Thursday, December 31, 2015

North Miami - New Years Eve

One last pump out and one last trip to the Library for more research. A short trip today and we don't push off from the wall until 3:20 PM. We are hemmed in between a catamaran and a trawler so it is tight leaving, which I do not do very gracefully. Being preoccupied I am not listening to the radio and miss the announcement of another mega-yacht being towed up the river. As soon as I am off the wall they appear around the corner. Another tour boat is backing up, but I don't have any where else to go at this point so I try to slip down the side of the channel near the wall. The tow boats hold their position as I slip by. They are not too happy with me.

We only have about 15 miles to go to University Cove in North Miami. We sailed outside to Miami the last time and missed this part of the ICW. We did not miss much. We get to University Cove around 6 PM after sunset. Very nice cove between Florida International University and Oleta State Parks. FIU has great WIFI that you can sign up for, very nice of them to provide it for visitors, although I'm sure they only planned it for on shore visitors. We are able to use FaceTime and Skype. TV reception is very good, except half of the stations are in Spanish.

We are tired and go to bed shortly after “sailors mid-night” which is unusually early for us. Around midnight the fireworks barely wake us and it does not occur to me to get up and watch them until they are just about over.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - “Hey Mañana”


Again I head to the office to extend our dockage one more day and tell them now they know why our boat is called “Mañana”. We even had tourist boats going by us on the dock yelling out “Hey Mañana”, the local Hispanic population has an appreciation for the name. North of Florida, people call the boat Manana (rhyming with Banana). I finally install the new AC charger. Surprisingly few problems installing it, not your usual occurrence on installing new equipment on a boat. It works much, much better than our old tired charger. Linda works on our provisioning list. Another trip to the Library for more research. Back to the boat for dinner and then a beer and soda run to Publix, right before they closed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - Library

I got the pump out connector from the office and pumped out our holding tank. Then we did some more food shopping at Publix. Stocking our boat for the Bahamas is a multi step process. Kind of like tapping the salt shaker so the level goes down and you can fit more salt in the shaker. After I work on a couple more miscellaneous projects we head to the Fort Lauderdale Library with our computers and iPad. Why did we not do this sooner. They have fabulous WIFI and some ripping speeds. Did some research on fights to Staniel Cay for our son and daughter-in-law.

Fort Lauderdale Library


Monday, December 28, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - Work Day

Today is payback to burn off those turkey calories. We walk a couple miles to get our propane tank filled. I head to the office to extend our dockage another two days, beyond our planned leaving date. In the afternoon, Linda cleans the boat and I walk to McDonalds Hardware and BOW to pick up wiring and lugs for the new charger that I had shipped to Steve and Joanne, that we picked up on Xmas.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - Visitors

We return the rental car in the morning after another stop at Home Depot. Steve and Joanne come by for a visit on the boat and we talk and watch the parade of boats going up and down the river in front of us. It's quite a show. Steve and Joanne also bring us a “care package” of turkey and stuffing. What no creamed onions!, Oh yeh I think I ate them all! Steve has to get up very early the next day for work, so we can not talk them into staying for dinner. After they leave we walk up to the “Downtowners” a restaurant on the River Walk for a light dinner (split an appetizer).

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Delray Beach

Still geeking out I, convince Joanne they need to have a Chromecast, media player to turn their TV into a Smart TV. Joanne watches movies on her iPad and Chromecast will allow her to watch the same movies on their TV, controlled by the iPad. Steve and I head to Best Buy to get the Chromecast and we stop by Harbor Freight to get a hydraulic crimper for the new AC charger I have to install (Note to John Solobsai and Bruce Nelson, I will no longer be freeloading your HF crimpers). We spend much of the day setting up the Chromecast and playing with the WIFI booster. We finally figure out moving the WiFi router off the floor in their office significantly improves the signal range, but the load on the Comcast line on the street is slowing down the data rate. I think my real goal was to stay late and get another turkey dinner before we leave. On our way back to the boat we pick up wine, stop at Fort Lauderdale Home Depot and fill our diesel rail tanks.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Festivus - Delray Beach, Steve & Joanne

Before we head to our friends, Steve and Joanne Payea, in Delray Beach for Xmas dinner I transfer fuel from our rail tanks so I can take the empty tanks with us to refill. I talk with a couple on paddle board on the New River while filling our fuel tank. On a normal day they would be risking their lives doing that on the normally very busy New River. We head to Cooley's Landing and use the showers there and then head to Delray Beach.

