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Grace, Kevin, and Debbie Sailing Together
Full Moon Rises Over Manhattan
05/20/2013, Chipman Point Marina, Orwell, Vermont

While waiting for the offshore weather to calm, on Thursday, April 25th, we rode the public buses around Atlantic City, for our first time. Grace was joined by another boat in the anchorage during our shore excursion.

At 6 AM on Friday, both anchored boats had a sunrise departure from Atlantic City. We experienced our final glimpse of dolphins for this voyage during the mostly motorsailing passage with both sails raised until after concluding the offshore run. At sunset as we approached the Verrazano Narrows Bridge the sails were dropped. Enjoying a boost in speed from the favorable incoming current, we decided to ride it for a while into the darkness. As the natural light from the sky faded and the city lights illuminated, we were treated most courteously by the commercial boat traffic that was in motion, including one tugboat with a barge "on the hip" whose navigation lights were camouflaged with the backdrop of Manhattan from our vantage point; as we made VHF radio contact with the tugboat captain to confirm his knowledge of our location (directly off his bow), it became obvious that he was graciously awaiting our passage beyond his course before proceeding past Governors Island. That night's huge, bright, full moon rose over Manhattan as we travelled by the island's straight rows of high-rise buildings; the moonlight reflected off the surface of the Hudson River as we went by each east-west city street with the moon rising slightly higher every few city blocks until we passed under the George Washington Bridge when the full moon had risen above the rooftops and its sparkle on the water was unobstructed. That amazing experience was the preamble to unforecast wind on the nose, which when opposing the rising tide created quite a chop for us to pound into. Our speed over ground dropped to around 2 knots in those conditions for the next few hours until we found shallow enough water to drop the anchor at midnight-thirty, for our first time as the only boat just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Saturday's 8 AM departure allowed us to ride a favorable current for most of the passage, as well as motorsail. At West Point Military Academy we got to experience another first - we got to see their sailing fleet underway, pictured above. Shortly after 7:30 PM we dropped the hook as the only boat for our first time anchoring in Duck Cove.

At first visible light, 5:45 AM on Sunday, we hauled anchor, and picked up a mooring ball at Castleton Boat Club at Castleton-on-Hudson shortly before 11 AM.

Thank you to fellow Chipman Point sailors Andy and Cheryl, and to Debbie's Mom and Alan for driving to Castleton Boat Club!

On Friday, May 3rd after awaiting some fog clearing, at 6:20 AM we were underway, with Grace's mast unstepped in order to clear the low bridges. We transited the Troy Federal Lock and the Champlain Canal Locks 1 through 6. We had the lock chamber to ourselves each time, except one at which a motor yacht caught up to us; the motor yacht could not clear the next bridge until the water level was lower, so our solo lockings continued after that. Eventually after running for a while the engine idle faltered; the only other glitch in the day was when Kevin leaned over the lifeline to grab a line in one of the locks and the pelican hook attachment on the lifeline gate broke; timing is everything...with the lock wall nearby there was no man overboard drill required. At 5:45 PM we tied up to the free municipal wall at Ft Edward, and moments later received a friendly greeting from a local couple who live nearby.

Kevin bled the air from the fuel supply lines on Saturday before our departure shortly after 9 AM. Eventually the engine falter surfaced again. We completed the transit of the Champlain Canal System, locks 7 through 12, pulling up to our home port at Chipman Point Marina at 4:45 PM, concluding Snowbird Voyage #4 with greetings from many of our marina friends.

During these passages we got to see ducks, geese (including one pair with four tiny youngsters), two bald eagles, and oh so many fresh water turtles (including one about the size of a quarter next to Grace in a lock chamber; it climbed the lock wall, landing upside down when it fell into the water; after a few minutes Debbie flipped it over with a boat hook).

Grace's mast is now stepped once again. Kevin has replaced the lifeline pelican hook, made new spreaders, confirmed the original fuel tank has clean fuel, and replaced the engine oil pressure spring.

