Thursday, April 30, 2015

Carolina Beach State Park Marina - Best kept secret on the ICW

How would you like to meet this in the Rock Pile?
We headed north through the famous "Rock Pile" and once again didn't meet another boat. In the five years we've been up and down the ICW, we've yet to meet an oncoming boat in the Rock Pile. However, we did see a dredge that seemed to cover the entire channel. We called on all the VHF channels but got no response. Finally we squeezed by on the red side and made it through. The day turned out to be better than forecasted with light winds and no rain, we made good time.

The docks are well kept and shielded from winds by the trees in the photo
North Carolina has taken care of their inlets and we didn't have any depth problems between Barefoot Landing and Carolina Beach. You had to pay attention to keeping in some narrow channels but the depth was there. Now if only Georgia and South Carolina would do the same!

A pretty marina, lots of trails to hike
Now to the best kept secret. How would you like the following features of a marina:
- Completely protected from all wakes and waves
- Laundry at $1 a load for either washer or dryer
- Nature trails to hike at your leisure, no extra charge. They include wild Venus Flytraps and Painted Buntings
- Free 30 and 50 amp service
- Excellent, new docks
- No reservations needed, it's always empty
And the kicker is all this for a flat rate of $30/day for a maximum of at 43 ft boat. You can get all this at Carolina Beach State Park Marina.

The only downside is the 6.5 MLW approach and the 5.7 MLW depth by the face docks. For me that's fine with my 4' 9" keel. It's hard to understand why it's so empty. It was overhauled three years ago and they upped the rates to the present level ($30/day) and drove away their local customers but it's still a good deal for cruisers on the ICW. You will get no help in docking however, they are park rangers not marina operators. If they do happen to come out, they know nothing about how to handle lines in docking a boat, you're on your own. If you dock on the end like I did, there's a pier between you and the dock so you have to adjust your fenders for that.

Also a great place to watch the sunset
We looked for Pirate today but he didn't come out. We still can't figure out where he hides. I think he needs warmer days. We'll leave for Swan Point Marina on Friday, a marina with real character.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Barefoot Landing Marina - at a dock

Barefoot Landing is next to the marina - great for walking around
The rains came today so we decided to sit it out in comfort at a dock with heat. The temperature outside is only 69, not exactly summer weather. My problem with the windlass was the first priority and I used Google to find a dealer with the new motor I needed even though Lewmar discarded their stock after 10 years of being a discontinued model (Horizon Express). The dealer wanted more than list price but after all he was the only game in town so I ordered the motor.  Lewmar advised I ought to buy a new windlass! Even Beneteau parts was no help, they had no spares for the windlass and also advised me to buy a new windlass, what a racket. Apparently, Beneteau got a good price on a soon to be discontinued model and installed them on all their 2004 boats before Lewmar discontinued that model windlass in 2005.

So I had another boat anchor without a new motor but one's on the way now. I took the windlass covers off again and examined the brushes and they appeared to be fine, plenty of graphite left so there's something not right with the motor itself since it's receiving power correctly (checked with a Fluke meter).

Now this guy is headed through "The Rock Pile" - how would you like to meet him?
So that's where the day went, isn't it fun owning a boat. I guess as the boat ages, you have to expect repairs to be required. I bought Fleetwing in 2004 so everything is at the 11 year point. The boat systems itself (main, jib, roller furling, main furling, winches, etc.) have been fine, it's the accessories that have been failing (and replaced: genset, injector pump, raw water pump, fresh water pump, A/C, freezer condenser, house water pump, etc.) I used to joke with by wife Ann that every year the boat is getting newer. The replacements have held up much better than the original units, all are going strong.

On Thursday we are headed to Carolina Beach State Park Marina up the Cape Fear River. If all goes according to plan, we'll have a flood tide pushing us up the river. It's not fun battling a 2.5 kt current going north. PS, we didn't see Pirate today, perhaps too cold?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Barefoot Landing Marina - at a dock

The source of goodness from Greg Norman's Australian Grill
Pirate came out again today! We still haven't figured out where he lives, we think it's in the port dorade. He was out so briefly that I didn't even get a photo. The big news today is the non-working windlass. It slowed down and then quit altogether this morning when I tested it. I took the covers off but the gears look fine as well as the motor but you can't tell if a motor's working just by looking at it. So it appears I need a new motor for the windlass. It draws 1000 watts at 12 volts, not a small amount.

