Posted by: nosmokingsails | December 22, 2010

Waves, Marshes, and Palms

So sorry to have taken so long to post here. We have been busy getting to Florida!

We left Dataw Island at 3:30pm on December 14th, and sailed away into the ocean once again. Both of us had been yearning to get back out there and actually SAIL again. The NOAA reports said the wind would be a positive NW 10-15 knots, and the seas did not look very high, despite the windy conditions offshore in the days before our departure.

I didn’t start to feel afraid until it had been dark for a few hours and the boat was shaking more than it usually does. The starboard ama kept bouncing out of the water and slapping back down again. It’s done it before, but this time I was so scared I cried for a few minutes, and then it was like, the Fear curled up inside me like a sleeping wild animal for a while.  And I was able to drive for a good few hours in the darkness before Rob took over.

While I was sleeping, or trying to sleep, I kept telling myself the boat was NOT going to flip over, it was not going to flip over.  But sleeping in the starboard bunk inside meant I felt it every time that ama came out of the water and slapped back into it again.  Little did I know, Rob was at the wheel watching the occasional 8 foot wave splash over our entire deck (this has never happened to us before).  Luckily, by dawn, when I took over again, the winds and waves had subsided somewhat.   We were 10 miles offshore for most of the sail and during that night the worst that did happen was our main sail winch (the main sail was down) exploded before Rob’s eyes.  Losing the winch made it so that we can’t go offshore again until we replace it.   It’s so important to have two working winches on the mast – as a safety measure besides hauling up the sails!  And if one of the winches exploded, the other could just as easily.

Ironically, we ended up motoring into a shallow Georgia inlet with the ocean as calm as a mirror of blue and green and silver.  Pelicans flew and floated around us along with the gulls and cormorants.  We eased into the bright yellow Georgia marshes as if that rough night behind us had been a mere mid-winter’s dream.

That sail was 24 hours long in total, and then we spent a few days in those Georgia marshes.  Tucked away down a creek where a baby and mother dolphin played and two palm trees watched over the blades of grass.  We relaxed in warm sun and still shivered at night, but it was refreshing to shiver a little bit less anyways.  And we got some work done on the boat.

When we left our little haven, however, we ended up motoring through brilliantly beautiful fog.  Dolphins joined us and swam between our hulls.  Hardly any boats were in sight for the many miles we covered before anchoring and then motoring again through another gray day of light rain.

My mom asked if I saw the wild horses and armadillos on Cumberland Island, but sadly, that island was covered in fog along with the rest of the land and waters around us.  We passed through Fernandina Beach on the 19th, only stopping briefly for gas and….showers!  They were great showers.  And this meant we only went 5 days without a shower!

It was cold that evening in Florida but certainly not as frigid as the Carolinas.  And the next day we set off again and covered 55 miles.  That night we anchored across from a beautiful palm-filled park and watched the full moon rise over the trees.  We wanted to see the Eclipse, such an amazing thing to be happening on this wonderful Solstice!  But I woke up at 1:15am with a headache, and it was really cold outside.  I managed to drink down my tea and sit in my sailing gear on the wet roof of our cockpit and watch the moon become filled with a red shadowy glow.  I named many new constellations in my head, watched some shooting stars, and thought about the sacredness of it all.

We slept late this morning, but still managed to get in a decent amount of miles today, and are currently anchored just below Ponce de Leon Inlet.  I was told my late aunt Leslie used to visit the town just across the water, New Smyrna Beach, so I feel her spirit beside me under the light of the moon shining down like a white sun.

As part of our Yule celebration, Rob made sushi for me, which was yummy.  And I’ve been frolicking around the deck today in my starry green dress.  Yes – it is finally warm enough for no sleeves during the afternoon!  (Only in bright sunlight, however.)

Pictures will have to be added in another post.  But one other exciting thing is that Rob went ashore from that first Florida anchorage and brought me back a huge palm leaf that looks like a giant fan.  I tied it up to the mizzen mast immediately.  Our boat now looks a bit like a tribal jungle warrior, and we burn sage so much that the image truly fits us.

Happy Yule and all the other holidays to everyone reading.  Much love and blessings, and much snow to those that want it (for the first time in my life, I don’t want to see snow – the lush green trees, the sleek blue-gray of the dolphin’s bodies as they dive, and the snow white of the egrets is plenty festive enough for me).

The photo of Rob’s palm gift to me:



  1. now that’s what I am talking about!! Sun,calm blue water, dolphins, no alarm clock!

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