Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

Northern Florida

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Heading South In Search of Warmth

Our journal entries are arranged chronologically, so even if this part of the page looks the same to you as it did last time you visited, please scroll down to see if we have added anything since you last checked. 

January 30-31, 2005  Fernandina Beach
We have no pictures of Fernandina Beach, even though it is unquestionably the most picturesque place we have visited aboard Starsong.  Read on and eventually you will learn why.
Fernandina Beach Today
Fernandina Beach is at the north end of Amelia Island, the northernmost barrier island in Florida. The town marina is right at the end of the main street of the historic district--Center Street.  From our boat, we looked out over the old brick and stucco buildings painted salt water taffy colors.
Center Street has lots of shops and restaurants, with precious few cheesy souvenirs to be seen anywhere.  We enjoyed going to the Amelia Coffee Company each morning for lattes and pastries while we read the New York Times.  There are two small independent bookstores about a block from each other that caught our fancy. Both have their own unique character that beckons browsers with lots of books of local interest . 
Though window shopping the colorful resort wear shops was fun, we weren't tempted, with temperatures that didn't quite reach 60 degrees.  We were tempted by the fried food at the Crab Shack, and had oyster po' boys, hush puppies and breaded fries in the most unhealthy and greasy-good meal we have had in ages.
Two paper mills bookend the town, and provide it with financial stability, and probably some negative aromatic overtones if the wind is wrong.  We never smelled anything from the mills, but we could see them spewing steam and shoveling chips 24/7.
Fernandina Beach History
We visited the small but outstanding Amelia Island History Museum for a guided "Eight Flags" tour.  One of the island's claims to fame is that eight flags have flown over it through its history, some more than once.
We were surprised to find that our docents for the tour were Allen and Sharon Lennon, who used to live in Cincinnati.  Allen worked with Dick at one time.  They did a fabulous and fascinating tour tag team style.  We'd love to share everything we learned with you, but here is just a list of the flags--(1)French (Huguenots 1560-63), (2)Spanish (missions, 128 years), (3)English (spoils from the French and Indian War, 20 years),  (4)flag of patriots who briefly seized the island and wanted to be annexed to the US, (5)Gregory MacGregor's family flag up for 5 months, (6)Mexican rebel flag, (7)Confederate flag, (8)US flag.
Bruised But Not Broken
Calamity struck and catastrophe was averted on our second day in Fernandina Beach. Dick was hauling our bikes down from the flybridge when somehow the pedal of his bike caught on the rail just as he was maneuvering to put it down on the dock.  The bike crashed to the concrete dock, with Dick sprawled on top of it.  The camera ended up in the water, and sank without a trace. Dick jumped up and retrieved a couple of things that fell and floated, like our spare innertubes for the bike tires, while he assessed whether he had broken a rib. 
He decided he was just bruised, so we continued with our plans, and rode out to Fort Clinch State Park to look for shark teeth on the beach and a purple sandpiper on the rock jetty.  As far as we could see up the beach, there were only about a dozen hardy souls like us braving the chilling wind to look fro treasures from the sea.  We didn't find any shark teeth, but we found a couple sand dollars, and we did see the purple sandpiper, a new bird for us. He's unmistakable, more by behavior than appearance.  He hangs out on rocks where waves break, pecking in a rapid sewing machine motion at kelp on the rock, hopping back to safety a split second before a wave crashes, then jumping right back to work the second the wave recedes to expose the kelp again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005  St. Augustine
"Red sky at morning, sailors take warning."
We admired the spectacular scarlet and magenta sunrise, bid farewell to the little limping marina puppy with his leg in a pink cast, and bundled up for 59 miles of sailing in temperatures in the 50s with a chill wind on the back of our necks.


This is a picture of St. Augustine we took under similar weather conditions the next morning while we waited 20 minutes for a scheduled bridge opening so we could head south.  This is not really the St. Augustine we got to see during our brief stop here.  Instead, we took the marina loaner car out to the generic part of town, where we (1)got Dick's glasses, damaged in his fall, repaired at Pearle Vision Center, and (2)bought a new camera at Walmart.
After those errands, we went to the historic Spanish section of town to eat at Columbia, a Cuban/Spanish Restaurant.  Although we didn't have the time (or the  weather) to wander the narrow streets of this charming neighborhood, our dinner gave us a taste of its heritage.

Tuesday, February 2, 2005  Daytona Beach
Once again we awoke to cold assertive north winds and overcast skies. The weather radio offered no hope of improvement, and added the 80% threat of showers and isolated thunderstorms.  In other words, it was a great day to be heading south.

As we headed south, we passed many big beautiful cruisers heading north in a big hurry.  We quickly deduced that they were Super Bowl bound, not only because we couldn't conceive of any other reason to go north on a day like this, but also because so many of them exhibited signs of testosterone overload.  They were bullies barreling down the channel refusing to give way or slow down for puny boats like ours that they left bobbing in their brawny wakes.
One big bruiser, a 96 footer, zoomed by so close he nearly forced us out of the channel into shore.  We looked back to see him do the same to two boats behind us, and shortly thereafter heard the second boat radio that they had been forced aground.
Dick volunteered to try to help them get unstuck, and we turned around to assist, but they got back afloat themselves before we got there.  We gave them our phone number, in case they needed a witness to the incident, and continued on our way.

A couple hours after we checked into the Dayton Marina, they limped in on one engine.  We ended up having dinner together at the Charthouse restaurant at the marina.  By then, they had tracked down the offending boat, learned its captain, identified other witnesses, and made arrangements to have their boat hauled out the next day for assessment of the damage. Plus, they were really delightful dinner companions.


We woke up the next morning to fog so thick we could scarcely see 100 yards.  We weren't going anywhere.  At 9:30 it started to lift, and a little after 10 we took these pictures, as we were about to cast off.