06/01/2012, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
We finally had a meeting with the General Manager here at St. Augustine Marine Center, and it seems he had intended to pay for all the work done in Vero Beach (and thought he had, not knowing two separate bills were sent). He also agreed to do the modifications now being recommended for the exhaust system. We are happy. We are going to keep the boat here. We looked at another yard, which is much less expensive but only if you don't get power, and we intend to run a 110-volt cord into the boat to a dehumidifier. Right now we expect to have to leave the boat for 18 months and we've heard that if you don't take measures to fight the humidity you can return to a boat whose interior is black with mold. So we'll buy a dehumidifier and plumb it out the sink drain. Gary has offered to come and check on the boat periodically, which is a great relief.
That settled we had to set up a time to have the boat hauled. It will be sometime next week. We got the staysail and jib washed and the staysail down and folded, but it's since been windy and rainy and we haven't been able to wash the main or fold the jib. Sunday it's supposed to be dry and relatively still, so we'll get the rest of the sails off and be ready to pull it. We're scheduled for slack tide on Wednesday, but there may be an opening sooner. We've been packing our clothes and some of the things we will take with us and packing some things that will stay aboard in vacuum bags to keep them safe.
I'm anxious to move on, but will miss it here in some ways. I'll miss the birds. I took this picture today of one of the couple of Roseate Spoonbills we see almost every day. We also have a resident Great Egret. He is missing a toe and we remembered him from last fall. A local fisherman told us he's been feeding Toby for at least 10 years. There are also some Snowy Egrets, a Tricolor Heron and a Great Blue Heron. There are dolphins that fish in the river here and lots of little crabs that scurry into cracks on the dock in the mornings. I'll miss the city of St. Augustine, too. I've been riding my bike around town again; I do love the old houses and the older trees. I love the flowers and vines that grow here. I won't miss living at a boatyard (not a marina) and walking far across the yard to a not very clean bathroom. And I won't miss having to carry Fuzzy off the dock, sometimes in the middle of the night, if he seems like he has to pee.
So a couple of more days of waiting, a few days of intense work to ready the boat for long term storage, and we will officially be CLODs, cruisers living on dirt.
05/28/2012, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
We're still sitting at the dock at St. Augustine Marine Center waiting to see who will do what to set our boat straight. The discussion is between the marine center and Mastry, the Yanmar distributor that signed off on the installation. We have learned that the fix should not be too difficult, an increase in the height of the rise of the exhaust hose after it leaves the muffler, and a flap on the exit fitting at the transom. We also found out that there is nothing wrong with the linkage to the transmission, except this transmission has no positive stops for forward, reverse or neutral and instead depends on the action of the levers at the pedestal. But our levers don't have stops either. And we bent our new prop shaft when we broke the propeller. We should be able to have it straightened.
While we were sitting here a tropical storm came over us. Tropical storm Beryl went ashore about 35 miles north at Jacksonville last night. Bud and I went out at midday yesterday, as the storm approached and went to Vilano Beach near the St. Augustine inlet. I took this photo of the surf. The inlet is on the extreme right of the photo. It doesn't look inviting.
The worst we saw came last evening from about 8 PM until midnight. Since we were getting the southwest quadrant of the storm it wasn't too bad. We had double lines on the bow and stern, the dingy back strapped in the davits, and an extra fender. We had no problems, but the worst wind I saw on the instruments was a 45-knot gust (about 50 mph). I called our friends Ed and Karin who keep their boat Passages at a marina on St. Marys River just over the state line into Georgia. They got hit with the northwest quadrant of the storm. Ed spent the night on the boat. He saw 70 knots but wasn't looking during the worst of it. At 3 AM his bowlines broke the cleat on the dock. The wind and waves were so high that the boat heeled about 45 degrees, leaning towards the dock. The stern got caught under the dock. I think when the cleat burst it caught Ed's hands. When I talked to Karin this morning she was with him at the emergency room, they think he broke both his thumbs. He stayed the remainder of the night on the boat with broken thumbs and managed to retie his boat. There were 7 boats on a floating dock, 5 men stayed overnight to tend them. All came through the storm with minimal damage. Every other boat in the marina is either sunk or is washed up on land. We're feeling very fortunate.
Hopefully I'll be able to update the blog soon with the resolution to our problems and our plans going forward.
05/19/2012, St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine, FL
Well we made it back. We have very mixed feelings. We're glad the engine and prop held together and we're anxious to get everything squared away, we're sad the good sailing is done for a while.
