05/03/2009, 32 04.883N 81 05.330W
For those of you who have asked numerous times for pictures of dolphins, here they are. Sorry there are so many, but I wanted to try to show what it was like yesterday when these guys came to visit. There is no way the still photos can even come close to the real thing, and I wish I had had a movie camera, but here is what I got. I have seen a lot of dolphins on this trip, but experienced nothing quite like yesterday. These guys rode the bow wave for over an hour. That was when I went back to the cockpit. But they also left and came back several times. There were several groups at dusk that showed up, one of which consisted of at least a dozen, who were much smaller than the typical adults. I don't know if they were a different species or just a group of adolescents "cruising". But they were fast and jumped all the way out of the water a lot. I think they do that to see what is going on above the surface. Last night was unique in that I heard dolphins surface right next to me in the cockpit all night long. It was very dark and I could not see them but could hear them blow. It felt as if they were escorting me, or keeping me company. When I was sitting on the bow sprit watching them swim with the boat, they would turn on their sides a lot and get very close to the surface and look up at me. They were so playful. Their agility and speed is awesome. I titled one of the pictures, "One minute you think you're alone, and then you realize you're not", and I think that is the way it is out here. I am sure there have been dolphins around me like that before, but I just wasn't paying attention. And then I get that is the way life is. Another good reminder to always be present and enjoy and appreciate what I have. This was actually a very powerful experience, very moving and emotional for me some how.
All of that aside, I traveled 149 nm in 28 hours yesterday. Motored the first 25 nm, then the wind picked up from the south and Kristinly was on a run all night. Sailed at 6.5 - 7 kts nearly all night with just the main sail. A great trip and will now hang here in Savannah for a couple of days. I would like to rest up a bit after sailing 2 of the last three nights without any sleep. I also have a couple of projects on the boat to take care of. One of which is I need to send in my "new" laptop to Toshiba AGAIN. Hard drive last time, this time, half of the keyboard just quit working. Sooooo, I am back on the old laptop again, which is truly on its last leg. If you don't hear from me for a week or so, it will be because the old one finally bit the big one and I am still waiting to get the new one back.
05/02/2009, 29 53.631N 81 18.588W
We arrived in St. Augustine after traveling 162 nm in 28 hours. For the most part, it was uneventful, departing with C-Note at 1000 near slack tide to avoid the chop from the east winds against ebb.
I said mostly uneventful, as Patrick (my new crew) got seasick about 30 minutes after we exited the inlet out to the ocean. It was still pretty choppy at the end of the inlet and 4'-6' seas on the starboard quarter after that, causing that uncomfortable roll of the deck. And when I say sick, he had it bad. He disappeared down below for about two hours and I never heard a word from him. I tried to tell him before he did that it would be a mistake, as focusing on the horizon is best when you get like that. He stuck his head up later for a few minutes saying he had puked, A LOT, and was going to lie down. To make a long story short, he never got over it and spent all but about 2 of the 28 hour trip lying down in his berth. I was going to pull into Canaveral so he could get off the boat as soon as possible, but that would have put us in there in the dark at 2330, and I checked with the USCG and they said NO anchoring in the port east of the lock, and the lock closed at 2130. After having no luck raising any of the marinas, I made the decision to continue on and divert to St. Augustine instead of Savannah, a compromise which would get Patrick off the boat and onto dry land sooner than later. Poor guy, he was extremely miserable the whole time but never complained, and there really was little else I could do for him. So he got off the boat at 1630 and caught a Greyhound back to Ft. Pierce arriving there at 2330, and presumably was going to ride his motorcycle back to Tampa, another 4 hours. I actually enjoyed him in his few lucid moments and wouldn't mind hanging with him again sometime, but I doubt he will be interested in another boat trip.
Solo, back out again today. You may recall the original plan was to sail for two nights and arrive in Savannah. That is another 150 nm from St. Augustine, and I will do that today, departing at 1000 at slack tide and should arrive there in about 25 - 30 hours tomorrow (1100 - 1600). This diversion for Patrick added about 40 nm to the trip from Ft. Pierce to St. Augustine, but it was the right, and really the only thing to do. Joe and Deb should be arriving in Savannah mid-day today and we think we will probably continue on from there together a few days after that. Debby needs to get her hair dyed and I will need a few days' rest.
A couple other things of note: saw 3 sea turtles yesterday, one of them being at least 4' long. Small birds visited me about 12 nm offshore, and one of them made it into the forward berth, crapped on the blanket, and then promptly died on the spot. Go figure ... And I lost my brand new pair of sun glasses over the side while preparing a preventer on the mainsail. Back to the old cheapies ...
04/29/2009, 27 28.085N 80° 19.427W
Arrived in Ft. Pierce at 1500 yesterday after a very pleasant motor up the ditch. I was actually able to put the Genoa up for the last 18 nm and motor sailed. Funny, it blew like hell during the first part of the trip where I had bridges to deal with and narrow channels, and then after the last bridge and things opened up, the winds died down to about 10 kts. Go figure ...
