Monday, January 20, 2020

Tavernier - at a dock

It's a very tight slip, but snug.
Today, we went to Blue Waters marina. We'll stay there for a while, to do laundry, take out the trash, and get some groceries. Unlike Miami, we had a place to get ashore( :) ).  It was a school day today. I only had to do spelling, math, and reading. That was all that happened today, but again, I wasn't bored out of my mind. When it was dark, I went with Grandpa to walk Hoolie( I was scared out of my mind because It looked like the Upside Down from Stranger Things.). That was all today. bye.

The farther into the Keys we get, the better the sunsets
We use the Blue Waters Marina at Tavernier when there's a prediction of high winds and we need a place to wait out the weather. It is mainly a liveaboard marina but they occasionally have slips open with their owners away for some reason. That was the case for us. We had been there before so we knew the dockmaster and he made room for us. At $2/ft, it's a very reasonable marina for the keys. You have to watch your approach since the MLLW varies from 4.3 to 5.2 ft depending upon wind direction. With a 2.5 ft tide, you can make it in depending on your keel. Once inside, it 10 to 30 ft deep. It used to be a quarry that was later flooded after it had run its course and now it's surrounded by residences and two marinas.

We have high winds predicted here for the next three days. We hope that the forecast for Sunday holds and if it does, we'll move on to Marathon with Key West on the itinerary the next day. With the cold front roaring through, it's due to dip down into the 40's overnight! Chilly for the keys. One great positive is the internet service. I clocked it at 200 Mbps! It's great to be connected.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Miami - Art day and we leave Monday

Rowan's art assignment: one realistic (as a 9 year old can make it) and one with imagination
Hello everyone! Today was a PANCAKE Sunday instead of donuts. It was a normal day, but without any travel. Tomorrow, we set off to Blue Waters marina. During the trip, we will pass a place called "Stiltsville." It really is what the name suggests. A town, on the water, held up by stilts. It's an abandoned fishing community, which the old residents had no plumbing, water, or electricity. The highlight of today was that I GOT STUNG BY A JELLYFISH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was swimming in the water when I felt something prick my arm. I thought it was just some pointy seaweed, but then I felt it in multiple places. Then I came to realize that it was NOT seaweed, and then started screaming," FRICK, SOMETHING JUST STUNG ME!!!! GET ME OUT OF THE FRIKIN' WATER!!!!!!!!!" The thing that stung me was a Man O War jellyfish. Right now I am fine. I can still feel the sting, but it's very weak.

Here's a better view of the rocks we take Hoolie to, no problem
Well, Rowan had some excitement today. He was happily swimming away when a Portuguese Man O' War came floating by. It was a very small one but it packed a wallop! If he could walk on water, he would have. We searched the internet on how to best treat the problem and settled on vinegar followed by a hot water bottle press on the area affected. The sting gradually abated but not before a lot of complaining by our third crew member.

Miami is nearby
Rowan had an art assignment today. He was top paint two pictures of a turtle, one to be realistic and one with different colors. He produced the painting at the top of the blog. He was inspired by Susie Poff who paints marine scenes but with color not found in nature. We met her at the Key West art show at the end of February.

Today is our last day at anchor. On Monday we are headed for Blue Waters Marina for a stay to wait out the bad weather. We expect to stay a week and hope for an opening for a run to Key West by the weekend. The weather continues to include high winds and rough seas, not good for an extended run with a 9 year old. Monday is supposed to be calm before the wild weather starts the next day .

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Miami - We plan for Blue Waters Marina

Rowan likes to wear his space helmet for serious work, like doing his blog
Today was sunny ( :) ), finally. No rain at all.Yay!!! Today I only had 2 hours of screen time ( A personal best!). I didn't use my legos as much today. I thought I would use them more. Even though there wasn't much to do today, I wasn't bored out of my mind. It was also clear enough for me to go swimming ( In frigid water.)! Since there are no motorboats permitted on the beach, we have to take Hoolie to a bunch of rocks to do his biz. It can be VERY difficult to take him there at high tide. That's all. 