We have a wonderful turkey dinner that Joanne prepared. She made these very unique creamed onions, not those little round ones that come in a cooking bag (I thought that was the only way you could get creamed onions). I could of eaten, just her creamed onions, with turkey for a side.

Later Linda did laundry (are they great friends or what ? Joanne insists we bring our dirty laundry) and I geek out on installing a WiFi booster for Joanne.

We later drive to Delray Beach to see the Holiday lights.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - Star Wars

Up early for our pick up from Enterprise rental car. Day before Xmas they are obviously quite busy. We head out to a long day of shopping. First we go to another favorite and well know local hardware store McDonalds, great assortment of stainless steel hardware. I pick up a number of hard to fine items and hardware for a couple projects. Then on to BOW (Boat Owners Warehouse), a south Florida marine chain store that has good prices and some unique hard to find items. Next stop is the supposedly largest West Marine store, we skipped it last time, but stopped this time for a couple specific items I know they would have. Last stop in this area is “Sailorman” one of my favorite new and used (mostly used) marine stores. We find a couple items that the “big” West Marine did not have in stock. One new item Linda found was a LED miniature bayonet replacement bulb that I have been looking for, for the last three months. I had come to the conclusion no one made them, wrong. Now we have a decent light over our chart table. These four stores are within a few blocks of each other on a busy highway.

Next we take a 15 minute drive to Ikea, a well known marine supply store – NOT, but it is for us. They have these nice small thin woven rubber back mats that we like on the boat. Had some left from skiing last winter in Utah as boot mats, but wanted more. I also picked up some extra GU4 LED bulbs, which are superior to anything at West Marine or other marine suppliers for 1/3 the price. Then on to Walmart for oil for our Diesel engine, Rotella, which is about 40% less than any other marine supplier. Another quick stop at Lowes for a couple other items, extra solar garden lights, soon to be our “permanent” dinghy lights.

We head back to the boat for showers and then dinner at Mangos for their Swordfish special. We get the last couple orders before they run out. Then on to the Imax to see Star Wars.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - Stranahan House

We walked to the Imax to get tickets for the 10:30PM Christmas eve showing of Star Wars. Paid extra for early entrance to get a good seat. Wanted to see the movie so I could stop avoiding spoiler alerts in the press. Walked over to Cooleys Landing, Fort Lauderdale's other municipal marina and talked with cruising boats “Mar-a-Lago” and “Sarafina”. Mar-a-Lago, a Catalina 42, we have seen off and on down the east coast and had seen them two years ago. They are a Canadian couple Brian & Jane Wilson from Toronto who did this trip two years ago and planned to do it only once like we did. They are leaving their boat for a week to fly back for Xmas. They are also planning to sail to Bimini from Miami and onto Great Harbor in the Berry's as we are, so I am sure we will be seeing them soon. Sarafina's owner Mark, has a couple who is crewing with him for a month. The husband and wife crewing are from Keene, New Hampshire, where Linda and I both lived before we got together. They mentioned a bunch of familiar names of people I knew and worked with when I lived there.

New River from one of the Draw Bridges

In the afternoon we had lunch at “Mangos” on Las Olas Boulevard and did a tour of the oldest remaining house in Fort Lauderdale, “Stranahan House”, which is now being hemmed in by tall buildings. A new one to be 40 stories when completed will render their sundial useless. John one of their tour guides and caretakers is a wealth of information, tipped us off previously to “Mangos”

Frazers Hog Cay

Lots of wind, but no waves in the protection of Bond Cay. Once we leave the south entrance at high tide we encounter wind and waves almost on our nose, more than forecasted. 

Aground on Bonds Cay, wonder how that could of possibly happened ?

 After and hour of punishing ourselves I decide to put the wind and waves on our back and sail east to Frazers Hog Cay and not Nassau. It would have been like traveling 30 miles on a pogo stick. I'm tired after just the first couple miles. In hindsight Mark and Karen made the right choice to get to Nassau ahead of the forecasted winds for Tuesday. I just didn't want to skip the southern Berry's, but we should of (Linda will remind me of this).