The marina here offers a free ride to the nearest Walmart which we took advantage of and I stocked up on oil for the diesel, it's due for a change of oil. Walmart carries the exact same oil as Westmarine that I use but it's $10/gallon cheaper! Diesel prices have nosedived! It's around $2.59/gallon now - or cheaper. That is some difference over the $4.50/gallon price in the fall.

The "Source of Goodness" being served, delicious!
Wednesday will see me try to find a replacement electric motor for a windlass that's been out of production for 6 years! Hopefully, Lewmar keeps an inventory of motors for obsolete windlasses (why does that sound no ridiculous when you say it?) I'll start calling at 8:00 am.

We had our Greg Norman Australian Grill fix today. Both of us ordered filet mignons, the best on the ICW. Wednesday is a layover day to to predicted rain all day long. Thursday is looking better and in sync for the trip north up the Cape Fear River (with a flood tide).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Barefoot Landing Marina - at a dock

There is a wild animal exhibit here - when Hoolie walked by, they got excited (wanted to play?)
Today was a perfect day for traveling. The skies were clear and we had full sun for warming the cockpit. We have noticed the cooling temperatures as we moved north, this morning it was 57! The trip between Georgetown and Myrtle Beach (Barefoot Landing) is one of the prettiest on the ICW. You go north on the Waccamaw River which is mostly undeveloped with abundant wildlife. We know there are alligators from our visit to a planation last year but we didn't see any today.

Lots of freeloading turtles and fish - the feed boxes are right nearby
We arrived at the face dock at Barefoot Landing around 3:30 pm, a long day lengthened by the adverse current of 2 kts against us all the way up the river, reminded me of the Hudson River in that respect.

We have our usual spot by the flag
We like Barefoot Land for two reasons: it easy to walk around and explore the shops and there's Greg Norman's Australian Grill right next door. They have the best steaks I've ever had and we plan on sampling them again this trip on Tuesday.

The weather ahead does not look good. Tuesday is fine but then thunderstorms and rain return on Wednesday and Thursday. We may just sit out the storms right here where it's comfortable. We'll watch the forecasts and see.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Georgetown, SC - at a slip

"Pirate", our gecko is still with us! We see him about once per day
Today was a true adventure in boating on the ICW. We started out in good cheer from the Maritime Center at 8:00 with the intention of making the 9:00 opening of the Ben Sawyer Bridge. For some reason she decided to open the bridge in advance of the scheduled top of the hour and we got through at 8;30. Now that can either be a plus or minus depending on the tides. Low tide was at 9:00 am and we went through on a falling tide, never a good strategy along the Isle of Palms. We ran into (literally) a low spot of only 3 ft at low tide. Since we require 4 ' 9" to float, we came to an abrupt stop! We tried going around the low spot on the left, then on the right but there was no going around the shoal. a 90 ft power boat drawing 6 ft kept us company, waiting for a higher tide.

So I motored slowly back to the Ben Sawyer Bridge and back while more sailboats joined the attempt to pass. After an hour or so, another boat attempted to pass and barely made it with a 4 ft draft (after the tide had come in a foot). So we followed a boat drawing 4' 7" and we struck bottom again but powered through the shoal which was across the entire width of the channel.

Georgetown is the home of a large fleet of shimpboats
The rest of the passage was made with a rising tide reaching 4 ft so there were no more problems. It's just another example of how little South Carolina cares for ICW boaters. As far as they are concerned, the ICW could silt in entirely and they would be happy. So much to taking care of a heritage system entrusted to them. Georgia is no better. Only Florida and North Carolina take care of their portions of the ICW.

We also endured a rain storm with winds reaching 30 kts but it passed before we reached our destination at Georgetown, Dry Stack Marina. We always stop here whenever we can. It's close to downtown and close to one of the few fish markets along the ICW.

