Monday, November 29, 2010

Loggerhead Marina – Intermission - Last Blog until January 5th

Morning Clouds to the east
We leave Tuesday morning at 6:00 am for Lagrangeville, New York. We packed our rental car tonight and all is ready for a quick start in the morning. I put double lines on every cleat, secured the dinghy, took down the enclosure and put out lots of fenders. The boat is as secure as we can make it.

It's a long wak from the dock to land!
 Meanwhile, we watched the march of beautiful clouds across the horizon where the Gulf Stream is located. I can only guess that the height and volume of the clouds were influenced by the warmth of the stream. We seemed to have crossed over into Caribbean type weather with warm, humid winds out of the east and highs in the 80s for temps.It’s going to be a rude awakening when we head north! Needless to say, we’re not taking any of our warm weather clothing. We were told by those in the know to expect cold weather on the trip down but we’ve seen nothing but temps in the 70s and 80s all during the trip, it’s been nice.

This blog marks the start of an intermission. I will resume on January 5th when we return from New York to continue our journey towards Key West where we have a dock reserved for the month of February. So mark your calendars for 1/5/2011, I will return!

Fleetwing at dock for December

Sunday, November 28, 2010

At Loggerhead Marina in Stuart

We're out there somewhere - It's a beautiful marina
We had a quiet night but the wind piped up out of the northeast which is a bad direction for the Jensen Beach anchorage on the west shore. Still, not too bad and we got Hoolie in okay. Pushing off, we headed south for Loggerhead marina in Stuart, Fleetwing’s home for December while we’re up north for the holidays.

There’s a famous intersection on the ICW called the “Crossroads” which is where the inlet joins the ICW along with the exit to St Lucie River. So what I thought, big deal. Well as we approached the “Crossroads” there were two motorboats coming at me, one on either side, I guess they were going to be the goal posts and I was the football. No big deal, then three high speed racers swerved into view coming from the right, across my bow and also across the two motorboats racing towards me. Interesting. They were much faster than either me or the two motorboats pretending to be goal posts so they sped across my field of view and all I could do was hold my course.

This guy had an entire garden on the bow!
At this point, I was supposed to make a 90 degree turn into the St Lucie River where my marina was located and as I did so, I noticed that the chartplotter’s recommended route was to pass the green buoys to starboard – a real no-no since in returning to a harbor you’re supposed to pass them to port (left side). I was so discombobulated by the all the action at the crossroads that I followed the chartplotter instead of the buoys! Bad choice. However, I found 12 ft of water while passing the green buoys closely to starboard all the way to the Manatee Pocket entrance. Shortly thereafter, my senses returned and I continued on in the accepted manner by passing the greens to port and the reds to starboard the rest of the way. (whew!)

Coming into Loggerhead Marina, the directions were also confusing – they missed telling us of one or more starboard turns, not to mention at first telling us to put the fenders on the starboard side and then switching the directions to the port side. I was in a frenzy of activity while Ann guided the boat. Finally we headed for our slip with 15 kts of wind behind us and I came barreling in but put it in reverse with a enough throttle and we made it safely (second whew!)

We are now safely tied off with multiple lines, primary and backups, and Monday I’ll pick up the rental car we’ll use for the trip north. It’s quiet now…(final whew)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jensen Beach Anchorage – on the hook

We're behind the breakwater by the bridge
It was very tight getting out of our slip, I had to go back and forward about five times to clear everything. Any docking or undocking without damage is a good one even if it appears awkward. We stopped at the fuel dock to use the free pump out facility and then we were on or way south again. Once again it was warm, about 80, and we had everything opened up.

We saw one boat that was obviously grounded and couldn’t figure out whether it was abandoned or he just took a wrong turn. It didn’t look that bad but it didn’t have any sails either.