There is a convenient place for Hoolie nearby
We went through several options today in waiting for the weather to clear out for our trip to Key West. There are just no three-day windows to go east. First, we thought of spending some time at Black Point Marina where we've been before. You can rent a car there from Enterprise and explore the area, including the Everglades park. It's only $1.50/ft. There's a 4.5 ft spot at the entrance that's best taken at high tide, depending upon your draft.

We always like sunsets!
The other choice was the Pilot House Marina but it's $3/ft although it's on the way east at least and has a great restaurant on site. Our third choice was Blue Waters Marina which is very hard to get into, they are usually full and the entrance only carries 4.5 ft at low tide. We were lucky enough to get a slip at Blue Waters. We've been there before and they remembered us and worked to find a place. We will probably be there a week waiting for better weather.

And, Miami at night from the anchorage
Sunday will be another waiting day and we'll move on to Blue Waters Marina on Monday. It's a liveaboard marina which suits us just fine. Our slip will open up on 1/28 and we intend making that date on time.

Friday, January 17, 2020

High winds in Miami - a layover day

We're snug up for a northeast wind. Hoolie's relief is by the Waterway Guide anchor symbol.
We finally didn't have a travel day! But it was pretty boring. There was really nothing to do, other than play on my tablet, do school work, and read. I did my school work pretty fast, I had limited screen time, and I already read all my books a thousand times and counting. Even if there was something I hadn't read, I wasn't that into it. It was very rainy today, so I couldn't go swimming. That was all today. 

Well, I guess you can't please a 9-year-old all the time. The topic of interest to the crew is weather. We need two good days to reach Marathon and then another good day to reach Key West. It appears that the first opportunity will be Monday to head south although Sunday is an outside possibility. If all goes according to plan, we'll spend Monday night at the Pilot House Marina and try for the next weather window.

Meanwhile, we're running the genset twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. That keeps the batteries and hot water in order and we sure do need both, especially with a 9 year old aboard for all his electronics. Hoolie has gotten into a routine where we take him to the "rocks" for his outings. It's in a cove next to land and with the wind out of the northeast, it's completely calm for a landing there.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Miami - at anchor

Cuddled up for the ride, with Hoolie too
Sorry, but yesterday I lied! Today was really a travel day, and we'll be anchored in Miami, south of the Rickenbacker bridge, for a couple of days. After a while, I went swimming off the back (In freezing water.). Before we anchored, we saw a shipping port, filled with container ships and barges. There were HUGE cranes, loading and unloading ships. After, we anchored just little ways out from a beach. And the ice cream truck comes every once in a while, which I know is a good sign. Tomorrow will not be a travel day, :), which is good, because I'm getting sick of them

Fleetwing looked fine at Bahia Mar - but expensive at $3.50/foot
We thought we would have a calm ride south from Ft Lauderdale but it was a lot more bouncy than we anticipated. Rowan took it in stride and even read a book along the way, something I would not try. He certainly has his sea legs.

We got all the way to Miami before seeing our first sunset!
We found that our favorite anchorage was closed! Marine Stadium was closed so they could install the docks for the Miami Boat Show. High winds out of the northeast are predicted for the next two days so we rounded the corner and anchored on the south side of Rickenbacker. It will provide protection from the north, northeast, and east - and a little even from the southeast. The beach itself is off-limits to dinghies with motors but dogs are allowed if on a leash. I found some rocks to the east so I used those for Hoolie relief.

The next two to three days are not good for traveling. We are due winds up to 22 kts with higher gusts. Perhaps we can move on Monday depending on the details of the forecast. The weather has been strange this trip, lots of variable weather we usually didn't see in the past.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Ft Lauderdale at Bahia Mar

"Fleetwing clear, thank you ____ bridge"
We got moving again. After 15 DRAWBRIDGES, we made it to Ft Lauderdale. When we got to an open mooring, but a police boat came by and said we couldn't moor there, so right now we're docked at a marina. After we docked, we took Hoolie out. We found out that there was a beach across the street. Tomorrow we'll stay here (Thank god, I'm done moving.) (Editor's note: we're going to Marine Stadium on Thursday, there's bad weather coming after that). So we can prepare for Marathon. For a few days, we'll do laundry, go out to Walmart, and we're already refueled

Rowan has taken on the duties of announcing our passage through a bridge. It's customary to thank for bridge operator for the opening and to let him know when you're through. We only missed one bridge today and that was due to the constant current against us all the way. There were probably some times when we didn't have an adverse current but we don't remember those times. In order to have a chance at not waiting between bridges, you have to be able to cruise at 7 kts which we can do except then there's a foul current of more than 0.5 kts.

