04/04/2013, Southport, North Carolina
After enjoying dinner the previous evening at the nearby restaurant with the shrimp boat "Grey Ghost" docked out front and Grace at anchor in within view, on Saturday, March 23rd at 10:45 AM we departed from Kilkenny Creek, transiting 1 opening bridge, and dropping the hook as the only boat in the Herb River near Thunderbolt, Georgia. While it was sunny with temps in the 70s and not too windy on Sunday we dinghied up river to the local restaurant. Sunday and Monday nights another boat joined us. Tuesday night we had the anchorage to ourselves again. Kevin repositioned the transparent fuel filter; the next morning the fuel had leaked out of it.
At 11:45 AM on Wednesday we were underway until 3 PM when we dropped the hook as the only boat in Bull Creek. We tested clamping off the fuel line and the result the next morning was that the transparent filter was full, which indicated that previously fuel had been getting beyond the carburetor float valve.
Thursday morning's entertainment came in the form of a ship of young pirates hailing from nearby Hilton Head, South Carolina; we exchanged "ARRRRR"s from our respective bows as we departed at 11:30 AM with a bald eagle soaring overhead, and the engine having very poor acceleration. About 45 minutes later, we turned off the engine, and as we drifted in the wide river Kevin checked the reverse gear oil, which required topping off; after which the engine would not start; the tap of a screw driver on the starter solenoid remedied the situation and we were immediately underway again. We were able to motorsail for a bit, and after stopping for marina services in Port Royal the screw driver did not do the trick, so the hammer was put to use; Kevin's comment: "Honestly, it's like driving a Chevy Biscayne". At 5:30 PM we anchored for our first time off Historic Downtown Beaufort, using two anchors.
Friday morning Kevin cleaned the carburetor twice and replaced the float valve assembly. We dinghied to both shores to enjoy some of the restaurants and refill a propane tank.
Whacking the starter was required again for our 9:30 AM departure on Saturday, despite the successful non-whacking-starts in between the previous days' work on the carburetor; the engine got a good warm up before one anchor was retrieved into the dinghy and the second anchor using the windlass. Motorsailing again, yet with no idle issues, we pulled into Church Creek further than we ever had in our previous times, where there was 15' of charted water depth, and an hour before low tide we were aground in 3+ feet of water; fortunately the wind we were searching for better protection from helped us fill the genoa, and move back out towards the mouth where moments later we were anchored at 5:30 PM, sharing the anchorage with 4 other boats for the night.
Another whacking start got us going at 9:30 AM on Sunday, which was timed in order to transit Elliot Cut at slack tide. After passing by Charleston Harbor, and then waiting about 40 minutes for the second opening bridge of the day, the light rain stopped and the sun came out for most of the remainder of the day's passage, which concluded at 6 PM, anchoring as the only boat for our first time in Awendaw Creek, where a pod of dolphins surfaced to greet us both upon our entry and our departure the next morning. Evening rain was brief, followed by the howling wind calming down for a good night's rest.
Before Monday morning's 9:15 departure Kevin replaced the solenoid with an onboard spare. Motorsailing, plus a favorable current, brought us to being the only boat overnight for our first time in an oxbow off the lovely Waccamaw River, with two anchors down at 5:45 PM.
At 8:45 AM Tuesday we were underway, transiting 3 opening bridges, and pulling into a slip for our first time at Lightkeepers Marina in Little River, South Carolina at 1:30 PM. A borrowed car helped us get to auto parts and grocery stores.
We castoff on Wednesday at 8:15 AM and stopped for marina services shortly before pulling up to the free city dock in Southport, North Carolina at 3 PM. A walk about town took us to the library and a riverfront table for dinner.
During these passages we have seen a total of 8 bald eagles, numerous dolphin, a sea turtle, and dozens of freshwater turtles. Can you make out the board meeting of the local chapter that was in session in the above shot?
03/22/2013, Kilkenny Creek, ICW Mile 613, Georgia
On Thursday, February 28th at 11:15 AM we departed from Vero Beach and an hour later we were anchored as the only boat near Pine Island. Before departing from Vero Kevin had fine tuned the engine choke; after we were anchored he fine tuned the idle and then found a leak in the fuel line near one of the connections, which he repaired.
