Finally we have made it to Florida! A state where the weather is warm and palm trees aplenty. As it goes, also the day a cold front squall line came through bringing colder air and rain!
We found a great anchorage with southern protection at Ft. George River, home to the Kingsley Plantation National Heritage Site. It is the oldest plantation still standing in America. We were able to walk around for about 15 mins before they closed. The buildings and house were very small and modest for what I’d imagined a plantation would appear to be.
The interesting history is that the owner had 40,000 acres (the entire area we had traveled from Cumberland Island to here). He was from Senegal and purchased his wife as a slave from Cuba, moving them to Spanish Florida to become merchants. She was his business partner and they advocated against restricting the rights of people because of race. When the civil liberties of blacks were reduced through laws (ie Florida coming under the rule of the Unites States), he moved his family safely to Haiti. A bit different from a lot of plantation histories I’ve read about.
Throughout the night, alarms kept going off at the plantation waking us up! The next morning, a cold front swept over the island. The temperature dropped and the wind picked up. We were happy to be protected from the storm and spent the day chartplotting our schedule and reading some good books.
The next day we headed out at the break of dawn to get a favorable current to the St. Johns River and beyond. The St. Johns River can have currents upwards of 6 kts (we can motor about 5 kts!)
As we left the anchorage we came across a cruising boat that had the night before anchored off the ICW instead of in a known anchorage. As you can see, the problem with anchoring on the narrow banks of the ICW is that the tide may drop quite a bit, leaving you uncomfortable and stuck for about 6 hours.
As we approached our first bridge in Florida, Sisters Creek Bridge, we were shocked to see that the bridge was actually opening BEFORE WE WERE EVEN THERE!!!!!!! This was a momentous occasion, as most bridges like to have us wait, and wait, and wait.
Soon after we crossed St. Johns River, one of the busiest shipping channels on the East Coast, and happy to have our AIS onboard. Here is a snapshot of what the river looked like as we crossed. We are the red boat. You can see our track and where we are going. What AIS does is show the boats around us in green or yellow, their names, how fast they are going and in what direction. It also records their tracks. All of the boats in the river are moving very fast, but we have a good opening. (note: the boats just above us with the black dots are superyachts that are hauled out on land still transmitting their positions, lol)
We had hoped for a bit of sailing with a strong west wind, but that didn’t pick up until the afternoon and was very southerly. We only got a few minutes of sailing out of it. At the time of writing this we are anchored just north of St. Augustine, excited to explore the city tomorrow!