3rd December 2008 - 7th January 2009

Back at Green Cove Springs after spending seven precious weeks in the UK with family, our priority was to get Anju ready to launch as soon as possible.     A reflection of the demise in the Pound Sterling against the US dollar was curtailment of our job list, keeping expensive yard time to a minimum.   Some jobs, of course, couldn't be avoided and soon we were hard at work with the sander, readying Anju's bottom for some new coats of anti-fouling paint.

In only a week Anju was launched and we made the most of our dock time to undertake some major provisioning, ready for our trip.    We were enjoying the luxury of having our own vehicle with which to do this.   

The Glamorous Yachting Life

Sunset anchored off Green Cove Springs

Just a week after our launch, we were off heading down the St. Johns River towards Jacksonville.    Naturally on arrival at the city, our favourite railroad bridge was ready to close just in front of us.    

We fuelled up there before continuing down the river.   We hadn't really made a fixed plan and decided to press on as far as we could towards the sea before we encountered unfavourable tide.   By a stroke of luck we made it right out of the Mayport inlet with only a very brief period of less than a knot of tide against us.   We continued overnight and by the following afternoon were already anchored in Titusville in sight of the enormous Space Shuttle Hangar.  During a routine evening check around the deck we were surprised to enjoy the spectacle of the Christmas parade of lighted boats around the harbour.

We pressed south, keen to reach warmer weather as soon as possible, stopping overnight in Melbourne.    By the next night we were in Fort Pierce, anchored in our least favourite anchorage just south of the bridge.   

Severely restricted by our draft in the areas where we could anchor, we were dismayed to see a large area of the deeper water occupied by a large boat, seemingly left unattended on two anchors.    We managed to find a spot just on the edge of the channel which seemed to suit.   We didn't want to repeat our earlier experience in this anchorage of spending several hours aground at low water.    Everything seemed fine before we adjourned to bed.

Space Shuttle Hangar - Titusville

At around 5.30 am we were rudely awoken by our trusty GPS "anchor-drag-alarm".   We always used this wonderful device on a setting which would rouse us in the case of a major change of wind or tide direction.  We felt it better to get up unnecessarily to check that things are fine.      On this occasion, however, things were not fine.   It transpired that the boat which was anchored in front of us before the tide turn was now inches behind us, having laid two anchors, whilst we, having out only one, had swung a greater distance.    We found ourselves re-anchoring in the dark.    Some kind of danger flag flown by boats with two anchors out would have made anchoring life much easier!
Our previous trip down the ICW from Fort Pierce to Lake Worth had been a stressful one, where we'd found ourselves aground three times in just over an hour.    We'd vowed only to travel this stretch of coast out in the ocean.  However, it seemed the weather was conspiring against this plan.    We decided to call local OCC Port Officers, George and Nancy Marvin of Trumpeter, based in Hobe Sound, to see if they had any more up-to-date information on the state of depths near Jupiter.    Next thing we knew we were invited to the Christmas Eve service at their church and to Christmas dinner at their home.   What a wonderful surprise this was, as we hadn't made plans for celebrating Christmas.

George and Nancy preparing turkey for their guests

Anju was just too deep for the dock at their home but we were reassured that the nearby anchorage at Peck Lake had plenty of water to accommodate us.    Peck Lake proved not only to be deep but also a beautiful spot from which we could dinghy to the coastal nature reserve and walk on the ocean beach.    The spot lay only about half-a-mile from the canal on which George and Nancy were located.   

Our friends also lent us a car to make a shopping run.    We returned to their house around lunchtime on Christmas Eve after the somewhat stressful trip around a crowded Walmart.    Nancy kindly fixed lunch for us whilst George wanted to show us his latest acquisition, knowing we'd be very interested.    He had sourced a refrigerator compartment designed to fit perfectly on top of the wonderful Engel freezer, which simply used the cold from the freezer to chill its contents.    One look and we were convinced this was exactly what we needed from Santa.    We found ourselves in George's car racing towards the supplier in Jupiter to collect one.    The suppliers had kindly agreed to stay open until we arrived!

After the delightful candlelit church service, we found ourselves in the company of George and Nancy's other cruising guests, Monty and Sara Lewis, celebrities in the Bahamian cruising world for their wonderful Explorer chartbooks.     The four of us enjoyed dinner together at a local hostelry recommended by our hosts.

Christmas Day did not start too well for us, with the now traditional "Christmas-Heads-Failure" (the toilet stopped working).   Luckily this was quickly and cleanly remedied and we excitedly began to make the modifications necessary to install our gift from Santa.    This new refrigerator compartment, for negligible additional power draw, would double the refrigeration capacity on board.   

We arrived early at George and Nancy's home, to help in any way we could with the preparations for the dinner for their sixteen guests.      It seemed however that they had all the preparations well under control.    Soon their other guests arrived and the wonderful dinner was served.  Later we took a much needed stroll with the dogs before dinghying home to Anju.

Next day Monty and Sara were heading out to provision, so we tagged along, to supplement our supplies.    That evening George and Nancy's friends kindly invited all of us over for dinner to eat up the Christmas leftovers. We were grateful the next day for the great beach walk at Peck Lake, where we walked with Frank and Lisa of Sweet Sensation, to make up for any over-indulgences.