It was fairly rough in the anchorage when we got in there, in the afternoon and it took two attempts to set the anchor. It was too rough to get a clear view of the bottom, but we did drop an anchor in what I considered to be a sandy spot. The ideal spot further north off a sandy beach had the only other boat for miles and I didn't want to “crowd” them in this remote anchorage. I had set the anchor monitor program on our iPad “Drag Queen” and monitored the tracking on our navigation program. Not being real comfortable with the location in these high winds I stayed up late, after mid-night, monitoring our position. We had not moved and have been swinging a 45 degree arc around the anchor position.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - New River

Hung out on the boat for the morning, got a pump out and filled the water tanks. Walked around town and otherwise relaxed.
Mañana on the New River

Monday, December 21, 2015

Fort Lauderdale - New River

We have a leisurely morning since we only have a short trip today to the New River in Fort Lauderdale. Before we head up the New River in the afternoon we are “attacked” by pirates. They fire a broadside at us, but fortunately we are out of range of their water “canons” which only seem to have a range of 20 feet. These scalawags all appear to be under 10 years of age and on school vacation. Much to our “relief” this black pirate ship is a tourist excursion, I think the two large honda outboards on the stern gives them away. If I had only been quick enough to think to turn on our wash down hose we could of returned fire. My wife won't let me have a toy water cannon. I tell my wife “a good guy with a 'water' gun”, could have stopped these “bad” guys.
"Shiver me timbers"

Once we out run the pirates we start up the New River and immediately get behind a Mega-Yacht, being towed up the New River. Because of some of the tight turns and the narrowness of the River most large Yachts are towed with a second tow boat being dragged backwards behind the yacht to pull it around the tight turns. Its rather entertaining to watch.

Yacht under tow on the New River

When we reach our spot on the wall along the New River the high winds funneling between the tall buildings on both sides of the River catches our stern and starts to spin us around. We quickly go with it and change from our planned port side tie up to a starboard side tie up.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunrise Bay, Fort Lauderdale

We leave early because we have around 20 draw bridges south to Fort Lauderdale. Our first bridge is only minutes away to enter north Lake Worth. Our second bridge, Flagler Memorial Bridge is about 1-1/2 hours south and only opens at 15 minutes past the hour due to “emergency repairs”. Interestingly, they were on the same hourly schedule two years ago and would not open the bridge because we were not idling our engine in front of the bridge prior to the scheduled opening, even though our arrival time would coincide with the scheduled opening. Some bridge operators, the males must be named Dick. We arrive well ahead of the scheduled opening this time, plus there are other boats waiting besides us also. One fellow who was next to us turns around and starts playing with his sails and by the time he turns back for the bridge opening he is too late to make it. The next bridge south opens 15 minutes later and is only a mile away, no problem making that one. The bridge after that one is two miles further south and opens 15 minutes later. This could be a problem, so as we clear the bridge I put out the jib for some extra speed. Fortunately, there are some large power boats ahead of us who are waiting for the opening and the kind bridge operator (female of course) holds an extra couple minutes for us. The two other sailboats with us, did not put out their jibs and do not make the opening. This is my kind of sailboat racing, high stakes that matter, no piddly trophy needed for us. By the end of the day the “race” is a draw, due to the timing of other bridges the two boats eventually catch up to us.

One of the boats is a Catamaran “Catalyst” from further north in Florida, must be making his first trip south. We talk on the radio, because he is concerned about some overhead power lines around Pompano Beach and is considering turning back and waiting to go outside. I don't remember any power lines and my electronic charts and books do not show any overhead power lines. I think he may have some very dated charts and the power cables are now under water. He slows down and waits for us to report back when we reach the location where he thinks the power lines maybe. Once, I give him the all clear he catches up to us.

"Catalyst" Cat with a 74 foot mast
This part of the ICW, Linda has named the HGTV section because of all the interesting houses to see adjacent to the ICW. Lots of new large Mediterranean McMansions next to smaller 1960-70 homes, soon to be razed for the next McMansions. Some are down right ugly, too much money, too little taste. Some are gorgeous. Interestingly juxtaposition of new and old (soon to be new again).

Old and New

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Prosperity Cove, North Palm Beach

Still very windy when we leave in the morning. Too rough for weekend fishing boats. No one is leaving the Pocket, but us. The other cruising boats are staying put and I considered doing so too. Once we get off the open water and into the confines of the narrow sections of the ICW we no longer have waves to contend with and the wind is less. Still very windy outside the confines of the ICW so I wanted to avoid anchoring on Lake Worth and avoid the wind and waves. I find a small cove down a residential canal in North Palm Beach that could hold 6 boats or so. We pull in there, a nice calm and quite respite. Not much wind due to the buildings and trees around the cove. One other large power boat is anchored, but leaves at sunset and we have the cove to ourselves. Showers off the back of the boat after dark. We sleep very well, the boat hardly moves all night.

