Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 29, 2011.

Since we're pretty much done with the ICW for a while I though I'd share some of our recent sightings.

We watched as this southbound trawler barreled straight between 2 red ICW markers. I called him and asked where he was going and he swerved straight back into the channel. He said he mistook the second one for green....

Who knew you could stack trailers 3 high?

A hell of a lot of clams. A nice mornings work....

Some pinks and some greens........

Cute boat but I was jealous of his dinghy....

Nobody likes wind blown tides.

Hawaiian high speed ferries in Norfolk?

Little tug, huge crane does he see where hes going?

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 28, 2011.

Thank God we decided to get through the Alligator River swing bridge because it’s closed for the day due to high winds.

NOAA (Not Overly Accurate Assessment) has convinced us to stay put for the day so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

But not everybody sails from the same playbook. Just after noon we heard a Mayday broadcast. It seems a zany pair of Frenadians decided that today would be a fine day to cross the Albemarle Sound. Actually he was probably the zany one, she was sounding pretty distraught, pleading with the Coast Guard for some help as she was in fear for her life.

From what we were able to piece together they had run aground and were helped off earlier in the day. Even so, they decided to continue on. She said that their anchor had fallen off the boat, the bilge pump was running constantly, the water was “on her feet” but that the captain was insisting that they weren’t taking on any water. The depth sounder had quit and the winds were driving them onto the lee shore.

She was reporting 40 knots of wind with 6 foot seas. The Sound is only 20 feet deep and when you get big seas like that it can be a nasty, nasty chop. When I fired up the laptop and put in their coordinates they were only 4 miles off our bow. Of course we were anchored at the mouth of Broad Creek behind Camden Point while they were out in the Albemarle Sound.

We entered the North River yesterday with a lot of wind blowing up our skirt and it was not too much fun. They had even more wind, no depth sounder so they were headed for the Pasquotank River. Its wider, a littler deeper and has a more forgiving an entrance. Once inside the seas should abate and make their trip more manageable.

The Coast Guard dispatched a small boat to guide them in. The woman said they were attempting to get in to Elizabeth City for the night. They either didn’t check or chose to ignore the weather forecast and now they’re headed for Elizabeth City which is on the route to the Dismal Swamp. Which has a mean controlling depth of 6 feet; they have a 7 foot keel. You might be able to scrape through but I’m seeing some backtracking in their future.

They guarantee you 6 feet of water; there might be more but there might not. No depth sounder, 6 feet of water and a 7 foot keel. I’m not sure how that works out when you convert it all to the metric system but I’m thinkin’ 7’s always gonna be bigger than 6. They seem to really be going out of their way to make this a memorable trip. Viva La Frenadians…..

PS They did make it safely into a marina in Elizabeth City with a Coast Guard small boat escort.
April 27, 2011.

The wind blew stink all night but we slept like babes in the anchorage at the southern end of the Pungo Canal. Today’s forecast was a bit more optimistic than yesterdays. 85 degrees with a 30% chance of rain and lighter winds in the 10 to 17 knot range. Splendid.

So I wasn’t surprised to rise at 0630 to the steady patter of rain on the cabin top. We motorsailed through the canal in about 12 knots of breeze. On the bright side….the rain stopped and the day turned beautiful. On the not so bright side…..12 knots in the protected canal led me to believe that there was gonna be a heck of a lot more going on when we reached the open water of the Alligator River……and we have a winner!

17 knots my ass. First Edition had some issues pulling their hook in the morning so we were a few miles ahead of them when we turned north into the Alligator River. 12 miles away is a swing bridge so I was dragging my feet waiting for First Edition so we could both make the same opening. I had a slice of genoa out and we were doing about 5 knots running dead down wind in 20 to 24 knots of apparent wind.

They caught us before the bridge, I let some more headsail out and sped up to 6 knots. They ended up having to wait for us but we both made the opening. We motored through the bridge but had the engine off and were under sail 60 seconds after getting through. We were able to sail the rest of the way out of the Alligator and headed out to cross the Albemarle Sound.

