The anchorage at Cane Patch Creek proved to be the right tonic for a couple of weary travelers. Overnight adventures tend to take a lot of the energy out of the human players and we were between the covers right after sunset. The engineering plant never missed a beat and at 40 Nm off the coast in the middle of the night, it is reassuring indeed, that the single main engine keeps you trucking along.
On Sunday we were up and underway by 0630. The weather was so nice that happening upon St Catherine's Inlet, we opted for another spell on the Atlantic. This is a fortunate inlet in that it is inclined to the southeast..the direction of our passage, and is well buoyed and wide. These are all good and tempting characteristics so, at about 0930 we exited the ICW for the freedom of the high seas. Our destination would be Fernandina Beach, the first of our Florida stops. We entered the channel about sunset and were safely alongside the facing dock at the town marina by dinner time. And for us that meant the Crab Trap, a local...good food...low cost...meal. They also featured the late NFL games and a review of the week in sports. Bill even tried their unique "battered french fries". Not recommended, even if you are really hungry Southerner.
The departure from Fernandina was complicated by the close proximity of our for and aft companions. After offering them coffee and a hand with their lines, they finally vacated the slips...and gave us a bit of maneuvering room for the on setting current and wind. This has been a problem in the past with this marina. The late departure allowed us to top off at the wholesale Florida Petroleum for diesel. Since this stop brought us back to the Atlantic inlet and the tide was in our favor, we decided on another run outside.
The day was perfect as we passed the naval complex at Mayport and dodged shrimp boats a few miles off the coast. We ducked into St Augustine after a complete run down from the local TowBoatUS rep on the inlet conditions. Our timing was right for once as the famous Bridge of Lions opened for us without a change in speed. This bridge is undergoing a multi-year refurbishment, but it didn't look like much had changed in the last two years. We called ahead to Palm Coast and secured a slip. They would be closed by the time we arrived, but they were sure to record the VISA billing. We pulled in after dark and wedged between a couple of mega-yachts, all by ourselves.
We have begun to see a lot of for sale signs along the way. Florida has been hit hard and early with the economic melt and the real estate market is perhaps the most visible sign of the pain. We suspect that many of the empty places reflect second home investments that have just become too expensive to hold. Just across from the marina is a huge condo complex...perhaps 500 units...with zero occupancy and little prospect.