 
Prosperity Cove, well named, North Palm Beach, where the "poor" folks live

Friday, December 18, 2015

Manatee Pocket Day 2

Walkway through the mangroves

In the morning we dinghy around the harbor and adjoining creeks. Then walk around town and check out a number of shops and have lunch at the “Twisted Tuna”. 


The morning line up
 The wind shifts to the north at 25 knots and even though we have a moderate chop the constantly gusting winds has the boat rapidly jerking back and forth making hard it for either one of us to get a good night sleep. An odd condition, much more annoying that just wind and waves.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Manatee Pocket, Port Salerno, near Jensen Beach

We play our bill at the office and leave mid-morning for Manatee Pocket just south of Stuart. Since it is still quite warm we are happy to be motoring into 20 knots of wind. Just enough wind chill to make for a comfortable day on the water. We stayed at Manatee Pocket on our last trip, hiding out from high winds and rain. The entrance is rather shallow, but we never saw less that 7.9 feet, this time. Manatee Pocket is very protected, but one of the two anchorages is full with derelict live aboard boats and the other larger anchorage is more than ½ full with derelict and neglected boats. Manatee Pocket has lots of Marinas and a number of good on the water restaurants. 

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Vero Beach - Sewing Day

Another project day, sewing. The Bimini needed some repairs so I haul out the sewing machine. Linda walks to the Post office and couple other places to take care of a few errands. When she gets back I am almost done with my sewing. It takes almost an other hour to clean up and pack everything away. The joys of living on a boat, you have to move 10 other items to get to the one you want and then reverse the process when done. Too hot to cook dinner on the boat again and we have a cheap night out at “Casey's” a local hot dog stand in Vero Beach.

Fine Dining at Casey's

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Vero Beach - More warm and sticky

Another warm and sticky day. Today is a work day, my big project is re-bedding a leaky hatch. Linda's project is doing laundry. Unfortunately for her, that is not a unique idea and the large laundromat on-site is quite busy. That night we decide it is too hot to cook dinner and take the dinghy to “The Riverside” and split an order of Fish and Chips, which had been recommended by another cruiser. Sure glad we split the dinner, way too much food for one person and I would of eaten it all.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Vero Beach - Musuem of Art

We took the rental car back. Ann and Jack came to the Marina with their RV and car which the parked. We then walked over the the Vero Beach Museum of Art, which we did not get to the last time we were here. They have an exhibit "Art of the Brick" that was pretty cool. I have seen photos of some of the exhibits, since they are fairly famous. At least to someone that has a grandson who was into Legos.
 
Ann, Linda, Jack in the back
Full of brick




 
We found this exhibit fascinating. The “Stick” horse is actually bronze with various patinas to match the coloring. Apparently the artist wanted something more permanent than sticks for her art.

Jack and Ann, we tried to tempted them with Mulligans Key Lime "Pie"
After we see all the museum exhibits, we walk to the beach and have a late lunch at Mulligans. Then back to the marina. Jack and Ann leave for Lake Placid.

Because of the unusually warm and humid weather we have been taking our showers at night before we go to bed, because by evening we are getting rather sticky.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Vero Beach - Visitors

We continue to put provisioning stuff away and clean up the boat. Our friends Steve and Joanne Payea former Vermonters who now live in Delray Beach come up for a visit. They brought a couple packages that we had delivered to their house. Joanne brings a very good lunch for us all and we spend the afternoon visiting on the boat while a few rain showers pass through. That evening we visit with another Vermont couple Jack and Ann Barnes (who both grew up in southern Florida). They retired about the same time we did and sold the house and are traveling in their RV. They are currently spending much their winter in Florida with Ann's mother in Lake Placid, Florida. They drove down in their RV and we meet them at a local very quiet RV park where we are meet them for dinner at the RV. Linda and I are quite interested in their RV, because that might be our next boat. Jack and Ann make a fabulous salmon dinner. 

Boy, our friends sure do feed us well ! We stayed late and play games, which made Linda very happy. Did not get back to the boat until 11:30 PM/

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Vero Beach - More Provisioning

Saturday morning Linda works in inventorying and packing away supplies and I fetch the remainder of stuff from the car. By noontime we head to Publix Supermarket to buy more supplies for the Bahamas. We stop at Chef Leu's for lunch, a sea food buffet. We had dinner there two years ago and again we ate too much. After we get back to the boat and put everything away we go for a long walk to the beach and of course have to stop by Kilwins for ice cream.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Vero Beach - "Boat Connection Liquidators"

We get picked up by Enterprise Rental Car for a weekend rental. This is a real bargain, three day rental for $40. We drive to Fort Pierce to “Boat Connection Liquidators” a huge warehouse and acres of outdoor surplus items. I could of spent the entire day here. The main building is well layed out, with surplus, new and used parts and equipment. I find some of things I was looking for and other things I needed that I was not looking for and other things I did not know I needed. 
 