We had 80% of the genoa out with the wind at a perfect angle just over our shoulder. The wind was gusting 18 to 28 knots apparent. It was honkin’ and we were flyin’. The Albemarle can kick your ass when that whole wind versus tide thing happens. With the wind from the south it was awesome. The tide was flooding but we were crossing it and it made no difference.

About half way across I was sitting there trying to remember a better crossing of the Albemarle. And then our rocket sled ride across fairly flat waters became a rocket sled ride down a flight of stairs. It seems that the big southerly wind was piling the water up against the northern shore. You know, the shore with the gap that we’d like to sail into.

About 4 ½ miles out we reduced sail to slow the boat down. We had rolling 5 footers coming under the stern. We were going to have to jibe on our trip in and I didn’t want to be jibing with that much sail exposed. The trip across the sound took about 37 seconds as we saw boat speeds between 6 and 9.4 knots. Between the gusts and the surfing Mr. Toad had nothing on the last half of this wild ride.

Once inside we veered off to the Broad Creek anchorage. The wind was honking between 22 and 35 knots. The forecast for the last 2 days has been much brighter than the weather we’ve experienced. Tomorrows forecast is calling for the worst weather of the week. This one they’ll probably get right. But with how they’ve been undershooting the mark we’re expecting Armageddon and may stay put.
April 26, 2011.

Tuesday….85 degrees, south winds 15 to 20 with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. That was the forecast. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha …….

We eeked our way out of Whitaker Creek at 0700. We raised all sail as we turned to head northeast. The wind was a little light but the beautiful clear blue skies more than made up for it. For a while. Then we reached the southern end of Goose Creek. It was looking a little crappy with ominus gray clouds here and there. We were sailing northwest, about to turn due north into Goose Creek when a 40 knot squall ran us over with all sail up. Whoa Nelly.

We immediately dumped the mainsail and we were still WAY overpowered. I had to turn and face the squall as running before it into the narrow entrance channel with all sail up was not an option. Once hard on the wind we sheeted the main tight and furled the genoa as quickly as we could as it flapped wildly in the gale force wind.

The genoa was furled in moments, the squall was past in 2 minutes but none of it was fast enough. The last 6 feet of the sacrificial covering on the genoa had torn loose along the foot of the sail. Crap. I’m a sailor damn it, I need that sail, we’ll have to fix it.

Once in Goose Creek with 20 knots directly behind us we sheeted the main tight and sailed as slowly as possible. I pulled out 10 feet of genoa and sheeted both jib sheets tight. This left the sail hanging in the center of the foredeck where I could work on it.

I got out our sewing kit and went to work. It took over an hour but I hand stitched it and had the sail usable before we left the protected confines of the creek. At Christy’s suggestion we also put a double reef in the mainsail. Hindsight being what it is, thank God she thought of it.

The rest of the day pretty much sucked as we had 20 knots or better directly behind us. We were overtaken by several more vicious small squalls with us seeing 35 knots apparent more often than not. Oh and lets not forget the biblical proportions of rain. 20% chance my ass.

The bright spot in the day was sharing an anchorage with First Edition whom we haven’t seen since February in the Jumentos.
April 25, 2011.

We had the choice of a 2 day trip up the inside or waiting 3 days for the wind to turn back in our favor. So it was up the ICW for us.

On the first day we did 3 bridges as we motored north into 5 knots of breeze. About an hour before our intended stop at Mile Hammock Bay the wind kicked up to 15 knots on the nose. The weatherman was predicting more for late afternoon. It worked out perfectly because as we turned off the ICW and into the anchorage the wind piped up to 30 knots.

We were the first boat into the anchorage and in the next 2 hours another 8 boats filled in around us. Mile Hammock Bay is part of the military reservation at Camp Lejune and we ate dinner to the sounds of a live fire artillery barrage. Oooh romantic.

