After Brunswick, Florida was finally just a hop, skip and jump away. After a surprisingly chilly several months along the ICW, I kept joking that as soon as we hit Florida the temperature would jump by 20 degrees. I wasn’t serious, but as luck would have it, almost literally as we crossed the GA/FL border we started shedding layers as the temperature began to rise. Vicky and I looked at each other like “woah, I know we were joking but that actually just happened”. I took it as a fortuitous sign.
We had both heard a lot of great things about Fernandina beach, FL from fellow cruisers & other, so we were looking forward to this stop. In addition, our buddies on Firefly had just started heading back north from the keys and would be passing by as well, so we’d get to meet up with them again for the first time since we had parted ways in Oriental, NC. Some quick research on Yelp showed a bunch of restaurants we wanted to try out, so we decided to get a slip at the municipal marina for a couple of days.
The cruising guides we read warned of a strong current in the marina, and they weren’t kidding – it was *ripping* as we approached the marina. There was already a boat standing off, waiting for slack water, but after confirming that we would be docking nose into the current, we decided to give it a shot. We were on a T-head at the end of the main fairway, which meant we had to go down with the current past our slip, then spin around 180 degrees & slide into our spot. It was *tight*, but fortunately one of the advantages to our fancy new balanced-foil rudder is that Elara can turn on a dime – even in reverse. We made the landing perfectly, and the harbormaster who had come down to take our lines gave a nod of approval. The marina was great – right at the start of the “main drag” through town with all the shops & restaurants. We also had some interesting neighbors – huge flocks of pelicans who would congregate at the end of the dock, as the fish cleaning stations were right there! It was a madhouse when the charter fishing boats would come in with & clean their catch. The cat didn’t know what to think of them either… on the one hand they were birds, so you could see she was curious; on the other hand, some of them were big enough to swallow her whole. We made sure she stayed on the boat!
The second day we were there, Ryan and Chris (of s/v Firefly) pulled in on their way back north. It was great to see them again – one of the most disappointing parts of the trip was falling behind all the great folks we met at the beginning, and watching as they all made it to Florida / Bahamas – while we were stuck in the boatyard. We were hoping they would hang for a few days, but they had a tight schedule to get back north in time to return to jobs & “the real world” (blah).
Fernandina was a wonderful town. Tons of nice restaurants, very walkable, friendly folks. A good time all around. And it was finally warm! For just about the first time since the (unseasonably) warm October in the Chesapeake we were in T-shirts and shorts. We didn’t want to stay too long though, as we were hoping to make it to St. Augustine in time to meet up with some friends who were flying into Ft. Lauderdale and driving north to Chicago.