The main building

looks like the warehouse from an India Jones movie


We head to Harbor Freight to replace the stool that I lost at Daytona. Then on to Costco for provisioning. We don't get back to the boat until 9:30 PM.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Vero Beach - Project day, boring

Boat project day, replaced head vent hose, other head parts and lubed head. Hopefully the last time I have to deal with the head until we return to Vermont. Linda works on our food inventory spread sheet. We attend the Cruisers get together at 4:00 PM. Talked with Al and Susan “Equinox” who we met two days ago at Squid Lips.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vero Beach - Mulligans

Got up early and after breakfast went for a walk through some of the interesting Eau Galle neighborhoods. We shoved off from the marina by 10:00 AM. Was surprised when we arrived at Vero Beach to see that almost all the moorings at the Vero Beach Municipal Marina had three boats on each one. Two years ago there was only a few moorings that had two boats. We share a mooring with Dale on “Amazon” and “Cracker Jack”. Went to dinner at Mulligans with Dale and Carol “Cracker Jack”. Had our favorite dessert there, a very unique Key Lime "pie".

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Eau Galle, Melbourne

In the morning we decide to go ashore to Cocoa Beach, mainly because of our friend Chrisy's recommendations. Because of all the derelict boats I was tempted to pass it up. Well, Chrisy was right. Nice little town and shops. Beautiful water front park. The world's coolest hardware store.

Cool Hardware Store, place is huge, two floors and more

 Around noontime we pull up the anchor and a couple hours later we are at Eau Galle, north of Melbourne. Our destination is dinner at Squid Lips, a Beach Bar/ Restaurant that we happened upon on our last trip south. We then anchored behind the bridge causeway to get out of waves from the south wind, which by luck was in front of Squid Lips. Good food and live music.

This time with the north wind, we decide to get a dock space at Eau Galle Yacht Basin on the Eau Galle River. A buck a foot, what a deal. Very protected basin, a little shallow, but no big deal if you pay attention, which many boaters apparently don't do if you were to believe the comments on Active Captain. Nice little marina, lots of live aboard locals, nothing fancy, but more than adequate. Excellent price to performance ratio, my personal metric. With a quick view of Google Earth I know exactly where to tie up. 

 
Guess which tie-up is  Mañana ?

A friend of ours, daughter, Jessica, lives in Melbourne. After texting back and forth we arrange to take her to dinner at Squid Lips after she gets out of work. After we finish I reach for my wallet in my back pocket and all I come up with is my flashlight. To quote that great republican, Texas governor, Rick Perry; “Oops”. Jessica paid the bill. The good news was Jessica came back to the boat with us, so I could posthumously pay her for our dinners, and we got to visit with her for another hour.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cocoa Beach

We leave late for a short day to Cocoa Beach. The wind and waves pick back up as we head south. 
 
Only half the bridge would open
We are a little disappointed with the anchorage at Cocoa Beach, lots of live aboard boats sporting oyster reefs growing on their boat bottoms, but not sporting sails or any other means of propulsion. Many sunken boats along the shore. Most of the close to shore anchorage is taken up by derelict boats. Most of the cruising boats, like us are anchored further out with less protection from the north wind and bouncing around a fair amount. I don't bother to put the dinghy down to go ashore. Most of the other cruising boats anchoring here seem to be doing the same.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Titusville

Another windy day, blowing from the north, but sunny and warm. We have a fast motor-sail to Titusville. We had planned on staying on the moorings at the Municipal marina, but with the white caps, I decide to anchor at another location that I had noticed on our last trip down. That time it was too rough to even pickup a mooring and we had to sail further south and anchor behind a bridge causeway for protection from the waves. This time we anchor behind a railroad causeway before Titusville. The long narrow anchorage was created from the material dredged to make the causeway. We go as far in as possible. What a transition, we quickly go from 20+ knot winds and white caps to, flat water and trees that block much of the wind. We have a calm night.

From our navigation app, we are anchored at the blue arrow, upper left corner. The two bridges are about two miles apart. The green line is our track into the anchorage

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Daytona

Saturday is a work day. We first visit with Dale and Carol on “Cracker Jack”. Then Linda does laundry and I complete a couple small projects on the boat todo list. Later in the afternoon we all walk to Sailor Unlimited another used boat equipment shop. 
 
