Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Intracostal Waterway - Southbound

This morning dawned the exact opposite of the day before - bright, warm and sunny.  I was so thrilled to be aboard, that I offered to make breakfast.  Good thing no one was around to see me peering at the controls on the stove.  Even I smiled at my stupidity!  Before long, I was in control of the situation and had a rather impressive breakfast going.

Even more impressive was the setting for that breakfast...
I set the table in the Pilot House to take full advantage of the scenery and to allow the "captains" to enjoy breakfast without leaving their post.

Our trip was pleasant and uneventful.  In the spirit of the ICW, there are always things to look at - like this huge (and rather ugly) car carrier.
Of course there are the numerous bridges to be navigated.  Some open on demand, others at specified times.  Sister Creek Bridge at the mouth of the St. John's River near Jacksonville opens on demand...
The bridge tender was very accommodating and pleasant.  Gave us plenty of time to transit the opening before blowing the warning horn indicating the bridge was ready to close.
We cruised along between 7 and 8.2 knots, depending on what the current felt like giving us.  We didn't care - our music was playing, the sun was shining, lunch was delicious and we were in no hurry to get anywhere quickly.  We just sat back and enjoyed the view...
The picture above is a part of the ICW  between Jacksonville (Fernandina Beach) and St. Augustine.
It wasn't long before another bridge loomed ahead - the Bridge of Lions.  This was a bridge with scheduled openings - every half hour.   We had about 15 minutes to cover the distance ahead of us to make the 1 pm opening.  The most gorgeous sailing vessel I had ever seen was ahead of us.  Tom radioed to let him know we would be right on his tail going under the bridge.  Serenity had to sprint to keep up, but she did a good job.  Good thing, cause as we went under the bridge, lots of traffic was lined up on either side, waiting for us to go through.
Our mooring for the rest of the day and night was waiting just on the other side of this bridge.  I was quite excited about this new adventure.  Serenity had never grabbed onto a mooring ball before.  Luckily Mike was with us to show us the proper way to approach and secure the boat to one of these floating "anchors".  Not that easy it turned out.  Following Mike's hand signals, the captain did a fabulous job to getting right over the mooring ball on the first attempt.  Mike picked up the pennant (which by the way requires quite a bit of brawn) and got us secured to mooring ball number 22.
Once attached to the mooring ball, we surveyed our new domain.  What a beautiful sight to feast our eyes on...
We were just settling in when the launch driver stopped by to ask if we were planning to go into town.  You bet we chorused!  After quickly gathering our belongings, we jumped into the launch and off to town we went.  As we sped away from Serenity, I couldn't resist taking this picture of her looking so pretty in the afternoon sun....

In less than 15 minutes we were checking in and off to an adventure in the city of St. Augustine.  It really is a beautiful city.  A portion of the city is designated as a pedestrian only area, while the other parts are surrounded by palm trees and quaint brick-lined streets with wonderful shops in the background.  From the marina... was a short walk into town.

More of town...
There is even a village green complete with a decorated Christmas tree and Christmas "gifts" already delivered by Santa and under the tree.
You can't go to St. Augustine and not visit the country's oldest church.  This church was built in 1565 and truly a work of art to behold.

Before long, it was time to make the last launch at 5:30.  We walked to the marina to get in line, when this amazing sight caught our eye.  Someone had placed a mark on one of the pilings showing just how high the storm surge rose.
Sure glad we weren't there then!

The launch was filled to capacity, so off we went at 5:30.  We dropped off 2 couples at their sailboats before heading to Serenity.  There she stood in the early evening light, anchor light shining, ensign waving in the soft early evening breeze and all her lights glowing in a welcome home light.  Before settling in for the evening, we took time to enjoy an evening cocktail while enjoying the most beautiful sight...
Another beautiful day comes to a close aboard the fair Serenity.  Tomorrow we'll be on our way at sunrise, to enjoy another idyllic day of cruising and soaking up the beautiful sights.

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