31 Vero Beach to Jekyll Island

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Tying up to the mooring at Vero Beach was a welcome relief. We quickly had the dinghy back in the water; it rides on the bow during major passages. Dinner out was our reward for a successful passage. We had grown accustomed to the Abacos limited menu and slow service with indifferent servers. At the Riverview Restaurant we found an extensive menu, excellent food and friendly, efficient and fast service. For two hungry and tired sailors, it was a treat.

Being back in the States got us back to big supermarkets. Having the extensive selection of foods was great. However there was a trade off. To get to the supermarket we traveled a couple of miles in a car in what seemed like heavy traffic. The market always seemed crowded. In some ways I missed walking a few hundred yards from the dinghy dock to pick up a few items from a limited selection normally with no one else in the store.

Vero Beach is technically our home base. Our Vero Beach mailing address is Ruth’s brother Jim and wife Doreen’s house. They are our mail forwarders. Ruth’s mom-Marion lives within walking distance of the marina. For us it became a time to be “home” and visit family. The next morning we walked over and surprised Marion. We then settled in and had a wonderful visit with Marion, Jim and Doreen.

Time flew by. We stayed two weeks and between visiting family and doing minor upgrades to Tranquility we were always busy. West Marine was glad we had arrived. We ordered a whole bunch of stuff to make life aboard more comfortable.

Marion is our inspiration. We celebrated her 85 birthday the day before we left. A few days before that, we stopped in one afternoon on our way to run more errands. She was just leaving to go swimming and was decked out in her bathing suit and Turtle Hill T-shirt that our daughter Cindy had give her. To me, she didn’t seem like a day over 60 as she headed off to the pool to swim with friends.

It was fun swinging on the mooring and listening for boat names we knew from the Abacos. Eriskay stayed a day with us, then moved north heading back to Georgian Bay. They called later to say hello and tell us they had met Aranui at Jekyll Island. Sandy and Roger on Aranui had stopped by and asked if they were the Eriskay that had been crusing with Don and Ruth on Tranquility. Aranui knew about Eriskay from our e-mail journal.

Gone With The Wind came in, and rafted up with us. Stan and Cathy had been in the Abacos and we had talked with them briefly there. They are from Maine, we spent a great evening going over charts regarding places to visit when we visit Maine this summer.

Barasway came by for an evening. They had waited for the weather window with us in Green Turtle but had stopped early when we took off and crossed the Gulf. Happily they had gotten their dinghy motor going again after the dunking at Green Turtle. They stayed a day and took off. We saw Claire Sailing leaving one morning and talked with them as they headed north. All the boats we knew heading north made us itchy to be on the move again.

Early morning the day after Marion’s birthday we cast off and started north on the ICW. For both of us, the feeling was very different. Coming down, each bend was new and there was always the worry about shallow water or some other unexpected event. Now there is a better feel for what to expect and we are more relaxed. However, we have taken extra care to know exactly where we are on the charts. The chart rides on the cockpit table with a little marker that is advanced each time we pass a buoy. We trade off steering each hour and pay careful attention to where we are in the channel as we enjoy the passing scene. We are enjoying the trip back up as much, if not more than the trip down.

We thought we’d only cover 40 miles a day. The first day we blew through that and have been covering more like 50-60 miles a day. Part is due to the south wind. Coming down we were very cautious with putting up sails. We worried about visibility, or going out of the channel. Now, if there is any potential for speed gain, we put up the jib.

Addison Point, our first nights anchorage turned into a magical evening. All day we had a strong south wind pushing us north. As we pulled in behind a bridge causeway near the Kennedy Space Center the wind died. We anchored out with just one other boat a few hundred yards away. Off in the distance we could see the Vehicle Assembly Building and beyond that the launch pad brightly lit in preparation for an upcoming shuttle launch. The after glow of the sunset turned the water into a silvery still pond. Five or six dolphins broke the surface, creating hardly a ripple. They were close enough so that we could see the fine spray of water and hear the woosh of air as they exhaled and took a breath on each surfacing. We had a glass of wine and enjoyed the fading light as dolphins played in the waters in front of the space center.

Ruth has always had a special talent for digging out surprising information from people. I call it: finding out where the treasure is buried. The other day she set a new record. A powerboat was passing; one of hundreds that have gone by. We shouted hellos to each other. We couldn’t hear a comment they made, a normal event on the water. Usually you wave, smile and continue on. Ruth decided to call on the VHF and find out what was said. Within 5 minutes she had somehow discovered that she was talking with Jerry Schultz the brother of Carl Schultz. He was the man we had purchased Tranquility (then Isabella II) from 6 years ago. Now that’s talent for digging out buried treasure in record time. Your deepest family secretes are not safe around Ruth.

Three miles up the St. Marys River is the town of St. Marys GA. Most cruisers pass it by because of the distance up the river. The cruising guide descriptions made it sound interesting so we headed up to explore. The ride up took forever. We’re back in the land of seven-foot tides and the current was against us as we headed up the river on an outgoing tide. The three-mile trip took over an hour.

We found a quiet sleepy town that had a special charm. It’s very old and many of the older homes have been restored. We explored the town, enjoying the quiet wide streets, live oaks, and old houses. The eclectic coffee shop for breakfast added to our enjoyment. Orange Hall, an antebellum mansion in the center of town houses the welcome center in the cellar. The upper floors have been restored and it we discovered the huge home only had 8 rooms. 3 parlors and a dining room on the first floor-the kitchen is in the basement and 4 bedrooms on the second floor. No bathrooms. No closets. Outside walls a foot thick. Interesting to see.

St. Marys was our first all day stay at a dock since early February. We were so used to living on battery power that we didn’t bother to hook up to shore power. We did however use the stay to give Tranquility a much need fresh water wash down. Her last good fresh water scrub had been during a rain storm in the Abacos when I washed her down with nature providing the fresh water rinse.

Early the next morning we shoved off for Jekyll Island. Our trip down the St Marys River was a different experience. Now the outgoing tidal current was with us, and we covered the three miles in less than a half hour.

We pulled into Jekyll Island with eager anticipation of seeing Rick and Joan. For us it is again time to spend a few days in the same spot.

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