The next day we were up early and busted ass to get Oriental. With the breeze brisk from the northeast crossing the Neuse River was a bit sporty but we had loads of water as we eased our way into Whitaker Creek.

We’re tied to the dock behind our friends Ken & Carol’s house. Whenever we’re here we try and knock out as many niggling chores as we can. First and foremost was eating as much pizza as I could stomach at Silos. Then we defrosted the fridge, bathed and groomed Tucker, did laundry, bought groceries, visited our stuff at the consignment shop, hit the Post Office, filled a propane tank, Flitzed the stainless, topped off the fresh water tank, dealt with a head issue and pulled all the curtains down, laundered them and wiped the walls and ceilings with an anti mold cleaner.

We enjoyed a fabulous Easter meal and the even more popular Easter meal leftovers the next day. The Veranda and Tucker are clean, my stomach is full and its time to get back on the road north….

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 22, 2011.

We’ve anchored in Wrightsville Beach before and hated it. The only reason we’re here again is because it’s a weekday and the weather is overcast and cool. The last time we were here we had at least 10 ski boats slaloming through the anchorage all day, accompanied by the obligatory jet ski’s wreaking their own special kind of havoc.

We did see this guy though. He was all alone and obviously playing "solo charades". Luckily for him I was there to appreciate him at his craft. This one was a toss up for me. Its either "fat guy sniper victim" or "fat guy napping in the sun". He really nailed the fat guy part, the rest of it was a little unclear to me.

As forecast the wind kicked up a bit during the evening and I was kinda kicking myself in the ass about being here rather than continuing on. That is until I turned on the VHF the next morning. We listened as a pair of women recounted one of the boats experience the previous evening.

It seems that 3 sailboats were traveling together, crossing from the Bahamas and headed in towards the Cape Fear River just before midnight. They were getting pummeled a bit and decided to cut their trip to Beaufort short. It was time to start the engine and one of the boats wouldn’t start. The wind and seas were up and the first 2 boats made it safely into the river. The third boat decided to stay offshore rather than commit to trying the channel into the river without their engine.

Rather than choosing to heave to or continuing on towards Beaufort, NC they chose to drop the hook. In the freaking ocean. She was relaying the story of their horrific evening spent anchored on Frying Pan Shoal about 30 miles south of Wrightsville Beach. In the OCEAN. They had been running with the seas and wind and were uncomfortable. I can’t imagine what lying to their anchor in those conditions must have been like. IN THE OCEAN.

She was profusely thanking her girlfriend for calling Towboat US (who refused to go out until morning). She also called the Coast Guard who did send a small boat out to monitor the situation. The woman’s husband had finally been able to change their fuel filters and get the boat started and underway at daybreak. We felt terrible for the woman as she just had an exhaustion fueled mini breakdown complete with sobs of relief.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20, 2011.

We sat in Factory Creek through the front that devastated so much of the country. At the last minute the front veered and passed to the north of us. We had exactly 11 drops of rain and some wind gusts up to 30 knots so it was a non-event in our cocoon like creek of happiness.

The creek is about 200 feet wide and when we swing with the tidal current on our 90 feet of chain we can get a little close to either shoreline. The creek is also deep as hell. With the full moon exaggerating the state of the tides it was actually a little worrisome. At high tide we had 23 feet of water beneath the keel. Couple that with the 5 ½ feet the Veranda draws and the additional 5 feet to the bow roller and our scope should be based on 33 feet. But that’s the difference that properly setting, quality ground tackle can let you get away with. We sat through the 30 knots on less than 3 to 1 scope and slept like babies. Which brings me to our new neighbor….

The following day was to be our last before jumping outside and heading north. The day broke with no wind what so ever. We’ve been here in the creek for a few days by ourselves so of course we had to get neighbors for our last night here. Oh look and he’s inept.

