This was our very first time sailing the US east coast south of Beaufort, North Carolina. We did not have a time line or a plan, although we did not plan to motor down the ICW. We sailed down the coast as weather permitted. We considered options for the next port based on weather and appeal of the town. We also considered inlet conditions after the Winyah Bay saga that was described in the last blog.
St. Augustine, Florida
The 60 mile sail from Cumberland Island, Georgia to St. Augustine, Florida was longer than a day sail. As we wanted to arrive in daylight, we chose to leave in darkness. St. Mary’s Inlet is well lit and wide. We left with the out going current and had no problems. Wild Iris sailed with us and quickly sailed past us. We motored through the inlet, then enjoyed an easy sail the rest of the night.
We spent six nights on a mooring. The Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) is just beyond the boats. Many boaters stop here! St. Augustine is said to be the oldest settlement in North America. We found it to be a very welcoming and interesting place to visit. There were so many things to see and do that it was difficult to choose.
We enjoyed meeting up with cruising friends at various musical events around town. Stopping for a nibble, drink, or famous pizza. Yes, it was justifiably good!
The weather was not good enough to head south. So when our mooring stay ended we motored north a few miles and anchored just south of Vilano Bridge. We found a beautiful beach to explore on the Eastern shore of the river. We also found a Publix supermarket for fresh supplies.
The following day we took the dinghies to Vilano Boat Ramp on the western shore.
Our hike took us all the way back into the Old City of St. Augustine where we found more historical treasures to explore.
And on our hike back we saw this lovely Peacock on a unique border fence made of local materials.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Our sail from St Augustine area to West Palm Beach was 209 miles. This ended up being a very slow passage with too much motoring: 52 hours total with 23 hours of motor-sailing. I sure wish we had a faster engine and/or a big light air sail!
Sand Castles in West Palm Beach, Florida
Part of the winter festival is to have a sandcastle contest. Here are a few of our favorites.
In mid December we decided to motor 3.5 miles south down the InterCoastal Waterway (ICW) and through the Flagler Bridge to a very secure anchorage across from West Palm Beach.
We had scheduled a serviceman to come aboard for our water maker. They recommended we pull in to the public dock.
We enjoyed a beautiful 30 hour, 160 nautical mile offshore sail to Marathon on Boot Key. It was a downwind run on the tails of yet another cold front.
We heard Marathon was a cruiser’s must stop as their is an organized group here similar to George Town in the Bahamas and featuring things like a morning radio net, activities, assistance, etc. There is a large protected inner anchorage that is filled with moorings. Tom called several times to reserve a mooring. They needed to see us in person to make the reservation. We motored 2 miles by dinghy into the dinghy dock at the cruiser’s marina headquarters. They charged $22 a day to land the dinghy, and for each day you are on the waiting list. After the paperwork for landing the dinghy was handed to us, we changed our minds and did not reserve a mooring. Too many rules and too expensive to wait. We won’t have that much time here anyway. Marathon seems to be a place for boaters to stay put for the entire winter season. It’s not set up for cruisers just passing through. Thankfully the weather was calm enough to stay outside the harbor for a few days. We took showers and did laundry here and walked to a local grocery. Package pickup was very convenient, although the system for finding your packages and mail was confusing.
Key West, FL
The 42 miles to Key West was accomplished under motor. We rendezvoused with Wild Iris once again. They had picked up their son Jack in Miami. We were all looking forward to celebrating Christmas together.
The weather was beautiful when we arrived. However, a 3 day front kept us on our boats in windy weather. We still managed to gather for Christmas Day dinner and games (Monopoly Deal).
2022 Year End Statistics
4,310 nautical miles traveled (16,782 nm since we started cruising in 2018)
18 nights at sea
230 nights at anchor
22 nights on a rented mooring
87 nights on our own mooring
3 nights at a dock
5 nights hauled out on land, still on board
8 States in the USA: NC, VA, CT, RI, NY, SC, GA, FL
3 Island groups in the Bahamas: Exumas, Eluethera, Abaco’s
5 Countries and territories: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, USA, Mexico
Farewell to our homeland. We are off to visit Mexico and the Honduras Bay Islands this winter.