Wrong turn?
Our anchorage is on the south side of a bridge that has a park under it so it’s protected from wave action out of the north – where the wind is coming from tonight. As the ultimate plus, it has a free boat ramp with floating docks that’s perfect for Hoolie relief, always a consideration for us. We’re nearing the end of part I of out ICW trip south. Sunday we’ll drop the boat off at Loggerhead Marina in Stuart and rent a car for our drive north for the holidays, returning in January to continue our cruise to Key West. It should be quite a change in the weather for us!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vero Beach City Marina – Last day here

Almost December - still blooms!
We’re getting ready to leave, filled the water tanks, did the laundry, bought bread for turkey sandwiches and Joe said his goodbyes for now. It’s funny how some people see things you don’t. We have a rigid screen (2 ft square) that fits in the hatchway between the cockpit and the main cabin. Since it’s 2 ft square, it’s not easy to find a place to store it. For the last six years we’ve taken it forward and leaned it against the hull next to the bow. It wasn’t too convenient but it fit there. Well, this morning Joe got up before we did and had to put the screen somewhere. I got up shortly thereafter and asked Joe, “Where’s the screen?” He had put it on top of the sliding hatch cover, a perfect place for it since the area there was larger than the screen, it laid flat and it was completely out of the way. Plus, it’s right at hand when it’s ready to be used again. Funny how you’ve done something for six years and someone comes along and finds a better way right on your own boat!

Always someone bigger
We took the shuttle into town again to buy bread and the trip reinforced our view that this is a great place for boaters. The free shuttle gives boaters unaccustomed access to shopping and points of interest like the ocean beach. Many boaters spend a month or more here to get the very reasonable monthly rate of $13.50/ft. There are no transportation expenses and laundry is $1.50 a load. A clubhouse comes with the dock too with two TVs and a reading room. Plus you have electric and water on the dock and you can schedule a pump out for the holding tanks periodically at no charge. It’s like having a southern home with a great community of people with similar interests.

Tomorrow we’re off to the Jensen anchorage which is often used by boaters going to the Bahamas – that’s not where we’re going but it’s a large area to drop the hook.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vero Beach City Marina – Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day Dinner with Joe - a good friend
Two things had to happen for a successful turkey day: Ann had to find a small turkey which she did (8 lbs) and I had to fit it into our small boat oven which was also successful, barely. Ann put the bird in the oven at 10:30 for dinner at 2:00. We had all the fixings: stuffing, potatoes, hand made cranberry sauce and Joe Mastri brought the dessert, a cheese cake. Joe at 83 now lives by himself after his wife passed away many years ago but we were all together for Thanksgiving Day. For Thanksgiving it’s always better the more friends you have over for dinner!

The marina sponsored a Thanksgiving Day get together and 70 some boats participated with covered dishes. Before the dinner, they had a place for boaters to bring things they no longer wanted to be sold to other boaters. Joe bought a pump for $10, I bought nothing (no room!) The trouble with an event like today is that the covered dishes are short on turkeys since most boaters don’t have the oven room to bake anything good sized for a turkey. There was a sign up in the marina clubhouse, “More Turkeys Needed!” We ate in Fleetwing.

Look at the high water mark!
This marina is located on the ICW with no close inlets to the ocean but it can still get a storm surge as evidenced by the sign showing the height of the flood surge from the 2004 storm here. There is no high ground so much of where we were walking would have been under water! Buying property around here is a crap shoot but it’s a very expensive crap shoot!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vero Beach – We take the shuttle and Joe Mastri arrives

Nice airconditioned shuttle
In the morning we wanted to get the last of the things we needed for Thanksgiving Dinner so we took the shuttle into town. Well, the shuttle turned out to be an entire network of buses, nine lines in all that blanketed the Vero area. You could go to the beach, to Publix supermarket, to a local shopping center, to a huge mall – all by going to a central location and taking the appropriate bus. It’s an impressive operation for such a small town – which turns out not to be so small. The best part is that it’s all free, no charge at all for riding as many times as you want including all the exchanges at the hub for other locations.

We just took line 1 from the Vero Municipal Marina to the Publix supermarket which also featured dozens of other stores nearby (Radio Shack, West Marine, Fresh Foods supermarket, Panera, many restaurants and lots more). The air conditioned buses repeat their route once an hour which is about right for shopping.

Strange but beautiful trees
We had heard that if you’re on a mooring you had to be prepared to accept other boats rafted along side to as many as three to a mooring, it’s a tradition for Vero Beach. However, we saw many boats in the mooring field that were only one to a mooring. Perhaps they were not as busy as in past years?

