Illusion pulled into St. Augustine on a beautiful, warm and sunny day. It was so warm in fact (65 degrees) that Brian and I quickly shed a few layers of clothing – I think the average number of articles of clothing I’ve worn this trip has been somewhere in the ballpark of 10! including socks and gloves and all that jazz – and lowered the dingy into the water. It was a short motor over to the city marina dingy dock, where we tied up and checked in. With an empty propane tank in hand, we headed into town to run some errands and explore in the process.
Often I find that our attempts to find this or that specific item or part for the boat takes us on the off-the-beaten-path tour of a town. Because we had visited St. Augustine a week-and-a-half before on our road trip across Florida for a dingy (oh yeah, did I mention we lost our dingy on our offshore leg to Charleston?), we already knew where to find the cool consignment shop. Having previously spent much time in the shop buying lines to replace the most conspicuous-looking ones on Illusion, we spent several hours poking around Sailor’s Exchange all told and the vegan/vegetarian bakery next door made for a killer combination .
Upon wandering a little bit farther down the block, we also discovered a screen-printing shop that produced signs and other large format posters, stickers, decals etc. One of the guys who worked there gave us a mini tour of the facility, which was rather large. It was good for me and exciting to get a close-up look at a commercial screen-printing shop, since I’ve been considering trying to up my screen-printing production (almost non-existent at this point) for my Forest and Fin designs. I’ve got a few ideas that I’m toying with; we’ll see what 2011 holds for Forest and Fin….
But back to St. Augustine, the beautiful walled city with Spanish-influenced architecture and cobblestone streets. The city reminds me much of Charleston and Savannah, but also of many European cities that I visited during my studies in Italy. Although St. Augustine is a city of great history, it seemed to me to have more of an eclectic feel. Many of the houses that we passed during our search for propane were decorated with trinkets, driftwood, stained glass, and old-school cars. One house in particular possessed an elaborate gated fence created from various shapes and sizes of driftwood woven together into a beautiful arched entrance. I would have certainly liked to spend a little more time in St. Augustine, but as the light began to fade, Brian and I headed back to our floating home to fry up some potatoes and enjoy the setting sun.
The temperature fell quickly overnight. The next morning a heavy fog once again blanketed Illusion, and Brian and I decided to carry on since we weren’t below the freeze line yet. With little idea of where we wished to stop on our way down Florida, but a good idea of some projects that needed to be done before we go offshore again, we cast off from St. Augustine into the unknown to make our way south.
Some of you may have noticed from our spot that we popped offshore between Fernandina and Jacksonville. Generally speaking, it only really saves time for us to go offshore for a few days or more at a time, because there is the added distance we have to travel out of the inlet to get offshore and then later to get in again. When we are offshore for several days, we sail around the clock, allowing us to cover twice the distance. It is especially nice for us to set up our wind vane (or auto-pilot) and take a break from hand steering and standing at the wheel, which can be quite tiring sometimes depending on the wind, current, and waves.
Unfortunately, Illusion is an old boat, that we are continually working to upgrade, and it seems that every time we take her offshore something breaks. So far, nothing serious has happened, but shortly after we left Fernandina for a planned 36 hours offshore to Cape Canaveral, our auto pilot belt snapped. Without a replacement on hand, Brian and I would have had to take turns hand-steering all day, all night, and part of the next day. If the wind had been blowing the predicted 10 knots, then we would have set the sails, rigged up the wind vane, and maintained our course. However, we have discovered that the weather is only moderately accurate when it comes to predictions of offshore conditions….Considering there was no wind, we opted to head back to the ICW, which ultimately provided us with a beautiful secluded anchorage and prime lunar-eclipse viewing.
So between Fernandina and St. Augustine, we had a sunset/moonrise rivaling the one we saw on the Alligator River; we saw a lunar eclipse; and we suspect that a manatee ran into our anchor chain in the middle of the night. Ok, so I can’t be sure about that last one, but something very large did in fact run into our chain rode just as we were both falling back asleep the night of the eclipse. Otherwise, Brian and I had a peaceful night anchored just north of St. Augustine.
*By the way, I recently made a Facebook page for Forest and Fin (here), so if you like this blog and would like to receive “mini” updates concerning Illusion‘s journey or my artwork, you can click the like button located on the side bar (right). Thanks for reading!
The Lowcountry (as we call it in South Carolina) is – in my opinion – one of the most beautiful places in the world. Trying to capture its beauty with a camera is nearly impossible, but here are a few photos that I took along the ICW between Charleston and Savannah. You can compare them to the photos that I took last March, back when Brian and I originally left Charleston (after our six weeks at the Rockville Marine Boatyard). We are now farther along than we were last May, when we abandoned going south in favor of going north!
This is what I might have seen – had I sprouted flippers and grown a fin – if I had big bubbly fish eyes! These were taken with my fish-eye camera from Lomography.
After the sun sets and the last light fades from the sky, the haunts come out to play (or cook dinner) on Illusion. We have to be careful about how much power we use while at anchor, so if it is a calm night, we often use candlelight. It can be trying to cook in the low light, but we like to whip up a big meal after a long day on the water to restore our energy or to help us relax. Sometimes we make something simple, but often our meals border on gourmet. For example, the other night I realized that there was a leftover container of mashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator from Thanksgiving. Since they needed to be eaten right away, I pulled out the flour and rolled up my sleeves. Turning the sweet potatoes out onto a piece of wax paper, I proceeded to knead them into little balls of sweet potato and onion gnocchi, which we topped with a light Alfredo sauce and served with a glass of red wine. Buon appetito!
I love the light on the boat at night, with all the wood and the warm tones from the lamps (halogen…one day we’ll get LED replacement bulbs!), but it’s hard for the camera to get enough light to capture a clear picture. I took these pictures a few weeks ago and they turned out with all the spooky ghost images, like the one of me with no face! Despite the scary look it is quite cozy at night aboard Illusion.
Brian and I were so busy visiting with old friends and eating our way through our favorite cheap eats in Charleston, that I didn’t even have time to pull out my camera. Fortunately, you can read about my favorite places in Charleston in this post that I wrote last year before Brian and I set off on our big adventure.
On Wednesday, however, we piled into our friend Pat’s car (Pat’s got yo’ back!) and headed out to Folly Beach with a couple of new friends from another boat, SV Rasmus, to scope out the surf (check out their blog, Wind Traveler, to read about their adventures – they are tracking a similar route to Illusion). The afternoon lighting was nice, and I managed to snap a few new pictures from our trip to the beach.
Illusion rocked and rolled as we approached Cape Romain on our offshore, down-wind run to Charleston – and I mean literally of course. The sugar canister launched off the table, spewing its sweet crystals onto the floor; a solar lantern flew from its perch, shattering; and saltwater from a breaking wave rocketed into the cabin, soaking me and the quarter berth. It was a good thing I had decided to take a Dramamine when we left the Cape Fear Channel. If you remember from one of my older posts, last time we were offshore near Cape Fear, we got caught in a bad electrical storm. This time we were lucky enough to experience higher-than-predicted seas, with higher-than-predicted wind, and breaking waves. Although it was an unpleasant overnight voyage, we made it – crew intact – to Charleston around two in the afternoon after 36 hours on the water (Topsail Beach, NC, to Charleston, SC).