My name is Eric McKenzie. I’m 25 years old and a full time firefighter/paramedic for Chillicothe, MO Fire Department. I have never been sailing before but love the ocean and always wanted to give it a try to see what it was like. When I asked Shane if he’d be willing to let me join him for a week he was very accommodating and open to the idea. I joined up with Shane on the S/V Guiding Light late on Friday evening at the Titusville marina. There was just enough time for him to show me around the boat and then call it a night. Saturday we weighed anchor around 11AM and motored up the ICW throughout the afternoon until finally stopping for the evening at an anchorage in Ponce Inlet. The ICW was a fun, interesting, and educational experience for me.

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It was my first experience of seeing a draw bridge raise for a boat and interestingly enough it happened to be the boat I was on. Sunday we got up bright and early to go about 4 miles off shore in the Atlantic where I was able to get my first sailing experience. Throughout the day we had enough wind to keep us going at the rate we needed to arrive in St. Augustine that evening. We only needed to use one motor to help us stay on schedule for about two hours out of the entire day. We also gave fishing a go but it appears I am not the best fisherman and apparently I am very good at catching sea weed. We arrived and picked up a mooring ball at St. Augustine with enough daylight left to walk a small portion of the town and come up with a plan for the following day. We also stopped in at a local restaurant, “Gyros,” where I had my first Gyro, which I found quite appetizing. After dark, my evening was spent laying out on the bow of the boat enjoying the night sky while listening to a live band play from a bar close to where we were moored. We spent the entire day Monday exploring all that St. Augustine had to offer. I was able to see the Fort and drink from the Fountain of Youth. We also went to the Spanish Colonial Quarter part of town and toured one of the oldest houses in St. Augustine and watched live reenactments of a blacksmith, carpenter, soldier, leather worker, and a scribe who even wrote my name for me to keep. We weighed anchor first thing Tuesday morning, went about four miles off shore again but mother nature was being somewhat stingy with her wind so we ended up motor sailing the majority of the day. We anchored at Cumberland Island, Georgia around 6PM that evening and were able to check out some of the island and get back to the boat shortly after dark. The next day we took the bikes out and saw as much of the island as I feel we possibly could. Cumberland Island was amazing. The entire island was gorgeous with a huge contrast of landscapes, plant, and wildlife. Where else can you see deer wandering the sand dunes or wild horses walking along the beaches, or palm trees, live oaks, and evergreens all cohabitating in the same forest. The roads were absolutely beautiful with live oaks weaving and winding with Spanish moss draping over them. There was a considerable amount of smoke from all the wildfires throughout Florida and Georgia. The smoke did give the island and eerie somewhat mystical feel, but presented a new challenge when it came to photography. We also saw the famous, “Dungeness,” ruins from a huge mansion that burned in the 1950’s. Thursday we motored up the ICW through the smoky haze to Brunswick, GA. Once again, Mother Nature evidently thought it would be funny to make it rain as soon as we needed to get off the boat to fuel up. After fueling we docked the boat where it will stay for the next few months. That evening I was fortunate enough to meet up with Shane’s friends, Terry and Martha from Brendan. We also went to a social hour in the marinas lobby where we met several other interesting boaters. Friday was spent prepping the boat to be left for the next few months. That evening we went to The Brendan for ice cream where we were able to visit with Terry and Martha and a few other new friends. I tried Blue Bell ice cream for the first time and heard many interesting stories of everybody’s travels. It was a great ending to an amazing trip for me. I learned a lot and had a great time in the process, and I can’t thank Shane enough for the experience.