01/11/2011, Daytona Beach
We finally got going today. We asked a guy from the marina to help us with the lines, Bud was still a bit worried about prop walk and hitting the very nice boat next to us. We had no trouble backing out of the slip and at 7:30 AM were on our way. It was misty enough that you could feel the droplets in the air, and it was only in the upper 30's. I was in four layers with full foul weather gear and gloves.
The first thing I did was test my inflatable PFD. It wasn't on my list of things to do today, but when I was coiling the stern line I managed to get it caught on the manual pull-tab on my inflatable life vest and WHOOSH! It scared me, but it was nice to see that it worked. Bud thought it was hilarious and took my picture. Of course, now I need to rearm it or it is useless.
We are staying in the ICW because the inlets that are navigable are so far apart that we can't easily get from one to the other. Besides, today there was no wind (one extreme to the other - I thought we'd left those fluky winds behind at Lake Ontario). It stayed cold all day long. Finally, about 1 PM, the sun came out. I took my gloves and foul weather pants off and as long as I stayed behind the dodger and out of the wind I was almost warm.
We are at another marina. I needed to get the carbon dioxide cylinder to rearm my life vest and since it's supposed to get down to 34 with a wind chill of 26 I voted for a marina again. We could run the generator to heat the boat, but we'd still have a cold dinghy ride to take Fuzzy ashore and go shopping. So we are at Halifax Harbor Marina, the municipal marina for Daytona, and I went to the West Marine that is right at the marina. Happily, we needed a few other things besides the rearming kit, because I just tried to fix my PFD and I have the wrong kit. (I also didn't figure that out until step 6 of 7 and when I tried to put the little pieces back in the box I broke a tiny plastic spindle, so I guess I own this rearming kit.)
Tomorrow we are getting up early and again pushing south. It doesn't look like we can get far enough to escape the cold. We may get a reprieve by Friday, when we hope to arrive in Stuart. By then this cold snap will be lessening and we will be far enough south that it may actually start to feel like Florida.
01/10/2011, Still St. Augustine
Somehow in my head I had envisioned us looking at weather forecasts, making plans and then setting out according to plan. That isn't the way it's been. Over the weekend, looking at the weather, we decided at one point that the next weather window was Tuesday. So we planned to sail outside like mad all day Tuesday to get to the next navigable inlet, Ponce Inlet.
But then we reconsidered. Monday was going to be by far the warmest day; the only problem with Monday was a chance of showers and a slight chance of a thunderstorm. Tuesday there wasn't going to be enough wind to sail anyway. So we thought, why not leave Monday and get part of the way on the inside (the ICW) and then finish up on Tuesday? That became the plan.
Monday morning it was warm. We got up and dressed, had the marina pump out our holding tanks (free with stay), disconnected the power and sat in the slip and watched the wind. We had 25 knots of wind in the harbor. The wind was blowing against the side of the boat, pushing it towards the dock. It was also blowing so that as Bud reversed out of the slip, the propwalk and the wind would be in the same direction. For non-boaters, many boats have a tendency to turn in one direction or the other in reverse because of the action of the prop. On our boat, the stern turns to starboard. You have to get going pretty quick (relatively speaking) until there is enough flow over the rudder for the wheel to overcome the propwalk. The way things were it looked likely that our bow would swing out to port and clip the guy tied next to us. Not at all a neighborly sort of thing to do.
After about a half hour of fiddling with things and waiting for the wind to die, we decided that we had better just ante up for another night at the marina (Bud thought check-out time was about 11 and it was 11). So Bud plugged the power in and I went to the marina office and paid for another night.
Within an hour the wind had started to die. We could have left about noon. By then I had already called Gary to say we were here for another night. Karen had the day off, since she had worked all weekend. We made plans to meet for lunch at a famous Cuban restaurant in the old part of the city. So we weren't leaving today.
It was nice to have lunch anyway. Bud and I walked over to the restaurant and then Karen and I walked back while Gary and Bud brought Gary's truck over. Karen got to see the boat after all.
In the afternoon I did a couple of loads of wash and we'll try to leave on Tuesday.
P.S. By the end of the day it got cold again!
01/09/2011, St. Augustine Municipal Marina
Well there was no fishing and no moving to a mooring ball today. We woke up to almost 25 knots of wind almost on the stern. Bud and I were outside at 6 AM moving the dinghy from where it was tied to the dock behind the boat. We put it between the bow of the boat and the dock where it is a bit more protected.
Besides the wind, it really didn't get very warm today. The high was about 52, but with the wind it felt cold. Gary called about 9 to say he didn't think he wanted to put his little fishing boat in the water and we agreed. Not only would the ride be rough, it would be wet, and combined with the cold and wind it didn't sound like fun to any of us.
Gary came over to the boat and we decided to just ride around and take a tour. We went out to look at the inlet; it didn't look like it would be fun to try that today. It might not have been quite as bad as the day we did Cape May Inlet, but then again, once you got out there, it might have been just as bad. Waves don't look as bad from the shore as they do once you're in them.
