We're Still Here
20 April 2018
A flock of big birds must have roosted on top of our bimini last night. There was poop all over it. Carl spent almost an hour washing it down. What a mess!
We all took the noon shuttle in to the dock. Carl and Grant went in search of lunch. Dianne and I took off on our shopping spree! We took in two or three shops at the top of our list. Dianne then suggested one of her favorite places, Alcazar Cafe, for lunch. It is in the former Alcazar Hotel built by Flagler in 1888. The cafe sits in an "atrium like" room where the indoor swimming pool used to be. It is beautiful, with its "Gilded Age" grand staircases and beautiful palms scattered all around. Their was a pianist playing a baby grand piano. We enjoyed our lunch of turkey, apple and gouda sandwiches and a glass of wine. The Lightner Museum is in the old hotel and I loved browsing in the estate jewelry stores there. We met Carl and Grant at the Cobalt Lounge in the one hundred year old Casa Monica Hotel. It is exquisite and I wished that we had longer to linger. We walked back to the marina in time to catch the 4:00 shuttle to our boats. Carl and Grant told us of their adventures of lunch in an old diner car on their way to Sailor's Exchange, a consignment shop with all things nautical. It was a good day!
We have prepped for a front moving through today. It was a calm night and was 7:30a.m. when the winds started to increase. It was a wicked looking front. We clocked winds around 35 knots. The national weather was forcasting wind gusts to 50 knots with a tornado watch. It was a bit eerie to put on our life jackets and have our ditch bag ready while tied to a mooring. We decided it was better to be safe that sorry. We were relieved when the worst had blown over.
This will be our 10th night on a mooring here in St. Augustine. I developed a nasty cough and with Carls urging, we took an Uber to see a doctor. I was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. He said it could take 2-3 weeks to get over it. So we will sit here as another front moves through and wait until I am feeling better. Hopefully, by then we will get the weather we need to go outside and get farther north.
14 April 2018
Our last day in Marineland was stormy all day with nearly five inches of rain. We heard reports that St. Augustine had hail. I took a walk on the beach after lunch. I was searching for sea glass. Another thunderstorm was approaching which ended my search as I hid under the boardwalk waiting for the worst to pass. I made my way quickly back to the boat. I made shrimp chowder for dinner and we had Kathy and Victor, S/V Chantebrise, over for a game of dominoes.
It was 8:30 a.m. when we untied the lines and left Marineland marina with S/V Chantebrise behind us. It was sunny, breezy and cool. The winds were still out of the north. On the ICW just north of the marina is the Matanzas inlet which is notorious for shoaling. It was two hours before low tide and we cruised past the inlet with no problems. We reached our destination, the south mooring field at St. Augustine municipal marina at 11:15 a.m. Once we had secured our mooring, I called for a reservation on the 12:00 shuttle. After we check in at the office, we stopped by S/V Monarch to see Grant and Diane. One dock was completely destroyed from the last hurricaine and the dock that Monarch is on has some damage as well. We all walked to the historic district and had lunch at the Florida Cracker. Diane and I couldn't stop going into shops to browse. The men were pretty patient with us, but we decided that we would return to do some serious shopping without them.
Thursday April 12
Diane needed to go to Publix so I tagged along. Carl and I took the shuttle in again and met them at their boat. Grant was installing a new alternator so Carl stayed to help while Diane and I took off. Since it was lunch time we decided to get something to eat first. We had sangria and shrimp tacos at Harry's. I looked two tables over and there was Grant and Carl! We waved and then hurried to catch our Uber ride to Publix. We managed to get our shopping done (I said I didn't really need anything, but ended up with a couple of bags of groceries) and returned just in time to catch the 4:00 shuttle back to the boat. The shuttle runs every two hours from 10-6. On our trip south, we were moored next to Carl's previous boat, Perceptions. Charles bought the boat a year ago from the guy that Carl sold it to. He lives in St. Augustine and keeps it on a mooring here. We have been following each other on facebook for a while. We invited Charles and Rachel to the boat for drinks. We really enjoyed meeting them and hearing about their story. It was sad to hear about how they both had sailboats that they lost in hurricaine Mathew. Both boats were on moorings here. Right after they bought Perceptions and moved her here, hurricaine Irma came through. Perceptions was on the hard having some repairs made. They asked to keep her out for the storm, but the boat yard already had other boats scheduled to be hauled for the storm and had to put her back in the water. She was tied up at the dock and made it through okay. They seem so happy to have found Perceptions and we are happy that Perceptions will be loved and cared for.
