Florida ICW to Bimini
29 March 2013
We made it to the Bahamas! Yeah!!!! Now read on for the events leading up to our arrival:
Thursday, February 28th, 2013 –
We left off last time in Daytona, where we spent a day getting our refrigeration repaired. Clay came down from St. Augustine and fixed the hose, installed a new battery charger, and cleaned up all of the salt in the engine room. The best part is, it didn’t cost us anything since the problem was due to a loose hose clamp on the raw water coolant hose.
We did have time to take a walk around town and thoroughly enjoyed a pizza for lunch. After Clay had completed all the repairs, we hiked back to town and had dinner at an Irish pub. I’m still rattled when I walk into a bar in Florida and see children. Doesn’t seem right! Dave had the traditional Bangers(sausage) and Mash(potatoes), and I had Shepherd’s Pie. It was delicious!!
Friday, March 1st, 2013 –
Dave’s Birthday!!!! Getting awfully close to the big 40! Whoops, I mean the big 60!!!
We left Daytona early and headed for Cocoa Beach. It was a really long day, but we saw some more beautiful homes along the ICW. We were making great time, until we got to our last bridge that needed opening. Our Chart Plotter told us we would be 5 minutes late for the 3:30 opening, and on this particular bridge, they don’t have another opening until 5:00, to allow for rush hour traffic. We were hoping our time, and the bridge time were not the same, so we could squeak through, but when we were close to the bridge, we called the bridgemaster and were told we would not make the opening and would have to wait ‘til 5. AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
We spent the next hour and a half going back up the ICW, then turning around and coming back down, several times. Finally, we were able to go through and get on our way. We didn’t have too far to go, but we would arrive at our destination in the dark. Hate these short winter days! About 7:00, we carefully wove our way through the anchorage, and found a spot to lower the anchor. We spent a very quiet and peaceful night on the hook.
Since it was Dave’s birthday, I decided to make him his favorite dish – spaghetti! I had no trouble finding the cans of tomato sauce, but looked and looked and could not locate a can of tomato paste. I was sure I had several. Making it extra difficult to locate, is the fact that when cruising, all labels must be removed from all cans, to prevent bug infestations (they like the glue on the labels to eat!). Well, I never did find one, so the spaghetti sauce was not near as thick as usual. Oh well, it still tasted pretty good, especially after a long day on the water.
I presented Dave with a birthday card I had purchased earlier in the trip, and some Cadbury dark chocolate Easter eggs. It’s not much, but most of our money has gone for boat repairs!
Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 to Sunday March 10th, 2013 –
We hauled up the anchor and headed for one of our favorite places, Vero Beach, otherwise known as Velcro Beach, due to the number of boats that get there and never leave. We had an uneventful cruise down the ICW, except for the fact that the wind generator quit working. Curses! Foiled again!!!
We pulled into the marina and were assigned to a mooring buoy. On the way in, we passed by Gull Wing and Winsome. So good to see our friends again!!! That evening we had sundowners over on Winsome, and caught up on what they and Gull Wing have been up to.
On Sunday, Dave needed to go up the mizzen mast and disconnect the wind generator, so Pete and Clare came over to help. He was only up about 5 feet when the harken block broke loose, and down he came. His butt hit the deck and he proceeded to fall over backward on to the transom. We were all horrified, but Dave kept insisting that he was fine, so we surveyed to see what had happened. Apparently the block at the top of the mast had broken free, so we used a different halyard to send him up again. Just as we were preparing to do so, Jim and Linda came by to see what was going on, so they joined in on the fun.
This time we had no problem, but he was up there, in the wind, for 4 hours. We got the heavy unit back down on deck, and Dave, too. I was not happy knowing that we would have to repeat the process later in the week.
On Monday, Dave and I rented a car and drove down to Fort Lauderdale, to take the wind generator back to the technicians who made it. While we were there, we stopped in at West Marine and another great used boat stuff, Sailorman. Then we were starving, so we located the nearest Dairy Queen so we could get a blizzard. We did that, but it was also free hot dogs on Mondays, so we ended up with some free dogs. Yum!
