We intended to stay a few days in St. Augustine in the mooring field to get re-aclimated to being back in the USA. While there, we made a couple of phone calls to working boat yards in Florida and Georgia to try and figure out where we would leave 5KNOTS for hurricane season. Green Cove Springs (GCS) said they could accommodate us but we were aware of past issues of vandalism and were concerned about the security at the yard. GCS is a large working yard located near Jacksonville and had experienced quite a bit of vandalism in the yard a couple of years ago. We attempted to verify if the vandalism had stopped. GCS installed large fencing and stadium lights around the yard and asked the police to increase their patrols in an attempt to stop the theft. After much research and talking to other cruisers, we felt that the trouble at GCS was in the past, so GCS it is. The trip from St. Augustine to GCS is 72 miles so it would take us two days. So we decided to leave in the next couple of days and head that way.
However, mother nature had other plans for us. We started each day looking at the weather forecast waiting for the right time to go. We had winds, thunder storms and afternoon squalls for the next ten days and decided it would be best to stay where we were until the weather improved. Fortunately the staff at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina was able to juggle mooring ball assignments and we were able to stay without having to move.
Once we found our weather window we left and headed for GCS. We had the current going our way for almost the entire day so we went further than we intended and did about 50 miles and found a good anchorage off of Miramar Terrace along the St. Johns River. This meant that next day will be an easy 20 miles and we arrived at GCS shortly after noon.
The GCS office told us that the outer mooring balls had sufficient depth four 5KNOTS so we attempted to grab one of those. After running aground trying to grab one of the balls, we decided to just anchor outside the field in deeper water. Once secured we went to shore to find the location for the haul out and take care of the office paperwork. Once ashore we talked with a couple of boaters tied up waiting to be hauled. They said that they also have a six foot draft and were sitting on the bottom waiting for the tide to rise. Since depth is an issue for us as well, we would have to time our trip to the haul out at high tide. The thought of running aground or sitting on the bottom did not sit well with us but figured we would hope for the best. Once ashore, we decided to walk around the yard and take a look at the accommodations. While there we spoke to a couple of workers and asked about past and present vandalism. They reluctantly told us that the vandalism continues and that over the past two weeks there had been winches, auto pilots and wheels stollen from some of the boats. Clearly the extra precautions that GCS had taken to stop the problem wasn’t sufficient. Needless to say, 5KNOTS will not be spending hurricane season at GCS.
Not knowing where we would be able to go, Renee made a few phone calls. St. Mary’s Boat Services (SMBS) is another yard that is located in Georgia that said they could take us but it would be a couple of weeks because the yard was currently full but they anticipated that some boats would be leaving around Memorial Day. We heard only good things about the Rocky the owner and SMBS so we agreed to wait until they had room. Where should we go until then?
Renee called Brunswick Landing Marina (BLM) where we were docked before leaving for the Bahamas. BLM has a waiting list for permanent slips but said they could accommodate us for a couple of weeks. This will work out perfect since the timing would be right and would allow Tim (Belle Marie) to go back to his home in Tallassee, Florida and grab his truck and trailer. We had decided to share a storage unit in St. Marys and offload much of our gear while on the hard. We enjoyed our time at BLM and reconnected with old friends.