Carol, Linda and Dale
When we get back I finally wash our very dirty boat. I do not notice, but the very stiff dock hose apparently knocks our step stool/helmsmen seat into the water. By the time I notice it is no where insight. It does have flotation, but after searching where the wind should have taken it, I come to the conclusion it sunk. I have tested it in fresh water, but apparently not long enough for it to slowly sink.

We have dinner on the boat and watch the Christmas boat parade. 


Friday, December 4, 2015

Daytona

It was rainy and very windy in the morning. Almost considered staying put for the day, but we decide to get going around 8:30AM.

Leaving Fort Matanzas

As we head back towards the ICW we avoid a known shallow area. Since we had to head north, against south bound ICW traffic, I slow down to let a couple boats pass, so not to turn south right in front of them. Well, our courtesy paid off. Linda started to follow “Star Gazer”, who suddenly came to a halt passing close to a green buoy, where there was supposedly enough depth to get by. Well, being on a inlet the bottom has continued to fill in towards the ICW. We swerve towards deeper waters. Not much we could do to help. Fortunately it is fairly close to low tide, but the north winds were pushing him south towards the shoal. He got on the radio and asked a passing power boat to give him a wake. Not you usual sail boat request of a power boat. By then we were around the bend and out of sight. Unfortunately, with his French-Canadian accent the polite power boater replied yes he would give him a slow pass. I got on the radio and explained to the power boater that he wanted a wake to bounce him off the bottom. Obviously this is the first time he has gotten a wake request. After a couple attempts, “Star Gazer” was still aground. For the next hour or so we could hear “Star Gazer” making the same request to other passing power boats.
out of the rain
A couple hours later we pass Palm Coast Marina, where we had considered staying. As we pass out comes “Cracker Jack” another Catalina 36, owners Dale and Carol who we had first met at Ladies Island marina. Being new owners of a Catalina 36, I had been emailing various tidbits of information to Dale. We are both heading to Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona. Got in around 3:15. This marina is huge. They come and help you dock and handle the paper work right there, because the walk to the office would take 20 minutes, each way. We later walk into town to find a restaurant for dinner. We eat at an Irish bar and pub with a Irish band playing that night. We got to watch them set up and play.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fort Matanzas








Fort Matanzas anchorage from top of Fort
We have a short trip to Fort Matanzas, about 15 miles south of St. Augustine. The Spanish built this small fort at the mouth of the river, that was the back way to St. Augustine, to prevent any surprise attacks. The fort has been restored and is a National Monument, run by the NPS. We anchor near the fort, but have to take the Park Service boat to the fort which sits in a marsh, only accessible by a Park Service boat. 
 
Gun Deck
 
Fort Matanzas from Manana

We decide to stay the night. Very windy all night and there is a very significant current here that reverses with the tide. A lot of constant movement through the night. I check many times to confirm the anchor has not dragged with the current reversal. I was surprised that Linda slept so soundly, all night.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

St. Augustine

After breakfast we walk to Flagler College for a tour. Flagler College is in the former Ponce De Leon Hotel, built in 1888 as a luxury hotel, built by Henry Flagler, oil magnate and railroad pioneer.
 
Flagler College

 Flagler made his fortune with John D Rockefeller and Standard Oil. He built railroads in Florida, all the way to Key West. We later walked to “Sailor's Exchange” a used marine parts store. Very entertaining place.
 
Linda finds a replacement shower nozzle, for the one I broke

Later in the afternoon we walk to Cafe Alcazar in part of the Lightner Museum. Both are housed in the historic Hotel Alcazar. The cafe is in the bottom of the largest indoor pool in the world, when the hotel was built in 1887, also by Henry Flagler. Had a fabulous lunch with a musician playing guitar. 
 
 Cafe Alcazar
 
Original Pool, 1907
We then went to the Lightner Museum an eclectic mix of turn of the century “stuff” from the Gilded Age. The hotel closed in 1932 and Chicago publisher, Otto C. Lightner bought it in 1947 to house his collection for Victorian pieces. Basically it is a huge Victorian pawn shop, pieces he bought cheaply after the 1920 stock market crash.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

St. Augustine


 
Leaving Jacksonville, Sisters Creek, new bridge going up
We have a nice warm day in shorts, t-shirts and barefoot. We get to St. Augustine at 2:30. There are no available moorings for the next four days. Both ICW Cruising rally's are here. We anchor on the northeast side of “The Bridge of Lions” which is actually closer to the dinghy dock than most of the mooring field. Added benefit is we don't have to listen to the mooring ball bouncing against the hull during the tide changes. Had dinner in town, Shrimp & Grits.

