Sunday, November 20, 2011

Loggerhead Club & Marina - INTERMISSION UNTIL 1/7/2012

Ann is always on the lookout for pictures of clouds she can use in her pastels
We've come to the end of our first half on the trip south down the ICW. We're leaving Fleetwing in Stuart until January 7, when we'll return and continue down the ICW to Key West, arriving there February 1. So today we made our lists of what to take with us and made finishing touches on getting the boat ready. Now we just have to pick the car up on Monday, pack and load up the car and take off.

Fleetwing at rest at Stuart
I'm trying out the iPad2 as a car navigator, the display is bright and easily seen in the car and the app seems powerful with many features including a real time traffic display so slowdowns can be routed around, at least in theory, we'll see.

I'll restart the blog on January 7, tune back in then to follow our cruise to Key West.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Loggerhead Club & Marina - the wind finally abates this evening

Notice the loooong walk - we're in the upper right corner
The winds continued to blow all day at 20+ kts but they seem to finally slowing down tonight. It's hard to work outside on the boat in such winds and waves so we mostly stayed inside. We did get an invitation from Joe Mastri and his friend of many years, Jim Hatch of the Catskill Yacht Club, for dinner out at a local buffet. It was nice to see a familiar face after these months.

How can you get excited about Christmas tress in 80 degree weather!
Meanwhile, the goal at the dock is to make the boat safe for the next 1 and 1/2 months regardless of the weather. So each of the forward cleats are double tied, the middle cleat is tied to fore and aft cleats on the dock, the after cleats are tied off on either side to a piling and the middle cleat on the other side is tied to the aft piling - all this to keep the boat secure and not touching anything. So I spent a lot of time just watching the boat's motion, trying to see how it moved as the wind and waves played with it, trying to convince myself that I had correctly anticipated the extremes of movement. Who knows? Hopefully it'll be okay until January.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Loggerhead Club & Marina - We arrivel

Bridge at Stuart - as a work of art?
We were concerned about backing out of our slip at Vero Beach. The fairway is just wide enough for our 42 ft boat but there's no extra room. With the winds gusting in the 20's, we had to choose our departing strategy carefully. We waited for the 20 kt gusts to pass by and then backed out during one in the teens. With some help from others in the marina, we made the turn without hitting anything and counted ourselves lucky. However, upon starting down the ICW, the wind really started to howl. Even though it's a protected route, the ICW can be over a mile wide in some areas, plenty of room for a 25 kt wind to kick up some serious wave action. In fact, we saw gusts topping 32 kts (that's 37 mph!). We had a small section of sail up to help stabilize the boat as we rocketed along. Although the ICW travels through a very wide area here (over a mle), the channel itself is very narrow, only a hundred feet or so - you've got to pay attention to staying on the magenta line (the center of the ICW route). With a 30 kt wind and kicked up seas, that can be a challenge.
At Loggerhead Marina - We're out there somewhere!

We stayed at Loggerhead last year, they had good prices ($11/ft for a month's stay) and they looked after your boat while you were away. The down side is that the marina borders a large river and waves can be whipped up, causing a bouncy night. But since we're going to be away for all but 4 or 5 days, then it's no problem for us. The wind is still rushing by at 15 to 20 kts and is supposed to stay that way for the next 24 hours. Being in a boat, you are part of the weather! In a house, the weather is outside and you can choose to participate or not - no such choice on a boat, it's part of the attraction of boating.

The marina itself is fine. The docks are concrete and floating with pilings between all the slips for running lines to keep your boat centered in the slip. This year we reserved an east pointing slip so we are pointed into the major wave and wind action, better than last year. The marina has a pool and exercise room along with a nice restaurant. We'll spend the next two days getting the  boat ready for its month and a half rest.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - Marina wide happy hour

Not every boat has a partner but many do
Every Thursday there is a tradition in the marina of having Happy Hour at 4:00. Everybody comes and socializes. Ann met a couple from up the Potomac River and we're invited to drop by when we're in the area in the spring. There were a wide array of appetizers and it was BYOB policy. It's a great way to meet the boaters all around you. I would say that about 80% seem to be headed for the Bahamas, we're in the minority going to the Keys. Marsh Harbor is a popular destination in the Bahamas where you can get a dock for $0.55/ft at the monthly rate. They use the dock as a home base to explore the surrounding islands.

