4 May, 2016
In the morning, we moved up to the anchorage off of Tahiti Beach. On the way over, we were hailed on the VHF by “Casablanca.” They told us that they were on a 58’ Krogen anchored off the beach, had been following our blog, and wanted to get together. Sounded like a plan. They were headed in to Hope Town for the day, but would we be in the anchorage tomorrow? Yep. “C’mon over to Alizann for sips at 5:30?” The next morning, Fred and Carolyn came by and introduced themselves, and asked if we wanted to join them for lunch on shore. We declined, because we were having a severe hankerin’ for the barbeque at Papa Nasty’s. In fact, I’d been thinking about a stop here since last year (Yeah, it’s that good). We dropped the tender in, and headed to our secret little docking spot in the corner of White Sound, and hiked up to the trailer that housed Papa’s. It was boarded up tight as a drum-no sign of activity. Boo! We decided to assuage our disappointment by walking up to the Blue store and buying some homemade ice cream from the guy that sits outside the door there. Fresh Mango-Yum. We also found out that Papa had experienced some health problems that caused him to have to go to the States, forcing him to close up shop. Later, turned out that he didn’t have to go, but he had already closed. At any rate, that’s the story as it was told to us. We got back to the dink and cruised over to Lubbers, where we had a nice lunch at “Cracker P’s”, highlighted by their famous hot fish dip. After lunch, we motored over to Tahiti Beach, a sand spit that bares at any tide state other than high, where we joined the gang that was sunning there. That evening, we were joined by Fred and Carolyn, and found out that they were on their third Krogen, each one larger than the previous. We shared cruising stories, and found that they had owned one of their boats in the Pacific Northwest. This really whetted our appetites for new adventures, and before the night was over, they had given us all of their charts for the west coast, from Mexico to Desolation Sound. We were only able to round up a few charts and guidebooks for Maine, where F&C would be heading this summer, to return the favor.
28 April. Great Guana Cay, and Nipper’s beach Bar was our next destination. Let’s just say that one of us had too much fun at the bar. Suz paid the bill, and got us a ride back to the tender by some nice folks coming by in their golf cart. Manjack Cay, 3 hours away, was our next stop. We had a secret spot over on the next little cay where we had found a cache of Sea Biscuits the year before. But, when we motored over in the tender, we found that “our spot” wasn’t so secret any more. There was a makeshift awning and a firepit on the shore, and no Sea Biscuits in the eel grass. Undeterred, we motored on. Suzanne scoped out the bottom with our “look bucket” (a 5-gallon pail that I had cut the bottom out of, replacing it with clear plexiglass). We found a new secret spot, and within 45 minutes, had collected over 20 dead Sea Biscuits which Suz would scrub, bleach, and present as treasures to her friends.
On the 30th, we had a weather window which would allow us to cross back to the States. We had hoped for a 3-day window, which would allow us to cross from the Bahamas to North Carolina, but it looked like 2 was all we’d get before the wind and seas got up again. We decided that Fernandina Beach, on Amelia Island, would be a good port of entry, so at 07h00 we hauled anchor in the Bahamas for the last time this season. Shortly after we got underway, we heard the sailing vessel, “Kite”, on the VHF. They were talking to another boat about their plans to cross to the U.S. We hailed them, and let them know that we’d be crossing too, and agreed to be of mutual assistance if the need arose. Twelve hours later, we approached the edge of the Bahamas Bank, and were back in deep water heading to the northwest, where we would get into the central axis of the Gulf Stream (really The Florida Current). Once in the current, it’s northward flow would help to push us along. I secretly hoped that the marine forecast was wrong, and that we’d be able to make it farther north. By early morning on the first of May, the seas were starting to build a bit. When we changed watches at 01h30, they had gone from 1’-3’ to 2’-4’, and the wind was up to 19 knots out of the east. Suz told me that “Kite” had called earlier, just to check in, and that they had a nice conversation. When the sun came up, we got lines in the water and fished all