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Running Aground and a Rescue on the River

By Friday the 8th of January, the weather had calmed significantly and we weighed anchor(s) by 9am to cross the Cumberland Sound to Amelia Island. This time was completely different than the day before when we tried to cross the sound in gale force gusts and 3-4’ waves. On a falling tide we were pushed out the sound to Amelia Island. Ferdinand Harbor Marina is just inside the sound and looks to be a real nice marina. They have mooring balls on the west side of the river and a nice long dock at the marina. We would like to stop and spend some time wandering around the island, but were trying to make up for some lost time and wanted to get farther south before the next cold front arrived.

We technically entered Florida! This was the farthest south we had been in the ICW.

The waterway was windy and the tide was falling. Near low tide, we passed through South Amelia River and ran aground right in the middle of the channel markers at marker 37. I got out in the dinghy and rowed it to the bow where Hil lowered the anchor and all 60’ of chain into the little plastic boat. I rowed out about 60’ while Hil fed me rode and dropped the Anchor feeding the chain our as I headed back to the boat. I hauled in the slack and tied her off and we sat and had a cocktail at noon to await the rising tide.

In less than an hour the tide had risen about a foot and we had swung into deeper water. Hil at the helm, we motored forward and I hauled in the anchor. On the rising tide we crossed another inlet to Talbot island. Not too far south from the inlet we passed a small fishing boat with that had the engine cover off. I hailed them (hollered at them- they didn’t have a radio) and asked if they needed assistance. They said they did and I proceeded to turn our 16,000 lb boat around in the narrow river. We made it around and as I was getting close to throw them a line- we ran aground again!

Lickity split, Hil and I knew what to do. I jumped in the dinghy, rowed to the bow and hil passed the anchor and chain down to me in the little plastic boat. I anchored out, dropped the anchor, rowed back and by the time I got back in to haul the slack line we had already lifted up enough to slide to deeper water and were free again!

The motor boat in distress had by this time gotten their engine to sputter to life and took off heading south down the river. We were heading the same direction and gaining on them (at 4 knots). I once again asked them if they needed assistance. Their engine was billowing white smoke and they were motoring at a crawl. They said no thanks, they were fine and we proceeded ahead towards an anchorage before it got dark.

Right when we were turning out of the main river towards a beautiful anchorage, the outboard on the small fishing boat gave up the ghost and they waved us down that they NOW needed help. We swung back around and carefully eased up on them to throw them a line. I threw them a dock line and they looked at it like was a snake. The dock line was WAY too big to tie onto to their miniature sized cleat on their fishing boat which was smaller than our little plastic dinghy. After a few moments of them making origami out to two ropes trying to tie them together, I asked for the ropes back, tied a double bowline and passed it back for them to tie off on their bow cleat.

We asked them where the closest place we could tow them before it got dark because we had to anchor. They said there was a public boat ramp not too far south on the river. Note to self, when you’re cruising at full throttle with a 25hp outboard going 20mph it’s a LOT shorter ride than in a 8 ton sailboat making 4 knots. It took over an hour to get them close to the dock. In all their excitement, the fisherman dropped the line off their boat in the middle of the channel and we were forced to turn the sailboat around and come back and get them before they drifted back to where we picked them up previously.

Sisters Creek Draw Bridge

Sisters Creek Draw Bridge

The public boat ramp and dock was right before the Sisters Creek draw bridge. We hailed the bridge operator to let him know the situation with the fisherman while were mucking about in front of the bridge and he graciously suggested we dock at the public dock (despite the repeated signs that say not to dock overnight). By the time we got the fisherman safely to the public dock, it was dusk and we liked that idea. Hil and I did a good job docking and we settled in for the night.

On a good note, the fisherman were kind enough to donate $60 to us for diesel and offered us some fish for our troubles. We took the cash and declined on the fish.

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