Carl and I took the dinghy in before 11a.m. As many times as we have been here, we have never taken the tour of Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in North America. I went in the fort many years ago on a trip with my parents. Carl took advantage of the Senior National park pass when we took Diane and Grant to Yorktown last summer. We were at the 17th century fort just in time for the firing of the cannons. Afterwards, we walked to Taberna del Caballo for lunch. We sat in the courtyard and split a cuban sandwich. I went into a few shops, while Carl sat outside, on our way back to meet Charles. Our starting battery, that we just bought 6 months ago, has a bad cell. Charles offered to exchange it for us. He met us in front of the marina. He is the proud owner of a new dinghy and he had it on a trailer behind his jeep. Nice! He also made a trip to West Marine and asked if we needed anything there. When do we not need anything from West Marine! He picked up some fabric waterproofer for us. Once again....I love the boating community. Everyone is so helpful! Thanks to Charles this time! We took our showers before returning to the boat. The wind had kicked up and we got "sprayed" all the way back. A salt shower after a fresh water shower is just great! I didn't bother to dry my hair, so it was still wet anyway. Boat hair.....don't care!
09 April 2018
We spent 3 nights at the Ft. Pierce city marina. The weather was beautiful. Temperatures in the mid 60's at night and upper 70's during the day with a comfortable sea breeze. There were pelicans everywhere. Carl's cousin Brenda and her grandson Magnus had lunch with us at the Tiki Hut on Monday 4/2. They have the best crab cake sandwich there! After lunch, Brenda took us shopping and Carl got a hair cut. It was nearly 6 p.m. when we returned to the marina. We filled up the dock cart and hauled our provisions to the boat. Tuesday morning 4/3 we walked to the bakery for breakfast. We relaxed back on the boat and after lunch we took a long walk around town. We visited the Manatee Observation and Education Center, the visitors center, a few shops and had gelato at Uncle Carlo's. Brenda and Magnus came to hang out on the boat with us and then we ran one more errand. Wednesday morning 4/4 we untied the lines at 8:30a.m. It was sunny with light winds out of the south. We motored all day and arrived at our anchorage for the night at 5:15p.m. A few dolphins played around the boat before dinner. Thursday morning 4/5 we had the anchor up and were underway at 7:45a.m. It was cool and clear. There were whitecaps and the winds were 15-20 out of the north. The Haul Over Canal was full of manatee and fishermen. We saw lots of cormorants, pelicans and dolphin. We reached our anchorage at New Smyrna Beach at 4:26p.m. Just before sunset, two huge manatee and one lone dolphin swam right by the boat. Friday morning 4/6 the anchor was up at 6:45a.m. Light, north winds had us motoring again. Our plans were to go to St. Augustine. There were no slips or moorings available so we talked about anchoring there. Then, we changed our plans and pulled in to Marineland marina at 3:00p.m. With unsettled weather in the forcast, we decided to stay a few days. With three nights at the marina, we received two free tickets to Marineland. We have never had enough time to visit on our previous stops here. Saturday morning 4/7 after a "Captain's" breakfast of blueberry pancakes and sausage links, we headed across the A1A to Marineland. Marineland, "the world's first oceanarium", was built in 1938 and opened as Marine Studios. Several movies were filmed here. There used to be dolphin shows, but now it is a research and interaction facility. We saw turtles that have been rescued and a tank of seven sand tiger sharks. The sharks are huge...up to 10 feet long. They are endangered and attempts are being made for them to breed in captivity. We watched as they were fed individually with a long pole holding the fish. Because they are so docile and slow moving, they only get 1/2 of one percent of their body weight 3 times a week. For a 400 pound shark that is only about 2 pounds of fish. They add vitamins to the frozen fish. The sharks looked pretty hungry. Afterwards we walked over to the dolphin tanks. It was feeding time here too. After the dolphins jumped up out of the water to take fish out of the trainers hand, they played ball and frisbee. I have always loved dolphins. This reminds me of one of my favorite t.v. shows growing up, "Flipper". I've always said that I would like to come back as a dolphin in my next life! For $230 you can swim with the dolphins. We watched as a dozen people prepared to go in the water with them. I always wanted to do this as a child. I think I prefer to be in a more natural setting if I ever decide to take the plunge. Maybe I'll just jump in the water next time one swims by the boat! It was fun to watch. We had thunderstorms as a cold front came through in the afternoon. Sunday morning 4/8 it was considerably colder. We put on jeans and long sleeved shirts and walked to the farmer's market. There was a man cooking pizzas in a wood fired oven, a hotdog stand, several jewelry booths, baked goods, plants and produce. There was such a variety of food that it was hard to decide what to get. So, we got several things: shrimp, a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, rosemary garlic foccacia, beef empanadas, spanakopita, a jar of bruschetta, canolli, apple and blueberry pastries and an oatmeal cookie! It was getting colder as we shopped. We had to get back to the boat to warm up and we ate the empanadas for lunch. I went to Publix with our boat neighbor to buy ingredients for shrimp chowder. Our boat neighbors, Deborah, Frank, Kathy and Victor came over at five o'clock for wine and appetizers. We enjoyed it and everyone must have had a good time because they stayed until 8:00. Monday 4/8 it rained all day. Our plans have changed once again as the weather deteriorates. We are staying two more nights. But we are not in a big hurry to get home.....it is snowing there!
