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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fernandina Beach, Florida

As you can see by our position reports, on average we moved right along, especially once we entered the Gulf Stream. All along the way we had thunderstorms to keep us company - and to ruin our ability to conduct Ham transmissions. During the day, the thunderstorms disappeared - "dissipated" Myron said. I said they were out re-grouping to come back and play with us at night. The thunderstorms were isolated for the first two nights. None came close Thursday night, and one intercepted us Friday night. By the sound in the rigging, we guessed about 35 knots - or gale force. We reefed the jib, double reefed the main and Myron was driving Hold Fast on course at nine knots for his three hour watch. On Saturday a line of thunderstorms came off the north Florida coast - sort of a thunderstorm version of the school yard game "Red Rover, Red Rover" … send Hold Fast right over! Again and again we were amazed how the radar showed the storms dissipating along our route - and we praised God. When one did finally intercept us, we praised God that the lightening stayed just over a mile off and that we were able to see the power boats crossing our route. Saturday's storm caught us late in the day. Based upon the way the wind lifted the water from the ocean surface, we estimated the winds as approaching 50 knots, or Force 9 or 10. It was very similar to what we had seen in the Chesapeake (except not in a protected anchorage!) and our friend's wind instrument indicated 55 knots. Since the storms were moving east at 20 knots and we were heading northwest, we could look forward to a relatively short duration of such uncomfortable weather - say under an hour. The main was triple reefed and only a t-shirt of a jib was out to balance the boat. The gradient wind (as opposed to winds in the thunderstorms) clocked during our journey from the northeast to the east, then southeast and south, then southwest and this morning they were on their way to being from the west. To maintain as direct a course as possible, we had a number of interrupted "off-watches" for all hands on deck to jibe the jib pole and jibe the main - this type of thing usually happens at night! We are thankful we made it in early this morning - before the winds became northwest or 'on the nose.'

Enough of the sailing drama. Here are some neat things that can happen on a passage. This was our first opportunity to see the Matanilla Shoals during bright daylight hours. I have been trying since Friday to find a way to adequately describe the riveting color of the blue water on those banks. Crystalline was an apt word for the quality, but I could not come up with a flavor for the tone of blue. We stared at it as long as we could.

Once we were north of Cape Canaveral, we had an infestation of bugs on the deck and in the cockpit. Some were love bugs, not sure about all the others or why they were way out there with us. Then a small bird landed on deck. It was not a seabird and looked immensely tired. It must have been blown out there to us by the thunderstorms. It seemed happy to have a place to rest and paid for its passage by feasting on the bugs! It joined us in the cockpit for a bit and then tucked itself under the dinghy just before our worst thunderstorm. I did not see it again, however just before daylight I heard it begin to chirp as we got close to land.

We also had more dolphins. Yesterday a large group of dolphins with spots rode with us for almost an hour. I usually stay on the bow until they are gone, but I had to give up and get back to my watch. A few hours later a different pod of dolphins came through. They were highly rambunctious and one jumped and splashed me. I ran to grab the Go-Pro for video and told Myron one of the dolphins splashed me - he seemed to write my comment off to sleep deprivation. I was all the more pleased when that dolphin splashed Myron with water too!

We were glad to grab a mooring this morning. Our plans are short term: get cleaned up, eat and rest. Anything beyond that will be written about later.

Love to all,

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