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Hell's Gate and Beyond

From Georgia to Florida

St. Simon's Island

Made it to Florida

St. Augustine Florida

“If you’re going through hell, keep on moving, don’t slow down, if you’re scared don’t show it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there….” That’s the song by Rodney Atkins that was playing in my head as we were going through a section of the ICW know as “Hell’s gate.” Wonder why? Well let’s just say it was interesting. Jeff stays cool as a cucumber and so do I. (Yeah right….On the outside because on the inside I’m having Ally McBeal moments up the wazoo. And I don’t mean dancing babies either!)

You see wide expanses of water and realize that you can only stay between the navigational beacons if you plan on not running aground. When you travel down the ICW in South Carolina and Georgia it becomes apparent that the ICW has not been dredged since forever and you find yourself chasing deeper water and paying attention to the tides. Yes! a new factor that dictates when you leave, when and where you anchor and now regulates your travel plans. That’s the other thing I’ve learned. Your travel plans can and will be modified without prior written notice at any given moment.

Let me tell you what I’ve learned about the tides - the Moon also has an effect on the tides and not just in the ocean. I’m sure you old salty sailors who are reading this are thinking I’m having a major blond moment here but for some reason I did not believe the ICW would be that drastic in tide shifts. 7 to 8 feet is quite a bit. It makes for being in high cotton to your depth alarm going off 6 times a day and making you feel queazy.

We’ve been traveling at quite a pace for days when we also realize that GA does not have an abundance of Marina’s to fuel up. We’re lucky we sip Diesel- love our Yanmar - but with the recent hurricanes, the already scarce Diesel is even more so because some Marinas that are back up and running don’t have fuel. (Is this a sign of things to come down in the Islands I wonder?)

We anchored out in some very remote and beautiful places and have seen some incredible sunsets and sunrises. Dolphins every day except one so far. We feel truly fortunate and grateful to be able to do this while we’re still in good health and wealth.

We spent a wonderful overnight in St. Simon’s Island in Georgia. Not only to fuel up but we needed a break and some land walking time. I understand why folks like to retire there. We had time to walk the boardwalk, the village was buzzing with the farmers market and art show, live christmas music playing, restaurants and we got a chance to have a mani/pedi. We took an Uber tour around the island. Very cool! It was a nice respite and gave us renewed spirit to continue our journey.

Our next major stop was St. Augustine. Great city to explore and we recommend the visit, especially for a long weekend. We stayed at a marina over the Bridge of Lions and walked into downtown daily. We were only going to stay 3 nights - stayed for 5! Part of it because of weather and if you have to be “stuck” somewhere, why not be somewhere fun and easy to walk. We did Uber a few times but only because it started to pour and because we wanted to go to the movies and the theater was about 10 miles away. other than that, we walked. After being on a boat for a few days, you welcome it. Except that I giggle because I know I walk like a drunk old lady when I first jump off the boat. It takes a while for your sea legs to adjust to being on land again.

One of the highlights has been meeting some awesome folks along our trip. One of our favorites is the family on Intermezzo. We first met them as they pulled into the Alligator River Marina with us. We all left the same day. As you’re traveling down the ICW you start to remember the names of the other boats you’re traveling with. Many folks are very helpful calling out hazards ahead or some good info. It’s kind of fun to see how everyone is progressing on their journey. You can check out their story and blog on Amazing couple raising two beautiful and amazing girls on a season to the Bahamas too. We finally got a chance to hang out and share some pizza in St. Augustine. I was happy for the girl time and to share some stories. (so I’m not crazy and this has been stressful - okay I’m good.) We met Gwen and Mark who have been married for 40 years and are traveling on a 40 foot Catamaran - Ala (“Wing” in Spanish) They’ve made this trip 9 times and had lots of great advice to share along with some crazy stories and laughs. We met some kids on Vagabundo - Tucker, Catherine and Mango their dog. They took pictures of us and we took some of them on a beautiful morning heading south towards St. Simon’s in GA.

One thing I can say is there really is a sense of community among sailors. Most of the time when you're about to dock your boat at a marina, if there are folks around, they’re going to help you dock. They’re going to help you untie your lines, they’re going to share a tidbit to make your life easier.

I’m getting better every day. We have our routine when we’re at anchor or traveling. Today I went through a bridge with wicked currents and wind and although I asked Jeff to take the helm, he said “No, you can do it” and I did. (I hate bridges because I banged our first boat on a bridge on the ICW in Boca many years ago and swore I would never go through a bridge again.) I learned about “snubbers” today because as I write this today, we have over 20 knots of wind in Cocoa Beach.

Is this easy….no. There are things I miss. Last week I feel down the companion way. From the top of the step - ugly! My fault. Hands were full, I was feeling froggy and instead of going backwards, I went front first. Yep, I don’t know what happened except that I ended up on the floor, all my stuff everywhere and looking up the companion way trying to assess the damage to myself. Everything hurt. Bruised the back of my arms and butt - not to mention my ego. I took an hour to myself to cry and get my frustration out. “Not sure if this life is for me. I was cold, wet, hungry and tired. I could be in my house, with my fireplace on, wrapping christmas gifts and getting ready to go to a party with my friends. Instead, I’m a yard sale at the bottom of my boat. What the heck am I doing? I’m too old for this.” Lucky for me, I’m married to a man who knows me. My brother just says, “yeah Lib, you’re fine.” Jeff gave me my space and let me lick my wounds - plus gave me a few days off in St. Augustine. Here I am, back in the saddle again. All this will be worth it once we get to the Bahamas. Still headed south……

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