Tuesday, we ran some errands with Pete, Clare and Jim. We drove south to Fort Pierce, where we picked up parts at Marine Liquidators, and breezed through West Marine. By then it was lunchtime, so we shared a pizza at the shop next door. Very good! From there we headed back to Vero Beach and went grocery shopping at Publix, followed by a quick stop at the Liquor Store. Once back at the dinghy dock, we split all of the goods between the two dinghies, and delivered them safely back to the boats
On Wednesday, we got the call that the wind generator was ready to be picked up. They had repaired it and updated it. So, off on another road trip!!! This time we took Pete and Clare with us, and we again visited the two marine stores (it’s a cruiser thing!). For dinner on the way back, we splurged and went to Wendy’s.
Thursday Dave was back up the mast, again with the help of Pete, Clare and Jim. It took him a little longer to get the new unit hoisted up and wired into place, but we did it all without incident. Dave was very happy when all was said and done, he was back on deck, and the wind generator actually worked!
Over the last several weeks, Dave had been very concerned about our batteries. They just didn’t seem to be holding a charge. So after many discussions with the company that installed them just under 2 years ago, the decision was made that we would need to replace them. First, they needed to be ordered, and they would be ready to install them on Tuesday the 12th, down in Fort Pierce.
This gave us a few more days with our friends in Vero. We made the most of it, enjoying all that the city has to offer, and finishing up all of the boat projects and maintenance, like laundry. On Sunday evening, we all took our dinghies over to the Riverside Café, for a last dinner together, as Dave and I would be leaving for Fort Pierce in the morning. We had a wonderful time: good food, great friends, and great conversation. The drinks were good, too! We said our good byes to Pete and Clare, and Jim and Linda, and made plans to meet up again with Gull Wing on Wednesday.
Monday, March 11th, 2013 –
We left Vero Beach and headed down the ditch (the ICW). It only took a few hours to get to Fort Pierce, and we were once again entering the harbor where we had spent nearly a month in 2010, getting new batteries installed, and waiting for a weather window to sail on the outside, down to Miami. Last time, we were moored near the gas dock. This time, we were further inside the marina, close to the pool. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate. It just wasn’t hot enough to make the pool enticing.
Early Tuesday morning, the crew arrived to take out the old batteries, and install the new. I opted to leave the boat and go do a little more laundry. Fortunately, a lot of renovations had been made to the marina since we were here last. The laundry room is much larger, is air conditioned, and has brand new machines. Hallelujah!!!! They have also redone the cruiser’s lounge and added a new gym. Most all of the docks have been redone with new boards, as well as the sidewalk that runs the length of the marina. Very Nice!
We got word from Gull Wing that they would be arriving at an anchorage, just outside the marina, on Wednesday afternoon, and SURPRISE!, Winsome decided to come along, also! Our batteries needed a twenty four hour check, so we would rendevouz with them that afternoon.
On Wednesday, the wind kept building all day long, and had the boat pinned to the dock. We made the decision to stay another night, and meet up with our friends in the morning. I decided to make good use of the time, and spent the day using the heat gun and removing the old finish from the companion way hatch. I then sanded it and put on a coat of new finish. Dave spent the day on a loaner bicycle, making his way up the hill to West Marine and the Marine Liquidators. That evening we went up to the cruiser’s lounge to watch Survivor on the big screen TV. It will probably be the last episode we will get to watch.
Thursday, March 14th, 2013 –
We woke up early this morning, and the wind had subsided. We decided we had better leave the dock before the wind picks up. When we got out in the cockpit, we discovered that the pelicans had left their calling card, all over the aft deck and cockpit. Oh, what a mess!! We motored over to the gas dock, and while we were filling up, I got a hose and cleaned the boat. Nothing like starting the day with everything all wet!!
As we were leaving the harbor, Dave called Winsome and Gull Wing to let them know we were underway. As we headed south on the ICW, they both pulled in behind us. Winsome had decided they would stay with us one more day.
