Thursday, 21 August 2014

MOVES AFOOT. 20th August 2014

We have had a busy time since arriving back to Taipan roughly a month ago. We hired a car, toured all over Jacksonville and St Augustine primarily looking for a decent 2nd hand car in which to do some more extensive touring. Second hand car buying is a huge raffle anywhere and here is the same. We decided on an Escalade or a Expedition both large 4x4 V8 gas guzzlers. We need to fit all our camp gear plus be able to sleep in it in bear country! Finally after much deliberation we settled on a Cadillac Escalade 1999 model. We met some people who recommended a good mechanic so we took it along and had some oil leaks fixed and a full service etc. It was pronounced fit for purpose so we are now mobile.

Last night on the marina in Jacksonville.

On the 14th of August we left River City Brewing Company Marina and headed to Sisters Creek anchorage at the mouth of the St Johns River in preparation for our first leg of the inter coastal Waterway. This waterway is  made up of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds while other sections are artificial canals which create a safe waterway for traffic and the transfer of goods.  It became apparent during the British Blockade after the1812 war that the waterway was justified. The legacy is a fantastic water highway, 3000 miles long, from southern Florida to the Great Lakes and including the Gulf. 

Trying a spot of Bass fishing.

The major difficulty for us is that it was designed for masts shorter than 65 feet and some of the dredging is a little lacking in places causing a potential depth problem for Taipan. At 7 ft 6 in we are told we are marginal. Taipans mast is 65ft 6in. This all means that we have to navigate the waterway on a rising tide and the bridges at lower tide. This take a bit of planning ahead and it all takes quite a while to get far. We spent the first day traveling steadily along at about 5 knots, managing to avoid the shallower water although we were pleasantly surprised at the depths. Almost nothing under 6feet below the keel. The only bridge we had to negotiate before arriving in Fernandina Beach 25miles north was showing 66 feet when we arrived. We touched with the antenna which is fine but decided to wait till the tide dropped to allow 67ft of air. At dusk we approached the bridge on a falling tide and with 67ft we didn't touch anything. 
We successfully negotiated out first 65 ft bridge.

We loved our day on the marshes. Its like a garden. Marsh grass is like long lawn. All even and smooth on top and neatly finishing at the water. Its very green at this time of year. There was very little traffic as it was Friday but Saturday there were lots of small fining boats out bristling with rods and full of families out to catch "theyselvs" a fish. The bird life is  phenomenal. Would seriously consider doing some more legs on the waterway despite the inconveniences and slowness of progress.
For now though we have tied up at Tiger Point marina in Fernandina Beach where Taipan will be hauled and set upon a very big strong cradle for the last couple of months of the Hurricane Season while we do a little land travel in the "new" Cadillac.