06/06/2011, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL
We moved the boat today to St. Augustine Marine Center. We will be having a new engine and new shrouds installed here. We had the in-water part of our insurance survey done. The boat will be pulled in a day or two and we will have the survey finished. We've gotten one quote on an arch, but that was pretty high, so are getting at least one more. When we got here we took the main and jib off. We're having them cleaned, inspected and repaired. We're going to clean and pack the staysail ourselves, because it's small enough for us to handle. I took this photo of Earendil at her new dock with her sails off, waiting to be picked up.
Meanwhile, we're shopping for a cheap used car, which is very painful. We've contacted several private sellers but the only two that replied were obvious scams. We've been to twelve dealers and driven seven and a half cars. The half was an Olds Intrigue whose front end was so loose we didn't get it off the lot. So far, no car. Since we're in the used car market we find that used cars are at a premium because of the success of the cash for clunkers program. Somehow we missed that last fall when we sold our cars. Our policy of buying high and selling cheap continues. Anyway, the bikes are back on the road, so that's good.
Before long I imagine we'll be heading north. I'm still not sure if I'll fly up ahead of Bud or not. I'll update the blog once the work starts and our plans gel.
We moved the boat about 4 miles yesterday to this marina along the San Sebastian River. Now instead of being along the ICW and right across from the historic downtown section of St. Augustine, we're along US 1. But the upside is that we're very close to a grocery store and West Marine and other shopping, and this place costs about a third what the municipal marina costs. And it's still clean and pretty nice and has a laundry.
I haven't heard back about boat insurance, so we don't yet know if we will stay here. It would be nice not to move the boat further north. The problem with going north is that I haven't found a good boat yard between Brunswick, GA, where the insurance wants us, and Savannah. And we don't want to take the boat all the way back to the north side of Georgia.
We took advantage of our new location today and did some shopping. Bud went grocery shopping this morning. When he came back I borrowed one of the marina bikes and went to Target, or tried to go to Target. Target is right down US 1 on the left (as you're going south). On my first attempt I rode the bike on the wrong side of the street so I wouldn't miss it. I rode a bit over 2 miles down and didn't see a Target, but I'd passed a K-Mart, so I turned around and went in there. I got some of the things we needed and headed back. I still didn't see Target.
Bud told me I'd ridden right past it. I looked it up on the computer and saw it was just 0.8 miles down US 1. After lunch I set out again. This time I was going to stop first at the Pet Supermarket to get Fuzzy some food. We'd been out of the kind he needs for a while and had been mixing rice or potatoes with his food every night to cut down on the protein. He's so old he can't handle a lot of protein. I found the food we used to buy him and got a bag and the four cans they had in stock. That was heavy enough that I decided to bring it back to the boat before I went back to Target. Then I headed out again. This time I was on the right side of the road, and I saw Target, set well back from the road behind trees with no sign out on US 1. I crossed the four lanes of traffic and the median strip and rode up to the bike rack. I went to lock the bike and realized I'd left the lock in the bag of dog food back on the boat. So I rode back to the boat again. Finally I arrived at Target with the bike and lock and was able to go inside and shop. At this point I'd biked about four miles in 90-degree weather with high humidity. I was dripping with sweat. I took my time shopping so I'd cool down before I had to leave. I did find a round cookie sheet (or pizza pan) small enough to fit in our oven, so that was a success. I also got a new laundry bag. We'd been using an old one of our daughter's. It worked find, but the cloth had a stiff coating on the inside that was starting to crumble off and would get on the clothes and then on the floor every time we used it. I had gotten a new entry rug for the bottom of the companionway at K-Mart. The one we had there we'd meant to replace before we left Wilson, but hadn't gotten around to it and then never had the time or opportunity since.
So I guess you could say we're settling in here, I just hope we can use this as our base for the summer. The photo is of the pavilion at the marina, which used to be Oyster Creek and is now River's Edge. It's not the new grilling station at TYC, but it will do.
05/19/2011, St. Augustine Municipal Marina, St. Augustine , FL
We made it back here yesterday. We passed this "houseboat" along the way. We remembered this from the way down, it's still there and appears to still be used as a residence, although it's obviously not moved.