Humm, if you're standing by the pole, which way to go?
We were in the mid 80's today and we ran the A/C all day again - it's still on tonight. I don't remember it being this warm last year. The marina is starting to fill up as you can see from the photo of the mooring field. As I said before, when you pick up a mooring here, you may find yourself with two other boats later on. The marina reserves the right to assign up to three boats on each mooring. If you're the first one on the mooring, you're expected to put out fenders on both sides.

Today was water works day. I tried to find out why the water pressure was dropping on the boat but didn't find anything specific, more trouble shooting in the future I guess. Also had to ream out the A/C condensate overboard pump which seems to be working for now - always something. We did our final provisioning today, not much but we did get some ice cream. We found that with the latest recharge of the freezer in the fall, we can now keep ice cream firm enough for cones.

We'll leave Vero Beach on Friday and aim for our reserved slip in Stuart, our home for Fleetwing for the holidays. We plan on leaving Monday for Pennsylvania to visit Carrie. The colder weather will be a shock.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - Another Beneteau 423, next door

The bridge to the mainland - we'll pass under it to go south
Another hot day, topping 82F by noon. We ran the A/C most of the day but now the condensate is not draining properly - another thing to work on tomorrow. Waxed the leading edge of the bow to ward off the ICW mustache, it works! The constant motoring does wear off the wax so it has to be renewed periodically. The brown stain won't adhere to the wax but it will adhere to the fiberglass if the wax wears away. At least it's only the bow area that needs the renewal of more wax.

One last look at Ann's nemesis
We were relaxing on the back of the boat when we saw a Beneteau 423 pull into the fuel dock. Always on the lookout for potential forum members, I walked over to see if it was anyone I knew. The boat was from the Chesapeake and not one I was familiar with. As it turned out, they were staying for the night and backed into the slip right next to us. Strange seeing a boat that looks just like yours! We'll probably meet them on Thursday since we're not leaving until Friday morning.

Ann's ink cartridge came today so now she's back in crossword puzzles (whew!) It was easier to just order it over Amazon instead of making the run for a Wal-Mart which involved two bus changes. I bought the printer for $29.95 but the replacement black ink cartridge came to $35! Strange when it's cheaper to buy a new printer and ditch the old one than buy a replacement ink cartridge! It also takes a color cartridge which makes buying a new printer even more cost effective.

We'll be here one more day before leaving on Friday for Stuart. It takes a few days to get the boat secured for a month and a half at the dock there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - We visit the beach

Not too many on the beach today!
The Vero Beach City Marina is on an island, the other side of which is the Atlantic ocean beach. The free bus will take you there in less than 10 minutes and pick you up anytime later on top of the hour. The surf was coming in pretty good but there was a south wind which I think is what the boaters going to the Bahamas look for. It's possible to make the crossing in one day from near here (Lake Worth).

The beach stores are somewhat upscale but still pretty typical of what you usually see on a beach. The real find was the restaurant right on the beach (Mulligans) with an outside table - a good view of the ocean. They had a $4 drink special and fish sandwiches for $12. The sound of the ocean, the 80F temps and wind, it was perfect.

Many towns down south have mascots
When building our house, the contractor introduced us to the "Carpenter's Tax" which consisted of buying 10% more lumber and supplies than the plans called for - in the end they were usually needed due to various problems (bad piece of lumber, errors, unforeseen "extras" requested, etc.) On a boat we don't have a Carpenter's Tax but we do have a "Stupid Tax" So far I've been unable to locate one of my high powered, small flashlights. It's on the boat somewhere but not to be found. So, I bought another one. Eventually I'll have two. Today I could not find my "On/Off" cleaner for getting rid of hull stains. I must have left it on the dock at Harbortown Marina, the last time I cleaned the hull. So I bought another bottle of that too along with a nozzle to replace the one I also forgot to pick up off the dock. On the good side, Ann is still with me, and so is Hoolie! We'll wander down the ICW with most of what we own with us with the occasional odds and ends being replaced (or duplicated).

