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Madcap Sailing
Friends Arrive, Head is Fixed and We're on our Way
Beth / 70 ish
16/11/2011/1:18 pm, Pine Island Anchorage, ICW Mile 765

What a difference a couple of days makes! From being a little discouraged on Monday, to being excited on Tuesday, to being underway on Wednesday, it has been quite the tumultuous few days.

The first excellent event was Jim's call down the companionway, "Come quick! There's a sailboat coming up the creek!" Now this might not sound too exciting in itself, but we knew Nomades was due at Tiger Point on Tuesday for haulout. Sure enough, it was our good friends Mireille and Christian, from Trident Yacht Club, Ontario arriving here in Fernandina Beach. What a joy it was to catch their lines and welcome them to Florida. They have been having a wonderful time, and the smile on Mireille's face reminded me of our first trip south, when everything was new and thrilling. She has been taking fantastic pictures of the scenery and wildlife as they travel so have a look at onthewayornot.blogspot.com. It is a feast for your eyes.

We got caught up on each other's news over lunch and as we watched Nomades get securely placed in the cradle that will be her home for a month, and then we topped off the day with dinner at 29 South. That continues to be on our top 3 or 4 dining spots in Fernandina Beach. It's a little more upscale than Arte's (the best pasta and pizza) and Café Karibo (where we had a most excellent farewell lunch with Tina and Dick the other day) and specializes in local, seasonal food. We all started with PEI mussels, and moved on to such goodies as shrimp and grits, pulled pork cobb salad, and kobe beef burger. Oh - mouthwatering - and with wonderful conversation between bites. We have talked so much about how much we loved sailing our boat from Ontario to Florida and beyond, that it is a true thrill to see our friends discovering the same joy in their journey.

Our new pump pieces arrived on Tuesday at noon via good old UPS and by 4 o'clock, the head was put back together. I spliced together a new hook and line affair to attach the 2 stern eyebolts on the dinghy to the block on the davit. I hope this one is more secure than the last one! The Nav station GPS is still not working, but it is only one of the three on board so we have time to play with it.

We listened to the Wednesday morning weather report from Chris Parker and from NOAA, and thought we'd like a mooring for a couple of days as we finished off our last minute chores in Fernandina Beach and enjoyed some more time with Mireille and Christian, but it was not to be. Jim arrived in the Fernandina City Marina office at 6:45 this morning just in time to hear them give the last ball to the lady ahead of him. The city marina is having some trouble with mooring balls this year and few of them are available. It is very frustrating for the many cruisers who want to stop here.

Knowing that the alternative was anchoring behind the mooring field, that winds 20 -25 knots were expected to move in, and that we really did have to get ourselves off the dock at Tiger Point, we made a quick decision to head straight down the ICW toward St Augustine. Accordingly, we bustled around to get the car moved over to the storage lot across the road, the dinghy lifted and all the odds and sods stored away. All too soon we were waving regretful good byes to Mireille and Christian as they released our lines and tossed them to us in a reversal of Tuesday's events. We waved again to Baird as we passed Romulus at the mouth of the creek, and turned our bow south for the beginning of this season's excursion.

The smell from the mill was very strong as we passed the mooring field so we ended up feeling happy to continue on. With the wind on our nose (20-25 knots at first, decreasing to less than 10 as the day went on) we were happy enough to be in the ICW. It is a pretty trip for the first while, winding among the marshes, and then the navigation gets decidedly boring for the straight parts. We amused ourselves gawking at the massive houses that are interspersed with older, more modest ones with docks and gazebos stretching like fingers into the waterway. Just at dusk we met a barge loaded with airplanes shrink-wrapped like aerial mummies. We made it as far as Pine Island, pulling into the creek in the dying light to join the 5 boats already there.

The tide was fairly low and we stopped in 7 feet of water, thinking it would get deeper, but we saw 0.1 on the depth sounder before that happened - no bouncing though, just settling into the mud. (Our depth sounder shows us what is under our keel.) The no-see-ums were out in force so we headed below quickly for dinner, books and an early bedtime. That turned out to be a good thing because rain drops through the hatch, crashing thunder and flashing lightning woke us at 5 am and while I went back to sleep, Jim stayed up to monitor our position relative to that of the other boats.

How "delightful" to have bugs, storms, low water all visit us on our first night out. It was a wry little reminder that for all the joys of lapping water, dolphins fishing around us, pelicans swooping down beside us, life afloat is all about balance.

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Headaches about Heads
Beth / warming up again - 70's daytime and 50 nighttime
14/11/2011/9:11 pm, Tiger Point Marine, Fernandina Beach FL

We're still on the dock. Walt came down this morning to check things out and once he got the pump handle off he found the housing was broken - meaning it is a slightly bigger problem than a leaky seal. We are now waiting for a replacement to come in on Tuesday from Defender.

The dinghy fell half off the davits because one of the lines holding it up broke. Fortunately there was no damage done - except to the tether - and I'll make a new one tomorrow.

The GPS at the Nav station has gone on the blink again tonight. We thought that problem was fixed already.

Hmmmm ... I'm feeling a message here. Sit still - practice patience - be grateful - make lemonade.

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15/11/2011/2:28 pm | Glen Gray
You're in a lovely spot with lots of friends and readily available marine parts... enjoy!
It's a good ride down the Hawke Channel to Key West and the Dry Tortulas with excellent fishing and too many crab pots....
Off the Dock - or Not
Beth / t shirt days, fleecy nights
13/11/2011/10:21 pm, Tiger Point Marine, Fernandina Beach FL

Well - one more glitch to report. (3 new postings up tonight).

We spent today doing last minute jobs in order to pull away from Tiger Point on Monday morning. I restrung the furling lines and Jim filled jerry cans with diesel and gas and water. We adjusted the temperature of the fridge so maybe the lettuce won't freeze as easily - it is more complicated than it sounds! Jim's last job was to replace the seal on the toilet pump and that's where things went bad. The darn thing just wouldn't come apart and then a piece fell down where it shouldn't have fallen and amid the chaos and cursing came the wise decision to get Dave to look at it in the morning. So who knows when we will leave this little creek?

On the bright side, we enjoyed a happy and consoling conversation (one cruiser with head trouble (toilet trouble) loves to hear about the head troubles others have had) and nice change of scenery with Karin and Ed on Passages. Herons and egrets stalked fish in the creek at low tide, and I had some spicy chili in the fridge to heat up for a hot, easy dinner.

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14/11/2011/8:04 am | Sue Campbell
All glitches now so there will be none later!! We want your trip to be snag free. Besides you wouldn't want a faulty part to cause someone to do the wrong thing working the head, After all , as you told your cousin on her very first stay on the Madcap, if you work that thing wrong, it can sink the boat. Right, Jim? :-)
14/11/2011/7:59 pm | Rob Wells
Read a book by a chap from near Sydney NS not sure now. He was crossing the atlantic on a 28 footer plus or minus a bit. The one thing in the book that stayed with me was that before slipping the lines seal the through haul for the head. More than enough good boats have been lost to a leaky head. His take on it was that no one had any business going to sea with anyone they couldn't stand seeing sitting on a rubber bucket. For what it is worth.
Have a great and safe season.

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