Our plan was to enter the US at Fernandina Beach and then cruise up the coast to Beaufort, NC. Of course, a sailor’s plans are set in jello, and ours certainly were! En route we saw some beautiful sunsets and sunrises and even managed to refuel our diesel tanks in the calm seas.
Sunset on our first night on the water
Refuelling off Fort Pierce
For the most part our passage was uneventful until we reached the latitude of Cape Canaveral. At that point, during our weather check-in with Chris Parker, he advised us to exit the Gulf Stream (which we had been riding for the past few days) and head into the protection of the coast. A few high-intensity squalls were headed our way. Interesting coincidence as the same thing happened the year before. We managed to stay clear of the squalls until we arrived just off Jacksonville, Fl. and the entrance to the busy St. John’s River. When the first squall hit we had only our reefed main up. If we had more warning, it would have been down!
Pioneer heads into a squall off Jacksonville
The squall had 45 knot winds and rain, but no lightning. The waves stayed at about 5 feet because of the protection of the land but the winds were dead on and slowed our speed to 1 knot under power.
The cloud formations in the squalls were unusual and a bit frightening
We were mostly concerned about the two containerships right behind us. After speaking with them on the VHF radio, they agreed to give us space. We were only able to maintain position and they had been coming up on our stern. It was probably one of the worst storms we have gone through. Storm #2 was not as severe as the first one. In approaching it, we were able to take pictures of the cloud formations which were formidable. Once we reached Fernandina Beach, the weather continued to be very windy, so windy that at times we could not take the dinghy from the mooring field to the main dock. We definitely found it hard to adjust to the colder weather after the warmth of Cuba.
The pelicanos of Fernandina Beach – messing up all the dinghys!
Our trusty mascot and boat guard, Poopie, looks a little green in the turbulent inland waters just off Fernandina Beach
We are definitely no longer in Cuba!
Filling the water tanks in preparation for the trip to the Cape Fear River
Judy and Poopie keep a watchful eye for ships as we approach the Cape Fear River
Ron and Poopie seem to get along better
The next morning at first light we headed to Beaufort on the waterway. This leg was only a day sail, but a 12 hour day sail! We anchored off the coast guard station in Beaufort, in amongst all the dredging equipment.
At first light, the Wrightsville Beach Bridge opens to get us started on our long trip up the waterway
“The Pink House” – one of many huge homes on the waterway
The next morning it was a motoring trip down the waterway to our home marina, Wayfarers Cove.
We spent about six weeks getting Pioneer cleaned up and ready to leave her for the four months that we would be in Alberta and BC.