Waiting to leave Kingsley Plantation on a high tide was just another reminder that we are back in the part of the ICW that requires careful monitoring of tides in order to avoid grounding. But knowing that we have successfully ventured before on this “ditch path,” without touching our keel on the mud, sand, or rocks beneath, makes our days a bit less anxious. A bit. We remain vigilant and prepared in the cockpit, with all of our electronic navigation gizmos, hardcopy references, and handwritten lists of cautions, consecutively ordered for the northbound journey. Should the weather forecast for an offshore passage present itself, we could bypass this nonsense and hop outside for a day of sailing in the ocean, and then come back inside to anchor and/or continue on the ICW. We hope to do that soon.
But first, we wanted to retrace our path to spend a few more days in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island FL. We had spent a brief two days here, Days 50-51, on the southbound journey, and really liked the historic town that is ideally located adjacent to the marina, which offers mooring balls as well as slips. Needing to conserve some cruising funds, we picked up a mooring ball.
High winds and rain were also forecasted during a portion of our stay, so staying on a mooring ball would give us the reassurance that we wouldn’t drag anchor. Which also means that we could feel safe going to shore and know that Belle Bateau would be in the same place when we returned. Yes, that’s right. We’ve heard stories of sailors anchoring their boat, going to shore for dinner, and returning to find that their boat was no longer in the same place because their anchored dragged. We hope that never happens to us. So in consideration of the forecasts, a mooring ball at just $20/night seemed like a good deal.
So we lassoed the mooring ball pendant, which was a breeze this time. Dudley has been experimenting with new methods of attaching a bridle to the mooring pendant to eliminate threats of chafing.
With our previous boat, Blind Date, the bridle was easy peasy. But Belle Bateau’s bowsprit adds a challenge: how to attach lines to the mooring ball that won’t rub against whisker stays, bobstays, and the dolphin striker. If this seems like a foreign language, it is. I’m not sure which is which, so let’s just say we need to keep the lines from pressing up against all that metal stuff that keeps the bowsprit supported.
Just after we secured the mooring ball, the engine died and would not restart. What??? Good news is that we were already tied to the ball and weren’t going anywhere. Captain D did his trouble shooting and discovered that the starter battery switch had a corroded lug. He was able to place an order on-line for next day delivery, and voila, we’d be set to go. Okay then!
We took the dinghy to shore that evening, and had dinner at the Alley Cat, which just so happened to have a wine tasting and live music. It was a Jimmy Buffett-ish band, apparently well-loved by the locals who were having a great time joining in with tamborines, singing, and dancing. Quite the uninhibited crowd, and lots of fun!
The next day found us sequestered on the boat all day in high winds with some consulting work to finish up. Fortunately the winds died down enough by the following day to allow us to get to shore for laundry and errands prior to attending the evening street concert with a “great local band,” as the ladies at the visitor center described them.
The end of main street was closed off to traffic, and the townspeople packed in with their folding chairs, leaving room in front of the band for dancing.
While I was finishing up my postcard writing at a coffee shop, Dudley found us a spot to sit on a nearby brick wall. After mailing the cards, I walked toward the sound of music and throngs of people, and received this text from the Captain: “ I know the guitarist.” Seriously?
Turns out he did! Rich and Dudley went to high school together in Atlanta GA, and Captain did lights and sound for Rich’s band. They had not seen each other in 40 years, so without the long hair and hippie clothing, it took them awhile to recognize one another. Dudley had a slight advantage because Rich used his full name when introducing the band to the crowd. So when the band took a break, Dudley found Rich and the re-acquaintance was made. Small world indeed.
After the concert, Rich invited us to his house for an impromptu get together. His wife Denise, pup Ollie, and friend Cecilia welcomed us and I enjoyed hearing stories about high school and other such stuff that I can rarely pry out of Dudley.
The conversation continued the following morning when Rich took us to the farmer’s market, then joined us in the dinghy to see Belle Bateau. Back on shore, Denise and Cecilia joined us for lunch at Timonti’s Seafood before we bid goodbye and Rich dashed off to play a gig for an afternoon wedding. The two high school buddies vowed to stay in touch, and we look forward to returning to Amelia Island and visiting with them again.
Yet another sailbatical serendipity. What a nice surprise!