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Cumberland Island, GA, to Fernandina Beach, FL
Monday, November 24, 2003

Our plan was to head to Ft. George, between Fernandina Beach and Daytona, to tour the plantation. Our engine had other ideas. Upon starting, we heard a loud squeal that Bill quickly traced to slipping alternator belts. But, why would the belts suddenly get loose? Maybe the alternator bracket, broken into two halves, had something to do with it!

Since Cumberland Island has no services nearby, we called Tow Boat US for a tow to nearby Fernandina Beach. We were impressed with the response by Boat US, who quickly located a tow boat & operator. Within 30 minutes a tow boat arrived (that’s faster than a cab on land) and had us dockside at Fernandina Harbor Marina in about another hour. Happily, we’d purchased the Boat US unlimited towing coverage. So, there was no charge for the tow and we’d more than recouped our expense for the insurance.

We had just finished tying the boat up when we recognized fellow O’Day Club members, Jerry & Lynne Snyder of Kali’s Fantasea, whom we’d met last spring. They were anchored in the river opposite the marina and were doing laundry and shopping for groceries.

A couple of phone calls found and arranged for a new alternator bracket to be overnighted. Unfortunately, they’ve changed the part design. So….replacement will not be a simple bolt-on job. Fortunately, Bill was able to consult with Jerry and, by phone, with Wayne Rigby, both of whom have made the replacement.

We had an excellent lunch at the Palace Saloon with Jerry & Lynne. Later, Sandy explored the beautifully restored Victorian downtown historic area. Meanwhile, Bill removed the old alternator bracket and did some prep work for installation of the new bracket.

Interestingly, we couldn’t help but notice that most of the marina became a mud flat as the eight- foot tide receded. It turns out the marina’s designers ignored the advice of locals that docks should parallel the flow of the current rather than cross it. The inappropriate dock design caused silt to settle out under the docks and boats, rendering most of the marina high and dry at low tide!

That evening we headed to the Crab Shack for a happy-hour appetizer dinner. The food was great and the owners gave us some insight into the town and into Cumberland Island history. Later, the winds from a strong front began to roar, making for a bumpy anchorage and making us happy to be tied securely, inside the floating dock.


Fernandina Beach, FL
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

It blew hard all night, but the wind abated somewhat by the time most mortals awoke. And, Bill found some pretty good coffee in the marina office.

Showers were followed by a waiting game … seeing what time the “Next Day Air” would arrive. Much to our surprise, it arrived at 10:30! Bill got to work while Sandy and Barbara (from the trawler, Four Seasons, tied next to us) shared a cab to go grocery shopping.

For those few who are intimate with the details of the new Universal M25 alternator bracket, the installation went fine. All four old studs came out of the exhaust manifold without no problems and the new one bolted right up. Bill took Jerry Snyder’s suggestion and installed a washer shim to fill in the extra space in the bracket where the alternator foot fits. The adjusting arm didn’t fit, but Bill was able to use some parts from the old bracket to bolt it to the now, unused, ear on the timing gear cover. He was even able to use the old belts! We started the engine and all seemed well with the installation, so we settled up with the marina and planned for an early Wednesday departure for St. Augustine.

Just about the time Bill finished the installation, Sandy and Barbara arrived with groceries … what’s that about bringing more stuff aboard? Anyway, they fit. Then, Sandy headed out for a haircut and a yarn shop visit while Bill updated the log and edited photos for the web site.


Fernandino Beach, FL, to St. Augustine, FL
Wednesday November 26, 2003

We decided to head all the way to St. Augustine so that we could spend Thanksgiving with Bill & Susan Hurt. We also planned to connect with Chuck & Helen Gidel, from our marina (Sabre 38, Palatinus), to visit and pick up our mail. Gidels have a condo in St. Augustine.

It was a 60-plus-mile day but we were lucky with the currents and passed through the Bridge of Lions and into St. Augustine Municipal Marina at about 4:00. Boaters encounter some significant currents in this area. Approaching the inlet at St. Augustine, in the Tolomato River with the current, we were making good more than 10 mph. As we crossed the inlet, on the outgoing tide and headed up the Anastasia River toward the bridge, our speed made good dropped to about 4 mph!

We tidied up and washed the boat before heading out to explore the town. The marina is right in the historic district which is both vibrant and beautiful. There’s a park at the end of the bridge, surrounded by blocks of restored buildings that house restaurants, shops, hotels & B&Bs and museums. For the holidays, everything is festooned with millions of lights and the whole effect is very pretty, especially at dusk.

We settled on the A1A Ale House (named after the beach highway) for a light dinner including a delicious cheese-and-ale soup for Bill and crisp, grilled veggies for Sandy. We worked through our strategy for Thanksgiving dinner with Bill & Susan and repaired to the boat for the evening.


St. Augustine, FL
Thursday - Saturday, November 27 - 29, 2003

Thursday (Thanksgiving)

Another beautiful day, but very warm. Chuck Gidel called and arranged to stop by to drop off our mail. When he, Helen and daughter, Lynne, showed up with the goods, we walked down to the boat and reintroduced them to Bill and Susan. We also accepted Chuck’s offer to show us around the area the following day.

Earlier, we had made plans to split Thanksgiving dinner preparation with Bill & Susan and gather for the actual feast aboard Osprey.