More boat work is on order for Wednesday when I'm also due to get a new ink cartridge (er, I forgot to pack a spare...) so Ann can do the daily crosswords from the NY Times. Things get tense around here without the morning crossword to do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - Boat Projects

Hello from Vero Beach City Marina!
Today I rewired the +12v supply line to the regulator, not too exciting but necessary if you want to charge your batteries while underway. When the original regulator was installed back in 2004, the technician had cut a wire that was connected to the ignition switch and spliced in the connection to the three step regulator. Over the years, the splice had aged so I renewed it and hopefully fixed the problem of the regulator cutting out. You become an expert on many things on a boat.

Sort of intetesting clouds
Speaking of becoming familiar with things you really don't want to... I wanted the ability to look in at home from afar over the Internet. A webcam was an obvious solution and I found one for $79 at the time and one thing led to another and I wound up getting six of them spread around the house. One was focused on the oil furnace since I wanted to be sure it was working through the winter. So as luck would have it, I got a call one evening from my security system that the temperature in the house was dropping and was below 50F. I accessed the furnace camera via the Internet and saw that the furnace had turned off! I then called my oil supplier with whom I had a maintenance contract and said I wanted it fixed before the house froze up (it was February). Since it was late at night by that time and they were less than eager to roust someone out of bed, they were somewhat skeptical - perhaps it was a false alarm. I replied, "No it's not! I can see the furnace right now, it's not on!" Taken aback, they sent someone out right away and later that night I could see them working on the furnace via my webcam. The ignition cone had become clogged and would not pass fuel oil - no flame - no heat. I was up and heating later that night.

It's very comforting to look around your property and see how things are from your boat. There's even an app for the iPad2, one touch and I can see home. However, setting these webcams up is NOT simple. It's so complicated that I documented everything I did in a Word file here. By clicking on the link, you can download the instructions for setting up your own webcams for remote viewing. If you have a decent antivirus program, you will see all sorts of warnings that your personal data will be sent to someone in Siberia (or somewhere else equally undesirable). That is nonsense. The Word file contains links to websites you will need to access on the web for webcam setup - there's nothing manevolent  in the file!! I could have made it a pdf file but then you'd have to manually type in all the web addresses. If you use the Word file, let me know how your make out.

We had our first rain today in weeks  but it was still warm, a high of 80 today. Tomorrow is going to the beach day so we'll see the ocean for the first time since Surf City. The beach is on the free bus route which we'll take advantage of and have lunch with a view of the ocean surf.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - Signing Up for 2012

Lots of boats but not full!
It's the time of year again where you have to chose the Medicare plan for next year. I get a huge packet in the mail about this time of the year but I've found that I can do everything over the Internet. So today we spent all day going through the material via the web - displayed on our 32 inch HDTV so we could both see all the options at the same time. No paper to print out - no trees to cut down. All my monthly bills are on automatic payment so there's nothing that requires getting mail for anyway. Anybody that wants to get hold of me will send an e-mail.

One of these days I'll actually learn their names
I converted the last of the internal lights to LEDs, the one over the gallery stove. All the LED lights are brighter than the halogens they replaced and use from 1/10 to 1/4 of the watts plus they're supposed to last longer than the boat will - plus they are much, much cooler (don't touch a halogen when lit!) All of this amounts to less of a load on the recharging systems (Volvo and genset). The biggest benefit came from replacing the anchor light with an LED - which, again, was much brighter than the lamp it replaced and used 1/10 the power.