Around 2:00 pm Joe Mastri arrived. Joe is the oldest member of the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club and he spends the winter in Florida after a summer of boating on the Hudson River. So tomorrow we plan on having the first PYC south Thanksgiving Dinners on our boat!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vero Beach Municipal Marina at a dock

The night was very peaceful, no wakes at all. However, in the morning the pounding started! There was a pile driver doing its thing next to the bridge we were anchored near: POUND, POUND, POUND… Enough was enough and we gave up and hauled anchor to get on our way and as if on sign, the pile driver suddenly stopped (no fun causing a racket if there’s no one to annoy!) Other than the morning pounding, the anchorage was great.

Today was just great with blue skies, warm sun, calm waters with temps topping out at 80. We reached Vero Beach Municipal Marina by 2:00 pm and wanted to take on fuel but there was a boat ahead of us doing a major overall apparently. After half and hour wait of trying to stay motionless in current and wind, we finally made it into the fuel dock. Unlike the previous boat we were willing to share the dock so another boat that was waiting came in behind us.

Vero has beautiful gorunds
Vero is real boater oriented. They have a free bus that takes you to either the beach or downtown for shopping that leaves every hour. The grounds are superb with very interesting trees and shrubs. For Thanksgiving Day they have 72 boats signed up for a covered dish supper. However, we are having our own feast with Joe Mastri on our boat. He’s due to arrive Wednesday at 1:00 pm. We’ll try out the free bus for the trip into town in the morning and explore the area.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Melbourne at anchor

At anchor at the Melbourne bridge
Soon after we walked Hoolie and started to get ready to leave the marina the heavens opened up, rain poured. We really can’t complain since we’ve had so few rainy days. Looking on the NOAA radar, it was a band of rain just wide enough to catch us. We were the only ones in Florida with rain!

South we headed and eventually the rain stopped but it was cloudy the rest of the day. In this part of the ICW there are lots of places to pull over and anchor. We chose a spot on the north side of a causeway since the wind was out of the southeast. Hoolie relief can be had on the causeway embankment. We’re sitting out on the back of the boat enjoying the view of lights on the bridge and nearby towns. We saw more dolphins today but still no manatees! We see all the signs warning of manatees and requiring slow speed (under 30 kts) but not a one to be seen!

Egrets are everywhere
The ICW traffic has been very civil. In all the passes to date, there has been only one powerboat that didn’t slow down as he passed. The procedure has been to call on channel 16 to indicate which side he wished to pass on and as he approaches, I put Fleetwing into idle, the powerboat comes off plane and slowly passes. Then he resumes speed as I do and there’s very little wake. Sometimes a call on the VHF is not made but as the boat approaches from aft, I put Fleetwing into idle and the powerboat will also slow down and pass. I have no complaints about high speed passes on the ICW. To date, no sailboats have passed us and we’ve passed several dozen. We cruise at 7.3 kts at 2300 rpm, faster apparently than most sailboats. Of course, it would be better if I could say the same thing when under sail but all we’ve done so far is motoring.

Tuesday it’s on to Vero Beach and a PYC South Thanksgiving with Joe Mastri.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Titusville Municipal Marina – We see a space launch!

Fixed docks typical of the area
 We left the Rockhouse anchorage with the sun shining and warm winds. Shortly, however, the clouds gathered, the wind piped up to 15 to 20 kts on the nose and it started to spit rain. We first heard of a space launch on channel 16 as we approached the Haulover bridge which serves Cape Canaveral. The Coast Guard had sealed off portions of the Atlantic where the booster rockets were due to drop after use. We were then afraid it had been closed for a launch later today. We called VHF and found that the bridge was still opening on schedule with great relief. We zoomed through and the heavens opened up, a real deluge. We had intended to anchor our this evening but with the pouring rain and the prospect of getting Hoolie to shore in full wet gear (us, not Hoolie!) was not appealing. We called to the nearby marina and they had space for us so we came on in with the rain pouring down. After some minor miscommunication, we found our slip. Like most of the slips in the area, it was fixed, not floating. At least the pilings were of plain wood and didn’t mark the boat – we hit a few.

