25/11/2010/10:30 am, St Augustine, FL
Here we are in another beautiful little Spanish city.
We pulled our anchor from the very sucky mud at Pine Island on Tuesday morning (I'm sure we could have withstood a hurricane there!) and ghosted back into the ICW. It was so serene and lovely - still still water, little birds flitting around and pelicans gliding. We accidentally timed our arrival in St Augustine perfectly so that we caught the 1030 opening of the Bridge of Lions and went straight to our mooring ball. St Augustine now has some balls north of the bridge and many on the south side. We have heard mixed opinions on the value of this, but to our minds it's a good thing. The holding is suspect here and the current is strong, and it costs $10 per day for dinghy docking including showers, laundry, lounge etc, (and they do pay attention to this - you must display a sticker). The moorings are $20 per day so for only $10 extra, we have security plus all the perks!
We hustled ourselves into the shower and shortly after that were standing on King Street with our thumbs out. No - not for a random ride. Our bestest buddies were in town! With their usual excellent timing, Steve and Sandi had driven down to show Glenn and Edwina the sights of St Augustine so we hopped into the van and headed off to the Sailor's Exchange. It is actually walkable from the waterfront - a handy thing to know for future visits. I was delighted to find another fender - for $35 instead of the $52 at West Marine and some odds and sods of line. I'm a sucker for line - all colours and sizes and materials - I never know when I might need it. Jim found a replacement catch for one that had broken on a floor panel, and we picked up some other bits of miscellanea to put in the "just in case" box. Steve snagged a really fine bosun's chair and I saw Sandi's hands full of brushes and sandpaper (Sandi is the Varnish Queen and I know what she'll do with those!) This is a grand place to prowl around - the shelves are stocked with thousands of nautical things and all the prices are negotiable.
The rest of the day was filled with rambles through pretty neighbourhoods to the south of King St and up St George St through the touristy shopping area. 4:30 found us perched on stools at the A1A for Happy Hour. The A1A is a fine brewpub across from the waterfront where boaters tend to congregate and we enjoyed fat juicy wings and good local beers before we parted ways with our pals. Each good bye seems to lead to another hello, but I think this was the last time for this fall!
Jim and I had a time out at the boat, and then returned ashore to try out the Columbia restaurant for tapas. It's a lovely building and the service was excellent but the food was mediocre at best. Maybe it was an off night. After one more stroll through the lights on the lawn of city hall we headed back to the dock and home under the stars and moonlight to bed.
We spent part of Wednesday morning on computers and in the afternoon Jim filled jerry cans and tried to track down a cable for his computer, while I went off on my own explorations. When we were here in the spring, we toured Flagler College (well worth it for the fascinating history and beautiful contents) and walked through the interior of City Hall. On this visit we roamed a little further. It is a truly beautiful city - the oldest permanent settlement in the US - and has had a primarily Spanish influence. The red clay tiled roofs and arches and columns, the embossed paving stones, flowers peeking over walls and gates make this a lovely walking city. We stopped in at Mi Casa for lunch and listened to a fine singer and guitarist while we enjoyed chicken tacos and iced tea, and in the evening, went to Harry's where we sat in the garden and enjoyed New Orleans fare accompanied by another musician. The people watching was good there too. The city is filled with visiting families and the small children dancing to the music, older ones attracted by the goodies in the shops, and still older children being cool but having fun anyway made us both wax nostalgic over memories of many trips with our own children. One older (than us) fellow with perfectly groomed white hair, highwaisted jeans and shirt tucked in without a wrinkle, arms and legs crossed and nary a smile on his face made us wonder what his story was, and a sweet much older (than us!) lady with a great orange shawl kept going up to the musician at Harry's to ask for favourite selections.
A guy in the lounge this morning was comparing the merits of anchoring, mooring and docking. He hates to tie up to a dock because he has to deal with cockroaches, dirt and people! Ha! We all had a good laugh - not sure if he listed them in order of importance or not! I was sitting on the dock last evening waiting for Jim when a passing gentleman commented that at one time it would have been illegal for an unescorted woman to be hanging about like that. He proved to be an interesting conversationalist and we passed the time very nicely till Jim showed up. While I still list anchoring, mooring and docking in the same order as the guy in the lounge, I guess having to deal with people is not one of my issues!
