With Steve and Sandy, our mentors, we filled the galley to the brim with food and headed south from Charleston, SC for the final leg of our journey to Stuart, FL.
Our first stop was a marina in Beaufort (pronounced būfurt)f or 2 nights. The evening we arrived Scott and I took a nice, lovely walk through the residential part of town.
It was warm enough for the men to ride the collapsible Dahon boat bikes and I walked 4 miles the following morning. Margretta and Neal were “buddy boating” along with us so she and I admired the art in the town’s galleries, several of which were very nice. On a horse-drawn historical tour Margretta and I were schooled on the development of the town of Beaufort and the homes by which Scott and I had walked the previous evening. We saw the cottage in which Pat Conroy lived while teaching in local schools and later wrote the book, The Water Is Wide. This small town was quite charming.
We anchored in Kilkenny Creek for one night then headed to Brunswick, GA where we made a mad dash to Winn-Dixie to stock up on groceries. It was a frenzied affair as we could not find a dinghy dock in the town so had to dock at a boat ramp. We had to return to the boat before dark since we hadn’t left the lights on so our time was limited. The Uber driver got lost then decided to drive a few miles to get gas before picking us up so it was a scramble to purchase as much food as possible not knowing when we would shop again. Warning…do not shop at Winn-Dixie at 5:00 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving! The produce department was rather bare and what was left was half moldy.
On Thanksgiving we arrived in Fernandina, FL where we spent a cold, windy and rainy Thanksgiving. Since we were far from home and family we were lucky to have boat “family” and enjoyed a somewhat traditional meal with Steve, Sandy, Margretta and Neal aboard Unforgettable. On Black Friday we took the dinghy to downtown Fernandina and it was quite the surprise to see it packed with people in their pajamas! Apparently, it is a tradition to wear your pajamas to receive extra discounts at the local shops and to enjoy outdoors bands and kids activities. We saw everyone from cute little two year olds to teenagers to grandpas in the their winter jammies! We had fun shopping, eating, and drinking then returned to the boat just prior to the next deluge.
Our next stop was St. Augustine City Marina which was a blast. It was the first sunny and warm day we had experienced in awhile which made us quite cheery. The town was decorated in its finest Christmas lights and the trolleys were packed with tourists singing Christmas carols. We joined Laurie and Bill from Lali, and Margretta and Neal in exploring the downtown area. We perused the local art fair but didn’t spend a penny the following day. That evening Jan and Doug on Day Dreams, along with Laurie, Bill, Margretta and Neal came aboard for a potluck dinner and an entire game of Mexican Train! We have come to love that game although we never win!
The following two nights we anchored at New Smyrna Beach and Cocoa Beach then docked in Sandy and Steve’s neighborhood marina in Vero Beach where we enjoyed a nice dinner at Ocean Grill right on the Atlantic. We learned so much from them as they had made 12 trips up and down the ICW and knew every shoal, mile marker and turn. I gave Sandy some exercise and cooking tips and she gave me boat tips since they have owned a Krogen 58 for 12 years. Steve has a wealth of knowledge on weather, boat management, navigation and living aboard and we are fortunate Steve is generous with his time and expertise with Scott. He even taught Scott how the boat will migrate to the deepest water by sensing hull pressure against the bottom. A very important skill as some parts of the ICW are narrow and shallow and poorly marked on the charts as evident in the picture below.
In the previous weeks it had been so cold we had worn our big coats and shoes with SOCKS so it was wonderful to arrive in lower Florida to temperatures in the 80’s where I live in flipflops. Two nights we spent anchored in the St. Lucie River where we had some spare time to begin preparation for the Bahamas, caught up on paper work, cleaned, and did regular boat chores. We were lucky to overlap with Sam and Diane, friends from Kirksville, MO for lunch and a dinghy ride!
Finally, on Dec. 1 we returned to Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL six months to the day from when we began our adventure. And what an adventure it was!!! In the past year we have had 30 overnight guests. We traveled to Punta Gorda on the west coast of Florida, back to Stuart, then up to Long Island Sound, NY and back to Stuart. We put 415 hours on the engines in the last 6 months, over 3300 nautical miles.
Next up, a visit to family and friends in Missouri. Are we crazy for leaving glorious sunny, warm, breezy, weather? Are we crazy for leaving a fun marina with live bands every night and lots of activities with friends? Maybe so!!!!