Atlantic City is Fogged In
04/24/2013, Atlantic City, New Jersey

After 3 nights anchored at Cape May awaiting a favorable weather window to continue onward, this morning's 8 AM departure was into larger forecast seas than we have been willing to depart Cape May in previously, however, with a wind direction forecast to be behind us. Since the winds had calmed down ahead of forecast yesterday and remained calm through the night we decided to "stick our nose out there" and decide if we would proceed or turn around for a 4th night in Cape May.

It was a 3-layered sort of passage. We transited the inlet shortly after high tide into fairly benign seas that were off our stern starboard quarter, and morning sunshine in upper 40 degree temps. Shortly thereafter overcast skies with less than 2 miles visibility prevailed.

During the mid-day portion of the passage the wind direction was more favorable allowing us to motorsail for a while; the seas grew a bit larger yet with about 8 - 10 seconds between them; I shot a video close to high noon, which can be viewed at this link (if you listen closely you eventually might hear the waves crashing):

Shortly before and after the video was shot Grace was climbing up the waves at 5.9 knots and surfing down them at 8.3 knots of speed.

Less than an hour later the seas were dramatically closer together and bigger. The genoa was furled, and the anchor in the roller at Grace's bow was close to being buried in the crest of the next wave at times.

Fortunately, at 2 PM we entered the anchorage in Atlantic City about 20 minutes after low tide; at low tide we probably would have been on the bottom; it was pretty shallow in the entrance channel. Kevin said it would have been better to be aground than still out there in those seas.

We are the only boat anchored here so far. The buildings around us are less visible by the hour; the fog is rolling in. It is windier in here currently than any of the previous times we have been anchored here.

The above shot was captured on April 14th on the Chesapeake Bay.

Our First Time on the Eastern Bay of the Chesapeake
04/22/2013, Cape May, New Jersey

Before we cast off the docklines shortly before slack tide at 1 PM on Friday, April 5th, while walking back from the auto parts store and breakfast in town, we got to say hello to Dave and Haila of s/v Traveller, who wintered in Southport. A smooth passage up the Cape Fear River (which we affectionately call the "Daisy Patch") brought us to a 5:15 PM anchorage at Wrightsville Beach as 1 of 6 boats there for the night. After anchoring Kevin found fuel leaking from the carburetor and had the carburetor off once that evening and twice before departing the next morning, replacing the float valve assembly twice and installing a new gasket.

At 10:20 AM on Saturday we were hauling in the anchor. Pushing against the current in the waterway, thankfully a very gracious bridge tender allowed us to transit a tardy 11 AM opening as the only boat. Continuing to not only push into an unfavorable current, but also a strong headwind, at the third opening bridge of the passage, we were behind 4 other boats approaching the bridge, and we were the only ones who missed the opening by 5 minutes; at the next opening 55 minutes later we were the only boat. At 7:15 PM we were anchored at Mile Hammock Bay on US Marine Camp Lejeune as one of 8 boats.

Sunday shortly after 9 AM we began the day's passage, which included 1 opening bridge, and concluded along with 1 other anchored boat at 6:30 PM in Cedar Creek, off Adams Creek above Morehead City.

We hauled anchor shortly after 9 AM on Monday, dropping it at 10:15 AM at Oriental where Kevin's sister Valerie came to visit us for lunch and a walk about town, taking us to the marine supply and grocery stores. Thank you, Valerie, for coming to see us! On our walk we scored treasure in the form of a large fender floating in the water. At 3 PM we hauled anchor again, motorsailing until dropping the hook at 6:15 PM in Bonner Bay along with 1 other boat.

Tuesday at 8:15 AM we were underway, motorsailing quite a bit, stopping for fuel, and at 6 PM anchoring with 1 other boat at the southern bend of the Alligator River.

At 7:30 AM on Wednesday we headed towards a wonderfully timed passage across the Albemarle Sound. We were able to motorsail for much of the passage; and thankfully the increased winds held off until after we were across the Sound. Transiting 2 opening bridges that day, we dropped the hook at 3:45 PM as one of 3 boats at Goat Island.