Fire from the rocket exhaust!
When things settled down, I got on the internet and found that NASA had a launch scheduled for 5:58 pm that evening! We followed the countdown over the internet and when it approached 5 minutes to go, we went outside to see the launch. It was cloudy in the southeast from the passing storms but as we watched the sky lit up with the glow from the launch! It was an impressive sight. We could see the fire from the exhaust of the rocket and shortly thereafter, the roar of the launch itself reached the marina. Wow, what a sight to see! We had never expected to see a NASA launch on our trip south. The launch was a “Delta Heavy”, one of the largest payloads they launch, in this case a spy satellite.

After that we had a wonderful dinner with stuffed pork chops, southern green beans and more. What a great day! I had always wanted to see a launch, great sight!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rockhouse Creek at anchor

Close enough to see a lighthouse but not the ocean
Ann backed Fleetwing out of the slip this morning while I handled the lines and pushed the boat off the dock. There was a couple that came in yesterday where the wife was also at the wheel and the man was handling the lines but it’s a rarity. It makes sense to have strength where it’s needed, next to the dock. It takes no strength to steer the boat, it just takes practice but handling the lines where you might occasionally have to pull to get the boat to the dock does sometimes require strength, best suited to those with more muscle. Regardless, Ann backed it out, hit reverse and swung the boat 180 to guide it out of the marina, no sweat.

No house, no road, just a mailbox??
We didn’t have to go far today, only 12 miles or so to Rockhouse Creek. It’s a protected anchorage with a sandy beach for Hoolie relief, perfect! If you go far enough into the anchorage, you can actually reach the ocean by crossing the sand dunes. We didn’t go that due to Hoolie. A lot of places along this stretch has big signs on the ocean beach saying “No Dogs” with a $100 fine if you’re caught. We didn’t see any signs here but we didn’t want to test the waters.

Just sat and enjoyed the sunset for a hour, can't do that at home
I tested the depths with my portable depth sounder in the dinghy and it turns out that it’s 12 feet right up to the north shore so we have plenty of water for Fleetwing. There are about 7 other boats in the anchorage for the night. It’s quiet, the moon is out, little wind, very nice!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Halifax River YC at Daytona – Seafood buffet at the club

Sunrise at Halifax River YC
Had a great sunrise today, it’s rising so late that we have no trouble getting up in time to see it. It was another great day with blue skies and temps in the 70’s. I think they want some rain since the wildfire warning is at the next to highest level as posted at all the firehouses.
We bought the smallest Thanksgiving turkey we could find and will cook it for ourselves and Joe Mastri who’s joining us for Thursday dinner on our boat in Vero Beach. We’ll have a PYC south Thanksgiving!

Another view of Halifax River YC
On most Friday nights the YC has a seafood buffet. The layout is fabulous! We started with oyster soup followed by a salad and then a selection of main dishes that included clams linguini, snocrab legs, chicken, seafood casserole, mussels, shrimp, sliced roast beef and more. It was all you could eat for $24.95! This was with a view of the harbor and a rising full moon with great service, nice. We are quite fond of this yacht club and will certainly stop here on the way back in the spring.

A familiar sight in Daytona
We planned the rest of our trip this morning and now will probably reach our marina where we’ll leave the boat for December by 11/28 and start north in our rental car on 11/30 or so. Hopefully we’ll reach home in time for the PYC Christmas party on 12/4.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Halifax River YC at Daytona – We rent a car and drive on the beach

Dayton Beach - but no dogs allowed!
When we were much younger, we used to drive down for a family vacation in Sanibel, Florida. At that time was had a Vega station wagon with a family dog who curled up in back behind Carrie and Philip. It didn’t seem so tight at the time but it must have been. Well, our tradition was to always find a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) place and order a bucket, drive onto the beach at Daytona and watch the waves come in as we ate supper. In the ensuring years our numbers have dropped to just Ann and I (and Hoolie!) but we continued the tradition today. We found a KFC place, got a bucket and watched the waves from our car on the beach at Daytona just like old times but somehow not really the same.

Nice boardwalk
Meanwhile, we explored Daytona. There were two botanical gardens we wanted to visit but the big signs outside said, “No Dogs”! If they don’t’ want our dog, then they don’t want us! So we just drove around looking at the sights. Daytona is very clean and appears to be in good repair. We saw no graffiti, no chipped paint, nothing in near of repair – at least not near the beach where we went. It seems very well kept.