We continued up the coast and stopped at a place with beach access. We walked out and as soon as we came through the dunes the cold wind hit us. Big pieces of salt foam were being blown up and along the beach. Gary spent about 30 seconds out there and said he would wait for us in the truck. He's seen the beach and this was just too cold. Bud, Fuzzy and I lasted about two minutes longer. Even Fuzzy was happy to head back out of the wind.
Gary had mentioned a park with a trail through some woods. Bud wasn't too interested in that until we tried the beach. Then he said being in the woods might be a good thing. So we went to a conservation area that had trails and hiked back away from the ocean for a mile to a spot along the Intracoastal. It's been years since I hiked in Florida. I used to hike all the time when I lived in Tampa in the early '70's. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the woods here. And I had forgotten how cute the armadillos are. I don't remember seeing this many so close before. We probably saw 6 of them in the two miles we walked. Fuzzy was pretty interested in them. He was heading towards this one when I took the picture; the armadillo was fairly blasé about all of us and just turned and walked off when Fuzzy got too close. They were about a foot apart at one point, but of course I didn't have the camera out then.
We had hoped to go out this evening with Gary and his wife, Karen. But she had to work this weekend and didn't get done early today as she'd hoped. So Bud and I had a nice quiet supper on the boat. We've really enjoyed St. Augustine, but it would have been a lot nicer if it were about 15 degrees warmer.
01/08/2011, St. Augustine Municipal Marina
We started out today with a walk to "Sailors Exchange", a boat store that sells new and used boat stuff. We have a list of items we'd like for the boat and are hoping to find used. On the top of the list is a spinnaker pole that will fit the mount we already have on the mast. This store was a trip. It is not that large, but is crammed full of stuff that looks like it has been salvaged off boats. They had a number of spinnaker poles out back, none of which had the fitting we needed. They looked through their other hardware to see if they had the fitting that we could then attach to one of the poles they had, but they didn't have it.
We looked at several propane grills for the stern rail, too. We found one that was old but never unpacked and used, but the rail mount didn't look like it would work for us, and on further consideration it was probably bigger than we need and can fit. We ended up with three toggle switches (I've been having to replace the switches in our cabin lights that are wearing out) and a pulley to use to make it easier to zip up our mainsail stack pack.
Gary met us there which was nice because it was about a mile from the boat and it was good to have a ride home. Before we went back to the boat Gary took us to a bicycle shop not far from here. We've been looking for tires for the folding bikes. This shop happened to have two that would fit so we bought them both. This was the fourth bike shop we'd been to (two in Charleston and another here) and we were happy to finally find the tires.
Back at the boat I fixed a little lunch while Bud and Gary flipped the dinghy upright on the foredeck and put the registration numbers on it. They tied a lifting harness to it and after lunch used the spinnaker halyard to launch it. Then they used our mainsail preventer to lower the outboard engine to the dinghy. Bud started the brand new engine. He took it out for a trial run and then again for a bit to break in the outboard.
Meanwhile I put a new tire on one of the folding bikes. Both our folding bikes were out of commission. The one I was working on had a shredded rear tire. The other one is the one whose tube blew up while we were sailing.
So now we have a dinghy and engine and one bike all working. Since the dinghy is functional we may move to a mooring ball tomorrow, as long as the forecast for the night is not too cold. The NOAA website predicts 49 degrees for a low, which is fine. The TV forecast gave a low of 29 degrees for tomorrow. That's confusing.
After the work was done Gary and I talked Bud into walking around St. Augustine for a bit. We walked through the old streets a few blocks over to the fort, Castillo de San Marcos. Downtown St. Augustine is close to 100 per cent tourism. There are restaurants, bars, art galleries, street performers, and stores selling souvenirs and oddities everywhere. The photo is on the main pedestrian street (you can see Gary, Bud and Fuzzy walking ahead of me), but there are several of the old streets closed to cars. Even those open to cars are almost too narrow to handle them. Gary said it's a nightmare to park, but it's all very nice for those of us who come by boat.
I put a few pictures of St. Augustine in the gallery. I started a new album for Florida, to make it easier to view the photos. I also reversed the order of the photos in the old albums so the newest ones are at the top.
01/07/2011, St. Augustine, Day Two
We've officially moved out of New York. Today Gary took us to Green Cove Springs, where our mail forwarding service is. We picked up our mail and they gave us paperwork and instructions on becoming Florida residents and getting Florida driver's licenses. The only problem was, you must present proof of citizenship and a social security card to get a Florida driver's license. I had put together all the documents I thought we'd need, but hadn't included my social security card (Bud had his in his wallet). So we had to drive all the way back to the boat (almost 30 miles) and then all the way back to Green Cove Springs. We filled out a proof of domicile form and had it recorded at the Clay County Courthouse. We then went and got Florida driver's licenses, registration for the dingy, and a Florida saltwater fishing license for Bud. We had to pay non-resident rates for the fishing license because we haven't been residents for 6 months.
