A huge storm came through overnight. Vicki woke me in the middle of the night to say rain was coming in through the open hatch above our beds. I closed it and then looked at the weather radar picture to find it was bleak. There were yellows and reds from our position west across the state and into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition several spots were indicated where hail was falling and the wind was blowing big time. Soon water began to make its way through the doghouse above the forward stateroom and drip on my bed. This had happened to Vicki at earlier parts of the trip but not so much on my side. I had to move things and put towels around to catch the drips. I had previously tried to figure out where this water was getting through but so far have been unsuccessful. We have discovered, this being a wooden boat, that when it gets wet the wood swell up and the leaks stop eventually.
Knowing we were only traveling a short distance today we took our time getting underway. The trip started with calm weather but the wind continued to build as we went along until we were getting wind of 15 mph with gusts to 25 by the time we go across Nassau Sound and into the Amelia River system. The northern portion of the Amelia River snakes through a very large marsh area and while the waterways are wide in spots the channel is very narrow and shallow. At one point, while clearly in the channel according to the chart plotter and the visible channel markers we found ourselves in just a little over 4’ of water, barely inches below our keel. We slowed to a crawl and continued that way for at least a couple hundred yards before we saw a little more depth.
We had called Fernandino Beach Marina to get a slip there or a place on a mooring ball but they said they had nothing except the outside of the breakwater. The fellow on the phone discouraged us from wanting to go there saying “I wouldn’t put my own boat there. We decided that we could anchor a little over a mile away. When we got there we found the wind blowing 17-26 mph and the anchorage had no real protection. With the 2mph tidal currents here and that kind of wind we were reluctant to anchor so called the marina again. They assigned us a place on the breakwater float and helped us get situated.
The wind was blowing directly from the west and onto our starboard beam creating a great deal of pressure on the port side against the dock. We put out every fender we had with six of them behind a fender board at the place of greatest contact. They seemed to work well and after watching awhile I was confident they would protect the boat and especially our protruding rub rail. Unfortunately the rub rail and the top edge of the dock were nearly the same height and with the waves bouncing us up and down I had been afraid that the rub rail end up over the top of the edge of the dock and with the rocking come down and do serious damage. Before I put the fender board out the fenders were quite compressed at times making the boat/dock clearance minimal.
Once settled, registered and comfortable that the boat was in good condition we walked into the town of Fernandina Beach. It is a thriving little tourist town with many shops to peruse and restaurants to frequent so we had an enjoyable afternoon off of the bouncing boat. We ate dinner in town and by the time we returned to the boat the wind had died down to around 10 mph. While it was still being pushed against the dock it was comfortable enough to spend the evening aboard and we had a good nights sleep.