We are headed for Barefoot Landing on Monday and will probably spend a few days there since storms are due in mid-week. No rush, we'l get home when the weather permits.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Charleston Maritime Center - last day

38 kt winds jostled us around a bit
We stayed over an extra day due to the storms predicted. The front came through around 1:00 with winds that peaked at 38 kts! This harbor is not known for good protection and we bounced around quite a bit. We rode it out and then I went to the hardware store for supplies with Ann on the boat. Unknown to me at the time, a series of waves came through the harbor that had our boat swinging like a pendulum, our mast coming close to the sailboat right next to us. Ann tried to call me on the cellphone but for some reason the volume was turned way down so I didn't hear the call (note to self - check the ring volume!)

A nice Hinckley Jet boat shared the marina, 3/4 of a million dollars
Even with all the wind and wave action, we turned out to be okay at the dock. I picked up 20 lbs of ice and a few odds and ends at the market and we're all set to leave for Georgetown at 8:00 am on Monday. the section of the ICW ahead of us is one of the shallowest in the cruise but we think we know the way through the shallows - unless they've moved since the fall - which is always possible. So we'll be on pins and needles as we proceed north in the morning. At least we have a rising tide but we'll hit the shallowest sections early, at almost low tide.

We plan on being in Georgetown only one day before heading north to Barefoot Landing where we wanted to spend only two days but that may turn into four if the predicted bad weather comes to pass.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Charleston - at the Maritime Center, windlass debug

Ann visited the downtown marketplace - lots of spices and many other items of interest
I went forward to look at the windlass today and noticed quite a bit of clay mud in the wildcat, between the wildcat and the windlass housing. It was caked in the gap and so I cleaned it out. I guess the wildcat (the rotating drum) could have seen a lot of friction form the caked on mud, perhaps that slowed down the pull? The windlass seemed to work  better after the cleaning so we'll see if that's the problem the next time we anchor, stay tuned.

A staircase that would do any mansion credit - in a hotel here
Ann got her fix at the nearest Chico's while I wandered over to the nearest CVS to draw out some traveling money. CVS along with Walgreen's are among the few places that do not charge for using an ATM (no fee for withdrawals). I guess they figure it's good for business to have customers come to the store to draw out cash.

They were having a gala to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the aquarium - here's the receptionist
Back at the boat, Saturday will be a layover day due to rain and thunderstorms from a northern front. You don't fight the weather so we'll start out again on Sunday for Georgetown and then Barefoot Landing. There's some very skinny water between Charleston and Georgetown so we'll have to pay close attention to our navigation but we've done it before and this time it will be on a rising tide.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Charleston - at the Maritime Center at a dock

The Cunard liner "Queen Victoria" was in dock, a really big ship!
I went to haul the anchor this morning and the windlass was very sluggish. It was going quite a bit slower than normal and it eventually tripped the breaker. I had to reset the breaker three times before I retrieved the anchor. I thought for a moment that I would have to manually haul the chain and anchor up. Something is definitely wrong. When we get to Charleston I'll have some debugging to do. There's always something on a boat to do.

Now docking at the Maritime Center can be tricky with the up to 2 kts of current either pushing you into the slip or out. However, we docked at near slack tide and Ann brought the boat in while I handled the lines. As usual at the Maritime Center, there was a full crew on the docks to receive us. They specialize in docking since many times the currents are very unforgiving and the slips are narrow with only 1/2 length fingers. Ann was successful and now we're in!

A typical freighter passing by
The marina here is located on a major fairway for very big ships and we do get a wash from their wakes when passing by. That's a negative for the marina but then it is very convenient to Harris Tetter and downtown Charleston so there's pluses and minuses.

I asked Sarah for a name for our stowaway and she came up with "Pirate" since he dropped onto the ship uninvited. We haven't seen Pirate today, hopefully he's still aboard and okay. We plan on being here until Sunday morning. A 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms are due Saturday so we'll wait out the bad weather here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Steamboat Creek - at anchor

Nice area for a walk
We went through the heart of the shallow spots in Georgia today. One after the other, all not passable at low tide. However, we timed the passage for high tide and we made it through easily. As I said before, Georgia cares not about their part of the ICW and neither does South Carolina. If it were to all silt in, they wouldn't care. So as long as it lasts, we'll continue our trips south although only at high tide from here forward through those two states, it's a shame they don't take care of a national resource they are entrusted with.

