Farewell St Augustine: We'll Remember You Fondly

Tomorrow morning at slack tide Second Star will depart St. Augustine, Florida. Our stay has been productive and fulfilling. A long list of boat projects was shortened, Susan’s son David visited, and we fell in with a group of like-minded sailors and boaters. The marina at which we spent most of our time was nicer than any we have ever visited, with large stable docks, clean and comfortable shower facilities, affordable laundry, and best of all friendly and welcoming staff. Finding this marina is a story unto itself and has its roots in our Dismal Swamp Canal days. More on that coming soon.

Tomorrow will be a long day as we plan to reach Daytona, about 45 nautical miles south. With St Augustine low temperatures forecast to be in the mid 30s for the next couple of days, we hope Daytona and then Titusville will be warmer.

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Omicron

The sounds of metaphorical tires screeching to a halt echoed along the Florida Coast just before Christmas. In response to the rising number of Covid-19 infections the Government of the Bahamas instituted new travel restrictions. The new requirements, while adequate for those traveling by air or cruise ship pose new challenges for boaters making it difficult to visit the Bahamas.

The entry requirement changes are causing Susan and me to rethink our itinerary, as much as there has been one. We are both triple vaccinated and because of our lifestyle at little risk for contracting Covid and at even lower risk for becoming so ill we need hospitalization. That is not the only concern. Medical facilities in all the island nations are limited. Any significant outbreak in the Bahamas will quickly overrun their ability to provide care for their citizens and visitors for any accident or illness. We are as or more concerned about non-Covid illnesses and accidents.

Two years ago, when we began final planning for our adventure, we labeled the plans, Plan A, Plan B, etc. Many events have transpired causing unforeseen changes in our plans, I think we have just about run out of the alphabet, our plans are now getting double letters, starting with Plan AA.

Plan AA has us sailing to the Florida Keys and perhaps out to the Dry Tortugas. If the latest wave of Covid subsides quickly we may return to prior plans to visit the Bahamas. We have time, our last Bahamas plan had us leaving Florida at the end of January and spending 90 days in the Islands. At this point a short visit in late March or April remains feasible before we head back north. We’ll see, our plans are always written in sand at low tide.

Public Domain image from the CDC. https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=23311

 

 

 

Annapolis

In 2019 Susan and I attended the US Sailboat Show at Annapolis. This is the largest sailboat show in the US and a mecca for sailors across the country. Our goal then was to research equipment and get the “Boat Show Price” for several big-ticket items. We had a good time, attended a couple of seminars, and saved enough to cover a good portion of the cost of attending. All while wading through abnormally high tides.

If the 2019 show was about stuff, the 2021 show was about people, at least for us. As we wandered the show we seldom stopped at a vendor as we had successfully outfitted Second Star with all the essentials. There was nothing to shop for. This year we enjoyed just being part of the event. We anchored out in Spa Creek next to Schyler and Laure aboard Ocean Cowboy, friends from our home port in Fair Haven. Met fellow Sabre owners for lunch at the Naval Reserve Club, an interesting event, while we all knew each other from the online Sabre group we had not put names to faces. As we were very loosely organized, there might have been several Sabre groups at the lunch gathering.

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Southbound

Leaving Annapolis after a full week we headed for Oxford Maryland on the Eastern Shore for the last stop in our “Friends and Family” tour. We visited with fellow Sabre sailor Rick who gave us a tour of the area, shared lunch, and graciously helped us support the local economy at a small-town hardware store.

The next evening, we went to dinner with Syracuse friends Mike and Kathy. Back in Syracuse their sailboat Colorme was docked next to Second Star’s predecessor. Mike and I retired from the same school district and it has been several years since the four of us had been together. The evening was filled with laughter and stories, some of which might have been true. It was great to see them!

From Oxford, we headed south to Solomons with the intention of sailing over to Smith Island, a small waterman’s community accessible only by boat. We had looked forward to spending an afternoon exploring the island, however, the weather had different ideas. A forecast calling for several days of gale force winds prompted us to wait in Solomons for a fairer forecast.

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Friends and Family

One salient aspect of the cruising life is freedom from schedules, sort of. Our days are driven less by the calendars of others and more by tides, weather, maintenance schedules, provisioning needs, all schedules of one sort or another. Schedules provide a certain security and predictability in our lives. We anticipated spending a month on the Chesapeake and within that month were several anchor points, the Sailboat Show in Annapolis and meet ups with friends and family, a schedule of sorts. 

On the Wednesday prior to Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day Susan and I considered our options. Our good friends Tally and Mark, who live near DC, have a very busy schedule, we planned to meet them over the holiday weekend along with my nieces, Sara and Kate who also live nearby. We started looking for a marina with vacancies and found only one, one that was first come, first serve. A plan was needed. 

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