We arrived here from St. Augustine late yesterday afternoon after a difficult slog through waters which were as much as two feet below normal levels. We met a tug pushing a barge at the narrowest part of that section of the ICW with two “S” turns. I called him on 13 and suggested a port to port pass and said we would stay out of his way. On the starboard edge of the channel we had a depth sounder reading of 4.5 feet (actual 6.5) and were crowded cheek by jowl with the barge. We passed within 20 feet of the barge. A few minutes later I looked back, and the wind had pushed the barge further to the south and it had run aground. When last seen, the Island Pilot (tug) was trying to pull his charge back into deeper water.
It was a stressful day of watching depths in mid channel get down to 3.5 feet at times (we run aground at 2.5 feet), and the NW wind continued to increase to force 7. When we got to Fernandina Beach, we sought shelter in a back creek where the current is strong, but we rode okay with both anchors out.
This morning we came into the marina, washed our laundry, and plan to leave in the late morning, heading offshore as we did in early January sailing in reverse from St. Mary’s inlet and on up to Beaufort, SC,
which should take us 24 hours give or take. The forecast is for the NW winds to diminish tomorrow, remaining up to 10 knots, then on Thursday, the wind should go around to the south and blow us up St. Andrew’s Sound to Beaufort.
Several of our companion reverse snowbirds have dogs aboard, so do not have the option of avoiding Georgia by sailing offshore.
Tomorrow, we leave Florida behind with mixed feelings. It might be a great place to visit in the winter time, but we surely wouldn’t want to live here year around.
Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Marina Directory Listing For Fernandina Harbor Marina