleasant prospect.
No fuel until 8:15 the very old voice said on the VHF. Ok, the first part of the plan had gone awry but we’ll persevere like we always do.
Nat turns out to be the very old voice and was not especially helpful with the dock lines in the trickiest docking maneuvers yet. We’ll call it a soft crash.
As I was leaving his office I turned and said what do you think of the weather? He’s the kind of guy you just know he knows what is coming. He said in a very slow drawl, “Don’t look so good.” That’s all it took. We’re heading up the ditch a little further until this weather settles down.
Heading out towards St. Marys inlet I knew we’d made the right decision. It was blowing like stink. When we crossed St. Andrews sound, and for at least forty five minutes we pounded into 25 knts of wind and the nastiest chop I’ve ever seen. I tried different speeds, different angles with very little effect. The violent movement scared Izzy shitless. Literally. Marce lurched below to clean it up.
Finally Marce found us a protected little anchorage on Jekyll Creek with the worst holding I’ve ever experienced. We had to re-anchor five times! Luckily the winds have moderated enough that we may stay put and get some sleep.
What I like most about this life is that it changes all the time. We loved St. Augustine. It’s a beautiful little town, and we rode our bikes all around, got to know the people working in the boatyard and the other cruisers. Then it was time to move on, and with promises to meet up later, we left our new friends and headed out to experience a new place.
We were in no hurry yesterday. We knew we only had a few hours to go, so we weighed anchor mid-morning and motored north past Fernandina Beach and into the St. Mary’s River, where instead of staying on the Intercoastal Waterway we turned west and went upriver a couple of miles to the little town of St. Mary’s, Georgia.
We anchored across from the town park with a couple of other boats, collected our trash, unpacked our folding dock carts, made a grocery list and went ashore in the dinghy. Believe it or not, this is the first time we visited a town by dinghy since we moved aboard Escape Velocity, and with success comes reward. We found a corner store selling Haagen Dazs that fit the bill.
By all accounts the nearest supermarket was 2-1/2 miles away but after walking at least that long in the muggy heat we stopped at a convenience store for water and a rest. The proprietor was outside watering some plants and asked where we were headed.
“My son could do a pick up,” we think he said. “That’s a long way.”
He went inside and a moment later a middle-aged man came out and gestured toward a Jeep Cherokee. He opened the back for our dock carts and we climbed in the passenger seats grateful for the lift. Stanley wasn’t very talkative and when he did speak, usually in answer to something Jack asked him, neither of us had any idea what he said. He dropped us off at Harvey’s and mumbled something that sounded like “maybe catch you on the backside.”
Whenever I’m in the deep south I notice that even among natives of a place there’s a wide range of accents. I almost always ask where people are from, so I’m sure this isn’t a case of regional differences. In just our contacts of the day we heard the sugary Georgia peach of a drawl from the lady at the Welcome Center, barely a discernible accent from the two college age clerks who scooped our ice cream, a comprehensible father and his near-incomprehensible son, and a standard southern twang from the grocery store cashier. Do people choose the degree of southernocity they speak?
Harvey’s was another marginal supermarket with no fresh cheese and aisles and aisles of processed foods, soft drinks and salty snacks. We managed to get most of the items on our list and packed everything into our dock carts. As we were leaving the parking lot a taxi turned in and stopped in front of us.
“Did you call a cab?” the driver asked.
“No,” we said, “but how much to the waterfront?”
“Seven, but only if you called.”
Turns out the lady who’d called didn’t mind sharing and after we dropped her off the driver gave us the rundown on the cab business in St. Mary’s. They buy their Crown Vics at the police car auction “down south.”
“There’s nothing on this car that isn’t police car,” he told us. “All I’d have to do to turn it back into a police car is paint it black and white and put some stickers on it.” Good to know.
He took us back to the dinghy dock and made sure we understood that if we want to go to the mall or Walmart or anywhere, all we have to do is call Happy Cab and he’ll take us.
Getting all the groceries back to the boat in the dinghy was a little more challenging than coming ashore. I’d forgotten to bring plastic bags to keep things from getting wet, we couldn’t get the outboard started and when it did start the throttle wouldn’t work right. But we slogged back to Escape Velocity and unloaded and stowed the groceries, then stowed the dinghy again.
We’re in a lovely quiet anchorage, exactly the way I imagined it all these years.