These are the voyages of the sailing vessel Pétillant. Her original eight-month mission: to sail from Baltimore to France via Florida and the Bahamas, to successfully navigate the shoals of the French douane, to boldly go where few Maine Coon cats have gone before was completed in 2008. Now she is berthed in Port Medoc and sails costal Spain, France, and the UK during the summer months.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Backstory Part 5 - Jacksonville and Florida!

Jacksonville Beach was a great stop. We met Jane Lynn’s cousin Pat and her husband Jim, as well as Kathy and Bill Little. We had a fabulous meal down in St. Augustine, and did some major re-provisioning at the stores that were within walking distance of the Marina. Then we were off down the ditch again, thru St. Augustine by boat, anchoring right next to a NPS historical castle south of St. Augustine. One more day took us further south to another anchorage at Ponce de Leon Inlet, where we planned to jump off for another off-shore sail.

Up late that day, at low tide (we seem to be in a rut about tides), we felt our way out of Ponce Inlet, and sailed south past Cape Canaveral. The Shuttle launch had been canceled, but we did manage to see the tail end of the launch of another rocket from Ponce Inlet. The high point of this trip, though, was the announcement, at 3AM, by the US Air Force that they were about to commence a “live fire exercise” about 15 miles SE of Cape Canaveral. Upon hearing this, we checked our position and discovered that WE were about 15 miles SE of Cape Canaveral, so Ralph called the USAF and asked them if they were going to shoot at US. They asked for our coordinates, which he provided, and then they explained that they had us in sight, and would not fire at us(!). We had the radar on, but could not see any targets in the vicinity, so they must have been using something in stealth mode. We didn’t see anything, but Lynn heard the noise of the firing.

The other interesting sight as we proceeded south appeared about 5AM, when a very bright light was sighted. At first we thought it was a large city, or maybe a large cruise ship, all lit up, but eventually we figured that it was the St. Lucie power plant, all lit up like a XMAS tree. It is a target that stands out from everything else on the coast. So much for security.

The NWS had predicted west winds, clocking to the NW, so of course the winds backed to just south of west, and we ended up beating the entire way south, with the need to motor-sail the last 2 hours to get in-shore. The kitties did not appreciate beating to windward for 18 hours…

We made the entrance to the St. Lucie River at 8AM, about the time of low tide(!), and proceeded up river where Ralph picked the Harborage Marina because it has WiFi, and (supposedly) has plenty of water for us to get in. The dockmaster pointed us to a spot on a long pier, and we got within 10 feet before going aground, so he offered us a 75 ft(!) slip, where we are now tied up. It is grand. It is so big that we cannot get lines on the pilings on the other side of the slip from the finger pier, so we have to use bumpers when the wind is from the west.

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