We still have our stowaway, a gekko! He comes out once a day to  sun himself
The days are getting longer and now that the stalled front has moved on, the sun is out and we have beautiful weather again. We're at the Steamboat Creek anchorage tonight, one of our favorites. It has the prerequisite free dinghy dock for Hoolie and a protected anchorage area. We were even able to go for a walk although you keep an eye out for alligators, we're in alligator country for sure now until we reach Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach. That said, we haven't seen any yet, they tend to keep to the side streams with less current.

Hoolie's dock and Fleetwing nearby
On Thursday we have reservations at the Charleston Maritime Center for a couple of days to do laundry and provision. The big attraction is the nearby Harris Tetter, one of Ann's favorite supermarkets, and downtown which is only a 10 minute walk away. We know we're getting north since the temperatures keep dropping. Although it's still 75 now at 8:00 pm, it's due to plunge to 57 tonight, chilly for those used to Key West temperatures!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Beaufort - at a mooring

Beaufort waterfront - nice park
We had a relaxing day, leaving the dock at 8:30 and heading for the 9:00 bridge opening. We were packed in tight so we did the reverse maneuver which consists of putting a fender on the  bow, leading a line from the bow cleat to the dock and powering forward which results in the aft end of the boat rotating out into the river, away from the dock. At that point, I released the bow line and Ann backed the boat the rest of the way out, simple.

I'm not sure what they were playing, bocce?
We had it timed so we hit all the shallow spots with plenty of high tide. That takes a lot of the butterflies out, no sweat when you have a 7 ft tide! We made it through Fields Cut and Mud River, we could have floated over dry land at low tide.

We reached Beaufort by 2:30 and were ready to go further but we were losing the high tides by then and could not have made it through the trouble spots ahead so we stopped for the night and picked up a mooring.

Beaufort is a beautiful town with a great walk by the river. They've invested in waterfront improvement in a big way. I wish Poughkeepsie would do the same, oh well. We will pick the 9:00 bridge opening on Wednesday and aim for the Steamboat anchorage and Charleston the day after that. The weather has turned beautiful with lots of sun and warm winds, hope it holds.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Savannah at Thunderbolt Marina - at a dock

Ann's parking space
We left the Wahoo River anchorage at 7:00 to make the Hell Gate passage at high tide. The day was mostly overcast, we miss the sunny days of Florida. Thunderstorms were due in the afternoon so we soldiered on. The first thin spot was Mud River but with a 6 ft tide, that was no problem. The next obstacle was Hell Gate which we also hit at high tide and doing the math, it would only have 3 ft at low tide, much too thin for our 4' 9" draft - however at high tide of 8 ft, it was no problem.

We made Thunderbolt at 1:00 ahead of all storms. We took on fuel but then had to move the boat to a tight fit between two powerboats. There was about 60 ft of space which sounds like a lot for a 42 ft sailboat. However, from the viewpoint of the helm, it doesn't look so big when approaching the spot, especially with a 1.5 kt tide running. Ann took the helm while I managed the lines and she made a perfect landing. She did our usual approach of about 45 degrees with a last minute turn at the end with full reverse to park Fleetwing. She's done it before, she's good.

Thunderbolt specializes in big boats!
They had my new 4D battery ready and waiting for me. The only problem was I needed help in getting it installed. Those things weigh about 120 lbs! On top of that, you have to bend over the forward battery to lift out the old one and install the new one. That was beyond me. Two guys came by for the installation. The one that did all the work would have made two of me but he still had trouble getting it out, heavy, heavy! While here, Jack Cothren paid a visit, always nice to hear from PYC folks.

