Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 22. Today we left our private little pond just south of New Smyrna Beach and headed north towards Saint Augustine. We’ve decided to stop just short of Saint Augustine and wait until Tuesday the 24th before we arrive.

Christy’s parents and her brother and sister-in-law are all meeting us there so we’ve reserved a slip starting on the 24th. We thought we’d arrive close to the 24th and anchor nearby rather than anchor in the craziness of Saint Augustine itself.

We had picked a few places that we thought looked interesting to spend the night and as we arrived at each one we discounted them as being undesirable for one reason or another. Finally when we got the last one it was just right.

We’re only 2 miles from Saint Augustine and are on the inside of a bend in the ICW. There’s a shallow area between us and the boats traveling the ICW so they can’t come plowing through the anchorage. There’s only one narrow entrance into an area of 8 to 15 feet of water

We are well aware that by traveling on a Sunday that we’re breaking one of the cardinal rules of cruising Florida, Stay Where You Are On The Weekends. We got overtaken by some type of Sea Ray fest. At least a dozen of every different size, all traveling together one after another, wide open in a canal 60 yards wide. There’s barely any breeze and the tranquil surface becomes a confused sea with 5 foot white water coming from every direction in moments. The wakes are so big that there actually bouncing off the sides of the canal and coming back at you again. It wasn’t really that bad for us but there were little bass boats, bow riders and oh my god you should see what that does to a pontoon boat. We could actually see the entire bottom of pontoon boats as they were twisted and tossed. An hour later we ran into the same group as they returned back down river reeking havoc on any unfortunates in their path.

Speaking of pontoon boats, they’re everywhere here. It’s like golf carts in a retirement community. Families, fishermen and retirees all out and about enjoying the water. Also very popular here are the backyard boatlifts. Nobody has their boat in the water in their backyard. The wakes from passing boats would reduce their boat to scrap in no time.

The trip here today was very nice. We started out motoring in about 4 knots of wind. We came around a corner and there was a sailboat ahead of us with his main up so even though there wasn’t much room to maneuver we threw ours up as well. We picked up a third of a knot in boat speed and were slowly gaining on them. The wind picked up ever so little and up went their genoa. It was still to light and fluky for us to raise ours but we were continuing to gain on them. Then I realized it was the Germans.

THE GERMANS. Just before dark on our last night at anchor in our private pond a beautiful sailboat ghosted past. It’s a very sleek craft with virtually no freeboard and long overhangs. The thing just looks like speed. The boat is without a motor of any kind. The Germans, Hans and Franz, (humor me) have to sail through every tight spot, against any adverse current and through every bridge. We can hear the bridge tenders all having fits trying to determine “if the sailboat approaching from the south would like an opening”. They must not speak too much English as they never acknowledge the bridge tenders until they’re right at the bridge and it sounds something like, “bridge openzie sailboat yah”.

So anyway, we’re both fighting another head current moving along at a little less than 6 knots. Except we’re motor sailing and they’re under sail power alone. We are right behind them when we enter a wider body of water rather than the breeze killing canals we’ve been transiting. There’s still only a narrow channel but there’s enough water around to allow some wind to build to 8 or 9 knots. I decided to pass them on the low side since they were only sailing, I didn’t want to steal their wind. Of course, the half knot advantage in speed we had was gone as soon as we sailed into their lee. Now we’re committed to passing and are both doing exactly the same speed so we unroll our genoa and pick up enough speed to get by. The wind continued to build and by the time we got to our chosen anchorage we’re doing close to 8 knots under sail. We passed several sailboats and even managed to overtake a trawler.

The late day course was a winding affair so it was tough to keep the genoa filled as the path turned left and right. So it was a day of put it up, take it down. It’s amazing how gratifying an extra knot here or there can be.

We were sitting at anchor with PAC’s and got to watch as the Germans once again slid past in the diminishing breeze of the early evening.

Boat Name of the Day. Its not really a boat name but we were passed by 8 Grady Whites full of old people. They were evidently on their way to a marina for a luncheon and when they arrived they hailed the marina and announced that the Grady Bunch was there. Grady Bunch………I thought it was funny.
April 21. We got up and got underway from Vero Beach about 0800. Our planned stop for the night is to be about 38 miles north in Melbourne where we had stopped on our way down.

Our trip north was a day of motoring dead to windward, 15 to 20 knots of wind right in our face. We did make excellent time though so instead of stopping we continued on for another 15 miles to the town of Cocoa Beach. With the wind out of the north and expected to swing to the east we decided to anchor in the lee of a large fixed bridge. There were already 15 boats there but true to our recent promise to each other we squirmed through the anchorage and dropped the hook in 12 feet of water in front of everybody as the furthest boat to the north.

There was a boat ramp 200 yards away so it was an excellent place to take the dogs. As I was returning to the boat in the morning 2 other boats were just leaving the anchorage so it looks as if we’ll have company heading north.

They had about a 45 minute head start on us. When I got back to the boat Christy was ready to depart and we noted that the wind was now from the west southwest at about 10 knots so it looked as if the sails would be the choice for the day and hopefully the adverse current we were to face wouldn’t cost us too much distance on the day. By the time I had checked the fluids, hauled and stored the dinghy motor, hung the dinghy in its spot in the davits and started to raise the anchor the wind had backed around to the north northwest. Crap.

Getting underway we decided to raise the main and try some motor sailing in the moderate 7 to 12 knot headwinds, I figured we should do anything we could to over come the tide running against us. We could hear the 2 boats ahead of us conversing on the VHF and they were talking about boat speeds around 5.7 knots. Our speed was 5.9 and when we caught little puffs of wind we would jump to 6.3 every now and then. We had the main sheeted tight and ever so slowly gained ground on the boats ahead of us.

After 20 miles or so our wind died just as we caught up to the slower of the 2 boats while the other slipped away through a well timed bridge opening. After the boat, El Rio, and we passed through the Haulover Canal Bridge things quickly went to hell in a hand basket. We still had the full main up and now the breeze was starting to freshen from the northeast. We were moving almost a full knot quicker than they were so we soon passed and put some distance between us.

The winds quickly built to a steady 25 knots and we were fighting the tide and now a building head sea in the confines of a very narrow channel. The water on the left side of the channel was about a foot deep and the bottom was readily apparent. On the right side was 4 to 7 feet deep so we hugged that side of the channel as we clawed our way forward sometimes as slow as 4 knots. We were quickly leaving El Rio behind. So even though we were sailing so close to the wind I wasn’t about to take the sail down. It would have been a tremendous gamble to try and drop the sail as for us to do this we have to head straight up into the wind so the sail doesn’t hang up in the Lazy Jacks. Visibility had deteriorated to such a level that visual navigation was difficult as there was so much spray in the air. Picking out the channel markers was only doable with the binoculars. I don’t think the channel is 30 or 40 yards wide so turning just a few degrees to get up on the wind was out of the question unless absolutely necessary.

After 2 hours we were clear of the Mosquito Lagoon and behind some land which flattened the seas out. After another 30 minutes our course had put us right into the wind so we dropped the sail and motored into beautiful clear skies and fading wind. Better late than never. With an hour to go before our arrival we started to see the tidal flow change in our favor.

We had previewed 3 different anchorages where we thought we might like to spend the night. We passed on the first anchorage as the entrance is unmarked and looks a bit sketchy. The second has several shoals and had more than a few boats in the already overcrowded waters. I nixed the third spot without actually seeing it as it was unprotected from the northeast and the wind was supposed to blow 20 or better from that direction at night. So after seeing the second anchorage I turned the boat around and headed back a mile or so to our first possibility.

The charts and the chartplotter both showed a 7 foot deep narrow passage into an area of 14 feet of water. On paper this spot is protected from all sides with shoreline within 100 yards on 3 sides. When we approached the entrance channel it was easy to see that it simply wasn’t there. There was a visible underwater shoal across the charted entrance. To the north was a small island and off to the south there was some water that looked deeper although not according to the charts.

We were pretty much stuck with no good place to spend the night so we crept forward at about 2 and a half knots. I steered for the deepest looking water while Christy sat glued to the depth sounder as we hugged the shoreline. She called out the numbers and after about 200 yards with the chartplotter having a stroke we started to see a pocket of deeper water where the charts said it would be.

So here we sit nestled in among the mangroves. We can see the ICW from the boat but nobody else has tried to get into “our” spot. Last night the wind did howl but with the wall of 10 foot mangroves all around us we were snug in our calm little pond.

This spot is so nice that we decided not to leave today. We dinghied into town and found an eclectic little main street. The office supply place had the owner’s collection of vintage typewriters and adding machines displayed in the front window. It turned out to be a recurring theme as the appliance store had an icebox and a gas stove from the forties prominently on display. The town was more than a little sleepy, especially for a Saturday although we did find an excellent farmers market.

Our little pond is on a preferred route for the local fishermen in their 20 foot bass boats. They wiz by and disappear into the mangrove streams behind us. So I figured when in Rome…… Anyone who knows me knows that fishing and I are like oil and water. Never done it and don’t really care too. We brought along a pole and a rudimentary tackle box because it seemed like the thing to do. So anyway, I tie on a sinker and hook, load it up with roast beef and promptly catch a decent sized crab. Every offering after that my bait is stolen by the little crab bastards on the bottom. Okay, so I gotta get the bait up off the bottom and I’m switching to Canadian bacon.

I don’t have a bobber in the tackle box so I take one of those floating key chain things and transform it into a bobber. Now with just my hook and bobber I can’t get the drag set properly to allow me to cast. To tight and I fling it nowhere and too loose and it results in a giant bird nest of line. It may have something to do with the pole and reel being out on the radar arch in the rain, sun and salt for the last 6 months. I dunno, remember I’m no fisherman. Anyway, now I tie a small sinker to the “bobber” to give me some weight for flingin’. So I get a pretty decent cast out and let the tide take my offering further from the boat. I’m sitting reading my book when I realize that I can’t see the bobber anymore.