day. We had a lot of baits stolen, but only brought in one Skipjack for our efforts. We sent him back for a swim. The seas remained at 2’-4’ all day, but the wind decreased, and clocked around to the south-southeast, indicating an imminent frontal passage. We stuck with our original plan, and pointed our bow west, entering the harbor at Fernandina Beach at 08h45 on May 2nd. There isn’t a whole lot more to report on the trip home, just a continuum of unbroken horizon for 360 degrees, engine room checks, videos, reading, napping, and the occasional whir of a fishing reel. We needed to get the salt crust off the Girl, so instead of anchoring or taking a mooring, we called for a spot on the dock. The Dockmaster told The Admiral that the annual Shrimp Festival had just wrapped up the day before, and the docks were pretty full. Boats were pulling out as it was Monday morning, and by the time we arrived, there was a slot on the face dock for us. We plugged in, turned on the air conditioning, and slept for 4 hours. Later, while we were cleaning the boat, a friend and former multiple Krogen owner, Dennis walked down the dock from the latest in their long line of “Sea Fox’s.” He invited us to join him and his wife, Julie, for dinner on shore. Over Mexican food, they regaled us with stories of their cruising life. They have owned boats on both coasts of the U.S., taken a Krogen across the Atlantic with a group of trawlers, and cruised the Med. We were particularly interested in their experiences on the west coast for obvious reasons, and got many good tips. Tuesday morning, “Sea Fox” was gone, I was outside cleaning, and Suz was in. All of a sudden, I heard some VERY raised voices, then CRASH! I looked up to see a small trawler, sideways in the current, scraping against the anchor pulpit of a moored sailboat, then the piling that the sailboat was tied to. Free of these obstructions, it then caromed across the fairway, “T-boning” a power boat tied there. All the while, the guy on the trawler is yelling at (his wife?) louder and louder. They get their boat straightened out, motor out of the marina, and head south down the ICW. I’m thinkin’, “Really?” They get about a half mile down, then turn around and come back, docking at the marina office. I’m not sure if their conscience got the better of them, or they knew that I had witnessed the whole deal and had their boat name. I’m going with the former. Later, I found that they had filed an accident report. Good for them. After a day of boat chores, we fell off the wagon, and treated ourselves to half pound (?) burgers, and hand-cut fries at Tasty’s. What a deal. We stopped at Atlantic Seafood on the way home, and picked up a couple pounds of shrimp for another day.
After 2 nights in Fernandina, it was time to push North again. The marine forecast didn’t look great, so we headed up the Intracoastal for Brunswick, GA. Lots of our pals stop there, as it’s a friendly, inexpensive marina, and we had wanted to check it out in the past, but had never had the opportunity. Our route would take us past the King’s Bay naval facility, where the Navy services our submarines. As luck would have it, as we entered the ICW from Fernandina Bay, we were approached by 3 Coast Guard inflatables with BIG guns on their bows, lights flashing. After an exchange on the VHF, we were instructed to move up Cumberland Sound, as a naval warship would be heading through, necessitating the closure of the ICW. We could have headed south, gone around Cumberland Island, and back up the Brunswick River, but thought it’d be cool to see a sub underway from up close, so we headed into the Sound. After idling for 20 minutes or so, we decided to drop anchor, as there didn’t seem to be much happening on the ICW. Finally, the sub passed by, accompanied by 2 large tugs. It was a small attack sub, but it was still pretty darn big, and quite impressive. Our hour-and-a-half delay put us behind the tide, and when we got up to Jekyll Island, we had to anchor to wait for enough water to pass through Jekyll Creek. Ten hours after leaving Fernandina, we arrived at Brunswick, having traversed only 39 miles. Turns out that we were just in time for social hour(s) at the clubhouse, featuring beer and wine, provided by the marina. We met a lot of interesting, friendly folks, including the owners of “Kite”. They were just returning to the States after completing a 6-year circumnavigation of the globe. We chatted until long after the party was over, and were fascinated by tales of their travels.