Some of the houses could have been museums, perhaps they were.
We we get to Las Olas and we're waiting for the bridge to open, our first chore is to get out the binoculars and see if there's an empty mooring. This time they were all empty! That should have been a warning. Sure enough, a short time later, a police boat came by and told us we would have to move, all the moorings were closed! In talking to the marina office later, I found out that there was a barge waiting for an opening that was pushed by wind directly into the mooring field, wiping out everything there. They are now in a rebuilding mode and the office manager expected the mooring field to reopen by the end of January.

A remodeled Trumpy??
So we went to Plan B, a dock nearby. Las Olas was full so we went to Bahia Mar Yachting Center. Unfortunately, $40/night turned into $3.50/ft. We had wanted to stay several days to provision and catch our breath but the weather will not let us rest. Thursday will be the last good day to go south outside until Tuesday of next week. So our plan is to go outside to Miami and anchor in Marine Stadium to stage for the trip to Key West towards the latter part of next week.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Lantana - We eat out at Old Key Lime House with Joe

This is the temporary Southern Blvd Bridge with a clearance of 65 ft but only at low tide!
We got the boat moving again. Right now, we are in an anchorage in Lantana. To get here, we had to go through 11 DRAW BRIDGES! I remember one was called a"lift bridge". Picture a normal, two-lane bridge, but at each corner, there is a tall, piece of scaffolding and when a tall boat wanted to come through, the entire bridge went up. It really wasn't ideal for sailboats, because at low tide, it only was 65 feet tall. Fleetwing barely made the clearance the last one we went through, Nana REALLY didn't like the bridge master. "If you don't get to the bridge at 3:30, I'm not going to open it," He said. I can see why Nana didn't like him. After all, he did sound kinda mean over the radio. A few hours after we anchored, we went to "The Old Key Lime House" so Nana and Grandpa could meet up with some friends of theirs. I had a grilled cheese and fries (I had to order off the kids' menu :( .), and their fries were really good. After, we took Hoolie ashore to again, do his biz. That was all today. Tomorrow, we set sail for Fort Lauderdale.

The place was packed! You'd think they were giving away money!
We usually don't miss any bridges in this stretch of the ICW in Florida since we cruise at 7.3 kts but today was different, we missed four (meaning, we had to wait for the next opening). The complicating factor was the 1.5 to 2.5 kt of adverse current over the entire stretch. That was too much for Fleetwing to overcome. One wonders at how the current can be against you for the entire day, even as you pass inlets where you would think the current would reverse! Half a knot or even a full knot is manageable but not 1.5 to 2.5 kts!

Hoolie guarded Fleetwing while we were gone. You can see our dinghy at their dock, convenient. 
The new news is the vertical clearance of the Southern Blvd bridge. It's supposed to be 65 ft but the bridge operator north of the Blvd bridge was asking each sailboat for their height and warning that the Southern Blvd bridge only had a clearance of 65 ft at low tide, not a high tide. The sailboat behind us had a mast of 63.5 ft and with the 2 ft tide at the time, they decided to stop and stay overnight and leave the next morning at low tide.

We met with Joe Mastri, an old friend from the Poughkeepsie YC for dinner at the Old Key Lime House restaurant. The place was hopping, even on a Tuesday night. They even had a sign posted saying that staying at a table was limited to a maximum of two hours! I've never seen that before. However, the dinner was excellent which is the attraction of the place.