We decided to stay here until Friday rather than leave this morning. The wind would have been too low to sail and then would have been right on our nose overnight so we'll see what tomorrow brings. If it still doesn't look good, we'll take the ICW, but we would dearly love to get out in the ocean and hoist our sails.
This is a good place to celebrate our second Thanksgiving of the year. We'll go walking and looking, and we'll enjoy dinner tonight at OC White's on the waterfront. Happy "American" Thanksgiving to all.
22/11/2010/11:00 am, Pine Island Anchorage, ICW Mile 765
We finally slipped our lines and motored off down the ICW. It feels good to be on the move, although it was hard to tear ourselves away from our "home away from home" in Fernandina Beach. Steve jokes that he is running a group home!
We went to Jacksonville a week ago and spent the whole day doing errands. Steve had an appointment at the Mayo Clinic so we toured around there with Sandi while he was busy. What a grand place that is! Spacious halls and foyers, gorgeous art, a volunteer playing the grand piano in one of the waiting areas, a lovely peaceful garden with sculptures and water features, and a cafeteria with delicious and healthy food. These reflect the broader scope of attention to healing the whole person and we must assume that the doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff are equally impressive! Everything we read and heard indicated an admirable dedication to quality medical care for those who get on the patient list there.
Next stop was Costco from which we emerged with piles of boxes and bags and wallets that, while lighter, were not as empty as they could have been. Bulk buying surely does help when buying groceries for the next 4 months. The West Marine store was next on the list - interesting to see that this flagship store was practically empty - lots of helpful staff and a half dozen customers. A sign of the economy? or of Internet commerce? I was appalled to find that fenders were $52.00! The last time I bought any, they were around $25 and I thought that was bad. Jim spent a long time at the next stop getting our PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) tweaked so that it is registered in Canada. It was another boat show purchase and was a good price, but in hindsight, we might have been better off buying it in Canada. It cost $80 to switch it to a Canadian registration, and he couldn't just register it in the US because it had to be registered in our country of residency.
On Tuesday, Glenn and Edwina (Mariah) arrived at the "group home". They are Newfoundlanders living in Chester, NS and are having a Florida visit prior to spending the winter in Tortolla. We've all enjoyed fine dining from the Eberle/Swanson kitchen (Sandi's Georgia Red Sweet Potato dish is my new favourite), as well as at the Oyster Bay Yacht Club (pot roast and fish fry), and at Arte's - where we all had about the finest Italian food ever - gnocci in gorgonzola cheese sauce accompanied by big fat juicy shrimp stuffed with spinach and wrapped in bacon, combo pasta plates with a variety of flavours and shapes, an antipasta platter full of tasty goodies. We had eaten there several times but had never gotten past their delicious pizza before. Pablo's is always a hit for Mexican food and didn't fail us this trip either. We are getting our shot of the high life all at once, but it will be boat food from here on.
Jay and Deborah, whom we met at our nephew, Daman's wedding this summer live in Atlantic Beach and were able to come over for lunch on Sunday. It was fun to get to know them better and introduce them to Madcap, and in return, they introduced us to the most delectable little cakes I have ever encountered. Cami cakes are apparently a Jacksonville specialty - oh - such sweet and pretty little things!
This posting should have been titled Gastronomic Indulgence or some such thing since it seems to have been all about food! I also chuckle to myself as I write because it takes me back to my childhood when my Aunt Ursula used to write the Lower Debert community column for the Truro newspaper. Those social news columns were written by local women and were filled with "so and so" came to visit "so and so". I feel like I am doing the same now - and some readers will be bored, and some will have the same memories and some will say, "Oh! It is good to hear about "so and so"!
We did manage to tear ourselves away from all the social activity and get underway this morning - with a couple of regrets. We weren't able to connect with Sue and Terry because our schedules just didn't jibe, and we didn't get up to spend a day or two at Cumberland Island. In the spring ... in the spring.
We had a number of things to do in the morning so we decided not to go outside from Fernandina Beach to St Augustine as per the original plan. Instead, we left about 10 and travelled down the ICW to this pretty anchorage at Pine Island. There are 9 or 10 boats here - 3 of them came in after dark - and it is a beautiful quiet moonlit night with no bugs!
This is a good stretch of the ICW to do because there are no particular tricky bits and it has a taste of the marshes with egrets and pelicans and ospreys, along with some areas of grand houses with lanais bigger than our house in Halifax, cottages with folks fishing off the docks, and the ever present little sport fishing boats whose occupants give a wave as we pass. We weren't even in a line of boats - we met a couple heading north and were passed by one power boat.
