Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

We really liked Fernandina Beach with its historic charm and wide mixture of cultures and ages. There are a lot of year-round residents and a lot of people shopping in the historic district.  We don't want to leave just yet but realized that we need to keep moving south.

Fernandina Beach to Jacksonville Beach

This morning (February 4) the temperature had dropped to near 55 degrees (a big change from over 75 degrees yesterday afternoon) and the wind was out of the northeast at about 20 mph.  It was very difficult to sleep after 4 AM when the wind picked up.  

Yesterday, we decided to leave our outboard motor on the dinghy since we'll be on a mooring in St. Augustine--this morning I'm regretting that decision.  We took the outboard motor off the dinghy at first light and mounted it on our stern mount for safety reasons.  

We changed our plans to just travel 30 miles today and get a slip at Beach Marine in Jacksonville Beach.  It was a cold and blustery day and we just felt like making it a short day on the water.

Most of today involved following dredged channels through areas
of salt marsh like this photograph.  There is a sailboat
anchored in the middle of this picture.

This is a dry dock that is used to lift ships out of the water for
maintenance,  This dry dock was located along the
St. Johns River near Jacksonville.

We made it to Beach Marine, a marina, in Jacksonville Beach FL by 2:30 PM--this marina is nicely situated within a 40-mile stretch of narrow ICW channel.  Right now, our reverse-cycle A/C is keeping the boat's inside temperature at 73 degrees.  It is nice and warm and toasty.


The wind completely died today.  It was foggy in the morning, then overcast, and then the sun came out.

This is the view looking aft from our cockpit while in Beach Marine.
This photo was taken after the fog had cleared but while
it was still overcast.  It later turned sunny.

This photograph shows our cockpit enclosure side panels in place.
These shielded us from the cold wind during
our past day on the ICW

We decided to stay over an extra day in the slip here at Beach Marine.  There is a big sports bar here on the premises where we can watch the Super Bowl this evening.  This is also a good place where I can perform the 50-hour maintenance on the engine and transmission.  The 50-hour maintenance includes changing the engine oil and oil filter, as well as the transmission fluid.  I finally get to bond with my new engine!  (Maggie is doing laundry today--the last time was at Folly Beach.)

This is a photograph in the middle of changing transmission fluid.
I used an empty plastic gallon jug to collect
the old transmission fluid.

This marina (Beach Marine) is unusual in a number of ways: the decking on the floating piers is made from aluminum (and it has welded on patches in numerous places) with wooden side boards, the floatation is supplied by capped spiral-wound metal tubing, it is adjacent to a major highway between Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach, there is a mixture of all types of boats, and it has a mixture of liveaboard, transients, and weekender type boaters.  


Changing the transmission fluid was easy since there was an easily accessible drain plug on the bottom of the transmission.  For changing the engine oil, I bought an oil extractor (HT Moto brand) that uses a slight vacuum to suck the oil out of the dipstick--this was a much slower process but I like the vacuum idea.  I noticed that the glycol coolant level was low--so, I added some pre-mixed 50/50 glycol and water to the reservoir.

I spent the entire afternoon trying to install one cap screw (the last one of three) that mounts the water pump to the engine.  It's a long convoluted story how I got to this point but I thought that a pulley on the engine was rubbing into the water pump outlet hose.  As it turns out, it wasn't.  But in re-installing the water pump, I just could not get the lower cap screw back in place because of the limited space and the inlet hose was in the way.  Early Monday morning, I called for a mechanic's help--yes, to install one cap screw!


What an exciting Super Bowl!  Patriots won over Atlanta by 34 to 28 in overtime!  Of course, we quit watching the game at half time, thinking it was all over.

Jacksonville Beach to St. Augustine

We had to wait for the mechanic to arrive (to install one cap screw for us) and for the tide to be more favorable for the trip.  The mechanic, Josh of MarineMax, was able to install the caps crew in 1/2 hour--it was the best $70 I have ever spent!  We left Beach Marine at 11 AM, after filling up with fresh water and diesel fuel.  It was "touch and go" getting out of the marina--the water was very shallow and our depth sounder (set at six feet) was going off the entire time in the marina.

Today was an easy trip--a lot of it was like this photograph.  We
simply had to stay in the center of the channel and we
had 10 to 12 feet of water at low tide.

This is Bridge of the Lions in St. Augustine just after we went
through it.  It opens on the hour and the half hour.  We
were the only boat that came through at 4 PM.

We went into town (St. Augustine) and had pizza at Pizza Time--the second best pizza restaurant in the United States, according to TripAdvisor.  We've had pizza here before and it is excellent!  Later, we drank a bottle of champagne in the cockpit of our boat as the sun went down.  We are on a mooring for at least two nights here.  It was a nice ending to a great day on the ICW.

Stay tuned for more about our stay in St. Augustine and our continuing journey...

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