Whenever we pay for a dock we want our money's worth so we do a fill up on fuel, do the laundry and top off our water tank and buy ice but we don't dawdle, it's off to Beaufort on Tuesday.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wahoo Island Anchorage - at anchor

Storms, storms and more storms - talk about rainy weather!
We delayed our departure from Jekyll Island until 8:00 am to allow a 5 ft high tide to build and as it turned out, we didn't need all of the 5 ft, we could have left at 7:00 am. We knew there was a cold front coming through with a lot of serious storms out in front and it was a race between us and them! We had about 50 miles to go to reach Wahoo Island and the notorious Mud River along the way. We are in the time of drain tides (-1.5 ft today below datum) and so we would have been plowing mud if we had attempted Mud River at low. But we had it timed to reach the river with a 5 ft tide to take the jitters out of the passage.

Meanwhile, we're watching the approaching front with severe weather warning all along the advancing storms. They were due to hit us between 3:00 and 4:00 and we were due in the anchorage right at 3:00 pm. So we rushed and anchored and threw the motor on the dinghy and got Hoolie in just before the storms hit. There was lots of lightning and high winds but our 66 lb Spade anchor never had a problem, we were secure.

Oh but after the storms passed...
After the storms passed, the night is serene. Not much wind and a beautiful sunset. Today's front is supposed to sweep out all the rainy weather we've been having the last week. We are sure looking forward to that! We will be in Savannah by 2:00 pm we think.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jekyll Island - at anchor

This guy dropped out of the sky, I don't know if he's the same one or a new fellow - seems to enjoy the ride
We got our fresh veggies at the Fernandina farmers market this morning and then headed out for Jekyll Island. We passed by a submarine base on the way north that sports a degaussing enclosure for submarines. You don't want them to become magnetized because then they would be easily detectable by enemy ships. Sometimes they have submarines in dry dock but not today.

A submarine degausser but we didn't see any submarines around
Onward we went to Jekyll Island and dropped the hook in one of our favorite anchorages. Of course it had convenient Hoolie relief in the form of a free, floating dock - a must for us when traveling the ICW. We had thought about going on through Jekyll but it's notorious for shallow water, down to 3 to 4 ft at low and today was a drain tide, -1.5 ft below a normal low.

A drain tide - 1.5 feet below a normal low tide, no water at all by the docks. 
However, now we are in sync with the tides and we'll start out Sunday at 8:00 am for the Wahoo Creek anchorage passing through all the shallow spots with a high tide, the only way to do it. Meanwhile, we are still enduring afternoon thunderstorms with lots of rain but so far we've been able to reach an anchorage before the storms started rolling through, hopefully our luck will hold on Sunday for the Wahoo anchorage.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fernandina - at anchor

Perhaps not artistic but beautiful to the eyes of a cruiser - a dredge
We had stayed an extra day at Harbortown in order to start getting in sync with the high tides for the thin places. Today was the first test with lots of shallow spots between Jacksonville and Fernandina. As it turned out we would have made it through even at low tide but the extra depth from high tides certainly keeps the jitters down.

When in Fernandina - get styled
The hardest spot to figure out comes just south of Fernandina. The middle of the channel almost drys out at low tide and there are channels on either side but they shift due to the 2 to 3 kt currents produced by the tides here. We have a route mapped out and refined over the last five years and so we made it through without a problem today. I always update Active Captain with my latest findings on the best routes.

Fernandina is one of Ann's favorite places due to a great hair salon and the farmers market on Saturday morning. That's not to mention Pepper's the Mexican restaurant with great margaritas. So on Saturday morning, we'll pick up fresh vegetables at the farmers market and then set out for the Jekyll Island anchorage. After that its some serious northing, moving every day governed by the weather.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Harbortown Marina - I explore electrical issues

It's a great harbor - associated with the condos you see here
We decided to do a layover day to get in sync with the tides and will start out Friday morning at 7:00 for Fernandina. There are many shallow spots that can benefit from added tide along the way.

Meanwhile I had noticed the autopilot acting strangely on the way north yesterday so I took a look this afternoon. The first thing I noticed was how hot one of the three house batteries were (a 4D). That seemed strange but then I measured the voltage with my Fluke meter and saw a reading of 15 volts! So I disconnected everything and watched the voltage increase to 20 volts! That made no sense at all. Eventually it occurred to me to double check the Fluke meter (after about an hour of trying everything else) and found that even when I read a new 1.5 volt alkaline battery I got a reading of 3.0 volts when it should have read 1.5 volts. Then I got the bright idea of replacing the battery in the Fluke and after that all the readings came in normal!