The weather on the ocean was still not cooperating for a sail south, so we decided to go a little further down the waterway and visit the town of Stuart. We had always heard good things about it, so it was time to see for ourselves. To get there, you must leave the ICW and travel inland up a river. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the new territory. We only had one bridge that we needed to have opened, but we needed to wait for all three sailboats to arrive, before they would open it. By this time the wind had built up quite a bit, and Dave decided we should go back down river and approach with the other two, so he made a big circle. Well, he lost sight of the channel markers, and before we knew what was happening, the boat made a sudden stop!! We were aground!! Fortunately, it was a muddy bottom, so when he put the boat in reverse, we were able to back off and continue back to the channel. We were hoping that neither of the two boats with us happened to witness this, but, later on they called us on it!!
We finally made it through the bridge and into the Stuart mooring field. With the wind howling, we tried desperately to snag a mooring ball. After a few attempts, we were all set for the night, but discovered that we were on a ball too close to shore, and the marina wanted us to move. So, we made another valiant attempt and got settled on another ball.
The guys had some things they needed to get in town, so the “three amigos” used loaner bikes from the marina and headed into town. We had invited our friends to join us on Dream Ketcher for a chili feed that night, so I used this time to clean and cook. Our daughter-in-law, Jacinda, has a fabulous chili recipe, and I knew they would love it. And they did!!! Linda made cornbread from scratch, from an old family recipe (delicious!), and Clare made a great salad to top it off. We had a wonderful last evening with Winsome. We will truly miss them!
Friday, March 15th, 2013 –
The next morning, the guys made one last run to town, then we said good bye to Winsome, and Gull Wing and Dream Ketcher tried to leave. As luck would have it, there was a train approaching, which causes the railroad bridge, adjacent to the vehicle bridge, to close. So, the vehicle bridge cannot open until the train has passed. We waited and waited. Pretty soon, here comes the train…which turned out to be just the engine!!
We were soon on our way, down the river, and back to the ICW. It was another beautiful day, and there were a lot of boats on the waterway. This particular section of the ICW has 7, that’s right, 7 bridges that we needed to have opened. This area is the famous Palm Beach Coast, with a lot of wealthy residents and visitors. When the day was done, we anchored in North Lake Worth, right by the home of golfer, Jack Nicholas. We enjoyed a quiet night there, and made plans to leave for an overnight voyage to Miami, the next afternoon.
Saturday, March 16th, 2013 –
Right on schedule, we left the anchorage and headed for the Lake Worth outlet, that is the gateway to the Atlantic ocean. All of the weather forecasts called for light winds from the south, with waves at 2-3 feet. Perfect! NOT!!! It started off good, then the winds increased, and so did the waves, to 6-10 feet. We spent almost the entire trip to Miami on a rocking horse; up one wave, then plow through the next. It made for a very long trip, but we did catch a fish! In the morning, I looked at something odd on the deck, and when I took a good look, I realized it was a flying fish, about 8 inches long. When Dave picked him up to throw him back in, his eye balls stayed behind!
Sunday, March 17th, 2013 to Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 –
As we entered into Dinner Key Marina, in Miami, we were happy to be reunited with our friends, Dave and Renee, on Lunar Sea, also a Whitby 42. But we were really surprised to see 2 other Whitby’s also. We got set on our mooring buoy and decided we would go have lunch with Dave and Renee. In 2010, we spent a month in Dinner Key with them, waiting for weather to allow us to cross the gulf stream to the Bahamas. We went back to one of our favorite stomping grounds, Flannagan’s, an all out Irish restaurant and bar, for St. Patrick’s Day.
We had Dave and Renee, or the Lunatics, as they call themselves, go to Enterprise and rent us a car. We were hoping to only be in Miami for a couple days, before crossing to Bimini, so we had to do all of our last errands as quickly as possible. After our delicious lunch, Dave and I went to do our final provisioning at Publix.
