Remember how I complained about the cold in the last message? I didn’t know how cold Florida could get. Morning temperatures have been right at the freezing point with the wind chill pushing it much lower.
On Sat Dec 4th, we departed Reynolds Marine Park and headed towards and through Jacksonville. It was a cool day but quite comfortable and we anchored near Blount Island, just a few miles from the entrance into the ICW. Arising before the dawn the next morning, we hauled anchor and headed out. Again, it was cold but comfortable in long sleeves, polar fleece vest and rain jackets to break the wind. It was a strong northwest wind that blew us along quickly and we made good time, anchoring near Fort Matanzas just after 3 pm.
But the next morning it was bitterly cold as we hauled anchor with the dawn. Dressed as the day before, I quickly froze at the helm. When Murray took over, I dashed below. There in the aft cabin hung our seldom used survival suits. They had been purchased in the early 90’s and I think that we had them on a total of three times since then. But, if ever they were needed, it was now. Just removing my rain jacket, I stuffed myself into a top-to-toe yellow snowsuit. Now I felt like a little kid sent out to play in the snow but unable to move or bend. But I was warmer! Taking over the helm, I sent Murray down to don his.
All day long, we wore those suits. Actually, in order to move more freely when we stopped for fuel, we removed them at that point and dressed in layers that gave us flexibility. We anchored early once again just north of New Smyrna Beach. The next morning found me digging in lockers once more. I found my silk long johns, again carried aboard since ’97 and never worn. Wearing these under the survival suit, rather than jeans etc, gave me the ability to move more freely and kept me quite warm. One thing that I couldn’t dig out of the lockers, was hats or mittens. That bag of unused items was taken home and sits in my closet. We do have sailing gloves though and those keep our hands relatively warm. This year as I packed clothing, I decided that one long sleeved shirt was sufficient. What an idiot I was! But who could know that Florida would experience the coldest Dec on record? That one shirt has gotten a lot of wear the last few days!
The problem that we have is that, at the end of the day, when we take off those survival suits and go below decks, there is NO HEAT! We don’t have a furnace and our ceramic heater won’t work unless we are plugged into power. Which we are not, when at anchor. So, the little coal oil light burns and gives off some warmth. Cuddling together under the covers is the best way that we have found to stay warm. But, you can’t stay in bed all day!
On Monday, we managed to make contact with old friends, Pete and Lani on MarNel. Sharing an anchorage with them, for the first time in 9 years, was great. On Tuesday, we both motored south and anchored at Cocoa. It has been too cold to get together but we are both staying put today. Plans have been made to go ashore, find a warm restaurant and catch up on all of the news. They have a different vessel than when we sailed together previously. MarNel IV was a Endeavor 42 centre cockpit and MarNel is a Leopard 40 catamaran. They purchased the vessel out of charter in the Virgin Islands, brought it back to the US for re-fit and sailed back into the Caribbean for several years. Health issues brought them back to the US last year. Now, they plan to spend a little time in the Bahamas and we look forward to continuing the good times that we have shared.
Tomorrow, Thursday, we will scrape the frost off of the deck once again, haul anchor and head on south to Vero Beach for a few days. I need to finalize some Christmas shopping and send a few small parcels north to the grandchildren. Once that is completed, we will start to watch for crossing opportunities.
Until then, we will stay in touch, write when possible and try to stay warm. Hugs
Heather & Murray
PS Spent a few days in Vero before moving south again on Sunday, the 12th. Anchored in Peck Lake watching weather with strong north winds blowing. Possible window later this week.