We moved on south, passing through Jupiter without incident this time to Lake Worth, where we anchored ready to sail outside to Miami.    We'd planned to leave through the inlet around midnight but on failing to be able to nap earlier in the evening, we actually left at around 8 pm for the overnight trip.     By 9.30 next morning we were anchored safely amongst the luxury homes in Miami.   

There, while we waited for a potential weather window to make the Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas, we entertained ourselves with more provisioning by dinghy from Publix and a long hike along the seafront at South Beach, enjoying a taste of South Beach life and the lovely art deco architecture.

We spent New Year's Eve aboard Anju, entertained by scantily clad ladies on one side and on the other by an all-night party culminating in a loud session of howling at the sunrise.    We were in an excellent spot to enjoy all three firework displays around Miami and South Beach at midnight.

South Beach, Miami

Suddenly it seemed we'd have an opportunity to make the crossing.     The forecast wind would be easterly but supposedly very light, which should allow us to motor over.    We left our anchorage late afternoon to head out of Miami.    The presence of five cruise ships in the Government Cut meant we had to take the long way around to the sea.   Of course, as soon as we entered the narrow channel between the breakwaters, heading out to sea, all five cruise ships decided to leave the docks and overtook us.   Our nerves were a little frayed!   

We headed out to sea in the wake of the enormous ships, only to discover that the wind was much higher than forecast.   This would make a trip motoring directly into the wind slow and uncomfortable.     After a couple of miles we had the sudden realisation that Anju is, in fact, a sailing boat and it would probably be much more fun to make the trip without wind right on the nose.  We turned around and headed back into Miami facing an outgoing flood of container ships in the dark.

Finally we headed into an anchorage we'd used previously at Fisher Island.  We promptly discovered that the spot where we'd anchored before was now occupied by an unexpected shoal.    Anju was aground in the dark and now we weren't even sure which way the deeper water lay anymore, since our chart was obviously no longer accurate, due to the moves in the sandbars.   It was getting late and we were stressed.   Waiting for the tide to rise just wasn't an appealing idea.   It was time to call the trusty Tow Boat US service.   Our rescuer arrived in only twenty minutes and boy, oh boy, were we happy to see him.   Once safely anchored in deeper water, we had a calming G & T and headed to bed, exhausted.

We decided to head a little further south to No Name Harbor to await the next opportunity to head to the Bahamas.   No Name Harbor was within the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and was a fun spot, if perhaps a little crowded.    

Anxious that we were perhaps anchored a tad close to the swanky powerboat next door, Phil insisted that we venture over by dinghy to ask the bikini clad, glamorous, blond young lady aboard if they were happy with our proximity.    

Next thing we knew giving our neighbours a tour of Anju, a boat somewhat different to theirs.    Soon we were over on their boat taking a reciprocal tour and socialising with the very friendly folks.   Next day Phil took Lucas and his dad Ashley over to the seawall for a spot of fishing.

The next evening we were entertained by the spectacle of a Spanish-speaking Miami local in a power boat trying to anchor in front of a small French cruising sailboat.    We watched in horror as he dropped his teaspoon sized anchor right on top of the sailboats anchor, then proceeded to let out enough rope to make sure his boat would lie right behind the French boat within inches of its stern.  He seemed sure this plan would be a success, the Frenchman not quite so sure.  The language barrier just made the whole thing more entertaining.   Luckily there was no wind or tide to speak of.   Finally in desperation as the dozen or so children on the Miami boat hurled themselves into the water for a swim, the Frenchman rafted the Miami boat alongside his sailboat and went out in his dinghy to retrieve the teaspoon anchor, fearing they might drag his boat back with them to Miami when they tried to leave.
Next night, however, we were laughing on the other side of our faces.  In transpired that a trawler powerboat on entering the harbour in a calm, with boats lying all asunder, had decided that the best place to anchor would be right on top of our Bruce anchor.  Half an hour later a cold front brought a 30 knot, 180 degree wind shift.  Anju swung around 180 degrees on the anchor as expected and the chain stretch out in the high winds.   This meant that we ended up about 2 inches in front of the power boat.   We weren't aboard but rushed frantically across the harbour back to our distressed baby.    

Due to panic-stations miscommunication, we both assumed the other crew member was securing the dinghy and duly leapt aboard, leaving poor Anjulita to take an adventure alone up the harbour whilst we dealt with the crisis.     Luckily a friendly cruiser quickly retrieved her for us.

Meanwhile the hysterical motorboaters at our stern were screaming that we were dragging down on them.      Their hysteria was understandable, as a sailboat from Quebec had just bounced off them and slammed into the harbour wall.     Anyway when the screaming stopped, we pointed out that we hadn't actually moved and weren't actually moving, hence didn't believe ourselves to be dragging.   Perhaps however, all that was stopping their boat from slamming into the wall in hot pursuit of the French Canadians was the fact that, lucky for them but unlucky for us, their anchor was hooked on our anchor chain.   Our poor 30 kg Bruce was all that held both our boats.     Luckily the anchor held us both through the blow.  Once the wind calmed a little, we managed to untangle the two boats.   We declined 'the motorboaters' offer to raft up alongside us for the night!
No Name Harbor would definitely not be a place to hang out at the weekend.   We weren't sorry when at 6.30 am the next morning, Chris Parker advised that it might be a good opportunity to cross the Gulf Stream that very day.     Our anchor was up and we were underway before breakfast!
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