On Wednesday, we make the run through 15 bridges to Ft Lauderdale and hopefully, a mooring. We'll then look at the weather for an outside sail to Miami and a stay at Marine Stadium.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Hobe Sound - School day for Rowan

Dog duty on Fleetwing
Today we moved again, and now we are in Hobe Sound, anchored. It was a normal travel day, get up early (editor's note: well, by 9:00 am, not that early), start moving, go under a few drawbridges, stuff like that. After we anchored, we took Hoolie to a small stretch of beach to do his biz. Later, I got to take a swim in the water. I forgot to tell you yesterday that when Grandpa and I were going to take Hoolie out, I tried to get my life jacket out of a locker, but I opened it too soon, and Hoolie walked straight in. I had to pull him up with his collar. I also avoided my electronics the whole trip, and I was using, NOT PLAYING with my Lego's. I thought there would be more today, but there wasn't. That's all, folks.

Nothing like a little relaxation after a hard day of schooling on a boat (in 70-degree weather, swimming, ...)
It was a full day of school work for Rowan, he didn't mention that. We both took Hoolie to shore and he was about to do his business until he saw Rowan get out of the dinghy - "oh boy, someone to play with me." That was the end of that. I took Hoolie to shore at a drain tide tonight, he had to wade ashore for about 60 feet at least but he got the job done.

We are here in one of our favorite anchorages, it's in Hobe Sound by R38. It's just a quiet place for the night with beach access, it's all we ever want in an anchorage. It used to be deserted with us being the only boat but it has become more popular lately. Tonight there are five boats here but there's plenty of room. As usual for this area, the charts are wrong, there's more water than shown. We're at 7.5 MLLW with good holding.

On Tuesday, it's a trip to the Lantana anchorage and dinner with an old friend at the waterfront restaurant, the Old Key Lime House. They have a dinghy dock for water access. Ann is looking forward to a fish sandwich.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Vero Beach - We raft up

Step One, make a model of the infamous Alligator River Swing Bridge
WE FINALLY GOT TO MOVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!! We got up early in the morning, took Hoolie out(Hoolie fell into the water when trying to get on the dock, so we had to fish him out with his leash.), and we took off! So long (Kennedy space center :(.), Titusville :)! After that, we had DONUTS for breakfast. After 9 FRIKIN' HOURS, we got to moring #3, Vero Beach. When we finally docked, we got Hoolie and ourselves on the dingy and headed for dry land. Hoolie was going really fast, just like yesterday. That was all that happened today.

Step 2: show the bridge opening for boaters! Oh, if only it was so easy..
Messieurs Style and Grace were not with us this morning when we left the dock. I had all lines doubled and I missed one when we tried to back out. Rule number one when leaving a dock - count all the lines attached to shore, remember to unattach them before moving! Fleetwing came to a sudden halt! After removing the offending line, we proceeded to back out and to go south.

Our kind neighbors for the night, Foolish Heart
It was a long day, especially for a kid. Nine hours can seem like an eternity to a 9-year-old. Nevertheless, we made it to Vero by 5:00 pm and asked for a mooring. The only option was to double up on a mooring which we did as directed by the office. Luckily, the couple on the boat we tied to were welcoming.

I uploaded my first track of this trip this afternoon so it's available for download now. I will repeat for each day as I head south. On Monday we are headed for the Hobe Sound anchorage by R38, one of our favorites. It's never crowded and there's a sandy beach nearby for Hoolie.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

OLOH visits and we get ready to leave for Vero

OLOH came by to say hi today
Today we had pancakes and bacon for breakfast! We also took Hoolie to the dog park. He was going very fast on the way over. Like he was eager to use the bathroom or REALLY wanted to move around. I think I also taught him to sit. Well, nothing really happened today other than those 2. Tomorrow we set sail from the Titusville marina on our journey to Key West. And tomorrow is donut Sunday, which is the perfect time to get out of the marina. I also learned on the Minecraft wiki the command to get a command block (AKA: infinite power.). The command is /give @p command block. So if you're playing on pocket edition, that's the key to infinite resources (or, mass destruction and terror to everyone in your world).

We say good night to Titusville, we leave tomorrow
We did a bunch of stuff to get ready to move south on our last day in Titusville. We had a pump-out, filled the water tanks, loaded up on ice, did a laundry - we are ready! Our first stop will be Vero Beach where we'll take a mooring we hope. We will have to raft since there are no free moorings, hopefully, someone will take us in. It's just an overnight stay until we leave Monday morning for our Hobe Sound anchorage by R38. If all goes well, we will anchor at Lantana and then pick up a mooring at Ft Lauderdale and wait for good weather to reach the Marine Stadium anchorage in Miami, at least that's the plan. It's supposed to be open to anchoring until 2/5/2020 this year.