I pick up the rod and reel in a 15 inch Catfish. Might be enough for one of us and there’s no chance I’m getting another one so I set him free. I rebait the hook, fling it back out there, pick up the book and you know what happens next. Yup, another one, well I let the other one go so I kick this one loose as well. Hell, we’re not even sure you can eat these things anyway. Christy goes below and gets our fish identification book out. Turns out that they were both Topsailgaff Catfish, the book points out that their excellent eating. Crap. On the bright side though, turning them loose was the right thing to do as I’ve never caught a fish before let alone cleaned one. So below Christy goes and gets another book (the library is bigger than I thought) that explains the whole cleaning process. In the Catfish section, the Topsailgaff Catfish is used as an example because their such good eating. Good grief. Stupid fishing.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 14

April 14. When last I left you we had just survived the night from hell as all the boats around us had broken free and dragged during the night. I got to bed at 0430 and now its 0800. I was awakened by the sound of the boat behind us using his windlass to hoist his anchor.

We had planned to spend the day here enjoying the oceanfront with the dogs. We’ve awakened to a wet dismal day with more rain in the forecast. We make the decision to get underway for Vero Beach as I can’t take the chance of another night with very little sleep. I take the dogs to shore and it starts to rain. When I get back Christy dries the dogs as best as can be done while I pull the dinghy up onto the davits for the days trip.

Once we’re all ready for the trip we haul the anchor with Christy at the wheel in the building rain. After we’re underway I go below and change into dry clothes and start our trip north. It’s only a 40 mile trip north with a half dozen bridges to negotiate. After 30 miles we’re able to catch up to the boats that left an hour before us. Oh, and the sun has come out. 

Once we arrive at Vero Beach we hit the fuel dock for 45 gallons of diesel and over a hundred gallons of water. We’re sent to a ball that has a 40 foot Island Trader on it. We rafted up with no problem and were set for the night.

We’ve been here for a week now and things have been good. The free bus system here is very handy so getting to any store you’d like is no problem. They also have a nice laundry mat here on site so laundry isn’t too bad to take care of either.

Christy’s brother and his wife were in the neighborhood so we got to spend a bit of an afternoon with them on Saturday. Things are pretty nice here so we’ll probably stay here until the 20th or so as we have to be in Saint Augustine by the 26th to meet Christy’s parental units.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April 5 & 6

April 5th was nothing special. We stayed the day in Lake Worth so we could have the dogs groomed. On the way down Christy found a groomer that did a really nice job on Molly & Tucker so we wanted to hit that place again. We spent the rest of the day shopping and hitting the local West Marine.

April 6th on the other hand was a day and a half, literally. We only have a 4 hour run to get to our next stop which was to be Peck Lake. So we got up when we wanted and took the dogs to shore together. Christy walked the dogs along the roadside while I walked a bag of garbage down the street to the dumpster behind Publix.

On my way back the traffic is backed up from down where we tied up the dinghy all the way to me close to half mile away. I can’t see what the problem is but my mind is working overtime, I’m sure one of the dogs slipped their collar and ran into the road or some dipshit on a cell phone drifted off the roadway and ran over my family. So I start to run down there and as I’m getting closer I see a group of people gathered around someone on the grass next to the road. Finally, mercifully, I can see Christy and the dogs are part of the group tending to a downed bicycle rider. Good I thought, an ambulance will be here shortly because I may need it as I’ve just run further than I have in 20 years.

Christy greets me with a giant hug and she’s shaking and quite upset. It seems she and the dogs were walking along the side of the road and just as the bicyclist went past he was run over by a passing car. She was the first person to his side and had to keep him on the ground as he was trying to get up. He never lost consciousness but was in pretty bad shape. The skin was gone from both his knees and his hands and he was missing the tip of one of his fingers. He had a lump about the size of half a tennis ball on his forehead, his helmet never came off, it probably saved his life.

It took between 10 minutes and an eternity for the EMT’s to arrive. Once he was in professional care we took the dinghy and went back to the boat. As we were preparing to weigh anchor we watched a helicopter land at the scene of the accident and take the cyclist away to the hospital.

The ride to Peck Lake was a short motor of about 20 miles with about 6 bridges to open along the way. The trip was uneventful and went quickly.

Peck Lake shows up as a wide spot along the ICW on the charts. According to the charts there’s only a foot or two if you leave the channel. Our Skipper Bob’s Guide Book tells of an unmarked channel into the unmarked anchorage. The big attraction is the fact that once anchored you only have a short 50 yard walk across some dunes to the beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean.

When we got there it was fairly crowded and the best spot for us to anchor was right in the middle of everyone. While dropping the hook the sailboat to our starboard waved hello while the powerboater on our port put on his bitch wings. I used the classic bitch wing counter by yelling over “how much scope do you have out”. He replied “50 feet” and went back inside. Not enough scope for the 12 feet of water but the question did counter the bitch wings.

We were able to put out 65 feet of chain and set the anchor as always. We stayed on the boat and had PAC’s and watched the boats behind us come in and find spots. It was a very lovely evening but some ominus looking clouds rolled in late from the north. Christy had gone to bed and I was trip reporting when the wind started to build to a steady 20 knots. I went up to look around and heard anchor chain rattling. One of the late arrivals had already dragged down onto a small trawler and was busy resetting his anchor.

So now I’m sitting in the cockpit watching all the boats to windward of us. I’m starting to get the impression that the bitch wing guy, who’s now swung almost in front of us on our starboard bow, may be starting to drag ever so slowly. Its pitch dark and all the boats are dancing wildly at anchor so it’s difficult to judge who’s doing what. I know he’s only got 50 feet out so I’m a little concerned about him.

All of a sudden the small trawler off our port bow breaks free of the bottom so at 0130 I blast our air horn to alert the captain and everybody else for a mile. He must have been up and keeping watch also because he had the engine running in 30 seconds. He had started out anchored 60 yards off our port bow and was 2 boat lengths behind us by the time he had the engines running and started to haul in his anchor. He had passed between us and the sailboat off our port side with astonishing velocity. He reanchored a lot closer to us this time but did a good job and stayed put for the night.

Bitch wing guy, not so much. It’s been 3 hours now and the wind is between 18 and 24 knots and he’s definitely moving ever so slowly backwards. He started out a little ahead of us and then abreast and now he’s safely behind us. Unless of course you’re on the boat that’s been behind us. Its almost 0330 and I can see lights in the cockpit of the Morgan that’s behind us. Finally he gets out his million candle power spotlight and is shinning it into the stern ports of the dragging powerboat. I’m using our spotlight to shine into his vee berth ports. When their only about 30 feet apart the Morgan captain uses his air horn. Finally the woman on board comes out into the cockpit, looks around and goes back inside. I figure that they’ll be up and start their engines any moment. But noooo, she went back to bed! After 5 minutes Morgan guy lays into the horn while we’re both spotlighting the powerboat. The “captain” comes on deck, fist clenched posturing like a tough guy. He really thinks we’re just messing with him or something, he’s got no clue. He’s just staring at us, finally I scream at the top of my lungs “You’re dragging down on these people behind you Captain!” Sarcasm was properly placed on the Captain part. He does sort of a triple take, wakes from his tough guy fog and starts to run around to get underway so they can reanchor, dumbass.

After they go off into a corner behind us the wind starts to abate and once it’s down to 10 to 15 and everyone seems to be staying put I retire for the evening at 0430. Oh yeah, it was also raining the entire time, perfect.

What we learned: Whenever big winds have rolled through, predicted or not, it’s always been from a northerly direction. When we arrived in this anchorage there was a light wind from the east blowing and nothing else predicted. Christy and I made a pact to always aggressively seek out the northern most spot in any anchorage we visit from now on.

Dictionary reminder: PAC’s……..Post Anchoring Cocktails

April 3

April 3. Our neighboring boat that we had dinner with last night was up and underway without making a sound. That is until they had the bridge that was 40 feet from our boat raised to allow them passage. Holy Christ. That bridge had warning bells to slow the cars before the gates came down and then a claxon to warn nearby boats that the bridge was now closing. So needless to say we were up before the alarm and on our way by 0730.

We opted to backtrack a few miles and go out the Fort Lauderdale inlet and sail north on the outside. We were under full sail by 0830 and making about six and a half knots with a beautiful sunny day unfolding before us.

As we left the inlet we had a pod of dolphin put on a spectacular show for us. They repeatedly launched themselves clear of the water. It was awesome and ended as soon as Christy picked up the camera. We also had a weird experience as a container ship was approaching the inlet as we were leaving. We saw him coming and we cut the last red mark short as we left the channel in 35 feet of water and started north. As we were putting up the sails we realized that at the last minute he turned off his approach to the channel and was starting a right hand circle towards our stern.

The picture is deceiving; he’s way closer than was comfortable for us.

Just before noon the wind started to get fluky and when we were down to less than 4 knots we started the engine and were motor sailing along at well over 7 knots. We got to the Lake Worth inlet at about 1400 and had to fight in against the last bit of the ebbing tide.

Once we were inside it was like stepping into the middle of a crowded drunken frat party. Just inside the inlet there’s a small beach only accessible by boat so it was packed with beached speed boats. Jet skis and small powerboats were whizzing this way and that coming and going. It was quite the shock after being alone in the ocean for the day.

After a 5 mile ride north on the ICW we were into the anchorage in Lake Worth that we had stayed in on our way down. We dropped the hook in 15 feet of water, deployed the dinghy, cleaned the boat and were sitting with our post anchoring cocktails when our neighbors from last night pulled in. They had left an hour earlier but had gone inside and had to deal with about 2 dozen bridges so they arrived an hour and a half after us.