So with all the deciding, nothing got done on the boat - but we did take a nice walk in 70 degree weather and there's always tomorrow.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - Reprovisioning

As you would expect, lots of birds around
For our first full day at Vero Beach we took the free bus to Publix and Fresh Market to restock our larder. Fresh Market specializes in produce and speciality foods while Publix has everything you would expect in modern supermarket. It's only a 10 minute ride to the markets which are on opposite sides of the street so they are both convenient. We've invested in a rolling cart which has come in very handy when you start transporting four cartons of milk and two of orange juice!

The bird on the post is enjoying the sunset too
I did some more curcuit tracing to find out why the charger on the engine cut in and out the other day. The charge is turned on by sensing 12v on the ignition circuit. When the technician installed the three stage regulator, he spliced into the ignition circuit by the alternator (to find the 12v signal). Well, it seems that after 8 years, the splice was no longer what it should be. I moved it around some to get better contact and the next day the charger worked fine. I need to do a permanent fix on Sunday (well, nothing is really permanent on a boat but you know what I mean).

Also, the genset doesn't want to draw water upon start up without me pouring some water down the intake (to get rid of air in the lines?) Always something to do on a boat. And, the teak needs to be done and a rewaxing of the bow area where the ICW has washed away the wax I put there in the spring. I found that if I keep it waxed, then I don't get the "ICW mustache", another secret of boat maintenance I've found no mention of anywhere.

Our TV antenna (Shakespeare 2020G) has never failed to pick up at least 20 digital channels and often 35 to 50 channels so Ann has something to watch at night when she wants. When TV went fully digital, the quality of the signal on the LCD TV is outstanding. No ghosting, no snow, etc. The only downside is if you're in a weak signal area it's possible for a signal to go in and out but whenever it's on, it's perfect - there's no inbetween.

We'll be here Sunday too, boat maintenance day, not bad when the temps are in the 70's.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vero Beach City Marina - at a dock

Back to the scene of the crime - Live Oaks and allergies - no problem in the fall
The front came through last night with winds of 20 to 25 kts between 1:00 am and 4:00 am. We were behind the breakwater of the approach to the bridge so we didn't get rollers but we got plenty of confused waters, causing the boat to bounce around a bit in the middle of the night. Still, we've grown used to boat noise and movement, at least inland, so we were able to sleep. The holding is outstanding at the anchorage, we didn't move an inch all night long. When we first set the anchor while backing up the anchor dug in at only 60 ft of rode and the boat came to a very sudden stop.

Our little sailboat looks lost
I took Hoolie ashore while Ann prepared breakfast and we got a good start south. The high today was only 66 but the sun was out and we were comfortable in the cockpit. For the rest of the week it's predicted to return to the 70's.

We are now at Vero Beach City Marina, our home for the next week. Vero is unique in the stops south in having a free bus service to anywhere within 15 miles or so of the marina. It's run by the city of Vero Beach with somewhere around 15 large, commercial buses. You can visit the beach, go to any of several shopping centers and, of course, provision at your choice of many supermarkets. The marina has both moorings and docks. Their mooring operation is also unique in that they will put up to three boats on one mooring. If you're the first boat, you are to put out fenders on both sides and the marina may assign boats to raft up with you if they fill up. It's the only marina I've ever heard of with this policy. It seems to work out okay but we took a dock this time, it's easier getting Hoolie back and forth to shore.

Part of the reason for all the high tides - that plus north winds
This is also the marina where Ann had her allergy attack last spring. We visited the local emergency room via an ambulance when Ann had trouble breathing. However, in the fall there's no problem since there's no pollen from the live oaks at that time of the year. We'll be more wary on the way back in the spring. So this week is just resting up, working some on boat projects and enjoying the warm weather before heading to Stuart and getting a car for the trip north for the holidays.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Melborne - at anchor

Melborne Anchorage
We had the diver come this morning at 8:00 am to replace the zinc on the propeller and to look at the screen covering the intake to the engine cooling water. The zinc was almost all gone (last replaced in June before the summer launch) but the intake screen was fine, no problems. The diver comes to the marina often and the manatees all know him now. He recognizes them by the scars they carry. He calls one "C" by the C shaped scrape on its back and he paid a visit this morning while the diver was underwater. One time he made the mistake of using the scraper he uses to remove barnacles off the hulls of boats on "C". Well, "C" loved it and presented his other side for the treatment. After a bit, he paddled off and the diver thought that was the end of that - but the manatee returned with the rest of his family and the diver had to scrape his "wife" and "son" but gave up when the rest of the resident herd appeared, all 20 of them!!

