Beaufort, SC to Green Cove Springs, FL 

12th November 2005 - 11th January 2006

Back aboard after our wonderful holiday in the North Carolina Mountains with Chris and Vivian, it was now time to start focusing on getting Anju to the venue for her winter rest period, which this year was to be Green Cove Springs far up the St. Johns River past Jacksonville in Florida.   

Early the following morning we raised anchor in Beaufort, South Carolina to make the first leg of the journey, out through Port Royal Sound and southwards through St. Mary's Entrance to re-visit one of our favourite spots, Cumberland Island in Georgia.   Our trip was an uneventful mixture of goose-winged downwind sailing and motor-sailing when the wind dropped off too much to allow us to sail any more.  By 08.30 am next morning, arriving in the anchorage off Cumberland Island, we spotted "Starship Annie" a yacht belonging to friends Roger and Françoise.  It was early and we were unable to raise them as we motored by to anchor by simply shouting or by VHF radio, so finally we decided if we checked in our current position to the Cruiseheimers' SSB radio net, they may well be tuned in.  Sure enough, Phil had no sooner given our location to the net when Roger and Françoise appeared on deck seeking us out.   We hadn't seen them since the summer in Newport, Rhode Island and it was great to catch up and later to share a wonderful dinner of their fresh caught fish.  The next morning they had already left the anchorage by the time we stirred, always the nature of the cruising life, catching up with old friends and then saying farewell until the next time, wherever and whenever that may be.


We took an early morning walk ashore, enjoying the tranquility before the first ferry of campers and day-trippers arrived.    The island was so peaceful and we managed to catch sight of the local wildlife taking their breakfast.   Our first sighting was an armadillo, which seemed completely unbothered by our presence and he snuffled through the undergrowth in search of a tasty snack.    As we continued our walk we spotted a couple of wild turkeys, which were sensible enough to live in the National Park, away from the imminent threat of Thanksgiving Dinner!

Cumberland Island's beautiful landscape of contrasts

Sailors are always nervous when on a schedule, so even though we still had several weeks before the flights to the UK we'd booked, we soon pressed on southwards down the Intracoastal Waterway towards the St. Johns River in Florida.   After a peaceful night anchored in the Fort George River we found ourselves heading quickly, with the help of the strong tidal current, up the St. Johns River towards Jacksonville.   

We had only one constraint on our trip up the St. Johns River, the lifting bridge in the centre of Jacksonville, so we'd decided to pass through the bridge before tying up on the dock to explore the city, leaving us free to continue on up the river at any time.    Our plan was, however, subject to the normal "never-knowing-what-will-happen-next" factor of sailing and we discovered that the bridge was being repaired and wouldn't be working.


Luckily, the friendly city of Jacksonville provided FREE docks for visiting boat on both sides of the bridge and so we revised our plan and tied up near the football stadium, on one of the best floating docks we've seen during our time in the States and definitely with one of the best rates we've found!    Despite the abundance of free docks in the city, it is several miles off the normal beaten track for cruisers, so we found we had only two other boats for company at the dock, one also being a British yacht.   We soon became acquainted with Adrian and Sue on their beautiful Hallberg Rassy, Lalize and had fun exploring the sights of the city together.

Jacksonville's waterfront and repaired bridge

We found the city to be very welcoming, with a free bus service to take us from the marina to the downtown area.   Highlights of the city for us were the brand-spanking-new palatial library which, as we'd arrived during their opening celebrations, entertained us with free concerts by local musicians, as well as providing free wi-fi internet access.   

Free lunchtime concert at the beautiful new library

Phil trying not to look nervous on the monorail, despite our discovery that nobody was driving!

In a new experience for the crew of Anju, we took a trip on the city's monorail, known as the Skyline.   It was a strange sensation, speeding along above the traffic, past first floor office windows and whizzing around bends in the track with no driver on the train, but the monorail quickly and cheaply took us across the river to explore the two museums on the opposite bank.

We enjoyed the city so much that we naughtily exceeded the three day free dockage period by a day but nobody seemed concerned and there was plenty of space for new arrivals, so we didn't feel too guilty!   

The last leg of the year's journey was completed in time to join our friends John and Ann of Sundowner at the Thanksgiving celebrations organised at Green Cove Springs Marina.    They'd kindly arranged a reservation for us at the marina which has often been their home and we were quickly accepted as part of the "family" of residents and even managed to secure ourselves a much-sought-after spot on the dock for the duration of our trip to the UK.    The daily happy hour on the porch was a very welcome break as we got into a programme of maintenance aboard Anju.

One Sunday morning we took another break to head on our bikes with new friends Jim and Debbie Sherwood, who had just finished building their own yacht Someday, to the Green Cove Springs VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) hall for breakfast.    The five dollar breakfast was enough for about three people but we'd foolishly ordered one apiece.   The chef however, didn't think we'd have enough to eat and on discovering we were visitors from Wales brought us a complementary plate full of sausage and tomato to add to our mountain of breakfast!  It was a miracle but after breakfast we were still able to cycle and took a quick trip into the town of Green Cove Springs to visit the actual spring.


The fast flowing spring was used by the town to fill an open-air swimming pool.   Although it would have been a joy to swim in non-chlorinated water, unfortunately in December it was far too cold for a dip, besides we would probably had sunk!

In addition to kindly ferrying us to and from the far distant supermarkets and hardware stores, John and Ann kindly volunteered to drive us down to Orlando airport for our flight and pick us up on our return, a trip of three hours each way and would only allow us to repay their kindness with Christmas puddings from the UK on our return and a couple of curry dinners aboard Anju!


Phil and Christine at the famous Green Cove Spring

Unusually for us we arrived at the airport with only one bag between us, foolishly believing it was better for everyone to handle only the one piece of luggage.   Our efforts, however didn't pay off when, despite being way below our total luggage allowance, we were advised that the limit per bag had been reduced to fifty pounds and our bag was sixty six pounds in weight, mostly due to the weight of our hand-crafted Christmas presents.  We would either be subject to a $25 dollar heavy baggage fee or could repack some items into another bag, available for the bargain price of only $30 dollars!

Our five week visit to the UK seemed to fly by in no time at all but it was great to catch up with family and friends and finally meet Phil's new Granddaughter, Polly, who was already six months old and spend quality time playing Thunderbirds with grandson James.    


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