A second set of apartments was built over the winter - this was a vacant lot then! 
So I was hit with two problems: the Fluke was off due to a low battery and one of my three 4D batteries was defective. It was only reading 8 volts and it was calling for current from the charger and converting it into heat. Now most chargers have a safeguard for just this potential problem in the form of a battery temperature shutout sensor. Unfortunately, the temperature sensor was attached to one of the two good batteries so it was telling the charger that all was normal and to send more current. This was not good. Eventually I found the problem and bypassed the bad battery. We are now operating on two 4D batteries which was what the 423 came with in the first place so it's plenty for now. I'll replace the defective battery later as we head north. Now you know what occupies a lot of the time of couples plowing the ICW.

We will head to Fernandina at 7:00 am on Friday and stay a few days to encourage the high tides to be near noon on our trip north. Hopefully, the tides will comply.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Harbortown in Jacksonville - at a dock

The bridge next to the marina - the current runs 6 kts here!
We dodged thunderstorms all day and somehow we missed all of them. The current is fierce near St Augustine with speeds as great as 2.5 kts, mostly against us on the way to Jacksonville. As soon as we pulled into our slip the heavens opened up with a downpour, we just made it.

Harbortown is a private community that allows slips to be rented to transients, at least that was the practice until one of the renters of a slip found a way to trip and fall and sued the community for $5000, supposedly the doctor fees. They apparently had a scam going and it was cheaper to settle out of court than fight it - which the ones suing knew, of course. The end result was the elimination of all dock rentals to transients - except for people known personally by the dockmaster which includes us. It is really unfortunate that all it takes is a couple of bad apples to spoil a good thing for everybody! The couple probably proceeded to run the scam all down the ICW, too bad.

We're tucked away, we are the only ones on the transient docks
Well, we have our slip for the night and once again we're watching thunderstorms. They seem to develop just in the afternoon so our traveling time is in the morning. We are now adjusting our start times to get in tune with the high tides going up the ICW. There is some seriously thin water ahead (Mud River, Hell Gate and many more) all the way to Georgetown, South Carolina. We will probably spend three days in Fernandina doing just that, getting in sync with the high tides. Since Georgia and South Carolina care not for their part of the ICW, that's all that can be done.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

St Augustine - at a mooring

This guy fell from the sky, no overhead trees, no overhead bridges - how did he get here?
We left around 7:00 am from West Palm Beach since we were concerned about afternoon thunderstorms but as it turned out, none developed. Our intended destination was Ft Matanzas but we reached there before noon and with the favorable weather report, decided to press onward to St Augustine.

El Galeon in St Augustine
St Augustine is a fun town to explore with lots of shops and walkways where cars are not allowed. However, their mooring field leaves much to be desired. It's a long ways from the marina and we invariably get one of the last moorings further away from the dinghy dock. Today we were given the next to last mooring in the field, ugh! The current runs very strong since it's so close to the inlet and with any wind at all, it's a bumpy ride with wind against tide. So the town is fun but the moorings leave much to be desired. They also have docks but we didn't want to pay for that, besides, with the 1 to 2 kt current, it's lots of fun getting into the slips.

So we walked Hoolie through town and he met many admirers. We always seem to stop and chat with people along the way about Hoolie and Brittanys and today was no exception. The ride back to the boat was typical St Augustine, bouncy, some spray, etc. We'll leave in the morning for Jacksonville and Harbortown Marina where we know that dockmaster. They no longer take in transients after one couple sued the marina after they "tripped and fell" for $5000. So they ruined the marina for the honest travelers, what crooks. However, the dockmaster knows us and we're still allowed to stay there.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Daytona Beach - at anchor

The bane of cruisers in Florida - an abandoned boat - it makes the local towns want to implement anchoring laws 
We had intended anchoring at Rockhouse Creek but then we reached that anchorage at 12:30 and the weather still looked good enough so we pressed onward. There was a threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon so it was a race to reach Daytona before the thunderstorms hit. The storms develop over the interior of Florida where there's the most heat to power the storms and then they drift eastward to the coast where we're at. Gradually during the night they die off only to start all over again the next day.

