01/10/2013, Comachee Cove Marina, St. Augustine, FL
Two days in St. Augustine. Laundry and shopping taken care of. Enjoying Camachee Cove Marina again. A marina with everything. We had dinner at the Kingfisher grill the first night, good food as always. Yesterday spent wandering downtown old St. Augustine. This town is the oldest in the US, dates back to the early 1500's. Spanish then British, then Spanish, then American. We visited the original Spanish military hospital. Really interesting. I was amazed to find that many of their old surgical techniques are still used today. They had some very advanced ideas concerning infection control as well, although they did not know why they were doing what they were doing, just that it worked to prevent the spread of infection. This includes isolation and aseptic surgery. The apothecary was quite advanced as well, with many natural remedies that are still known to be effective to this day.
Today I visited Flagler College. Henry Flagler was a tycoon, of the Rockefeller era, who built the Ponce de Leon hotel in St. Augustine, that is now Flagler College. Pictures at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc. Quite amazing. All the windows and chandeliers were done by Louis C. Tiffany and Thomas Eddison did the wiring. Tom is sick with a cold and skipped the tour. Weather wonderful, up to 29C today! I have put away the winter clothes and donned shorts today.
Tomorrow we will head off to New Smyrna, a two day trip.
01/08/2013, Comachee Cove Marina, St. Augustine, FL
Made it to St. Augustine! An uneventful day motoring down the ICW. No aground incidents this year. Arrived in good time despite a late start. We got up early, before light and were ready to leave by 7:45, but no power to the engine. Nothing happened, dead battery! Frantic calls to Jim who, when located talked us through a diagnostic procedure. The final step was to push the reset button on the engine, the red button at the back he says. So there I am looking at a monstrous diesel engine, and the whole damn thing is red! Boaters paint their engines! Looks pretty, I agree, but just try finding the red button on the red engine. Luckily it was labelled "reset" for the mechanically challenged. Pushing it actually worked. Remember the red reset button.
Yesterday we motored out from St. Marys to Cumberland Island. Quite the place. A large barrier island just off St. Marys, now protected by the government as a national park. Used to be the playground of the rich and famous. We toured a mansion of a Carnegie child, hundreds of rooms with surprising technology, like rain showers, heated towel warmers, and walk in closets. Multiple boilers and coal burners in the dungeon/basement, even the first refridgerator, a monster with 5 separate cabinets. Quite the place, and the original Carnegie mansion, Dunguness, is just a burned out hulk. Must have been quite something in its day. Apparently, in the winter, it was the center of American social life.
The island itself is a natural paradise, full of windswept beaches and live oak forests, teeming with wildlife, including a few hundred wild horses. A very neat place. We got the special friends tour, from a friend of Roz who caretakes a place on the island. She creates jewelry from the shells on the beach in her spare time, my gift will be on my picture site at www.picasaweb.google.com when I get the pics uploaded.
Looking forward to exploring St.Augustine tomorrow.
01/07/2013, St. Marys Georgia
We have spent a few days in St. Marys, getting the boat ready. Dinner out at a local casual seafood bar with great food, one night of venison chili with Miss Eloise, Jim's mother, and a spectacular duck dinner at Roz's place. She lives in the most amazing subdivision I've ever seen. Every property is huge and on the water. Enormous shaggy trees and every house different and interesting. Roz has decorated her house with artwork she has collected over the years and every piece has a story. She has a pottery studio, with kiln, wheel and mixers in her garage. How wonderful to have her own studio.
Roz and I spent a day shopping and sightseeing in Fernandina on Thursday. Delightful day. Lots of art galleries with neat things to see. Pictures at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc.
Roz and I visited Jekyll Island yesterday. This is one of the barrier islands in this area. We spent an hour or so in the sea turtle rescue station. We watched the vet assistants checking over a new turtle that had just come in. Many of them are infected with a herpes virus that causes malignant fibropapillomas. Many of them are wounded by boat props. The station nurses them back to health and releases them into the ocean. Today we plan to visit Cumberland Island, a large barrier island that has been turned into a park and kept wild. We will take the boat over and then we will start on our trip the next morning.
01/04/2013, St. Marys Georgia
Wow, another year has gone by. A good year for us. Everyone is happy and healthy. Jenny is expecting her first child (my first grandchild) in March, a girl. Lots of pink crocheting and knitting planned for this winter. Because of the impending birth we are staying in Florida this year, and only for 2 months. That way we will be back in time to greet Miss Fawcett and, if necessary, we can get back early by catching a plane. Not so easy to do in the Bahamas, especially if you are stuck out in the out islands with bad weather.