Whenever anyone anchors near us I always watch them drop their hook (remember, I don’t have a television). A lot of people come in and do the job like they outta. Then there’s a bunch more that get it done in spite of themselves and then there’s the other 20 percent of the people that have no idea what the hell is going on. Hey look! We got a 20 percenter! WooHoo! F@#k me.

Better yet, he’s alone. Great. He drops the hook and what I would estimate as 30 feet of chain. Its low tide and he’s easily in 12 feet of water. He doesn’t set the hook and then in a rare display of “old school” ineptitude he ties his snubber to his anchor chain. The guy is by himself, a simple chain hook makes attaching your snubber easy and this guy is out here hanging from the bow pulpit by his testicles tying a rolling hitch to his anchor chain. Wow, he’s impressed me so much that I grab my book so I can read in the cockpit as I keep and eye on him while the tide comes in.

Not surprisingly 3 hours later he slowly started to drag down on us. I shoulda bet the ranch. There was absolutely zero wind, the pitiful 2 knots of current was actually making him drag ever so slowly towards us.
I find that sitting on the bow often helps people anchor better on the second time around. Kinda like Bitch Wings but more resolute; like "I can sit here all day until you do it right"

The evil side of me said to just quietly fend him off and let him drag completely past us just to see where the hell he ended up. The practical side of me points out that Johnny McCantanchor will probably foul our hook and take us with him as his anchor drags along. Crap, moral dilemma. Self preservation wins.

He was one boat length off our bow and moving at about a foot or so a minute. He couldn’t manage to successfully anchor his boat so what are the chances that he even has his VHF radio on? I still ask Christy to try and raise him on the radio. My childish sense of humor got the best of me for a moment. His boats name is IGOTTAGO. So now my bride is on the VHF proclaiming to everyone within 25 miles, “IGOTTAGO, IGOTTAGO, IGOTTAGO…Veranda, Veranda…channel 16”. Of course, he doesn’t answer and I’m still childishly chuckling at my own little joke when I ask her for the airhorn.

I walked to the bow and gave a healthy blast on the airhorn. I can see right through his cockpit and am looking straight down into his salon. He’s only 20 feet off our bow and after about 30 seconds he pops his head up. An airhorn always gets their attention.

We’ve had pretty much this exact scenario happen a dozen times over the last 6 years. You get their attention either on the VHF, or with the airhorn or perhaps a can of corn lobbed against their hull. They pop up, you politely exclaim “Captain, you’re dragging” and every single god damn one of them has the exact same freaking reaction. Their first look at you is annoyance, like “why are you bothering me?”. Then you can actually see their synapses firing away as they process the information. You can see the “oh my God look” in their eyes and then they all do that one thing that drives me completely nuts.

They quick, spin around and look at their own bow. WTF are they looking for? Perhaps gremlins with bolt cutters have severed their anchor chain. Perhaps their piece of shit ground tackle is actually floating away in front of the boat. Even better yet, they’re looking for justification, I couldn’t have dragged, look I’m still uncomfortably close to the boat in front of me. Yeah, that’s right Captain, after you anchored and went below to masturbate, the wife and I hauled our own hook and reanchored right up next to your ass….We’re the morons, it couldn’t be you.

So Johnny McC gathered his shit and went back up the creek where he deployed a different hook. Ya see, it wasn’t his fault; it was a bad anchor…..Christ.

When the tide changed we slept like babies because now we were in front of him. The next morning we rose to light winds outta the south and we headed out for Beaufort, NC.

The seas were ridiculously flat because there was pretty much no wind. We diverted to the Cape Fear River because inclement weather was headed our way.
Or it could have been because we were both getting a little buggy due to the lack of wind. At one point we were close hauled and making not quite 3 knots. It was so calm that on both evenings we set up the cockpit table to have dinner.

We’re safely anchored in Wrightsville Beach, NC after averaging 3.04 knots per hour for the entire 170 mile jump. It was a little tedious but we did manage to sail the entire way in lovely weather.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011.

