Thursday, April 18, 2019

Jacksonville Free Docks - Sisters Creek

Substantial docks!
It was another easy day going north but that is not going to last. A rain front is due through on Friday so we sought out a secure stay for another day and settled on the Jacksonville Free Docks off of Sisters Creek. The docks are floating concrete and very substantial.

On the way, I used the Bob423 route for the exit of Pablo Creek into the St Johns River and found it to be deep and wide. One additional green buoy has been added to prevent you front taking a direct route between greens to the north and south of the new buoy, G5A. The route was perfect but with G5A in place, you could just follow the buoys and be fine too. When I ran the route in the fall, G5A was not there and I ran into a shoal by taking a direct route between the greens.

Almost a full moon, big tides and currents!
We arrived at the Jacksonville Free Docks by 1:00 pm and found a spot. Two powerboats came by later and wanted to tie up too but there was no room at first. However, by moving Fleetwing forward enough, it created enough room for a 50 ft boat behind us. Coming in to occupy that spot was not simple. Both the current and wind was pushing a boat wanting that slip off the dock. It took about six tried before they finally made a successful docking.

Now we are here for the next two days since Friday is predicted to be all rain with high winds, not good for being out on the ICW!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

St Augustine - Dinghy scraping, Outboard repair, We eat at OC Whites

Not fun! I've never seen it so thick!
The first order of business today was scraping the dinghy bottom to get rid of encrusted barnacles from sitting in the warm waters of Titusville for four months! We usually leave out dinghy in the water while we're away with no ill effects but not this time! We use Petit dinghy paint which is water based for compatibility with Hypalon and fiberglass bottoms. For the past eight years, it's been fine but this year it gave way to barnacles about an inch tall! That put one heck of a drag when towing it behind Fleetwing.

A close up of the technique for barnacle removal
St Augustine Marina has a very wide dock facing the bridge so we took advantage of the space to upend the dinghy for bottom access. I had visited an Ace hardware store in the morning and bought heavy duty which could be used with a hammer if needed. Well, I need that hammer, the barnacles are tenacious! They gave way but only after a couple of heavy licks with the hammer on the end of the scraper! It was slow going but I finished by noon.

The next order of business was to get the dinghy motor back which arrived at 5:15 from the repair shop. They picked it up at the marina and returned it too so all I had to do was get it to and from the boat. The problem was a gummed up carburetor. He had to clean it out twice to get it working.

But we topped it all off with a nice dinner at O.C. Seafood
With all that out of the way, it was time for a little R&R. On the advice of our friend Terri, we tried O.C. White's Seafood and Spirits which is right next door to the marina. We both ordered the shrimp which was fresh and cooked just right, recommended.

On Thursday, we're headed for the Jacksonville free docks right off Sister's Creek, hopefully, there will be room for us. Friday will most likely be a layover day since the chance of rain is 100% along with high winds. We'll start out again on Saturday when a spell of good weather is predicted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

St Augustine - at a dock, Ft Matanzas no drama

Yep, we're in St Augustine, pirates abound
Aqua Map Master with the USACE survey chars makes it ridiculously easy to pass through the shallow spots of the ICW. I already had a gpx route for Ft Matanzas but it was nothing more than plotting the exact deepest water per the USACE survey. It's a help in keeping focus on the best path but the real hero is the USACE survey.  I went through Ft Matanzas with a -0.3 ft drain tide but I had no worries since I knew the survey showed a way through. In fact, I didn't see anything less than 10.5 ft even with the -0.3 drain tide! Of course, you had to carefully follow the gpx route but if you did that, you had no worries. 

Laura and Gail paid a visit this afternoon. They spent the winter in the Bahamas.
They also have a Beneteau 423
I found a shop that would come to the marina to take your outboard back to their shop for repair. They came by at 5:15 and picked up the outboard and will look at it Wednesday. Hopefully, it's only a cleaning out of the fuel lines and nothing more major than that. I'll find out tomorrow. 

We're tucked into the northwest corner of the marina, easy to get in, exciting to get out
I will also tackle the dinghy bottom too, I found some heavy duty tools I had for scraping which I'll use for the scraping. Most of the barnacles are on fiberglass so it's not too bad, I will have to be very careful on the Hypalon.  

The St Augustine marina has fully recovered. All slips are in place and everything works. It was always the best marina for nearness to downtown and we intend to enjoy that on Wednesday. Whether we leave as planned on Thursday will depend on whether the outboard has been repaired or not. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bethune Park - at anchor, windlass jams, dinghy motor won't start

The iPad Pro 12.9 makes a great chartplotter! Here it shows both Navionics SonarChart and Aqua Map,
try doing that with any chartplottrer. 
We got off in good season from Titusville just by backing out all the way to the entrance. There was no future in trying to turn with a strong north wind but backing out was fine. Our dinghy with all the barnacles slowed us down. The dinghy was new this year and I used the usual bottom paint formulated for dinghies which I used before. What I think happened was the new fiberglass bottom still had mold release on it and so my bottom paint did not adhere. Without any protection, the barnacles grew wild!

