Return to Florida

By Kevin

Before returning home to the Chicago area, we had unfinished business to attend to in Florida.

There was someone we had to thank, in person, for the success of our trip. Gerry O’Donoghue is an ex-Irish Navy Captain and a guardian angel for many would-be cruisers. He was instrumental in so many ways as he helped our crew get to sea the previous summer. So, we took a drive to Miami to buy Gerry a thank you lunch that in no way could repaid our debt to him.

While in Florida, we stopped in New Smyrna Beach for a few weeks and practiced land life while the kids caught up on school. But it wasn’t all work for the kids. We drove to NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility to hear a lecture by a former astronaut, where he discussed his (much farther) journey to space.

One day while in Florida, we watched in amazement from our deck as a cruiser beached his yacht. He had become disoriented sailing south and missed the Ponce de Leon inlet by six miles. Considering the journey we had just completed, I felt great empathy for him as he walked away, leaving his boat stranded on the beach. The incident reinforced just how fortunate we had been to return home from the sea, unscathed. I’ve crossed both major world oceans and know well the relief of reaching land. Our family had shared that feeling many times on our trip.

Final stop aboard Real Life

By Kevin

It was a bittersweet moment in May 2013 when we pulled into our final slip at the Morehead City Yacht Basin. It had taken three weeks to transit the ICW from Fort Pierce, Florida to this final stop in North Carolina.

It was time for this journey to end and we all went through our moments of melancholy. But we were here to get the boat fixed up and put onto the brokerage market. Almost a year prior, at the beginning of our sabbatical, we had considered keeping Real Life for occasional use. We came to realize, though, that it was just not a workable option: the costs involved in maintaining a large boat on saltwater are prohibitive.

So, we put her up for sale with Ed Harner at Beaufort Yacht Sales in June and within 8 weeks Ed called us with the news. She was no longer our boat.

 

Rainy days in Georgia

By Kevin

We’re sitting at the Morning Star Marina on St. Simon Island. This beautiful area is part of the greater Brunswick, Georgia area and is the primary urban center in southeastern Georgia.

We’ve been sitting here for two nights, enjoying the marina and nearby areas. We are not sticking around, though, because of the beauty of the area. It just won’t stop raining! After motoring for two days in heavy rain and wind with little sleep, when we pulled into the slip at Morning Star, we all collapsed in bed.

We are planning to stay here one more night, waiting for the forecast sunshine. Then, we’ll continue north aiming to hit Savanna by the afternoon of May 7th.

Fort Pierce to St. Augustine, Florida

By Kevin

Now that we are back in the U.S. and properly rested up, we’ll be heading north on a cruise of the legendary Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is a string of rivers and canals connected so as to allow boats to follow a mostly protected water route from Florida to New England. Our plan is to go only as far as North Carolina and then put the boat up for sale in the Beaufort area, which is a southeastern U.S. sailing hub.

Our third night out, we stopped in a marina in St. Augustine, the “oldest city in North America.” It was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and has a exceptionally well-maintained stone fort that was built as early as 1672 but heavily enhanced over the next 200 years.

St. Augustine is also one of the largest boutique towns we’ve ever seen. It has a beautiful historic downtown that features block after block of restaurants and shops, from tacky to chic.

Back in the U.S. of A.

By Kevin

The plan was to sail from Great Sale Cay to Jacksonville, Florida. 260 miles. Two nights and three days.

The plan lasted for 18 hours.

We first traveled northwest from Great Sale Cay, leaving the 20 foot deep water of the Little Bahama Bank for the 2000 foot deep water of the Atlantic Ocean.

We averaged four knots under sail for much of the day. Then the wind died. We had to fire up the engine and push the boat along using our precious store of diesel fuel. Hours went by and the wind didn’t return.

Our plan to get to Jacksonville had one assumption that we couldn’t work around. We needed to sail for at least 110 of the 260 mile voyage. We only carry that much fuel.

About 1 A.M., 18 hours after leaving, we were still only 50 miles north of Great Sale Cay. We should have been at least 90. Worse, though, was that the wind still wasn’t blowing and the weather forecast was light winds the following day.

We made the decision to turn the boat on a west-southwest course, to reach for Fort Pierce only 80 miles away. We motor-sailed until 4 P.M. the next afternoon, fighting against the northbound current of the Gulf Stream but pushed along by the 6-8 foot seas rolling in from behind us. Ocean swells that had traveled from as far away as Bermuda and the Azores.

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On watch

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On watch

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On watch

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On watch

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Back in the U.S.A!

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Landfall in Fort Pierce

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The crew and boat in the slip at Fort Pierce

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Lowering the Bahamas courtesy flag

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Lowering the Bahamas courtesy flag