On Tuesday, we all had errands to run and laundry to do. Our plan was to leave at midnight, Dream Ketcher, Gull Wing, and Lunar Sea. And that is exactly what we did. Leaving at that time, would get us to Bimini in the early afternoon. We didn’t have any waves to deal with, but we did have the ocean swells that rocked us side to side, all the way over. It was really an uneventful crossing, for which we were thankful, and with our sails, we were able to make good speed, which got us to Bimini much quicker than we had anticipated. It was also low tide.
After our 8 hours on the sand bar in 2010, we decide to wait awhile outside the harbor entrance, and let the water depth get more favorable. There were 5 boats outside waiting. Finally, the time came to go through. I was more than a little nervous! What we found though, is that they had been dredging the channel, and it was much easier to navigate than before! Yeah!!!! We all got through with no problem, and within no time, we were all tied to the dock, ready for our Bahama’s adventure to begin!
Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come, starting with our time in Bimini, which turned into a week, due to weather issues.
A special Happy Birthday wish to our newest grandson, Axel Gunnar Kuchenbecker, as he turns 1 on April 2nd! We miss you sooooooo much!
Love & Hugs,
The Adventure finally resumes
02 March 2013 | Vero Beach, Florida
Ahoy, mateys!! Dream Ketcher is finally underway again, as are the adventures of Captains Kook.
Monday, February 18th, 2013 –
After 6 long weeks of working to get the boat ready (stripping, sanding and refinishing the teak in the cockpit, sanding and painting the hull, checking and repairing all mechanical and electrical systems, not to mention cleaning her inside and out and moving everything aboard from the storage unit), and taking a week off to go back to Seattle for Dave’s aunt’s memorial service, we were finally ready to sail away from Green Cove Springs and head north on the St. John River. Dave did a check on all the systems, the night before, and found a puddle of fluid under the engine. He started her up, to check the transmission, and found that we had no forward or reverse. Not good!!! We got hauled back out of the water and back on jack stands, where Dave and two others worked for 4 hours to unhook the transmission and haul it up and out of the boat. It weighs 165 lbs!! Fortunately, the transmission specialist, who we were told “ is older than dirt, but knows his stuff”, was located about 45 mins. from the marina, and he did a fabulous job. Dave and I both attended his “transmission school” and learned everything we needed to know about the proper care and usage of our new tranny. All the while, “Cass” regaled us with many jokes and stories. This adventure added another week, and many $’s, before we were once again ready to leave Green Cove Springs.
The temperatures had dropped to a low of 26, so we awoke to freezing cold and a quarter inch of frost covering the boat. You could actually see your footprints on the deck. Yet, it was also a beautiful sunny morning, with very calm water. Dream Ketcher and two other boats, Gull Wing and Winsome, all left the dock together at 08:00.
Gull Wing is owned by Pete and Clare Bermel, a wonderful couple from a small town in Mississippi. In 2011, we spent 3 months in the Bahamas with Pete’s brother Frank and his wife Gail, and their dog Kaisee. You may remember them from our previous adventures. While we were working in the boat yard, Frank emailed us to let us know that his brother was also in Green Cove Springs, in the yard. It took us a few days to find him, but once we did, it was like we had known them forever.
Winsome is owned by a couple from New Jersey, Jim and Linda. We didn’t meet until we were both on the dock at the same time. They have been cruising for over 10 years, so we had a lot of fun hearing about all of the places they have been.
Fortunately, the trip up the St. John was easy. We were going with the current, so we were being pushed along at 6.5 knots. Before we knew it, we were in downtown Jacksonville, asking for the bridge to be raised, so we could pass under. We only had to wait a few minutes before we were quickly on our way again. As we got closer to the mouth of the St. John, we were visited by small groups of dolphins. One even came right up beside us to ride in our wake, a symbol of good luck and good voyage.
