Captain’s Log

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  • 2021 Fall Voyage
Port Canaveral, Florida

I can't remember a trip where we have stringed together so many fast passages, many of them averaging 8-9 knots under sail. On this leg of our voyage, we have been enjoying a change of pace. For our final watches together the wind has been light and little variable, but we have been able to sail, although sometimes as slow as 2 knots. C Watch witnessed some dolphins playing in the bioluminescent ocean on the 2000-0000 watch, while A Watch (0000-0400) had a beautiful starry night, a subtle bioluminescent wake and a view of the Falcon 9 rocket illuminated on the launch pad, and B Watch had a nice pre-dawn sail and sunrise. The students are now taking their final exam as we near the entrance channel. Our last days together on board will be spent taking care of Geronimo with a deep clean, packing, exploring the area, hopefully witnessing a rocket launch at 0110 tomorrow morning and our closing activities. 

The crew is looking ahead to rejoining their lives on land, but happy to linger on board a little longer to recount the accomplishments and memories of our 1500+ nautical mile voyage south. 

St. Augustine, Florida

We arrived a little early to the St. Augustine entrance, so we hove-to waiting for high tide and slack water. Izzy was JWO for C Watch as we made our way into the channel, struck sail and waited for a bridge opening.  Liv did a great job steering through the entrance, through the narrow bridge opening and up to the dock. We had a nice evening at the dock, where everyone turned their attention to wrapping up school work. 

We slept in on Sunday, and everyone woke up excited for Halloween. A morning study hall gave way to time in town for students that were done or nearly done with their work. We explored town, visited Castillo de San Marcos and had a serious mini-golf match up to wrap up the afternoon. Back on board, we had our Marine Science final exam review, and then all warmed up in the oversized hot tub at the marina. We wrapped up the evening with a trip out on the town. Bela put together an original costume that drew many compliments from those that appreciated the irony - a pirate with a life jacket on. We wrapped up the evening with some ghost stores. 

We woke up this morning early enough to make the 0730 bridge opening and made our way out of the inlet. After breakfast, we commenced "chase-the-buoy" - where each student takes a turn retrieving an object tossed over the side, completely under sail. The student crew were all successful and collectively performed excellent. We are sailing south, hope to arrive to Port Canaveral in the morning. It is a beautiful day for our last passage. 

Fernandina Beach, Florida

After lunch, the rain subsided and most went to the local library to continue the all-day study session. For his first dinner as cook, Charlie delivered. Pulled pork, potatoes, homemade barbecue sauce and salad. It was a hit. We rounded out the evening with showers and phones. 

In the morning, we loaded up rental cars and departed for the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Our flotilla of canoes set out on the Suwannee Canal, and then turned into the Chesser Prairie section of the swamp. It was a little cool, so the alligators were not eager to come out. With patience, we spotted a gator up close as the day heated up. After three or so hours, we returned to the landing and then made a pit stop in Folkston and a pumpkin patch to secure two large pumpkins. Back on board we had showers, explored town a little, and got ready for an early departure. 

At 0640 it was still quite dark. By 0700 we had departed the dock and then turned to setting sail. Teddy led A Watch, guiding us out of the St. Mary's River and south past the St. John's River entrance. Kate F. and B Watch took the next watch, and about an hour in witnessed what was described as a 15' manta ray fully coming out of the water about 100 feet away!   They are presently sailing on a beam reach at 8-9 knots toward St. Augustine. Plan is to arrive in the late afternoon at high tide.  

Cumberland Island, Georgia

By lunch we had just about reached the St. Mary's River entrance. Izzy handed the watch over to Charlie. With the daunting task of sailing us up wind into a narrow channel, he maintained his composure and executed a great plan, while short tacking us into the entrance with Bela at the helm.  The river is the boundary between Florida and Georgia, so we alternately passed in and out of the two states on our way in. Teddy, the native Floridian, was quite pleased to be back, albeit briefly.  Kate P. took the helm as we turned into the entrance to Cumberland Island. We sailed almost all the way up to the dock, striking sail a few hundred feet off. After getting settled into the dock at the Greyfield Inn, we walked over to the beach for a swim and beach soccer game (Bela, Teddy, Charlie & Ms. Doran vs. Liv, Kate P., Izzy & me).  On our way we encountered some wild horses and even an armadillo. Kate F. has asked me to say that she was the chef, and Bela was the sous chef for their hibachi dinner creation. The proper use of official culinary titles notwithstanding, it was quite good and everyone enjoyed it, right down to the hats they created. 

The next day, we departed on a walking adventure to explore Cumberland Island National Seashore. The first order of business was a transect of the island, where we discussed barrier island ecology. We then walked down the beach, and then crossed back over to Sea Camp, then headed down to Dungeness to explore the remains of this once grand mansion. Back to the beach, we headed back north, went for a swim, and then rinsed off in cool fresh water showers. Our final stretch back we searched for shark teeth on the road north to Greyfield. As we started the walk, the crew expressed doubt as to how or if we could find them. Within a few seconds, I found one and showed them how easy it was. That would be the only one I would find after nearly an hour of searching. The rest of the crew, however, had way more success. Charlie, Izzy and Kate F. found quite a few, while Bela found the best specimen. As Isabella started to prepare dinner, with the help of Liv, Izzy, Kate P. and I went for a quick bike ride north. On our way we spotted a bobcat and a handful of deer. The no-see-ums were out, so we closed up the boat. Isabella's dinner was a big success. Chicken parmigiana, pasta and brussel sprouts. 

This morning we woke up early to try to beat the arrival of a front, and the associated rain, to Fernandina Beach, Florida. Kate P. was at the helm as we departed the dock. The orange sunrise and rainbow to the west were quite spectacular. When we crossed into Florida, Teddy proudly raised the state flag and then took the helm to bring us into the dock. Our early departure paid off, we beat the rain in. This morning we are having a quiet study hall on board, and the rain is really coming down. Charlie is the cook for the day, and is making melted roast beef sandwiches. By a strange turn of events, he has somehow escaped taking the lead on dinner for the whole trip. Everyone is eagerly anticipating our evening meal. Our plan for the rest of the day is study hall, perhaps a library trip if the rain backs off, and then exploring town. Tomorrow we have an overland adventure planned. 

 

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