At 6:30 AM Thursday all 3 boats were underway in order to not get stuck for 3 hours during the late afternoon at Gillmerton Bridge. The plan worked, as we all made the 8:30 AM Great Dismal Swamp Canal locking and bridge opening at South Mills, North Carolina, and then the 1:30 PM bridge opening and locking at Deep Creek, Virginia, where the notoriously kind tender Robert was thoughtful enough to get us through early so we would easily make it in time for Gillmerton's opening at 2:30 PM. Shortly before 3:30 PM we were tied up at the free dock in Portsmouth, Virginia, where we spent the next few days basking in the balmy temperatures, partaking of the offerings at the nearby eateries in the historic waterfront area, including a movie dinner theater which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and getting to socialize with the other cruisers who were there. On Friday we got to visit with Carl & Laura on s/v Ekotopia, another Morgan sailboat, and whom we had first met at (and not seen since) a potluck dinner in Stuart, Florida in December of 2010; Carl & Laura, thank you for showing us your beautiful work onboard and your wonderful hospitality; we look forward to seeing you both on future voyages! During the passage through the Canal, after a few hours of motoring at a slower speed than usual in order to time our arrival at Deep Creek, the engine idle began to flutter; we throttled up and it ran smoother; we dropped the hook briefly in the canal before the opening time. While at the dock in Portsmouth Kevin remedied a rattle we had been hearing by tightening the reverse gear lock nut on the tail shaft, changed the engine oil (twice), added a shut-off valve at the original fuel tank, added an electric solenoid valve at the carburetor, removed the fuel line from the new fuel tank, installed a pump from the new fuel tank to the original fuel tank, and bled the air out of the fuel lines.

We cast off the docklines Saturday at 8:30 AM, and were able to motorsail once we entered the Chesapeake Bay. At 7 PM we were the only boat anchored in Cockerell Creek at Reedville, Virginia.

After pulling up to the fuel dock Sunday morning we were underway at 10:00, dropping the hook at 5:30 PM as the only boat anchored in Mill Creek at Solomons, Maryland.

After a few morning sprinkles we hauled anchor at 10:00, able to motorsail for several hours, heading into the Eastern Bay for our first time. Shortly after 5:30 PM we had the anchorage to ourselves on Tilghman Creek, near the mouth of the Miles River.

At high tide, 9:30 AM Tuesday we were underway and shortly after 10:30 AM we were anchored for our first time to visit the town of St Michaels. A waterfront lunch was followed by a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the whole time overlooking Grace as the only anchored boat. After a quick stop at the nearby grocery store, we were underway at 5:30 PM, and about an hour later anchored as 1 of 2 boats in Shaw Bay on the Wye East River, another first, where the above shot was captured.

We hauled anchor shortly after 9 AM Wednesday, transiting 1 opening bridge in the Kent Island narrows, and timing our high tide arrival into Queenstown at 12:30 PM, for our first time, and tying up as the only boat at the free town dock.

After some morning sprinkles passed and at mid-tide, 11:45 AM, we were underway, motorsailing for several hours, and dropping the hook at 7 PM as the only boat at the top of the Chesapeake Bay in the Bohemia River.

At 11:45 AM on Friday we were underway for a little more than an hour, securing a spot at the free dock in Chesapeake City, Maryland, along with Luke & Pat on m/v Liberty Belle and Don & Jeannie on trawler Odyssey, whom we got to share happy hour with onboard Liberty Belle; thank you Luke, Pat, Don, & Jeannie; we hope to see you again!

Saturday at 3 PM we cast off the docklines, riding a favorable current in the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, and stopping for marina services before dropping the hook at 6:15 PM as the only boat for a rolly night at Reedy Island.

At high tide yesterday, 8:45 AM, we were underway, motorsailing for a few hours, and riding a favorable current during most of the passage down the Delaware Bay. Shortly after 4:30 PM we were anchored near the Coast Guard Station at Cape May, New Jersey, as 1 of 3 boats.

During these passages we have seen several dolphin, many freshwater turtles, 3 bald eagles, as well as numerous other feathered friends, including mallard ducks, loons, and snow geese.

Turtle Club Board Meetings Are In Session
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?

Persistently Trying Everything We Can
Debbie & Kevin
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 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.

The Latest
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.

Everglades and Keys
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.

Beautiful Sailing; Perplexing Engine
Debbie & Kevin
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.

The Firsts Continue
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.

Calm Weather Post Holiday Weekday Florida Passages
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.


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