Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 8: Nov. 21-27, 2012 (Day 50-56)

Week 8:   
Wed. Nov. 21, 2012—Day 50:
Destination:  Melbourne (Mile 918.2) to Vero Beach (Mile 951.7), Vero Beach Municipal Marina
Departure:  0653 hrs.                              Arrival:  1130 hrs.                             Distance:  33.5 SM
Winds:  N 15-25K
Weather: sunny & blue skies & cool out in the breeze

Happy Birthday Mom (#83)!  And Happy Birthday Bill!
An early start just as planned despite the short distance in order to get into Vero early.  The north winds provided us the opportunity to motorsail on a broad reach with full jenny averaging 7.5K, jibbing at times with ease within the narrow channel for the 25 mi. fairly straight run in the open waters to Wabasso.  By mid morning there were whitecaps, a consistent 20-23K winds & 1-2 ft. rollers.  I called Mom with my US cell to wish her a happy birthday; the connection was crystal clear.  North of Wabasso & east of the ICW from just below Sebastian Inlet to just above Wabasso Bridge is the location of Pelican Island, the 1st national wildlife refuge for ibises, egrets, cormorants, blue herons & brown pelicans.  South of Wabasso Bridge the ICW twists past large, beautiful residential homes & their manicured lawns & gardens.  The marina was able to accommodate 2 out of the 3 of us on mooring ball #5.  ‘Second Option’ was the next ball ahead.  We first had to raft up with ‘Discovery’ (Bob & Anita) already on the mooring ball, drop the dinghy in order to thread our mooring line through the pendant, adjust our rafting lines then had ‘Twomorrows’ raft up to us on port & repeat the procedure.  A blimp passed overhead.  After lunch it was to shore for a shower & internet for me & off to West Marine by bus for Graeme for the replacement bow light; the others did laundry but I think I will wait closer to departure date.  We signed up for the sponsored Thanksgiving Dinner at the River House at 1400 hrs. tomorrow.  By late afternoon the north winds brought cold temps.  The Morrows hosted Happy Hour & Larry cooked us a most delicious pizza supper for all of us; the Ellis’ provided 2 completely different sipping rums to sample. We called it a night at 2030 hrs. & I don’t know about anybody else but it was lights out right away.  A cool, crystal clear night & bright stars as the wind persisted.

Thurs. Nov. 22, 2012—Day 51:
Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)
Winds:  N 10K, increased to 20-15K with 30K gusts, down to 10K
Weather:  sunny, blue skies, cool breeze but warm in the sun, H=upper 60’s & L= low 40’s

Happy Thanksgiving!
In the morning Graeme checked the wind generator as per Ian’s instructions (from Nortons), but the unit was solidly fastened; ? symmetry of the blades but Graeme emailed Ian back.  He also worked on the replacement starboard bowlight he purchase yesterday.  And I finished preparing the Oriental cabbage salad as this was our contribution to the Cruisers Thanksgiving Dinner at River House; prepared our plates, cutlery, napkins & beverages.  Mid am Graeme “carried” me to shore + bike, computer & shower supplies.  I had a lovely hour brisk walk east to the beach; the Atlantic was extremely rough.  I walked south along Ocean Dr. past all the closed shops then west back to the marina.  A nice warm shower followed then a brief look at emails; my internet was so frustrating to connect & so slow once on.  Back at the boat we put on some nice & clean attire & at 1315 hrs. made our way to the canal just behind us to River House.  What a feast of wonderful, ample & delicious array of foods including desserts + door prizes (1st time) + music!  This potluck Thanksgiving Dinner started in 2002 & rivals the week long celebration at St. Mary’s, GA.  Donna & Jack followed us back to our boat for a bit more time of comraderie.  The wind seemed to have calmed some but another cool night with clear skies & stars. 

Fri. Nov. 23, 2012—Day 52:
Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)
Winds:  N about 5K to less at sunset
Weather:  warm sun, blue sky, coolish breeze

Black Friday & our van rental pickup from Enterprise was today!  What were we thinking?!  Dorothy & Glenn (Dots Way) were visiting the Morrows yesterday & attended Thanksgiving Dinner with all of us.  They stayed overnight & offered to drive us to the Enterprise office (US 1).  By 1030 hrs. Larry & I were driving back to the marina in a white 2013 Dodge Caravan to pick up the other four, then off to US 1 South past Fort Pierce, St. Lucie to Jensen first for lunch at Paniera, then Total Wine, 1 block further south.  Heading north, Graeme was able to exchange his electrical step down watt plug at West Marine & lastly to Verizon Wireless so Morrows & Ellis’ could check on plans for internet for their iPhones & MiFi in the Bahamas (must call Global Assistance).  The fun was hauling all our “beverage supplies” in our respective dinghys.  But Larry’s engine would not start, so we towed them home.  Graeme & I attended Happy Hour onshore, usually held every Thurs. but postponed this week due to Thanksgiving celebrations; well attended.  We met Canadians from Hamilton on ‘Eagles Wings’ that thought we were so wonderful because we slowed up for them so the 3 of us could do the Lady Island Bridge in Beaufort, S.C. together.  A cool evening, no wind!  In fact tonight the boats actually changed direction in accordance to the current, not the north wind that has been blowing relentlessly since Hurricane Sandy.  Skies were clear with stars & ¾ moon.

