After leaving Katy and Story in West Palm, Andy and I continued to make our way up the coast of Florida. We anchored in Ft. Pierce for one night and were again unimpressed. I think if you live in Ft. Pierce and own a fishing boat, it’s probably perfect. But if you live on a catamaran and like quiet anchorages, this place isn’t for you. We got out of there at first light and headed for Port Canaveral, staying just long enough to eat at Gator’s and get groceries delivered (thank you, Instacart!). Then it was an overnight sail to St. Augustine, where we knew we wanted to spend a few days.
Night sails are enjoyable, but exhausting. We arrived in St. A in the early afternoon, got checked in to the mooring field, went ashore for a late lunch/early dinner, and then crashed. (Figuratively, of course.) We awoke the next morning to rain drumming on the deck and muted daylight through the gray clouds. And then I remembered to check Messenger, where, hallelujah! We had a message from our friends Cliff and Candace. We met this cruising couple in Grenada and bonded with them pretty quickly. They’re friendly, musical, genuine, and just overall good people. We hadn’t seen them since St. Lucia in late 2019, but we kept up through Facebook and knew that they had sold their boat and bought a house near St. Augustine. So I messaged Candace from our dock in Port Canaveral to see if they might be free to get together.
The timing was perfect! She and Cliff were driving home from visiting family in Tennessee, but they’d be back in St. A during the window that we were here. We arranged to have brunch. The weather was still pretty wet, but it was SO worth the soggy dinghy ride to shore to reconnect with these two. They’re the kind of folks you can just pick right back up with, no matter how long it’s been since you were last together. We enjoyed a yummy brunch at Ice Plant and swapped sailing stories from our respective travels in the time of Corona.
Candace told us about her new consulting business and the amazing new house they found near both her parents and their grandchildren in FL. Andy and I agreed – there’s a unique bond you develop with other sailors. You can share experiences that they immediately understand, because they’ve experienced the same thing – or they can at least appreciate how wonderful/difficult/traumatic it would have been. It did our hearts so much good to spend time with them again.
The Blessings of Spontaneity
The next day I got a phone call from my sister Kristie, who found herself somewhat unexpectedly free for the next week and did we still want her to come for a visit? Yes, indeed we did! When we first envisioned her sailing with us during this time period, back before Christmas, it was originally going to be a multi-day passage to Puerto Rico. Kiki had graciously agreed to travel with us and help share the helm watch. Now we were no longer in dire need of extra crew, but we were heading to Cumberland Island, GA, where Kiki had always wanted to go.
We scrambled and found a next-day flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville, FL. Then I called a shuttle company at 9 pm and booked Kiki a ride from the airport to the Fernandina Beach Marina on Amelia Island. She packed light – just one carryon! – and the next day Andy and I sailed north, anchoring across from the marina so we could collect her.
It was a fun reunion. First of all, my sister is a BOSS. She is so competent and talented and useful in a variety of situations. She’s a nurse! And a farmer! And a Scout leader! Always prepared. Second, I just love spending time with her. We laugh A LOT. We had wanted to take Kiki sailing last summer when she came to Charleston to see us, but Hurricane Isaias scuttled those plans. So this trip, although hastily thrown together, offered a little redemption. We dined that night on tapas and sangria at the wonderful Espana restaurant in Fernandina Beach, then dinghied back to the boat and pulled up anchor to head across the inlet (and the FL/GA state line) to Cumberland Island.
The next day’s hiking on the island was pretty picture-perfect.
Our original plan for the next day was to sail a full day and anchor overnight at Sapelo Island. You can’t go ashore there, but the scenery is beautiful and the chances of dolphin sightings are high. Alas, Father Neptune reminded us who was boss, with high winds and heavy seas forecast for the morning, abating somewhat in the afternoon. After studying the charts, Andy and I decided to delay our departure until noon, let the winds calm down a little, and shoot for more modest progress, about 30 miles north near Brunswick.
All I can say about that sail is “Thank God for Bonine!” My go-to motion sickness medicine has not yet let me down, although this passage put it to the test. Kiki did feed the fishes, but she felt better immediately afterwards. After anchoring, we rewarded ourselves with dinner at the Coastal Kitchen, feasting on oysters and other delicious seafood.
An early morning start helped us log a lot more miles on Friday. We were racing a storm predicted off the coast of Savannah/Hilton Head for Saturday. We arrived off of Daufuskie Island with plenty of daylight left but not enough time to do any sightseeing. The rain lifted for a few hours late on Saturday morning, enough time for us to go ashore and check out the Old Daufuskie Crab Company for lunch. But then the storm gathered a little momentum, so we sped back to Gratitude to wait it out. I have decided that I WILL return to Daufuskie Island and I WILL rent a golf cart and go sightseeing! It just wasn’t meant to be, this time around.
The next day was Kiki’s last, which made me sad but not despondent, as I knew I’d be back home in a few days myself. We made a four-mile dinghy trip to the Salty Dog Café, where Kiki had never eaten, both to have lunch and also to get her a quick Uber ride away from the Hilton Head airport. That Uber ride actually never happened; apparently all the Uber drivers on the island were hung over from a festive Saturday night, because there were no rides to be found. We finally called a taxi company and scored transportation, and Kiki made it to the airport for her flight. (Just barely!)
Of course we could not sail from Hilton Head to Charleston without an overnight at Monkey Island. We shared our photos of this magical place in this post, so we didn’t take a lot of photos of the wildlife this time. But we did get to see monkeys, and dolphins, and the amazing SuperMoon from our anchorage. It was spectacular.
On our final day’s sail into Charleston Andy and I both began to feel a little melancholy. This past year or so of our sailing sabbatical would conclude at that dock, and it had not gone at all as we had pictured it. But I spent some time reflecting on all that we had seen and done and experienced, and I was able to get back to a place of gratitude (pun intended). We have been incredibly blessed to spend most of the 2020-2021 pandemic aboard our dream catamaran. We have plans for more sailing come November of this year. And we are ready for some extended time at home with family and friends.
We do have some summer adventures to look forward to, including Father’s Day weekend on the boat with all our kids, a dive trip to Roatan (via airplane, not sailboat!) and a music festival or two. So we’ll try to keep you updated while we wait for hurricane season to blow over (get it? LOL!) and resume our sailing pursuits.