South Carolina to Fort Pierce, Florida

We returned to Beaufort, South Carolina to rejoin Goldcrest on January 15th after a busy few weeks in Europe over Christmas and the birth of our gorgeous grandson, Sebastién, in France on Jan 2nd.  We arrived on a cold, wet evening and were met by our kind hosts, OCC port officers Alan and Kathy, who drove us from Savannah airport.  They also lent us a vehicle so that the following day we were able to get to the supermarket for a large stock up before our departure.  We didn’t have time to linger as our friends Steve and Malisa were due to join us down in Florida a few days later.

 

We left our berth early on Saturday 17th wearing all the warm clothes we could muster in the 4°C air and motored out of the shallow creeks towards the Atlantic once again.  The sea temperature was only 9°C and the winds strong and cold from the north east but at least that meant a good full sail until the evening. Light and changeable winds then made for a difficult night but it gradually got warmer as the winds swung to the south west and the sea temp shot up to 18°C within the first 80 miles. On first mate’s watch, she was called on the VHF by a military ship reassuring her that he would alter course a bit so that she wouldn’t have to – very polite!  On his watch, on this very black, moonless night, skipper had some moments of sheer panic when he saw the strange lights of something just a few metres away.  It turned out to be a small plane flying very quietly at about mast height, not something we had encountered before.  Meanwhile Lindsay kept hearing a US coastguard warning which she thought was a “North Atlantic Gale Warning” but realised later was a “North Atlantic Right Whale Warning”!

 

Sunday morning was really challenging as we struggled into strengthening winds from the west with very rough seas and hours of breaking waves, a heeled boat and wind forces 6 and 7.  We headed towards shore to get out of what we assumed was an eddy from the Gulf Stream and eventually the wind and seas eased a bit.  David spotted a large turtle and a pod of at least 20 dolphins came to play for a while.  The rest of our passage was less stressful with some gentle downwind sailing, some hours on the engine and a relatively easy night, although we couldn’t go fast as the tack shackle broke on the genoa.  We finally turned on the engine again in the morning to tackle roughening seas and speed us to our destination, Fort Pierce, Florida.

 

We anchored in warm sunshine in the middle of the harbour and rushed around getting ready for our guests who joined us in the afternoon.  We didn’t bother to go ashore as we were pretty tired, our friends had checked it out already and an evening chatting on board seemed the pleasantest option.  Our night’s sleep was constantly interrupted by the loud hoots of trains – atmospheric, but annoying!