We went for a little dinghy ride while here in Beaufort, SC. There are a few derelict boats anchored here in Factory Creek. This guys been here as long as we’ve been passing through. She’s floating high right now but in the past we’ve seen her sitting a wee bit lower in the water.

Most sailboats have some rake to their mast. Just how much rake is too much? Raked much further aft and he’s gonna be able to use his boom as a depth sounder. I dunno but for some reason this seems a bit excessive.

We’re dog people so we enjoy seeing people with their canine family members as we walk through town. These Great Danes were so freaking big that when Mama sat on the bench to rest for a bit both of the pups did likewise.

It dawned on us just how different we are from the rest of the window shoppers when we came across this beautiful display of blue glass.
Yeah, the bottles, bowls, balls and such were cute but it would have been much more exhilarating to stumble across these items all broken up at the edge of the ocean. Blue sea glass rocks.

Another thing that rocks is our No-see-um netting. It’s a tighter weave than mosquito netting and is a “must have” here in Factory Creek if you want to be topside to watch the sunset.
April 13, 2011.

Factory Creek is a misnomer if there ever was one. The narrow but deep creek is bordered on one side by one backyard dock after another. The opposite shoreline is a huge field of saw grass marshland. It’s terrifically protected and close enough to everything, that why it’s one of our favorite stops on the ICW.

This morning I was awakened by the squeal like song of the Crested Swamp Warbler. That is until I was completely awake and realized that it was only Christy rediscovering the experience of a chilly toilet seat.

It’s been in the low 50’s here at night but up in the seventies during the day. Man we’re spoiled….

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 12, 2011.

The pressures we endure. We killed a few days at Cumberland Island, Georgia waiting for reasonable temperatures to return to the great northern wasteland. The time had arrived for us to jump north a bit. We opted to skip the ICW in Georgia and jump out at Saint Mary’s River and head in at Port Royal Sound in South Carolina.

The wind was supposed to be light and variable, becoming 10 to 15 late in the day outta the south. Followed by a nighttime increase of 15 to 20, outta the southwest. We would have liked to jump a little further but there was a line of nasty squalls due to hit the South Carolina area by noon on Tuesday followed by northerlies. So we wanted to be off the ocean and the northlands still have the whole “chilly” thing goin’ on so there’s still no rush. It’s about 100 miles from inlet to inlet so if we averaged a paltry 4 knots we would reach Port Royal first thing in the morning.

We rode the last of the ebb tide out into the ocean at 0800, hoisted all sail and killed the engine. And we found ourselves skimming over a dead flat ocean at about 2 knots. It was 5 hours before we topped 4 knots. Once the wind built to 12 knots we were doing a little better than 6 knots. So we double reefed the mainsail to slow us down a bit.

I wanted to time our arrival at the sea buoy for dawn. The entrance to Port Royal Sound is about 10 miles long and doing it in the dark has no allure for me. As the winds built to 20 knots I had to slow the boat even more. We rolled up the genoa and continued on under double reefed mainsail alone.

We arrived at the sea buoy about an hour before dawn, near perfect timing. We were able to sail right up into the sound and with about 4 miles to go the wind veered and was too close to the nose so we fired the engine up. And something didn’t sound right. Crap.

A bearing in the raw water pump had failed. Christy sailed as close to the wind as she could into the ebbing tide while I went below to change out the pump. I had to remove the plumbing fittings from the old pump housing to use with the new one. I also had to take the pulley off the old pump and that’s where the problems started.

I couldn’t remove the set screw to get the pulley off the old shaft. After a half hour of trying to bullshit my way through this I knew that we were gonna be without an engine until I could sit down for 2 hours and do this correctly.

So we ended up tacking back and forth up the entrance into the ICW. We were belted right on the nose by one line squall after another as the weather conspired with the outgoing tide to make this as difficult as possible for us. The wind would jump up to 30 knots for 10 minutes before dropping back down to 15 knots. We were timing our tacks when there was less wind and all the time we were fighting about a knot and a half of tide against us.

