After two months away from home and over a month of travel days, we finally made it to sunny Florida on Friday, November 30th. It was 68 degrees and sunny when we docked at The Amelia Island Marina and we felt a sense of accomplishment and excitement that we’ve come this far. Now we’re in Saint Augustine for a few days; this is another of the “destination” towns we had in mind, it’s beautiful here. We’re staying in a marina that’s downtown and we can easily walk the cobblestone streets with shops, restaurants and beautiful Spanish style architecture. It feels like a bit of a vacation!
While we’ve enjoying some down time, I’ve had time to reflect on things that we’ve noticed or learned so far. I’m sharing them in no particular order at all!
This is not beginners boating!! Although Danny has always been confident that we can handle this trip, we’ve realized that compared to a lot of the people we’ve met along the way, we have very little experience! We have learned SO much and have MUCH more to learn. It keeps us on our toes!
There is not a lot of water in South Carolina, Georgia or Florida!! Our boat has 4’ keels, the part of the boat that you can’t see under the water. There have been LONG stretches on the ICW where we only see 6’ on our depth finder, and there have been two times (so far) that it’s suddenly down to 2’ and we’ve bumped!! Both of those times Danny was able to back off, find more water and carry on, but we’ve seen several boats that have run aground. They say there are two kinds of boaters – those who have run aground and those who lie about it. If it happens you either sit and wait for the next incoming tide or call a tow service. The problem with either of those options is time since boating in the dark on the ICW isn’t wise and the days are short this time of year. We try to follow the charts, stay in the center of the channel or follow boats with bigger keels but that’s not always possible. Sometimes it’s pretty lonely out there on the ICW – and sometimes here comes a big barge!
Preparation is important!! Danny’s joked that it looks like we’re preparing for a moon landing while we’re underway. Each night he charts to our next destination on the Garmin (our electronic chart plotter) and also charts on Aqua Maps (another chart application) on the iPad. Both of these, along with good old fashioned paper charts, and a few other books we’ve purchased are all around us at the helm. In addition to showing the way, they also alert to shallow water, hazards, where marinas can be found, etc.
Sunrises, sunsets and dolphins make us smile!! Especially the dolphins. Every time. They’re just so beautiful and we see them almost every day, sometimes in the marinas when we’re sitting on the boat. I’ve tried to take pictures but they’re fast, no luck so far. I’ve taken a lot of sunrise and sunset pictures and to tell the truth they pretty much all look the same, not sure which is which!!
We usually don’t know what day it is, but we’re always “home”!! Not only does one of us ask the other that question daily, we NEVER know the date and sometimes I forget what town we’re in. Somehow, that’s OK, though, the boat really does feel like home. It requires a lot of organization to make it work, but it’s comfy. We love our boat!
Sunshine, friends and family make everything better!! We’ve run into a lot of weather this fall, but on the sunny days it all seems OK. We’ve also been thrilled to spend time with loved ones along the way – we spent a day with Jack & Linda, my brother and sister-in-law way back in PTown, another day with Barry & Pam my ex-laws 🙂 in Beaufort SC, had a fun day in Fernandina Beach with some New England boating friends, Bruce & Shani, and had lunch with my friend Fran and her husband Jack in St. Augustine yesterday. It’s just so nice of people to make time for us as we pass through. Danny has family on the west coast of Florida, we look forward to seeing them later in the winter.
We are blessed!! A little over two years ago we weren’t certain we’d be making this trip – or any trip to be honest. I thank God for this every day, we are so lucky to be having this adventure and to be enjoying the people, the places and each other.
If you’ve managed to make it to the end of this long blog entry, thank you! Now out to wash the boat then some shopping!