Farewell, St. Augustine!
Over the past week, the Lynx’s crew has been wrapping up maintenance projects, putting away paint and varnish materials, returning borrowed bicycles, and readying the vessel to depart from our berth in St. Augustine. The “Oldest City” has been a wonderful host, but when the fenders alongside the dock start accumulating growth and are threatening to send out roots, it’s usually time to leave.
Like everyone else, we found that as we were preparing to leave, each crewmember had a list of things they hadn’t quite gotten around to seeing, eating, or drinking. In our last days, the crew made visits to Castillo de San Marcos, better known as “The Fort;” the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, where a wind gauge at the top of the tower was recording speeds of up to 60 miles per hour during our last week; some notable local eateries like J.T. Henley’s, A1A Brewery and Meehan’s, with arguably the best reuben sandwich in town and were even hosted by a former crewmember, T.C. Sheridan, at the Spanish Quarter’s Taverna del Gallo. I know I didn’t cross everything off my list, so I’ll have to return to St. Augustine as simply a tourist one of these days, and take in all that I missed.
For the vessel, however, it’s on to new adventures! On a balmy day that would have been perfect for varnish and wasn’t as perfect for sailing as we would have liked, Lynx left St. Augustine for Jacksonville, just a short way up the coast. While still in the midst of setting sail, we were greeted by two Northern Right Whales, which frequent this part of the east coast during their calving season. In fact, we saw a pair, presumably a mother and her young, playful calf. The larger whale stayed quite still in the water while the smaller one swam nearby, creating quite a scene. We enjoyed the view of the whales for a short time but were soon out of sight. On the VHF radio throughout the rest of the day, we heard other boaters calling in reports of Right Whales, including one boater off the St. Johns River who was “surrounded” by them. There are less than 400 Northern Right Whales left in existence, so the amount of activity was impressive.
After playing around with some of our less-frequently used canvas, the port split course and the stuns’l, we were having trouble finding a breeze that would get us to Jacksonville in time for our planned slack water arrival, and had to fire up the main engines. We motored for a good part of the afternoon, but were able to shut down again and get some good sail training in by tacking the vessel a half-dozen times or so before we had to take in sail and head for the dock.
Our current dock in Jacksonville is at the St. Johns Boat Company, not far from the river entrance. There are several other vessels here – both alongside and out of the water – but we have largely had the place to ourselves today. A few visitors have stopped down, after having seen our masts and yards from the road.
The crew’s main focus for the next couple of weeks will be maintenance on the yards and topmasts, which involves bringing them down to the dock to give them a thorough examination, coat of paint or varnish, and repair or replace anything that is not up to par. I would liken it to preventive maintenance on a car – periodically, it’s best just to look under the hood and see how everything is. Someone once gave me this piece of advice about cars, but I think it can be applied to topsail schooners as well – they’re only new the day you buy them!
There have been so many friendly, outgoing and incredibly helpful people in St. Augustine that I am afraid to try to list everyone. Please forgive me for not mentioning you individually, and thank you to all our St. Augustine friends! We hope to see you again sometime soon.
LeeAnne Gordon and the crew of LYNX