We left St Augustine early in the morning of the 5th, anticipating an uneventful ride to our last stop in Florida, god willing. About an hour into our voyage, we heard a siren behind us–it was the US Coast Guard, obviously targeting Golden. We slowed, they pulled up alongside, and asked, “When was the last time you were boarded by the Coast Guard?”. I laughed nervously, and told them truthfully, “Never”. They then asked us if we had any weapons on board, and I pointed to Hunny and said, “she’s it”. They then told us they would like to dispatch a team onboard to do a safety inspection. Greatly relieved (while totally bored in Vero Beach, we’d arranged for a free safety inspection to be done, so knew we were probably good), we told them to come on aboard. Their 20 foot inflatable expertly maneuvered alongside while we were moving, and disgorged three strapping young men in uniform onto our swim platform. They quickly swarmed the boat, asking to inspect the bilges, our life vests, our signage for garbage and oil, fire extinguishers, flares, and what seemed like a million other tiny pieces of safety equipment, as well as Golden’s paperwork. Future guests should be happy to note we had no violations found on their extensive list. As they were leaving, I snapped a few pictures of them, explaining they were for my blog. One of the officers pointed to the guy standing next to him, and said that if I had anything negative to say on my blog to note that he was “Ensign Davis, D-A-V-I-S”. Funny, nice guys.
We then proceeded without event to Fernandino Beach, Florida, where I successfully grabbed a mooring ball without a hitch–I’m learning! We also managed to install our new 2.9 hp engine onto the stern of the “Doodle”, and took Hunny in several times to relieve herself, almost without drama, until our last morning. I should explain first that our new engine has no reverse gear—one has to turn the engine 180 degrees in order for it to back the dinghy up. That is an important, but easy to forget, detail. After paying for our moorage, and allowing Hunny to pee/poop one last time for the day, the three of us arranged ourselves carefully into the Doodle, and started the motor, Hunny and I faced forward, ready to be sedately chauffeured back to Golden. Suddenly I heard the engine roaring into gear; it suddenly lurched forward at breakneck speed toward the dock just 10 feet away. I screamed in panic, and at the last minute, David took it out of gear, and we hit the piling at a marginally slower speed than the breakneck one we’d been hurtling at seconds before. You’ll be happy to know that my neck doesn’t hurt very much anymore.
That day we proceeded to Brunswick, Georgia, where we are now, and celebrated leaving Florida in front of the tax man. What a relief.