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Nightingale Tune, Hecla, and Jasaru, rafted together for the night alongside the ICW in Jacksonville, FL.

Big waves and a damaged bulkhead aboard our buddy boat Jasaru made us reconsider our plan to sail on down the coast of Florida from Frenandino to St. Augustine. So it worked out well that we’d anchored near an inlet to the ICW (Intracostal Waterway or “The Ditch” as some sailors like to call it), a boring but calm alternative to the open ocean. Our caravan of three pushed on under motor, carefully navigating the often shallow and poorly charted waters. That brand new depth alarm saved our bacon more than a couple of times during the trip.

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The captain and the boat cat, underway

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Boat heights, including the mast, cannot exceed the height of the 65 foot fixed bridges all along the ICW. Nightingale Tune clears easily at 55 feet, but with a height of 63 feet, the antenna at the top of Jasaru’s mast pinged as they passed through.

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I hold my breath as I watch our mast clear the bridge.

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Some stretches of the ICW are supposed to be quite pretty, but ours was not one of those. Luckily, we had wildlife to entertain us.

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Navigating the ditch requires constant vigilance. And a big furry beard.

Having spent the last few days anchored between two stinky paper mills, we are really looking forward to dropping anchor in the clear blue waters of St. Augustine. Our offshore shakedown and first taste of practical day-to-day cruising revealed some additional issues, so we’ll be hunkered down among friends, working like mad to finish projects and correct some poor outfitting choices before making the jump to the Bahamas.