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Friday, June 1, 2012

Back in the States

We took a mooring off of Fernandina Harbour Marina two days (or two ‘no sleeps’) and eight hours after slipping the mooring in Man-O-War eastern harbor. I initially told Myron it was 2 days, 6 hours because my mind was too tired to correctly calculate the difference between 6:30 am and 2:30 pm!
We were through the north MOW Cut by about 7 am with light winds to our stern. We ran wing and wing. For a little while we had the engine running at about 1100 RPM to keep proper steerage in the troughs of the waves. As we began to turn west, the winds shifted a little more south which made for a nice broad reach. This allowed us to get all sails out, improved our boat speed and handling and eliminated any need for the engine. Conditions continued to improve. Our speed was around seven knots and we sometimes saw over eight. I was amazed that we were almost abeam Great Sale Cay before nightfall. At sunset we pulled down the mizzen to reduce speed during darkness. This would be one of many sail reductions for the night. As the winds increased we reduced the jib, then we put one reef in the main. Within a few hours we put the second reef in the main. In about another hour we reduced the jib to about 25% and put a third reef in the main. The ride was getting wet. Sometime after 3 am, the winds began to head us. We were in a feeder stream to the Gulf Stream. We wanted and anticipated west winds, but not until we were on the west side of the Gulf Stream about six hours later. As we see often, the forecast was a little off. It appeared tropical depression Beryl was on the move to the northeast earlier than expected, hence our west winds while we were still east of the main Gulf Stream. We sailed as close to the wind as possible, trying as we might to make more west than north while in the Gulf Stream. Brad and Sabrina on Joint Venture made the crossing the same time as we did. They could get XM radio weather and see the squalls. They checked every 30 minutes and would let us know if we were about to be hit with anything that looked ominous. I was in frequent prayer mode over a big squall coming toward us. Later on, Brad told Myron that they saw a very bad squall on XM radio just disappear as it approached us and then reform after it passed us. God is so good (all the time)! He hears our prayers. The nasty weather during darkness due to the surrounding squalls and thunderstorms only lasted about six hours, but it was enough time for us to find new ways and rediscover old ways to get bumped and bruised! Everything always looks better in daylight. The remainder of our journey was quite pleasant. We had to turn on the motor when we lost all winds but at least the seas were flat. We had about a half dozen dolphins ride the bow for at least 20 minutes. Such an experience is a natural healing balm for a bruised and tired body. Dolphins are just plain fun. All in all, the few hours of bad weather was very little compared to all the good.
We chose Fernandina Beach for our arrival so we could check into the U.S. and then head to our favorite Georgia anchoring spot, Cumberland Island. We did not know what to expect for this process. Before we left the Bahamas, I downloaded instructions, phone numbers and check in locations for all of Florida. We have two prepaid cell phones and were not sure how we would get them operational to make our required ‘immediate’ call upon arrival. We charged up the Verizon phone and Myron was able to get service somewhere off of Cape Canaveral. Outside of St. Mary’s inlet, I tried calling the marina to reserve a mooring. I was able to add minutes to the phone and we were set. This was going more smoothly than we anticipated. Once we took the mooring, we called to check into the country. That call was easier than expected and very quickly we had an arrival number. The second call was to the local customs office to arrange presenting ourselves in person. That officer gave us instructions to their office. We had a pleasant walk through town and over to the industrial area. The customs officer was inquisitive but very pleasant. In addition, joy of all joy, the office was air conditioned. Suddenly, we were all done, checked-in and free to roam about the country. Our next plans were to get Thursday pizza at the Moon River pizzeria, but the walk proved too much in the heat after such little sleep. Dinner and sleep aboard on Hold Fast was the mutual consent. There will be enough opportunity for Thursday pizza nights when we are at OYCM.
Soon enough we will head over to our favorite spot on Cumberland Island for a few ‘sleeps’ (overnights), then we will work our way back to OYCM. While we have internet this morning, we are working on summer travel plans out west.
Thank you for your prayers.
Love to all,
Dena

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