All in a row
We had a hard time finding grapefruit. We’re apparently about a week ahead of the harvest. The one place we did find said they would be in next Tuesday, too late for us unless we find a place in Vero. We’ll certainly buy a bushel on our way north for Christmas. There is just nothing to compare to fresh grapefruit, they are so sweet. We’ll spend one more day here before continuing our trip south.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Halifax River YC at Daytona

Halifax River YC at night
This is a ritzy place. They have over 800 members and the clubhouse has three restaurants. You’re met by the steward who helps you with your boat and then offers a free bag of ice, all this for $0.75/ft! In order to participate, you have to show that you’re a member of a yacht club which of course was no problem for us.

We haven’t been to Daytona for many years so we’re renting a car Thursday and exploring the area. We want to see the beach, shop for groceries and sightsee. The car from Enterprise is only $32/day so it’s reasonable.

Our guard dog!
We had dinner in the clubhouse tonight and left Hoolie in charge of guarding the boat which he did with just a little enthusiasm since he really wanted to come with us. We've taken to leaving him in the cockpit instead of downstairs, there’s less trouble he can get into and the outside sights and sounds gives him something to do. Brittney’s are great problem solvers, often with problems you don’t want them to solve. When we leave him downstairs, we close both the forward and aft cabins but he’s found out how to open the forward cabin door – too smart. We’ll stay here a few days, the temps are to be 75 to 77, not bad for November.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fort Matanzas – A great nature trail

Trail through the woods
The high today was to reach 80 but there was a threat of rain so we waited until it looked clear and headed for the main office on the mainland. We took the nature trail expecting the usual sandy path through the woods but was surprised by the elevated, wooden pathway through the forest. The trail was made of artificial wood, no treated wood with poisonous chemicals to prevent deterioration. I guess it’s better for the environment but it sure costs more.
The trail was just great. It was elevated some from the surrounding forest so you got a direct view of the plants and animals. The plants formed a canopy over the walkway, quite beautiful. As I mentioned before, Ft. Matanzas is a national monument but there’s no charge for exploring the grounds, including the ferry ride to the fort itself. I would highly recommend taking the forest trail.
The trees arched over the walkway
A front came through this afternoon with winds in the 30 kt range and we swung around a lot but holding is no problem in this anchorage and it’s still raining as I write this. We’re waiting for a break in the rain to take Hoolie ashore. Otherwise, it’s wet dog time!
Wednesday we head south again, this time for Daytona.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fort Matanzas – we tour the fort

Ft Matanzas
It’s warming up down here. Today the high was 76 and Tuesday it’s supposed to reach 80. We took advantage of the warm weather to tour Ft Matanzas. It was built by the Spanish to guard the southern approach to St. Augustine. Now the inlet is not navigable but it was in the 1700’s when the fort was built. It’s now a national monument with no charge to the public for visiting. There’s a little ferry that operates every hour to take visitors to the fort which is on an island.

We see the ocean!
Traveling down the ICW, we rarely see the ocean but here we are very close so we beached our dinghy next to the ranger station on the mainland and walked the ½ mile to the beach. They allow you to drive on this beach like Daytona but the sand seems a lot softer than Daytona so they recommend only 4 wheel drive vehicles try the beach.

Sunset at Ft Matanzas
Other than that we’re just taking it easy and will probably stay yet another day before leaving for Daytona. We’re in no hurry and we’re enjoying the warm Florida weather before coming north for Christmas.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fort Matanzas at anchor

Only one span was working here - careful, careful....
St Augustine was a nice place to visit, we’ll certainly stop on the way back in the spring. We didn’t have far to go today, just about 12 miles to Fort Matanzas, an old Spanish fort. The anchorage is completely protected and perfectly calm but the depths are not on the chart. You have to read guides like Active Captain or Captain Bob to even know of the anchorage. We’ve found that Active Captain has consistently had the best advice on entering and leaving anchorages. In the case of Fort Matanzas, the advice of Captain Bob was incorrect and would result in a grounding if followed at anywhere near low tide. In fact, we saw one boat turn as advised by Captain Bob and he was motionless for several minutes until he powered forward to clear the bar and that was with a 3.5 foot tide. We had no problems.

