April 11, 2013
The days seem to be flying by us. We have now been on the water 17 days and will be in Daytona Beach this evening. This is the first day in quite a while that I have had time to myself. The guidebooks and sailors bemoan the low water in Georgia, but at least you know where those areas are unlike what we’ve experienced so far in Florida. Leaving Ferdinanda was a nightmare. We listened to the depth marker warning most of the trip with several bumps. James stayed on the radio talking to other boaters-either asking for advice or giving it! I was constantly checking all our guidebooks and charts to decide where to go. Entry into St. Augustine was a little tricky as well as leaving. We saw two sailboats aground as we left yesterday. This morning we left our anchorage at Fort Matanzas, and it’s been easy motoring.
Last weekend Rob and Minta Fannon joined us for a few days on the boat while we were in Fernandina, FL. We splurged with three days at the dock. I washed clothes, took several showers, cleaned the boat, bought some groceries, and ate ashore for suppers. We also had to make some adjustments to our battery system while we were here. James plans to blog more about that at some time in the future. We did day sail in the Cumberland River on Saturday with the Fannons. It was perfect sailing weather: sunny, cool, and windy! We had enough wind to stay reefed the whole afternoon. Friday evening we had drinks with Bob and Lynn Sistco. James knows Bob from a work project between Eastman and Rayonier (their plant is located in Fernandina). They brought along a couple they know who are sail0rs so of course there was plenty of conversation. The following evening we had cocktails onboard a sister J40 ship. James was ecstatic meeting Mike and Polli Romey from Reedville, VA. They have had their J40 for over 16 years. It was enjoyable talking about what we like and dislike about our boats as well as touring each other’s vessels. I picked up several tips of things I want to do on Ragtime. Sadly Sunday rolled around too fast for Minta and Rob and us. With a long face, we all hugged goodbye with Minta scheming as to how she can meet back with us before our trip is over!
Sunday night we anchored in the St. George River. I think this has been my favorite anchorage so far because of Kingsley Plantation. We anchored abeam of the plantation house and dinghed ashore. It seemed it would be simple to just pull our dinghy up and walk to the house but once there we realized we would have to climb the seawall which was at least 8 feet tall! James was able to get a toe hold and then hoist me up in a most unladylike fashion. It brought back memories of me climbing on the Captain Table’s dock the day I couldn’t get back in Skip’s sailboat. Some of you will know what I am talking about. J The plantation house was closed but we were able to get a fairly good self-tour with the placards they have posted outside on the grounds. Besides the plantation grounds, the most exciting thing I saw was an armadillo. Rutting through the ground looking for insect food, he was oblivious to us. They certainly are strange little creatures. Kingsley Plantation was established in 1814 by Zephaniah Kingsley along with his wife and children. Interestingly enough is the fact that his wife was purchased a slave but he married her and legitimized the children’s birth. Law at the time forbade her from living in his house, so he built another one for her. Kingsley owned four major plantations, 32,000 acres, and more than 200 slaves. He was very progressive thinking regarding slavery for his time. He eventually moved his family to Haiti in 1837. Kingsley operated his slaves under a “task system” where slaves were assigned a specified amount of work for the day. Once they completed their work, they were permitted to use the rest of the day as they chose.
We arrived in St. Augustine on Monday, the 4th and stayed on a mooring ball for two nights. The mooring balls are $20 and allow you to tie up at the dinghy dock, free pump out, free showers and use of laundry. It seems to be a good deal. We had a beautiful view of the waterfront, the Castille de San Marcos, and the Bridge of Lions. We also could see our boat often from shore…just to keep an eye on it! We decided to do a trolley tour to get an overview of the city. The trolley bus also took us across the bridge to the St. Augustine lighthouse. I love lighthouses and this one was especially nice. We walked all 219 steps to the top. I cannot imagine in the “old days” having to carry the heavy bucket of kerosene up all those steps! Talk about being in shape!!! We also toured the old Ponce de Leon hotel which is now Flagler College. The hotel was built by Henry Flagler in 1882 and had over 450 rooms. It sports Tiffany stained glass windows, oak carved doors, marble floors, and beautiful gold painted murals. Flagler continued to expand into Florida with the building of the railroads that led down the eastern coast all the way to Key West. Of course a visit to St. Augustine would be incomplete without touring the Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish fort build in the late 1600’s. And for a sailor, the visit would not be complete without a visit to the Sailor’s Exchange Consignment Shop on 222 King Street. Thanks to the Murdoch’s, we ended our stay in St. Augustine with a quick trip there. James was looking for a back-up block for our traveler; I just love prowling in these stores. I found a couple of small treasures for decorating.
We are now anchored in Daytona just past the Memorial Bascule Bridge. It is very windy which made anchoring a little tricky. We seem to be holding but have no desire to dinghy in the choppy water and wind. Plus it looks like we might have a thunderstorm. Summer weather is approaching quickly.