Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Titusville - Last post until 1/4/2018 - Mark your calendars

Turkey Time!
Today marks the end of our fall migration south to Titusville. It's been a colder and windier trip than normal with Jose blocking our start for two weeks! We had a short period of calm winds between Beaufort, NC and Titusville before the winds once again piped up in the 20 to 30 kt range.

Still, we met many wonderful people along the way and I gave a talk at the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hamptoin, VA. It wasn't intentional, I was just delayed by the weather but then the opportunity arose so I filled in.  I had the opportunity to experience all the shallows along the way which shouldn't be missed in order to get the full appreciation for the ICW. Going outside may be faster and safer but, gee, you miss all the fun!

Note the small, square mirror at the bottom
We have our boat secured and our car rental is parked outside for our 7:00 am departure on Thursday morning. I've made the two must mods to a Florida car rental:  1) a side mirror attachment to cover the blind spot on the left side of the car 2) replaced the Florida windshield wiper fluid with stuff good for 0F. I found out the hard way that Florida rental agencies do have soapy water in the wash fluid but it's usually not good for below freezing. Going at 70 on an expressway with snow coming down is not a good time to discover that the windshield fluid you have freezes over when used (and covers the windshield with a glaze of ice you can't see through!)
Tom, who runs Titusville, will look after Fleetwing in my absence. He's done great things for the marina. You can depend upon Tom.

So, goodbye for now. There will be sporadic posts depending on cruising news or other things I find of interest but not the daily blog. However, do mark your calendar for the return of the daily blog on 1/4/2018 when we will continue our trip to Key West.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Titusville - Boat clearing and Kidde recall

I guess the message is, "Be Flexible!"
It amazes me how tall and slender some palm trees are and they still survive hurricanes.  I suppose they get by with being flexible and not having a lot of leaves - and the leaves (fronds) they do have stream with the wind, offering not much resistance. The wind is still blowing like stink, 25 to 30 kts, continuously. There's no letup. One of these days it will get to wherever it's going and stop.

Here's the crane on a barge - picking up boats out of the water
We saw how Florida is addressing all the boat wrecks in the area. They have a crane on a barge that picks the boats up out of the water and then deposits them on a following barge for later disposal.They were working in front of Titusville today removing several abandoned boats. I'm sure it was challenging in these winds!

They are then transferred to a following barge for disposal.
Now everyone must have Kidde fire extinguishers. Well, there's been a total recall of all Kidde extinguishers with plastic handles. It seems that sometimes the plastic handle doesn't work and the user is left with nothing to put a fire out with. You can read the details on the Consumer Reports site.  Kidde will replace your affected fire extinguishers at no charge. Go to their site for a form to fill out for the free replacements. I filled my form out today and I qualified for three new extinguishers to replace the ones I have. I would supposed you would fail a Coast Guard inspection if you had the defective extinguishers on board. The new ones will arrive in 10 to 15 days according to Kidde.

If you have one of these, get it replaced
Meanwhile, the wind continues! I will pick up the car on Wednesday and then we get serious about packing. We may finally get out of the wind but then we run into colder temperatures, oh well.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Titusville - Diver and Happy Hour with friends

Our diver, Don Brown
We have a list of divers we use all up and down the coast but our favorite one is Don Brown in Titusville. He has a couple of helpers but he always goes out with the divers himself. Just give him a call in advance to arrange a time at (386) 307-4880. We've used his services for the last eight years. I always get the bottom polished before continuing on to Key West and on the way back along with replacing the zinc.

Friends along the way
The high winds just have never let up this year. As I write this blog, the winds are still averaging 17 to 20 kts out of the northeast. We're positioned fairly well with protection from a breakwater from that direction. There are other docks not so well protected but the docks are very sturdy and you just have to get fenders in the right position and ensure they stay there.

This is what a 20 kt windy sky looks like
We were invited over for Happy Hour with Laura and Gail who also have a Beneteau 423. Their 423 is much neater than ours on the inside and a lot less hairy - since they don't have Hoolie to decorate around the downstairs. It was a very pleasant evening and one of the joys of cruising is meeting friends along the way.

We have one more day to get ready before I pick the car up on Wednesday. I even heard we had snow at home! It's going to be a change going north!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Titusville - We visit Reddingers

The area is huge but there's lots of parking
First item on the agenda today was a visit to Donuts 4U, one of the best donut shops we've ever been to and it's right here in Titusville (it has a 4.8 star rating). What sets them apart is the quality of the donuts. The jelly filled ones have 2 to 3 times as much filling as the ones you get from Dunkin' Donuts. The others are bigger and fresher and taste better.

The inside is typical flea-market but it's the size that's different
So after our feasting on three donuts (we try to limit ourselves) we were ready to face the day. We had read about a super-large Flea Market down by Melbourne called Reddingers. It has 2.4 miles of covered shopping walkways and 100's of vendors. It's the biggest flea market I've ever seen. As a bonus, we got our walking in for the afternoon. They were selling DVDs at 3 for $10 so we bought a few for when the kids were aboard.

And they have a few things you don't normally see at a flea market
I'll take the car back on Monday and will get our long distance car on Wednesday for the trip north. It's been a short stay here at Titusville compared to previous years due to our late start. Nevertheless, we're looking forward to the holidays with our son and daughter with their families. Just a short time up north with maybe a few snow showers is fine, nothing extended - we like the warm weather too much.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Titusville - Happy Hour with friends

After hurricane Irma, this guy was taking no more chances
 Florida is full. There are no slips south of Titusville. All the marinas have every dock spoken for. We had a couple come in today and took the end face dock, not the most favorable dock with the wind and waves coming into the marina but that was all that was available. There was no other choice unless you wanted to take a mooring in 25 kt winds.

We walked the dock and discussed the various procedures each boat took to avoid damage during hurricane Irma. No layout of dock lines was really effective due to the high water. It didn't quite reach the tops of the pilings but came very close. What it did do was slacken the line since they were attached near the top of the pilings  on the cleat at the top. As the water rose, the lines became slack which allowed the boat to lunge at the pilings, thereby damaging the boat.

Your can see how high the water rose by looking at the damage to the piling
There were many examples in the marina but only a few were enough to prove the point. The lines need to be tight as the  boat rises with the water. The slips are not all that big, the pilings are too close. One cannot consider Titusville Marina to be a hurricane hole. It's too open to the southeast. It's protected from other directions but not from the southeast.

We had 25 kt winds today so we took the wind as an experiment in positioning lines and fenders. We will be leaving the boat for 1.5 months and we want to come back to the same boat we left. Hopefully, everything is okay. It seemed to be okay today.

We will leave to go north on Thursday and return early in January. We'll see how successful we are upon our return.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Titusville - Propane recertification

Titusville is full!
We go through a propane tank every three months or so. We're still using tanks from our previous Fleetwing, a 38 ft Ericson sailboat. We found out the hard way that a tank can expire after 12 years. That is, the station will refuse to refill the tank if it is more than 12 years old. Sometimes that date may be overlooked but when you need the propane to be refilled the most, you can count on the filler seeing that date and refuse to refill it.

The original date was 10/2003, the new date is 11/2017 and pressed right into the aluminum. Some machine they must have. 
Our tanks are of good quality and made of aluminum so they should  be okay. I found a welding supply house that did recertifications and I took both tanks over for that. One was empty and one was almost full. They charged $20 each for the testing and now both are good for another five years. I thought I would get a sticker for each tank but this is a welding supply house, they impressed the date right into the aluminum! I don't have to worry about a sticker falling off.

All docks have security gates but you better remember to bring the pass card!
The winds have returned, 15 to 20 kts for the next couple of days. We have a huge powerboat upwind of us that's providing good protection from both the wind and the waves that manage to reach the harbor. "A" dock is better protected than most but they are all much better than being on a mooring which has no protection! Titusville Marina is full even on "C" and "D" dock which in the past seven years have never been full. In fact, they have been mostly empty. Not so this year.

Titusville does have one dock, "E", that's has floating docks but it's for smaller boats. All the docks have badge lock gates for security but I've never heard of anyone having a problem even before they installed the gates. We have a car for the weekend but Saturday does not appear to be an exploring day with rain and high winds in the forecast. We'll get out Sunday.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Titusville - Wood Storks

The wood storks gather between the dog park and the marina
It was another day of preparation for Fleetwing. Some people say, "Oh, you spend 9 months on vacation!"  Well, not really. Your boat is your home and you have to do all the things you would be doing at home for the upkeep of your "house." On top of the usual stuff, you have to keep three engines running (main diesel, outboard, and genset) as well as all associated systems. I also don't remember having to wash down the house either. Meanwhile, you're still taking care of your house up north. The furnace was fixed. They replaced several components, not sure just what but it's now up and running in time for the cold front coming down from Canada.

They are not a pretty bird but they are large
On our walks today we saw our first wood storks since arriving in Titusville. They are very large birds that breed in southern Florida but their main territory is in South America. I'm not sure what they are eating but they seem to graze in the lot by the dog park. Like crows and Canadian Geese, there's always one lookout bird surveying the area.

One eye is always on the surroundings
We passed them by and they didn't seem disturbed by our close presence. Hoolie got his usual run and I got my exercise by chasing the balls he didn't bring back. Who ever heard of a retriever not retrieving? Hoolie knows nothing of bringing balls back, he just drops them when he turns to come back - which is the farther point from where I first threw the ball!

We'll have a car for the weekend which we'll use to just explore the area. We used to get here by the first of the month and not leave until close to Thanksgiving but that holiday is early this year and we got here late due to Jose and Irma. That leaves little time for our traditional exploring. However, the boat is washed, the lines set, the salon vacuumed, the heads cleaned, etc., all the usual stuff. For the weekend, it's time for fun.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Titusville - survivers

Maybe it lost a frond or two  but it's otherwise undamaged - right at the end of our dock
Titusville saw a lot of wind from hurricane Irma, sustained 54 mph with gusts to 74 officially recorded. Yet, there were not that many trees down. There were some but it was not widespread devastation. What amazes me is how few palm trees fell. I think all I saw in driving around Titusville was one palm  tree down. So what makes palm tress so good in surviving high winds? The answer appears more complicated than I imagined. On the negative side, they do not have a tap root that goes down many feet. Most of their roots are surface roots. On the other hand, they don't have side branches to catch the wind. All they have is a top-knot of leaves that are very flexible and bend away from high winds. Add to that the flexible trunk and you have a recipe for surviving storms.

On the other hand, the banana tree lost everything a foot above the ground
In the marina here, there's not a single palm tree down despite the direct exposure to the high winds of Irma. However, the banana tree at the end of our dock did not do so well. The only thing left are leaves growing out of the root system. We'll have to wait awhile for the next crop of bananas from that tree!

As many of you know, I have webcams spread all through the house, some pointed outside and some inside. One is pointed at the furnace and in the course of checking out the house today over the cams, I noticed that the furnace was off!  The boiler temperature was down to 61F and a red light was flashing indicating some kind of error. I called my oil company and they came out in the afternoon to fix the problem. They have instructions on how to enter the house and disable the alarms although they don't have access to disable the webcams. I watched them repair the furnace and all is now well. Having webcams in the house is a great help. They only cost in the $50 to $70 range each and they give great peace of mind. Of course, you need an active WiFi signal which I have from my router which I leave on while we're away. I often get the question, "How do you know your furnace has a problem?" To which I answer, "I can see it through my webcam!" It seems to amaze some people that I can still see my house even through we're in Florida.

Somewhat of a sunset, looking through the boats and railroad tracks
It remains hot and we're in boat preparation mode for our trip north next week. That includes more laundry, boat washdown, new power cord, adding lines, taking on water, and more. The most expensive part is renting a car for two months, I wish there was another option but we don't like to fly with Hoolie.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Titusville - We rent a car

The Great Blue Heron - a majestic bird
We needed to provision for a few essentials, not much - just enough to last until Thursday morning of next week when we'll head north for the holidays. Enterprise greeted me with open arms, I'm one of their best customers in the area. I had reserved for today, the coming weekend, and the long term reservation for our trip north. They were doing a land-office business. There were people without cars waiting for the insurance to be approved that rented a car to tide them over. All of this was due to hurricane Irma. Nevertheless, I was able to rent a car today and I have valid reservations for next week too. The office manager said the business has been crazy and they never know what cars they'll have so they couldn't promise me anything special for my long term rental for going north.

Only a few were around
After a visit to Publix supermarket, we took a tour through one of our favorite areas, the Black Point nature trail on Merritt Island. It's an area that many species of birds use to winter over down south. Usually it's wall to wall birds but not today. We could count the number of birds we saw on one hand. We don't know if it was the hurricane or perhaps the warm weather or something else. So we sped through the area quicker than normal and took Hoolie over for his afternoon constitutional at the dog park.

Let us not forget the other inhabitants of the refuge
Hoolie is out of shape from lazing around on the boat so we just exercise him in brief spurts. Besides, we haven't been able to teach him to bring the ball back. He just drops it at the farther extent of his run and we have to go pick it up for the next throw. I don't know who's exercising who.

An out of shape Hoolie after only a few runs
Ann prepared one of her signature dishes, fried grouper sandwich with great sauce she made herself. We continue to enjoy the upper 70's weather with cool nights in the 60's for sleeping. We are now fully relaxed after our trip south with a "will we make it" mentality. Now it's time to get Fleetwing ready for our two month absence.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Titusville at last! - at a dock

Yeah, we made it!
We had two major shallow spots to get through today, both at the Ponce de Leon inlet:: The R2 and R2A buoys pair and the R18 and R18A pair. We made it through the R2 and R2A with 7.8 MLW and the second pair with 4.5 MLW which means that most boats will have to wait for a high enough tide to get through the last pair. In both cases you hug the red buoys for best water. I feel sorry for all the boats going outside, they miss all the fun.

Typical damage - ran forward into the pier
Another big if was whether the NASA Railway Bridge would be closed or not. They had issued an advisory that the bridge would only be open before 8:00 am, at noon and after 4:00 pm. So we were quite concerned that we could find ourselves waiting for several hours for the 4:00 pm opening. However, they had not yet started work on the bridge itself (they are redoing the entire railway over the next five years) and so it was up all day. We cheered as we passed through the last obstacle to our trip south. I mean, there was Jose spinning around in the Atlantic for over a week, blocking all traffic southbound, then came Irma to back up the blocking tactic when Jose finally started to fade. That was followed by cold, windy weather for another week or so. Just to add to the sense of not being wanted, the Marines had live firing exercises at Camp Lejeune, closing off the ICW for hours on end. Then, of course, there was the Surf City swing bridge which was being worked on and promised to be closed for hours on end. Oh, and don't forget the Alligator River Bridge which was projected to be closed during daylight hours during the height of the southern migration.  Finally the weather settled down when we reached Beaufort, NC but it was still cold. It didn't get warm until we reached Fernandina.

It was tough getting all the lines tight enough, then tend to stretch under strong winds
When we arrived at Titusville, we found the marina to be full for the first time since I've been coming down here over the past eight years. I had reservations I had made over a year ago so I had a dock waiting. Many of the docks were filled with boats that had no other home after Irma barreled through Florida. The marina itself did fine, it is very sturdily constructed but some of the boats did not do so well. According to one resident, the winds from Irma topped out at 120 mph and the water level rose to a level to flood the parking lot. Many of the boats did not have adequate leeway in the slip - too tight - and that led to damage from banging into the pier and/or pilings.

We will be here for about a week before leaving for our Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years vacation up north with our kids and grandkids. Until then, we have to get ready for the trip. We'll rent a car from Enterprise and drive home for the holidays.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Daytona at Bethune Park Anchorage - at anchor

We saw a flock of white pelicans, they are bigger than the gray variety
For some reason, the tide was with us all day long. I don't know what we did to deserve that but we'll take it. There were no surprises along the way. Ft Mantanzas is starting to shoal in again but it's still passable with 6.8 MLW at the lowest point.

Irene, I guess
With the tide behind us, we got to our anchorage in record time. It's at the Bethune Park just south of Halifax Harbor Marina. There's 9 to 10 MLW and tons of room. There used to be a dinghy dock but the last storm wiped it out. It's now floating in pieces so I just took Hoolie to the nearby, sandy beach.

Along the way, I continued snapping photos of bridge height boards and today I never saw one at 65 ft! It will take time to compile my list and put them in order for reference. In the meantime, look at these boards! All four bridges were pretty much like this one. There is only a 0.9 tide through here and we came through at high tide. 


We have a couple of challenging spots on Monday by the Ponce de Leon inlet. There are reports of only 4 to 5 ft of water at MLW. High tide for our area is at 10:00 am so we should have no problem but I still want to try out an alternate route for those following behind me. It looks like the passage will effectively be closed at low tide unless the alternate is deep enough. If I succeed, I'll post the route and perhaps the waypoints too.

We slowed down for a flotilla of kayaks
Monday is the big day. We’re due to arrive at Titusville to leave Fleetwing there for the next two months while we swing north again for the holidays. But all is still not smooth sailing. The railroad bridge just north of Titusville is being worked on during the daylight hours. The only openings are at 8:00, 12:00 and 4:00. It's just one more challenge on our trip south this autumn. If it's closed, then we'll just anchor until they let us pass through.
At anchor, we used the sandy beach

Saturday, November 4, 2017

St Augustine - at a dock for Enjoyment Day

St George Street, lots of shops
Today was an off-day. We decided to just enjoy St Augustine with a walk in the morning down St George Street. It's a pedestrian only street with all kinds of shops along the way. We found a Spanish bakery so now we have bread for the rest of the trip to Titusville.

Hoolie had a secret admirer
The weather is so warm now that we're in Florida. It's such a joy to just walk around in the pleasant temperatures. In the afternoon the pirate ship was having an affair of some sort and pirates of all kinds walked by Fleetwing on the way to their ship. They all liked to pet Hoolie and, of course, he enjoyed the attention to no end.

A pesky osprey like to perch on top of our mast - I jiggled the jib to scare him off - several times!
We walked again in the afternoon and I took Ann out to a local Cuban restaurant for dinner tonight. While there, the St Augustine official strollers came by. They were all dressed out in costumes around the time the city was formed. We learned that they "stroll" through St Augustine once a month, on the first Saturday of each month. We just happened to hit the timing right.

They take their history seriously - all costumes are supposed to be authentic
On Sunday, we're headed south again and plan on anchoring out at Bethune Park in Daytona. It's a big area for anchoring and there's a park nearby with a dinghy dock for Hoolie relief. It's even lit at night which we'll need for the time change Sunday morning.

Friday, November 3, 2017

St Augustine - at a dock

Let's see, the tide was running 3 kts behind Fleetwing, come in and stop immediately, no problem (this time...)
If you catch the tide right, it's a quick ride down to St Augustine. Today we were topping 10.4 kts at times! With temps in the 70's and full sun we think we're finally in the warm weather in Florida. We continue to pass bridges with less than 65 ft at high tide. Over the winter, my plan is to publish a list of bridges and their clearance at low tide so the cruiser can just add on the tide level and then calculate the clearance directly. After all, what's high tide? The high tides vary during the year and even during the day. What you really want to know is the clearance at a 0.0 MLW low tide. Then you can just add in the present tide to the MLW tide and get a clearance.

Typical dock damage
The request by St Augustine to just open the Bridge of Lions once an hour was denied by the Coast Guard. So now it opens on top of the hour and again at 1/2 past the hour except for 8:00, 12:00, and 5:00 when there is no opening.

Ann loved talking "shop" with the artists
The St Augustine City Marina is open. However, they only have about 1/2 of their docks in working condition. All of the south docks are inoperable along with some of the north docks. We did get a dock for two days but just barely.

Coming back to the boat, a quiet night
Ann likes St Augustine for all the galleries. She loves to talk to the artists giving demonstrations. It's her version of talking shop (papers, pastels used, people they know, techniques in use, etc.) We'll spend another day and tour the rest of the town before leaving Sunday for Daytona and anchoring.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jacksonville Free Dock - at the dock

That's Gordon Johnson's boat at Fernandina this morning
We didn't have far to go today for it was another leisurely start. The shallows south of Fernandina no longer hold a challenge since it was surveyed by Taylor Engineering. I obtained the waypoints from them for a safe passage at 8.5 MLW which I took again today just to confirm it was still good.

The docks here are first rate - cement with rubber bumbers too
We had a high tide with us all the way to the free docks so there were no problems but I did record all the depths converted to MLW and entered the results into Active Captain. There are a few places where you have to pay attention to the path if you try to go through at low tide. I've converted some of the successful passages to GPX files for easy entry into a chartplotter. If you follow the GPX route, then you'll be safe. They will be posted on my blog site within the next few days.

Another view of the docks. A fourth boat came in a few minutes ago.
The current really rips through the creek by the free docks! I tried to do a turn so my bow would be pointed out but that resulted in winding up with the current behind me after the turn. That almost resulted in disaster. It pays to think more ahead. I recovered and then just backed into the current and into the dock without further problems (except that I forgot about the dinghy painter not be pulled all the way in - luckily, it didn't wrap around the prop - that would have been a real disaster!)

So we are all set for the night and will start out Friday morning for St Augustine for a two day stay at a dock. We wanted to explore the town which we always enjoy. Then it's on to Dayton and then Titusville.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Fernandina - at anchor

Boats piled high from Irma. I believe they were collected and deposited here to clear the waterway
The night at the Jekyll anchorage was absolutely still, as usual. Except for the occasional passing boat, there is no wave action at all. We are into the leisurely part of our trip south so we didn't get off until 8:30. The weather is definitely warming up with temps in the 70's today and lows only in the 60's.

The docks at Fernandina. A great resource lies unrepaired and unused
Coming into Fernandina, we saw boats piled high on one site. I guess they were boats that suffered during Irma but were cleared out by the locals. The Fernandina city marina is still not repaired from hurricane Matthew! I cannot imagine the logic of the city council in not repairing a resource that brings dollars in the form of dockage and fuel sales as well as customers for the local restaurants and shops. Supposedly, the council is waiting for a final ruling on the amount of funds they will receive from FEMA.The local businesses are beside themselves with frustration on the incompetence of the local government.

Fernandina has a lot to offer with lots of good restaurants and shops 
Ann had her hair done at her favorite salon, Magna's. which was followed by a meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Pepper's. Both establishments lived up to their reputation and our memories. We had a great time.

Ann always gets her hair done at Magna's
On Thursday we are headed for Jacksonville and the free dock there. It's not so far so it will continue our tradition of relaxed mornings when in Florida.