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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fernandina Beach

It's just a shame. For the last 2 months, while waiting out the Covid outbreak, we've had tremendously wonderful "go" weather. Sure, a storm or two, some rain on occasion, but mostly great weather. Now that we're on the move again there's nothing but thunderstorms in the forecast for at least the next week. Of course.

While we really enjoyed our stay at Ortega Landing (great marina, convenient access to groceries, free laundry, which is a big win, pool and hot tub!) I wouldn't want it to be my home port. It takes about 2 hours of travel to get to the intercoastal, and all of that is commercial or industrial. If you recall coming into Jacksonville we passed a number of tugs all rushing to assist a freighter, all going fast, and all making huge wakes. Also we got held up by a very low railroad bridge. 

Yay! Dophins!
Today, not long after we got onto the St. Johns River we had a large tug ahead of us. The tide was with us, so we were making over 10 knots (that shows as red on our map). But it was doing 8.5. We didn't want to pass it since we were sure he'd speed up at some point. Eventually, he turned off to get fuel, we think. By that point our tide slowed. No bigs, just a little disappointing. 

Zoom in to see the gun on that orange boat!
Within minutes of that I noticed a large smoke stack out in the distance (all the twists made it impossible to see). Taking a look at our AIS it showed a cruise ship, the Norwegian Gem, heading our way. We'd be meeting in a narrower section of the channel, so we hailed him for instructions. No one responded. Once he had eyes on him we saw 2 small boats escorting it up the river. Coast Guards. With really big guns on them. We stayed wide, and just as we got to the cruise ship, the Coast Guard vessel closest to us made a hard 180, and traveled in our direction, keeping itself between us and the Gem. I waved at the nice man behind the massive gun. He gave a dismissive wave back.

Then we hit the Gem's 6 foot wake. The ship was traveling 8.3 knots when it passed us, and we couldn't get wide. Needless to say, small chaos ensued. 

We also passed a commercial shrimp boat, but that went without incident.

The dog walk here is a bit of a long one.
Yes, that blue boat is HUGE!
Once we got on the ICW traffic nearly vanished. We were hailed and passed (nice and slow) by a Valhalla, a big, fast cruiser. That was kind of him. Otherwise, we just toodled our way through the occasionally shower to Fernandina. We managed to get docked on our of their piers (they only have long piers, no slips) without any issues, right behind About Time. They beat us here by an hour and a half. 

We've had a number of squalls just after arrival. So, good timing!

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