Saturday, January 14, 2017

St. Augustine

A week straight of short nights had me dog-tired last night, and I fell asleep shortly after dinner - around 8pm - despite plans to go catch some live music at Tradewinds Lounge here in St. Augustine. But we're here several nights, and we plan on going out tonight instead. Dan and Isabelle on Epiic should be arriving in an hour or two - they were in Fernandina Beach last night.

We were anchor up in Fernandina Beach shortly after 5am yesterday, but it took a bit longer than planned to motor out of St. Mary's Inlet. I knew we'd be fighting the tide, but wasn't expecting over three knots of adverse current. Windbird only does 5.8 kts under power! I moved well outside the channel, up against the Amelia Island shore, which gave me another 1.5 knots speed over ground - but was a bit nerve-wracking in the dark. There was plenty of water, though.

We had barely a breath of wind to start, as expected, and we motored along rocking & rolling in 5-6 foot long easterly swell. Finally the wind filled in enough to put up the mostly slatted around. But the breeze never got much above 8 knots, which simply isn't enough to sail on going anywhere near downwind with our boat. Later when it was apparent we'd be arriving at St. Augustine Inlet a bit earlier than planned I rolled out the yankee and gybed along to stay at a hot angle (145 degrees apparent wind seemed to work well)...but I still had to use a little engine power, turning it off produced only 3 knots boatspeed. I considered trying the spinnaker but would like an extra set of experienced hands on board the first time I do that.

The most exciting event of our day was being intercepted by a Navy Patrol Boat off St. John's River Inlet to warn us of a warship ahead and request that we stay 500 yards away. As we got closer we were surprised to see a nuclear submarine sitting on the surface with her crew on top! They had been getting towed by a Navy tugboat. As we passed the tug disconnected and the crew went below; shortly after they got underway and headed out to sea, passing less than a mile off our port side! We were hoping they would dive under but no such luck. Still, something cool you don't see every day.



The second most exciting event was entering St. Augustine Inlet. It's shallow with a shifting bar; the channel buoys are moved frequently for this reason (Garmin charts don't even bother showing the markers). Current advice is to favor the red side. We arrived after low tide but there was still some outgoing current to jack up the easterly swell; it was a slightly exciting ride as we surfed our way in. We saw 10-11 feet twice across the inlet bar, and then 8.9 feet in the calm water at the entrance to the St. Augustine mooring field. I tried raising St. Augustine Municipal Marina on the VHF and couldn't; when we called he assigned us Mooring 3. Dawn drove while I tried and failed to snag the mooring pendant with the boathook; we got it on the second round. Later we discovered our VHF was not transmitting; I found the loose antenna connection this morning and secured it.  Our Command Mic is still not working properly; I think there's a loose wire inside the plug, because by bending it just so you can get it to work. So we'll be fixing or replacing that.

We dinghied Piper to shore soon after arrival so he could do his business; we checked out the very nice marina and found the dockmaster to pay for our mooring ($20/night includes dinghy dock, water, pump out, & showers), then went for a short walk around St. Augustine. Back at the boat Dawn made a fantastic dinner of Tortellini, Carrot & Spinach soup; as mentioned I passed out soon after, went to bed an hour later, and didn't wake up until 6:30 this morning.


The thing that woke me was our small bilge pump going on for extended periods, and a bubbling sound that both Dawn and I thought sounded like water entering the boat on the starboard side. I shined a spotlight into our bilge but couldn't see any apparent ingress. Hmm. I looked under the aft head sink and didn't see any leakage from those through-hulls; then I tore apart the cabinet behind the shower to access those two through hulls. It really sounded like it was coming from there, but there was no water leaking. I went topside and looked over the starboard side and saw bubbles coming up from one of the through-hulls. That means a leak somewhere, right? Fortunately I was interrupted by the necessity to take Piper to shore, so I didn't tear anything else looking for the leak. On our return, from the dinghy it was clear what was happening: the current was holding the boat broadside to the wind and waves were splashing into the inlets as the boat rocked. On closer inspection we saw the bubbles were actually coming from both inlets, whenever they were submerged for a minute or two after a period of rocking. Silly. Of course that doesn't explain the bilge pump activity. I shut it down for several hours and the bilge level didn't go up at all. I think it may be clogged (it works off of pressure), I'll be checking that out in a few minutes now that I'm sure no water is actually coming into the bilge.

The rest of this morning and afternoon we scrubbed the deck, did various boat projects, did a couple loads of laundry, and planned a provisioning/West Marine run for tomorrow. I should note that we're anchored right in front of the Spanish-era Castillo de San Marcos and they've been firing muskets and cannon all day, which has been pretty cool. The big cannon startled Piper a few times but not too badly.


Ok, off to do more boat work and then have some fun in St. Augustine tonight.

1 comment:

  1. St. Augustine is one of my favorite stops. Check out Scarlett O'Hara's in town and Tradewinds is a good last stop before heading back to the boat! Have fun!!!