November 5, 2020
Pulling up the anchor before sunrise on Monday (the 2nd) there was a plan to head to Hilton Head, or perhaps Tybee Island. The weather was pretty good and was projected to improve.
As we exited, rising and falling with the waves on the Atlantic Ocean, the waves pushed us around a bit, however by mid-day, things did improve and the seas began to flatten out. Using the weather projections a decision was made to shoot for Jacksonville. It meant two and a half days at sea and probably worsening conditions for the last eight or ten hours, but what a great run!
When I brought the boat North, there was a concerted effort to put the boat into the Gulf Stream and pick up speed from that current. On the way South, there was a similar effort to AVOID that Gulf Stream. As the water flattened out, with Home Free running at 1800 rpm, the boat was hitting speeds around 7 knots and sometimes even faster. It was really quite surprising and perhaps related to the little bit of bottom cleaning that was done before leaving Atlantic Yacht Basin. Moving south faster would reduce the amount of time in those ‘worsening’ conditions at the end.
Having Paul on board meant that the food was better, the watches were shared and there was good conversation, catching up on news of family and friends. Paul is an experienced sailor, but had no experience on the open ocean. These early hours were quickly turning him into a convert to the idea of spending time on the ocean. The dolphins helped too. We were joined on the open ocean by a small pod of dolphins that swam with us for well over thirty minutes. This was a first for Paul. By now he has seen so many dolphins, he may be a bit bored of them?! The night time was full of wonders as well, with a marvellous view of the stars and a really well accentuated view of the Milky Way and the requisite thrill of seeing a few critters giving off photoluminescence in the wake of the boat.
I can’t say if Paul still enjoys the open ocean completely. Overnight on Wednesday, the winds picked up to 10-12 knots from the East. With steady winds and hundreds or thousands of miles to cross the Atlantic Ocean, those winds pushed the water into our little boat for many hours and made for a very uncomfortable ride. There is no evidence that Paul gets seasick, the same can’t be said for me. We washed the evidence off this evening. 🙂
All of that extra speed early on was greatly appreciated and we only suffered those uncomfortable waves for about ten hours, and finally pulled into the Jacksonville inlet around 10 am. I am often relieved by the calm waters at the end of a day and today was no exception. Dehydrated and hungry (we avoided food after Wednesday’s small dinner), we put an anchor down for an hour to give us time to figure out the next step on the route south.
With a renewed internet connection, a warm shower, as well as an incoming tidal bore, we decided to ride the incoming tide down the ICW to St. Augustine.
Tomorrow we will move further south. Due to consistent and strengthening winds from the East for the next week, travelling outside (on the ocean) is a non-starter. It will only get worse for the next week. Instead we will remain in the ICW and take the four days or so to reach N. Palm Beach. Of course we can only travel during the day on the ICW and may not be so lucky with currents in the coming days, but it will be a lot less bumpy.
More updates to come as the journey progresses.
(P.S. We were so excited to find out if the USA would have a new president . . . alas, the votes are still being counted.)