We came back to the municipal marina and are about 3 slips from where we were last January. Gary stopped by and we talked for a bit. Bud and I were pretty tired, so that's all we did. When Gary left we made a simple supper on the boat and went to bed.
This morning we started to tackle the things we need to address. Bud started working on the outboard for the dingy. I started to research insurance companies and marinas. After Bud emptied the carburetor float bowl again the engine ran. We have a device used to feed water from a hose to an outboard cooling system (we've kept it for some reason from our first boat, an inboard/outboard). So Bud has been able to run the dinghy engine while it's clamped to the stern rail of the big boat. He ran it until it warmed up and then changed the oil again (which was foamy). He's going to run it some more tomorrow and then do another oil change, but it's running pretty smoothly now.
We were also able to empty our forward holding tank, which didn't get successfully pumped out using the hand pump overboard when we were crossing from the Bahamas nor when we used the pump out at Port Canaveral. This time we had to open the viewing port of the tank (very stinky) and use a pipe hooked to the marina pump out nozzle run right into the tank. The marina made the pipe because they have run into this problem before. Once the tank was empty, Bud sprayed out the inside with water and I sprayed water down the opening you usually use for pumping out. That may have been the problem as Bud said quite a bit of gunk came out when I did that. Anyway, we hope we have that tank working again. While they had the pump out hose at our boat we pumped the aft tank. Unfortunately for the marina, when the guy went to leave he couldn't find his new pipe attachment. He had laid it down on the finger dock. The only thing we can think is that the hose knocked it into the water while we were pumping the aft tank.
And Bud drilled a hole for a pin through our new flagstaff. I sanded the flagstaff and applied a first coat of teak oil. After another few coats of teak oil we'll mount our new flag.
I called a marina in the area that seemed to have good rates. I also have an agent in Jacksonville working on finding reasonable insurance for us (hopefully). Gary came by in the afternoon and we drove over to the marina I called. It seems like a reasonable deal so we signed up for a dock for the week. We'll be moving the boat over there tomorrow. If the insurance works out we'll probably change to a monthly rate and that will be our base for the season.
The bad news in all this progress is that I talked to the guy at New Jersey Diesel who was supposed to have parts for our Lehman-Peugeot. He didn't, but kindly offered to make a few calls to try to see what was out there. He called back about an hour later to advise us to repower with a Yanmar. Parts for our engine just aren't available anymore. So once we know where we'll be staying, we'll be shopping for a yard to install a new engine.
Now that we're here, I'll update this blog only every few days or as something changes, just to keep folks up to date on our off season progress.
05/17/2011, Halifax Harbor Marina, Daytona Beach, FL
Well, we're back on the Intracoastal Waterway, this time headed north. Dock lines and the electrical cord get left on the deck, because we won't be heeled under sail and we know we'll be plugged in again at night. It's nice to have 110 every night, to run the air conditioner, to have TV and to charge the computer. It's nice to use the electric coffee maker in the morning. We may not be able to do that all season, but as long as we don't have a dinghy running we'll be at docks, so we might as well enjoy it.
And it's still beautiful to be out on the water. Florida, for all it's people and hustle is still full of wildlife. Today we saw dolphins and manatees and turtles (we think loggerheads). We passed a little island covered with pelicans. I took this picture as we passed. We thought it might be a rookery, but it looks like there are other kinds of birds, too.
We continue to go slowly. It took a while for the wind to start today and by the time the wind picked up to fill the staysail, so did the tide. We had it going with us while Bud was trying to hold the boat in place and wait for a bridge to open. Not long after that we passed the inlet and now we were going upstream...slowly. But we persevered and made it to this municipal marina with floating docks (no pilings) and even though the wind was blowing like crazy when we pulled in to the dock, we had no trouble.