Sat. Nov. 24, 2012—Day 53:
Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)
Winds:  N 10-12K, decreased by late afternoon
Weather:  wall-to-wall sun & blue sky; cool in the am but glorious temps by late morning

Bed linen was changed & the grocery list was finalized by the time four of us  were on our way for hair cuts, Terri to “Hair Cutters” by Target & Bells & 3 of us at “Beach Barber Shop” ($20.00).  Bill & Graeme graciously stayed behind so we would have more room & worked on their projects; Bill’s canvass was been returned mid am & Graeme finished the modifications & installation to his new starboard bow light.  Also our mooring ball neighbour, ‘Discovery’ left & Bill was allowed to move to our ball, assisted by Graeme.  The grocery shopping was done at Sams Club & Walmart.  Already 1300 hrs. as we drove back to the marina & dinghied our respective purchases to out boats.  Terri made preparations for our Saturday College Football Party, while the rest of us did more shopping at West Marine & Walmart; rivalry college games between Ohio vs Michigan & Alabama vs Auburn & an excuse for more boozing & good food with friends.  A peaceful, calm night; the sky was filled with clusters of light clouds that cleared completely during the night, then stars & ¾+ moon.

Sun. Nov. 25, 2012—Day 54:          
Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)
Winds:  N & light
Weather:  glorious sun & blue sky

One month till Christmas!  I woke early enough to attend Mass at Holy Cross at 0730 hrs.  Showered, meat packaged & froze for future dinners, then off for a day of exploring the beach/coastal road (A1A) from Vero to Eau Gallie.  We stopped a few times along the way to view the Atlantic & beaches, boardwalks at different locations, as it was our last day with the van & we had to use our near full tank of gas before returning the vehicle.  We stopped by Eau Gallie for a delicious Mexican lunch & 2 for 1 margaritas, except for me, the D.D.  & then crossed the Eau Gallie Causeway Bridge to the west shore & headed south for our return drive.  We did make a stop at a real cool discount/surplus marine supply store.  Our last stop was at Vero Publix for our last fresh food purchases.  Graeme & I stopped by Suzi & Dennis’ boat, ‘Thate Wata’ & were shown their new unlocked 3G MiFi Hotspot device from At&T (not Sprint or T-Mobile) that works apparently in the Bahamas with a purchase of a Batelco SIM card & a no contract, monthly data plan of your choice.  The laundry facilities were free so we decided that now would be a good time to do my 3 loads: 5 washers ($2.00) & dryers ($1.50).  The water was like glass, clear star filled sky & ¾+ moon.

Mon. Nov. 26, 2012—Day 55:
Destination:  Vero beach (Mile 951.7)
Winds:  NE-ENE nil to light
Weather:  clear, sunny & blue sky in the am, a few white & grey clouds late pm

A bit of housecleaning & organizing before going ashore.  The 1st order of business was returning the van; we were reimbursed with a free ¾ tank of fuel on our next rental.  #2 when back at the marina was a wonderful hour long power walk over the bridge for pictures then along the Atlantic beach on the sand to the boardwalk then back.  And #3 was a great shower; not sure what Graeme was up to.  It was already 1130 hrs. so when he picked me up & returned to the boat we had lunch.  Back to shore for some internet on our respective computers but Graeme could not connect for the longest time, whereas I could do emails but no web searches.  The marina server was doing some new wiring installations.  It was laundry day for the Morrows & Ellis & Verheydens (off to Stuart in the am).  Larry finally contacted a guy (Tony) to come to the marina to check his dinghy engine (bad spark plug) & accidentally stumbled on 2 boats who also used Tony for their engine problems.  Bill attempted to install a 12V plug in his cockpit & blew a fuse that conked out ALL his nav instruments.  Terri was on the phone as her daughter, 7 months pregnant, suddenly developed high bold pressure & was scheduled for an emergency C-section.  And SCT was hosting Happy Hour amongst all this commotion, upheaval & tension.  The fuse was located & replaced & the nav instruments worked.  The C-section was done & little Emma (4lbs. 6 oz.) was born at about 1800 hrs. & mother & baby were doing O.K.  Just after sunset a pod of dolphins were swimming behind our sterns; what a congratulatory performance for MeeMaw & Poppa!  The no-see-ums & mosquitoes made an appearance.  Some cloud cover at sunset & at night & near full moon.

Tues. Nov. 27, 2012—Day 56:   
Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7)
Winds: light northerly
Weather:  mostly sunny with cloudy periods, slight increase in humidity

A warm night.  No real decision re plans to move on tomorrow was made last night as Graeme slept all evening & night, barely waking for some supper well after it was cooked & I had eaten.  Also we were wondering about any new news from ‘Second Option’ & Lynn’s meds; tracked to be in Jacksonville this am.  I was eating breakfast when Bill said they were ready to leave if we were going.  We mutually agreed one more night here.  ‘Kathrian’ left just before 0800 hrs.; they were off for Stuart (36.2 SM).  To shore for a shower, posting week 8 of my blog with pictures & charging 2 computers & toothbrush.  Six of us caught the 1215 hrs. #1 Go Line Bus to town.  We got off at the West Marine stop & had lunch at the Irish Pub.  Afterwards we took the #1 bus to the transfer hub & #2 bus to Target & Bells (browsing for bargains), then #2 bus to Walmart for fuses.  We caught the #2 back to the transfer hub & #1 to the marina.  We met a couple on a C&C 30 (‘Whisper’) who were from Newfoundland waiting for the bus.  Back home we lifted the dinghy & engine in prep for departure for tomorrow morning.  We had a gathering on ‘Twomorrows’.  They were waiting to see if Lynn’s meds arrive at noon or where they have been transferred next.  A pink sky at sunset but increasing clouds obscuring the full moon by bedtime.       

