Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Titusville - Last Day at Titusville and last day of the blog

So you're leaving for two months, what do you do? (Be sure everything; is double tied!)
I picked up the rental car this morning from Hertz since they had the best rates, they beat Enterprise by $600! Their service wasn't as good and they only had one guy in the office - but it's hard to argue with the rates. We'll keep the car over the holidays and return it to Titusville in January. It was cheaper doing that then paying the $0.29/mile charge for a one-way rental.

We spent all afternoon loading the car for the trip north. I put out extra lines all around and hopefully, no late season hurricanes will spring up. There's been virtually no activity in the Caribbean over the last two weeks and we hope it will stay that way.

Don't forget the other side either. 
Tonight will be the last blog entry until we return January 7 when the blog will start up again. So mark your calendars for January 7, a Monday, which will be our first day back to Titusville after the holidays, probably a few pounds heavier. This year we won't have a grandkid coming back with us. The youngest one is still too young, maybe next year. It's been fun writing the blog, you're welcome back January 7 for the next installment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Titusville - Wine with friends

Our neighbor, the one legged blue heron. 
When I leave Fleetwing for an extended period of time, I'm sure to double up all the lines. Recently, we've added the heavy duty inflatable fender too. With the 5 ft long fender and extra lines, we feel secure.

Inside the Sabre
I will pick up the rental car Wednesday morning and pack that afternoon so we can leave at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning. That should get us to Carrie's by Friday afternoon. We were invited over for wine and drinks at 5:00 by Jack from the Windmill Harbour YC. He was passing through and he happened to dock at Titusville when we were here so we had a good get together for an enjoyable evening. He has a brand new Sabre 45 Salon Express powerboat. It's a beautiful boat to cruise in.

The view forward, note the seats and the huge Garmin chartplotters
We have one more prep day before we leave and I also will pick up the rental car on Wednesday morning. The blog will end on Wednesday night to be restarted upon our return in January. We aren't particularly looking forward to color weather but we wouldn't mind a little (LITTLE only) snow during our visit north just to remind us of what winter is like - but not too much!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Titusville - Getting ready

Ann draws in the cockpit often. Here she is just drawing with an artist pencil. 
It's time to get Fleetwing ready for its stay in Titusville while we're up north "enjoying" the cold weather. over the holidays. First on the agenda was an oil change and I got halfway through it before I realized I didn't have an oil filter. I had to order one from a supplier in Connecticut, McDonnell Marine, which I've depended upon ever since I bought our Beneteau in 2004. They are the largest Volvo parts supplier in New England. The parts price was fine but the shipping was standard FedEx with overnight delivery - one arm and half of another one later, it was on its way.

Ann did some drawing up in the cockpit, using her iPad instead of a photograph for a source. The source is only used as a general guide. What winds up in the drawing may never have occurred in nature but it's a pleasing picture, the only important thing.

It's still a better sunset than we'll see up north
We have one more day of prep before I pick the rental up on Wednesday. Then, it's packing and we're off for points north. Learning from past mistakes, we will completely empty the freezer and turn it off. One year we didn't do that and returned to the boat to find the power off and a true mess in the freezer. Never again. Hoolie will spend the next month and a half on land. In doing so, he's learned that he can go out anything he wants so we'll let him out about every hour or so when we first return. It's great freedom for a dog, I guess. He can't do that on Fleetwing.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Titusville - We search for citrus

It's a small grove in amongst residential houses  
There have been many citrus growers around here that have gone bust. There's been a number of citrus diseases that have wreaked havoc with the groves and the recent hurricanes have not helped. We found one of the few surviving groves today and bought 1/2 bushel of oranges and the same for grapefruit. They cut slices of each variety before we bought the citrus for us to taste, both were good! So now we are loaded up for the trip north with the goodness of Florida.

They were absolutely fresh
I spent the afternoon exploring the features of my new iPad Pro. As you might expect, it is very fast. You don't need the speed if all you do it read the news over the internet but in my case, I have a lot of graphics with the navigation programs I have loaded, 14 in all. The speed helps with drawing the charts rapidly.

