Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are We There Yet?

August 23-24, 2013 - Are We There Yet?

We awoke to the wake of leaving boats early the next morning and got underway.  We chose to do the leg to St. Augustine up the Intracoastal.  We passed some amazing homes at the water's edge, beautiful open fields, and had lots of dolphin encounters.  I navigated my first bridge solo and each girl had time at the helm.  One of the highlights of the day was the dolphins that swam with us for awhile right alongside the boat, so close that the girls decided to feed them some of our squid fishing bait.  The dolphins loved the squid so much that they stayed where it had been thrown.  Shortly after the dolphins, we came across a pile of manatee.  We were first concerned they might be beached but soon realized they were most likely making baby manatees.  Andrew circled around and we watched fins and flippers move over the water.  Baby manatees would approach our boat, it was a pretty spectacular encounter.
Girls on the Intracoastal - pile of manatee in the background :)
St. Augustine - We continued with no issue to St Augustine.  A welcoming committee of friends and family met us in St. Augustine.  We docked at the Municipal Marina under the Bridge of Lions.  
It was an easy walk to dinner and a fun evening of stories and laughter.  Everyone enjoyed the boat tour and we all relaxed with drinks in the helm while the kids played down below.  Andrew's brother, Richard and his wife Samantha decided to spend the night on the boat with us.  It was fun having our first slumber party on board.  
Coffee before heading home.
Samantha even opted to stay for our maiden voyage home.  Before leaving the St. Augustine area we did our good deed for the day by helping some fellow sailors with a tow from their mooring they were on.  It was a bit nerve-racking - our first venture through a full mooring field and our first tow.  But Andrew navigated flawlessly and we coasted them to the dock without issue.  
First mooring field, first tow - and we haven't even made it home yet :)

We waited for the 9am opening of the bridge and were on our way home.  
Bridge of Lions behind us.
The channel was bumpy and fun as usual.  Sam was a bit anxious but laid below a bit while we got the sails up and determined our course.  We had a pretty good sail to Jax.  We needed to do a bit of tacking in and out but it was a beautiful day and we skirted around the only storm cloud in our path.  Sam got her sea legs and even took a turn at the helm.  It was a typical fun day of motor sailing - until we reached the St. Johns River.  Just when we thought we were so close to home it turned out to be sooo far away!  The mouth entry was fun and passing familiar landmarks made the time pass - at first.  We did not properly plan for or give proper credit to the strength of the current pushing out the river.  We hoped it would be a least slack tide but further up the river the tide hadn't turned yet and it made for very slow going!  Andrew tried hoisting sails and even wing on wing to help us along but there was no fighting the current and we crept along at an average of 2.5 knots.
Again it felt like an accomplishment when we reached the Dames Point Bridge but Andrew said he didn't have the heart to tell me that we were only halfway.  

That final leg was the longest of the whole trip, I think.  I went below and packed up for easy disembarking.  The only highlights of St. Johns travel was passing our first cruise ship - we felt so tiny beside it but passengers waved at the girls, so fun.  
Also, we got to see our tug boats at work - pretty cool.  

We arrived at Arlington Marina after 9pm.  It was so dark it was difficult to even take photos of the girls to celebrate making it home.  It was so late and we were so tired, it was almost anti-climatic but everyone did their best to be enthusiastic :)  We were relieved to be home and proud to have completed such a journey.  Richard met us at the dock and ran us home.  We had planned a steak dinner with Rich & Sam to celebrate but we all took a rain check and headed to bed. 
Arlington Marina and Matthew's Bridge - we are home!
We felt much more accomplished after a good night's sleep!  We shared some of our favorite memories from our journey while unloading the boat the next day.  The amazing adventure we had just completed had only started to sink in.  All of the ups and downs and to have come through it together - we are an amazing family!

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