Wednesday, April 25, 2018

St Augustine - at a dock

Ann's looking over the paintings by students at the St Augustine Art Association
Today was our first day of serious shallows. We transited all of them at dead, low tide. The most famous was Ft Matanzas which was dredged just last year but has already filled in. The USACE has been moving buoys around and there is an 8.6 MLLW path through but you have to pay particular attention to the new buoy placements. You pass 50 ft off the greens and 30 ft off the reds and you'll be okay. The red buoys are amazingly close to shore but have faith and honor them for good water. When we were there, a USACE speedboat went by down the marked route which I assume was checking out the depths.

The Art Association was having a paint out and naturally, Ann had to talk to the artists
So with our second day of good weather, we had a smooth ride to St Augustine and I took Ann out to dinner at OC White's Restaurant which was fine. We had intended dining at La Herencia but it was closed after 4:00 on Wednesdays. We met up with Gorden and Eta for wine on the boat before going to dinner.

A nice  Bird of Paradise was growing outside the art association main building
My article on weather apps was published by Waterway Guide. Let me know what you think. We are all interested in the weather and what app does the best job (short of a dedicated weather person). The article covers only one instance of a prediction but more will follow as I make my way north from Key West.

Coming into our slip was exciting with a 2 kt current behind us and a wind pushing us away from our dock, a double whammy! The docks here have still not been repaired and there's no electricity for the boats. I asked if the marina was offering a discount due to the lack of electric and I received a reply, "Yes, we won't charge for electrical hook up!"  Some discount... Ann took a tour of the art galleries in St Augustine and found the St Augustine Art Association which has been around since 1924 but we had never seen the building and the exhibit inside. Somehow we missed it every time! Now we will never miss it again! Ann had a grand time talking shop.

We will leave in the morning for Fernandina and anchor. Ann has a hair appointment on Friday morning, after which we'll move on to Jekyll Island to catch the Saturday high tide to move north.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bethune Park - at anchor

Sunrise, not sunset! As we left Titusville. 
We left as the sun was rising and it was perfectly still, just what we wanted for a ride north. All the apps predicted the wind correctly so there was no competition today on who's the best. Just as a little background, there are two main weather models, the GFS from the National Weather Bureau of the US and the ECWMF from Europe. The European model has been the best performing most recently in head to head competition. It has a higher resolution than the GFS model so it should be able to predict smaller weather cells with more accuracy. In addition to those models, PredictWind which was born out of America Cup racing (they really need to know the wind!) has two more models PWE which is a tweak on the European model and PWG which is a tweak on the GFS model.

The docks have been like this since Hurricane Matthew.
In my tests, I'm using PocketGrib (GFS), Ventusky (GFS), NOAA (?, but probably GFS), Windy (ECWMF) and PredictWind (PWE). As I go north, I'll look for differences in predictions and when they come up, then we'll see who's right.

They still get used!
Ponce de Leon by 18 and 18A was shallow as expected at 7.5 MLW but now you can't hug the reds, you have to be about 50 ft off due to a shoal working its way out from shore. Once past the reds going north, I ran across a 5.6 MLW spot. The reds 2 and 2A needed to be close by at 40 ft or so to get 7.9 MLW but with a 6.8 spot beyond, going north. I updated Active Captain and Waterway Explorer with the latest information.

Fleetwing is at the upper right, Hoolie jumped out immediately as we touched shore,
the dog has no patience at all!
Today everyone predicted light winds and they were all right. We anchored by Bethune Park and I took Hoolie to the sandy beach by the old docks which are still not repaired yet from Matthew. The anchorage here is huge, no crowding. We anticipate a quiet night and an early start so Ann can go through the art galleries in St Augustine. Then it's on to Fernandina and a hair cut for Ann.



Monday, April 23, 2018

Titusville - Last day and with storms

Derek and Jan form the boat next door
Today was predicted to be the stormiest day of our stay and it didn't disappoint. We had three storms roll through, each with its rain and wind gusts. There wasn't any lightning, just wind and rain. In anticipation of the windy weather, Ann hosted a "High Wind Party" at 5:00 and we sat in the cockpit and toasted the storm with wine. Our neighbors on the dock came over to join us and we had grand time trading stories - and producing empty wine bottles.

Whenever there's rain, the manatees gather at the run off drains to sip the fresh water
I paid my bill at the rate of $6.50/ft for a week which is a pretty good for the area. I would rather have moved on but at least it's very reasonable on cost. The marina still only has very few slips available. I think I ought to get a discount for helping to fill the place up through my reviews in my guide but I pay the same as everyone else.

The clouds are breaking! Is that the sun?
After the storms passed this afternoon, it appears that we will have a quiet night and a rain free day on Tuesday. We have a few shallow spots ahead of us at the Ponce de Leon Inlet and a couple of places just north of there. I'll be updating Active Captain on what I find so stay tuned. Our final destination on Tuesday is Bethune Park just south of Daytona. It's an anchorage area we're fond of with easy access to a park for Hoolie relief. We have a dock at Stl Augustine the next day.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Titusville - Waiting for weather (good weather)

Just a dreary, overcast day with rain - but it is warm at least
We continue to count the days. We really don't want to travel in rain and high winds but we may do some of that on Tuesday. The forecasts keep slipping and slipping. When we first arrived, the first good day was to be Monday. Now Tuesday is not looking so hot but we will weigh that again on Tuesday morning. These delays are getting ridiculous.