Sunset over Ft Hatanzas
This anchorage has ocean access and we’re eager to try that out Monday. You can dink down to the beach and cross over the dunes to the ocean. There was a rip tide advisory issued for today due to a storm out at sea sending in waves in the 5 to 7 foot range – but would not be going in the water anyway.

We took Hoolie in tonight around 7:00 and around here it’s pitch black. When we went to the beach we had scouted out earlier, there was a large bird huddled up on the beach. He wasn’t moving. We couldn’t tell if he was asleep or injured or even dead. Hoolie went bananas. He wanted to investigate but we wanted no part of that. So we paddled down the beach to another spot but all Hoolie was interested in was going back up the beach to see the bird – meanwhile he wasn’t doing his business. While all that is going on, Ann sees something moving in the water (she’s thinking alligator) but when we shine the light on the water, it turns out to be a school of little fish. With all this commotion, we’ve had enough – done or not done – we call Hoolie back to the dink and we hurry back to Fleetwing.

Back in the boat, Hoolie is in disgrace. He’s curled up under the table and then by the galley sink, far from Ann who’s disgusted with him. However, they finally make up and now are side by side on the divan. Hope Hoolie makes it through the night…

Saturday, November 13, 2010

St. Augustine – Pirate Day

The parrot was real
After a morning of planning the rest of our trip to Stuart, we headed in to see the pirates! They had a pirate battle planned at noon which finally occurred an hour later (on pirate time we were told). Both sides had cannon and muskets which they fired profusely. Lots of loud bangs and smoke in the air. The pirates charged and even fought with swords. Some were “wounded” and fell to the ground. After a few minutes, one got thirsty so he drank out of his flask before resuming being dead.
Jack Sparrow?
It was all great fun but the best part were the costumes. They were judged on the authenticity of the outfits with prizes to be awarded. We liked the one that looked like Jack Sparrow and another one with a live parrot on his shoulder.

We took the shuttle to see the lighthouse built in the late 1800’s and one of us took the hike up to the top. Strangely, it’s not directly on the ocean but set back behind another river. It’s visible for 27 miles and 176 ft tall. Some idiot put a rifle shell through the lens in 1986 so now it has bulletproof glass all around.

Intermittently dead pirate
We walked all around St. Augustine in the afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the town, it’s a great place to visit – they know how to appreciate visitors.

Friday, November 12, 2010

St Augustine – A Day of Exploring

The Fort with the Bridge of Lions in the distance
The day started out warm but then the wind piped up out of the north at 15 kts and it cooled all day long (to 71!). If you ever get a mooring at St. Augustine, try to get one closer to the marina – it’s along ride for Hoolie relief, especially at night!

600 year old Live Oak
For entertainment we rode on the tourist “train” which just runs on regular wheels but is several cars long, like a train. It went to all the usual tourist stops but we selected two we wanted to see. The first was the oldest stone fort in America, built in the late 1600’s and was under siege many times but never fell. I always find it eerie walking along paths and staircases traversed by people hundreds of years ago (St Augustine was settled in 1565). There is one room where you can see the carvings in the stone walls by bored soldiers of visiting ships.

On another tour we were taken through typical workshops of the 1700’s with people dressed in the garb of that time demonstrating their art, fascinating. One was working with various woods and when I asked about Live Oak which I knew was prized for durability in ships, he replied that it's very hard to work since the grain sworls around - which makes it strong but hard to shape. There were whole avenues of Live Oak trees in St Augustine. I guess a world was possible without computers, TVs, radio, Wii, Playstations, cellphones, etc. Things got down to basics. When under siege, the town population would gather inside the fort to hopefully wait out the attackers. Things must have gotten strained but the fort was never taken by force.

Egrets were all over the marina
Saturday is supposed to be the pirate parade at 11:00 am and we’ll certainly see that. They will be dressed in the garb of their favorite pirate, should be fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Augustine at City Marina on a mooring

Typical ICW mansion
We’re gradually learning how to get out of tight spots by ourselves. This morning at Beach Marine, we were docked about 3 ft behind a huge powerboat. With the wind gusting to 17 kts pushing us into the dock we gave some thought on how to extricate Fleetwing from the situation. I decided on the classic docking manual solution which is to put a line between the aft cleat on the boat and a cleat on the dock about mid-ships and put the engine in reverse – remembering to put plenty of fenders by the aft section. As the propeller provided aft thrust, that pulled the bow out and when it reached about 45 degrees relative to the dock, forward thrust was applied and we safely left the dock – I even remembered to uncleat the line off the dock this time (a twang-less exit…)
Another typical house on the ICW
We’re getting into the high rent district. House after house along the ICW suddenly looked like mansions. As I told Ann, they look out upon the ICW and we’re the scenery! There were no cautions for depth today but we had to mind our P’s and Q’s as we negotiated the inlet for St. Augustine. The ICW takes a turn for the ocean before a hard right back to inland waters. Turn too soon and you’re on a shoal.