I have to say that I am hugely relieved that we will stay in Florida, but already missing the beauty of the Bahamas. It is so much easier to do just about anything here; get a phone, get internet, buy groceries and supplies, go out to restaurants, see a movie. But then that incredible turquoise water of the Bahamas. The glorious beaches, the sun, the ocean life. Sigh. But Florida has some amazing sights of its own to offer as well. In all my travels, the best bird watching I have seen is in Florida. The camera will be active for sure.
Our drive down was uneventful this year. We left on January 1, which turns out to be a good idea. Short line ups at the border, all the stores open and empty. We were able to get our phone and internet set up easily.
It was great to see Jim and Roz. They are well and the boat looked beautiful, freshly painted, the teak refinished, everything clean, fresh flowers on the table. Home sweet home. They look after her so well, better than we would.
Our first evening here, Jim and Roz and Miss Eloise, his mum, whose dock we are tied up to, treated us to a Georgia shrimps boil. These are river shrimps from the Crooked River, caught by a friend of Jim's. Apparently this is the only way to get these shrimps (they always call them shrimps with an s). The heads are cut off and they are boiled for 2 minutes only. Delicious. Served with collard greens and grits. There was shredded cheddar and butter for the grits and spiced vinegar for the collard greens. Excellent meal, and all new to us.
We will be staying here for a few days, getting the boat in shape, and seeing the local sites. That will be nice too, this year, no rushing to get to the Bahamas. Even Tom seems relaxed and content to dawdle. Not like him at all!
04/12/2012, Pelican Harbor Marina, Miami, FL
No internet for a couple of days so this post is late. We crossed Tuesday, leaving Bimini at 5:30 AM under a 3/4 full moon. The gulf stream was quiet, no wind at all we didn't even put up a sail. We entered Miami harbour before noon. Miami harbour is impressive. It goes on and on, full of massive cranes, container ships, cruise ships and luxury boats. It took us more than an hour and a half to get from the entrance to our marina. Love this marina, such nice helpful people and the facilities have improved this year. Brand new front loading washing machines and luxurious showers.
Yesterday we rented a car for a day and took care of topping up our Virgin mobile internet (can't be done online with a Canadian credit card), visited customs and Jose Serrano our friend in the marine office. Unfortunately we were not able to renew our cruising licence until it expires (even a few days early is not OK!), but Jim, our boat partner will be able to do it without us. I had a haircut at the Miami Beach marina and we had lunch over looking the harbour. Tom spent the time waiting for me looking at the fancy boats. We can never get enough of boat watching.
Later in the afternoon we visited the seabird rescue station at our marina. This is a facility that provides medical services to injured or sick seaibirds. People bring them in, or call and the facility personnel will go out and pick up birds. In addition, they feed a wild population of pelicans, herons, egrets, many of them previous patients. They are always scanning them for injuries. As we watched the afternoon feeding they noticed a laceration in one bird's pouch and he was quickly and efficiently taken into the facility. It is entirely funded by donations, so please donate at pelicanharbor.org.
Jim and Roz arrived last evening and we went out for dinner at Boteco, a Brazilian restaurant nearby. That is our second time there and the food is great, inexpensive too. Brazilian steak is better than any other, I wish I knew what they do to it. Nice to see Jim and Roz again, we are so compatible. We are hoping they will come up to Ontario this summer to visit at our new cabin on the French River.
This morning we finished the boat cleaning and then we moved off and they moved on. Always a stressful procedure, just like moving house. It was 1PM before we got away. We have Jim's car and we will drive it back to his mother's place in St.Mary's, offload a lot of stufff into her garage, and pack the rest of our things into our own car. We should be on our way home tomorrow. Another year done, see you next year.
04/09/2012, Bimini Sands Marina, South Bimini, Bahamas
Two days spent at Great Harbour Cay. On the recommendation of fellow boaters (the marina denied knowledge of anyone who could fix anything on a boat), we hired Victor to fix our broken stanchion. Quite a competent fellow, arrived and with few words and fewer motions removed the stanchion, took it away and returned with it welded and replaced it on the boat. He says it will be stronger now than it was. He charged us $110 cash, and fixed the dinghy motor problem as well, which took him about 30 seconds. It is always fun to watch an expert work, they make it look so easy.
Visited the beach, rode our bikes and generally enjoyed the island. Big rainstorm the first day as a cold front came through.
Yesterday, a good crossing for a change. Winds favorable, low waves, nothing went wrong. Left at 6:30 from Great Harbour Cay, arrived at our slip in Bimini at 7PM. Easy day. No one answered our hail, as usual but we are in and set up. Off to dinner lovely meal, really nice food.
Today a quiet day in the marina, cleaning, laundry, and getting ready for the gulf stream crossing tomorrow. Good forecast, but who knows? Next stop Miami.