Bridge of Lions, from anchorage

Monday, November 30, 2015

Jacksonville Free Dock

Returned the Enterprise car in the morning. Once we get back to the boat we see the fuel dock is empty. After we get the boat squared away we head into the marina for fuel, pump out and water. Of course there is now two large power boats on the dock and a sailboat pulling in a head of us. We have to wait a few minutes before we can pull into the dock. The sailboat that pulls in ahead of us is “Antares”,a Lake Champlain, Vermont boat, who we last ran into at Cumberland Island two years ago on our return north. 
 
By 4:30 we are tied up to the Jacksonville Free City Dock and again are greeted by the sound of “Snapping Shrimp” under our boat. Sounds like we are sitting over a bowl of Rice Crispy's in milk, snap crackle and pop. 

Jacksonville Free Dock
My cousin, Bill drives over for a visit and stays for dinner. We have a nice quiet evening on the dock, except for the “Snapping Shrimp”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fernandina

In the morning we drive to the north end of Amelia island to fort Clinch State Park. We have now passed this fort 3 times and I am curious to check it out and learn its history. I decide to drive there without the iPad navigation so we can get to randomly see more of the north end of the island. After a half hour or so, Linda has decided she has seen enough dead end roads and I turn on the navigation.

Fort Clinch was never fully finished. Building started in 1847 and it was used in the Civil war, Spanish -American War and World War II.


For more information

In the afternoon we head back to the mainland to do some food shopping and to get hair cuts. We are both getting rather shaggy., specially me. It must be the humidity, but my hair starts getting curlier as the day goes on. Linda likes to mock my “bozo-the-clown” look when it sticks out from under a baseball cap. I have to admit she is right. We find “Great Clips”, a high production high salon. They must have 6 people cutting hair and a line of people waiting. My name comes up and I sit down and my female “Edward Sissors Hands” fly’s into action. I was half expecting to see an ear lobe or two falling down in the growing pile of cut hair. She asks me if I want my eyebrows trimmed, but before I can really answer she says” they need it” and its done. Well, no more making “Andy Rooney” eyes at my wife. Ah, the problems of becoming an old fart. When we pay the bill, the time it took to cut our hair is printed on the bill. The employees have their hair cutting times tracked. Needless to say, there is not allot of conversation while your hair is being cut.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fernandina

Finally the weather system creating all this wind for the last 5 days or so passes and we wake up to a relatively calm morning. We have breakfast and go ashore to grab a coffee and wait for the Enterprise person to pick us up. That afternoon Linda and I drive to my cousin, Jan's house on the Nassau River. Beautiful house and location, with a long dock out onto the river. Lots a current and shoals in the Nassau River, but without local knowledge I wouldn't dare take our boat there. That evening we all have dinner at her brothers home, my other cousin, Bill and his wife Deb on Amelia Island, were Fernandina is located. Linda and I finally get our turkey dinner and a very good one. Although Linda and I do miss our low brow favorite, Cranberry sauce with ribs. Rib's ? not what you are thinking. The ribs are molded from the can that the jellied cranberry sauce comes from.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fernandina

We have a leisurely breakfast and were planning to go ashore for the morning. After calling Enterprise Rental Car in Fernandina and finding that they close at noontime on Saturday, instead of the afternoon when we plan to rent a car, we decided to get moving. Arriving a Fernandina Friday night would allow us to get the car Saturday morning. The forecast was for a sunny day with a 20% chance of showers. Well, we have rain, wind and fog most of the way to Fernandina.

Green can a little off the mark, Cumberland Island, north
Fernandina Pulp Mills
Fort Clinch
We arrive at Fernandina around 4:30 and get the last mooring which we had reserved. The last two times here the moorings were full and we anchored. Had dinner at the Salty Peligan. The wind was still blowing hard from the north so we had to cross from the mooring to the dock slowly because of the waves to avoid getting wet. Well, 50 percent of the people in our dinghy stayed dry and I was one of them. Linda was not happy with me.