Now, you have to understand about ovens on boats. Mostly, they are used to store cookware and/or spare electronics (as a Faraday cage to prevent damage by nearby lightning strikes). So, the first challenge is to empty the oven. Next, they’re really small. Susan measured hers and found that a turkey had to fit within its 6” x 9” x 14” confines. Tape measure in hand, she and dubious husband, Bill, walked to the local grocery and found a fresh turkey, 10½ lbs., that measured 6” x 8½ x 12”. Nothin’ to it!

Thanksgiving Dinner Aboard Osprey
Thanksgiving Dinner Aboard Osprey

With portions of the dinner underway, we took a couple of hours to visit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. This Spanish fort guarded St. Augustine and helped defend the Spanish treasure fleet as it followed the Gulf Stream north on its way back to Spain. This fort is well preserved and well worth the nominal admission. And, the view over the harbor is beautiful. Rangers, in period Spanish military costume, fired a reproduction cannon about twice an hour for the amusement of visitors.

Returning to the boat, we gathered our dinner contributions of salad, squash & sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and Sandy’s chocolate torte (made with soy beans and no flour). Oh, and some wine! On board Osprey we were joined, for cocktails and snacks, by Robin & St. John (Meadowlark) and Mebs and Wally (Gadzooks). When Robin & St. John left for their “dinner & a movie”, the rest of us dug into dinner. Besides our contributions we dined on delicious turkey, oyster stuffing and creamed onions. We did ourselves proud, mostly demolishing the feast, and hung out for post-dinner activities until nearly 10:00 p.m.

Yes, we all really missed home and family, but this was a pretty good substitute. Thanks to all who helped! … and thanks to all who sent their Thanksgiving wishes and news via e-mail. We really appreciate the messages from home.

Friday

After breakfast at the ex-Woolworth’s luncheonette, Chuck showed up to haul the Whistwind and Osprey crews around the area for the day. It was warm & muggy, with a cold front forecasted to come through later in the day. Chuck started with a tour of the areas just outside the historic district and a cruise along the shopping centers along Rt 1. A visit to West Marine was in order, where we purchased a 33-lb version of our Bruce anchor to replace the 22-lb version that dragged in Wrightsville Beach. Then it was on to Anastasia Island where we stopped for beverages and free popcorn at Conch House Resort Marina; nice place! Later, we stopped to look at St. Augustine lighthouse. (No one was ambitious enough to climb to the top for a picture.)

Chuck also showed us the church recently built by the parish he and Helen are active in when they’re in Florida. Modern and beautiful, it seats 1,600 in a clear-span (massive laminated beams) sanctuary. The many stained glass windows are lovely. We ended our sightseeing trip with a stop at Fort Matanzas National Monument. The Park Service runs a free launch to the fort, which is on an island. It once guarded Matanzas Inlet, preserving the ability to resupply St. Augustine via shallow draft coastal vessels during blocades of the main harbor. This masonry fort is tiny but very educational.

Fort Mantanzas
Fort Matanzas National Monument

We then went to the condo to join Helen, who had returned after a day at a Jacksonville craft show with friends. We got to meet daughter, Lynne, and husband, Rich, too. The condo is on the fourth floor in a large complex and it is beautiful. There are excellent views over dunes to the ocean beach from one side and of the marshes and the ICW from the other side. We watched as a sea turtle dug its way into it’s nest in the dunes for the night. We snacked and talked.

The temperature had dropped considerably and we had a little rain. For dinner, Gidels loaded us all into their two vehicles for the drive to the Gypsy Cab Company restaurant to dine on their self-described “urban fare”. It’s an unlikely looking place, both outside and in. But it was crowded and excellent. (Chuck appears to make quite a study of area eating establishments.)

We bid farewell to the gang and Chuck drove us cruisers and our new anchor back to the marina. We collapsed to digest dinner and savor the day!

Saturday

While Sandy explored the shops of St. Augustine, Bill installed the new anchor and updated this log. Later, we walked together to have a quick look at Flagler College, converted from a luxury hotel that had been built in the 1800s. (It is magnificent and we plan to tour it more completely on the trip north.) We also looked over the Leightner Museum, another hotel donated and converted to a museum to house a huge collection of artifacts of the “Golden Age”.

Later, we stopped at the A1A Ale House for bonitchio chip (like sweet potato chips) nachos while watching the Florida / Florida State game. This rivalry turns everyone’s attention from nearly everything else, including, we are told, the controversial Bush/Gore election flap.

Back at the boat it was a bit chilly, so we turned on our little heater. Bill & Susan stopped over for a “last” visit and to watch the fourth quarter of the game. They were staying on in St. Augustine for another few days before heading to Cocoa, their holiday layover destination. It is likely the last time we will see them on this trip.


St. Augustine, FL, to Daytona Beach, FL
Sunday, November 30, 2003

We slipped the dock lines about 7:30. Our destination was Daytona Beach, 55 miles to the south. Like the past few mornings, it was crisp and bright and clear. Fleece, wind breakers and hats were the order of the day. We bucked a foul current the whole way, arriving for fuel at Halifax Harbor about 4:00. We’ve been to Daytona Beach before, so we went across the river to anchor for the evening.

We’ll be hooking up with Jack and Edie Rorabaugh, who live just south of Daytona Beach, in a couple of days. So, we plan to lay over on the beach side of the river at a marina, just to our south, and an anchorage just south of that before heading to Smyrna Beach, and our rendezvous, on Wednesday.