Last night was one of the most beautiful at anchor and there’s been many special ones to choose from. The moon appeared from behind a vee shaped cloud and had the appearance of visibly rising as the cloud moved away from moon. It was a huge moon and wonderful to watch. A great end to a really nice day.

April 2

April 2. Well we forgot to set the alarm for this mornings departure. So I didn’t get into the dinghy with the dogs until 0715. I hate oversleeping, it feels as if I’m running behind for the rest of the day. Luckily the dogs felt my pain and did their best to make it a quick trip to shore.

When I got back to the boat Christy had everything ready to go as always. I checked the fluids and started the engine. Pulling the anchor turned into a bit of a scavenger hunt as we pulled up an 8 foot piece of copper tubing tangled in the anchor chain. Once I got it cleared the anchor was stowed and we were underway.

The main course out of Miami goes through a channel called Government Cut. Its here that all the cruise ships are docked. If there are 2 or more ships tied up then the Cut is closed to pleasure craft. The weekend is the usual time for the ships to be leaving port. We could see them leaving from our anchorage. Saturday we watched 5 huge cruise ships leave and then on Sunday, 4 more. When we woke up on Monday there were 2 ships parked there. Oh no! As we were just getting underway we called the Coast Guard and asked if the Cut was open and were informed that it was not. Shit.

We could have traveled a couple of miles out of the way to the south to get out into the ocean but we elected to head north in a more direct fashion along the ICW. This section is just one bridge after another.

We were getting a knot and a half push for most of the trip so it worked out better than I thought that it would. The bridges here are all on a schedule but if you can maintain about seven knots you can hit almost every bridge just right as they open. Things were going real well until we reached a bridge that was being repaired. It was 10 minutes late coming up and when it did only one side of the bridge went up. Getting through made us late for the next bridge and we were forced to circle for 20 minutes. All in all not to shabby for over a dozen bridges in a 30 mile trip.

We were able to grab a mooring ball in a small marina in Fort Lauderdale. There’s only 10 moorings and we were lucky to get there in time to grab one of the two available. We sat and watched the boats go past until dinner time. Then we went into town and had dinner with a couple we had met in passing back in Marathon. Tomorrow its out into the Atlantic and north to Lake Worth.

March 30 & 31

March 30. As predicted the ride to shore with the dogs sucked. The wind was cranking and by the time we got back to the boat we were soaked. We hauled the anchor and were on our way from Rodriguez Key by 0830. The forecast was for 10 to 15 knots and what we got was 25 knots steady. That’s the job for me, weatherman, you don’t have to ever be right and nobody seems to care. At least they got the wind direction right.

Same thing as yesterday, motoring in big wind but with calmer 2 to 4 foot seas. After an hour we put up a reefed mainsail and then 2 hours later we shook out the reef. We were flirting with 7 knots all day and as the wind abated we were headed directly north so it turned into a pleasant beam reach.

The sail in under Cape Florida was nice as the tide had just turned and was flooding in with us. We saw 8.9 knots on the GPS. When we got into Biscayne Bay the water was FAC (flat ass calm) so it was a very nice trip up into Miami through the back door.

When we got to the Rickenbacker Causeway Bridge some little future inmates were throwing crap off the bridge at the passing boats 100 feet below. We were fortunate to escape without any damage. On the bright side though, they’ll probably get hooked on crack or heroin and die before their 20 years old. Hopefully.

We anchored in the same anchorage as we did on our way south. The current really turns with the tide here but its not that obvious to you when you anchor. The wind was still from the east with the tide trying to face us south. So when all was said and done we ended up anchored only about 40 feet from the boat next to us. That is until the wind started gusting, the tide went slack and then turned. One minute we’re 20 feet apart then we’re 60 feet away. We’re probably going to have to move in the morning but we’re good for now.

March 31. When we got up we moved the boat a little further from our neighbor and went ashore to the bank and for a walk around. When we got back to the boat we did a few boat chores and were sitting when the law pulled up to tell us about the anchoring restrictions in the area.

It was the same officer that had taken care of this paperwork the last time we came through. He was lamenting the fact that the area is overrun with idiot jet skiers. It is amazing to watch so many clueless people with so much horsepower available at the twist of their wrist. We told him that we had a celebrity encounter earlier in the day. Hulk Hogan the former professional wrestler (read that as mental midget) had come through the anchorage in his scarab at 40 or 50 knots within a few feet of anchored boats showing off for his family and friends. While the police boat is tied to our side guess who comes back. That’s right, the Hulkster. He comes within 100 feet of our boat before he’s aware of the flashing lights and blaring siren that the cop now has going. The cop motions for him to slow down and gives him the international sign for ”What are you; an idiot?) He slows way down turns around and leaves with no citation.

We did get some info from the cop that we’d been wondering about. Back in January when we were leaving this anchorage we called the Coast Guard about a group of people that we saw on a deserted island nearby. Turns out that they were “rafters” as he called them; illegal aliens that were abandoned there by the people that smuggled them into the United States. He said that some of those people had paid up to 7000 dollars apiece to be smuggled into the country. I’m think’n, where do I get some?

There was a party on shore more than 300 yards from our boat and they had the loudest sound system I’ve ever heard. Picture Springsteen playing the Meadowlands. It wouldn’t have been bad except it took more than 2 hours before I heard a song that I recognized. Thankfully it stopped at 2000 hours.

Tomorrow we’ll hit the local Pulix for liquids. We’re pretty well provisioned so far as food goes but we’ll stock up on the heavy items being this Publix is right near a dinghy dock.

March 29

March 29. Well we finally broke free of Marathons grasp. The bridge tender here likes to joke that he arrived a year ago for a two week visit. The wind had been blasting us for close to 3 straight weeks from the east. East was our direction of choice so we were stuck along with dozens of other boats. Wednesday was the first day of a 2 day window where the wind would drop below 20 knots for the entire 2 days. Or so we thought.

On Wednesday morning 2 dozen boats departed for various points north. Some of the boats were heading up the west coast while most were headed up the east coast. The boats with less than 4 and a half feet of draft all went up the “inside route” which is along the west coast of the keys. The route proved to be favorable with calm sea conditions in the protection of the lee of the keys. You do have to be aware of the tides and a lot of the channels are very narrow so it can be pretty intense at times. The deeper draft vessels were all relegated to going up the Hawk Channel along the eastern shore of the keys. Since this was the first day with only 15 knots of wind the sea state was still fairly large and we listened to a lot of unhappy travelers on the radio.

We spent Wednesday doing last minute provisioning and laundry. We decided to let the seas calm down and depart on Thursday. I took the dogs to shore at 0600, OMG haven’t been up at that hour in a long time. Christy had the boat squared away and was ready to go when we got back.

We had 2 anchors down for the last 2 weeks and pulling them up went a lot smoother than I thought it would. The primary had been down there for 2 months! We also have been using a kellet on our primary anchor so it took 45 minutes to collect our ground tackle and get underway.

After going out under the bridge we had to stop for fuel. We arrived in Marathon with one tank practically empty and less 30 gallons in the other. We thought we would only be staying a short while so why bother to fill up at that time. We had to run the generator for almost an hour a day to make hot water and we were pleased to discover that it was ridiculously economical. So we ended up topping off with 65 gallons of diesel and a few gallons of gasoline for the dinghy. We heard the bridge tender counting the boats as they left the harbor, 18 left with us.

After we left the fuel dock we found ourselves with 5 sailboats in view ahead of us. We also discovered that the winds had built to 20 knots and were dead on the nose. We motored for about 2 hours, making about 4 and a half knots into closely spaced 5 foot waves. After those 2 hours we had started to turn a couple of degrees to the north so we put up the mainsail with a double reef incase the winds continued to build. Even though we were so close to the wind we were able to pick up an extra knot while motor sailing with the small main sheeted as tight as I could get it.

With that extra knot we started to gain ground on the boats ahead of us. So of course they had to put up some sail too.  The further we traveled the more “off” the wind we could turn so we shook the reef out and were motor sailing at over 6 knots. We actually had some good tacking duels with 2 of the boats as we looked for as much help from the sail as we could get. Conditions were pretty crappy and 2 of the boats ahead of us decided to cut through the keys and take the inside route in calmer seas. It might take them longer because they’ll have to wait for high tide to transit several shallow areas but it would be a lot more comfortable. In the 100 miles from Miami to Marathon there are only five bridges high enough that a sailboat can sneak through from one side of the keys to the other so they opted for this first opportunity.

It took us 30 miles but we were able to catch all the sailboats ahead of us and we were comfortably anchored with our “post anchoring cocktail” as each one came in and dropped their hooks. The anchorage at Rodriguez Key sucks, plain and simple. There’s just no other place to hide for the night near the half way point on this trip from Marathon to Miami. On our way south 2 months ago we anchored north of the key and got our asses kicked for the night as the winds stayed out of the east and did not swing south as predicted. This time we chose to anchor off the south shore of the key behind the 1 foot shallows that surround the key. It worked out well, there was still big wind but the swells were knocked down by the shallows in front of us. Christy went swimming as soon as we were anchored and went out to see the anchor on the bottom. She said that it was completely buried in the sandy bottom with only the chain visible.

The only drawback was the dinghy ride to shore with the dogs was a mile and a quarter with most of it through unprotected water. Both of the dogs and I got soaked and then had to do it again in the morning. Happy happy, joy joy.

There were several good parts to the day. During the trip we saw several sea turtles sunning themselves but they were quick to dive for cover as we approached. We also got to see another Pearson 422 just like ours. They’re fairly rare so seeing one out and about is noteworthy. We saw it coming at us about 200 yards off our port bow and we realized that they looked an awful lot like us so as they passed Christy hailed them on the VHF and chatted them up a bit.

Anyway, it’s good to be on the move again. The boat and crew handled a real crappy 50 mile day very well and we’re headed for Miami tomorrow.