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Week 7: Nov. 14-20, 2012 (Day 43-49)

Week 7:
Wed. Nov. 14, 2012—Day 43:
Destination:  Pine Island (Mile 765) to St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)—south mooring field, ball #22
Departure:  0830 hrs.                                    Arrival:  1140 hrs.                              Distance:  13.1 SM
Winds:  NE 15-28K
Weather:  gloomy & grey but relatively warm; a nor’easter system from the Atlantic moving in

It was an interrupted sleep as I had a concern re the amount of chain out in relation to these strong NE wind.  The wind generator was finally turned on  & was getting it’s exercise; the only problem was the ongoing & persistent vibration; Norton’s need to address this issue.  There was lots of mud on the anchor but no difficulty up anchoring.  By now you may have guessed that Graeme drives & I do the anchoring; similarly, he is the captain & I the crew, but ALL knows the crew does ALL the work & doesn’t get credit for it!  Lots of whitecaps on the ICW.  We were travelling from a low to rising tide & thus pushing against current on the Tolomato River & the NE winds were opposing the current.  We crossed raging waters through St. Augustine Inlet & were a minute late for the 1030 hrs. opening of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine.  Thus we milled down to & around the north mooring field until the 1100 hrs. opening & directly to the fuel dock just as the rain started.  We topped up the fuel & water tanks & disposed of our garbage & completed the registration & payment for our 4 days here, then to mooring ball #22 in the south mooring field.  We barely tidyed the lines & fenders & when then rain increased+++.  And the NE winds continued to blow & gust the rest of the afternoon & evening.  Due to the winds & rain, we gladly took the 1400 hrs. free shuttle to shore; free shuttle offered at 1000 hrs., 1200, 1400 & lastly at 1800 hrs. weather permitting.  It was windy & rainy onshore as well & we simply plopped ourselves in “A1A Ale Works Restaurant” , across from the marina  with Terri & Bill & became more acquainted.  The weather still was unpleasant so we walked up St. George St. to “Pizzalleys” for their Happy Hour special & early dinner: 1 drink + 1 drink free + 1 free slice of cheese pizza, + $5.00 off a 10 inch pizza; we both had good size doggie bags to take home.  We were the only customers for the 1800 hrs. shuttle back to our respective boats.  It was still windy but now dark & the forecast is not sounding hopeful for the next couple of days.

Thurs. Nov. 15, 2012—Day 44:

Destination:  St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)

Winds:  NNW 10-20K
Weather:  cloudy, grey & damp with occasional misty-like rain; H= 56F & L= 54F

It was a noisy night, sometimes unnerving.  Noisy in that boats changed directional position according to the tides & currents & the mooring ball at times would slap, crash, rub against the hull.  I shaved Graeme’s hair completely off; an awful #0!  He did not put any shive in the electric razor.  At 0800 hrs. we squeezed into the dinghy, wearing our foul weather gear from head to toe, surrounded by all our dirty laundry, knapsack with computer & shower supplies.  Graeme went off looking for a bank while I started 3 big loads of laundry.  The marina’s laundry facilities included 4 washers= $1.50 & 4 dryers= $1.50, including a spacious lounge with T.V. & several electrical outlets for computers.  Shower facilities included 2 shower stalls & 2 toilets.  High tides were exceptionally high, secondary to the new moon & surges from the ocean from high winds, flooding the streets on Avendia Menendez & especially King St. inland at the bridge that crosses the San Sebastian River, close to Highway US1.  Once the laundry was returned to the boat & we returned to shore, we walked a couple of streets in the historic area until 1300 hrs. when 13 of us met up at J.P. Henleys for lunch.  Afterwards Donna, Jack & Graeme walked west on King St. to Sailor’s Exchange, ABC Liquor & small corner store for Donna to purchase a few groceries, while Lynn & I returned to the marina lounge & made reservations over the computer for a minivan for 2 days when in Vero Beach.  Jack purchased a spinnaker pole at Sailors Exchange for about $70.00 to use as a wisker pole & the gentleman was happy to deliver it to the marina.   At the dinghy dock we had our hugs & said good bye as Donna & Jack depart in the am.  They are making their way to Stuart to do some boat work & meet up to travel with Cherry & Doug, ‘Moma Cal’, eventually to Puerto Rico.  The anchorage was somewhat calmer on our dinghy trip back to the boat with a short detour to ‘Twomorrows’.  The wind generator hummed us to sleep.