On Friday Kevin freshened up some of the fuel line fittings and electrical connections. We were joined in the anchorage by a 3-trawler raft-up.
We had the anchorage to ourselves for the following two nights. Oddly, on Sunday during the day we dragged anchor and had to pick it up and re-set it.
Monday we were underway from Noon until 4 PM, anchoring along with two other boats near the spoil island at Rock Point. We bled the air from the fuel lines and decided to do a test only using fuel from the new tank.
On Tuesday at 9:15 AM we hauled anchor and headed for the fabulously stocked and conveniently located hardware store in Cocoa, where we were anchored at 1:30 PM. While there we replaced the fuel filter and took the local bus to the grocery store as well.
Wednesday we were underway from Noon until 2:30 PM, dropping the hook for our first time, as one of two boats, just south of the Addison Point Bridge. Kevin removed the primer bulb from the fuel line and refreshed the final fitting that had not recently been done.
Before we got underway at 12:45 PM on Thursday Kevin patched pin holes in the waste holding tank. Continuing to have the Kennedy Space Center in our scenery since the previous day, at 2:30 PM we dropped the hook for our first time as one of three boats just south of the Jay Jay Railroad Bridge. Kevin removed the transparent inline fuel filter.
Shortly before 10 AM on Friday we raised anchor, and at 2:45 PM dropped it in New Smyrna. Kevin removed the ball valve tank selection switch, added a new primer bulb with a new hose clamp, and replaced the transparent inline filter. Charlotte and Terry, who are currently doing some "land cruising" away from s/v Zephyr, treated us like royalty, picking us up at the dinghy dock, taking us to a hardware store and then to the condo where they were staying for a dinner party with their visiting friends, Jeff and Cathy. Thank you, Charlotte and Terry, for your gracious hospitality; we hope to see you again soon!
At 9:30 AM Saturday's passage began. Just after transiting the 4th opening bridge of the day, we went through 3 engine belts in a matter of seconds (funny story, the captain is embarrassed you will have to ask him about it); dropping the hook briefly as the only vessel on the waterway, allowing us to remedy the situation, we were underway again moments later. The passage concluded shortly before 5:30 PM when we pulled into a slip at Palm Coast Marina. (Yes, Charlotte and Terry, we delivered your "hello" to Pete and Pokie.)
Sunday morning Kevin changed multiple items in the fuel system, and we carted jerry jugs of fuel to the slip before departing at 1:45 PM. Smoothly transiting 2 opening bridges with all belts intact, at 6:45 PM we had the anchorage to ourselves as we stopped for our first time at the Tolomato River's Pine Island.
To catch slack current at one of the fixed bridges before turning onto the St Johns River, we were underway at 8 AM on Monday, pulling up to the free dock as the only boat at the Jacksonville Landing at 2:45 PM. Public transit assisted us in restocking auto parts and hardware store items, as well as the ship's larder. We capped off the day with a pint at the Irish Pub at the Landing.
On Tuesday after all our chores were done in Jacksonville we transited the 6 PM lift of downtown's Main Street Bridge and dropped the hook at 7:15 PM in the Trout River, across from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where we appreciated the free admission visit on Wednesday.
At 12:45 PM on Thursday we were underway until we dropped the hook at 5:15 PM as the only boat for our first time near Harrison Creek on South Amelia River.
Friday's passage from Noon until 3:30 PM included a stop at the marina services dock in Fernandina Beach, our last time on land in Florida for this snowbird voyage. We got to see wild horses grazing near the shoreline as we approached to be one of three and then six anchored boats at Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia for the two nights we were there. Saturday's visit ashore for trail and beach walks was distinct from our previous times there as we saw areas we had never seen before and got to see the wild horses on the ocean-side beach for the first time ever (pictured above), as well as several good-sized sea shells with their inhabitants still inside. From the anchorage, the first evening we got to view the Coast Guard escorting a submarine to sea from the nearby Kings Bay Submarine Naval Base. Both evenings we could hear reveille at sunset.