 Rowan will restart his school work and spare everyone in the world from mass destruction and terrot!

Friday, January 10, 2020

As part of the ride, you get to hold an alligator!
Today we got to go on an airboat ride! We saw MANY more alligators! 30, to be exact. It was like a zoo in the gift shop. There were parrots and snakes and even(wait for it...) a pig! There was actually a pig laying under a rack of T-shirts, taking a nap. At the end of the ride, I got to hold and have my picture taken with an alligator! holding him was like putting on a pair of leather gloves. He was also heavier than I expected.

We went through a cypress forest, very calm and beautiful
We took Matthew, our first grandson, on an airboat ride when he was about the same age as Rowan -  but he remembers nothing of the ride! How could you forget such an experience? So we keep asking Rowan if he remembers the ride or not, so far, so good.

This is alligator country and we saw plenty of them, they were everywhere. We went to Midway Airboat Rides for the event, the best one in the area. It lasts about an hour and you're sure to see alligators - you couldn't avoid them! Also on the agenda are lots of birds and today we even saw an eagle.

Oh yet, did I mention we saw lots of alligators, up close in the wild
Once back at the main building, the pilot of the airboat took a small alligator out of a pen and we all had a chance to hold him, including Rowan. The young ones at least are soft and very heavy. It had a rubber band over its snout so he could not open his jaws. It's a fun trip, everyone should go if they are in the area.

We have one more day at Titusville before heading south to Vero Beach on Sunday. We are looking forward to being a boat again instead of a condo.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Rowan finishes KSC and we tour Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

Rowan, in virtual reality on Mars
(Continuation of Rowan's adventures at Kennedy Space Center)  Grandpa was ground control for my virtual reality test on Mars. He told me where to turn, what rocks to scan, and what buttons to press. After that, we got into another tube, put a headset on, got a harness, and then it closed. inside the tube we had controls in front of us, which were a joystick, red button, and a screen. I was the commander, and Grandpa was the driver. First, I had to land the Orion capsule on Mars [When I deployed the parachute, the hole tube flipped 360], then Grandpa had to drive a rover [Yes, that same rover] to certain waypoints [When he got to the second waypoint, we entered a dust storm, and the tube 360'd again.]

Just a great nature walk on Merritt Island
Thursday, we got to see Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. We got to see a bunch of plants and birds and we even saw 3 alligators! Well, I saw 3 :), Nana and Grandpa only saw 2 :(. Anyway, that was all that happened this week. Except for Wednesday, when Grandpa got a new TV for the boat, but that's another story. Bye!

Along the way on Black Point Drive
Our big event of the day for the boat was to start the outboard motor. The last two times we returned to Fleetwing, the outboard refused to start and needed a cleaning. The gas had evaporated and left a gummy deposit in the carburetor and a stuck needle valve. This time, we finally wised up and ran the motor dry (at idle with no gas attached). It started right up!

Our prize of the day - an eagle!
We paid our usual visit to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, The last time in the fall, we hardly saw any birds but this time there were plenty. I guess they had time to get south in January. We saw an eagle for the first time, always fun.

We plan on an airboat ride Friday that includes a tour through an alligator area with up to 100 alligators, usually. We'll see what happens, it should be fun.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center

In space! Where's my helmet??
Tuesday was a blast. Grandpa and I got to see the [real] space shuttle Atlantis. There were many floors to the Atlantis exhibit, yet we climbed them all. On the second floor, there was an arrow on the wall that said, "To re-entry burn. we followed the arrows to a large slide heading down to the first floor. I talked my grandfather into going on it with me, and he said yes. After the slide, we went to the shuttle launch experience. We went into a large, metal tube, put a harness on, and then the whole thing got tilted 90 degrees. The tube didn't replicate the G force of liftoff, but you could definitely feel force on your face. Just to be clear, I was NOT screeching, "WHEN I GET BACK ON THE GROUND, I'M SUING EVERYONE AT LAUNCH CONTROL!!!!!" I had a hard time readjusting to the angle of gravity after that. After that, we went to the Astronaut Training Experience[ATX] and got to put on a VR headset and hand controllers, and it looked liked you were on Mars, with a scanner in your left hand, and in front of you, was the same rover we saw yesterday[AKA: batmobile].To be continued.