We love anchorages with free dinghy docks!
It started to rain towards the end of our run so we ducked into Bethune Point Park anchorage in Daytona Beach and by luck we found it to be an excellent choice. It's a huge area so there's no danger of being crowded and best of all, they have a free dinghy dock for Hoolie relief. During this time of the year, it's nice and calm, very little passing traffic which may not be the case during the summer or on weekends.

More storms coming - at least not much lightning, yet...
The worst of the storms have missed us so far (more to come tonight) and we're 10 miles closer to our anchorage at Ft Matanzas on Tuesday.  We plan on leaving at 7:00 am in order to make the  bridge which closes down between 7:45 and 8:45 am for local car traffic and also to beat the predicted afternoon storms starting at noon.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Titusville - Goodbye for now

By the entrance to the marina, protection from wave action
Looking at the weather, it appears that we'll get thunderstorms everyday in the afternoon from here on out so there's no advantage in staying any longer at Titusville. Our strategy is to travel in the mornings and hunker down in the afternoons to withstand the storms. The  next several days of travel are only 35 miles days which we can make in less than 5 hours. So we should be in a harbor by 1:00 pm or so.

I've got to return the rental car Monday morning at 7:30, head back to the marina and then we'll cast off for the Rockhouse Creek anchorage. We've been there many times and there's a nearby sandy beach for Hoolie relief.

The other side completes the protection, there's a narrow opening for boats to enter between the two
As for today, I topped off the water tanks, taken on ice, washed down the decks and generally gotten the boat ready for the trip north. We are all set to go. With the bottom scrubbed by our diver, I took the dinghy over to the nearby docks and scraped the bottom so we ought to make hull speed the rest of the way at 7.3 kts. Time to move.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Titusville - at a dock with thunderstorms

The Gulf Stream is not far off the coast - clouds always build up over it 
The weather here seems to be getting into a summer pattern with thunderstorms in the afternoon. With that in mind, we'll do most of our traveling in the morning hours and find someplace to hunker down for the afternoon excitement. Florida has more lightning strikes than any other state, not a statistic I'm fond of.

Our diver - the local manatees love divers...
The Indian River Festival was rained out this afternoon so we have peace and quiet tonight. Nobody likes to stick around with lightning in the area. As for us, we did major provisioning today at the local Walmart. The prices run just about 1/2 of what you would pay at the local supermarket. Whether you like Walmart or not, it's more of "do you want to save money or not?" We opt for the latter positive.

We had been running about 0.3 to 0.5 kts slower than normal so I had a diver come today and he scraped the bottom (found barnacles, small ones, on the hull). I then took the dinghy and rowed over to the nearest dock and hauled it up and scraped the  bottom of it too. It wasn't bad, just a few barnacles here and there but they add up when it comes to making top speed. On the way north, we want to make the best time possible.

We will be here on Sunday and then we plan on continuing on north on Monday, aiming for Rockhouse Creek at anchor.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Titusville - at a dock

Where was that terrible noise coming from - a band concert a mile away, $20 to get in (people pay for that??)
Today was a 65 mile day and we had a bridge to reach before it closed at 3:30 for 1.5 hours during rush hour. For once the tide was with us and we made the bridge with time to spare. Against all sailing lore, we even had a following wind along with the following current! Did I mention it was also a beautiful day.

We are still in Florida - still have lots of flowers
However, there's a front coming down from the north (where else, the source of cold weather) that's predicted to stall right over Florida for about a week. So the forecast for the next seven days is for thunderstorms. We may very well be holed up here for the next week. We would rather be moving up the ICW but you can't fight the weather.

We will have a rental car Saturday and Sunday taking advantage of Enterprise's weekend rate it will cost us a total of $24 with all taxes. It's time to provision for the rest of the trip. We also have a diver coming by Saturday afternoon to make sure the bottom is in top shape for maximum speed. I should have done that in Key West, live and learn.