Flew right over us!
So I got my zinc replaced and the intake screen was fine. I am now battling why the charging system seems to be cutting out (and them coming back on intermittently) while motoring. It seems to be a loose wire somewhere but sometimes that's hard to trace, will keep trying.

We take Hoolie to the sandy beach at right

A front is expected to roll through tonight with winds to 20 kts out of the northwest around 1:00 am so we looked for an anchorage with protection from wave action from that direction and found a nice anchorage in Melbourne. It even has a sandy beach (no mud!) for Hoolie and it's part of the causeway to the bridge so it's lit at night. On Friday we'll weigh anchor and head for our week retreat at Vero Beach before heading into Stuart for boat storage for December.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Titusville City Marina - at a dock

Dog park inhabitants
Ann learned how to spin the boat this morning. I'm at the bow taking up the anchor but that requires the pull on the anchor line to be vertical. So if the line is off to one side, I point in the direction I want the bow to go regardless of the wind and current which may have other ideas. Sometimes the direction I point in seems impossible to go in. If the current causes the anchor line to be aft of the bow to one side, I may point in a direction back and to that side, a challenge for the helmsman (or helmswoman in this case). Well, this morning Ann learned that a short spurt forward with a hard turn to one side followed by a strong spurt in reverse will keep the boat turning but not going forward, spinning in effect. So with that effect, I was able to retrieve the the anchor without a problem. Ann also brought the boat into the dock at St Augustine when we picked up fuel a couple of days ago. I was on the foredeck handling the lines. It is good seamanship to have both people on a boat be able to handle docking procedures and share in helmsman duties.

The  boat underwater washed up in the last storm!
We were the last ones out of the anchorage this morning, I guess we're getting lazy but then we only had 30 miles to go and it was a nice day with temps in the 70's. The boat was still running hot but then for no reason we can figure out, it started running like it used to, around 180F. We still have a diver coming Thursday morning to replace the zinc on the prop and look things over. I did a back flush with the high pressure from the marina hose, perhaps that will help.

Pretty moon!

The marina here is first rate. They even have a dog park where Hoolie can run free and play with other dogs. It's not often he gets a chance to run without a leash and he's pretty out of shape judging by how long he was huffing and puffing after I took him back to the boat. He's flat out asleep now on the couch.

On Thursday we're headed for an anchorage at Melbourne before heading in to Vero Beach marina on Friday for a week. Traveling is tough so we figured we have to rest up for awhile.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rockhouse Creek - at anchor - bad Hoolie

Looking towards the anchorage entrance
I found some loose plastic wrapping on the floor this morning but didn't think anything of it, I just put it in the trash. Fast forward to lunch time. Ann, "I'd like a piece of that nice cheese bread like we had yesterday". I said, "No problem, I'll get it while I'm down here - humn, where's it at?" "On the counter over the refrigerator". "No it's not!" "You sure" "Yep". By then all eyes turned to look at Hoolie! He had a midnight snack! It would do no good to punish him at that point, he's forgotten all about it but we would have felt better. It was good bread! No more food left out in reach!

Ft Matanzas in the daylight
We were rafted up with a trawler at the welcome center at the Dismal Canal but then we lost track of him completely. Well, today we looked back and saw him following us and turned into the same anchorage we chose tonight, Rockhouse Creek. Funny how you keeps meeting up with the same cruisers along the way.