All the buttons and switches to push - which ones??
Rowan's report on his experiences continue and he'll be adding more tomorrow. It was a full two days at the Space Center. In one area, they were taking photos against a green screen which we later found out inserted outer space as a backdrop. The highlight of today was a virtual reality experience on Mars that all the astronauts had to go through. You put on the goggles and everywhere you turned, you saw a Mars landscape. You had to pick up rock samples and put them in a box. In the next stage, Rowan and I were secured inside a Mars Rover that I described yesterday - 360 flips were not fun but I suppose were realistic for the driving I was doing.

Gradually we are waking Fleetwing up from her winter slumber. We took on water, had the bottom scrubbed, replaced the zinc, with more to do before we leave on Sunday for Vero Beach.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

After two days at the Kennedy Space Center - Whew!

SpaceX launch, click on the link before for the full video. We were 3.5 miles away

Hi again, everyone! Yesterday and today, my Grandfather and I had a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. First, we went to the rocket garden and got to see many different rockets and even some replicas of famous capsules. Like the Mercury, Redstone and Apollo 11's command module. After that, we headed to the NASA Hall of Heroes. Before we got in, we watched a short film on other astronaut's heroes. I have to admit, I cried during that presentation. After the Hall of Heroes, we went to see an exhibit labeled "Mars rover," Even though it looked like an exact replica of the Batmobile. Then we got to have lunch with a person that was on 4 space shuttle flights. He talked a lot about this place that astronauts go before a mission called the beach house. After his talk, he answered questions people had. I was called on first, and asked, "What is a Radioisotope Thermal Genorator[RTG]?" I wanted to stump him, but he gave me a probably correct response. Then we left for the bus tours of the real Kennedy Space Center. You know, where they launch the rockets. We got to see the Vehicle Assembly Building[VAB], the big crawlers they use to carry the rockets to the launch sites, and SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. Then the bus dropped us off at the Apollo Saturn V center.  (Editor's Note, it's getting late for Rowan, time for bed - to be continued tomorrow)

Proposed Mars Rover for when we rsettle Mars
It's been quite a two days of events! Too much to cover but I think Rowan made a start. Monday night was the highlight with a SpaceX launch of 60 internet satellites. The video link is at the top of the page. Rowan enjoyed himself no end. He's a nut on space and I'll have more on that later. For now, it's just fun watching him enjoy everything at the space center.

All made out of Lego, Rowan's favorite building material
I'll summarize more tomorrow. We will be here until Sunday when the weather should allow us to head south again.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Our Kennedy Space Center Adventure Starts Monday

Hello, my name is Rowan (editor's notehe’s the one at far right)  and for the next month and a half, I will be on a voyage from Titusville to key west. Tomorrow, my grandfather and I will take a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. We will have lunch with an astronaut, ride in a flight simulator, and lastly, see SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blast off to the stars! Nothing really happened today. We did take our dog, Hoolie, to a dog park close to the marina. I remember when another dog tried to knock me over. I can't remember that dog's name, but I think it started with an R. My grandpa got a new TV for the boat today. We spent hours (editor's note: 15 minutes...) at a local Walmart trying to find the right one. I think we ended up buying a 32 in. VIZIO TV. That was all that really happened today. I am looking forward to tomorrow and the journey ahead of us. This will be a great trip, I know it!

And so our adventure begins with our 9 year old grandson, soon to be 10 in a couple of weeks. Monday is the first of two days at the Kennedy Space Center. On Monday we will have lunch with an Astronaut, tour the Saturn V rocket, suspended overhead - quite a sight and wind up with a SpaceX launch at 9:15 pm at the nearest viewing area there. We will take lots of photos and share here.

On our way down, we ate at a local treasure, the Lonestar Restaurant in Santee, South Carolina. If you’re ever in the area, you have to go. For $7.99, you get a selection of one meat and three sides with dessert and ice tea, The place has been there forever. The owner is in the picture at the top of the post.