Bye Luv Ya Sea Ya
02 April 2018
I keep a list of favorite boat names. Recently, there was S/V Dalmation, with it's tender that carries their dogs to shore called Pooper Scooper, a sleek motor yacht named Stocks and Blondes, a mega yacht named Casi Cielo (almost heaven). Then there was a little sailboat docked across from us at the condos, named Thanks Dad, a yacht named LIBERT-Y with a beautiful sailing tender named Libertini and, my favorite, a motor yacht from the Virgin Islands named Bye Luv Ya Sea Ya.
The time has come to say good bye to the Bahamas. We've made the rounds to say good bye to all of our Bahamian friends: Evelyn, Sidney, Florence, the marina staff and our favorite waitresses and bartenders. Sandra and Davido will stay another month and we will look forward to seeing them again in Urbanna.
Saturday, March 31- Sunday April 1
We untied our lines and left the dock at Treasure Cay at 9:14 a.m. The east winds were light and the Sea of Abaco was mostly flat with a 1-2 foot swell. There was a 20% chance of squalls. As we approach the whale cut, Carl spotted a water spout. I kept an eye on it as it eventually receded into the clouds. It continued to be overcast in the Abacos which kept the temperature cool. We motor sailed at 6.5-7 knots. We saw Steve and Anick on S/V Kestrel. We wished each other a safe trip on the radio. They were planning to spend a few nights anchoring in the Abacos before heading to Ft. Pierce and then on to Jacksonville where they will have their boat hauled out and trucked home to Vermont. We planned to sail straight through to Ft. Pierce this time. We passed by Great Sale Cay at 6:45 p.m. The sun set around 7:30 and the blue moon rose at 8:00p.m. Even with some cloud cover, the moon lit our way. (This reminds me that John always called the moon "God's flashlight". We sailed up the track of the moon many times off the beaches of North Carolina on our Hobie Cat.) It is really nice to have the moon light on an overnight passage. The sea swells, left over from the last nor'easter were supposed to be deminishing. But instead, they continued to build as we left the Little Bahama banks. The waves were confused and the swells were 10 feet by the time we reached the gulf stream after daybreak. The swells finally began to subside as we left the gulf stream just about 15 miles from Ft. Pierce. We were exhasted when we finally made it through the inlet and to the city marina at 3p.m. Sunday, April 1. We stopped to refuel and then took a short golf cart ride to check in at the office. We returned to the boat, turned on the a.c. and collapsed! We will spend a few nights here, recuperating from this 31 hour passage and provisioning for the month long trip north.