March 19

March 19. Well we’re still here. We had planned to leave last Monday for a 2 hour downwind sail to Bahia Honda State Park. It’s well protected from the east, only so-so from the north and south and pretty much a death trap in big winds from the west. The bottom has a reputation as not being good holding ground. When we got up on Monday the wind was 15 knots from the east and supposed to build during the day and stay at about 20 knots from the east for several days. Perfect conditions for the trip and a couple of day stay.

While I took the dogs for their morning walk, Christy stowed everything on the boat so we could get underway when we got back. It was no small chore as we’ve been here for a while and a lot of gear had to be put away. I’ve been battling a case of the flu and by the time I got back to the boat the winds had built to 20 knots already and I was feeling a little less than stellar. So I walked in to the now seaworthy, spotless boat and told her I didn’t think we were going to be leaving today. She took it very well and we stayed put.

Since my last posting we’ve gone out on a local snorkeling tour boat. The boat was a 34 foot power catamaran with a 24 foot beam. We had about a 20 minute ride out to the reef and we had a wonderful time. Christy and I were the first ones into the water and the last ones to get out 2 hours later. The reef was beautiful with loads of colorful tropical fish milling about.

We’ve gone to several cruisers gatherings these past couple of weeks and we’ve met some very nice people. It’s really been a great time here in Marathon.

We took the dogs swimming the other day. We dinghied out to Sombrero Beach and spent the day. Molly seems to really enjoy the water and enters it readily to follow Christy or I into the sea. Tucker, well, not so much. When he first started swimming he would bring his front paws completely clear of the water in this clumsy splashing stroke. By the end of the day he did have it down better but he definitely wasn’t enjoying it.

Yesterday we met a very nice couple from Canada. They anchored near us and we decided that when we were going out we would stop by and welcome them to the “neighborhood”. We ended up spending a good bit of time with them at a social event later in the evening. I think I’ve got a handle on the Canadians use of the word “eh” at the end of a lot of their sentences. I think its used as a question mark except that it has an audible sound. As in, the winds blowing like stink eh? Its funny, when I hear an American trying to act as a Canadian and throwing an “eh” in at the end of every sentence it just sounds so forced. When a Canadian does it, it sounds rather charming.

Anyhow, a new word for your cruisers dictionary. First a little background. We were invited to a get together on a neighbor’s boat tonight and Al Cohol was also one of the attendees. Al definitely encourages some interesting topics of conversation with people that you’ve only known for about 37 minutes. Anyway, one of the wives there told the story of how they could never be intimate on a calm, windless night. She was afraid that any “movement” on the boat would be immediately noticeable to everyone in the anchorage. She was afraid there would be “Riffles” on the waters surface. There it was, riffles, she said it a dozen times so its definitely a word. It wasn’t in my dictionary so I thought we should all take this opportunity to add it.

So there’s your new word, Riffles. Riffles……..a water surface condition only caused by sexual activity on a boat. Not to be confused with the more innocent “ripples” which could be the result of more mundane activities such as vacuuming, varnishing or waxing.

If you use it during your next scrabble match you’re probably going to have to define it so use your own discretion.

February 26

February 26? Times been flying since we’ve been here in Marathon. At first we thought that we might be here for 2 weeks or so but that quickly turned into a month.

There’s a beautiful anchorage about 11 miles south of here at Bahia Honda State Park. We’re thinking of heading down there and staying for a day or 2 before continuing on to Key West. It’s funny that Key West was the goal when we first set out and now that we’ve been in such a nice anchorage with so much to do it doesn’t seem that important to get there anymore. We took the bus down a couple of days ago and it’s kind of like “been there, done that”. So now we’re debating whether or not we should go at all and for how long if we do.

We’ve had a couple of good blows come through since we’ve been here. The day before the first one we put out the second anchor and set it pretty tight effectively making it the primary anchor. After 2 days the wind was gone so we decided to pull the anchor so the 2 anchor rodes would not get twisted together. Holy crap was it stuck.

I pulled the boat forward by hand, pulling the rode into the anchor locker as the boat slid forward. I figured that when all the extra rode was aboard I would be able to rip the anchor straight up out of the bottom. Wrong, not even close. We had to tie off the vertical line and start the engine and drive over the anchor and rip it from the bottom so I could pull it up.

Since then we had to deploy it again this weekend before the winds hit 35 knots as a front came through. Tomorrow we will pull it up again, probably stuck as hell. I have to say that I’m glad all the time and money spent researching which anchors to carry seems to have been a good investment.

I spent a good bit of time on Saturday during the blow helping a guy and his wife kedge their boat back into deep water after they had dragged up into shallow water. I dinghied several anchors out to windward so as the tide came in the wind wouldn’t blow them further up into the shallows. They dragged and at low tide they found themselves pretty much lying on their side. There really wasn’t anything to do until the tide started to fill in later in the day. At around 4:30 they were upright and floating again. After they were off the next 2 times they dropped the hook they couldn’t get it to set. They finally did get a good set and they were completely drained both mentally and physically. Their day sucked.

We went a “meet and greet” this week at one of the local pubs. They have a social for all the boats in the harbor to get together and meet each other once a week. Everyone brings a dish to share and there’s plenty for everyone. It was lots of fun and topics covered the entire gambit, Christy even told all the women at our table that I’ve learned to color her hair. I overturn a 5 gallon bucket in the cockpit; put a cushion on it and it becomes “Mr. William’s House of Hair and Fabulosity”. (<~ said with a lisp) Turned out that all the women were having the same treatments on their boats so it was a pretty funny evening.

Before we left we were debating on whether or not we needed bicycles on board. We decided that it was time to break down and buy bikes. The local West Marine had a supply of nice aluminum frame folding bikes so we went in to buy some. The fortunate thing is that as we’ve traveled we’ve been saving broken parts that we’ve purchased from West Marine as we headed down the coast. We’re always meaning to return this or that every time we get somewhere where there’s a West. It’s just that we never do. So we walked into West with more than an armload of stuff to return. We ended up paying 105.00 out of pocket for the pair of bikes. Oh, and their awesome. They fold up just a little bigger than a piece of carry-on luggage and their actually comfortable to ride.

I rebuilt the aft head last weekend and completely replaced the forward head this week, shitty job. We had 2 different models on the boat and the aft head is easy to maintain. The forward one on the other hand was a Wilcox-Crittenden head. It was a thing of beauty, big brass pump with brass plumbing and brass handle. The problems with it were many, the brass was always green like the Statue of Liberty, a clean toilet is one thing but a toilet you have to polish just seemed stupid. It was pretty old and even after rebuilding it the metal parts of the pump just didn’t function as smoothly as they once did. The new head is the same as the aft head so the rebuild kits are interchangeable now.

We’ve taken the dinghy out Sister’s Creek to the ocean side of Marathon a few times. Out at the end of the Creek is Sombrero Beach. It’s a cool little beach that you can drag your dink up onto and enjoy the day at the beach. Palm trees, white sand, the whole bit. There’s a nearby reef that holds a ton of colorful fish and even some Barracuda and a Moray Eel or two. Things are pretty relaxed here so you can openly have a beer on the beach and let the dogs play in the water.

We also met Skip and Lydia from the vessel Flying Pig. They spent the last 3 years rebuilding and outfitting their Morgan 46 foot sailboat to retire and go cruising on. They got caught unaware and were out in one of the blows that we decided to put out our second anchor. In big seas they were blown off course and at 2300 hours were washed from 20 feet of water up onto a shelf covered by only 3 feet of water. Their boat needs six and a half feet of water to float.

Their boat was immediately on its side and pounded by the surf for hours as the tide went down even further. Tow Boat US responded but wouldn’t come close enough to get them off the boat let alone try to tow the boat from the ledge as the water was too shallow for him and the conditions to rough. The Coast Guard airlifted them of the boat at 0400 the next morning. Their retirement trip lasted exactly 3 days.

The boat was eventually pulled off by a trio boats with the help of 4 divers. Amazingly the only water intrusion was from a thru hull fitting that had been pushed back up through the hull. The boat was towed to Marathon and hauled out for repairs. A local fiberglass guy repaired the smashed rudder and added layer upon layer of glass mat to the ground down areas along the entire starboard side of the hull. When they say Morgan’s are built like tanks, their not kidding.

The violence of their hard grounding was readily apparent. The wind generator was gone and on its way overboard it smashed one of their solar panels. Their mainsail and genoa were both damaged; bulkheads were ripped free from the inside of the hull as well as electronics being damaged by water. The boat is water tight and floating so Skip and Lydia left yesterday to motor back to St. Petersburg to make the rest of the repairs at their home port so they can set out again as soon as possible.

Of note: there is a Cruisers Net here every morning on the VHF at 0900. It’s hosted by a different local everyday and is always interesting. First, new boats to the harbor are invited to introduce themselves then boats departing announce their plans. Then boats with something to sell call out what they have, boats looking for something or wanting to trade something all announce what they have or need. Then there’s general info which could range from a sale on boxed wine at Publix to which barber to avoid. Whatever tidbit you can share with the cruising community is welcome and any info you made need is out there for the asking. The local businesses all take advantage of the opportunity to make announcements about everything from the lunch special to what bands will be on stage tonight. It is quite a handy tool.

I’ve not been writing too much lately when were not moving about as I fear it may be a little too boring. I’ll keep sending these periodic updates and increase the frequency as we get rolling again. Oh, and its 80 degrees and sunny. 

February 8

February 8. Well, we’ve decided to stay for about a month here in Marathon. The weather’s beautiful, there’s everything we need within walking distance and the area is very cruiser supportive.

This past weekend was pretty exciting as the winds built to 20 to 25 knots with higher gusts for more than 2 straight days. We’re the closest boat to the northern shore and the winds were from the northeast so we were pretty safe from having another boat drag down upon us. The winds built Friday night and we were sailing at anchor pretty good so we decided to put out a second anchor on Saturday morning just to be safe.