Fri. Nov. 16, 2012—Day 45:
Destination:  St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)
Winds:  N 10-20K, nightfall 15-25K with gusts greater (?30-35K)
Weather:  cloudy with occasional sunny breaks & blue sky, then back to cloud; rain threatening skies at times nut no precipitation

We caught some warm long showers onshore, then caught the Sunshine Bus-Blue Line at 1000 hrs. at Flagler Auditorium (senior= $0.50, senior all day pass= $1.50) to Walmart.  We missed the outbound bus home by a couple of minutes & next bus was in 2 hours, so we had lunch at Subway in the Walmart.  Graeme studied the bus schedule & figured out we could take the inbound blue line in an hour to the depot, then at the depot catch a outbound red line bus & get off at the Bridge of Lions 30 minutes earlier, minus the few blocks of walking with all our load.   The bonus was we saw a different part of St. Augustine + Anastasia Island!  The day also included a touristy walk along St. George St. to the Castillo de San Marcos where Graeme purchased his senior (62 yrs.) lifetime pass to any US National Parks for $10.00.  We finished the day with a drop in call & drink with the Morrows.  At nightfall the wind increased, gusting & howling +++, the current changed & opposing, causing the boat to jerk & buck up & down & around.  It was crazy watching the disjointed movements & positions of each & every boat in the anchorage; it was better than a ride at the exhibition.

FYI:  St. Augustine was founded in 1565 as a Spanish outpost to prevent settlement in Florida by other European powers.  The Spanish faced disease, crop failure, frequent storms & hostile attacks from American Indians.  The Jesuits & Franciscans attempted unsuccessfully for the most part to convert the Indians.  The crude wooden fort was destroyed by the British in 1586 (Sir Francis Drake).  Slowly it was rebuilt but destroyed by fire in 1599 & attacked again by English pirates in 1668.  Finally in 1672 a reliable military protection for the colony was started, Castillo de San Marcos.  It was built directly on the waterfront overlooking the inlet & harbour & took many decades to complete.  The stone for the fort was quarried from nearby Anastasia Island but when exposed to the air it dries hard as concrete but appears spongelike.  The Castillo had extended corners allowing attacks from 3 sides with heavy cannons carefully placed along the parapets thus commanding the inlet & the harbour.  St. Augustine was never taken by hostile force in more than 150 yrs. of on & off warfare.  France & Spain joined forces only to lose the Seven Years War to England & treaty negotiations had Spain cede Florida to England in 1764.  St. Augustine prospered under British rule; peace was made with the Indians & South Carolina planters were attracted to Florida & large plantations sprung up & the city became a major shipping port.  The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution & Florida was returned to Spain, but Spanish power was not the power of the past & Florida soon became haven for runaway slaves & renegade Indians.  The Americans negotiated & Florida came under American control in 1821 & gradually lost political importance.  Instead growth as a tourist resort began, halted by the Civil War.  After the war & Revolution Henry Flagler began development of eastern Florida as a tourist mecca in 1885.  Between 1885 & 1890 he oversaw construction of Ponce de Leon & Alcazar hotels.  In modern times one of the most dramatic developments was the re-creation of the atmosphere of a Spanish village on St. George St.

Sat. Nov. 17, 2012—Day 46:
Destination:  St. Augustine (Mile 778.1)
Winds:  worse than yesterday, N 15-25K & gusts 30-35K
Weather:  although cloudy & no sunshine, warm & no rain, H= 60 & L= mid 50’s

Wooph, a full day of activity; we didn’t get back to the boat till 1930 hrs.  A marathon was conducted this am that closed the Bridge of Lions till after 0840 hrs.  We dinghied to shore in our foul weather gear, did some internet, walked to Sailors Exchange & purchased 2 twist shackles ($10.00 each), a replacement Stearn lifejacket ($10.00) for dinghy as the old one deteriorated completely from the sun.  In doing so we crossed the bridge on Kings St. over the San Sebastian River which was flooded again & closed to traffic, made purchases at ABC Liquor & walked back through some of the residential streets around Flagler College before meeting Terri & Bill at “The Bunnery” for lunch.  We wandered the historic area in search of an internet place to ask questions re a Sprint T-Mobile 4G Hotspot device that I was told about & googled & would be able to order online through Amazon as a more reasonable solution to obtaining internet in the USA & ? Bahamas.  We caught the 1600 hrs. shuttle to our boat, only dropping our purchases, then returned to shore by shuttle.  I attended Sat. Vigil Mass at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine at 1700 hrs.  Graeme tried to get into A1A but packed, so instead went to J.P. Henley, had beer & met some folks until I returned.  Then we attended the Lighting of Lights Ceremony at Constitution Plaza.  Music, people, a few speeches & then the lights of the Christmas tree & surrounding buildings & windows were lite at 1830 hrs..  The rain held off but the north wind seemed worse this evening.  We dinghied back to the boat in the dark slowly & carefully as we surfed over the waves, then lifted the dinghy & engine in preparation of our departure tomorrow morning.  Will sleep come tonight with this almost constant howling of wind & rolling action of the boat like every other boat in the anchorage?