Joe and Deb on C-Note were here to greet me. This is a small anchorage with plenty of current, so finding a spot that felt comfortable took a little bit. But I got a good hook set and all was well last night. Joe and Deb introduced me to their friends Jim and Tina, who have a 47' Chris Craft motor yacht in a marina slip, and we ordered pizza for dinner and relaxed on their boat. That sounds pretty trivial, I'm sure, but do you have any idea how long it's been since I had a great pizza overflowing with meat? YUM!
My new crew member, Patrick Case from Tampa, is set to arrive here this late this afternoon and will sail with me for 3 or 4 days. This is the guy I met in Bimini when invited to go fishing there and he was a friend of the guy that owned the boat. We will go over all of the basics tonight in terms of safety, fundamental operations of the boat, expectations, and the like.
These wild east winds and relatively high seas that have been so persistent are finally going to die down tomorrow. The plan is to pull out tomorrow morning and head north to Savannah (275 nm/45 - 55 hrs) or possibly Charleston (320nm/55 - 65 hrs), if all goes well. That will put us outside for two nights. This will save a LOT of time avoiding the ICW. I would not do the two nights alone. I can stay away for two days and one night when single handing, but that's it, and I am not comfortable sleeping and leaving the boat unattended. So with Patrick's help standing watch during the day while I sleep, we should do well. C-Note is also going to sail with us, so there is safety in numbers, as they say.
We will not have cell service for the bulk of the trip as we will be quite a ways offshore. But I will write again as soon as we get back close enough to shore, which should be sometime Saturday.
04/28/2009, 26 50.220N 80 03.191W
Just a quick note to let you know I have begun the trip north after a fun stay in Ft. Lauderdale. I left Ft. Lauderdale yesterday morning at 0745, and after 8 hours and 20, count 'em - 20, bridges later, I arrived here at N. Palm Beach. Strong east winds and high seas forced me to move along in the ditch (ICW). I am moving to FT. Pierce today via the ICW again, and will meet up with Joe and Deb (C-Note) there. Also a new twist, a guy from Tampa I met in Bimini is planning to meet me there and sail along for 3 days or so. That will be nice as I intend to head outside and sail directly as far north as the weather will allow. It sounds like C-Note may join me. That could mean several nights outside. Will write more later about that plan tonight.
From my friend Maryann on Straight from the Heart. By the way, the Haitians changed their plans and departed 4 hours after we did, so we did not sail with them after all.
By the way, Nikki just called to say she made it back to VT without any problems. We had an unbelievably great time on our little 9 week adventure in the Bahamas. Can't wait to do it again some day.
I will be hanging around here in Ft Lauderdale for another day or two waiting for the weather to settle some. I want to spend as much time sailing on the outside as possible, but if things stall here for long, I will suck it up and start motoring north up the ICW.
04/23/2009, 26 06.317N 80 06.719W
After three days of being tied to a mooring at the Loa Olas Marina, we've moved to Lake Sylvia for anchor for a day, and then will move up the New River which is close by to tie up to a sea wall through Saturday, which is when Nikki flies back. After that, I will most likely start the trek back north. More on that in a moment ...
The hard drive on the new computer is definitely toast. Covered under warranty, I had to get it to a Toshiba service center which was 12 miles away. We rented a car to do that and also spent the last two days reprovisioning. With the exception of some perishables, I think I am set for another two months or so, which will take me up to when Nikki gets back on the boat when school is out - June 17, or there abouts ... Anyway, I am using one of the two older PC's which are both on their last legs until I get the repaired computer back on Friday. Fortunately, just about everything was backed up or on flash drives and cameras still and I can get nearly all of the data and pics back.
My uninformed opinion about spending the summer in the Chesapeake Bay has been informed by several who are in the know. It turns out that by July, the heat and jelly fish are more than one cares to put up with there, so I am thinking about another alternative. One could put us back up in NYC for July 4th again, and then on east through the Long Island Sound and to Martha's Vineyard, and maybe Cape Cod. I would also like to spend more time on the Connecticut shore as well as Rhode Island. We'll see how it goes - will let you know more as the thinking develops.
Don and Maryann of Straight from the Heart were trying to talk me into going to Marathon in the Keys for a couple of weeks, which is where they are destined for today. I would love to see them again, but that would put me back in the position of sailing through the southeast in really hot weather again like last year. So I think I will pass on that notion for now and head north after Nikki leaves.
I had made a promise to myself that I would not think about returning to the real world (aka "work") until returning from the Bahamas. Well, we are back, and it is time for me to do some of that. I am really undecided about what to do. I could return to what I know (catalogue ops), but would rather try something different. In the end, whatever it is could look something like consulting, writing, truck driving, etc., etc... I want it to be something that is portable and can be done anywhere the boat goes. Tough bill to fill, I know, but that is the direction I am heading for now. If nothing comes to fruition, then it could be back to the tried and true for a while. Let me know if any of you have any thoughts or ideas!
One last thought: I had mentioned to several over the last couple of weeks that I was thinking of taking Kristinly back up the Hudson River and to Lake Champlain for part of the summer. It turns out that the anti-fouling paint I spent nearly $1,000 on last fall is for salt water only and will harden and flake off in a matter of days if exposed to fresh water. So that put an end to that thought. So as it stands, I will look for a place to keep the boat for a couple of weeks while I return to VT for Jenni and Matt's wedding.
That's it for now. Hope all is well with everyone!