West End, Bahamas
We carried on down the ICW as far as Brunswick, GA pursued by very strong winds and unseasonably cold weather enjoying the ability to move during the day when the sun was out rather than doing an overnight run.
With the Spanish in Florida wanting to move north, Georgia provided a useful buffer from the lucrative colonies in the north. So fortified settlements were attempted to stake a British claim. One of these is on the Frederica settlement and a tour of the ruins attested to the frontier feel. Yes, those cannons are trained on Matsu!
The final Georgia section from Brunswick involves a very shallow stretch and a fixed bridge so we decided to head back out to sea, as with a high tide for the shallows we would hit the bridge and with a low tide for the bridge we would run aground.
We decided that the Georgia ICW was like Paris Hilton, pretty but shallow (insert additional non family friendly gags yourselves).
Our next stop was Cumberland Island one of our favourite spots and subject of several earlier blog posts. We stayed here for well over a week as the winds howled and the temperatures plummeted. We were on the Florida border for goodness sake and wearing woolly hats and gloves during the day!
Finally we got a great window of moderate northerly winds and left on a cold but clear morning in company with Chandelle and Discovery. It was a great sail if a bit chilly enlivened by a great dolphin visit yet again.
With the short days we couldn’t make Lake Worth before dark so we went to a new destination Fort Pierce. We timed it perfectly for the outgoing tide and had a very uncomfortable trip into the inlet with big standing waves, not at all pleasant, but Matsu looked after us well.
The next day we hopped to Lake Worth to begin a mad dash to get ready for the weather window coming up for the Bahamas trip. We had a couple of minor boat chores to do and things to buy plus a last stock up at a USA grocery store. We took the dinghy towards our usual store but on the way saw a huge, brand new Publix store had opened. We left the dinghy at a nearby marina and wandered in. It had opened the day before so the service was impeccable, but we think we left them thinking we were mystery shoppers sent by head office!
I had the distinction of being the first person to smash something, which caused chaos as nobody could find the spill cart. Then as we were also buying food for friends Linda and I paid separately at the tills. The bank saw two simultaneous charges on the cards at the same place so declined them, we were whisked off to customer service to make calls to the bank to verify etc etc.
Finally we tried to leave with the trolleys to take the food back to the dinghy, but the state of the art trolleys had wheels that locked automatically as soon as they crossed a yellow perimeter line. Legions of customer service people arrived and we explained what we were doing, so a ride up in the lift, carry the trolleys over the line in the car park, unlock the wheels and then they pushed our trolleys to the marina for us and helped us unload!
They were now convinced that we were plants from head office hence all the amazing service and we were too embarrassed to ever return!
Amazingly we had the preparations done in time and on the morning of the 16th November left the USA for the last time in a while we think, for a very straightforward trip over to West End, Grand Bahama. With customs cleared it was time for a beer, and then the next day we set off again for an overnight sail to Nassau. At least this time we had no water spouts like last year, and we were wearing shorts and t-shirts for night watch rather than jumpers and hats.
We headed into Nassau harbour at sunrise just behind a huge cruise ship and so here we are, back in one of our favourite places and ready to head for the Exumas tomorrow. But first we must have a Kalik and some conch!