Raising anchor at 9 AM on Sunday, we headed offshore, using the St Mary's channel. As we departed we got to see a deer on the shoreline. We were able to motorsail for most of the passage, coming inside at St Simons Sound, dropping the hook at 4 PM as one of three boats on the north side of Lanier Island.
Monday we were underway shortly before 10:30 AM, dropping the hook as one of two boats for our first time in New Teakettle Creek.
We hauled anchor on Tuesday shortly before 10:30 AM, dropping the hook as one of two boats in Walburg Creek. The following two nights we had the anchorage to ourselves. Kevin moved the fuel pump and added a bleeder hose.
Today as we were departing Walburg Creek at Noon we saw wild boars on the shoreline. We dropped the hook at 1:30 PM as the only one anchored in Kilkenny Creek. Kevin made idle adjustments and dinghied jerry jugs of fuel from the nearby marina.
The engine idle issue has transitioned...it has changed to hesitating upon acceleration. After replacing the carburetor we have discovered that air is getting into the fuel system and accumulating as the engine is run, and we have been trying to eliminate the point of entry... At present, every connection and piece of fuel line is newly replaced, and a 20-psi pressure test using a foot pump proved that the pressure was sustained... We are still on the hunt!
During the above we have also seen many dolphin and feathered friends, plus raccoons, sea turtles, another deer, and four bald eagles.
02/27/2013, Vero Beach Municipal Marina, Vero Beach, Florida
At 11:30 AM on Tuesday the 12th we departed from Key Largo, motorsailing towards our 2:45 PM anchorage for our first time at Pumpkin Key. As we were dropping the hook, in the company of only one other boat, the engine idle issue surfaced, as well as a very active pod of dolphin who stayed nearby for a while before swimming off.
On Wednesday morning Kevin replaced the distributor cap once again, only this time seeing unusual signs of something out of the ordinary going on. A one sail downwind run began at 10:15 AM and concluded shortly after 3 PM when we picked up a mooring ball at Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Kevin adjusted the engine idle in attempt to solve the issue.
Thursday morning Kevin replaced the electronic ignition, cleaned the distributor and carburetor, and replaced the idle jet needle and a gasket. After a mid-day departure, about an hour later we were anchored at Marine Stadium. Kevin adjusted the idle and timing. Rowing teams practicing in the anchorage provided us with entertainment while our unobstructed view of the lights of the downtown Miami skyline illuminated as darkness fell.
We pulled up a water hose as we raised anchor at 11 AM on Friday. At 12:15 PM we were anchored near the Venetian Causeway at South Beach. Kevin further adjusted the engine idle.
On Saturday we visited the Zoo Miami, and on Sunday we took a historic tour of the Biltmore in Coral Gables.
After shore excursion in South Beach on Monday, we hauled anchor at 4 PM, transiting 2 opening bridges, and dropping the hook for our first time as the only boat in the residential canal near Biscayne Point.
At 8:45 AM on Tuesday we began the day's transit past 16 opening bridges, including one where there were two sailing vessels named Grace hailing and confusing the bridge tender. At 5:30 PM we dropped the hook as the only anchored boat in Pelican Harbor.
At 9:45 AM on Wednesday we began the day's transit past 8 opening bridges, concluding at 3:45 PM among the many boats anchored in North Lake Worth.
At 10:15 AM on Thursday we began the day's transit past 7 opening bridges. While meandering around awaiting one timed opening, the engine stalled and fortunately started again. We ended the day's passage at 2:45 PM at Peck Lake, among 10 other boats, one of whom to our delight was s/v Mandate. It was great to see our friends Rob and Sue cruising again after 21 months on land! We got to catch up with each other briefly that evening and then on Friday got to enjoy a long beach walk together, followed by sharing dinner onboard Mandate. Friday night there were a total of 7 boats in the anchorage, and we got to listen to the surf crashing on the beach during the nighttimes there.
Saturday at 9:30 AM we hauled anchor, motorsailing to Fort Pierce, dropping the hook as one of two boats in Faber Cove.
At 11 AM on Sunday we were underway, picking up a mooring ball in Vero Beach at 1:45 PM. Free buses have transported us around for an ocean beachside lunch and much reprovisioning. Water and fuel supplies are topped off. Laundry is in the dryers. And, a new carbureter is being installed as I type this.