Sun. Nov. 18, 2012—Day 47:
Destination:  St. Augustine (Mile 778.1) to Daytona Beach, R44 (Mile 831.9)
Departure:  0730 hrs.                                 Arrival:  1445 hrs.                                  Distance:  53.8 SM
Winds:  N 5-10K in protected waters & 15-25K in open waters
Weather:  unfortunately cloudy, H= mid 60’s & this forecast X 1 weekà ugh!  I thought Florida was the Sunshine State
Despite increased winds which seemed to predominant over the current for the last 3 days for a change, we slept decently.  We had been very fortunate to be able to get off the boat for most of the time over the last 4 days.  On departure it was a little struggle getting the 2nd mooring line off the mooring ball.  A number of boats were on the move this morning.  In the ICW passage through wide & open areas the north wind blew 15-25K  vs 5-10K through narrower & canal-like protected stretches.  Our route today was as follows: Matanzas RiveràCrescent Beach Bridge (bascule- Mile 788.6)àMatanzas Inlet (good depths) & Fort MatanzasàFox Cutà Flagler Beach Bridge (fixed)à L.B. Knox Bridge (bascule- Mile 816)à narrow northern Halifax Riverà wider Halifax River (channel arrow straight)àSeabreeze Bridge (fixed)à Main Street Bridge (bascule-Mile 829.7)à North Street Bridge (fixed)àMemorial Bridge (bascule-Mile 830.7)à R44.  The north winds produced choppy, whitecappd waters at our Plan ‘A’ location, north of the Seabreeze Bridge & Plan ‘B’, south of the bridge.  Also the bridge clearance board only showed 62 ft. & this was not good for ‘Twomorrows’ & especially ‘Second Choice’ as their masts were too high (require 63 ft.); they anchored north of the bridge.  North Bridge was even worse at 61 ft.  We continued on & acted on Plan ‘C’, anchoring to starboard of R44 in 7-8 ft. of water & 80 ft. of chain with some derelict, some permanent boats as winds were to shift to the NW (did not happen); we were the 1st transient boat in.  ‘Second Option’ checked the tides with Boat US  & tides were 2 ft. higher than usual, still in rising tide till ?1640 hrs. & advised passage not till 2000-2100 hrs.  Our friends were stuck where they anchored for the night.  What was disconcerting was the difference & conflicting tide info between NOAA & our GPSà 6 hour difference!  Just by looking "outside of the box" in other words beyond our own boat,  the GPS appeared more correct.  Graeme kept a record of water depths about every 4 hrs. as we were wondering if we might sit on the bottom at a lower low tide than usual.  An orange sky at sunset.  The wind howled but there was minimal chop.  At bedtime the skies were partially clouded with some clear patches & stars & 1/3 moon. 

Mon. Nov. 19, 2012—Day 48:
Destination:  Daytona Beach, R44 (Mile 831.9) to Titusville (Mile 878.2)
Departure:  0840 hrs.                          Arrival: 1615 hrs.                                         Distance:  46.3 SM
Winds:  N 10-20K, whitecaps & mild chop in open areas
Weather:  white greyish cloudy, damp day with fine misting rain 

‘Tomorrows’ & ‘Second Choice’ waited till 0830 hrs. (low tide) to up anchor.  Researching Active Captain comments had been posted about inaccuracy of clearance charts on the 2 fixed bridges of concern; clearance is in fact not 63 but 65 ft.  The boats waited to be sure & co-ordinated their passing with the restricted openings of the bascule bridges; pas de probleme.  I had a lot of washing of thick mud off the anchor.  We were pushed by a falling tide down the Halifax River to Fort Orange & Ponce de Leon Inlet.  There were increased mangroves on small land outcroppings along the way.  The Ponce de Leon Lighthouse was not clear & picturesque as usual especially with the grey white backdrop.  In the Spring I will suggest we anchor close by so able to dinghy to the beach, observe the inlet & Atlantic & visit the lighthouse & climb it’s 203 steps.  We passed New Smyrna Beach at high tide so both the ICW & the Sheephead Cut passages were good depths.  We travelled the 11-1/2 mi. (46 markers) Mosquito Lagoon, a open shallow expanse of water teeming with wildlife but not so visible on such a grey day.  Terri & Bill saw a manatee; shortly out of New Smyrna Beach area we saw a pod of dolphins repeatedly surfacing & diving.  A sharp southwest turn brought us into Haulover Canal (bird watcher’s paradise), through the Haulover Canal Bridge (bascule-Mile 869.2) into the top of the wide but shallow Indian River & into the Space Coast Region of Florida.  We docked at Titusville Municipal Marina,  for diesel water & a quick wash of the decks & especially the cockpit floor with fresh water, & in so doing lost the starboard light lens cover.  Then it was out to the new mooring field, picking up mooring ball # 02 on 2nd try ($15.00); cruisers are not assigned a ball but just pick up & call in mooring ball number.  The 3 of us hunkered down in our cabins for the evening.  The strong north winds persisted but what was more uncomfortable was the choppy, lumpy water & the different sounds & directions of water slapping against the hull.  When I woke in the middle of the night the skies were clear & filled with stars.

Tues. Nov. 20, 2012—Day 49:
Destination:  Titusville (Mile 878.2) to Melbourne, south of the bridge (Mile 918.2)
Departure:  0800 hrs.                                  Arrival:  1330 hrs.                                   Distance:  40 SM
Winds:  N 15-28K & 2-3 ft. rollers
Weather:  sun! blue sky!  O.K. some occasional partial cloud cover

