Today we moved from Ortega Landing to Fernandina Beach. There is much to tell but the morning started with a bang when we were confronted by a 30 caliber machine gun aimed directly at us. But first let me address some of your concerns surrounding last night’s entry. To date no blog has elicited more phone calls and emails than the hold up at Mojo’s. People that have known me for years were concerned that I had recklessly endangered us in thwarting a stick-up and others wanted to know if we were suffering any after effects. I have asked that they all reread the last sentence and all will be revealed.
Now to this morning and the next dangerous situation for which we do have photographic documentation. We left Ortega at 0900 and the Ortega River Bridge could only open one side again unless we gave them 3 hours notice to open both sides. Since we had come through one side last Thursday we were game to go out the same way. This time it was the opposite side and Jan was at the helm. Here is the view going through.
Thankfully there was no wind but the current was running toward the bridge on an outgoing tide and once you committed there would be no backing off. We made it of course. Then on to downtown Jacksonville where we passed St. Vincent’s Hospital. That is where I had my heart surgery. As we were taking pictures I had a sinking in my stomach as I remembered that dark day. You don’t always appreciate life but I do now.
Through Jacsonville and on to the ICW. As we moved closer to the Atlantic we sighted a huge oceangoing barge loaded with 288 trailers for 18 wheelers. There were numerous tugs pulling and pushing and in making a turn they blocked the river, making it dangerous for us to proceed, so we stopped and shifted to neutral to wait and see what they were going to do before we continued. Within seconds we were being approached at high speed by red hulled inflatables with flashing blue lights and the VHF crackled with a call from the United States Coast Guard. Before I could pick up the radio microphone they were on us and we found ourselves staring into the muzzle of a 30 caliber machine gun! This was April 2nd, not April 1st!!!
These pictures do not do it justice for they came within spitting distance but Jan was afraid to shoot more pictures for fear they would think we were terrorists. Apparently we had chosen to stop in a military restricted area. The ship named LIBERTY must have been loading munitions for the military and they did not want us to stop moving. We were ordered to turn and go back to the bridge we had just passed and call the barge to arrange passing and then they would escort us through the area at gunpoint. Pretty exciting stuff. We did as we were told and soon were able to proceed and passed the barge.
Shortly after this we were at the entrance to Two Sisters Creek and the ICW. Here is where the attention must be focused for there is much shallow water and shoaling. No room for error and we made none. Mostly a ride for a couple of hours through wide marshland with little to look at so we stayed on task.
Recently some of you may have played the Mega Millions Lottery for the largest jackpot ever. Based on what I am about to tell you we should have bought a ticket. Last night our daughter Casey called to tell me that she was going to the beach on Spring Break with husband John. They were going to Fernandina Beach. Now what are the odds? We had not spoken in a couple of weeks and she calls me the night before we are leaving for the same destination. Coincidence or blind luck? Either way we were thrilled and made a dinner date. They would leave from Atlanta at 0900 and we would leave from JAX at about the same time. By mid-afternoon we would be together. Too bad the Rightful Queen Maggie would not be making the trip with them as this was a parents’ getaway.
We docked at the popular Fernandina Harbour Marina right in the middle of downtown Fernandina Beach and had time to shower and dress before they arrived. This was their first look at Cbay.
We gave them the grand tour and then they were ready to give us a tour of the city. But we needed more than a tour. Our Craftsman wet/dry vacuum, which we use nearly every day, had begun to make strange noises two days ago and there was a Sears Hometown Store right here on Amelia Island. The vacuum was still under warranty. Off we went and I decided to test just how good Sears Guarantee is. I am pleased to report that it is exceptional. Keep in mind that I had no receipt(it was at home in Marietta), no box and nothing but my honest face to convince someone to help me. That someone was Donna who turned out to be a doll. She listened to my tale of woe and went to work on the computer. Sears keeps great records and I did not realize how many things I had purchased there recently. Refrigerator, dishwasher, camera, TV and eliptical trainer. Everything was there but the vacuum but Donna did not give up. She made a phone call to someone up the chain of command and they authorized a repair but that would not work. We would never be here again and were leaving in the morning. I needed a new one. Don’t ask me how Donna worked it out but I left there with a brand new updated model and a smile on my face. Hopefully Donna is now a regular reader of our blog.
I could not have been happier and that is why I shop at Sears and so should you. They back their Craftsman products.
Then we went to tour the island and had a delightful dinner at Pablo’s Mexican which was just fine by me. I will tell you more tomorrow but it is getting late and I must close for now.