Our friend Alan in Snow White was up early as usual and we waved as he ghosted past Escape Velocity at dawn. He told me the day before that he had a plan to avoid the notoriously shoal St. Augustine inlet waters when leaving. The man has the patience of Job. I don’t think his diesel has seen the north side of 500 rpm since we’ve known him, but he always gets there safe and sound but, as he says, “a little shattered.” Solo sailors, go figure.
We’d had a blustery stay in St. Augustine which made it much easier on the skipper’s nerves that we chose a mooring ball instead of anchoring. Most of the anchoring space has been displaced by an expanded mooring field anyway.
I must be getting clairvoyant because when we first arrived in St. Augustine, in the middle of a boat project I got up and went out into the cockpit and saw Alan just beginning to enter the St. Augustine inlet. Hours later, leaving a new project I saw a Manta entering the harbor. In Manta World that’s all it takes for a get together. Our new friends Scott and Tina in their 42-foot Sangaris invited us for lunch and a snoop around. It was so windy that day we almost cancelled. I’m glad we didn’t. The yacht is filled with great ideas.
The three amigos crossed the bridge of Lions to do some reprovisioning.
You can see us in our sunny Florida gear! The pig has definitely floated past the boat. It’s time to move on so after our cockpit cushion man finished making the patterns for our new cushions we made plans. We had poor sailing weather ahead but we decided to head south anyway, and with such a circuitous route to Fort Pierce on the ICW, we chose an outside passage. With Alan’s head start, we pumped him for information about conditions. Inlets can get nasty in the wrong set of circumstances. Tide, current, wind and this one has a reputation for unexpected shoaling. Other than “a bit lumpy” he didn’t say much. I guess we’ll chalk it up to understated British charm. You could see the “elephant train” on the horizon and then the breakers rolling in. There’s no turning back now. It’s a strange feeling when all you own suddenly drops into a hole with a thud that sends the dinning room table whipping around like a stop sign in a hurricane, and then points straight up at the sky as white water sprays all over the windows that you’re trying to look through to spot the next breaking wave. That’s when Marce said that we’ve been pushed out of the channel, we’ve only got 6 feet under our keel. Yikes! To get back to the channel we had to slam into more breaking waves.
Finally we were able to make it into deeper water and turn south, leaving the lumpy stuff rolling up from behind on our quarter. Unfortunately the breeze never really filled in but the temperature dipped. It was a cold one. Our intrepid navigator in familiar gear.
We made good time even in the lumpy seas and by noon on Sunday we fought our way against the current into the Fort Pierce inlet.
Much had changed since we were here waiting for Escape Velocity to get back to the States. After refueling, the guys at the City Marina said we could leave her tied up and walk onto town. We made a beeline to the bakery but it was closed. We wanted to go to our favorite biker bar, Archie’s, where we celebrated nailing the deal on EV but there are few dinghy docks on that side of the ICW, leaving us a long walk.
Given one more day we’d have figured out how to get there but we settled for a little R&R.