August 3, 2013

Two Men, One Mission

Post # 27

"Hark, now and hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky,
let your soul and spirit fly, into the mystic.

- Van Morrison

The time had come for Dixon Hudgins to lock up his office and leave.  But this was no ordinary leave.  This day he was leaving early, and he was not going home as usual.  This was big. As he locked the door, he glanced to the left then a quick look to the right... the coast was clear.... Click, bang, outta here.  

It was a Friday, July 26 to be exact, and this day had been in the planning stage for over one month.  Any clients who called after now would just have to wait. This date he was headed to the coast.  The key ignited the Jeep Cherokee and off he was to ventures unknown aboard Glory Days.  Steadily, he drove.  Destination, 

Amelia Island, and then sail south to St. Augustine.

Ok, so much for the drama... My buddy Dixon arrived around 6 pm that Friday night at the Fernandina Harbor Marina for what was to be a week of sailing between two best friends aboard Glory Days.

A fine dinner that night, and the next day we would prepare for departure.  We had to make a short and fast trip to Jacksonville Saturday morning to pick up a part for the propane stove.  But after that, it was all preparation to depart.  A trip to the grocery store for provisions was in order.  As seen in the photo below, Dixon had some hard choices to make.

Big Decisions....
By 2 pm, we were packed and ready to leave.  Due to a south wind of only 5 knots, we opted to motor along the inside of the Intracoastal Waterway. Maybe tomorrow, we would sail on the outside of Amelia Island to our destination of St. Augustine.  A south wind is not really what we want, since we are headed due south.  We hoped for a northeasterly but it never happened.
Underway!  Onward to Fort George!

Lots of bridges along the way... 65' height clearance on most all of them.

The magic of the marsh.  Typical site along the ICW

We got pounded with rain at one point, and it lasted about an hour... but loved every minute of it. 
Fishermen are everywhere I have found.  and that's a good thing. 
This is the route we took on the ICW.  
59 Statute miles to St. Augustine. 

We found the Fort George anchorage to be a very noisy and crowed section of the ICW.  Little did we know we were so close to  Jacksonville, which explains the crowds of speedboats who seemed to care less about a sailboat. 

We anchored at the marked channel just off the ICW at Fort George.  A very strange thing happened very late that night.... we were awakened by an very unusual site and sound.  It was almost like we were witnessing a UFO... suddenly, yet very slowly we noticed a series of bright lights hovering near the marsh line and headed our way... slowly approaching us.  
What the heck could this be?  It was bright.  It was loud.  And it was approaching us even closer now.  When the unidentified vessel got near us, we were able to figure out its identify by using the binoculars.

This is what they do... See Flounder fish caught here.
Evidently, this was a night boat fishing, or should I say gigging, for flounder, a fish that lives on the bottom in shallow areas. 

 Afterwards, I googled the image below and discovered this odd contraption of a boat, specially designed for directing huge bright lights onto the water, so that the men aboard could spear flounder fish with their long gigs on a pole... remarkable I thought, tho I was a bit spooked at first sight.  Evidently, they have a gas powered generator on board to power the bright lights, which explains the noise we heard... what a way to fish... check out the photo!

Night fishing rig for gigging flounder. 
6 A.M. Coffee time...
The following morning was Sunday.  I rose before dawn and fired the Yanmar diesel up.  Dixon hailed the anchor aboard.  There was a long day ahead and the sooner we get started the better.  Here's a photo of Dixon at the helm.  Coffee time, as we approached the St. John's River and Jacksonville. Since the wind was basically nil, and still coming out of the south, we opted to continue motoring along the Icw.  It's all good.
A 10 mile stretch on the cut... I forget the name of this cut ... cool homes on the left.  Wild marsh swamp on the right. 

The rest of the trip south was pretty relaxing and the scenery only improved along the way.  Bird life was abundant, as were several bridges we cleared.  This pic is a bridge we had to have raised for us.  

Finally, St. Augustine!  We arrived around 3 pm on Sunday into what would be a gorgeous day in a gorgeous section of water.  Lots of power boats sputtered about as we made our way to the mooring ball at the City Marina.
Little did we know our plans would soon change.  
Segways near the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine

The famous Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine, Fla

The View of St. Augustine from the mooring ball. 

Bridge of Lions at night... slow exposure.

The old Spanish Fort is still a bastion for touists.

So long St. Augustine.  
Due to a sudden health emergency back home, I had to quickly leave Glory Days at the River's Edge Marina the following day. The next day would involve a boat ride to the marina, a taxi ride to the airport, a jet ride to Atlanta, a train ride to the hospital, and a half mile walk to room 420 of Northside Hospital.  Thankfully Amy is fine now... more later...  God is good.

Stay tuned for the return to St. Augustine to retrieve Glory Days and push her to the limit!!

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