Tuesday - St Augustine. Then we'll have to see what happens from there. We want to do the next stretch outside so weather will play a part, as will timing. It is an overnight sail from St Augustine to Ft Pierce. American Thanksgiving is Thursday and Vero Beach will be chock a block with boats. We need to stop there both to see friends and to pick up books to take to Ragged Island. A plan will present itself, I'm sure!
Oh - by the way - dinner on board tonight was pan seared tuna steaks, rice salad and green salad. mmmmmm.......
19/11/2010/10:48 am, Fernandina Beach, FL
Madcap is sitting pretty on her mooring at Fernandina Beach City Marina. We spent Sunday evening at anchor in the little channel that winds up through the marshes behind the mooring field, but because we planned to be away from the boat for several nights, we took a ball just as soon as one became available on Monday morning, and stayed for a week. ($15 per day or $90 for a week) That is a lovely little anchorage with space for a number of boats and not all that much further away from the dinghy dock at the marina.
Sandi, Steve, Jim and I had lunch last week with Marilyn and Vic (Whisper). We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at 29 South with Mike and Jennifer Harrison, and Steve and Sandi. Mike is an electrical engineer and was the trouble shooter guy who spent many hours on Madcap in the spring, trying to figure out the problem with the electrical system. Last Friday, Jim and I went off to St. Simon's and Jekyll Islands for a day trip with Steve and Sandi - so pretty to explore around - and then were slow to get to the boat yard on Saturday because we stopped to run some errands on the way. When we got there, we found a note from Jeannie saying they'd been there twice! Nancy and Bruce (Seabird) and Jeannie and Jim (Estelle) were anchored in the marshes I mentioned earlier, and it was a treat to have a little visiting time with them. We met for dinner and caught up on all the news and travel plans (back at 29 South - so delicious - southern food with a classy twist: fried green tomatoes ... pulled pork in spring rolls and in a Cobb salad that is sublime... crispy fried catfish with an oyster etouffe ... grilled mahi mahi on a bed of lima bean and fresh corn succotash ... mmmm.) What a delight to see all these old friends. (Nancy sent this pic) Despite the way it looks, we really have been working more than playing!
The exterior teak is pretty much all done (except for the hand rails which need a lot of work and will have to wait for another time) and we finally cleared and cleaned the cabin sole and applied the long awaited coats of Ultimate Sole. We bought that product in 2007 at the Annapolis boat show, intending to get it on that year. Here we are 3 years later, and while the floor deteriorated some over that time - dings and scrapes and areas where the finish was pretty well worn off - it looks pretty darned good now. It has a nice glossy finish that somehow also manages to be non skid. The product isn't available any more so I'm glad we have another can tucked away for the future. I also put some little area rugs down to help protect the sole, and got big towels to cover the settee seats in the salon and perhaps keep the salt out of the upholstery. Oh - another recommendation - the folks at Topstitch replaced the zipper in one of the cushions. Same day service with a smile!
We've provisioned and provisioned - and once again are supremely thankful for the storage capacity of the Bayfield 36's. Each year I get so overwhelmed with the mounds of bags and boxes, and yet each year it all finds a place. Mind you, I could still use another 6 feet on this boat. Every nook and cranny is stuffed full and because we put things wherever they will fit, there is sometimes not a lot of order and reason to what is where. The Bayfield bathtub is full again and not with bubbles! Anyone planning to take a shower will have a fair bit of shifting to do before there is room for a body in there! The aft cabin/aka garage is crammed to the ceiling. We bought a new Viking valise life raft this year, and that sucker takes up a whole lot of room. It won't fit in either of the cockpit lockers, so it will live in the aft cabin most of the time and be hauled up to the cockpit for passages. It is one of those things that we hope never to use, and it bugs me to have it taking up so much space. Ahhh well - good insurance I hope.
Another boat show purchase was a new 9.5 ft AB dinghy with a fiberglass bottom, and we are delighted with it so far. It sits higher in the water so perhaps we won't get as wet; it is lighter than the old Brig which means hauling it up on the beach and up on the davits will be easier; aaand, one more plus, it will be better able to handle last year's purchase - the Yanmar 15 hp outboard motor. Oh the places we'll go!!