Here we go….

The day had finally arrived, and we only had a few jobs to
do before we set sail. We topped up the boat with fresh water, did the final
checks on the engines etc and paid our dues to the marina. All Kim, Simon and
Sienna had to do was to say goodbye to their friends and while they were doing
that I went to help another sailor who was solo sailing and needed a little bit
of help to get off the dock, so he could get some fuel.

I jumped onboard the boat with him and we headed towards the
fuelling dock. After filling up I gave him a push off and off he went. I have
to take my hat off to this guy, as he is 70 years of age and still sailing on
his own and loving every minute too. Got to love him for that.

After he set off, I ran back to Simon’s boat and jumped
onboard. His friends let the ropes go and after a few tears we waved goodbye.

We motored out of the marina, down the Charleston channel
and out into the Atlantic where we set our sail for the first time and then
Simon turned off the engine. All I can say is that it is a weird feeling
knowing that the wind is moving along on total silence. All I could hear was
the waves and the wind, but we were motoring at 7 knots and it was free…. Yes
free…  No fuel being used just us and the
sea ahead with solar panels powering the batteries all we would have to do is
sit back and enjoy.

Well if you know the sea at all, then you will know that
this is not the case. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped, and the
seas turned rough. I had gone from shorts and flip flops to woolly hat, gloves
and winter clothes. Oh boy, it was freezing out here. It was like being at home
again but this time I was going to sail through the night too. Talk about being
thrown into the deep end and it was so cold that Simon decided not to do 3
hours on watch and 3 hours off, but 2 on and 2 off. It made total sense as we
were both frozen to the bone during our 2 hours on deck and we were glad to get
out of the wind and the cold. What made things worse was the driving rain that
decided to join us I the middle of the night. It was bad enough the with the
wind and the cold but rain hitting you so hard it hurts is not nice at all. We
had winds gusting 30 knots, the seas were about 2 meters and in the dark of the
night all you could see was the whites of the waves breaking in the moon light.
At times I was glad it was pitch black as I could not see the size of the seas.

After sailing for 23 hours we eventually arrived in Amelia
Island. It was a beautiful island, so we decided to get a little bit sleep and
then have a look around the island about 3pm. We were at anchor on an anchor
ball provided by the marina for 20 dollars a day which was really good value
and then we launched our dingy to go and pick up Michael from his boat. Michael
was the guy who I helped fill up with fuel and he decided to sail with us down
the coast.

After paying the marina for our stay we went to the pub for
a stiff one. I have never had a drink for 5 years now, but I pushed the boat
out and had a shandy. Yes, I know it’s not really a drink. We had hardly left
the pub when Michael got a call from the marina saying his boat had come off
the mooring. We rushed back to the dingy, started it up and sped across to his
yacht. Lucky for Michael’s sake a couple from another yacht managed to grab a
hold of his boat and tie it against theirs without any damage done either boat.
The luck of the Irish was on his side this evening. We started his engine and
headed back to another mooring buoy where we put two ropes around the mooring
buoy just in case one broke and the other was there for back up. After
everything was tied up good and tight we made our way back into town for
something to eat.

Michael was a little shocked and who can blame him after
that. Its his home and when we arrived at the restaurant he entitled to another
stiff one. After a lovely meal we arrived back at the yachts for an early night
as we were leaving at 6am the next day as we were heading to St Augustine and
we wanted to be there for day light as the mooring buoy was in a shallow area
and it’s better to do that during the day than night.




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