Lonely Pine Island
White Pepper started the first leg of the drive South by leaving the Jacksonville Municipal Dock at slack water at 9:30 am Thanksgiving Friday. Catching the ebbing current made quick work of the 16 n. mi. trip down the St. Johns River to the ICW intersection arriving about 12:30 pm. The entry into the ICW went smoothly despite a ripping cross current. For reasons that I can not understand the current was flowing out of the St. Johns River but into the ICW which is also known as the Tolomato River at this part of its existence. We made good time and were quickly through the narrows at the Pablo Creek Bridge which can be tricky with currents near 4 knots. By the way the Pablo Creek Bridge is in the shadows of the Mayo Clinic at Jacksonville Beach. Jan even got the Genoa out. We were making 7 knots heading South with the current and North wind.
About 1:30 pm we came up to Palm Cove Marina which is the logical stop over as there was no way we could reach St. Augustine, FL. in the short winter daylight. But the day was pretty, the sun was warm, the current favorable, the wind moderate at our back and predicted to fade. There was still 3 hours of daylight. We decided to press on to Pine Island Anchorage. After all, what could go wrong. Quickly the weather deteriorated as an unpredicted coastal trough developed and sent the wind gusting to 35 knots with a steady 25. Low clouds made the afternoon gloomy and ominous.
Pine Island is the only anchorage between Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine--a distance of 38 statute miles. (For non sailors, distances in the ICW are marked in statue miles rather than nautical miles.) It is an old ox bow at statue mile marker 865 and popular with the local sailors. We got there at 4:30 pm. The wind was howling and the anchorage crowded. I usually use the Bruce anchor in river mud, but this time I decided to go with the Rocha since I figured we would have only one chance at anchoring. It wasn't the prettiest set White Pepper ever executed, but after dragging a few yards the trusty Rocna bit and never moved again.
We spent an uncomfortable night rocking and rolling. Aphrodite was most upset by the strange new noises of creaking, groaning, and halyard banging inside the mast.
We raised anchor at 10 am in a lull in the wind. The new modification that I made to the bow roller worked to perfection. The new Mantus chain grabber worked very well. The Rocna took 10 minutes to work itself out of the mud which is why I usually use the Bruce when in the ICW. Finally were were off to St. Augustine to pick up a mooring ball and wait out the rest of the bad weather.