That night with the opposing current and wind at the tide shift we have the mooring ball bouncing against the hull for about two hours until the current over came the forces of the wind and pulled us away from the ball. Kind of hard to sleep with the constant knocking on the hull. One advantage of anchoring, no mooring ball to bounce against the hull at the tidal current shift. With minimal wind this is not a problem, but it is still blowing.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

St. Simon Island

Wind still blowing hard when we leave in the morning. Another day of wind and following seas as we pass between the Georgia sea islands. The autopilot can not handle these kinds of conditions so we have another day of hand steering. Following seas and surfing on waves requires a lot of wheel movement to stay on course. I'm going to sleep well tonight. We arrive at Fort Frederica on the Frederica River on St Simons island, which is a national monument. Prior to the ICW the Frederica River was the only way north or south in this area without going out into the ocean. The British built a fort and town here around 1736 to block the Spanish in Florida from traveling north and making claims on present day Georgia which was then a no-mans land between Florida and British South Carolina.
Fort Frederica

Click here for some interesting history on Fort Frederica

This was not where we had planned on spending our Thanksgiving. We had hoped to make it to St Marys in Georgia for the town's Thanksgiving dinner for boaters heading south, but weather and circumstances delayed our arrival.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wahoo Island

We leave at sunrise so we can pass through a shallow trouble spot called Hell Gate, a couple hours past high tide. Two years ago we passed through there at low tide and saw depths under 6 feet and passed another boat hard aground. We are now near the full moon and the tides in Georgia are over 9 feet. We gain another 5 feet or so passing closer to high tide. The downside is, the tide is declining so running aground, now would be a big problem. Supposedly this area has gotten shallower. The wind is blowing 20-25 miles per hour and Hell Gate is in the open Ossabaw Sound, so we are getting some significant waves as we motor-sail through this area. It was not a boring passage. We are also back to wearing our foul weather jackets, hard to stay warm with this much wind without a good wind resistant jacket.

























Arriving, Wahoo Island

 We reach our anchorage for the night, Wahoo Island, about an hour earlier than planned, due to the speed boost from the high winds. Wahoo Island has tall trees and blocks the wind from the north at this anchorage. We still dance around all night as the tides and wind opposes each other. For awhile our stern is pointed into the wind as the bow is pointing towards the strong current.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Herb River

Got up early and prepared to leave this morning. Paid up our bill with Steve the marina manager. When we came into Lady's Island Marina 9 days ago we were quite happy that Steve is back with his wife Gloria managing Lady's Island Marina. They make this place a pleasure to stop at. They are the reason this place has been nick-named the “Hotel California” by other cruisers, because it is hard to leave and many stay more days than they had planned on. Steve has a fabulous smart ass sense of humor, which we of course love. After you sign the marina sign-in document at the bottom, which no one actually reads, Steve tells me to look up and read the last line, which is something to the effect “The signer of this document must provide the marina manager with an unopened bottle of high quality rum”. Unfortunately, for him, he did not specify the size and on the office window sill he has a growing collection of 1 oz airline size sample bottles, from equally wise-ass boaters.

Because of the current through the marina we get some help from Steve leaving the docks. Once you clear the slip you have to power up the engine to clear the rest of the docks. Can not be indecisive or slow, can not have commitment issues leaving here. We time it just right to make the 9:00AM opening to the Lady's Island Bridge. We maintain cruising speed all the way through the opened bridge without having to slow down.
Lady's Island Bridge

We manage to avoid wearing our foul weather jackets today. As we get further south on the Port Royal Sound south of Beaufort we pick up a lot more wind. I wear two fleece jacket to avoid the foul weather gear. That evening we anchor in Herb River, just past Savannah, Georgia. Even though it was sunny today, it takes awhile for me to warm up after we anchor and I get out of the wind.
Praire Sloop, Herb River

Moon Rise, Herb River

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lady's Island Marina, one more day

We return the car to Enterprise, but decide to stay another day at Lady's Island. I have work to do on the computer and have good WiFi. Besides it is rather cold and windy and I am determined to not have to wear foul weather gear until we return north. Wish me luck on that one.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Maintenance day

Slept in a little later than usual and after breakfast we got busy the rest of the day on boat maintenance activities. Got the outboard running. Found we were still getting some water into the fuel. I suspect a leaking gas cap on the outboard fuel tank.

In the afternoon, once we get all our chores done, we drive over to the town of Bluffton to have dinner at our former neighbors, Roy and Kathy Ferland, from South Burlington, Vermont, who recently moved to the Beaufort area. They very recently moved into a gorgeous new house that they had built. Kathy made us a wonderful dinner, hmmmm, maybe will have to “visit” them again on the return trip north.

Linda, Kathy, Nile (needs a haircut) & Roy
The Ferland's new kitchen