Blue Turtle Cruising

Heading North! Fernandina Beach & Cumberland Island

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Once we left the St. Augustine mooring field, we still needed to provision. We’d had a few rainy and windy days prior to leaving which made it difficult to make a last minute grocery run. Once we cleared the Bridge of Lions, we motored a couple miles north to the Vilano Pier and docks. During our stay in St. Augustine, we would take the dinghy to these docks and walk just a 1/4 mile to the Publix there for groceries. We decided to just dock the big boat (Blue Turtle) there for a quick stop to stock up on some things before heading north to Fernandina Beach. The current at the time was ripping through and Randy didn’t want to leave the boat alone, so he and Sophie stayed behind while I took her stroller to the store. The stroller was a lifesaver since I was able to load a couple hundred dollars worth of groceries onto it and take it back to the boat by myself. It was my first successful solo provisioning run. Once loaded down with fresh provisions, we motored a few more miles north to an anchorage near Ponte Vedra Beach. The next morning, we made the run up to Fernandina Beach.

Upon arriving at Fernandina Beach, we anchored in our usual spot near Tiger Island. We spent a few days at anchor and dinghyed into shore to visit the Farmers Market, the Green Turtle Tavern and even discovered a new place, Hofbrau Amelia, an authentic German-style pub (with amazing pretzels!). Since Randy had some online training coming up and needed good WiFI, we decided to grab a slip in the Fernandina Harbor Marina for a week. This was the first time we had been in a marina slip in over 2 months. We had planned to stay at Brunswick Landing Marina for a bit to tackle a couple more boat projects, but since Randy had to get some work done with WiFi it made sense to stay at a marina in Fernandina Beach. So while he sat in the cruisers lounge working, I started a couple additional projects I wasn’t able to get done while in St. Augustine.

One of the items on my to-do list was to patch up the dinghy chaps. Our poor dinghy is 16 years old, but it still holds air and is pretty good shape. We can probably attribute that to the purple chaps the previous owners had made. Since the dinghy is nearing the end of it’s life, I didn’t want to make all new chaps. I decided to pull them off the dinghy and wash them before patching up some areas and reinforcing some seams using my Sailrite sewing machine. I also sewed some industrial grade velcro on the inside of the chaps and adhered the other side to the dinghy to help keep the chaps in place on the dinghy in higher winds. The dinghy itself also got some love. Randy pulled it out of the water and we flipped it upside down on the dock to give the bottom a good scrub. I also finally got around to installing our Florida registration numbers on the dinghy as well.

Another project I had been wanting to get done was to refinish the countertops in both of our heads. The previous countertops were very dark and were starting to peel in some areas. At the suggestion of previous owners, Ralph and Cindy, I decided to try the Giani granite countertop paint kit. The kit costs about $99 and it had everything I needed to do the job. Randy helped with removing the sink and faucets and I followed the instructions, step-by-step. Overall, I was very happy with how it came out and it really gave our countertops a lighter, cleaner look. One thing I did have trouble with was getting into the corners and edges. They suggest using stiff bristle paint brushes, so I ordered these small ones from Amazon and they worked out perfect. Check out my Instagram reel for more info and video/photos of this project.

Our week in the marina went by way too fast and it was time to move on from Fernandina Beach. Once we fueled up, we were off to our favorite spot on the ICW … Cumberland Island. During our last visit to Cumberland Island, we learned that they opened up a small, temporary spot on the Sea Camp docks to tie up dinghies. The normal dinghy/small vessel dock sustained damage during Hurricane Ian and is still closed and waiting for repairs. We spent a couple of days at Cumberland doing our usual long hikes exploring the island and wildlife. We walked about 7.5 miles one day, first walking the 4 mile loop outlined on the handout map, and then adding on to explore further. Aside from the usual armadillos, horses and turkeys, we finally spotted one of the alligators in the Duck Pond. Of course, we kept Sophie close by and zipped up in her stroller. We also had a very close encounter with one of the wild horses while having lunch on a picnic table near the Dungeness Ruins. While sitting in her stroller, Sophie had let out a bark at a couple of horse that were being active and one of them charged right toward us. Randy backed up Sophie’s stroller behind the picnic table as I also dodged behind it. (Check out our Instagram videos of the incident below). We had been warned by a ranger to keep our dog on a leash (we always do) because some of the horses were acting a little feisty towards dogs. Other than that, our time on Cumberland was peaceful and the weather was absolutely perfect. Wish we could’ve stayed longer but it was time to head further north.

St. Augustine to Ponte Vedra Beach = 11.5 nm
Ponte Vedra Beach to Fernandina Beach = 41.5 nm
Fernandina Beach to Cumberland Island = 8 nm

TOTAL miles to date: = 2,683 nm

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