We have seen man-o-war, rays, jellyfish, plus iguanas sunning themselves at the opening bridges, and many dolphin including some that swim around Grace here in the mooring field.
Above: one of the many spectacular Florida sunsets we have gotten to see.
02/10/2013, Tarpon Basin, Key Largo, Florida
On Sunday, February 3rd, we raised the anchor from Smokehouse Bay in Marco at 10 AM and headed out into more westerly component wind driven waves than forecast. After turning onto our intended course and the seas on our beam dumped food and dishes all over the cabin floor, we turned around and headed back into Marco, closer to Factory Bay this time, dropping the hook at 11:15 AM. After cleaning up the mess, we dinghied to the waterfront restaurant within view of Grace, for a meal and live entertainment. A second sailboat pulled in to the anchorage for the night.
Monday's weather forecast was more accurate, and the waves were much tamer when we departed at 10 AM, allowing us to motor-sail for much of the day, dropping the hook as the only boat anchored in Russell Pass in the 10,000 Islands, Everglades National Park.
Tuesday we took the dinghy ride of about 4 miles into Everglades City for our first time. Following a visit to the Historical Museum and a walk about town, we enjoyed a riverside lunch on the porch of the Historic Rod & Gun Club. On the dinghy ride back, we go to see a sea turtle surface and stopped by to meet fellow Morgan Sailboat owners, Jeff & Anne, whose blog of their travels and projects on s/v C'est la Vie we have followed since before we began cruising. Three additional boats pulled into the anchorage that night.
At 9:30 AM on Wednesday we hauled anchor and motor-sailed for most of the day, hanging the cockpit screen even before we concluded the passage at 4:15 PM in Little Shark River as we dropped the hook behind Joe & Deb, on s/v Kajon, whom we had met up with in various places on previous voyages. The insects prevented us from an in person visit; so, a chat on VHF would suffice. However, the numerous manatee, sea turtle, and dolphin surfacings we got to hear and witness during our stay there compensated. Grace was one of 5 boats anchored there that night.
Thursday morning all the other boats departed, and when the wind against current created an unfamiliar noise and sensation, we decided to raise anchor and move across the river; in the process we brought up a barnacle-covered pole and reel on our anchor chain. Six other boats pulled in to anchor for that night.
Despite bouncing in the fetch, Grace's keel was on the bottom on Friday morning as Kevin discovered when he moved the tiller and stuck a pole in to confirm as we were preparing to depart at 7:45; our depth finders were not reading accurately and it was (thankfully) an hour after low tide, which was supposed to be one foot below the charted depth of 12 feet. We were easily able to move forward as we brought in the anchor chain and headed for our 10:30 AM anchoring for our first time at East Cape Sable on the southern tip of Florida's mainland coastline. The engine issue showed up once again as we dropped the hook. Pictured above, ours alone to enjoy...a beachwalk, plus sea turtle and dolphin sightings were part of our nearby shore excursion before raising anchor again shortly before 12:30 PM. The engine issue continued when we dropped the hook at 5:45 PM as the only boat anchored for the night just off the ICW, west of Islamorada, for our first time.
Yesterday at 10 AM we were underway through the changing colors of beautiful water, passing by a sailboat regatta with several dozen boats participating, and concluding the passage at 1:30 PM as we anchored near our friends Don and Mango (the parrot). Kevin has been performing carburetor adjustments in attempt to solve the engine issue. In the meantime, we have enjoyed spending time with Don and Mango at the nearby Tiki bar and fish restaurant.
During the above not only have we seen many feathered friends and dolphin, but also a man-o-war and a ray, as well as superbly clear stargazing.
