Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Goodbye Florida, Hello Georgia

Hello all!
We've had a great time cruising in Florida; now, continuing northward the Winnie W. has crossed into Georgia. The distance by water from Saint Augustine to our home in North Carolina is about 625 miles; we're now about 550 miles from home.

This is the view looking southward towards the town of St. Augustine, taken as we were leaving. At lower right you can see the Castillo San Marcos, above it the dome of the Memorial Church, and to the left the towers of Flagler College (formerly the Hotel Ponce de Leon).

Next we stopped near Jacksonville to meet our friend Anne. She is a Park Service curator and is in charge of an amazing collection of historic finds & artifacts. Everything from paleolithic tools, pottery from Native American and Colonial people, to parchment maps & architects' plans. We spent more time than we probably should have just looking at cool stuff which merits serious attention & study.

Northeast of Jacksonville is the Mayport Naval Station. The ICW crosses the St. Johns River at this point, with a strong tidal flow creating a maze of sandbars. Kathie took this photo of birds relaxing with the Navy ships in the background.

We also took a great hike around the park at Fort Caroline and the Timucuan Preserve (link to park). Much is made of the Spanish founding St. Augustine; if you pay attention to the story, you realize the French were here first. In fact one of the main reasons the Spanish came was to chase the French out of territory claimed by Spain (link to history).

The importance of shallow draft... here is a classic sailing ketch anchored in a tiny creek near Amelia Island. The tide is low and it looks like she's resting on the mud.

We support The Nature Conservancy, and this great park & preserve was helped by TNC and a remarkable man named Willie Browne (link) who donated a large tract of unspoiled land. Along our hike we stopped at the site of Willie Browne's cabin and read his words: "Soon there will be nothing but a concrete jungle from Jacksonville to New York" (1960).

Sailboat sunk in the popular anchorage at Fernandina. We've shown a few photos of derelict boats; it's a big problem. So if you're thinking of buying an old boat cheap ("just needs some TLC") and living on it in Florida where the weather is so nice... DON'T

Another day, another historic fort! Guarding the entrance to Cumberland Sound is Fort Clinch (link). Amelia Island has been claimed by 7 different nations, all of whom regarded this as a strategic point. Construction of Fort Clinch started by the U.S. Army in the 1840s and never really finished. Florida State militias occupied it for the Confederacy early in the Civil War, and it was vital in sheltering blockade runners. The fort was recaptured by Federal forces in 1862 and remained in Union hands. (link to Florida history)

Low tide at the dock in Saint Marys, Georgia... the next photo shows the same spot at high tide. Since the Winnie W. re-entered salt water in early December 2007, we have had to re-familiarize ourselves with tides. On the Gulf coast, tides are small & irregular. On the Atlantic coast, they rise & fall on approximately 12 1/2 hour cycles (low to high to low tide again), and range from a few inches in southern Florida and North Carolina to 9 feet in some spots in Georgia & South Carolina. We also have to cope with the strong currents, which can hinder our progress down to 5 knots or a bit less, or speed us along at over 9!

Not quite as much of an up hill climb at high tide. Our home waters have strong tidal currents but not quite as much rise & fall as this. It's odd to think that at high tide you can comfortably cruise over what is dry land at low. This has to be taken into account when anchoring, too.

A "blast from the past:" here is a photo from our Florida-to-North Carolina cruise five years ago. The previous owner of the Winnie W. placed a cute toy tugboat on top of the pilot house next to the spot light. It's gone now, but this little "style piece" should bring a smile, and remind us that we're having fun.

We hope that you are all enjoying your past and present ventures; best wishes, Doug and Kathie

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