It was an uneventful day. We left Daytona at 6:30 this morning. We had wind against us all day, starting out at 10 knots and increasing to almost 20 knots. We had current against us most of the day. The tide was running out, but the Matanzas Inlet we were heading towards is very shallow, so it seems most of the water was running out behind us to the Ponce de Leon Inlet. We went about 40 of the 53 miles against the current.
We got back to St. Augustine Marine Center at about 2:30. We had planned to go up to the City Marina for a pump-out (free) and fuel before we came in here. But the wind was up to 20 knots in the open area as we approached St. Augustine and we were afraid it would be really hard to get the boat back off the dock there. So we just came up the San Sebastian River to the St. Augustine Marine Center. Pete, the customer service manager, was here to grab our lines. He had us come to one of the new docks they put in.
Fuzzy seems in a good mood. I guess he's glad to be back. I am impressed again at all the wildlife in Florida, the fish, the birds, the dolphins and manatees, but there's no turquoise water - I miss the Bahamas.
05/18/2012, Halifax Harbor Marina, Daytona, FL
We moved another 48 statute miles towards St. Augustine without incident. The morning was completely cloudless. As noon approached the clouds started to build. These are towering cumulus clouds promising rain or storms, but there were far fewer of them today. Most of the storms are forming south of where we are now.
We only had two bridges to deal with, one that opens on request and on that opens on the hour and every 20 minutes between. That one, in New Smyrna Beach, has lots of current so we wanted to time it right. Today, the tide was running out as we approached, so the current was running with us. Normally that's a good thing as it increases your boat speed, but if you're trying to wait for a bridge it's a bad thing, because it increases your boat speed; you have to reverse to stay in one place, if you can stay in one place. We got to the bridge just a few minutes early. Bud slowed his approach to a crawl. He did use reverse once or twice. There are still terrible noises, mostly when he puts the boat in neutral, but those go away if he increases the throttle slightly, some sort of ugly harmonic. Anyway, we got through without incident.
Of course just after we passed the bridge we came to the inlet (Ponce de Leon Inlet) where the tide was running out. As the ICW passed it we went from 7+ knots to under 5 knots, because now we had the two knots of current running against us. The current opposed us for the rest of the 13 or so miles to Halifax Harbor Marina, which is the city marina in Daytona, and our destination. We still got to the entrance at 3 PM.
Just before we reached the marina, in the busy waters of Daytona, we passed this tug and barge. We wondered what a barge would be doing in an area with no commercial docks and thousands of pleasure boats. As it got close, we saw that it was the barge of a heavy hauler. The huge square construction on the barge is actually sitting on a long, multi-axel, truck trailer. The cab of the truck sits in front. Bud worked for a friend who ran a company like this for a while when he was laid off from car hauling. They'll take this monolith as far as they can by water and then the truck and trailer will pull it to its destination. These loads can be so heavy that the company must reinforce the road if they go over culverts, etc. The lettering on the barge and truck indicated that they were from the same Port Canaveral company.
With luck we have one more day to St. Augustine.
05/17/2012, Titusville Municipal Marina, Titusville, FL
After our late start today we weren't sure how far we'd make it. If we decided to go as far as Titusville, we wanted to reach the one lift bridge we would pass right about 5 o'clock. It closes from 3:30 to 5 because of the traffic returning home from the Kennedy Space Center. The marina in Titusville is an hour past the bridge, so if we got to the bridge by 5 we'd be able to make it to the marina at a reasonable hour.
We were also watching the weather. It was cloudy as we traveled, but the forecast was for afternoon thunderstorms, some of which could be severe. We were still only willing to run the boat at about 1800 RPM because the prop felt good at that engine speed. Happily, the boat was making about 6.5 knots at 1800 RPM, a reasonable speed.
As we approached Cocoa, the last marina before we committed to the long run to Titusville, I went down and checked the weather report on the computer. The worst thunderstorms were behind us, and the further north we went, the less severe the threat from lightning. We were making good time and getting to the bridge by 5 was very doable. We decided to go on.
We continued to make good time and watch the clouds. Now it looked like we would get to the bridge too early. We wanted to slow down, but not too soon, because we were still trying to get north of the storms. We kept our speed steady and watched a rainstorm cross behind us by just a couple of miles. Finally, when we were about 8 miles from the bridge we slowed down. It was about quarter to three, there was no way we'd get to the bridge before 3:30, so we needed to go slow enough to get there not much before 5. The skies around us were mostly clear. Bud shut the engine speed down to idle. We slowed to about 3.5 knots. There was a sailboat in front of us that maintained his speed. A boat came out of the Canaveral Canal behind us. We called him on the radio to see if he had the same bridge restriction information and told him we were going to be idling up to not reach the bridge too soon. He had the same information and said he hadn't thought of it, but it was a good idea to slow down, so he followed us. We finally got to the bridge about 20 minutes early. The first boat was in front of the bridge motoring back and forth as slowly as he could. The wind had picked up, so Bud turned the boat sideways in the channel and idled into the wind, then put it in neutral and let the wind push us back to the west, then idled forward again, etc. It was a long 20 minutes, we were glad we hadn't been doing that for over an hour, like the first boat.
