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During our journey south, I believe we have now made at least 3 treks that are a bit off the beaten path for the typical snowbird migration. Our trip up the Potomac to Washington, DC I think is seldom done by sail boaters. Our run to Baltimore was, although much shorter, still I think a bit off the typical path. The third side trip, this time up the St. Johns River to Jacksonville, again was a day’s travel in a direction other than south.

Although we enjoyed the hospitality in Jacksonville, including the excellent free dock with free fresh water, as is required if we’re going to make it to the Caribbean, the time came for us to move on. The only thing holding us back from doing so was the tide or more specifically, the tidal current. The currents on the St. Johns River can reach 3-4 knots and for a sail boat that generally motors at 6 knots or less, fighting that was out of the question. Our plan was to leave Jacksonville yesterday but we had to wait until after 1:00 PM for the current to switch. Although sleeping in was a welcomed change on a travel day, the downside to such a late start is that we would arrive at our intended anchorage after dark. Fortunately for us, we have learned a valuable lesson. You don’t actually need to have radar to transit a dark and sometimes hazard-laden channel. All you really need to do is very closely follow a buddy who has radar!

The trip was largely uneventful, unless you consider dodging huge ships and tugs an event. A highlight for us was, during our time heading down the St. Johns, we were actually able to raise our main sail. I know, that’s almost unheard of, or at least it seems to be lately.

Around about 7:30 PM, long after the sun had set, we slowly crept into the shallow anchorage at Pine Island. As Skipper Bob’s guide warned, the actual depths in that anchorage are less than what is charted and at one point, our depth sounder registered as little as 1.5 feet under our keel. Fortunately it was just about low tide so we didn’t need to worry about ZTC ending up sitting on the bottom when the tides switched during the night.

Right now we’re headed towards Fort Matanzas to anchor out. It should be a short day of traveling so hopefully we can enjoy the stay in what we’ve heard is a beautiful little anchorage.

Bye bye Jacksonville.

This doesn’t look good, does it?

We knew he was going to turn as soon as he rounded that marker. Thankfully!

We “would” have had a nice full moon to navigate by, if it hadn’t gone behind some clouds right after this photo was taken.

On the move early.

Plenty of dolphins out playing around us right now.

21 Comments

  1. Wow, Florida! I guess this state will be your final one before crossing over to the “Islands”. You must be getting excited. Can’t wait to hear about that crossing…..Mark

  2. Actually, your trip to Jacksonville was South. Like the Oswego, the St. Johns River flows North. Contrary to what they say, there are lots of rivers that flow north. I remember that it really does have a wicked current. Being from fresh water as you know, it seemed strange to me to see boats moored with the current hitting their sterns first. Then I went back a different day and realized why. Lyndsay

  3. The car carrier turned clearly because it was intimidated by your vessel. LOL

  4. As always, great photos. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  5. We sailed up the Potomac to Washington DC this summer too, and it was well worth it. Another really interesting place to visit in the Chesapeake (if you ever head north again) is Tangier Island, Virginia. I’m really glad we got there but if you do go, make sure you have enough beer as alcohol isn’t sold on the island. Years ago a bootlegger punched the mayor and it’s been banned ever since.

  6. We stayed in the same place.. As we are sure you are not stopping at Palm Coast Marina, although we would love to see you(we have access to a car if you need a Grocery run), give us a call on the vhf before passing us & we will come down to the water & wave.

  7. Nuts.

    And up here in Seattle, we’re having the winter from Hell, and it isn’t even winter yet.

  8. Sounds as though your side trips have been well worth it.

  9. St. Augustine is really a fun day stop. The fort is cool to walk around, and the city is a great walking city. One piece of advice. though..avoid the temptation of the fountain of youth ( to me it’s kinda a let down for the money).

  10. http://southernhiker.com/st-augustine/
    – Forgot to drop you my article on St. Augustine with some pics

  11. A buddy with radar is a buddy indeed! =)

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