Still waiting on laptop to be fixed so no pics for this post (boo! We all know pictures are more fun than a bunch of words)…
Alas, here we go:
I awaken to the mechanical groan of our windlass as it winds our anchor chain up and out of the water and into Free Range’s anchor locker. It’s early but Stéphane is ready to make moves. I get to the cockpit and start the engine so we can head out of our anchorage under power once The Bruce (anchor) is secured to the bow. We are becoming an efficient and more confident sailing duo.
The night before, I plotted our route to Jacksonville on our iPad and Stéphane found our anchorage, so away we go down the Intracoastal crossing St. Mary’s inlet and the GA-FL border into The Sunshine State.
Now, of all the potential places to visit in Florida, Jacksonville is definitely not on our “must see” list, however, its one draw is that it has an Apple Store and as our laptop is still quite unhappy after being “fixed” in Charleston, Jacksonville it is.
We spend one night anchored across from a shipping yard in J-ville and then head further south to a FREE dock. Yes, you read that last bit correctly – a free dock. Although quite the endangered species in the cruising world, they do actually turn up from time to time if you are a patient and inquisitive hunter.
Seventy-eight beautifully empty slips and free water greeted us at the Jacksonville Municipal Park; shore power for $8 a day if you were so inclined. The other plus: a public bathroom. See, our toilet decided to break the day before and one can only pee in a cup for so long before it really starts to cramp ones style.
After securing Free Range to the dock and a bathroom pit-stop, we trek two miles to a bus station where we can catch the South Side Six (SS6 if you’re a regular on the Jacksonville bus scene). An hour later, SS6 drops us off at Apple Store/West Marine (yes, we got totally lucky that both stores were in the same shopping center); two hours later we await the inbound R5 minus one laptop and plus one West Marine Compact Manual Head. A mile and a half walk in the dark from R5, each carrying one side of our new toilet, getting odd looks from the locals, we return to Free Range – the day’s mission a success.
The next day we realize we need some new hose to complete the toilet project. Shoot!! It’s not like we can just jump in the car and drive to our local West Marine. For us now, every shopping excursion in a new city requires research, logistics, multi-tasking, patience, and willingness to sprint the last five blocks to catch that outbound P4.
P4 takes us to a closer West Marine AND a grocery store (logistics, multi-tasking). Later that afternoon, laden with two overly-full backpacks crammed with eggs, veggies, fruit, and meat (don’t forget the bag of wine), we are back at the dock ready to complete the toilet install.
Stéphane bangs out the toilet project, no problems. We eat fresh food for dinner to celebrate our new toilet. It’s the little things…
the next day we meet our new neighbors, Elaine and Cornel- they’re the ones in the Hunter Passage 456 across the dock from us. More projects: I clean our stainless steel rails, wash the deck down, wash salt off Free Range; hoist Stéphane up the mast so he can install our flag halyard; Stéphane sews a cover for or grill- we are busy! That evening we meet the neighbors for apps and drinks on their boat, s/v Sans Souci (carefree) and we chat into the night.
Today: waiting for laptop to be fixed, more cleaning and projects, and a big storm blows through…
Found a few pics on our iPad: