Aboard Chameleon

15 June 2012 | Just past Emerald Isle
28 May 2012 | St. Augustine, FL
28 May 2012 | St Augustine, FL
15 May 2012 | Ft. Lauderdale
30 April 2012 | Big Majors Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
28 April 2012 | Big Majors Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
05 April 2012 | Georgetown, Bahamas
29 March 2012 | Clarencetown, Long Island, Bahamas
13 March 2012 | Samana, Dominian Republic
10 March 2012 | Salias, Puerto Rico
26 February 2012 | 17 57.590'N:066 17.073'W
01 February 2012 | Maho Bay, St John, USVI
26 January 2012 | Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI
12 January 2012 | North Sound, Virgin Gorda
02 January 2012 | The Lagoon, St Martin
18 December 2011 | St Martin
15 December 2011 | St Martin
10 December 2011 | Jolly Harbor, Antigua
02 December 2011 | Portsmouth, Dominica
02 December 2011 | Martinique

FL to NC

15 June 2012 | Just past Emerald Isle
Eileen, sunny and breezy 70s
Sunset over Charleston Harbor

Chameleon did not get under way again until Wednesday, May 30 after the back side of Beryl came through St Augustine with heavy rain and wind. Wednesday, the trip to Jacksonville Beach was uneventful and we arrived early in the day with plenty of time to get laundry done and to refill our propane in town. The following day was much more stressful as the ICW between Jax Beach and Fernandina Beach has some severe shoaling. We bumped bottom three times and the first time it took Kevin 30 minutes to get us off and to find enough water for us to progress. Fernandina Beach is always a favorite of mine as I have visited there many times on business and we were happy to arrive. We grabbed a mooring and took a hard look at the weather and the charts. I looked back on my blog entries from the trip down. Georgia had the worst shoaling and most challenging navigation by far. Not wanting to repeat that, we took advantage of a small window and headed out the inlet bound for St Simons. Luckily, we got a very early start because just as we exited the channel, the Coast Guard was escorting a submarine in and stopping all traffic in and out of the St Marys. We made great time to St Simon's Inlet and arrived well ahead of some really nasty storms. Chameleon was snug at the dock and we watched the storm from the comfort of the air conditioned bar. That is the only way to ride out a storm in my opinion.
The next day the weather forecast was for 10 to 15 from the S-SW clocking to the North and diminishing later in the day with 2-3 foot seas falling to 1-2. Seemed like a great opportunity to head up to Charleston so we left St Simons at around 10 AM and set sail. Current was favorable and we were motor sailing for most of the day over 7 knots. Off shore is a lot less white knuckle than driving the shoaly ICW so we were having a great sail under an almost full moon until around 9:30 that night when our chart plotter/navigation system went totally dark and we could not get it to come back. The diminishing wind had built to 20 plus and the seas were now 3 to 4 feet. So much for the forecast. We had taken the advice of our weather router and were sailing pretty close to shore figuring we could always fall off when the wind clocked North. Unfortunately, this strategy put us in the neighborhood of several markers and bouys and our watches were quite stressful with no chart at the helm. On the plus side, we were still making great time but if we hit something, we would be sure to hit it really hard! We managed to make it into Charleston Harbor before the tide turned at 7:30 AM and made our way over to Charleston Harbor Marina on the Mt Pleasant side of the Cooper River at pretty close to slack tide and were tied up by 8:00. 22 hours was excellent time. Another lucky break as this is a notoriously dangerous marina to navigate in a strong ebb tide. The only damage we had to Chameleon on the trip south on the ICW was leaving the dock at this marina in November 2010.
The current really rips through this marina. In fact, on our second day there a 53 foot Jeanneau sailboat bounced off of us twice trying to dock behind us and damaged our grill and Life Sling. Thank goodness we had our dinghy on deck and not in the davits or they might have really done some damage. Unfortunately, the owner was clueless and did not even come to our boat to apologize and get a damage assessment. It was storming pretty bad at the time and we waited for them to come over and waited some more. Finally, Kevin had to go to them and they were pretty sheepish but the owner made good on the damage with a nice crisp bill. Their exit from the dock later the same day was even more exciting and they ended up pinned across the sterns of a sailboat and a motor yacht that were in neighboring slips. I had advised the owner to be sure and talk to the dock master before departing and get the local advice on the best time and way to leave the dock but he assured me his Captain would be at the wheel and in control. Needless to say, we decided not to leave Chameleon and go into town until they were away from us. The wind and the current were against them and even their bow thrusters were ineffective in controlling the boat. I will never forget the captain yelling instructions to the crew while running up and down the boat trying to fend off of pilings and other boats. Not sure who that "Captain" was but whatever he was being paid, he was not worth it. No serious damage was done to the other boats and after a couple hours and the tide changing, the pump out boat came over and towed them out of the marina and got them clear of the break water. Much paperwork had been exchanged by all and probably more of those crisp bills. Our last sight of them was the boat motoring in the middle of the channel with that Captain at the wheel and an incoming Coast Guard cutter bearing down on them giving them 5 blasts on the horn. That is boat talk for get the #@%* out of the way! Aye, aye Captain Ron! Hope they made it.
We stayed a week in Charleston with no more mishaps and Kevin flew to NY on Friday to attend a surprise party for his Mom's 80th birthday. He met Walt Westin at the Charleston airport on his return on Sunday. I stayed with the boat to repel all boats intent on ramming us at the dock! We have been travelling with Walt and Kevin doing the driving, me cooking and dodging storms all week. We had a couple short days due to storms but we sure do appreciate the help and are making much better time now. Our friend, George, gave us a heads up on a great application for my iPad and I downloaded it in Charleston. I got the East Coast Tides and Charts for $19.99 and a program called Active Captain comes with it. What a great tool is has been and a great back up for our chart plotter at the helm. By the way, it was a fuse so that was quickly and cheaply repaired! Whew!
We are planning on making Beaufort/Morehead City, NC today. We are getting some wind but we are not in open water to sail and it is right on the nose, of course. Travel on the ICW on weekends is crazy so we will see how much progress we can make this weekend. At least we are getting closer to our home in Virginia if the weather would just cooperate for a few days! In the meantime, we are enjoying visiting the towns along the way. I am waving at Emerald Isle as we go past.

Hurricane Season is here!

28 May 2012 | St. Augustine, FL
Eileen Tropical Storm Beryl
Anxious to make time, we headed away from Melissa's dock on Monday morning and headed back up the Intercoastal Waterway. We were watching the low off the coast which had potential for tropical development. Every day they increased the chance of development until it was at 70 percent by Thursday AM. Travel on the ICW gets very busy on weekends and with Memorial Day weekend, the Captain's birthday and a tropical storm bearing down on us, we decided to push on to St Augustine and grab one of the new moorings. All public moorings in FL are hurricane rated. We had a pretty good time on Friday despite the forecast and woke up on Saturday to TS Beryl heading towards the NE Florida and Georgia coast. Projected landfall for Sunday night with deteriorating conditions starting on Sunday morning. What to do?
The reality of winds in excess of 40 is that if something breaks and you have the force of the wind against you, mother nature wins. Personal safety and comfort is my priority. I made some calls and did some checking on line and found a cheap room walking distance to the marina. I decided I did not want to ride out this storm on a mooring. The marina operates a water taxi and they came to pick me up at noon on Sunday. Kevin opted to stay with the boat at first but then changed his mind and got the last ride in to shore. Waves had really picked up and the winds were in the 20s already. We spent the night watching the storm on TV and out the window. The most severe weather was to the North of us. Kevin was up early and out to the boat to check on everything. We left the wind meter on and the highest wind was 42 knots. No lines had chaffed and there was some leaks but all is good.

Reality of boat living

28 May 2012 | St Augustine, FL
After our Mothers Day arrival from Bimini, we made our way into the Las
Olas mooring field and went through a bit of culture shock. The local boat traffic, swimmers in the water, water taxis and music blasting from the bars and restaurants along the river were overwhelming. We checked in with US Homeland Security on Monday and rented a car to do some shopping at the West Marine and of course, Publix. After a couple days, we decided to brave the bridges and headed up the ICW. Forecast was for severe storms moving over Florida for the next few days so we decided to stay inside. By Friday, we were tucked into the slip at Melissa's house at Sewalls Point across from the St Lucie inlet. What should have been a relaxing visit turned into a work weekend with the Captain replacing all the hoses to the head. Many thanks to our hostess for her chauffeuring us to various stores. Our generator was repaired and we both got much needed haircuts as well as the hose replacement completed. Her generosity with her time and vehicle are much appreciated.

We are back!

15 May 2012 | Ft. Lauderdale
Eileen. Cloudy w/rain expected, chance of storms
Just a quick one. We crossed from Bimini on Mothers Day and are heading North tomorrow. All is good!

In Reverse But Going Forward

30 April 2012 | Big Majors Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Kevin - Rain, wind and squalls
We are at Big Majors just off Staniel Cay. Weather has kept us on a very slow move. The push to Florida is all set to happen except for the weather. It has been blowing 25 - 30 out of the east and squalls brought us 2 inches of rain today. But we and about 4 other boats here are ready to go.

We had some scary times last week when wind from the west was forecasted at 30 plus knots and there was no place to seek shelter around Staniel Cay. We finally got a reservation at Compass Cay Marina with the help of some locals making calls. Compass Cay is a very expensive Marina with nothing on the Island. Just when I though all was good and we were safe the transmission on the boat went as I was trying to get into that marina. The boat was doing 1.5 knots as we called ahead to ask for some help getting into a slip. They put us in a nice slip with a straight forward approach and got us tied up and I had a beer (a big one).

We were safe but we were paying a hundred dollars a day for the slip, fifty dollars a day for electric, sixty cents a gallon for water and a hundred and fifty dollars for a ride to Staniel Cay that has an airport and maybe a mechanic. Out of the blue I get a call on the radio for Brandon on 'Solmate'. We have been traveling with them on and off from Grenada but I didn't know he was in the area. He dingied to the marina the next day, looked at the transmission and pronounced it dead. At that point the plan was to pull the trans and ship it Florida have it rebuilt shipped back then installed. I was figuring two weeks. I made some calls for a mechanic but it is regatta week in Georgetown and everybody was down there partying or racing. Then Brandon says 'oh I can take it out'. In about three hours he had it out. In the mean time I made calls to everyone possible and found a rebuilt transmission in St Petersburgs had it shipped to Ft. Lauderdale and put on the little plane that flies to Staniel Cay. I had it in three days. As I was trying (with no luck) to get a mechanic to put it in Brandon says 'oh I can put it in'.

Brandon took his boat to Staniel Cay, picked up the trans from the airport and dingied to our marina with his wife and Rob and Kathy from Quatico. It took him an hour and a half to get it in and align the engine. We were about to have a new transmission party when I tested it at the dock. Little problem. When I put the boat in forward it went backward and in reverse it went forward. No party.

The next day I called back the guy who sent it to me. After a lot of diagnosis and Brandon's help it was determined the old transmission had been doctored to operate opposite the way it was built and putting the lever at the helm in reverse is actually putting the trans in forward the way it should be. So that afternoon I put the boat in forward and backed out of the slip, put it reverse and drove back over to Staniel.

At this point I don't know if I am coming or going. We have been anchored off Big Majors for the past four days. Big wind, rain and squalls have kept us on the boat for 3 days and should start to clear up on Wednesday. After that we will make our push for Florida. In reverse but going forward.

Good-bye Georgetown!

28 April 2012 | Big Majors Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Eileen, light drizzle, mid-70s
The harbor at Georgetown has a way of sucking your anchor in and the weather was a co-conspirator in keeping us there. Oh you can dance the Georgetown shuffle and go from side to side in the harbor but do not try to leave through the cut! We ended up spending 17 days there in total before moving north. When the bartender at Chat n' Chill on Volleyball Beach knows you by name, you are in trouble. I have to say we enjoyed our stay except for the days we chose not to put the dinghy down in the chop to save our backs and bottoms from the bumpy ride. There were several of those. We got lots of reading done. Georgetown has most of what you need available if you are not picky about the brand name or the price and if the boat comes in. You can buy Pepperidge Farm bread for $7.95 a loaf so who could complain? Our friends, Sean and Janet Grant, and their daughter, Halli, were on their boat, Caribana and Janet's parents, Nigel and Elizabeth, were anchored close to us off Sanddollar Beach. Quatico, Where II and SolMate were all in the harbor at some time while were there too. It is a very friendly place so there is no problem striking up a conversation in town or on the beach.
On Thursday the 19th, we left Georgetown and headed north to Big Farmers Cay for one night. The next morning we picked our way into Staniel Cay and anchored off the Thunderball Club. The forecast was not favorable for the Bahamas as the low that was forming in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to bring us squalls and winds clocking to the West and NW over the next three days with winds into the twenties with higher gusts. Since most of the anchorages in the Exumas are exposed to the West and West winds are very rare, this created a sense of urgency for all sail and motor yachts and even the locals. Once the tide changed in Staniel and the current reversed, our boat starting spinning like a top on our anchor and we opted to move to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for the night. We had hoped the forecast would downgrade the West wind by Saturday morning but no such luck. As their docks can take full waves over them on the rare occasion the wind is from the West, they clear the marina as soon as they get a forecast for 15 knots or more from the West. We probably could stay another night but we would have to leave by Sunday when the winds would have really increased. The dockmaster made some calls and Compass Cay Marina, a little to the north, agreed to take the boats that were being evacuated from Staniel.
Compass Cay Marina has full protection from the wind and a long,narrow channel to negotiate with markers. Markers are very rare in the Bahamas and are privately maintained. This marina caters to larger motor yachts and is priced accordingly. Most of the yachts are well over 50 feet. You would think we had the luck of the Irish to get a slip considering the forecast but Murphy's Law definitely had a part to play for us yet. We were about ¾ of the way in the winding channel when Kevin said "Eileen, I don't want to freak you out but I think our transmission just went. " We were still moving forward but he could not seem to get any speed over 2 knots. Considering we had to negotiate a potentially strong current in the cut and get our boat into the dock in building winds, our stress level went skyrocketing. We called the marina and let them know we were coming in with transmission issues and they scurried and got us a slip that was a straight shot in from the channel. We lucked out and hit it at slack tide so little current. Preston and Tucker were there to grab lines and assure us we had "No worries". The boat would still go into reverse and it proved to be one of the smoothest dockings we had on our journey. We were safe and secure in a slip. Yippee! Once the adrenaline left us, we were faced with the reality of being in an isolated and expensive marina with no transmission until we could arrange a repair or replacement from the states. At this point, I will let the Captain take over the story. Stay tuned....
Vessel Name: Chameleon
Vessel Make/Model: Endeavour 38
Hailing Port: Deltaville, VA
Crew: Kevin and Eileen
Chameleon's Photos - Main
Exumas to Chesapeake
15 Photos
Created 29 March 2012
St Thomas, USVI to ???
117 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 11 December 2010
60 Photos
Created 29 October 2010


Who: Kevin and Eileen
Port: Deltaville, VA