12-14 St. Augustine
Today we are in St. Augustine. WOW what a current coming in the inlet!! This is what it looks like on a floating mark. . . .
and this is what it does to our speed:
Remember, our “normal” speed is 8.5, we were FLYING! Can I just tell you, this was a scary inlet, with water going fast in every direction. When it can push a 30,000+ lb boat in every which direction, you understand the power of it.
To backtrack just a bit, the long cut approach to St. Augustine is interesting. This whole long stretch is soup to nuts in housing. Again.
We are staying in a small, “down home marina” on the BACK of St. Augustine proper. Our friends Jim and Judy Foster told us about it (less expensive, more sheltered, which is great because the wind has been howling and the seas rough!) and when we looked it up we found out that you can have a fuel truck come and deliver fuel right to the dock. So when we called for a reservation we asked if they could arrange for that, which they did. For a GREAT price, too! “ONLY” $3.65 per gallon including tax. We took on 300 gallons. . . .
And Jim and Judy (and her sister Joan) were here with their car. Jim took me for a quick trip for groceries (good lord, we were out of Milk Bone dog biscuits, that would never do!) and then suggested that we join them for dinner in town and to see the lights. WOW! ST. AUGUSTINE WITH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IS AMAZING!!!
Here is the famous Bridge of Lions
The entire city seemed alight with celebration, activity, and oh yes, LIGHTS! Jim said he thought there were supposed to be over a million lights, and we believe it.
12/15 Hans’s Birthday!
Morning started with Dunkin Donuts coffee and donuts in the marina office, and a gathering of live-aboards and transients outside sharing war stories. A nice touch! I walked over to the produce stand that is just outside the entrance to the marina and bought the most incredible tomatoes, juicy grapefruit and some gigantic oranges. . .
. . .all for $5. I think I would have had to pay $5 just for those tomatoes back home!
We decided that THE best birthday celebration for Hans would be the walk to Sailors’ Exchange, about three city blocks away, and a no-pressure, no-timeline visit there.
When we found Sailors’ Exchange it was everything that was promised and more. If you’re looking for a bronze hinge for a gate in the railing of a Taiwanese trawler like ours. . . how many, which side, and how big? There was so much there that you couldn’t buy anything. But it was cool.
When we’ve lived this life for another couple of weeks or months, we might be able to wrap our heads around what they had there, and buy something.
Then lunch at Hurricane Patty’s which is right on the marina grounds. It’s great to be able to stop by for Nachos or Fish and Chips, our choices. Unfortunately the clientele has a tendency to leave food in the parking lot, a total and complete distraction for Niya, who cares more about her stomach than her bladder!
We had “Danish” open face sandwiches for dinner — who else gets to prepare their own meal on their birthday, I ask? Curried herring on black bread, egg, tomato, mayo and caviar on white bread, and if you can get that far you’ll have liver pate and sweet pickled cucumber called Asier. All of COURSE with schnapps and beer, a Danish delight. Happy Birthday Hans!
12-16 to Palm Coast
THEN, a short, three hour trip to Palm Coast.
We have seen dolphin all along, but they haven’t seemed very interested in us, so “photo-ops” have been difficult at best. Dolphin usually love to ride the wakes on boats going through their area, and whether ours just wasn’t big enough, or fast enough for them, we didn’t know. But suddenly we drew them on this leg of the journey. There were five of them, and Hans went out with the whistle and they stuck around for a good fifteen minutes or so.
What made it even more fun was that Hans took Niya out so she could see them. WOW! She was SO EXCITED and she said so, with barks and whines and little leaps, as she watched them weave in and out of our wake. Once she was back inside, she spent the rest of the way standing up on the settee with her paws on the window sill and her eyes glued to the wake, waiting for more.
We had contacted Sarah and Phil Lowe, MTOA folk we’d met years before but never “known,” about the possibility of staying on a neighboring dock for a week or ten days. Sarah and Phil are exceptional in many ways. They received the “Port Captain of the Year Award” this year at the MTOA (Marine Trawlers Owners Association) Rendezvous. But what did that mean?? We had no idea what a Port Captain does. YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!! Phil has cultivated a network of neighbors who have docks but no boats. . . and who are willing to exchange dockage for. . . a Purple Martin community? Or maybe help with getting electric power to the dock? Or much more, I can assure you. So he’s got all these “chits” out. When a member of MTOA calls or e-mails, Phil can match it all up. He’s paid for our dockage with his knowledge and expertise, and we are very, very, VERY appreciative. Phil and Sarah are Port Captains of the CENTURY, as far as we’re concerned. They are delightful, intelligent, generous people who have a lot of experience and knowledge to share, and share it they do! We had a wonderful dinner with them, and discovered that Sarah is a fantastic cook, AND baker: the “pumpkin bars” for dessert were amazing.
BUT WAIT, there’s MORE! They have a fenced-in yard and two beautiful little dogs who are READY FOR A RUN! Niya was beyond happy about this, she was hackles-up-running-hell-bent-for-leather happy about it, and . . . she went “cracker dog.” Poor thing has been cooped up on a boat for three weeks, walked on a leash, dragged away from carrion and chips dropped in parking lots, and she was READY TO GO! Sarah and Phil’s Casey and Maggie let her loose and gave chase, and joy was produced, happiness smeared across Niya’s grinning, drooling face. She is now legs up, eyes flickering, whimpering in the chase of her dreams. She’s determined to beat Casey, I know, and we’re pretty sure they’re so equally matched that there will be NO winner!
Sarah and Phil live in a lovely quiet neighborhood right on a basin in a community canal. Here is Hans showing his sister Nina what it looks like. (Nina is in Copenhagen, and Hans and Nina have been talking almost every day via Skype, a fantastic benefit of new technologies. She is “almost” going along with us this way!)
12/19 We are home. . .
Phil drove Hans back up to St. Augustine to pick up a rental car Monday morning, and we took two days to do the 790 mile trip back to Maryland.
Here is Niya on her first visit to a motel:
This is one of the stops we made along the way. We stopped in for the crickets, of course. . . (what are they selling crickets FOR??) and ended up getting fuel. Can you believe the price?
Hans drove the whole distance, bless him. Day one of the drive was horrible with heavy rain, bad windshield wipers, wind, and tornado warnings through Georgia and South Carolina; day two was horrible as we neared DC on I-95 with crazy drivers and way too many of them going way too fast while talking on the cell phone.
It took us three weeks to go from Maryland to Palm Coast. Two days for the return trip was eerie; we left 70 degree weather, palm trees, Spanish Moss and the slow pace of trawler life, for overnight temperatures of 35 degrees and the hectic pace of suburban Maryland. Br-r-r-r. We’ll go back some time next week.