Coming out of Pablo Marine two days ago we ran into something under the water that we never saw. It didn't seem to do any harm, we continued on but we noticed that the engine ran hotter than normal, about 15 degrees higher in temperature. Thinking there might be some type of blockage in the water intake I backflushed the intake hose but it didn't make any difference. Just for good measure, I changed the belt that was slipping anyway, thinking that perhaps it was slipping on the water pump too. No difference. I checked the impeller, the obvious choice but it was fine. The water filter was clean. So now we're headed to Titusville with an appointment with a diver. We need to change the zinc anyway and while he's down there, he'll look at the condition of the intake screen to see if it was damaged by whatever we hit two days ago. We'll see the diver Thursday morning at 8:00 am. In talking to the diver, he said the visibility has improved over the last week, he can now see 6 inches (it was zero!) Stay tuned.

End of the day
We were the first one into the anchorage today so we had our choice of spots. Everyone else formed a ring around us, surrounded on all sides, mostly okay for distance except one boat, but probably okay too. Boats always seem to like to congregate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ft Matanzas - at anchor

Ft Matanzas - a very small fort, it protected one of the approaches to St Augustine
The winds abated somewhat with a promise from the weatherman of a better day so we set out around 8:30 for points south. Pablo Marina which is now Harbortown Marina was a great place to wait out the storms and high winds but it's time to move on now.

One of the reasons we delayed yesterday was having to pass through part of the St Augustine inlet over an 8 ft bar but today it was a piece of cake. We stopped for fuel at the St Augstine City Marina. The dockhand said that yesterday was the roughest day he had ever seen on the docks there since hurricane Diane! The winds were just terrible and against the current causing square waves, no fun. Today, however, it was fine and we took on fuel. Meanwhile I noticed the engine was running warmer than usual so I checked the impeller and found it was fine. Later on I back flushed the water intake and hopefully that will help, will know if it did on Tuesday.

Ft Matanzas is one of our favorite anchorages. The holding is superb in the sand (clean anchor in the morning!) and there's a sandy beach to take Hoolie ashore - never to be underrated! Also, it's pleasant scenery with the silhouette of the fort in the background. The visitor center is a great place to spend the afternoon but we don't have the time this trip, perhaps on the way back. The visit to the fort and the visitor center is free, a great bargain and the ocean is a short dinghy ride away too.

Tuesday we're headed for the Rockhouse Creek anchorage which also has a sandy beach for Hoolie. The weather is predicted to be in the 70's for the rest of the week, I can take that...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pablo Marina - Day 3 - More high winds

This model was outside a tattoo parlor - it has examples of their designs
We awoke to an overcast sky with wet stuff coming down, ugh. Furthermore, the winds were whipping too. Looking at the forecast, it was for 15 to 25 kt wins with gusts to 35 kts! Going down the ICW was not really a problem but we had to pass by one particularly bad inlet by St Augustine where there's an eight foot bar after making the turn just before the deeper harbor water. With the predicted seas of 8 ft or so, it would not be a pretty sight when those waves hit the bar. So, we elected to sit out yet another day and hope that the forecast for Monday is better to our liking - it's supposed to be calmer and with less wave action. We've now used up all our cushion in getting to Vero Beach for our week long stay there which is scheduled to start Friday. We now must move everyday to get there in time. If you can believe the forecasts, the weather is supposed to warm up to the high 70's.

The condos surround the marina
Meanwhile, we found a great sounding restaurant on Yelp and decided to go there for lunch but when we arrived, it was closed! Even though the website looked very recent and alive, the restaurant was not - should have called ahead I guess. There was a Fresh Market supermarket nearby so we just bought our dinner there for enjoyment back on the boat.

With winds continuing out of the northeast tomorrow, the anchorage at Ft Matanzas is good in that direction. We saw on the hurricane page that there's a 10% chance of a new hurricane developing off the Florida coast, hope that doesn't come true!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pablo Marina - day two

Nice place to walk Hoolie
The forecast was for 20 to 30 kt winds which, although doable, would not have been enjoyable - especially at anchor. So for the price of $1/ft per day, we decided to just sit out another day and take it easy. So Ann prepared a cheese omelet with Don's bacon technique and sat down to read the Wall Street Journal which Ann gets every morning on her Kindle automatically via 3g. We had subscribed to the New York Times for three months but they were so biased that we just couldn't stomach it anymore and switched to the WSJ which is much more neutral. What we didn't realize at first was that the WSJ provides national news, not just financial news - a real plus.