Rockhouse Creek is open for business
Next came anchoring which resulted in a jammed windlass. It seems that the manufacturer lined the opening where the rope and chain descend into the locker with a plastic lining - to aid in a free fall of the rode. After 15 years, the plastic lining deteriorated and partially blocked the opening, causing the rode to jam. After a couple of hours of sawing at the tough plastic lining, I finally got it out. The opening is larger without the lining and the rode drops more easily.

Bethune Park dinghy dock is still not repaired after two years! I used a nearby sandy beach.
Then it came time to take Hoolie ashore. Pull, pull, no motor start. Pull some more, same thing. The spark plug looked dry when I removed it for inspection so there was no gas reaching the cylinder. Plenty of gas was coming in from the tank but it wasn't reaching the cylinder. Fuel filter? Carburetor?  It's my next project, fun, fun. I had lots of practice rowing the dinghy tonight.

A peaceful evening, St Augustine Tuesday
Ponce de Leon had been dredged so there were no problems there, at least 11 ft MLLW. Aqua Map Master with the USACE maps is a joy to use, super clear on the depths. If you have a route in, it will display the next lift bridge distance and ETA. It was handy today in not getting to the George Munson Bridge in New Smyrna Beach, Florida too soon. With a 2 kt current, you wanted to arrive just in time and not have to do donuts waiting for the opening.

Tuesday is St Augustine for two days to explore the town and, now, to get the dinghy back into shape and perhaps shave a few barnacles off the bottom too.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Titusville - The front arrives, barnacles on dinghy

Florida storms can get windy with lots and lots of rain
Today was the hottest day of the week and it signaled that a cool front as coming through with the associated storms. It arrived with wind and rain but it only lasted an hour or so and now it's 11 degrees cooler at 80, still pretty warm.

The dinghy has been sitting in the warm waters of the marina now for almost five months. I could see some growth on the side so I thought I ought to take it ashore and scrape the bottom. There is a convenient boat ramp nearby and I rowed over. When I finally got the dinghy upturned, I was amazed (and dismayed) at the amount of growth. It looked like a derelict boat that had been in the water for several years. There were not just barnacles but also marine growth resembling coral fans. It was terrible! I had a scraper with me that I broke in the first minute, no dice.  I removed the soft growth and called it a day. I'll try again later with a stronger scraper. I never had such a problem before with the same dinghy paint?!

When leaving, we have to back towards the shore with lots of rocks. I think it's
 pretty deep right up to the edge but I've never tested that - I don't intend to try Monday
We plan on setting out on Monday before 8:00 am and hope to reach Bethune Park in Daytona. We've used the anchorage before and it has the prerequisite shore access for Hoolie. The fall shallow spots have all been dredged so it should be an easy trip. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Titusville - Falcon Heavy redo, Disney World

It was a spectacular launch of the Falcon Heavy. This was the view from our dock in Titusville Marina
When you put things away after a visit, it is always best to put it all away fresh. With that in mind, we had three loads of laundry today and we'll have two more loads on Sunday. We will start out clean heading north on Monday. It continues to warm up with a high in the 80s and a prediction of 91 for Sunday. Summer has definitely arrived, time to move on. 

The kids spent Friday at Disney World - staring out at 5:30 am and leaving the park at 10:00 pm
It's wonderful to be so young...
My son took a better picture of the Falcon Heavy launch than I did so I'm featuring that photo tonight. It was successful in every way and now the US has a proven rocket that's twice the power of anything else in the world. 

Meanwhile, we're reclaiming the aft cabin to make our living quarters more spacious (and the aft cabin less spacious). We will continue the process on Sunday in preparation for our Monday morning departure for Bethune Park in Daytona. It's getting close to the time to return to the cooler temperatures. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Titusville - All alone, Rendezvous, provisioning

We saw a circle of parachutes coming down this afternoon, here's one of them
I don't think I would want to do that...
The gang got off this morning at 6:15 am which must be a record of some sort. They wanted to get to Disney World as the gates opened at 9:00 after picking up another girl they knew along the way. We are now getting hourly updates on their progress through the Magic Kingdom via photos in Messenger. We went there years ago, it's a place for young ones. I think they are even staying for fireworks at 9:00 pm and then they'll shut the doors to the park on their way out. You've got to have stamina! 

Doug says hi, he's a former professional fisherman
We met the captain of the boat at the end of our dock, Doug on Rendezvous. It's a huge powerboat with all the conveniences of a home that includes a refrigerator just like you would have in a house, likewise for the stove and dishwasher (!) along with the washer and dryer. I think he said they carried 600 gallons of water. Our Fleetwing certainly looks rather modest compared to Rendezvous, but we'll keep what we have.

The bookend is always a sunset
Saturday will be a "putting the boat back in order" day in preparation for leaving on Monday to go north. It is time to move, the weather has turned hot. We're due for a high of 91 on Sunday!