July 8, 2011: We left Fort Pierce inlet at sunrise after a calm but drizzly night at anchor. Skies were overcast, wind was light, no nearby lightning cells. We sailed about 9 miles offshore to pick up a 2-3 knot current assist from the mighty Gulf Stream. We rode north on the Gulf Stream for as long as we could, enjoying the added speed, but mile by mile, the Gulf Stream bent further and further offshore as it headed NE toward Cape Hatteras. We were fine with this at first because we prefer staying 20-30 miles offshore when we travel overnight; but we ultimately needed to leave the Gulf Stream and change course to the NW to enter St. Simons Sound, Brunswick's nearest ocean inlet, about 30 miles north of the Florida/Georgia state line.
At about the latitude of Jacksonville, Florida, we stepped off the Gulf Stream and moved back inland, to more closely follow the coastline as it curved westward into the bight of southern Georgia where Brunswick is located. The overnight conditions were uneventful, and the morning of July 9 was overcast and hazy with winds less than 15 knots. We closed with the coast during the day, wanting to enter St. Simons Sound before sunset when the tide turned foul.
Somewhere along this stretch of sea, I felt like I was being watched. Strange, since there were no other vessels anywhere, in any direction. But I couldn't shake the feeling. I kept looking around, scanning the horizon for something, somewhere. Eventually I turned my head in the right direction, toward our outboard motor that's mounted on our stern pulpit. Instead of focusing on the horizon I took a good look at the outboard itself. And there, out from underneath the outboard's Sunbrella cover, peeked a beady pair of eyes. We had a stowaway lizard aboard: a five-lined skink, as I later learned.
I named him Lenny and told him I didn't blame him for wanting to leave Florida by any means possible, but I wasn't sure that Georgia would be the solution to his problem. Of course there'd be plenty of marshland in the area of Georgia where we were headed, so I expected he'd enjoy the climate. His hunting for a meal would always be pretty good, and he was certain to make many lizardly friends. However, I cautioned him that Georgia had recently enacted some very harsh immigration laws so I hoped he was carrying his little reptilian birth certificate with him.
He gulped, and made himself scarce. He skittered down the port side deck and dived under one of our on-deck sail bags. I never saw him again. I think he lammed it the next day, as soon as we tied up to Brunswick Landing Marina's dock. So if you are ever visiting Brunswick and happen upon a nervous, skinny lizard wearing a finely-scaled five-pinstripe suit, it may very well be Lenny.
But please, just this once, do not alert the authorities.