Friday 6 Dec, Charleston SC to St. Augustine FL, day 2: Arrived in St. Augustine, relaxing onboard watching the twinkling shoreline of the town.
At 2am, about midway between Charleston and St. Augustine, we are 45nm off the coast heading SW. The wind has at last filled in to 12kts from the stern (NE). Can’t be bothered to get the pole deployed, so the genoa stays furled. The mainsail, with gybe retainer, is sheeted out and finally, after 16 hours, the Volvo gets a rest and peace descends on Cloudy Bay at long last. Only 6kts speed but lovely just hearing the water pass the boat as we sail under a starlit sky. Within half hour the wind is veering south and we can deploy the genoa too. Ooh, and we are doing 7-8kts on a beam reach. Lovely.
Now here is an example of how good forecasts are these days. Even 3 days ago it showed this very wind where we are, then a very tight transition zone of zero wind, then building again on the opposite direction. And absolutely on cue, both time and place, the wind dies to nothing in just 1 minute. We motor through the transition zone (also marked by a long thin cloud) and within 20 minutes we are sailing again on the opposite tack. Man, these PredictWind forecast models are good!
The sun rises at 7am to another clear day and the scene is picture perfect. We are sailing on a beam reach in 10kts wind, gently cutting the peaceful sea at 7.5kts in the wonderful early morning light. Time to capture it on GoPro, but the battery is dead! Bummer. So far, no sailing footage on this passage from Maryland to Florida.
Same as when we passed Savannah, around Jacksonville there are lots of cargo ships transiting the shipping lanes. We have to change course to dodge a couple, as they don’t seem to be too bothered about a small vessel like us.
At 9.30am the wind dies on us and Volvo goes back on. Somehow, perfect timing. We estimate 3 1/2 hours till we get to St. Augustine. Just enough to bake a loaf of white bread. The weighing scale does not work when Cloudy is moving, so Oana has to estimate the quantity of flour. Interesting to see how this bread will come out:) (note to self: buy a measuring jug for flour and sugar)
The rest of the morning is uneventful, reading and basking in the warmth of the cockpit. We even unzipped the back and opened the front window! Now that is a clear sign we are in near-tropical temperature. I stripped off to only shorts, but Oana still has leggings and tee shirt. She needs few more degrees C to bring out the shorts.
At 1pm we enter St. Augustine channel, and same as when entering Charleston, it all seems familiar. We anchor in 6m of water, pretty much in the same place we anchored last June. And when we switch off the engine, the bread maker has only 5 more minutes to finish the loaf. How about that for perfect timing.
We relax with yet another cup of tea, and in celebration of our safe arrival we indulge to a slice of the desperately-sweet carrot cake which we bought in Harris Teeter few days back. The peace of this anchorage is disturbed by the cannons at the nearby Castillo de San Marcos Fort, which fire their usual performances for the tourist crowds. Each one making us jump!
It is a bright afternoon here and very tempting to go ashore. But we choose to remain onboard and chill. One positive thing after all this motoring, we have plenty of hot water. Plenty of water in the tanks too, so in the showers we go, without having to worry much about how much water we use. Hm, we missed this feeling, of having the safety of the watermaker.
We watch a lovely sunset, and with it the lights of St. Augustine coming on. It is rather bright, we don’t remember it like this. But few seconds later we realise: Christmas decorations. And when we have a better look we can identify all sorts of nicely lit up shapes: the trees in the park, the shapes of the restaurants on the waterfront road, and the bridge looks particularly nicely lit up too. Hm, maybe we should’ve gone ashore…
The rest of the evening is spent reading, toes to toes on the settee, and treating ourselves with a caipirinha. And having our hearts nearly jumping out of our chests when that damned cannon fire take us by surprise.