And there is a West Marine right at the marina. We knew we were back home again when we spent 45 minutes and $350 at West Marine. Tomorrow we are headed to St. Augustine, and once we get there we will try to figure out what we're going to have done to the boat, where we'll have the work done, and where we'll be while it's done. There's also a lot of work we want to do ourselves, and we need to figure out where and when we'll do that. The idea of doing a bit of work each day on the boat while you're cruising didn't seem to work. It's hard to clean and polish when you have no good source of fresh water. You're reluctant to do other repairs since you know if you break something or lose a part you will probably have to have it's replacement shipped to you. So the boat gets a minimum of attention and you really need to do a deliberate maintenance stop. I don't think it has to be in the US (in fact, it's probably cheaper in some other countries) but since we needed to come back here for our family this is where we'll do the work.
05/16/2011, Titusville Municipal Marina, Titusville, FL
We did stay at Port Canaveral to watch the shuttle launch. We realized that even if we didn't want to watch it, we were really too tired to press on before they closed the port and lift bridges in the area. Besides, we thought it was an opportunity we shouldn't miss. There was a small group of boaters gathered at the end of our dock to watch the launch. We weren't sure the launch would be a go as it was quite cloudy where we were, and if there is cloud cover they don't send them up. Just before the launch we heard a jet, but that wasn't the shuttle. One of the boaters has watched a lot of launches. He said they seem to always have a ten-minute hold. We heard another louder jet, but people said that wouldn't be the launch either. I just happened to be looking to the northeast (the launch site was north and just a pinch west of us) when I saw a pink glowing object with a huge condensation trail in an opening in the clouds. "There it is!" "Where?" I had to point out the con trail because you couldn't see the shuttle for the clouds anymore. Then it reached another opening and we all got a 2 or 3 second view of it before it disappeared for good. And that was the launch. Still, it made the idea of people riding up in something going so fast that it was glowing red-hot more real to me than it has ever been before. I'm glad we saw it.
After that we finished getting the boat ready to leave. There was no wind, so we decided to wind the jib up on the furler by hand and just lock the furler in place with a shackle. We were thinking of putting the furling line back on using the loose end in the furler. Only 16 feet of it had been cut off, it chafed through right where the line left the unit when the sail was reefed. However, after we lifted the sail off the foredeck Bud found a piece of hardware on the dick that looked like it came from the furler, but we couldn't see where it fit, so we decided not to try using it. Once we were ready to leave, we still had to go over and top off the fuel tanks and pump out the holding tanks, so we didn't actually leave the marina until about noon.
This seems to be the mating season of some half-inch, black and red bugs the locals call love bugs. They fly around with two joined at the rear ends, one sex seems to be larger than the other, because there's always a bigger one and a smaller one joined. There were hundreds at the marina and they were very annoying. When we left we went immediately under a lift bridge and then into the Canaveral Barge Canal lock. The lock only lifts about two feet, but you are required to tie off during the lift. We were tied on the starboard side, and it probably took nearly a half hour to move us, a barge and tug and two smaller powerboats through. While we were sitting still there literally thousands of love bugs swarmed over the boat. Everything we touched, everywhere we walked was covered with bugs. We were covered with bugs. Once we left the lock I got out our flying insect spray and went at them. I swept as many of them up as I could with a little whiskbroom. There were still hundreds of bugs, dead and alive, in all the cracks and crannies. Once we got underway, the wind came up and kept them off us.
We flew the staysail most of the way. Bud is only running the engine at 2200RPM because of the overheating (we ran at 2600RPM last winter when the water was colder) so our top speed without sails is about 5.5 knots. The jib gave us half a knot or more. Even so, we didn't get to the marina at Titusville until almost 5 PM and it wasn't even 20nm.
