10/07/2013, Croton on Hudson, New York
Upon Friday's 8:45 AM departure from Middle Ground Flats the current was in our favor for the first hour and a half, and then again for the last few hours of the day's passage. The wind assisted for a few intervals of motorsailing. A couple of hours before our 5:30 PM anchorage south of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, the gear shift lever began to rattle. Presuming the cause was similar to a previous occurrence, in the reverse gear, we were pleasantly surprised to find everything normal upon inspection of the reverse gear the next morning (after allowing the engine compartment to cool); at first we thought the rattle might have been caused by oversized bolt holes between the reverse gear and the lever, but later found a loose nut on a bolt on the gear lever mount.
Saturday we spotted s/v Turquoise Serenity approaching the bridge as we prepared to raise anchor at 11:45 AM. The crews of both boats shared a picturesque ride and the shorts-wearing weather during happy hour when Jason and Yves joined us aboard Grace after both boats were anchored among a plethora of other local boats, including many sailing nearby our 3:45 PM anchorage off Croton Point in Haverstraw Bay. Above was that evening's sunset.
Yesterday after Kevin replaced a gasket on the engine raw water pump, we moved Grace slightly closer to shore, dinghied to the Croton Sailing School dock, and wandered around the town of Croton on Hudson for our first time, returning with fresh bagels. We hauled anchor and moved about an hour down river, anchoring north of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Based upon today's weather forecast, which includes tornado watches, severe thunderstorms, and strong winds we came back up river to Croton Point, anchoring just as the first of the rain arrived, which quickly passed. The two short passages each way gave our batteries a nice charge, after yesterday's lack of sun; and, now the solar panels are keeping them topped off with the sunshine currently upon us ahead of the strong band of storms headed this way. And, thankfully, it is shorts weather - 78 degrees inside the cabin with the forward hatch and the companionway open.
During these passages we have seen geese, ducks, a pair of white swans, one osprey, and other feathered friends, in addition to two tires and one sneaker floating along the Hudson River, plus numerous large parts of trees.
10/03/2013, Middle Ground Flats, Hudson River, Athens, New York
Yesterday's 8:00 AM cast off allowed us to complete the remaining four Champlain Canal Locks, the first two of which we were in the company of s/v Turquoise Serenity and s/v Clarisse. At 2:30 PM we exited the Troy Federal Lock, which was open despite the Federal Government shutdown - phew! Despite a slightly unfavorable current, at 2:00 PM we pulled up underneath the do-it-yourself crane at Castleton Boat Club, and promptly made Grace look like a sailboat again, topped off the gas jerry jugs, and picked up a mooring ball before assisting Jason and Yves with s/v Turquoise Serenity's mast when they pulled in. The evening was delightfully spent with our friends Rob and Sue of s/v Mandate, who are members of the Club. Thank you, Rob and Sue, for coming to see us and taking us out for an italian feast!
Today's passage began shortly before 1:00 PM, after equipping Grace with her sails and tuning the rigging. The morning sun which had us promptly in shorts, while surrounded by fall foliage colors, gave way to overcast skies with amazing cloud formations. Upon our 4:00 PM anchorage for our first time off the shipping channel behind the island at Middle Ground Flats, we wasted no time before lounging in our blue chairs in the cockpit. The clouds dissipated, and we will be enjoying the sunset momentarily.
During these passages we have seen two bald eagles, a white swan, herons, ducks and other feathered friends.
The above shot was captured yesterday between the first two lockings of the day; when we have wifi again perhaps we will post more shots from what we have viewed over the last few days. In the meantime, we look forward to reading your comments.
10/01/2013, Champlain Canal, Lock 4, Schuylerville, New York
During the past months, Grace got the following:
new instrument panel constructed and installed
new lazy jacks made
engine oil change
extensive engine oil pressure testing
replaced oil pressure relief valve spring
rebuilt raw water pump
modified fuel pump wiring
evaluated fuel supply system from tanks to carburetor; replaced everything from pick up tubes in tanks (all fuel lines, filters, and fittings) to carburetor; repositioned fuel pump
replaced both fuel gauges
reverse gear evaluation
replaced head joker valve
repaired holding tank
bimini alterations - canvas and framing
wooden water diverters for dodger made and installed
fresh "Grace" painted on transom
cleaned bilge and bilge pump
sealed dorade vents
replacement spreaders installed and painted
replaced one anchor roller
relocated other anchor roller
replaced galley hand pump
removed excess galley faucet
In preparation for cruising we have restocked all spare parts and re-provisioned.
After the mast was unstepped yesterday and final shore-based chores were completed, at 1:00 PM we cast off from Chipman Point Marina with a third crew member onboard for the first leg of the journey. Debbie's mom joined us for the warm, sunny, afternoon passage to Whitehall, New York. The above shot was captured after we crossed the most southerly portion of Lake Champlain. Surrounded by fall foliage colors in the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of New York, we enjoyed an uneventful ride until the engine cooling water ceased to exit the exhaust during the lift in the lock at Whitehall at 4:00 PM; Captain Kevin successfully intermittently ran the engine and coasted Grace out of the lock to the free town wall; it appears that something must have clogged the water intake temporarily since everything checked out fine and the problem disappeared. Kevin applied a coat of paint to the spreaders. Shortly thereafter, Grace was joined for the night by s/v Turquoise Serenity, and we promptly began getting acquainted with Jason and Yves from Montreal. Debbie's mother's husband arrived in Whitehall by road just as the liquid refreshment and toasts to the voyage commencement began; they took us out for dinner at the Fair Haven Inn; thank you both for sharing in the beginning of this voyage with us! Upon our return from dinner, Jason and Yves invited us for a visit aboard.
Today's passage began after the morning fog lifted enough at 9:00. We were treated to another warm, sunny, colorful day, transiting a total of six of the Champlain Canal Locks, stopping for the night on the north side of Lock 4 shortly before 6:00 PM. Jason and Yves from s/v Turquoise Serenity caught our docklines for us when we arrived to share the free wall with them and s/v Clarisse.
During these passages we have seen a bald eagle, several herons and ducks as well as other feathered friends, and one turtle.
More photos from these two days can be viewed in the photo gallery - link on the right - Champlain Canal and Hudson River 2013.
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.
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.
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.
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.