Our primary anchor was doing a fine job but I’d be kicking myself in the ass if we had dragged and still had 3 big anchors in reserve on the boat. I was debating putting out the second anchor when our neighbor deployed his second anchor, damn peer pressure. I brought the dinghy around to the bow of the boat and Christy lowered the second anchor into the dinghy along with 30 feet of chain and fed out the anchor rode as I motored away into the wind. When we had 120 feet of rode out I dropped the anchor over the side and returned to Veranda and hand set the anchor. It was well set when it was 100 feet from the boat. I pulled it in tight enough to take some of the pressure off the primary anchor and all was well for us.

During the blow when I was returning from walking the dogs I just happened to be looking at our other neighbor’s boat when it broke free from the bottom and took off in the wind. They were only a hundred feet away and dragging down on the unsuspecting boat behind them. As I was approaching I saw their anchor chain snap tight as the anchor luckily reset itself about 12 feet from the boat behind them. I pulled along side and called out to them and as they came topside I told them they were dragging. The captain looked right, forward, left and had a skeptical look on his face until he turned around and almost shit himself.

They had been below, hanging to 1 smallish anchor and had no idea that they were moving. They started their boat and spent a good 20 minutes motoring into the wind while collecting and resetting their anchor more than once. During the blow a few boats dragged but were either behind or off to the side of us.

We spent all day Saturday on the boat watching the situation. On Sunday the winds didn’t exceed 20 knots for several hours so we went ashore to watch the Super Bowl . The place we chose advertised having the biggest screen in Marathon and had a dock so we could dinghy directly there. The covered outdoor patio had a projection television aimed at the side of a tractor trailer parked next to the patio. Quite the big screen. We had a great time with several friends and the crowd was pretty evenly divided so it made for a great atmosphere.

Our friends from Non Linear were setting sail this morning for the Bahamas so we went with them and another couple and dinghied in to a local pub last night for a good bye meal. There was live music and a great time was had by all.

February 1

February 1. Never count on the weather. The wind last night was supposed to clock around to the southeast leaving us protected by Rodriguez Key. Not quite. The wind swung around to the east and piped up to 20 knots for the entire night. We were getting big, sometimes breaking rollers coming right through the anchorage. There were only 6 boats there so there was plenty of room so we put out 100 feet of chain in 10 feet of water with our 66 pound anchor and Veranda rode the swells while we slept soundly below.

This morning we were up at 0530 to launch the dinghy so I could walk the dogs. It was a least a fifteen minute ride each way to cover three quarters of a mile in choppy seas. When I got back it was time to raise the anchor and head south.

The other boats in the anchorage all stayed put, as the weather was calling for 15 to 20 knots from the east building to 20 to 25 by late afternoon. There was no way we were spending another night with so little protection.

Before we departed we put a double reef in the main to make things easier if in fact the winds did build. We headed out into the Hawk Channel and turned south. And their off. We were flying along at better than seven knots with a reefed main and about half the genoa out. The waves breaking over the reef made for a very rolly ride, at times we able to surf some of the swells at close to 9 knots. Needless to say, we made good time.

We are anchored in Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon. This anchorage offers excellent protection from every direction. There are over a hundred mooring balls here and a couple of hundred boats anchored as well. Every mooring is full and there are 35 boats ahead of us on the list to get a ball. We found a spot that we liked and dropped the hook in 9 feet of water.

The anchorage was extremely full and we had to spend a bit of time to find an open spot with enough room for us to swing. This area is a popular staging spot for boats getting ready to leave for the Bahamas. There is supposed to be a good weather window this weekend followed by a week of wind from the wrong direction so there’s a pretty good chance that a lot of these other boats will be leaving this weekend.

There seems to be quite a bit to do here so we will probably be here for a week or two. There’s even a bus line that runs several times a day that will take you all the way to Key West for a dollar. Bargain. We’ve picked out a pub to watch the Super Bowl and we’ll spend tomorrow exploring our new surroundings.

January 31

January 31. We’re up and leaving South Beach at 0700 bound for Rodriguez Key. Rodriguez Key is a small, uninhabited island about a mile off the mainland. The allure is the protection that the small island offers from the south. We are only exposed to the wind and wave action from the east and northeast. Today we rode a 12 to 15 knot north wind all the way here and the wind is supposed to swing around to the southeast later tonight so we should be protected here.

This morning after weighing anchor I was below tending to the electrical panel with Christy at the helm. She calls me up to see what I think about what’s going on nearby. There’s a small uninhabited island about three quarters of a mile from where we were anchored. It’s a state park of some kind and draws people for weekend barbeques and such. As we were passing bye Christy heard screaming and looked to see a dozen or more people on the beach screaming and yelling, waving shirts and jumping up and down. We didn’t dare go in too close to shore so we called the Coast Guard. It took several calls back and forth to make them understand that we saw several very exited people on the isle with no boat in sight and it was our impression that they had been there for the night (high fifties).

They promised to send one of their fast patrol boats to the area and see what was up. 5 minutes later we were contacted by the skipper of the craft and he thanked us for getting involved and said that it had been a serious situation. When we made our turn to the south we could see news choppers hovering over the island. We don’t know what the story is but we think it had a happy ending.

The sail down here was beautiful with the water being very clear at 20 feet deep. We had several dolphins cavorting in our bow wake during the day.

The trip down here from Miami was in a stretch of water known as the Hawks Channel. There’s a barrier reef a mile or two off shore that parallels the mainland for most of the trip down to Key West. So when you look to the east you can see out over the ocean but the waves are breaking on the reef leaving you calm waters to sail in. It’s well marked and has been a delight so far.

January 29

January 29. Okay, a little recap. We’ve been in the South Beach section of Miami since Wednesday of last week. The anchorage is huge with literally miles of protected waters to anchor in. We have a prime spot right in by town and only a ten minute ride to the most secure dinghy landing. There’s also a good spot for walking the dogs at a small park adjacent to the local Miami Marine Patrol station.

The weather has been pretty good since we’ve been here. There were 2 separate fronts with 25 knot winds that came through but we were snug as bugs in our protected spot. The weather has been uncharacteristically cold for 2 days but that means mid sixty degree temperatures.

Ut oh, it’s the cops. We were sitting on the boat enjoying the sunshine on Saturday morning when a police patrol boat swept through the anchorage. The officers were stopping at random boats in the area and as fate would have it, we were second. Recently in Florida there’s been a lot of controversy as to how much authority the local municipal governments can have over cruisers as to where and for how long boaters can stay anchored in town. There is a legitimate problem with derelict boats being anchored and never moving allowing somebody to live there on an eyesore, I understand how the homeowners here with the million dollar homes don’t want Lil’ Abner’s boat in their sunset view. The laws however restrict all boats not just the problem boats. They’re here to hassle us.

Wrong. The 2 cops on board couldn’t have been nicer. They explained to us that the regulations here in South Beach are 7 days of anchoring in a calendar month. They check the anchorage every day, they knew we got here on Wednesday, they filled out a copy of the rules for us to sign, they dated it Saturday and made a point of telling us our 7 days started then, cool. They also repeatedly stressed that they were totally aware that the weather could restrict our ability to safely move from place to place. They want everyone to be safe and asked that if we were to be here longer just keep them informed as to why. Parts being delivered, awaiting mail, a weather window it didn’t matter, they just had to have the answers when they were asked why so and so is still anchored in Shaq’s backyard. They also told us because of our choice of location we would probably be good for quite awhile because we were closer to town and not really in anyone’s private island backyard.

Then we spent 10 minutes talking about places to go in town that wouldn’t break the bank. They cops were real helpful and really seemed interested in us enjoying our time here. Some of the places we’ve seen have been ridiculously priced. 9 dollar beers, gimme a break, the cops sent us to an outdoor mall that was about 8 blocks long. Some of the places were outrageously priced but nestled in among them was a place they suggested “Zeke’s”. 200 different beers, all 3 dollars apiece complete with 50 outdoor tables on the mall. It was freak watching heaven, boob jobs, lip jobs, dogs wearing dresses, tough guys and queers, something for everybody. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.

One night this week while I was walking the dogs a Nordic supermodel and her little white foo-foo dog approached and started to make small talk, that is until Tucker saw her little dog and tried to bite its face off. She was a lot more agile than I expected as she scooped up her little dog and trotted away. When I got back to the boat and told Christy about it I think she gave Tucker a dog treat.

I expected that the Miami area would have a Cuban influence. We were totally surprised as to the extent though. We we’re shocked at how many people speak Spanish here. The bridge keeper has a very thick accent, everyone in the supermarket and most of the people we meet in the street. Its really amazing. A lot of the traffic we hear on the VHF is in Spanish as well.

January 24

January 24. Today at 0700 we left the wall in the New River in the heart of Fort Lauderdale. Christy called the bridge tender and had her start an opening for us before we even untied the boat. We wanted to leave at 0700 and by dumb luck slack tide was at ten minutes of seven so leaving the wall was uneventful.

It was a fairly overcast morning but they were calling for 10 to 15 knots from the east so it should be a pleasant sail south to Miami. What we actually got was 10 to 12 from the southeast so it made for a close reach for about 4 hours. Only an hour into our trip the skies cleared and it turned out to be a beautiful trip south.

We arrived at the Miami inlet during the last hour of the incoming tide and flew through the inlet at over 8 and a half knots. The police presence here is incredible, there were 5 coast guard boats and more than 10 Miami patrol boats milling about the cruise ship piers. We also got passed by 2 big coast guard patrols coming in from sea.