Unfortunately, the wind was still blowing pretty strong when we came into the marina. And this was another marina with short finger docks and pilings. You have to get your stern lines around freestanding pilings as you enter the slip; the docks between slips only extend about halfway down the length of the boat. With the wind the way it was, we needed to get the port stern tied off right away. I tossed the bow line to the marina guy who came to help us dock and raced back to try to lasso the stern piling. I didn't get back there before the wind had pushed us 8 feet or so to the right and I couldn't get the piling lassoed. Meanwhile, the toe rail on the starboard side was rubbing against the nice square cement piling they had at the end of the finger dock. Bud was not happy with me. He ended up coming back and I pushed the stern off the starboard piling so he could lasso the one on the port side. Then I got the line on the one on the starboard side and then went and took the port line from Bud and pulled the stern over against the wind while Bud and the marina guy got the rest of the lines secured. No great harm done (additional rubbing on a spot that had always needed to be refinished, we'll get to that cap rail soon, I hope). Bud says I need to figure a better strategy for looping pilings if I can't lasso them. I may look for a better tool than a standard boathook, as those are pretty awkward to use in this situation. The photo is Earendil tied at their dock with the rear pilings properly lassoed.
One of the reasons we came to this marina is there was supposed to be a grocery store close by. Turns out the regular grocery store was two and a half miles away, so we ended up walking to a little store nearby. Bud said it was the worst store he's ever been in. He ended up getting a minimum amount of stuff and we stopped at KFC for some chicken to have for supper. It was after seven before we ate. I waited outside with Fuzzy and watched the cars go by on US 1 while Bud shopped. I think I saw as many cars as I'd seen in the four months in the Bahamas! It's a lot harder to be without a car in the US. Tomorrow it's on down the ICW towards St. Augustine. We're still at least two days away at our slower pace.
05/15/2011, Cape Marina, Port Canaveral, Florida
We spent the day getting the boat tidied up again. Neither of us had much energy yet, so it took a while but by evening the boat was cleaned up inside and the wash was done. Bud hosed off the deck and equipment, but the jib is still out on deck until we can buy a new furling line and get a calm day to hoist and rewind it by hand. At the end of the day we treated ourselves to dinner out at this nice restaurant on the waterfront near the marina.
We spent 112 days in the Bahamas. We made 31 stops on 24 islands; 9 at marinas, 3 on mooring balls and 19 at anchor. We made 9 major jumps, sometimes over water a mile deep, sometimes sailing all day in water less than 30 feet deep. In all our time in the Bahamas we sailed in only 2 squalls, the first one the day we arrived and the second one two days before we left. We went aground only once in the Bahamas despite my navigational detour through the shallows. We never dragged anchor, our 200 feet of 7/16" chain at 2 lbs. per foot held us in place when the old anchor wouldn't set.
We've learned to set and retrieve the anchor, to get the dog on and off the dinghy at docks and beaches and boats. We've learned to use the lines we have aboard to help us lift things aboard; the preventer to lift the outboard, the spinnaker halyard to lift the dinghy and the movable backstays to lift water jugs and bags of laundry. I have a routine for washing dishes where the water is clean enough to use salt water to wash, and a separate routine when I don't trust the surrounding water. We've taken sponge baths, saltwater baths and cockpit showers.
We miss the Bahamas already. We miss the quiet. We miss the incredibly clear water. We miss the starfish. We miss the solitude. We miss the great sailing. We don't miss paying 50 cents a gallon for water or $6 a gallon for diesel. We don't miss paying $9 a half gallon for milk, or $38-72 a case for beer. I'm looking forward to getting some skin cream I'm not allergic to, which I couldn't find at any price.
The boat held up really well. We put one scratch in the hull, way back on the New York Barge Canal, docking in the current. We have to figure out why we can't pump the forward holding tank overboard reliably (sometimes it seems to work, sometimes not). We need to replace the grates on our propane stove, which are now shedding bits of blackened metal all over the stovetop. The light switch in the aft head just gave out. The SSB seems to receive but not transmit and we need to find out what's up with our AIS and chartplotter. We need to get the outboard running after its dunking and to replace our flag and staff which were blown right away in that last squall and we need to replace the jib furling line. I don't think that's bad for 7 months of sailing and motoring. All the major work and expenses we are contemplating are improvements or preventive maintenance (like replacing the 27 year old rod rigging).
I'm looking forward to seeing friends and family. I like having constant cell phone and Internet. I want to go shopping in a store that has what I need at a price I can afford. But I know I'll be ready to leave it all again for open sky and clear, blue water.