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Clear Skies and a Sunburn to St. Augustine

It was Saturday morning the 9th of January and were tied to the public dock right in front of the Sisters Creek Draw Bridge which leads out into the St. Johns River. We started hearing people rustling outside around 6am and I looked out to find a busy boat ramp full of anxious fisherman. At some point during the night we were joined at the dock by another sailboat as well. I made a quick trip to dispose of the trash and look for ice (to no avail) before we tossed the dock lines to follow another sailboat through the draw bridge.

The markers on the St. Johns have been moved and do not correspond to the maps. It took us a few minutes going in circles before we sighted another sailboat, which apparently knew the way, and we followed him. Hil was at the helm and did a great job following the other boater and GPS. The other sailboat was motoring faster than we were and we eventually lost sight of him. We trucked along south in the ICW with no problems. Right around Pointe Vedra the ICW straightened out for what seemed like forever and we entertained ourselves by admiring all the fancy houses and boats built along the ICW.

Hil took over after lunch while Emma slept in her car seat and she got us all the way to the St. Augustine inlet before Emma woke up and I took over the helm. There are two bridges by the inlet. The first is a modern bridge with at least 60’ vertical clearance. The other is Lions Gate Bridge which is a vertical draw bridge. As we approached I hailed the bridge operator on VHF channel 09 and they were opening the gate on the half hour, which was in 10 minutes. We slowed to a crawl and admired the other boats that were anchored on the north side of the bridge before the they raised the whole section of bridge up like an elevator and we passed under the elevated bridge section. Hil said that was the coolest bridge she had ever seen.

On the South side of the bridge there is a public marina and a popular anchorage. There were boats anchored everywhere! Because we row the dinghy, I was trying to pick a hole closest to the public marina. I admit my mind was thinking about the hot shower waiting for me at the marina once we got settled. We tried dropping our anchor three times before we got it positioned into a place that cleared us of surrounding boats. This was a stressful time because Emma had enough of her car seat and was crying loudly and Hil and I were trying to yell back and forth at each other while avoiding the other boat around. Finally, we got anchored, Emma got out of her car seat, and Mom and Dad had a stiff martini (ok, we actually had two martini’s)

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