Our friend that lives in Fernandina was kind enough to drop off a vehicle for us to use. This makes shopping and visiting much easier. It also made it possible for us to drive to the west coast of Florida and pick up our car from storage at Susan's sister's place. Our plans were to spend the winter on the St. Johns River while we finished our new Chesapeake Bay anchorage book. We still had not yet decided on a base of operations. Once we drove over and picked up the car, we cruised the marinas that might work to try and decide where we would like to stay. Our first choice turned out to be too exposed to the river with a long fetch when winds were from the north. On the day we visited, wind waves were breaking over some of the boats at the docks. The docks were also in pretty poor condition. Another 25 minutes away was a great little marina called Acosta Creek Harbor in Satsuma. As soon as we drove on to the property, we knew this would be the best choice for a base to finish the book and prepare the boat for the next part of our adventure. After 12 months and a few thousand miles of cruising, it was time to stop for a while and catch up on repairs and maintenance, and just rest. After talking with the owners, we left our car at the marina so it would be there when we arrived, and drove back to Fernandina in our friend's car.
Fernandina Beach is another of those waterfront towns that we love. It's very boater friendly and, except for groceries and supplies, the downtown area just outside the marina gives you lots to keep you fat and happy. The beautiful, tree-lined streets are full of gift shops, great restaurants, taverns for social activities and many historic homes to explore. I can't think of a transit on the ICW that we have made that didn't include a stop in Fernandina Beach. With access to a vehicle, we could drive over and walk on the miles of ocean beach, visit Fort Clinch, visit our friends and do lots of provisioning. Car rentals are easily available if you don't have friends that live nearby. And often, liveaboards at the marina will offer rides to the grocery or to find supplies or parts. Once again, the weather forecasters didn't get it right and the heavy winds that were expected for a few days lasted over a week. With all of the other errands we needed to do, our one-week stay turned into three weeks.
(page 61, TGBOA Hamptons Roads/Norfolk to Florida Keys). The plan was to wait until the tides changed on the St. Johns River. As with all of our plans, they're written in the sand at low tide. Another factor that needed to be considered was a limited schedule for the FEC Railroad Bridge at downtown Jacksonville that only opened three times a day.