Each dock has its own gate for security, a good added feature over the last couple of years
We are still getting wildly different forecasts for Tuesday. Once again it's PredictWind against all the other apps. This time I truly hope that PredictWind is wrong since it shows 20 plus kt winds once we get through the haulover canal bridge vs less than 10 kts from all the other apps. At least it's predicted to be out of the south so even if it's true, the wind would be behind us which is very different from being on the nose.

Monday, however, is supposed to be very rainy with lots of wind. At the moment it seems very calm but when I looked at the wind gauge, it showed 20 kts. The difference is the wind direction, now it's out of the south and we're protected from that direction. If it continues out of the south, it should not be a problem with us going north on Tuesday. There are several boats looking for good weather just like us so there will be a bunch of us leaving when the weather clears.

Ann is still having her "High Wind Party" Monday at 5:00, just some wine and socializing. Everyone's invited.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Titusville - 20 kts winds all day

Just a dreary day (the bird is flying backwards)
We are just hanging out waiting for something other than 20 kts winds on the nose with rain. The weather is predicted to worsen over the next two days with nothing but rain all day on Monday, oh joy. On Tuesday we have another disparity forecast between all the apps vs PredictWind. Once again, PredictWind is showing high winds on Tuesday when the rest of the apps are predicting winds in the 10 kt range or less. Given my last experience where everyone was wrong except PredictWind, I'm a little concerned. At least the direction is on the aft quarter so it's not on the nose like last time.

One response to the weather is just to pretend to be an RV
Meanwhile, we did laundry and had a pump out which is free at Titusville twice a week. Ann is organizing a "High Wind Party" Monday night to celebrate our leaving Titusville and continuing our northward trip the next day. She's out recruiting attendees tonight while I do the blog. Monday evening is also when we're due for heavy rain along with the high winds, a double helping of Florida "sunshine". The party is also a sign that we are fully recovered from our chest colds. It "only" took two weeks.

This is a sunset?!  NOT
We plan on reaching Daytona on Tuesday night and St Augustine on Wednesday but only for one night since we really have to get going. We are so late this year.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Titusville - Provisioning and Black Point

The manatees have arrived in force! Note the propeller scars on his back
We did our usual provisioning today but chose to go to Winn Dixie instead of Publix which seems to keep raising prices from week to week. They simply do not carry boneless chicken breasts in six packs and the breasts they do carry are 2 to 3 times the price at Winn Dixie or Walmart. The coffee in Publix is $2 more per 12oz package and other items are along the same lines. They bought out many of the local stores and I guess they are trying to corner the market, so to speak. Publix is a very nice store with a wide selection but at boutique prices.

Poking around in a muddy pool where there is usually a shallow lake
Whenever we get a car in Titusville, we always find time to take the Black Point Wildlife Drive on Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.  This year we were amazed at the low water level in the refuge. Many areas were completely dry when in the past it was all covered with water. The poor birds that were left were poking around in puddles. I know we've been dry for awhile but I didn't realize it was that dry!

A Night Heron
We did not see the usual array of birds but we did see two that we had never seen before. One was a black hight heron and the other was an anhinga (see photos). They were just sunning themselves and they posed quite well for photos.

Anhinga





















The storms are coming! We can see on the weather forecasts the strong winds working their way south and they should reach us starting tonight and last through Monday night. Thunderstorms are also in the mix so we'll just hang around until they pass by leave on Tuesday if they're done playing around. It seems there are no end of delays in keeping us from moving north in a timely fashion. However, the weather is boss.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Titusville - at a dock

Gordon and Eta Johnson came over for a visit,
they spent the winter in the Bahamas
We left at 6:40 from Quail Valley and headed north. The one sticky wicket was the NASA bridge which does not open between 3:30 and 5:00 pm. We had to average 7 kts to make the bridge before 3:30. As we started out, we initially moved at 7.4 kts so we got a head start even though we eventually ran into an adverse tide later one. We reached the bridge in plenty of time at 3:00 but as we approached Titusville, we heard other sailboats calling for an opening and were told the next one was at 5:00 pm! In that case, you just anchor out south of the bridge and wait, we've done that before too.

We have our usual slip, nice and secure
When we first started going south, the Titusville City Marina was run by the city and it was always at least 1/2 empty. There was never a problem getting a slip. For the last two years, they hired a management team that runs several marinas and there's been a turnaround. Now the marina is almost always full and you have to call ahead to reserve a slip which we did.

Somewhat of a sunset, we'll take it
The weather ahead does not look good. There are thunderstorms predicted all weekend but we hope to leave Tuesday for Daytona, maybe Monday if the weather changes. We are so far behind last year's pace that we're not even looking at the calendar anymore. We'll get home sometime.