To get to the spot we anchored in was like a trip to grandma’s house, you know, over the river and through the woods. We came in the main channel, turned north and went under a fixed bridge and went through an unmarked channel across a shoal and into an area of wonderful anchorages just south of the Venetian Causeway. We went past the mooring field for the Miami Yacht Club and all the way to a spot due south of Bell Isle 200 yards from South Beach.

Every time we drop the anchor we have a safe arrival cocktail which gives us time to survey our surroundings, watch the other boats come in and fill around us and sit on our own anchor for a while just to make sure everything’s alright. After we’re comfortable with our home for the night we usually set out for shore to get the lay of the land and let the dogs go look for that perfect spot.

Tonight as we were taking the dogs ashore the sky grew very dark and threatening so after the dogs were done we headed back to the boat. It ended up blowing over with nary a drop of rain. We’ll see what South Beach has to offer tomorrow.

January 21

January 21. Taking the dogs out for their morning ritual was an exercise in patience. We couldn’t go cut through the yard of the home under construction as there were people all about. So we went on dinghy about for a couple of miles until I came across a mooring field and took the dinghy through the field until we got to the dock set aside for the mooring field guests. Nobody was any the wiser.

So needless to say, over an hour had passed before we got back to Veranda. When we got back Christy says to hoist the outboard and dinghy as we are leaving as soon as we finish breakfast. John over on Non Linear had contacted the Riverwalk Marina and there were 3 spaces available on a first come first serve basis. The boats are side tied to a wall on a very busy canal that runs through the heart of Fort Lauderdale. It’s a very cool spot as there are shops and pubs along this beautiful stone promenade. John also says arriving at this spot should only be attempted at slack tide.

Turns out he was right, we got there right on time and I wouldn’t have wanted to do that with any type of current either with or against us. Holy crap, what a nightmare. We come through a drawbridge and the marina has a long wall of slips on our left side. The canal is lined with boats on both sides and there’s not 75 feet of water in between either side with a constant flow of boats transiting this tight space. We pass every boat until we get to the far end and manage to turn both boats around and pull into a space that will accommodate both boats. Once we’re safely tied up (no small feat) a dock attendant comes over and tells us that we are in the wrong marina. There’s room for 12 boats on the wall and we need to move forward several spots to be in the right (cheap) place. So we untie and redock 500 feet forward of where we just were. It was busy as hell with boat traffic with barely enough room for them to pass around you as you were parallel parking, god forbid they wait 30 seconds to make life easier for everyone involved. Its like trying to parallel park on the Parkway.

We’re going to be here for 2 nights as there are supposed to be several places here in town that we would like to go shopping for a new dinghy . Our dinghy has been treating us well and the patch I put on in Oriental, N.C. is holding up well. It just that it too small. With Christy and I with the dogs it can be a very wet ride if there’s any kind of chop on the water. The dinghy is just so important to our every day routine that this is no place to cut corners. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

January 20

January 20. We’ve spent a few days in Lake Worth. It’s been more aptly named Lake Worthless by the cruising community because of the theft problems and the lack of someplace decent to land your dinghy. There’s just a tiny wedge of sand that’s barely big enough for 6 dinghies at low tide. On the plus side though is a West Marine within walking distance and a supermarket even closer.

Yesterday Christy found a place within walking distance to have the dogs groomed. She and Marcia walked the dogs there and had lunch and did some shopping while the dogs were made to look like Schnauzers again. So of course this morning after pooping the dogs at 0600 I thought that I should take a little extra care in wiping the dogs wet feet when I brought them back to the boat. So I hoist both dogs up onto the boat from the dinghy just like every other day and when I climb up with them I spend a little more time than usual wiping the dog’s feet with a dry towel. Then as I send the dogs forward to get into the cockpit I turn around and realize that I forgot to tie the dinghy to the boat.

It has now drifted a hundred feet away and is getting further by the moment. Shit. I strip off my hoody, tee shirt and my shoes and dive into the water to chase after the dinghy. Wow, the water is warm. Thank you Jesus. Before I dove in I banged on the hull and called Christy up on deck, she arrives topside just as I’m dragging the dinghy back to the boat. She’s naked and screaming “Oh my God how’d you fall into the water?”. I get the dinghy tied to the boat; send her below with an explanation of what happened. Stupid dinghy.

Okay, hoist the outboard and the dinghy, check the fluids, take a quick shower and its time to weigh anchor. All goes well and we’re on our way. Today will be a fifty mile trip to Fort Lauderdale. We are only 4 miles from the Lake Worth inlet which is a nice, Class A inlet. If we travel on the inside down the ICW we will have to open 20 bridges but if we go out into the ocean we will only have to open 1. No brainer.

The wind was from the north at 12 knots or so and we had a wonderful sail south. We dragged a hand line behind the boat in the hopes of catching a fresh fish samich. No luck fishing though, just as well as the day was to nice to even think about cleaning a fish on deck today.

We did encounter schools of flying fish today, it was the first time Christy or I had ever seen them. It was bizarre to watch how far they could fly and even change direction in mid flight. The water was the most beautiful blue today as well.

When we got to Port Everglades, another nice Class A inlet it was just a quick 2 mile trip to Lake Sylvia our intended stop for the night. The 2 mile trip was an eye opener, most cruisers won’t travel on the weekends here in Florida as most of the boat operators here are completely clueless nitwits. We saw more people be less considerate and do more stupid shit in 2 miles than we’ve seen in the last 1300 miles. We got into Lake Sylvia at about 1500 hours and spent the next hour and a half watching the worst display of anchoring that we’ve ever witnessed. These people are making every mistake in the book and some of them seem to be writing a few of their own chapters as well. It was wonderful entertainment and went very nicely with our post anchoring cocktails.

Fort Lauderdale is called Fort La Ti Da or Fort Liquordale by the cruising community. This place just oozes money and excess. When it was time to walk the dogs this evening we were pretty much stuck for someplace convenient as we are in a very small lake with just a narrow entrance from the ICW. The lake is surrounded on all sides by opulent houses and manicured properties. However, there was one home under construction with the bulk heading already done, looked like an invitation to me. Under the cover of darkness we took the dogs to shore to this home. Christy waited in the dinghy while I took the dogs through the yard and out to the street to take care of business. Of course the yard they both just had to have was so impeccably maintained it looked as if the lawn had just been combed. It was evidently very special to the dogs as it brought about simultaneous dumping with the need for just one bag. Awesome. The coveted puppy trifecta.

Another addition for the dictionary:

Bitch Wings……….If you’re concerned about the new arrival into the anchorages obvious lack of anchoring skills you can go stand on the bow of your boat and stare. If your disapproval goes unheeded you put your hands on your hips with both elbows sticking out, these are your Bitch Wings.
Upon seeing the Bitch Wings even the most oblivious weekend boater will become instantly aware of his boat handling shortcomings and remove himself and his vessel from your presence.
If you decide to use the Bitch Wings on your own please be forewarned. If, while in the Bitch Wing stance you decide to throw in a loud “Are you kidding me?” or an even more thoughtless “What The F**k?” there is a good chance that you can make the recipient instantly impotent and I’ve even heard of extreme cases where the mans genitals actually fell from his body to the deck of his boat. Use the power wisely.

Boat Name of the Day………..A Sportfisherman named “Duck Duck Goose” Made me laugh when we heard it on the radio because I just pictured a grown man running around in circles chasing his fishing buddies every time he said Duck Duck Goose.

January 16

January 16. This morning before we left Peck Lake we were in for a real nature show. All night long there had been fish jumping out of the water. It was hard to imagine that there could really be that many fish there. When we started the engine to get ready to pull the anchor we realized that along the entire side of the shady side of the boat was a school of 18 inch long needle like Gars (fish). They were just holding their position in unison and hanging in the early morning shade of our boat.

The ride south today was only a 4 hour trip. There were several bridges, opulent riverfront homes and a lot of boat traffic. There was one section of 3 bridges within one mile of each other. At one of the bridges as we were waiting for it to open we realized that we could see the bottom 12 feet below us through the perfect turquoise water.

We are now in the Lake Worth anchorage. The blow we were expecting should be from the north and we are the northern most boat in the anchorage so we should be plenty protected. The weather report has changed for the better and the bad weather looks to be milder than previously reported. Better safe than sorry so we’ll still be here for 2 days or so even though the weather should be okay.

We walked close to a mile to West Marine (where else) today to see if a part we had ordered had arrived on time. It was supposed to get there on Wednesday and when we inquired where our part was they kindly pointed out that it was only Tuesday so we’ll get to make that walk again tomorrow. And to think, it was me who vetoed having a calendar on board.

Lake Worth is the first place where security can be an issue. It’s a sad slap back to the reality of today’s world. Everywhere we’ve gone we’ve been able to leave the dinghy for hours at a time with no worries about theft. The guide books all say from here through Miami you had better lock everything up or don’t be surprised if it’s gone when you get back. After the cruising Nirvana of Vero Beach this is a real smack in the face. We have a 16 foot cable with swaged ends and a couple of heavy duty locks so we can lock the dinghy when we come ashore. There are a couple of heavy chains welded in place along the water front so you have something decent to secure your dinghy and outboard to. We even have to pick the dinghy and outboard up onto the boat at night as people have had theirs stolen while they were tied to their boat overnight. If we had a calendar I’d cross off the days until we leave here. 

January 15

January 15 (if that’s Mondays date). We wanted to be the first boat to the fuel dock this morning as we had heard a lot of people talking about leaving Vero Beach this morning so we were at the fuel dock when it opened at 0700. There was a 50 foot power boat spending the night on the dock so we were only able to squeeze half of our boat in but it was good enough and after taking on 150 gallons of water, 3 gallons of gasoline for the dinghy and 46 gallons of diesel we were on our way.