Sparky and The Blue Hole
25 March 2018
The month of March is flying by. Carl has been studying the weather already as we are thinking about our departure towards the end of the month. Friends from Richmond, Tom and Kristina, were in Marsh Harbour for a week. They decided to rent a car to come to Treasure for a day. It was the market and the annual yard sale day. After spending the morning going through the sales, Carl and I met them for lunch at Coco's. Another cold front had also arrived and it was super windy on the beach. We had fun catching up. After lunch they offered us a ride in their car over to the marina, but their car wouldn't start. Carl suggested that we walk to the boat to get our jumper cables. Tom couldn't believe that we had jumper cables! But, that is Carl, he is prepared for everything. We got the cables and returned to car. Carl connected the cables and touched them together. Spark! Not the battery! Tom called the car rental business and they told him to push the key in hard while turning. Started right up! Guess they get a call about that car all the time! Tom thanked Carl (aka Sparky) and they were on their way. We have been enjoying sundowners with friends.We invited our neighbor, Sidney, who owns a taxi here and has a yacht next to us, to join us for a drink one evening. We met Sidney two years ago and he is just like an old friend. He has a home on the golf course with his wife and they have four children. We've met his wife and his ten year old daughter who comes to check on the boat with Sidney after he picks her up from school. The other three are grown boys. The youngest, 25, is an olympic medalist. He still holds track records in the Bahamas and Texas A&M where he went to school. Sidney wears a huge gold trophy ring ( looks like a superbowl ring) that his son gave him. He has many of his trophies on his boat.
We enjoyed a day in Marsh Harbour with Sandra and Davido. We made an unscheduled trip to the dentist when Carl had a crown come off while eating breakfast. Fortunately, there was a dentist in at the third office I called and they were able to see him right away and recement the crown. We dropped Carl off at the dentist ( I did offer to hold his hand, but he said he was a big boy) and headed off to fill Utopia's propane tank. We stopped to look at fabrics for a blanket that Sandra wants to make for her grandson. She didn't find what she wanted but they had a good selection of jewelry findings, so I bought some wire and a few beads. We picked Carl up and went to Jamie's Place for lunch. After our bellies were full of fried chicken and fried plantains, hamburgers and fried plantains, and chicken wraps and fried plantains, we headed to Jimmy's liquor store. I was looking for a red wine that was served at the winter residents party. They only had a few bottles left. We picked up a few and some other libations and then headed to Price Right and Maxwell's for groceries. Price Right is a miniature version of Cosco without having a membership. Maxwell's is like shopping at Publix. We had two grocery carts full! We somehow managed to fit it all in the back of our little Honda. We opted for the "large" car for more leg room for Davido, but it is still a little car. After returning to the marina and off loading our groceries, we decided to venture out to find the blue hole. We had to drive a mile or so down a dirt road, past many shanties, to the blue hole. Here we saw how most Bahamians live. A pickup truck traveling in front of us, loaded down with men in the truck bed coming home from work, stopped to let them out. Their families were all standing out in the road waiting for them and lingering to visit with their neighbors. They all waved at us as we passed by. We didnt see another soul until our return trip, where they were still in the road and all the children waved again. We finally reached the blue hole in the middle of the pine forrest. It is about 50 feet across. There was a rope swing on one side. The locals swim in the crystal clear water. I dipped my hand in and the water was cold. There are underwater caves if you want to explore by diving. It was getting late, so we didn't stay long. Carl walked around to the other side to take a picture and all of a sudden started running saying that something was after him. Then he was quiet. We couldn't see him behind the brush. Then he called out that he had fallen. Davido was the first to reach him and helped him up. Nothing broken thank goodness! Just a few scrapes and bruises. He said he couldn't see what was chasing him, just could hear it rustling through the underbrush. We will never know what was chasing Sparky!
21 February 2018
The resort staff is in high gear preparing for the high season. The thatch roofs on the beach huts have been replaced. The marina continues to upgrade their facilities with new decking on the docks, painted poles and new security cameras. Spinakers outdoor dining area that has not been used for years is getting a new roof, new deck stain and new furniture in preparation for the March 1 opening of the Boathouse Bistro. The lawns are manicured and mulched. The palm fronds have already been trimmed up. It had been quite entertaining to watch the men climb up the tall coconut palms to cut the lower fronds and coconuts with a machete. We always get a few coconuts while they are doing this. Carl bought a machete on our last trip here. It is the best tool for opening a coconut. I'm pretty sure it could be considered a weapon on board a boat. The Bahama Beach Club is sporting a new coat of conch pink paint. Although the high tourist season is just around the corner, it is nearing the end of the cruisers winter stay. Many boats have already left to start their journeys home. The marina is slowly emptying, except for some charter boats. Soon it will be filling up with sport fishing boats for upcoming billfish tournaments. We will stay until the end of March when we will start looking for good weather to cross the gulf stream to Florida. The department of tourism sponsored a party for winter residents at Cocos. There was a wine and beer bar and buffet of chicken wings, grouper fingers, bbq sliders, pasta and conch fritters. Chris Burner, a local celebrity, entertained us. We are savoring our time left with friends here.