RI to FL - Day 31
Jekyll Island, GA to Jacksonville, FL
We slept in a little later as the weather had been horrible all night and still horrible when I woke up at 0530… back to bed for a while no need to rush out into this weather before daylight.
We walked Beecha and had breakfast before departing at 0745… it had been windy all night nothing real steady just very gusty and was blowing 15 knots as we left the dock. Current was against us and would be until be crossed St. Andrew Sound and heading up the Cumberland River.
It was choppy but nothing too bad as we exited from Jekyll Creek into Jekyll Sound… as soon as we cleared the end of Jekyll Island heading out across St. Andrew Sound the NE winds broke loose as we were no longer in the lee of Jekyll Island… we suddenly had 25 knot winds on our port beam and waves started to build… 3 foot, 4 foot, 5 foot, 6 foot and then we started getting them from the SE and the NE… swells coming in from the Atlantic Ocean by the time we reached the point where we could turn and clear the shoals we had 10-12 waves… I made the turn as quickly as I could around the shoals and started back in out of the sound into the Cumberland River… we had a couple of rogue waves I would estimate to be 15 feet as we turned and crossed over the tip of the shoals… we did a couple of good rolls ports to starboard… but we now had the current with us and picking up speed soon we were doing 8 knots back toward smoother waters… 30 minutes start to finish and we were back in relatively calm waters… 3-4 footers on our stern from the NE winds.
After this eye opener first thing in the morning we had a fairly smooth day… we had about 15-16 hours or cruising to make Palm Coast so planned split this between two days… stop in the Jacksonville area and then into Palm Coast tomorrow.
The tide levels and currents to go with them seemed to be at their extreme… Cumberland Island area you normally have a lot of marsh land you pass through… today the tide was so high that it appeared as if we were going through a larger lake… no marsh exposed at all… it was very strange to see this.
We had made noted on some Jacksonville City Docks in the Sister Creek area that allowed you to stay for 72 hours for free… no amenities but with the winds a dock is nicer than anchoring… at least less to worry about. As we approached the docks we had planned to check out it was almost low tide… the floating docks were tilting… the inboard side of the dock next to land was not floating… so I was not sure there would be enough water for us alongside the docks… we opted to keep moving and find something further south. Checking the guides I came across a place just past the San Pablo – Atlantic Beach Bridge… Harbortown Marina… guess it used to be the Pablo Creek Marina and was turned into condos… anyway, they have 7 transient slips at $1.00 per foot including electric… sounded great to both Susan and I… we had entered Florida today but it sure was not “sunny”… it was cold, windy and miserable… a dock with power sounded fantastic.
We only had to go under the San Pablo – Atlantic Beach Bridge and and 1/8 of mile and we would be there… ETA 1530. Well it sounded easy… but this bridge can be a bear with current… the ICW narrows down and the current rushes through very swiftly and is very turbulent. Checking the current prediction on the chartplotter it predicted the current to be 4.9 knots at the bridge… Current against us as we approached the bridge and we were running at 5.0 knots… with no current we should make 6.5 knots at the RPM I was running… closing in on the bridge I could see the water boiling in front of us from the current… I increased the power to normal cruising RPM bringing us up to 6.0 knots… I looked at that water and turbulence we were heading toward… MORE RPM… 6.5 knots… when we hit the turbulent water 100 feet from the bridge SAILS rolled from side to side 10-15 degrees as we struggled forward against the current. We made it through the turbulent water as we entered the fender system on the bridge… I looked up at our speed and we were down to 4.2 knots and it was dropping quickly… before we cleared the bridge on the south side our speed dropped to 2.2 knots… that was some really swift current and we were going through when the current prediction was at 4.9 knots… the peak current was predicted to 6.6 knots at 1343.... WOW!
Just an 1/8 of mile and a turn to starboard and we arrived to our destination for the night at Harbortown Marina and docked at about 1545. Our location: N30°19.287’, W081°26.355’.
We traveled today for 8 hours covering 51.62 nautical miles averaging 6.45 knots.