Brunswick, GA to Jacksonville, FL (December 2 – December 12)

Home, they say, is where the heart is. Our home is on AfterMath, of course. The boat feels like home: it is familiar and warm, we are comfortable there and we have a routine just the same as you probably have in your house. But entering Florida on this section of the trip really felt like we were returning home; entering the state brought warm feelings and happy memories – and we are already making the most of it.

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Jake used to relax and sleep on the bow as we traveled, but recently he has spotted dolphin swimming past the boat.  Now he is on the constant lookout for his sea living friends.  He spends hours watching for them and is so happy when he sees them every day.

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My first catch of the trip!  Finally, success!!

We headed for Brunswick, GA on December 2nd, and what fun that was! We found a very small marina that was actually called a yacht club, but which didn’t really fit that description. However, the people there were probably the friendliest yet. We were met at the dock by a couple who made us feel like we were the most important guests they had ever had. Bobby (a lady) and Alan welcomed us and the dogs with open arms, made sure we knew that we were invited into the lounge, told us where great fishing off the dock was, and just couldn’t have been nicer. Of course, with my previous fishing failures, I had to get out and try my hand at catching something. I guess that, between the new lures Jason brought to me in Beaufort, and being at the right spot, my luck finally changed. On the second cast I brought in a nice big sea trout! What a joy! I yelled for John who didn’t hear me, but Alan came quickly and got him, making sure there was a camera to document the event. Alan also got us a bucket and took the fish off my hook. (I will never get used to that part!). A few casts later landed me an even bigger sea trout, which, again, Alan took off the hook for me. Then, as we are both pretty much fishing novices, Alan offered to do our filleting! We had plenty of fish for dinner so I stopped the fishing and watched the process. Not one I loved, but those trout were delicious!

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A golden sunrise.

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One of many great white herons that sat on the trees near our dock.

We hated to leave our dock in Brunswick the next morning. It was so beautiful there (and the fishermen were catching trout again!). The trees beside the docks were lined with great white herons waiting for their day to start, the sun rose bright and golden, and Bobby and Alan were busy inviting us to come back again, but it was time to go. Heavy winds were predicted for the next few days and we wanted to get to Fernandina Beach in Amelia Island, FL. before the bad weather started.

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It is always amazing to see how many different kinds of boats and ships there are along the way.  Here is a nuclear submarine at a 16,000 acre base near St. Mary’s, GA

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A dragon sailboat!

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Cumberland Island, GA.  Can you see the wild horses?

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I love watching the birds that swarm the shrimp boats.

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Fort Clinch.  Florida at last!!

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The first sight of Fort Clinch was wonderful. When traveling south on the Intracoastal Waterway, this is the first you see of Florida. It is pretty much directly across from Cumberland Island, GA. Fort Clinch is in Fernandina Beach and is a wonderful destination that I have visited with Kelly and the grandchildren. When Jeff and I did this trip down the Intracoastal several years ago we were happy to learn that the fort meant we had made it to Florida (really happy, but that is another story for another time!!) and on this trip I had been anxiously awaiting seeing those walls and cannons again.

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While I know this is for loading and unloading cargo, I can’t help but think it looks like a giant’s chair.

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A Victorian home

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After passing Fort Clinch, we arrived in Fernandina Beach. The winds were already picking up and we were glad we had made reservations for a dock instead of going with our original plan of using a mooring. Soon all the docks were full while boats made their way to the safety and comfort of the marina. The next day, Friday, December 3, was a joy. Because Amelia Island is close to Kelly and Craig’s house, Kelly came with Madison and Carter to have lunch and spend some time walking around the little town there. The kids loved checking out the shops, all decorated for Christmas, and playing with the oversized chess set next to the visitors’ center. I was so excited that they could come see us! Michaela was in school, so I missed her, but knew I would see her soon.

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Fun in Fernandina Beach

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Fernandina Beach is a Victorian town and we were lucky to have arrived during their Dickens weekend. The streets were beautifully lit, people were dressed in Victorian clothes, caroling was taking place in the closed off streets, and there was even a dog parade/costume competition. I took Kirby to view it, but we did not participate, as we didn’t have any Christmas outfits for him to wear. He was very excited to be there, though, and happily socialized with all of the passing contestants.

Friday night John’s brother, Rich came to have dinner with us on AfterMath and on Saturday he and his girlfriend, Kathy, who had just returned from visiting her son and new grandson, came to visit. They own a home on Amelia Island and we love spending time with them. After catching up on the boat we found a great little Italian restaurant and enjoyed dinner together.

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Making our way down the St. John’s River

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This small cruise ship seemed to be everywhere we were.  It is docked now in Jacksonville for a winter time refurbishment.

Pedicures for the girls

Sunday morning we left early and started on our way to Jacksonville. We headed down the St. John’s River, through the city and the past the Landings there. Our plan has always been to get the boat’s annual maintenance done when we got to Jacksonville so we scheduled time at Lamb’s Yacht Center, a working marina with a stellar reputation. Here we are preparing for our trip to the Caribbean. We are having the water maker serviced, the engines will be tuned up, the stabilizers will be serviced and the bottom will be painted. There have been people on our boat all week and it will be hauled next week for the bottom work. In the meantime, I have been able to spend some time with Kelly and the kids. Wednesday we had lunch together, did some shopping and then Kelly, Michaela, Madison and I went for a pedicure. It was 2-year-old Madison’s first time in the salon and, although she really was just getting her toenails painted, she loved the whole process and made sure to put her feet in the water and have her little legs rubbed with lotion too.

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Madison was having way too much fun to pose for pictures!

Kelly and Craig lent us one of their cars for our time in Jacksonville and that is making our lives so much easier. Friday I was able to go meet Kelly and Madison and attend Madison’s gymnastics class. She looks so cute in her little leotard and she loves swinging on rings, walking on the balance beam, jumping on the trampoline, tumbling, and all that there is to offer at the gym. Afterwards we again had lunch and did a little Christmas shopping. Tonight we had dinner at Kelly and Craig’s house. It’s so much fun to be close to family.

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Christmas time on AfterMath

Because the boat will not be out of the water until the end of the week, I made it my mission to make it look like Christmas. I bought a little artificial tree, which we decorated with tropical and sentimental ornaments brought from our house, and I picked up a few other decorations to give AfterMath a festive spirit. While the boat is out of the water we will stay at Kelly’s house. We are looking forward to that time and we have lots of plans for fun activities while we are there. We will spend Christmas with them and we are looking forward to seeing what Santa brings!

Now that we are in Jacksonville FL (our 2015 destination), we have completed our first year leg:  Connecticut – Canada – Jacksonville.  All told, we have traveled, since May, 3,470 miles, traversing 9 states and two Canadian Provinces – all without a single mechanical delay. We have loved every minute of it and are looking forward to our 2016 travels. We invite you to join us via our blog, or better yet, for a visit.

Here is where we are today.

 

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