City is getting ready for the Pirate weekend
We opted for a mooring at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. The new mooring field is south of the marina which results in a long dinghy ride for Hoolie relief but then there’s a nice park for dog exercise and you’re in the middle of St. Augustine which we plan on exploring Friday. We found out today that this weekend is the 3rd annual St Augustine Pirate Gathering. We heard that 3000 pirates are expected to attend! We saw one today (must have come early) dressed just like Capt Jack Sparrow, sounds like fun.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jacksonville at Beach Marine – The Bunches Depart

Don't drink the water!
It was great having help during our passage through South Carolina and Georgia. They have the thinnest water and the most need for attention to navigation. They got their car through Hertz around 9:30 am and we went for groceries which we were sorely in need of for the rest of the trip.

I talked to the manager today of the marina, a woman, and sure enough, four pilings were installed in front of the floating fuel docks to protect the docks, not the boats! The boats can slam into the pilings but the docks are protected from damage by the boats – somehow that seems backwards but there it is. Later I learned that the water on the docks is not potable! There is some concern about using city water due to cost so they use well water and treat it themselves. The city requires them to so inform their customers. For me, I declined to use non-potable water dock water and get it in my tanks to some unknown effect. Not worth the risk. It’s the first marina I’ve stayed at with non-potable water. Of course, the non-potable water is not advertised or mentioned in their brochure. They do have city water at their fuel dock but they made no mention of it when we refueled, sounds like false advertising.

Traffic calms down at night
After the Bunches departed we had a real work day. I changed the oil and filters in both the main diesel and the genset. Ann did a huge wash. Except for the non-potable water at the dock, the rest of the marina is quite nick. There were three washers and three dryers for Ann’s use – and they all worked. The Bunches reported that the showers were clean and delivered lots of hot water. The docks are metal and not especially boat friendly but with enough fenders, they are okay. There no current or wakes in the marina so it passes on all counts except for non-potable water.

Thursday it’s off to St. Augustine and a mooring, we plan on doing a lot of exploring in the 78 degree weather down here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jacksonville at Beach Marine

There were 30 ft boats on the mooring balls too
Leaving St. Mary’s I took photos of the largest mooring balls I’ve ever seen. Normal sized boats were moored at most of them which made the mooring ball taller than the deck of the boats! Maybe they are meant for cruise ships? With temperatures in the 70’s, bright sun, blue sky – we got a call from Monique in Connecticut that Matthew and the kids had a two hour delay today for school due to 2 inches of snow! Nice to be in the south at this time of year but strangely, we do miss the snow but we’ll see plenty of that during our December visit via car.
As usual, I accessed Active Captain and printed out the cautions for the trip. We keep them in the cockpit for use as we go through each problem area. However, we are currently traveling during high tide so we never encountered a problem anyway.

We chose Beach Marine since Don and Liz, who are leaving the boat Wednesday, are familiar with the area and can pick up a rental car for their return trip to Charleston where they first joined us. It was great fun having them aboard and a big help!

Sunset at Beach Marine - Jacksonville, FL
At Beach Marine we were surprised that the fuel dock was “protected” by large piling. I would have thought the metal, floating docks would have been cushioned with rub rails and then presented to visiting boats for easy docking. Instead you see these large pilings between you and the fuel dock which fends off boats. We’re especially concerned since we don’t have rub rails. Every fuel dock until now either had pilings with vertical fenders or floating docks where we could use our own fenders – but not here. The restaurant didn’t look very inviting either so we ate in. Some good color in the sunset though. Wednesday we have to do some planning for the rest of the trip and look for a dock to rent in Stuart for the month of December while we’re up north for Christmas (suggestions appreciated).