After a slight delay of a month we have two working engines, a somewhat working autopilot, cold weather, and rain. Time to be off South! For those who know me well you know I don't like to write personal things on the internets and prefer to stick to pictures of birds, fish, and scenery with no people (aka nature nerd things), but I have been convinced to give updates by some of you who want updates of where we're going and claim that pictures I take of people and events disappear into the abyss of my camera and computer. Likely true. So thank you Dad, Mom, Jen, Heidi, and Lindsey for bugging me into getting with the program and using the internet for communication. This will only last so long as it's the off-season :)
We wanted to head South to be in warm weather by Christmas, but a nasty weather system had been promising to arrive by early Sunday morning (think darkness arrival times). There was just enough time to leave Rockville Friday evening and hit North Florida to duck back inside the relative shelter of the ICW before sundown Saturday. We blasted out the inlet at last light and set the autopilot. Unfortunately winds at a steady 25 knots and close period waves don't make for a nice combo and I found myself as useless as predicted. We ate tasty mac and cheese for dinner and I digested maybe 10% before losing the rest over the rail around 3 am while Ryan napped. Fortunately he didn't miss all the action and got to see the remnants on the side of the boat at dawn. He now fully believes the ease with which I get sea sick, which is unfortunate for someone who's sole occupation for the last 9 years has been as a boat captain.
After a few wind gusts that knocked out the autopilot, sending the boat into delightful spins down waves and obliging me to stagger around and steer while Ryan fixed things, the third reef was in the sail and the sun rose later than desired. We made into the inlet at Fernandina Beach and turned South in the ICW for a much more lovely motor to Jacksonville. There is a free dock in the river that holds 5 boats or so. I docked the ol gal in the best conditions yet: ripping sideways current and 20-25 knots wind. No clue how Ryan calmly sits on the bow with the line assuming I'm not going to hit anything. Suppose at least I'm good for something if not for the middle of the night open ocean driving!
Boat people are on my dream schedule: eat dinner and go to sleep shortly after sunset (down for the count by 7:15 last night) and up by sunrise (and there's not a lot of people to have to interact with who expect you to talk to them immediately). And all the time in between to look for birds!
Captain's Counts (From Ryan, the only time he's ever had fewer words to say than me)
Winds steady off the beam
Max recorded boat speed = 17.1mph
# White pelicans = 46
# 6' - 8' waves = Countless
# Rainy squalls offshore = 2
# Gusty squalls >35knots = a few
# times Weathers spewed overboard = 1 set of 7
# species birds seen = at least 9 (White pelican, brown pelican, Eagle, Cormorant, seagulls, terns, osprey)
# dolphins = 7 (pod of 6, 1 loaner)
Pairs of pants worn while outside = 3