02/02/2013, Smokehouse Bay, Marco Island, Florida
On Monday, January 14th, we departed from Gulfport at around 8 AM, transited 5 opening bridges, to our furthest northerly destination for this trip along Florida's Gulf Coast, arriving at about 1 PM for our first time at Caladesi Island State Park. On our way to the beach we got to observe a gopher tortoise. Our afternoon beach walk led us to finding the single largest, prettiest shark tooth yet. We were 1 of 4 boats in the marina slips for the night - one couple was from Maine and another from Vermont. The two of us had the beach chairs to ourselves as we watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
During the previous day's passage the engine blower motor died, and Kevin swapped it for our onboard spare. Tuesday morning we walked the park's nature trail before departing about 1 PM, transiting 1 opening bridge. We concluded the day's passage as the only boat anchored just off waterway mile 130. A pod of dolphin, staying near the water surface provided us with evening fascination. Not to our fascination, however, the engine suddenly dropped RPMs, after running perfectly for many hours at full load, until at low idle, ie. when awaiting a bridge opening or dropping anchor. In attempt to solve the issue Kevin replaced the rotor and distributor cap, lubed the distributor, relocated the coil further from the heat of the engine, and replaced the spark plugs.
Wednesday morning we hauled anchor and transited 1 opening bridge before dropping the hook near the convenient grocery store dock at the Welch Causeway Bridge, during which time the engine idling issue resurfaced. After some provisioning and swapping out the coil, we transited 4 more opening bridges, concluding that day's passage anchored in Boca Ciega Bay near Gulfport among the many anchored there.
Thursday in between some rain showers, we moved to an anchorage on the other side of the waterway for better wind protection, anchoring for our first time there, where Grace was one of three for the night. A cold front was passing through, leading us to turn on the cabin heater for a few minutes to take off the morning chill...our first time for that and putting on long pants and sleeves in quite some time.
Friday we transited 4 opening bridges, crossed the mouth of Tampa Bay, and dropped the hook near downtown Sarasota among the many anchored there. We stayed there through Monday night, utilizing the public buses to replenish our spares at the West Marine and auto parts stores. We walked through areas of the city we had not explored when we were there previously, including historic Burns Court, the Botanical Garden, and enjoyed a live musical cabaret theater performance at one of the many to choose from in the artsy community, and toured the Ringling Art Museum and estate grounds.
Tuesday we transited 9 opening bridges, and while awaiting 1 opening were entertained by a bagpiper at the nearby park, concluding the day's passage as the only boat anchored in Cape Haze. Again the engine idle issue reared its head...another coil swap and timing adjustment were done.
Wednesday we transited 1 opening bridge, and were one of three anchored for the night near Useppa Island, after relaxing in the cockpit during the warm afternoon.
Thursday morning we dinghied to Cabbage Key, walked around the island nature trail, and climbed to the top of the water tower where the surrounding islands were in view from the observation deck. After lunch at the Inn, we hauled anchor and relished an afternoon sail during our first time voyaging into Charlotte Harbor. We were the only boat anchored for the night, and got to listen to a Loon at sunset.
Friday we sailed for several hours out of Charlotte Harbor, starting the engine shortly before dropping the hook for a shore excursion to wander around Boca Grande for our first time. Following lunch in town, a nearby stroll on the beach quickly netted a find of 14 tiny shark teeth. Once back aboard Grace we moved to the nearby anchorage in Pelican Bay where we were in the company of about 30 boats (not the same ones) each night through Sunday night. At sunset on both Friday and Saturday evening the anchorage was serenaded by a bagpiper, complete with kilt, on the catamaran sailboat anchored in front of Grace (we believe the same one we captured on video when we were there two years ago). During two days of beach and trail walks at Cayo Costa State Park we found 10 and 3 (respectively) of the smallest shark teeth yet.
Monday morning we departed, motorsailing until shortly before dropping the hook near JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for afternoon dinghy exploration, and then continuing on another few miles to anchor as one of four boats in Glover Bight.
Once south of Fort Myers Beach, we were able to sail slowly on Tuesday, tacking and tacking, until the wind finally diminished. Once we motored up, the wind picked up directly on our nose, and we began pounding into increasing wave heights, eventually having to let out some of the genoa and motor-sail, tacking to make any headway towards our first time Naples, where we dropped the hook in a residential canal as one of eventually three boats anchored for the night. Once again the engine issue popped up.