Soon, the three boats parted ways. Gull Wing and Winsome went up Sister’s Creek to anchor for the night, and we entered the Inter Coastal Waterway (the ICW), and cruised another 7 miles south to a place called Beach Marine, where we could top off the fuel tanks. I was a little fearful of docking the boat again after being away from her for so long, but I needn’t be. It all came back.
We decided to go up to the dockside restaurant and have a celebratory drink, and ended up staying for dinner, then went back to the boat for a quiet evening and the warmth of our electric heater as the temperature dropped yet again.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 –
We had thought we would sleep in a bit, but the upcoming low tides sent us on our way pretty early. As we motored south on the ICW, the sun was rising in the sky and we were quickly among the many marshes of Florida and its wildlife (no gators). We soon began to pass by the many mansions on the waterfront. Our favorites are the beautiful Spanish Haciendas, hidden beneath the towering oaks, all draped with moss. The lawns are all green and neatly trimmed, but we never see anyone mowing. We’ve decided that it must be a slow growing variety of grass.
We were enjoying the warmth that the sun was providing, when suddenly the wind picked up and brought the cold back, and the tide switched, which slowed the boat down. We kept slogging along and finally pulled into St. Augustine, just in time for the 1:00 bridge opening, or so we thought. The bridgetender told us we would not be able to pass, and would have to wait for the 1:30 opening. AAARRRRGGGGGHHH!!!!! So, we circled and circled and circled, ‘til it was finally time, then passed on through and into the marina mooring field. After getting our assigned buoy number and directions on how to find it, we motored through the maze of boats and became terribly confused about their numbering system. Eventually, we found the correct buoy and had to try several times to get tied up. I wasn’t too dismayed. It had been a long time since we had attempted such a maneuver.
While weaving through the maze of boats, we discovered that two other Whitby’s were also moored, both of which we had met previously: Scott and Jeanie on Joie de Vivre, and Rick and Carol on Creola. After getting ourselves settled, we lowered the dinghy and zipped over to J. de V. We made plans to meet for dinner, along with Creola, and then we’re off to the dock and a trip into town to our favorite gelato store.
St. Augustine is an ancient town, founded in 1565. Yes, 1565!! The old stone fort is still standing and fascinating to see, as well as a lot of the old homes and businesses. It is a college town, home to Flagler College, with some of the most beautiful buildings in the town. It is also a huge tourist mecca, complete with the famous “Fountain of Youth” founded by Ponce de Leon. Horse drawn carriages are available to take visitors on a tour of the town, as well as different colored train trams that ferry people all around. We love the old waterfront, which looks pretty much like it did for many centuries.
We later met up with “the gang” and walked over to Harry’s restaurant, a New Orleans seafood establishment. We had a fabulous dinner on their outside terrace and enjoyed listening to a female guitarist, who sang music that our generation really appreciated. It was fun to catch up with old friends and hear about their adventures and plans for the future.
Upon returning to the boat, we decided that we should run the engine for awhile in order to recharge the refrigerator (something that must be done when the boat is not plugged in to shore power). We tried, but to no avail. The 30 year old refrigeration system would work no more!! Curses, foiled again! Fortunately, our refrigeration guru has an office in St. Augustine, but once again, we will be treading water, so to speak, until a new system can be installed.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 –
In the morning we made arrangements to have a new refrigeration system put in. We had been worried that this might occur, we’re just fortunate that it stopped working while we are still in the USA. We will need to move the boat to another marina in St. Augustine that is close to the repairman’s shop, and where they can work on it without having to ferry back and forth in the dinghy. Space at the dock will not be available until Thursday, so we spent the remainder of the day tracing wiring on the boat and taking out parts of the old system. I even found some time to read!!!
Thursday, February 21st, 2013 –
We spent a quiet morning on the boat, and around 1:00, we headed out of the mooring field to our new dockside home. We passed by J. de V., who were visiting with Creola, and we all made plans to meet that evening at an Irish pub in town for dinner. We didn’t have far to go to the new marina, about 5 miles up Sebastian Creek. It is a small marina, run by a young couple that live on board their own boat, along with their six year old twins, a boy and a girl.