The trip south to Peck Lake was an uneventful 36 miles. The water is definitely turning much more beautiful shades of blue and green. Christy was taking a shower and Rover and I were steering the boat when I saw a pod of dolphins playing ahead of us. I grabbed the camera and left Rover in charge and went forward to get some dolphin on the bow photos. I took a couple of great shots; I even had a dolphin roll to his side and smile for me. I spent a good portion of the day bragging to Christy about the pictorial treat she was in for this evening. I uploaded all the photos and came to the realization that photography is not my strong suit. Damn. I was sure they were going to be Life Magazine quality.

On the charts Peck Lake is just a section of the ICW with a wide body of very shallow water on both sides. It’s charted as 1 to 2 feet deep on both charts we had for the area and also in our chart plotter. According to Skipper Bob (RIP) there is a path into a deeper pocket of water that is big enough for a few boats to spend the night. We follow the directions and are able to get within 60 yards of the shore and drop the hook in 10 feet of water. After us, a few more boats arrived and now we have our own little anchorage of 8 boats. The attraction of Peck Lake is that once you dinghy ashore you are less than a hundred yards from the ocean. It’s very much like the arrangement at Tices Shoal except that the ocean is much closer. We can hear it crashing ashore as we sit on our boat.

We walked the ocean front and did a little shelling before being forced back to the boat by some ominous looking rain clouds. The weather is supposed to turn ugly tomorrow night so we will being making a short run to Lake Worth and will probably end up spending 2 nights there to wait out the storm front.

January 5

January 5. Happy Birthday Chris! We will be in Vero Beach for a few days so I will be taking another short hiatus from our daily reports. The weather here is between 75 and 82 degrees, there’s been sunshine and 15 to 20 knots of wind for the entire day so the batteries are completely charged.

The wind did make for some good boat watching today. You hear boats call in on the VHF and ask for a mooring ball assignment. You sit and pray, as everyone else does, that the ball you’re on does not get called out. You really don’t want to share a ball if you don’t have too. I mean, I like people, it’s just that I like em’ more over there than over here. The wind was kicking today so anytime a boat came into pick up a ball that already had a boat on it, it became an adventure. We see a lot of people make really silly decisions and you can’t help but wonder what were they thinking and how did they survive up until today.

We took the free bus into town and went to a dive shop, West Marine (of course) and a food store. Things went well and we were back on the boat around noon. I spent the day doing boat projects, mostly minor improvements to increase the livability of the boat.

In the evening we went over to Non Linear for a cocktail hour (or 2). They seem to know 25 percent of the people here from having cruised for over 5 years now. We thought that we had learned so much before we left but it’s amazing how many tricks we’ve been able to pick up from all the people that we’ve met.

Boat Name of the Day goes to a sailboat named Cloud. I know its nothing special but his dinghy was named Silver Lining, as in every Cloud has its Silver Lining.

January 3 & 4

January 3 & 4. Long frustrating day of motoring dead into the wind. On the bright side though, it was straight south and not like so many days we’ve spent meandering through South Carolina and Georgia.

We stopped about 1600 hours and dropped the hook in 8 feet of water in the lee of the Melbourne Bridge. There were several boats anchored at the other end of the bridge and they were more protected from the wind. Our chosen spot was only large enough to protect a few boats from the wind and as we were the only 2 boats there it worked out perfectly. The reason Jon favored this end of the bridge was that directly in front of us was the public library and we were able to grab their Wifi signal from the boats.

Free Wifi, protected spot, easy dog walking and a West Marine within walking distance. Cruising Nirvana.

On the fourth we were up and on our way at 0730. The dog walking was extra special this morning as we were surrounded by dolphins while taking the dinghy to shore.

Today was a lot like yesterday as we motored straight into the wind all day. The good part about today was that it was a short day as we were stopping in Vero Beach for a couple of days. We were in the anchorage by 1330 hours.

There is no room to anchor in the protected basin as the entire area is covered with mooring balls. This anchorage is so popular that it’s not uncommon for 3 boats to hang from the same mooring ball. On the radio the harbor master told us that there were no empty moorings for us to share together so they sent Non Linear in search of mooring # 43 to raft up with whatever boat was already there.

We were sent to ball # 44 to raft up with a boat named Adios. When we both reached our respective moorings we found them both unoccupied. Awesome. Evidently both of the boats had left without checking out so for the time being we both have moorings to ourselves.

Cruisers are quite fond of staying in Vero Beach as so much is in their favor here. There’s an awesome free bus line that runs during daylight hours and you can travel anywhere in town. There’s a West Marine, food stores, post office and everything else you can think of. The mooring balls cost 10 dollars a night. So the bottom line is that it’s cheap, clean, the weathers beautiful and it’s easy to get around. Its so cruiser friendly that the town has the nick name of Velcro Beach because once you’re here you can’t seem to tear yourself away.

Of course my introduction to town went a little differently. The moment we stepped off the dinghy we start up the path from the dock to land some old man stops his van in front of Christy and says “You’re not in New Jersey anymore so make sure you clean up after your dogs”. I had to ask her what he said because I couldn’t believe anyone could be such an ass. So the dogs do their business and now I’m carrying the bag around as we stroll hoping to run into Joe Welcomecenter one more time.

Next up, Christy and I walk to the dock masters office and while she’s inside checking in I’m outside standing there with the dogs. An older guy walks up, pets them and says to me that their too skinny. I tell him that their both the ideal weights for their breed. He looks me in the eye and with a scolding aire tells me that I don’t feed my dogs enough and wheels and strides away. I’ve been here 10 minutes, been bitched at by 2 strangers and standing here holding a bag of dogshit. Welcome to Velcro Beach. The next old man that speaks to me better be telling me I won the lottery or something.

January 2

January 2. We are anchored north of the Bridge of Lions and have to go through at the 0700 opening to rendezvous with Non Linear who will be hauling anchor at 0700. I set the alarm for 0550 so I can get the dogs to shore, get back and stow the dinghy, haul the anchor that’s been set for days and make the bridge opening in time.

As I come back to the boat with the dogs Christy is on deck and says “Do you realize that it’s only 0530?” It turns out that as I set the clock I inadvertently moved the time of day an hour ahead. Stupid clock. So now we stow the dinghy and dilly dally before starting the engine so we can pull the anchor and make the 0700 opening. The anchor comes up no problemo. Love the windlass, hate the clock. So we’re real early and make the 0630 opening, luckily John heard us talking to the bridge tender and was up and running when we got there.

Now with the early start we had an excellent push for hours and were making great time. Today was a day of firsts. Today was the first day we’ve ever left an hour early and after 1123 nautical miles was the first day we’ve ever run aground. Sailing down a narrow section of ICW just above New Smyrna Beach we turn a corner and the water is full of 18 foot fishing boats with guys throwing casting nets. One crosses our bow from right to left and drags his feet about it so we have to veer a little more to the right than I would like too. Then the A-hole makes a quick u-turn and parallels our course, all 3 guys on board are looking away as they crowd us closer and closer. I go out on deck and start to drop sail when we hit hard aground. I thought Christy was tired of me and was trying to pitch me overboard then I realized that she would be smart enough to wait for nightfall.

Out of nowhere a larger center console shows up and is acting like he’s concerned and looking to help. Yeah right, one guy runs you aground and his buddy shows up looking to help for a couple of bucks. My ass. We were able to power off after using the bow thruster to push the bow back towards the deep water and then applying liberal amounts of throttle.

Love………The windlass and the bow thruster. Hate……..The stupid clock and fishermen.

Our next first for the day occurred shortly thereafter, a Manatee. We were in a large pod of dolphins when something bigger and weirder caught our eye. It was huge and was surprisingly agile as it dove and swam away.

At the end of the day we were making such good time we decided to keep going and stop wherever we could for the night. We ended up in a channel that was 70 yards wide for more than 10 miles as night began to fall. We were stuck with pretty much no options. It was like looking for a place to park as you drove through the Lincoln Tunnel. We ended up in 7 feet of water a hundred feet out of the ICW with nothing but a huge body of shallow water surrounding us. Walking the dogs involved a half mile dinghy ride to the nearest island in the pitch dark. It sucked but that’s the price you pay for a 73 nautical mile day.

January 1

January 1. Its time to start our trek south again. We’ve been here in Saint Augustine for 14 days and it’s finally time to move on.

Three of the kids were able to fly into Saint Augustine and spend 4 days with us between the holidays. We got here around the 19th of December and the kids didn’t arrive until the 26th so we had plenty of time to scope out the town and get the lay of the land.

Saint Augustine is the oldest city in North America and has been remarkably well preserved. Once the kids got here we did the tourist thing and saw the Fort and walked to the light house which I’m sure was quite like the Bataan death march. Then it was pretty much a drink and eat-a-thon with a little shopping thrown in for good measure.

After the kids were gone Christy and I spent the the next couple of days doing boat chores and celebrating the arrival of the New Year. We had New Years Eve dinner with Jon & Marcia who we’ve been traveling with and Pat and Eddie, the cruisers we met that had blown their engine in South Carolina. They showed up in Saint Augustine just this morning. Dinner was in an outdoor garden atmosphere with live music and bathed in the glow of a thousand tiny white lights, it was beautiful. We stretched dinner for a couple of hours before we went in search of a pub worthy of a fitting New Years celebration. We ended up at the Milltop which could be described as semi diveish but with a comfortable feel. There was a 4 dollar cover charge at the door so we felt for that kind of money something special was afoot. Plastic party hats, noise makers and the absolute worst champagne I’ve ever tasted. God, we had a good time.

It’s been great here but its time to go.

December 23

December 23. We decided to take a slip for the holidays so today we hauled our anchor that has been set for 4 nights. It all went well and we timed it so that once the anchor was up we would be able to make the next available bridge opening. Once into the marina and safely tied up we took the dogs for a walk.

When we got back to the boat we heard a new sound. It was the sound of some tiny bottom cleaning fish eating away at the slime on our hull. It’s amazing how loud these tiny creatures are. Its sounds like a hail storm against the windows of your house.

