When last we left you, we had just arrived back to Jacksonville after about a month out adventuring in the van. Y-Not had just been splashed after a bottom job and other projects that she needed to be hauled out for, and we had a project list ahead of us.
We’ll catch you up on the boat project list later if we find the time – but suffice it to say, a lot got done. And we were able to live aboard while they were completed.
Around mid-June, everything that could be completed was – but we were still awaiting some parts to finish up a final major project. We pushed Lamb’s Yacht Center to get an update on the anticipated arrival – and it was still a couple weeks out.
We paid up the yard bill to date, and set out for some cruising adventures with intentions to return to Jacksonville after the parts arrived.
Here’s the stops we made:
And here’s an archive of live video we did a week or so ago recapping this (as well as some of the projects and thoughts on semi-retirement):
We left Lamb’s Yacht Center late in an afternoon, and just puttered over to a favorite anchorage right downtown off of the Baptist Medical Complex.
We were greeted by dolphins that kept us grinning ear to ear all evening, a wild thunderstorm followed by an amazing sunset over the city all lit up for Pride Month:
St. Augustine, FL
We transited the St. Johns River eastward – and we hadn’t yet decided if we were heading north or south first. I was watching a whole crazy weather system develop in the southeast just a bit north of us, and that made the decision for us. South we’d go.
So with a turn to the right, Y-Not left the St. Johns River for the first time in over 3 years. We made an overnight stop at Pine Island Anchorage to break up a longer cruising day.
We decided to make our way to St. Augustine – a place we thoroughly love. We had just had two van stays at the state park, but there is nothing like the magic of staying on a mooring ball right downtown.
We had been dreaming of Having another Ball in St. Augustine for a long time.
We initially prepaid for a mooring for a week, and ended up extending for a total of 10 glorious nights. At $30/night – it is just about the cheapest way to be downtown and explore. Staying at a dock would have easily been 5x the cost. We can buy a lot of generator time for that!
We enjoyed lots of local dining, running, roaming around, a live show at the Limelight Theater and even indulged in some touristy fun.
We made a smart decision weather wise too – while we had a lot of rain, we had hardly anything worrisome.
At this point we were 12-days into our off-grid cruising adventure and had only clocked 17 hours on the generator thanks to some mid-80s highs and pleasant evenings. We still had 60 gallons of fresh water left (we carry about 160). And we made two provision runs across the inlet to Vilano Beach’s Publix by dinghy for fresh produce.
With the pump out boat broken during our stay, we timed our departure for slack tide, made an easy trek to the fuel dock to pump out and fill up the fresh water – and away we went!
Cumberland Island, GA
Next stop would be one we didn’t spend nearly enough time at in a previous stop years ago – Cumberland Island National Seashore. We made a stop at Atlantic Beach on the way for an overnight anchorage, after a crazy day transiting the ICW on a Sunday (never again!).
With easy anchoring right off the island, the only way to get here is by private boat or ferry.
We went online and bought our 7-day (only option) permits to visit the park.
The advantage of being there in your own boat is that you can visit the park before and after the ferry full of passengers. So we’d go over first thing in the morning for a hike or run (we had a lovely run through the ruins and then along the beach) and then return in the early evening for a refreshing swim at the beach.
Ahh.. bliss. We ended up staying two nights, but were tempted by more.
St. Marys, GA
We were planning to head back south to Fernandina Beach next, and snagging a mooring ball for the 4th of July weekend. But as we transited past on our way up to Cumberland, it was clear there was no rush yet for the first come first serve moorings. We had time.
We remembered on prior visits by RV to St. Marys that it was cruiser friendly – so we researched the anchorage, and decided we had time to fit in a couple nights there too.
So off we headed up the St. Marys River and we dropped the hooked quite literally on the FL/GA border. Depending on the tidal currents and winds – we may have been in either state.
There’s a great public dock downtown that offers 4-hours for the dinghy – which is about perfect. We weren’t expecting much in this little town but were pleasantly surprised.
We were on our initial stroll and checking out the menu at Cedar Oak Cafe for lunch the next day – and noticed they were open for dinner (despite what the great Google had told us). And dinner was globally inspired chef prepared meals. And it was empty.
So we treated our self to essentially a private chef experience with amazing Indian cuisine – pakoras, biryani and palak paneer.
We also noticed that Yankee Pie Apizza was having their grand opening on Friday – and they had gluten free New England style pizza on the menu. That was enough to get us to extend our stay – it was so worth it!
Overall, St. Marys was a quaint little town to stay in for 3-nights – and we did manage a grocery re-stocking by InstaCart by just giving the address of the public dock for delivery.
Fernandina Beach, FL
While it was temping to participate in St. Marys 4th of July festivities, we decided to continue on to Fernandina Beach – but we took the back route via the Bells River. It has some shallow spots, so we did it on a rising tide. It was absolutely stunning cruising along bluffs – in Florida! Something we’ve not experienced yet in our boating.
We arrived to Fernandina, and there were plenty of unclaimed moorings – so we followed the instructions to grab one, and then go check in. We paid up through the 4th at $30/night, and then enjoyed exploring this more touristy historic downtown.
It’s full of shops, restaurants and bars – many with touristy prices to match. But we found some more affordable gems – including Akari Sushi, Timoti’s Seafood Shak (amazing tacos, baskets and bowls) and the Green Turtle Tavern for drinks & live music (they even fly a MTOA burgee behind their bar).
We of course continued our running at each stop – it’s such a great way to explore on foot and work off the aforementioned dining.
Tuesday evening, the 4th – we made sure we were back on our boat for the grand finale of our cruising adventure. Fireworks!
And wow, did we have an amazing view, check out this quick 2-minute drone video Chris took:
Fernandina Beach is an interesting place to explore, as the downtown is bookcased by two industrial plants that pretty much run 24/7 – so there’s a constant drone of noise and smell of lumber and mills. But it’s not too bad, and adds to an ambience.
The next morning we released the mooring and headed over to the commercial fuel dock of Port Consolidated. Reported to be the cheapest marine diesel in the area. Super easy approach, super friendly service. We paid $2.90/gallon plus FL sales tax and a $19.95 ‘environmental fee.
Considering our cheapest fuel returning to Sanford will be $3.89-$3.99/gallon – we put in every drop we could. Taking on 210 gallons (our capacity is 440). We’ll top up before we head up river, as sourcing diesel in Sanford can be pricey and tricky.
Back to Jax
All and all we spent 23 days cruising around, completely off grid on moorings or anchorages. The weather did get warmer after St. Augustine, so our generator time definitely increased to keep cool during the days. We never heated our hot tub, instead using it as a cold plunge to keep cool.
And it was absolutely splendid – reminding us of why we love active cruising.
Maybe enjoying cruising again will be enough to inspire us to actually re-start the Great Loop next year?
We made a long cruising day back to Jacksonville, arriving to the same downtown anchorage we started at around 10pm – as we had to time the tides to ride the flood.
We’ve been back at Lamb’s Yacht Center the past few days wrapping up the final projects now that the parts are in. Blooper has been repositioned to Sanford, and my mom came and picked us up and drove us back to Jax this past weekend.
We should be free by mid-week, and will start a slow putz back to Sanford in time for my 50th birthday and storing for hurricane season.