Since we would be here the better part of a week, we took Enterprise up on their $9.99 weekend special and rented a car. Next, we were off to find some Styrofoam coolers , so we could empty the refrigerator and freezer first thing in the morning. With that completed, we just had time to get to the pub for dinner.
Thursday nights, at the Barley Republic, they have a jam session of live music. We all had a tasty meal, which for me was my favorite corned beef and cabbage (which really isn’t Irish, according to our good friend Irish Evan!) Dave discovered his favorite new beer, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat!!
February 23rd – February 26th, 2013 –
Over these days, Dave and Hansen Marine Services pulled out the old refrigeration system and installed the new one. Since I needed to be off the boat so it wouldn’t be so crowded, I decided to have some “me” time. I went out to breakfast, then went on a quest for a good mocha. They don’t have a Starbucks here, and very few coffee shops. I couldn’t find anything, so I opted for McDonald’s, not the best, but better than nothing. Then I decided to go have a mani-pedi. It always makes me feel better. The rest of the day was spent running for parts.
Dave and I spent one late afternoon down at the St. Augustine pier and beach. It was absolutely the perfect temperature, with just a slight breeze. We walked out the pier and laughed at the pelicans that had taken up roost by the fishermen, just waiting for their share of the catch. They don’t mind getting up close and personal. There were also a lot of surfers out to shoot the curl, and some brave souls that just had to say they swam in the Atlantic. The beach was scattered with people, trying to eke out what was left of the sunny day. As the sun set, we headed back up the pier and headed to one of our favorite restaurants.
O.C. White’s is located across from the St. Augustine marina, in a very old 2 story building. In addition, they have an outside patio where, on the weekends, they have a live musician. On this night, it was a guitarist, who did music mostly from the 60’s and 70’s. We intended to have just a drink, but ended up having appetizers, too. No need for dinner tonight.
I also spent some time at a local Laundromat. What an interesting study of people that is!! One couple came in with enough baskets to fill 6 – triple load washers. Then there are the single men who come in to do one load. I’m somewhere in between, with my 2 duffle bags of dirty clothes. But I have to admit that the new machines are faster and better than ever. Dryers too! Of course they are more expensive also.
On Tuesday evening some friends from Green Cove Springs drove over to take us out to dinner. We met Susan and Gordon back in 2010, first in the work yard, and then later caught up with them in St. Mary’s, Georgia for Thanksgiving. They took us to a place called “The Creekside Dinery”, where we enjoyed a good meal and great company.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 –
After running the new refrigerator for the previous 12 hours, and everything looking good, we sailed out of St. Augustine and headed south down the ICW. It was a beautiful morning and it felt good being on the water again. We were enjoying the peace and serenity you feel on the water. Suddenly that changed!!! Dave went below to check on something in the engine room and came back up to tell me that one of the new hoses on the new refrig, had busted loose and was spraying water, salt water, all over the engine room. AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! So, we turned off the new system to stop the flow and decided that we would need to stay in a marina in Daytona so that our new system could be repaired. We had a pleasant journey the rest of the day and slipped into Halifax Harbor about 4:00. Then we discovered that the saltwater had done a number on our battery charger, and it would have to be replaced!
So, we are trying not to get discouraged, but things just don’t seem to be going our way. We have to put it in perspective though. A few days ago, some friends we met in Green Cove Springs, passed us on their way south, and ran into trouble. BIG trouble!! They ran aground when they tried to pass through an area at low tide. When they tried to get loose by going in reverse, they got a hole in the boat when the rudder was torn off. The boat sank, with water flush with the deck. With help, they managed to get the boat back up and towed to a boat yard. We found out later that when they had the boat surveyed, the surveyor thought that there was some problem with the rudder that they should have checked out, but they never did. What a hard lesson to learn!!
So, things could be worse. We will be in Daytona a day or two, so the refrig. System can be repaired, and a new battery charger installed, and then be on our way again.
Hope I have only good news for you next time!
Love & Hugs,