We  lead the pack  in the morning for a bit & used ½ to ¾ jenny a good percentage of the day, on a run averaging 7.4-8.0K jigging when necessary.  It was a falling tide, against 1K current but normally in this upper portion of the Indian River to Vero Beach is of nil to little consequence.  The Indian River is broad with alternating natural (tall palms & hardwoods) & developed stretches, beginning north of Titiusville to Stuart (100 NM).  Cocoa (Mile 897.8) is an old river town & identified from the ICW by the American flag painted on a huge water tower.  We motorsailed along Palm Shores & under the Palm Shores Pinela Causeway Bridge (fixed) & turned to port at R100 to just before Eau Gallie Bridge (fixed) to the mouth of the Banana River inside Dragon Point.  Larry stuck his nose in & tons of boats anchored; not enough room for the 3 of us.  We moved on down the way to the south side of the Melbourne Bridge, anchoring in 8 ft. with 80 ft. of chain.  By sunset there were 7 boats in this locale.  After lunch we dinghied over to ‘Twomorrows’; Graeme picked up the Ellis’ & we had a bit of a social after so many days of shitty weather & not being able to do so.  I used their jetpack to hook up to the internet to research the Sprint 4G hotspot device (fruitless).  The sun was so lovely & warm but temps dropped as the sun lowered in the sky.  Graeme "carried" us back & before sunset we lifted the dinghy & motor just as the wind increased in intensity.  We all decided that we wanted a real early start in the morning so we could get into Vero Beach Municipal Marina early; we all have reservations.  By bedtime the winds were blowing up again but minimal chop because of the protection of the causeway bridge, the afternoon clouds cleared & the night sky was clear filled with bright stars & ½ moon.  Sometimes during the night the wind decreased.    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 6: Nov. 7-13, 2012 (Day 36-42)

Week 6:
Wed. Nov. 7, 2012—Day 36:
Destination:  Savannah—Turner Creek (Mile 585.5)
Winds:  NE about 10K, decreasing midday to calm after sunset
Weather:  cold with H= 56F & L=38F, partially sunny & cloudy in am to sun in pm

A cold night but warm in bed with multiple layers & cold in the morning.  A treat for breakfast for a change—french toast.  Graeme insisted in tying the dinghy up at Hogan’s Marina for $10.00, despite the invite to stay next door for free.  We walked across the road from the Publix to the #10 CAT (Chatham Area Transit) bus stop for 0830 hrs.; it basically runs every hour on the half hour & takes approximately 1 hour to reach downtown at Martin Luther King & Broughton St.  I thought I had put on warm clothes but not; I’m freezing & could have used a turtleneck, scarf & gloves for heaven’s sake.  Due to the cold temps & cold breeze we walked in & out of heated shops on River St., had lunch at 1300 hrs. at ‘Anna’s’ on City Market (soup & hot chocolate), then went our separate ways after lunch; Graeme went to the Ships of the Sea Museum & ?  & I walked to 14 out of the 24 squares & parks & their surrounding historic homes; I bought an ice cream at ‘Leopolds’ (E. Broughton & Abercon).  I hope to be back to visit in the Spring.  We met up at 1510 hrs. at City Market, then caught the #10 CAT bus at 1530 hrs.  Milk & bread were purchased at the Publix on our walk home.  Jack & Donna had arrived & were anchored in front of us.  A social was held on SCT.  They will travel with us probably until they meet up with Doug Patterson then Cherry Stobie about Nov. 20-25th.  A cloudy but calm night.

Thurs. Nov. 8, 2012—Day 37: 
Destination:  Savannah—Turner Creek (Mile 585.5) to Wahoo River (Mile 630)
Departure:  0746 hrs.                               Arrival:  1430 hrs.                               Distance:  44.5 SM
Winds:  NWàN 3-10K
Weather:  bright sunny & blue sky, H=63F & L=upper 30’s & probable freeze warning

Damn cold!  It’s a good thing that the sun was out in all it’s glory.  We left the anchorage at low tide to Skidway Narrows, a twisting stretch of the ICW, weaving back & forth around curves & bends.  We met a barge dragging 1200 ft. of piping, assisted by 2 tugs on a bend of Skidway Narrows.  We had an opening of the Skidway Narrows Bridge (bascule- Mile 592.9) on request as we were outside of the closed am hours, which led us into Burnside River, then Vernon River (wide & deep) towards Ossabaw Sound.  We entered Hell’s Gate, a man made cut from the Vernon River to Ogeechee River, 1-1/2 hrs. past low tide on a rising tide; the shallowest depth we say was 7ft. 4 in. & now we were running with the tide X 3 mi. trek.   The Ogeechee River is Georgia’s 2nd largest river & leads to Florida Passage, then Bear River; both run the length of Ossabaw Island, one of Georgia’s 8 major sea islands.  Then the ICW enters the wide open waters of St. Catherine Sound which thankfully was calm today.  This route was amidst miles & miles of undeveloped marsh & woodlands but multitude of streams & anchorages that are mostly deep & behind a chain of mostly undeveloped barrier islands with swift currents & tidal ranges averaging 8 ft., thus keeping the bottoms of these creeks scoured out & deep.  This area has a charm of it’s own that has to be experienced to understand.  The best & most attractive anchorages are those close to wooded high ground.  At Mile 623 we entered North Newport River, into Johnson Creek snaking around this deep natural channel to South Newport River & Wahoo River at Mile 630.  The Wahoo River was a new anchorage for us.  The tide was still rising as we anchored around the 1st bend behind trees.  It was a very peaceful & tranquil spot.  ‘Kathrian’ & ‘SCT’ were #2 & #3 boats in a total of 6 boats here for the night.  We were setting ourselves up for running the infamously shoaling Little Mud River at nothing less than mid rising high tide, so a late start was planned tomorrow.  Jack took his dinghy to the sand beach for a look see, then he & Donna were over for a few drinks & nibblies.  Lynn & Larry phoned with a report of their passage through this caution area today.  What a spectacular sunset!  And a calm cool night with stars filling the sky.