As 5 o'clock approached so did some new clouds. Finally the bridge opened, we went through and we went back to our speed of about 6.5 knots. We watched a storm approach Titusville from the southwest as we approached from the south. Was the storm, traveling northeast, going to pass to the north? Were we going to get to the marina before the storm? There was enough wind to pull out the jib, but we would have had to pass the boat in front of us, as we were making the same speed they were flying a jib, with just the engine. We decided just to keep behind them for the 7 miles or so we had to go. Unfortunately, they also turned into the marina, so we had to really idle down as there was only one guy working at the marina and he had to help dock both boats. It isn't a place that's easy to come in on your own. You need to get stern lines around pilings as you turn into the slip, and the finger docks don't quite come out as far as the gates in our life lines. I got the starboard stern line around the piling and handed it to Bud so he could hold the boat back. The marina guy and another helpful fellow did make it there to take our bow and spring lines and we got tied off. They left, Bud and I finished the lines and got the electric cord plugged in and the center piece put back in between the bimini and the dodger just before the edge of the storm hit. Most of it had gone north of us, but we got a few minutes of hard rain. I was able to stick my head out of the nice, dry boat and capture this photo of the rain pouring down.
Later in the evening another thunderstorm came by. There was a lot of lightning with it, and a lot of wind. I turned on the instruments and saw a gust to 43 knots (about 47 mph) and for about a half an hour the wind was between 20 and 35 knots. I was glad to be safely tucked away for that one. I did put the computer and iPad back in the oven until it passed.
Today, both our timing and our luck held, and the longest day on the ICW is behind us. We made it 74 miles and both the engine and the prop seem to be doing okay.
05/17/2012, Vero Beach CIty Marina
We got the OK to leave yesterday and decided to just go on up to Vero Beach. We got our holding tanks pumped out (free) and took a mooring for the night. The man at the city marina asked how long we were going to stay. I told him one night, although we came to stay one night last December and ended up there for almost four weeks. I was hoping that wouldn't happen again. Vero Beach is only about 15 miles from Ft. Pierce, so we were there by early afternoon. We had no issues with the engine or prop.
We had an uneventful night; Bud did take the shuttle in to the Publix grocery store to get enough supplies (beer) to last until St. Augustine. We got up very early, hoping to leave at first light after taking Fuzzy ashore and putting the dinghy up on the davits. We had taken it back off the foredeck and put the engine on it when we arrived. About 5:40 we took Fuzzy to shore. The sky might have been starting to get light, but it's very overcast, so it was still dark. We went to a little park with a boat launch ramp and docks. I put Fuzzy on the dock while I climbed out of the dinghy. He proceeded to walk off the end of the dock into the water. Bud dove in from the dinghy and got him and handed him up to me. It's scary to see because for the first few seconds Fuzzy just floated with his head under water, then he did stick his head out, just before Bud reached him. I put the leash on him and started to lead him off the dock. Bud remarked that our dinghy was loose. It was, but it was over at the shore on the far side of the dock. Then Bud said "Watch Fuzzy...watch Fuzzy!" Before I could react Fuzzy had walked off the side of the dock towards where Bud was wading out onto the boat ramp. So Bud dove back in and retrieved Fuzzy from under the dock, cutting his hand in the process.
I took a very soggy Fuzzy up to the little park to do his business, and Bud asked a fisherman launching his small boat if he had a paper towel he could use to stop the blood. He had an old rag; that worked. We got back to the boat and I gave Fuzzy a shower. I dried him and got him situated in his bed. While Bud stripped off his soggy clothes and took a shower I got the dinghy around back and hooked to the block and tackles on the davits. When Bud came out we lifted it. We managed to leave at 7:05 AM.
We have two possible stopping points today, one at about 55 miles from Vero Beach and one at 74 miles from Vero Beach. Those are statute miles, and we're going between 6 and 6.5 knots, we figure an average of about 7 mph. This photo was taken this morning, you can see how overcast it is. It's raining now, so we'll see if the rain lets up or gets worse, and how long we want to keep going in it. At least we have power and Internet while we travel. And Fuzzy is now soundly asleep.