I took us well over an hour to cover this last 4 miles before we could turn north on the ICW. We sailed up and dropped the hook in the lee of Parris Island, SC.

I tried heat, penetrant and brute force and nada, the god damn screw would not budge. I finally had to drill it out. Then I drilled and tapped a new hole for a new set screw. I got it all back together and we motored the last hour up to Beaufort, SC. We’re anchored in Factory Creek and looking forward to some rest.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9, 2011.

By the time we got home yesterday I figured we walked a little better than 6 miles. By evening it would be fair to say that I was more than a little stiff. Except for the walk from the dock up to Terri & Larry’s house we hadn’t been off the boat since Vero Beach a week ago.

We woke this morning to wild horses grazing along the shore next to the boat.
We decided to try something new while we’re here. We grabbed one of the pamphlets from the ranger’s office and checked out what they had to offer. And since we have internet we did a little online research as well.

Thomas Carnegie (Andrew’s bro) and his wife at one point owned 90% of the island living on their estate known as, Dungeness. As each of their children came of age they gifted them a plot of land and built them their own mansions. It’s a lot like Christy and I would have done had we been dirty filthy rich and had our own island. Anyway, one of the children’s mansions was called Greyfield and is still operated by sixth generation Carnegies as a bed and breakfast. I don’t think for a moment that the chambermaid is actually a Carnegie but they do still own the joint.

We’re anchored on the approach to the Greyfield Inn and watch as the guests of the Inn are brought out to the island by motor launch. The Inn seems to be a bit on the pricey side with rooms running around $895 per night for the primo rooms to $500 per night for the porch rooms, two night minimum, with a shared bath, of course. These people are what we call the “haves”. We can readily identify with the “haves” as we arrived at the island on our own private “luxury” sailing yacht.

Most of the rest of the visitors to the island arrive tightly packed like sardines on tourist boats. These people are called “the have nots” or more affectionately known as “my people”.

Today rather than cross the island and get as far from the rest of the islands visitors as we could, we decided to dinghy down to the Dungeness Estate and tour the estate with “my people”. The Park Service provides a guided tour and walking history lesson.

The ranger (Rene) who acted as our tour guide was awesome. She took people from the crowd and gave them names from the areas history to help keep things straight as she led us through the islands past. I got to be Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, crony of George Washington (cool), who settled on the island before taking a 19 year old wife (cooler yet), having 5 kids and then dying of sunstroke (not so cool).

Dungeness was the Carnegies “winter estate”. Since it’s on an island everything had to be shipped in and the huge home was completed in 1885 at a cost of $250,000, which sounds like a lot at the time, until you consider that the Carnegies were worth about $680 million back then. While we were beachcombing for shells I also kept an eye out, in case old Thomas dropped his wallet. But no…………

Most of the island has been donated to the government and has become a national park. The main house of the Dungeness estate mysteriously burned shortly after a poacher was shot to death by one of the island caretakers in 1959. The ruins are still an impressive reminder of the wealth of a few people during the American Guilded Age.

We were home from the tour just after noon so we had lunch, cleaned our shabby looking waterline and tightened up the rudder post stuffing box. At about 1530 Christy proposed walking across the island to walk the beach during low tide. Crap. Sure honey.

We ended up taking the handheld GPS and clocking another 4 miles of beachcombing. The pickings were slim but we did find a few treasures and had a nice walk…..

There is one advantage of sharing an island with the "haves". Thats right, celebrity sightings.In the past couple of days we've rubbed elbows with
Sandy Duncan

Then you Barney Miller fans will certainly recognize the character of Fish formerly played by
Abe Vigoda

And then theres that European pop sensation....
David Horselhoff
April 8, 2011.