Spent some time doing boat chores and then we went into town to walk around some more. There’s a ton of stuff to see here in Saint Augustine

December 21 & 22

December 21 & 22. The days now are composed of waiting for the holidays to arrive. We’re sitting here doing boat chores and walking the town sightseeing. John and Marsha rented a car so we went with them inland to a large grocery store and West Marine. We spent a good part of both days shopping since they have a car.

The first day we had so much crap in the dinghy that Christy had to ride back to our boat as a passenger in John and Marsha’s dinghy. The weather has been in the seventies since our arrival in Saint Augustine although it has been grey and threatening rain a lot of the time. The upcoming week promises to be nicer.

After our night on the town the other night we were in the dinghy when we saw a guy having a hissy fit out in the middle of the river in his dinghy. We went over to see what the problem was and it turns out he was trying to row his inflatable dinghy against that fierce current and one of the oars kept popping out of the oarlock. He had been screaming, cursing and smashing his paddle against the surface of the water, let’s just say his composure had taken a time out. Anyway, we took a line from him and towed him over to his boat. I would have written this in the other day’s trip report but it just came back to us today. Lol.

Non Linear at anchor in front of the Castillo De San Marcos.

December 20

December 20. Today we rolled out of bed at 0830 and it felt like noon. After the walking of the dogs I dropped the dogs back at the boat and picked up Christy and our laundry. Laundry is the biggest adjustment we’ve had to make. It was always so easy to just throw some stuff in the machine and go off in the house to do something else. Now it’s a coordinated event that takes planning and preparation such as hoarding quarters for the machine. It’s also a social experience as there are always some other cruisers there to compare ordeals and adventures with.

Laundry took us close to noon to complete so we had a couple of hours to kill before slack tide. Our dinghy ride into town takes us under the Bridge of Lions and the current rips through so slack tide makes for an easier / drier ride. So since we had time we crossed the street and took our laundry to lunch at the A1A Brewery. The homemade beer was good as was the food.

In the evening Christy and I left the dogs aboard and took a long walk around town and saw as much as we could before we stopped at the Milltop Inn. It’s an old water wheel driven grist mill that is now a pub with live music. We ate and drank for hours and as we were leaving in walks a couple we had dinner with 4 nights and 200 miles ago. So we turn around and sit again and proceed to drink too much. Tom is an amateur musician and he asks the guitarist if he can join him for a little impromptu jam and gets rebuked. So off we go in search of a bar Christy and I walked past and saw some music happening last night.

We get to the Tropic Tavern and walk into a Twilight Zone episode. The place was packed and had something for everyone. The band was playing Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top type music. The base player / singer was a little fat man wearing a Santa suit and swilling beer. The band rocked and the place was jumpin. There had been a wedding on the town green a little earlier and the bar had cumber bund wearing wedding goers dancing next to biker trash. It was awesome.

During a break Tom approaches Santa about jumping in on the next set. When the bands starts playing again Tom jumps on stage and blows the crowd away with his harmonica. After a few songs Tom retires from the stage and we finish up and head back to our respective boats. Tom and his wife Audie are leaving tomorrow morning as they continue south to the keys.

It’s been a wonderful day.

December 19

December 19. On our way by 0700. Hauling the new anchor has been a labor of love, it bites the bottom hard and brings up a bucket load of whatever the bottoms made of. Christy drives the boat forward while I take in the slack with the anchor windlass and wash the chain with the anchor wash down pump. We make an efficient team deploying and recovering the anchor.

Today’s trip was a long motor sail all the way to Saint Augustine. We made good time in spite of adverse current for more than half the day. The bridges today were treacherous as the current was ripping through against us as we went under 3 of them. At the first one when Non Linear was about half way through his boat suddenly veered hard to port and at first I thought maybe he fell asleep at the wheel, but then I realized just how fierce the current was. When it was our turn we were making good progress but the current practically stopped us dead, adding power was frustrating as the boat slowly made its way forward against the water. At the second 2 bridges I stayed back a little further and let John get out of the way before we came through as fast as Veranda could go.

Entering the harbor in front of the Castillo de San Marcos has been a goal of mine for a great many years and to finally accomplish this under sail was very gratifying. We circled a few times to check the depths of the spots available to us. After anchoring we decided that we really didn’t have enough room to swing about because of the proximity of the other boats so we raised anchor and picked a new spot. There’s a lot of room near a huge steel ketch rigged boat in the center of the anchorage so we picked a spot near her stern and dropped the anchor again.

Anchoring now is very different than anything we were used too back in New Jersey. Most of the anchorages are very much influenced by current flow and a good anchor set is crucial. Every six hours the boats in the anchorage all slowly turn about and face the current in unison as if guided by some unknown choreographer.

After the boat was well set we dinghied into town and took a quick tour of the town with the dogs. We didn’t dilly dally as we wanted to see how the boats around us were going to be swinging at the next change of tide at 2150 hours.

All went well and we retired happy in knowing that we didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to follow “that guy”.

Boat name of the day was a power boat named Ophelia Phanny. Odd lot, those power boaters.

December 18

December 18. Today we stopped for diesel in Fernandina Beach, FLORIDA! Yes that’s right, we’re here in Florida. We stopped for fuel then anchored in the anchorage across the ICW from the fuel dock. Its been 1010 nautical miles which translates into roughly 1160 statute miles, it feels it. It really seems like along time since we left New Jersey but in spite of our mechanical failures it was a trip I look forward to doing again.

When we got here there was a huge Island Packet on the fuel dock ahead of us. On their davits was the exact dinghy that Christy and I were looking to buy so off she went to talk them up about whether or not it was as good a choice as we hoped it would be. She came back with rave reviews about the dinghy and the scoop on their trip down from Rhode Island. They left in September, have broken down at least once a week and have been sitting here at the fuel dock for a week trying to get a fuel delivery problem solved. This is a six year old, million dollar vessel. Christy feels much better about our trip now.

We went and walked around Fernandina with John and Marsha. Found a nice pub and walked right into happy hour. Afterwards we walked around and found a nice grille to have dinner. Dinghied back to the boat and fussed about, wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean. 

December 17

December 17. Morning finds us anchored in the Ogeechee River in Georgia. We’re pulling the anchor at 0700 so I’m up at 0600 to do boat chores and take care of the dogs. By the time I’m back with the dogs Christy has the boat squared away and we’re ready to go.

This morning the dogs and I are walking on the same tiny strip of beach from last night and its dark as hell. It’s surrounded on all sides by tall marsh grass except for the small opening we land the dinghy at. Molly’s done with business so she’s lagging behind as Tucker searches for just the right spot dragging me along with him. Suddenly there’s an explosion of sound practically at our feet as a full grown alligator lunges from the weeds. Tucker and I almost kill each other trying to get back out of the beasts way. Then in a moment of clarity I realize that it’s not that big a beast, nor is it an alligator, it’s a pelican. But it was big, no really, kinda scary too, huge beak and all. Coulda lost an eye or something. Tucker may need therapy.

So we were underway at 0700 with the ships compliment physically unscathed. It was another day of following Non Linear south. Georgia is the only state that says they don’t have the money to keep the ICW dredged as the rest of the states do. It shows. Today the tides were in our favor as we hit the worst of the areas with the tide full or close to it. Also on the plus side was the fact that there are very few bridges, we had none in our 56 mile day today.

We still had plenty of hide and go seek with the deep water and the day was quite tedious. We’re anchored in a small stream tonight called the Frederica River. It branches off from the ICW for about 7 miles then reconnects further downstream. Two thirds of the way down the Frederica is a state park with the remains of an English fort built in 1736 to protect English interests in the new world from the Spanish in what is now Florida. The dogs enjoyed it and so did we but in different ways.

December 16

December 16. Yesterday was a 69 mile day and today was a 59 miler. It’s become very clear to me the importance of tidal flow. A knot or 2 of ebb or flood tide can make or break the day. We cross so many small tidal plains during the course of the day that it’s a very interesting challenge.

So today was our first day traveling with Non Linear. Things went well as we followed them at a safe distance for the entire day. It was actually a little boring and there were a few times that I had no idea where we were on the chart, I was just following “that guy”. It was good to not have too much thinking to do today as I’ve got a pretty good cold and would rather just sit and follow “that guy”. When depths were sketchy I would just drop a little further back and when they turned hard left or right to refind the deep water I would just adjust 10 degrees port or starboard and cruise through with no problem. They did run aground pretty good in a tough to navigate stretch near the end of the day. Welcome to Georgia. They were able to back off with no harm done and once the safe water was found we were back on our way.

We’ve anchored in a basin along the Ogeechee River. There’s absolutely nothing around, I’ve been using the word desolate lately and until this place I had no idea what it really meant. This river is just a meandering stream through never ending marsh grass with nothing tall around for miles. I can’t grasp how big this country really is but it only adds to the pride I feel when I raise our flag every morning.

Tonight the pooping of the dogs meant a dinghy ride along the marsh grass looking for someplace to put ashore. It’s just dark when I find a suitable landing spot and gently drive the dinghy up onto the “beach”. The beach is actually more clam shells than I’ve ever seen but it’s the only break in the grass for at least a mile. The dogs are in their lifejackets and have handles on their backs so after I step from the dinghy I pull it up the beach and grab my canine luggage and place them up on dry beach. The beach is small and surrounded by more grass than I’ve ever seen. The dogs take care of business and its back in the dinghy and off to Veranda.

Boat Name of the Day is a power boat named………Come Good Home. Is he kidding? What the hell is that, Come Good Home. Christy and I both saw it plain as day, Come Good Home. What? Was that his mom’s name? Looked like a fourth grade spelling bee. Come Good Home, Jesus.
0700 again tomorrow with sunshine and temps in the mid seventies again. Sniff.