By the way, we checked the regulations and we need to register the dinghy even though the boat is documented with the Coast Guard and not registered. We don't have to register the boat in Florida unless we are in Florida waters for 90 consecutive days or 183 days per year in total. So we chose not to register Earendil, only her dinghy. That whole process took until 1:30 PM. We treated Gary to lunch after that. He more than earned it!
We went to see Gary's house and he gave Bud tips on fishing here. Gary is an avid fisherman. He saved us a lot of money by letting us know that you really only need live bait to be successful fishing in these waters. Bud is anxious to try fishing. I'm anxious to try eating the fish.
Tomorrow we are going to put the registration numbers on the dinghy and figure out how to launch and retrieve it from the boat and how to get our new outboard engine on and off it. Then I think Gary and Bud might try some fishing from the dink. I'd like to get to see this town a bit. It's the oldest European city in the U.S. and the marina is right on the edge of the old town. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get to walk around and take some pictures, the DMV was not very photogenic.
01/06/2011, St. Augustine Municipal Marina
The days never seem to turn out like I expect. And I'm still worrying about things that in the end are not issues. Today I was worried that there would be too much wind and the St. Augustine Inlet would be a problem, we would either go aground or face very rough seas (memories of Cape May Inlet came to mind). We had decided to sail the last leg, but the information we had said that the St. Augustine Inlet was shoaling and mariners should "seek local knowledge" before attempting to enter. I had talked to the folks at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina and they confirmed the shoaling, but said if we kept to the north side of the channel we should be OK. I also asked about the report that the channel could be very rough. They said it could get nasty if the seas were more than three feet. Well that had me worried because it's pretty common for the ocean have waves bigger than three feet.
I woke up at 4:30 listening to the wind and worrying about getting off the dock and getting back in the St. Augustine Channel. Bud wasn't sleeping too well either, and we were up and ready to leave early again. Happily the dockmaster at Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina was there before seven. Bud asked him where we could turn the boat in the marina, as it was pretty cramped. He offered to come help us turn the boat using lines. He did a great job, but even so, it was about the tightest situation we'd been in. The boat was being blown away from the dock, and the channel between the docks was not even as wide as our boat is long. The dockmaster pulled our stern around, but Bud needed to make about a 6 point turn to get us out of there. We got away clean. Great job, Bud.
We just made it out of St. Mary's Inlet in time. As we were heading out the very long channel we heard the coast guard checking on other boats and advising them that they had "an outbound event" and would need the channel clear. Something must have been happening with the subs. I thought the channel went about three miles out, but when I went down to plot the first point where we could comfortably turn and set a direct course to St. Augustine, it was closer to 8 miles out! We left the dock at 7 AM and didn't turn to set our course until 9:30. (About a half hour after we turned they shut the channel and that section of the ICW down.)
Once the course was set we saw we had about 48 nautical miles to the inlet buoy at St. Augustine. We needed to get to that buoy no later than 4 to get comfortably in before dark. The St. Augustine channel is shorter, but it would still be about another 3 nautical miles and one lift bridge before we got to the marina. We set our sails and the 15-knot wind from the west that was predicted proved to be 8 knots from the northwest. We were sailing nicely at between 5 and 6 knots, which would get us to St. Augustine well after dark. After about a half hour with no change and no improvement we broke down and turned on the engine. With engine and sails we were doing just over 7 knots, which is the pace we needed.
There wasn't too much wind, so far there was too little. We finally got a good amount of wind about an hour and a half from the buoy. We put the genoa back out (we'd taken it in when the wind died so much it wouldn't fill) and added the staysail and were sailing at 8 knots. Very nice. In the end we reached the buoy right about 3:30.
I called our friend Gary Gaskill back just before we reached the buoy. He lives near St. Augustine and had called and set a plan to come down and see us. I told him it looked like we'd be to the lift bridge at 4 and to the dock by 4:15. He was coming about 5.
We held to the north side of the inlet channel as instructed and had no issues. The waves were maybe a foot. We got to the lift bridge at 4:04. Bud had called the bridge on the radio to tell them we were coming hoping he'd hold the bridge (it opens on the hour and half hour). The bridge hadn't opened yet as we approached so we thought we were OK. Bud called the bridge again and the bridge tender told him it would open at the next scheduled time of 4:30. Thanks, guy. So we had to wait in the channel for another half hour. We motored back away for a while and then came up and Bud held the boat against the wind and a slight current for what seemed like a very long time, but was a little under 10 minutes. Finally the bridge opened (pretty much right at 4:30) and we were through. We did just over 61 nautical miles and were on the water for 9 hours and 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Gary had arrived and both he and the dockhand were there to help us dock. After a quick tour of the boat and taking care of Fuzzy, Gary took us out to dinner at a local seafood place. I ordered their fresh catch, which was flounder, and was really good. We played typical tourist and asked our waitress to take a picture of the three of us.
We'll be staying here a few days. This was our first stated goal and it is great to be here. It's still cold tonight, we're still at a dock and plugged in for heat, but the day did get sunny, and as Bud said, "I am almost not cold." Which is as good as it's been since we left Wilson.