The trip to Cumberland Island turned out to be an interesting one. Boat speed was terrific as we rode the push for a few hours before getting sucked all the way to the Saint Mary’s River. We hit the shallow areas at high tide so what could be interesting you ask? The GPS went semi blind.

Larry just happened to mention something about the military sometimes scrambling the GPS signal in this area. Can they even do that? It’s been a while but we have been here before and had never experienced anything like that. Until today.

The basic overview was still there, but nothing else. No depth contours and no navigational aids. It was as if we were looking at the wrong scale on the chartplotter. Is it my chartplotter or is it my government? It made no difference as you zoomed in or out, there was no detail on any screen. It wasn’t really anything more than a minor inconvenience but it was back to paper charts and binoculars for us as we picked our way along the ICW.

The details reappeared right at about the spot we’d dropped the anchor the last time we were at Cumberland Island. The disconcerting part was that the approach to the anchorage has some shoaling and we were reduced to dead reckoning with our paper charts. We opted for the “go to red 34 and then hang an east right up to the shoreline”. It all went perfectly and we were soon anchored in 15 feet of water, which is nice because theres a 7 foot tidal swing here.

Today Christy and I walked across the island and did a little beachcombing.
The walk across the island is spectacular with a canopy of Spanish moss covered Live Oaks lining the way. The beachcombing yielded a

few decent Welks, a couple nice Paul Newman Eyes and a spectacular netted Olive Shell.
April 7, 2011.

A quick recap. Near battery disaster, Lake Worth, Vero Beach, new batteries, resumed breathing, Melbourne, Mosquito Lagoon, Daytona Beach, Saint Augustine and a hoolie.

The horrible weather blew through Saint Augustine by noon but we decided to stay put for the night and we were treated to a beautiful sunset. In the morning we pulled the hook in concert with a bridge opening. We headed south through the bridge and slid right onto the fuel dock at the municipal marina. We topped off the fuel tank and made the next scheduled bridge opening at 0900.

We were once again headed north on the ICW as the wind was forecast to be semi-brisk from the north. We knew that we had made the right decision as we overheard 2 sailboats that had just left the inlet bitching about the conditions. They turned around, came back inside and spent the day following in our wake as we plodded north.

Two years ago when we were on our way to Saint Augustine a couple who had been reading our blog wrote and asked us if we would like to meet for a meal or drinks as we passed through town. We met Terri & Larry of the s/v Vixen and we had a great time.

This year they wrote and invited us to stop in and spend the night at their dock. They’re only 2 miles up the Saint Johns River and have enough room behind their house for our boat as well as theirs. We came around the last bend in the river and they were standing on the dock waiting to catch our lines.

I’ve always said that our favorite thing about cruising is the people we’ve met. Terri & Larry are no exception. We hung out for an hour before Terri whisked Christy off to Publix to grab some fresh vegetables. Imagine if you had house guests drop in and the first thing they wanted to do was to pile into the car and head out to the grocery store. The girls were back in no time due to the fact that Terri’s land transportation vehicle can comfortably cruise at more than 60 knots. Creepy.

Larry grilled up some fabulous steaks along with salmon, corn on the cob and fresh salad. We ate, drank, had dessert and swapped stories for hours. Their dog Charlie also joined us for dinner.

It seems that whenever they do some grilling it’s become habit for Larry to throw on a piece of fish for Charlie. I thought they were kidding at first but soon there was a piece of salmon broken up into Charlie’s bowl of hard round things. He was sitting there waiting for it and got all excited when the platter came in from the grill. When I die it would be nice to come back as a dog in their house.

At the end of the evening when we were leaving the house we were astonished to meet Tucker hanging out in their backyard. There's a 6 foot tidal range at their dock and when we headed up to the house we got off the boat with the aid of a step ladder. When the boat rose high enough Tucker decided he’d like to stretch his legs a bit and jumped ashore. It was pitch dark, the waters flowing past at better than a knot and Tucker decided to try something new. Tucker doesn’t jump. The boat was held off the dock by the current so it was at least a 2 foot jump. He had himself a little party peeing on all of Charlie’s trees and special spots. My legs were shaky thinking about how we could have very easily just gone from 2 dogs to none in a matter of 3 months.

