Green Cove Springs to Miami, FL 

12th January - 19th February 2006

Back aboard Anju after our visit to the UK, it was time to get down to work.   Annual haul-out time was upon us and Paul from Green Cove Springs Marina managed to keep the travel lift working long enough to haul Anju into the yard.   Once she was safely located in the work yard, Paul spent four days carrying out repairs to the lift but assured us it was not as a result of Anju's sea-kindly 20 tonnes!

Team Anju set to work.   First the stuffing material in the stuffing box was replaced, an important job since it stops water getting up the prop shaft into the boat!    Next we started preparing to renew the antifouling paint on Anju's bottom, first came the sanding, then three new coats of antifouling in a fetching shade of black, to keep the hitchhikers at bay.   Our biggest challenge was waiting for weather warm enough for the paint to dry, a problem we haven't encountered in our yard days in the tropics.    

A pleasant interruption to the workload came in the form of a visit by Dean and Nancy, Ralph and Jeanette from Virginia who, we were delighted to discover, had their boats moored only about 20 miles downriver of Green Cove Springs.    We managed to clean ourselves up enough for them to whisk us away from the boatyard for our first sampling of hot wings at a nearby restaurant.

After about ten days of hard work, Anju was ready for launch and the travel lift was fully operational again.   A couple more days on the dock to finish tidying up and getting shipshape and it was time to say farewell to all our friends from Green Cove Springs, old and new.

Sampling hot wings

Christine relieved not to hit her friends' boats while parking - Pegasus, Sandpiper and Anju finally get together

As we made our way back down the St. Johns River in Florida, our first stop was in Jacksonville to spend more time with Dean, Nancy, Ralph and Jeanette.   It was great to have all the boats finally together in one spot and our friends negotiated a fantastic deal with the friendly marina owner Bill Dye.   Not only was the dockage generously provided free of charge for their visitors from Wales, a sack of Oysters was also thrown in by Bill for a party on the dock!     This was another culinary first for the crew of Anju, who apprehensively sampled their first raw and cooked oysters.   Needless to say the seconds went down much quicker, followed by many more, accompanied by Louisiana hot sauce. 

Bill Dye, Jeanette and Ralph

You first!

Down the hatch!

After all those oysters we tucked into Dean's delicious barbecued beef in mustard and by the time the evening was over we could barely waddle back to our boats!     

Dean's piece de resistance comes off the grill

Nancy seeking some fabric to stitch between all the holes in Anju's sail covers

Anju's sail covers were looking pretty shabby and during our stay Nancy kindly volunteered to patch them up using her canvas working experience and heavy duty sewing machine.   The only condition attached was that we had to let her win during one of the many dominoes tournaments held during the course of our visit!  

Once the wind turned in the right direction, it was time for Anju to leave the party to continue her journey southwards before the crew gained any more weight!   We headed to the mouth of the river with the help of the ebbing tide, finding ourselves reaching eight knots at times.   Our next objective was to arrive in Miami as soon as possible and we didn't waste any time in heading south in search of warmth!    

The first 36 hour leg of our trip took us offshore from Mayport to Ponce de Leon inlet overnight.   Our timing couldn't have been better, we arrived at the inlet's bridge with a couple of minutes to wait for the next opening at 07.40 am and then continued through the day along the Intracoastal Waterway to avoid heading around Cape Canaveral.   We travelled as far as Eau Gallie, a small town on the west side of the ICW which luckily had plenty to offer the visiting cruiser, as we found ourselves there for three days waiting for the wind to turn in our favour again.    From the anchorage we were able to pick up free wireless internet from the local library and with West Marine not far away on foot, spent our time carrying out some running repairs to our pressurised water system.

As soon as we were underway again we headed to Fort Pierce, where we anchored conveniently close to the supermarket.    Unfortunately we somehow miscalculated the tidal drop and spent a couple of hours of the evening with Anju sitting on the bottom of the river and everything aboard on a tilt.   It was fortunate that the river bed was soft mud, so no damage was done.

Early next morning we set off in search of the "cheapest fuel on the East Coast of Florida" as our engine was running on fumes.   After passing the location of the Port Petroleum fuel dock twice without noticing, we finally had the brainwave of calling on the radio to find their location, we were definitely not at our best at 6.30 am!   


Anju in Miami

With Anju's tanks full of diesel we headed on the ebbing tide out of Fort Pierce inlet into the Atlantic.  This was a scary and unpleasant experience as we pounded our way through large standing waves at the entrance to the harbour and our poor dinghy, although raised high on the davits, got a dunking with each wave.   We were glad we'd removed the outboard motor before setting sail!    

One more overnight trip and we reached Miami in time for breakfast the next morning.

Ten days in Miami, waiting for the right weather to cross to the Bahamas, gave us ample time to catch up with our friends the Coles, fully provision Anju ready for the trip and even to pay a visit to the gigantic Miami Boat Show.

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