Category Archives: 2011

Bare Mud, Black Beans, and Buffet

The Bridge of Lions Restored

The tide was completely out when we left Beach Marine. This coincides with slack water at the adjacent high-rise bridge which can have boisterous currents. As we prepared to leave, the depth sounder was reporting we were aground. We weren’t — a good thing.

We still made our way to the marina’s turning basin since bare mud was less than a boat length from the dock to which we were tied. Out in Pablo Creek we found a tad of flood tide remaining which pushed us on through seasmoke toward the Palm Cut and the Tolomato River where the current reversed.

We made St Augustine in time to make the 1230 opening of the Bridge of Lions. We were somewhat amazed when northbound traffic called us to let us know they would hang back since we were down current.  Very professional. A contrast to the law enforcement boat that blasted through the bridge-waiting boats twice at about 30 kts.

Symphony headed for the city moorings as we continued to the San Sebastian River.

After a variety of chores and errands and a nice visit with a friend, we went to Hurricane Patty’s for an early dinner (no, not a seniors early bird).

  • The Barefoot chardonnay was already good and made better by half price
  • The calamari was good, but the batter could have been spiced a bit more and the rings could have been a bit thinner.
  • Janet’s catfish was excellent as was the accompanying caesar salad.
  • My grouper with Key West dry rub, was a tiny tad dry [my bad for choosing dry rub — next time mango-orange sauce] and the collard greens and black beans and rice were finger licking good, but I used a fork anyway.
  • The hush puppies hushed this puppy.
  • The guitarist doing Buffet, Taylor, America, Eagles, Alan Jackson, etc. was good on the guitar and enough of a vocal chameleon to pull it off.
  • Patty’s gets another “A”

Did I mention we both thought the waitress was trés cute and very good at her job?

And the bare mud out the window reminded us were we were — south of the Tropic of Attitude.

In a Different Vein

There are perhaps a half dozen of these in Fernandina.

We left Fernandina, in company with Chuck and Maryanne on Symphony, at half tide rising in a blustery, cold breeze with brilliant skies and blinding sun. Even at half tide, we saw 6.5 feet in the Amelia River dogleg at Marker #1. So if we come this way again, I guess it will be at 2/3 tide rising.

The trek from there to Jacksonville Beach was straightforward and included the usual excellent service at Sisters Creek Bridge and the usual push and shove from the St John’s River where it intersects the ICW. We have never had slack water here when the tables indicated we would — too many things besides tidal harmonics affect the flow, we assume. Even so, we got off lightly.

Beach Marine lived up to the standard we expected from our last stay. The dockside assistance is #1; the laundry has been upgraded. The showers and heads remain a downside. The on site restaurants were closed the last time we came through.

We decided to grab a late lunch at “Nippers” this time.

  • They had an excellent MacMurray 2010 Pinot Grigio [We took a bottle back to the boat.]
  • Their conch fritters were up to Fat Hog Bay, BVI standards [Our ongoing 22 year benchmark] and the remoulade should be offered in take home bottles.
  • Janet’s Shrimp Basket came in a galvanized pan three inches deep and fifteen inches across, and she declared it all round A+.  A third of it went back to the boat.
  • My Rock Shrimp and Grits with Chorizo Con Queso and a side of collard greens were a mixed bag.
  • The shrimp didn’t look like rock shrimp to me, but they were sweet and tender.
  • The chorizo had been over-cooked to dark, dry and crunchy.
  • The queso sauce was delicious and provided a nice counterpoise to the flavor of the grits which were not over “creamed.” Why people add cream to grits beats me.
  • The seven whole cloves of garlic in the sauce were not mentioned on the menu, but they offered a way to tune the garlic level of the dish since none of the elements were garlicked.
  • The collard greens seemed a tad sweet until the back flash of (chipotle?) peppers appeared. They got better as the meal progressed.
  • But the (rock?) shrimp didn’t. Three fourth’s through the meal I hit a shrimp that hadn’t been deveined. Finito. There is no excuse for this.
  • What was headed for an “A” experience ended up a solid “B-” on my side of the table.
  • Would I go back? Yes, but I wouldn’t order shrimp. [Actually an order of fritters and greens would have been more responsible anyway.]

Onward tomorrow. St Augustine and a change in tempo beckons.

Figures of Eight (rather than pieces thereof)

That Wandering Green Arrow is the Wild Card

Since picking up the mooring here in Fernandina we have incised figures of eight on the water.

When wind and current coincide, the mooring pendant stretches taught from the bow, and all is well.

When they are in opposition, the water aligns the boat because of the keel and rudder. The wind then pushes the aligned boat downwind.

Usually, this means smack into the mooring float…which sometimes drags under the hull, or worse, bangs against it.

We lucked out last night. Twice the ebb and flood Do-Si-Doed with the mooring float slightly up wind and away from the hull. On the third change in current, at o-dark thirty…bang, bang…bangbangbang…bang, thud. (That Green Arrow…)

Into sweats (not a sweat), I went topsides and turned the wheel to put the rudder into a position to turn the boat away from the float…quiet ensued.

Back below as I went to climb back in the sack, Janet said, “I’m awake now we might as well get up.” It was her side of the hull the mooring ball was banging.

The Fernandina moorings are located where the Bells River and Amelia River meet. The currents here swirl and rather than the moored boats swinging in unison to the change of tides, they tend to break formation like freshman released from Chemistry 101 on Friday. Then, once the full ebb sets in they resume the formation.

It’s all part of a water life.

Georgia Sleigh Ride

Pictures Never Portray Current Well

Today was a good day.

We left Brunswick in time to go through the Jekyll Canal an hour before high tide. Following the range above the bridge we went through 13 foot water — 4 feet at low tide!

Crossing over to the Cumberland River we rode through the washing machine of wind and swell against tide in lower Jekyll Sound (the Atlantic).

Our reward was a favorable tidal current we were able to ride all the way to Fernandina. At times we a three mph boost especially along the channel fronting the nuclear sub base.

Of course, we lost the favorable current the moment we crossed from Georgia to Florida (It’s not political, it’s the way the rivers run through there).

We decided on a mooring ball rather than anchoring. Ten minutes into the process we weren’t so sure. The boat aligned with the current but blew down on the mooring ball in the 20 kt breeze from the NNE. We got it sorted out, but others weren’t so lucky.

We did something new today. We traveled in company with another Caliber, “Symphony.” We re-met Chuck Gleason and Maryanne Driscoll when they tied up in Brunswick. I suspect we will see  more of each other as the southward trek progresses.

A Cruising Christmas Day

Boat-Tailed Grackle -- A machine for turning palm fruits into boat stains

Slept in. ♥ Scratch made potato pancakes for brunch…a tradition upheld ♥ Opened presents — surprised each other! Others were too generous! ♥ Cleaned bird droppings off deck and cabin — took three cleaners, bleach and elbow grease to remove stains ♥ Did more Laundry ♥ Cursed Grackles ♥ Topped off water tanks ♥ Cursed Grackles.2 ♥ Shook out rugs ♥ Vacuumed and dusted ♥ Discovered collected water from condensation — and associated mold ♥ Dried and cleaned, dried and cleaned, dried and cleaned ♥ (Re)Met fellow Caliber cruisers from “Symphony” — chatted through a biting gnat attack ♥ Called families ♥ Dined on traditional Christmas dinner sans left overs and with our favorite celebration wine ♥ Football

Just another day on the way to Paradise, but a meaningful Christmas nonetheless…


A Gallery for the Holidays

This gallery contains 28 photos.