After replacing part of the fuel line, which resulted in the engine running lousy at anchor, Wednesday morning we called for a tow to a mooring ball at Naples City. The tow boat captain was quite amenable, and prompt in his arrival and moving us along; however, as we approached the mooring field the tow boat captain switched the tow bridle from a stern tow to a side along tow and then the tow bridle got caught in the engine prop of the tow boat near both a sand bar and marker piling; so, when he had to turn off his engines we dropped an anchor just as a commercial tug boat pushing a barge was approaching. Other than the loss of his tow bridle, all was unscathed...phew! Once Grace was secured for our first time to a mooring ball in Naples, while Debbie started working on the laundry, Kevin worked on the carburetor, discovering some debris in the float valve that was likely caused from that morning's changeover; he used the marina's courtesy bike to get replacement fuel line parts at the local hardware store. We wound down the day with a stroll into town for an early-bird dinner. Thursday after Kevin reinstalled the carburetor and had a successful engine run at the mooring and then some rain showers passed, we wandered about town and visited the Depot Museum. Yesterday we utilized the water taxi and public bus to go to the Collier County Museum, followed by lunch and provisioning. At dusk we picked up the water taxi again and enjoyed the tour through the canals of the city.
Today after pulling into the service dock, we departed about noon. After our 3 PM arrival as one of two boats anchoring for our first time in Smokehouse Bay in Marco, we did more provisioning using the very convenient dinghy dock at the nearby grocery store. The engine issue still persisted at the end of today's passage...
During this period of time we have seen many dolphin and feathered friends (including 2 bald eagles), as well as spectacular sunsets. The osprey are building their nests.
01/13/2013, Boca Ciega Bay, Gulfport, Florida
Friday, January 4th at 11 AM we departed from our solitary anchorage near Moore Haven, transiting two locks, and experiencing another first by securing Grace to the cleats on the dolphins (pilings, not mammals) on the west side of the Ortona Lock at about 2:30 PM.
After deploying the dinghy and releasing our lines from the dolphins, we were underway about 11 AM Saturday, and just under two hours later, yet another first, we were mediterranean mooring to the free town dock just beyond the opening bridge at LaBelle, with assistance provided from Dan and Cheryl on s/v Curieuse, who were already tied up there. We walked to the local BBQ place in town, and later shared happy hour with Cheryl and Dan in Grace's cockpit, followed by an evening stroll about town. We were one of four boats there for the night.
Sunday both Grace and Curieuse departed LaBelle about Noon, transiting two opening bridges and one lock together, then each securing to the dolphins on the west side of the Franklin Lock about 3:30 PM. The four of us dinghied to shore and shared appetizers and sundowners together at the nearby park/beach picnic table.
After a brief morning shower passed, at 11 AM Monday's passage began, and it concluded shortly after 3 PM, anchoring for our first time in Glover Bight at Cape Coral.
Tuesday Kevin dinghied our fuel jerry jugs to the nearby marina service dock while the morning fog lifted. About 9:30 AM we raised anchor, turning north on Florida's west Coast. We transited one opening bridge and around 3 PM anchored for our first time in the residential basin at Cape Haze, where there were two other sailboats anchored, one whose crew we had spoken with a few months ago at the dinghy dock in Solomons Island, Maryland. One of the nearby house porches was home to a whistling parrot with quite a play list of tunes.
The next morning we dinghied across the waterway to Don Pedro Island State Park, one of many which is only accessible by boat. A bakers dozen of shark teeth were collected while we walked the beach. Upon our return mid-afternoon to Grace, we decided to move 10 miles north, transiting one opening bridge, anchoring for our first time just off the waterway in Lemon Bay.
Thursday morning at 8:30, we headed towards the picturesque yet congested area of Venice, thankful it was a weekday, transiting eight opening bridges, and concluding the passage with anchoring for our first time on the east side of Sarasota Bay, north of the city about 3:30 PM.
At 9:30 AM on Friday we sailed off the anchor, and enjoyed a peaceful hour and a half sail across the bay before dropping sails as the waterway became narrower. Motorsailing was possible during periods of the remainder of the day's passage, which included crossing the mouth of Tampa Bay and transiting four opening bridges, and concluded with anchoring among the many boats in Boca Ciega Bay at about 4 PM. The cockpit shade and screen were quickly hung as we knew we would be waiting out the weekend waterway traffic before continuing on.