Fri. Nov. 9, 2012—Day 38:
Destination:  Wahoo River (Mile 630) to Frederica River (Mile 670)
Departure:  0940 hrs.                                 Arrival:  1545 hrs.                                   Distance:  40 SM
Winds:  so very light direction undeterminable but probably NW
Weather:  brilliant sun, brilliant blue sky

A warmer night than last, despite the forecast for a frost warning.  The tealights & kerosene lamps but also the never used propane heater was set up which was “cut on” & “cut off” intermittently.  Apparently I missed an amazing sunrise as I lay in bed since we were not leaving till near mid morning.  When I did haul me butt out of bed there were 3 small fishing boats fishing with fishing nets.  It was about a 23 miles to Little Mud River so we up anchored earlier than planned & crossed Sapelo Sound which was flat with only ripples.  Sapelo Island was owned by a rich tobacco owner & now is an outstanding research center, affiliated with the University of Georgia’s Marine Institute.  We travelled W along the Sapelo River, then SW into the Front River (narrow & deep mid channel, except when approaching G155 (7.1 ft.), followed by Creighton Narrows (surprisingly heavily deep wooded timberbanks), briefly acrossed Crescent River, then SW on Old Teakettle Creek, N on New Teakettle Creek , SE across Dolboy Sound (wide) X 1.1 NM, W into the sheltered North River, SW to the problematic shoaling Little Mud River but out timing was good as planned as depths at the north end was 13-14 ft., mid 12 ft. & south end 9.8-10 ft.  We exited into Altamaha River & Sound as a barge & tug were approaching.  Shortly after passing Buttermilk Sound we abandoned the ICW &entered the north entrance of the Frederica River & cruised this alternate route off the ICW to Fort Frederica, anchoring in 20 ft. with 80 ft. of chain; more picturesque.  What a stunning setting!  We went ashore with Donna & Jack & walked the ruins of the fort & the old town of Frederica; highly recommended.  We picked what looked like oranges but tasted like grapefruits from a tree as we headed back.  Happy Hour on ‘Kathrian’ & planned our departure time in the morning, in accordance to passing through another caution area at Jekyll Creek.  I still want to tour St. Simon & Jekyll Island & was promised in the Spring.  Another tremendous sunset & clear night sky.  Looking west we saw the city lights of Brunswick most likely but to the east a very rural setting, no lights & only stars+++ & later a skiver on moon that was positioned in the sky like a bowl.


Sat. Nov. 10, 2012—Day 39:
Destination:  Frederica River (Mile 670) to Cumberland Island (Mile 711)
Departure:  0720 hrs.                                Arrival:  1505 hrs.                                    Distance:  41 SM
Winds:  variable, from 0 this am to 5-12K this pm

Weather:  not a cloud around, only sun & blue sky

A light mist hung over the marsh grasses as we continued our wending route through the Frederica River to it’s southern end, being cautious of the shoal at the exit into the MacKay River & G241 (2 hrs. past high tide).  There were many sounds of wildlife from the marshes last evening & this morning.   A big cargo ship was anchored in St. Simon Sound leading out to the very calm Atlantic.  Slowly we progressed through Jekyll Creek at mid falling tide; the shallowest depth we saw was 8 ft.  We pulled in & tied up at Jekyll Harbor Marina for fuel, water & garbage disposal.  The staff were so very friendly & polite.  The marina is equipped with a restaurant, restrooms, a pool for guests only, 3 showers, laundry facilities (2 washers= $.175, 2 dryers= $ 1.75) & a courtesy car.  Although we did not qualify for the courtesy car, they allowed us to use it to quickly run into a nearby grocery store.  The IGA grocery store (well stocked), liquor store, gift shop, hair salon, & variety store were housed in separate temporary buildings.  All were located by a bike trail & on a wonderful beach (hard packed sand; walking & shelling). The new Convention Center took their location.  Any day construction of a main street with these shops on either side will begin.  We must return in the Spring for a longer time.  I phoned Mom since I had not been in contact with my family in a while.  We actually had a short but nice sail out St. Andrew Sound to R32.  DO NOT GIVE R32 A WIDE BERTH AS THE BOOKS SAY; this is wrong as it was getting more & more shallow (7.4 ft.) by doing so.  TREAT R32 AS A GREEN MARK!  There were no wild horses wandering the beaches of Little Cumberland Island as we passed.  And this was the rest of our route to our destination: Cumberland Riverà Cumberland Dividings (stay off R60, 60A, 62)à Kings Bayà Cumberland Sound, turning to port at R34 into the anchorage.  We anchored just past the 2nd dock, location of the Sea Camp Office, in 20 ft. & 100 ft. chain.  We dinghied to see Lynn & Larry who had arrived earlier today; Tom (Polar Pacer, met 2 yrs. ago in the Exumas) & Jack dropped by.  The anchorage was filling in; boats about 40-50 b  Tonight we had the reddest horizon you could imagine.  The night sky was clear & filled with stars till bedtime, then there was partial cloud cover.

