29 May 2010

A Drop in the Ocean

We won't keep you in suspense long.  We have left the "comfortable" ICW waters for the vast depths of the ocean.  When I say "vast," what I mean is that I went at least fifteen minutes without looking at the depthsounder.  And when I did, this is what I saw.  That is not five point three, that is FIFTY-THREE feet of water under our keel.  Amazing.

Everything that we have read and researched indicates that ocean-going is far superior to ICW, and therefore we decided to try it.  A sailboat in the ICW is really just a very inconveniently shaped powerboat, at least in our experience.  This is partially because whenever we were going south on the ICW there was a south wind.  And as soon as we turned north, we had north wind for a week straight.  We couldn't have sailed even if we wanted to, but frankly, there isn't very deep water in the ICW, which makes sailing a little uncomfortable.   There is also a lot of small boat traffic (read:  we get hit by a lot of powerboat wakes), very strong tidal currents, crab pots and bridges to wait for.  On the ocean, there was nothing but water for miles around...almost.

But, more importantly, when we're only going one direction, Helga does her best work.  Readers, meet Helga, our favorite helmsman and semi-trustworthy autopilot.  With Helga at the wheel (tiller), we only need to check on our course every ten to fifteen minutes.  It leaves us free to try to scrape the Titusville barnacles off the dinghy, or do something fun like wash dishes.

Even though we didn't really have enough wind to sail, it was still a very good day to be out.  The weather was nice, the waves were small, and I got introduced to the ocean.  I have never been out on the ocean before.  I'm from Michigan, and I don't come from a family of boaters.  I may or may not have spent some time frozen to my seat in terror, but with such an easy day I had no problem relaxing.

Finally, meet our escort into Fernandina Harbor.  And when I say "escort," I mean a giant mass of steel and and smoke that chased us down the channel.  Happily, it turned right where we were turning left so we weren't forced to get out the jousting poles.

We arrived in Fernandina Beach just as a band was setting up on Centre St., so we were serenaded with 50s and 60s music and entertained by young and old trying to do their best at The Twist.  And let me tell you, it was pretty entertaining.  Of course, all our days end in a spectacular sunset. 

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