He was around all day - liked the marina apparently
Although there's no services at the marina other than water and electricity, there's several shopping plazas a 10 min walk down the road with Food Lion, Fresh Food and Publix supermarkets along with lots of fast food restaurants and the usual associated stores that tag along. So it is possible to provision here if you don't mind a 10 min walk.

The wind met the predictions and continued all day long around 20 to 30 kts. and with no sun at all to warm up the cockpit, ugh. We are in a part of the ICW now where there are good anchorages and we intend to use them if the weather permits for the next three days before we arrive at Vero Beach for our week's stay there. Hopefully, the wind dies enough in the morning for us to have an easy exit, it's always exciting backing out of a slip with lots of wind in a narrow fairway!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pablo Marina - at a dock

This guy did it right - notice the fenders in front where he goes against the dock
At 5:00 am this morning the wind suddenly increased to 25 kts! Since the marina is exposed to the west, the waves started to build right away and the boat was being battered against the dock. The wind was directly at 90 degrees to the dock, pinning us. We knew it was going to be difficult to get out with the wind pushing us opposite to the direction we had to go to leave the dock. There were a lot of other boats in the same situation so I watched their technique. The general approach used by all but one boat was to tie a line to the forward cleat and lead it to the dock about midships. The captain would power forward while turning the wheel in the direction to drive the bow into the dock. The resultant forces would put the aft end of the boat out away from the dock, it would just walk sideways, even against a 25 kt wind and resultant waves.

Lovely marina

I thought that was fine for a powerboat with multiple hundreds of horsepower but what about my small boat with its 55 hp diesel? We waited for everyone to leave first so we had plenty of room, nobody ahead of us or behind us. The wind was still howling at 20 kts and not forecast to get any less, in fact, it was to increase during the day! So with everybody gone, I put out fenders every few feet on the bow to cushion any contact with the dock, deployed a bow line to a cleat on the dock, had help from a dock hand to uncleat the line when ready to back out and then with Ann on the bow, I powered forward with the wheel hard to starboard (to walk the aft to port and away from the dock). It worked like a charm. Now all I had to hope for was that the  boat would back up once in reverse into the 20 kt wind so I could clear the dock. Well, it did back up and I kept backing so I had plenty of room to start going forward to clear the dock when the aft end swung with the turn. We saw one boat this morning who did not back up enough and his swim platform hit the dock with a loud thud of broken teak when he swung forward. At least we avoided that mistake! Putting it in forward we turned and clear the docks and all remaining boats, success! Except - the dinghy was upside down! We idled forward while I got on the swim platform to turn the dinghy over and once accomplished found that the bilge pump had parted company but we had retained the oars.

All the plam trees are lit at night
So that was enough excitement for one day! But the water was thinner than usual since the west wind pushed water out of the inlets, lowering the water level in general inland. I figured we lost about and extra 1 to 2 feet out of the ICW and we had left at low tide! With strict attention to Active Captain warning spots, we ghosted through the shallows (thank goodness for the 4' 9" keel!) and made it to the old Pablo Marina. They actually went out of business and now it's private but if you call ahead and ask, they will generally find a slip owner that's will to rent out his slip for the night. We got a slip for only $1/ft, a bargain in this area - and the marina is beautiful with concrete docks and no current and 360 protection. In talking to the dockhand, we heard that the slips went for $150,000 when new several years ago but most recently with the depressed economy they are now going for only (!) $58,000. So I guess some owners want to make a few bucks on the side (we deal in cash).