The next morning we topped up the water tank and headed up to the house to say our goodbyes. S/V Vixen is leaving in a couple of days for a few months of cruising down to the Keys. Then they’re headed home for some house chores before heading north for a few more months. So if you see Terri & Larry on s/v Vixen make sure you tell em’ “hey” for us on the Veranda. And if you have em’ over for dinner make sure to throw a little somethin' on the grill for Charlie.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April 5, 2011.

We slipped the mooring and visited the fuel dock before leaving Vero Beach on Friday morning. We had a short 30 mile day to Melbourne planned. It’s good to get back underway with a short day to rejoin your traveling rhythm. We did pass through the new Republic of Canamerica. The reason we like to stop there is that you can anchor right off the Eau Gallie public library. Free wifi. An unexpected bonus tonight was live music from the beach bar next door. Being completely unmusical myself, I know I shouldn't criticize but after all the great live music we've heard I am pretty confident when I say that the band was "sub par". We actually laughed a few times....

The next day was another short one so we pulled the hook around 0900 and headed up towards Titusville. We had a bit o’ current pushing us so we opted to knock a few extra miles off the following day’s schedule. Since there was no wind we dropped the hook right in the middle of the Mosquito Lagoon.

For the hell of it I fired up the laptop and found (unbelievably) that we had a wifi signal. We were literally miles from anywhere and the Bullet was grabbing some pretty decent wifi. Cool.

On Sunday we rolled out of bed at the crack of nine and started slogging northward on another short day. We transited New Smyrna without an encounter with the heavy handed FWC units that patrol this area.
We again dropped the hook at 1400 hours just off the ICW in Daytona Beach. 300 yards away and across the ICW the boats were jammed into an anchorage that’s suggested in the Skipper Bob guidebook. While we were the only boat in our chosen anchorage for the night. Oh look, and there’s internet.

On Monday we had to get up and underway before the 2 lift bridges in Daytona Beach were closed for the morning rush hour. We rode the tide and some building southerly breeze as we motor sailed quickly north towards Saint Augustine. During the trip we heard the Coast Guard announcing that the Main Street Bridge in Daytona was broken in the down position. The early start for us worked in our favor as we had just transited the bridge 2 hours before.

We made the 1400 hour bridge opening of the Bridge of Lions in Saint Augustine. I was going to stop at the fuel dock but the winds were already up over 20 knots. It was actually kind of snotty south of the bridge so we scurried through the opening. On the north side of the bridge the water was flat and it even seemed sunnier. Since the moorings have been installed there's not really much room to anchor but we scoped out a spot and headed that way.

We curled to starboard as we came through the bridge just as a small SeaRay type powerboat did the same thing. He probably only draws 3 feet of water so he can anchor just about anywhere but he had to drop the hook in the exact spot we were coveting.

So we dropped the hook right next to him although a little closer to the channel than I would have preferred. By the time we had the snubber on and the hook set….he was gone. His micro tiny powerboat hook hadn’t set and he dragged back into the local boats anchored behind us. He retrieved his hook and motored forward to make another attempt.

I really wanted his spot but we didn’t have time to pull our hook and move before he was ready to try again. We opted for patience. We left the boat running and we sat and stared as he once again scampered over the windshield and out onto the bow. He reminded me a lot of John Belushi in Animal House. (When they were on the stairs, about to burglarize the dean’s house.) Anyway, he dropped the hook again only to have the same results. It never set and he dragged away in 2 minutes and gave up. As they left with their tails between their legs we pulled the hook and moved away from the channel and into their spot.

We’re at anchor across from the fort watching the boats go by. We have a nasty front coming through in the morning so our travel schedule is a little up in the air.

Its now morning, the front is here and we'll sit this one out....