Sailing the Southeast Coast of USA

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

Lone Star moored north of the bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, FL

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.

Walking around St. Augustine with friends

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.

A pedestal on the Bridge of Lions

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!

Walking to Castillo de San Marcos at sunset. The occasional cannon blasts from their tourist demonstrations were close enough to our mooring that we jumped a few times.
Christmas lights of St. Augustine. They had a large generator in a trailer to run all these beautiful lights.
Swinging to the wind on the mooring, often we swung with the current and against the wind.

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.

Public dinghy dock with access to Vilano Beach.

The following day we took the dinghies to Vilano Boat Ramp on the western shore.

We found this museum during a hike on the western shore. It was too late in the day to wander in. There are steep fees for all the attractions in this historical town. Best to start early!
Interesting history!

Our hike took us all the way back into the Old City of St. Augustine where we found more historical treasures to explore.

Ceiling of a very old Spanish building, now part of St. Augustine College
Lisa admires the beautiful tile work in St. Augustine College
Looking back through the entrance at St. Augustine College. The fountain was lovely.

And on our hike back we saw this lovely Peacock on a unique border fence made of local materials.

Wild Peacock on a fence

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!

Tom and I had a great time hiking around Peanut island. Gorgeous views and nice paved walking paths.
Majestic palms line a park in West Palm Beach

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.

Lone Star at the public dock in West Palm.

We had scheduled a serviceman to come aboard for our water maker. They recommended we pull in to the public dock.

We enjoyed wandering around this open air market in West Palm Beach
We’ve endured a lot of cloudy, cool weather this Autumn. The locals said it has been unusually cold for this time of year.

Marathon, Florida

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.

Next morning, underway toward Marathon, Florida

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

A flock of birds on a calm sea

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.

Arrival in Key West

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).

Festive Christmas dinner on Wild Iris

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.

Sunset at sea heading for Mexico

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