Yesterday we dinghied to town, taking in visits to the Gulfport Historical Museum and public library, lunch at a downtown cafe, ice cream, walks along the beach park and pier, followed by listening to evening live musicians at various open air venues, one of which was in the Historic Inn's courtyard where we got to talk with local musician FrankieJ when he took a break from entertaining us.
Today we enjoyed an outdoor patio garden breakfast in town, watched dolphins in the anchorage, listened to afternoon live music at the beach gazebo where nearby people played bocce ball and beach volleyball, attended the afternoon community theater's live performance, and sampled the offerings at the local brewery.
Grace was the only boat at the above overnight stops, unless otherwise mentioned.
During these passages we saw many turtles, two alligators, two deer, a good sized iguana on a palm tree growing horizontally out from the shore, an otter whose den on the shoreline was feet away from Grace's overnight spot, a horseshoe crab at the water surface, a ray that came up out of the water, numerous dolphin who have been easily viewed as they swim alongside Grace in the beautiful water clarity, plus many feathered friends, including ducks as well as so many white pelicans, pictured above.
01/03/2013, Moore Haven, Florida
About 40 people participated in the Christmas Day Dinner on the marina patio ~ everyone signing up to bring turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, veggies, or dessert. New Years Eve fireworks were set off in every direction from dusk until midnight.
Other projects completed before departing Stuart included removing the original compass and covering the mounting hole, mounting a smaller compass, and scoring another ride with friends to the marine consignment store for the purchase of a bimini canvas.
Yesterday's and today's passages began about 8:30 AM, and each included transiting one lock on the Okeechobee Waterway. Yesterday's was interrupted for about an hour mid-day when the engine suddenly stalled and Kevin promptly cleaned the carburetor and intake screen on the spark arrester. We were then underway again until about 3:30 PM, dropping both a bow and stern anchor for our first time off the waterway a few miles east of the lake. Today's was thankfully uninterrupted, began after this morning's fog lifted, and concluded on the west side of the lake, anchoring for our first time near Moore Haven with two bow anchors. During these passages we saw many feathered friends and turtles, three alligators, and the cow pictured above.
12/24/2012, Sunset Bay Marina, St Lucie River, Stuart, Florida
We are getting to visit with people we have met on previous voyages, plus those we are meeting for the first time in recent days. During our time here Kevin has washed the ICW smile off Grace's hull, repaired the cutting board ice box cover which had swelled from moisture, performed routine engine and windlass maintenance, begun the repair of some gel coat chipped by pilings, improved the rudder post with a new square key, installed LED lighting over the stove, and installed winch handle storage on the mast. Free outdoor concerts on the downtown riverwalk, live musicians at the outdoor marina restaurant, weekly cruisers meet & greets, and Sunday evening potluck dinners are filling our social calendar/entertainment schedule. Free buses have been taking us to various places, plus there many within walking distance. Dan and Cheryl have graciously invited us to Curieuse for Christmas Eve Dinner. We get to see holiday lights during evening strolls (in shorts), as well as in every direction from Grace's cockpit.
Thank you to all who are following our blog! To everyone who has purchased through the My Store link on the right, we appreciate your business! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
12/08/2012, Sunset Bay Marina, St Lucie River, Stuart, Florida
Monday we weighed anchor at about 8 AM and stopped briefly in St Augustine for marina services before continuing on to conclude the day's passage about 3:30 PM for our first time docking at Palm Coast Marina.
Tuesday morning we departed about 9:30, and were anchored by mid-afternoon just south of Daytona Beach, just off the ICW a few miles south of the Memorial Bridge.
Wednesday's passage was a full one, anchoring about 5 PM south of the high-rise bridge at Cocoa, where we were reunited with Dan and Cheryl on s/v Curieuse and we received a prompt invitation to dinner onboard their boat. We stayed there for two nights, going ashore for our first time in Cocoa Village, and then providing an assist on Friday with dinghying new batteries to Curieuse before an afternoon departure of both boats, concluding about three hours later for a raft-up anchorage at Melbourne.
Saturday we had another first time shore excursion in Historic Melbourne, and then a one-hour sail (yes, with the engine turned off) to the anchorage behind the spoil island at Rock Point, where after dinner onboard Curieuse, Dan and Cheryl treated us to another cruising first for us, a bonfire on the beach, pictured above.