The winds on Saturday are supposed to be 15 to 25 mph all day and 10 to 20 at night. We may stay here another day so we can enjoy one of our favorite anchorages without the strong wind. We'll see tomorrow.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fernandina Harbor Marina - Day 2

Palm trees are common now
What a difference a day makes! The wind died down, the waves abated, the sun shone, the temperature reached the upper 70's. We took advantage of the good weather to tour the downtown area. Fernandina has done a major renovation downtown with many shops lining the main street and more restaurants than you can count. Of course, we found our restaurant yesterday, the Happy Tomato with their BBQ dishes.

Everybody left this morning and I thought we would be the only ones here today. Boy, was I ever wrong. The place is packed! And, we're the smallest one here!. We're between two behemoths twice our size and one on the end doubles that! These guys can dance their boats sideways to get out, we're somewhat more restricted but the captain of the boat behind us intends to leave early so we ought to be okay. It's always interesting with the current and wind and restricted space.

South complex of some type

We're headed south on Friday and the winds are due to pipe up again out of the north to 20 kts or greater at night. It's cooler too with a high of only in the 60's. The only suitable anchorage within reach is exposed to the north so we'll probably take a dock at Pablo Marine unless the forecast changes. This marina is private and they don't generally rent docks to transients but if you give them a call and ask, sometimes you can get a dock. I called last night and got a positive reply.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fernandina Harbor Marina - at a dock

A bird carrier - common in these parts - gives the birds somewhere to rest to keep from drowning
We are finally in Florida but what a ride today. The winds howled out of the north all day, topping out at near 30 kts! Twice the ICW route took us partially out an inlet to turn a corner into the next part of the ICW. We saw the full force of two days of 20 to 25 kts winds - it was a confused sea that we saw coming across the outer sandbars and we bounced in all directions until we finally got far enough into the next part of the ICW channel. There was a small craft advisory for anyone going out the inlet.

BBQ at the Happy Tomato - slicing ribs
There seems to be more wind this year than last with one northerly after another. We just want to get further south to see if we can get past these northern intrusions on our fun time. At least we have full sun during the blasts from the north so the cockpit is warm. It's tough finding an anchorage with protection from the north so tonight we're tied up at a marina - but we're still bouncing around. The marina is kind of open, not a 360 protection area so wind and some waves get in. We plan on being here one more day before continuing our trip south.

Meanwhile, we had BBQ tonight at a place that was surprisingly good, pulled pork and ribs so we'e not doing too bad. The town itself is interesting with many shops and a rich history we intend to see tomorrow with a walking tour. Hopefully, the wind dies just a little!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jekyll Island - at anchor

It's a beautiful thing - a place for Hoolie relief without mud
It was mud city again this morning at the Wahoo anchorage since it was low tide and all the mud flats were exposed for Hoolie to romp through. So we cleaned the dinghy, the dinghy lines, the dinghy itself, the life vest bag, ourselves, the swim platform on the aft of the boat, the floor and sides of the cockpit, etc. I don't think we'll come back to this anchorage again. It's a beautiful place to spend the night but getting the dog ashore - wow, the mud.

What's an anchorage without a sunset??
So today we aimed for one of our favorite anchorages, Jekyll Island. What makes it so special is the public dock for taking Hoolie ashore. As we walked ashore on the free dock, we glanced down at the mud flats - not for us this trip! The anchorage looks intimidating with the 4 ft listed depths but it's actually much deeper than that - around 10 ft - so it's usually empty and we took advantage of it tonight.

 By arriving at Jekyll Island, we've negotiated the worse of the shallow spots and with the high tides around 8 ft that we experienced, it was much calmer than last year when we seemed to hit everything at dead low tide! Pays to plan ahead.

I was able to get my Garmin 492 chartplotter to show depth soundings again by doing a reboot (press Quit and On at the same time, something that's not in the manual). Hopefully it will be stable from now on. On Tuesday we're headed for Fernandina, FL - so we'll cross over into Florida tomorrow! The weather is warming up again with all temps in the 70's with full sunshine - after all it's the sunshine state!