Sun. Nov. 11, 2012Day 40:
Destination:  Cumberland Island (Mile 711), our island touring day
Winds: very calm, E < 5K
Weather:  light cloud cover on waking, but by mid am the sun appeared, then full sunshine & blue skies.

Happy Veterans Day! 

A calm & quiet night.  So after rising a ton of dolphins between us & the Drum Point Island gave us a show for a good 10 min.  I decided to invite all our travelling guests over for supper tonight.  Since chicken was the only meat I had to accommodate 6, I prepared chicken marengo.  The galley was cleaned, we showered & then off to shore soon after 1000 hrs. to tour this wonderful, natural wild island.  Graeme had hoped to buy a senior lifetime membership for $10.00, giving free access to US National Parks + 3 guests.  Unfortunately the office was without the registration papers.  But being Veterans Day the admission fee of $4.00 was waived for all guests.  We walked the Atlantic beach; low tide & tons of shells had been swept onshore + carcasses of horseshoe crabs except for 1 live on + 3 wild horses right before our eyes; they allowed us to get very close to them.  We picked up the guided ranger tour (1000 hrs. & 1245 hrs.) that began at the ice house.  Donna & Jack were wise as they had made sandwiches & share them with me.  This day was a highlight for me!   ‘Sweet Chariot Too’ hosted supper for the 6 of us & I think all went well.  Donna & Jack brought smoked oysters served over cream cheese on dark German bread (delicious) & Lynn & Larry brought freshly baked brownies (devoured).  You think we had never eaten in days.  Another calm night in Cumberland Island under partially clear skies.

Mon. Nov. 12, 2012—Day 41:
Destination:  Cumberland Island (Mile 711) to Fernandina Beach (Mile 716.5)

Departure:  0850 hrs.                             Arrival:  1030 hrs.                           Distance:  5.5K
Winds: SE about 5-8K
Weather:  grey, gloomy & warm, bursts of rain & even occasional sunny breaks, H=low 70’s & L= low 60’s

A short day just moving basically from the north side of Cumberland Sound to the south side, crossing St. Mary’s River & leaving the Golden Isle region of Georgia  it’s state border into the First Coast region of Florida, named such because it was the first area settled.  We past Fort Clinch (built in 1847 to protect the seaward cut & became a state park in 1926) onto the Amelia River, against a 2-3K current.  We turned into the Bells River & anchored in 14 ft. & 100 ft. of chain.   Donna & Jack changed their plans & were soon anchored with us.  A meeting was planned for all to meet at the dinghy dock at the marina including Lynn & Larry’s friends Terri & Bill on ‘Second Choice’, a Hunter Passage 456.  We paid our dinghy dock fee ($3.21) & Graeme & I went our separate ways.  Since I had had no internet in quite a while that was my priority, although I would have loved to have walked the historic district (50 blocks radius around Centre St.); I will plan this on returning north.  For convenience sake & a bonus of a secure line, I got WiFi at ‘Books Plus’.  I was even able to purchase, write & mail a birthday card for my Mom at this same location.  Larry bought some fresh shrimp for themselves & moi from the Atlantic Seafood & Fish Market, steps from the dinghy dock & even cooked them.  The Morrows made reservations for us at St. Augustine Municipal Marina, south basin mooring ball & for Vero Beach Municipal Marina for the time over & including US Thanksgiving.  Happy Hour & dinner was held also close by at Marina Seafood Restaurant.  The water was like glass as we dinghied home in the dark.  Warm humid & cloudy overnight.

Tues. Nov. 13, 2012—Day 42:       
Destination:  Fernandina Beach (Mile 716.5) to Pine Island (Mile 765)
Departure:  0805 hrs.                              Arrival:  1510 hrs.                               Distance:  48.5 SM
Winds:  nil & flat calm in the am, some blue skies
Weather:  partially sunny, some blue skies, H= 70’ish & L=60’ish

Water once again was like glass.  We were a convoy of 4 boats now, travelling south in a pack of at least 12 boats, a mix of sail & trawlers.  The First Coast of Florida includes the area of Fernandina Beach, Amelia City, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach & Ponte Vedra Beach.  And so our water passage today was: Amelia RiveràSouth Amelia Riverà across Nassau Soundà Sawpit Creekà Gunnison Cutà Sisters Creek (with the current)à across St. John’s Riverà against current in Pablo Creek (narrow & it’s current flows toward St. John’s River with eddies)à Palm Valley Cut (10 mi.)à Tolomato River.  After crossing the St. John’s River, we had 3 bridges we passed under where the currents were fierce (6K) against us, especially worse was passing the Atlantic Boulevard Highway Bridge; our speed decreased to a mere 1.6K.  It was not until we were well into the Palm Valley Cut that the current was of assistance.  Depths into Pine Island was less than charted even at low tide; we anchored in 7 ft. & were only able to put out 50 ft. of chain due to limited swing room.  ‘Second Choice’ stirred up mud on entering the anchorage.  Some grey , rain-like sky & clouds around as, a storm front from the west passed overhead.  Happy Hour was put on hold for tonight.  The anchorage was filled by sunset with 9 or 10 boats.   We both had lovely & welcomed showers & I climbed under clean bed linen at the ungodly hour of 2030 hrs.  A dark, cloudy, warm night.  About midnight a NE wind kicked up & continued to howl through the rigging for the rest of the night.