Sunday we travelled about three hours to the Pine Island anchorage near Vero Beach.
Monday we travelled a few hours, anchoring for our first time in Faber Cove at Ft Pierce.
Tuesday we picked up a mooring ball in Stuart, and partook of $2 tacos at the nearby Mexican Restaurant. We have gotten to spend time again with Dan & Cheryl, who are anchored nearby. At Wednesday evening's Meet & Greet we got to spend time with fellow Vermonters, Jim & Irene, on s/v Escapaid, whom we met earlier that day when we dinghyied past the stern of their boat and noticed the South Hero, Vermont hailing port. In our walks about town and along the waterfront boardwalk, we are seeing new parts of town we have not seen in our previous times here. Last night we attended the 52nd Annual Christmas Parade. Today we got to ride to the marine consignment store in Ft Pierce with some fellow cruisers from Maine that we have met here.
Although there have been occasional brief rain showers on some days, the sunshine state is primarily living up to its name, and we certainly are appreciating being in shorts and sandals each day.
During these passages we have seen some beautiful water clarity, a double rainbow, numerous dolphins and feathered friends, plus the first jellyfish of this voyage.
11/25/2012, ICW Marker 41, north of St Augustine, Florida
After three plus weeks of rainier, cloudier, and colder weather, with occasional teases of warm, sunny days, and then a several day upcoming forecast with the "s" word and not the "c" and "r'" words included, we decided to push on as far as we could each day toward hopefully more consistently warm weather. So, with first light starts most days, and motor-sailing each chance we got, plus the bonus of riding favorable currents, we crossed the Florida state border yesterday.
Here is the re-cap:
We departed South Santee River at 7 AM, passing by Charleston, and making the 2 PM Wappoo Creek Bridge opening by the hair on our chinny-chin-chin and the gracious kindness of the bridge tender. Although there was only a half knot of current before entering Elliot Cut, that quickly increased to a knot and a half in the cut. We ended the passage at 4:45 PM, in time for a colorful sunset (pictured above) with a total of six anchored vessels in Church Creek.
The next day we departed at 7 AM, stopping for marina services and a quick hello to fellow Chipman Point boaters Ginny, Gene, and their dog Skipper on m/v Free To B at Port Royal Landing Marina, before continuing on to anchor at 3:45 PM as the only boat in Cowen River.
The following day's departure at 7 AM was perfect for passing through Hell Gate at mid-tide or better, ending the day's passage as the only boat anchored for our first time anchoring in Kilkenny Creek, Georgia at 4:45 PM, followed by a Smoked Turkey Breast and Sweet Potato Casserole Thanksgiving Dinner for two onboard.
Friday's 8 AM departure was successfully timed to pass through Little Mud River at mid-tide or better. The passage concluded with a sunset anchorage to ourselves at 5 PM on the north side of Lanier Island, Georgia.
Yesterday's 7 AM departure was successful in allowing us to pass through the Jekyll Creek Cut before mid-tide. We saw a submarine docked at Kings Bay Naval Base and some of the wild horses as we passed by Cumberland Island. After seeing a half-dozen boats anchored near Sisters Creek Bridge, we rode a favorable current on the St Johns River, to anchor as the second boat, but for our first time on the south side of Blount Island, near Jacksonville, Florida. A Carnival Cruise ship was departing for sea as we were entering about 4:30 PM, and after nightfall there were fireworks from the Jacksonville Landing viewable.
Following this morning's 10 AM departure we rode a favorable current on the St Johns River, then pushed against a four knot current at the Pablo Creek High Rise Bridge, and peeled off some layers of clothing as we got closer to our 3:15 PM anchorage just north of St Augustine, Florida, where we were able to enjoy the afternoon warmth lounging in the cockpit; we were joined by one other sailboat (from Colchester, Vermont).
During these passages we have seen many birds including herons, egrets, gulls, terns, black skimmers, american oystercatchers, ruddy turnstones, sanderlings, osprey, cormorants, pelicans, plus eight bald eagles in one day, and numerous dolphins (including several jumping completely out of the water today).