We saw this guy resting on a line where he had to balance like on a swing. Would he
be there all night??
We have two more days of boat work and the chores are starting to mount up. I'll return the car Monday morning and dive into getting the boat ready for us not being around for almost two months. I pick up our rental car Wednesday morning and this year it's from Hertz. Enterprise was $600 more. We will load it up Wednesday night and take off Thursday morning (road trip!) That will also be the end of the blog until January.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Titusville - Visit with Gordon and Eta

Before I started my presentation, I snapped a picture of the room. It was quite large but the audience didn't fill it up
I gave my presentation on "Who Do You Trust (for navigation)" at the Seven Seas Cruising Association this morning. It went well according to those that attended. The printed version can be seen on the Waterway Guide site.

Addison Chan, a fellow Waterway Guide editor
who covers Cuba
Then I went hunting for the connector I needed between the USB-C plug on the iPad Pro and the USB-A plug on my laptop. It's required to make my new iPad have the same apps as on my old iPad. It's also the connector that Apple didn't include in their package even though I ordered everything on their list of accessories. With the new plug, I cloned my new iPad Pro so now I have a useful new iPad. It will function as my new chartplotter at the helm. The larger screen size will be a welcomed addition.

While I was gone, Ann snapped this picture in the fog this morning
This evening we were invited for dinner with Gordon and Eta who used to own a Beneteau 423 like ours but went over to the dark side when they sold it and bought a large powerboat. Nevertheless, it was a nice evening with great wine and great food.

Gordon and Eta, long-time friends
The winds here have piped up a bit and blowing out of the one direction that's unprotected, the east and southeast. We are still relatively calm behind several large powerboats but we are rocking somewhat. We have the car for one more day, perhaps we'll explore more on Sunday.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Titusville - A visit to the Apple Store

Quiet, warm weather
I finally ordered my iPad Pro 12.9 for pickup at the nearest Apple store which was in Orlando. We already had a rental car so off we went heading west. The store is in one of the largest malls I've ever seen, the Florida Mall in Orlando. The entire front of the Apple Store is all glass and the inside was packed! There was hardly any room to move through the aisles but then they had lots of clerks.

Ann's painting from last week
My order was ready with my name printed on all the boxes. I used my passport to identify myself although I could have used my driver's license. It has to be a government issued ID with your photo on the card. I got every adapter they advertised and one special one labeled as an adapter from their new connector (USB-C) to the old standard USB-A that's on my laptop. So I brought everything back to the boat. To my dismay, the adapter which was supposed to connect the iPad to the laptop had a female plug for the USB-A end. That does not work! You need a male plug for the connection to the laptop. So here I sit with all the goodies from Apple and no way to configure my iPad Pro, I am not happy! So much for the Apple experts in the store.

It's been so hot that we've been running the AC even at night until we go to bed. We may be wishing for that heat when we go north in a week. We'll empty the freezer this year after our experience with losing electricity one time and facing cleaning out the freezer from the remains of some very active bugs. You never want to do that again (how to get rid of the odor?)

Tomorrow morning I'll give my presentation on "Who Do You Trust (for navigation)"  to the Seven Seas Cruising Association Gam which ought to be interesting. I had wanted to use my new iPad Pro, oh well.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Titusville - Painting on a boat

Ann loves to paint - and I love to see the pastels around Fleetwing!
I still haven't finished installing the AIS. All the colored wires have to go to the right matching colored wire - and they aren't the same colored wires between the Garmin 492 and the AIS unit. It's like communicating in a foreign language. All of the wires have their own special names as if they have secret codes. It would be too simple if you just connect the NMEA wires color to color (blue to blue, brown to brown) but that would be too easy and the tech support couldn't justify their existence. The owner of the place where I bought the AIS unit was in Asia but he still answered my emails (bless him...) and at last, I have the secret color code to connect the wires. That's a project for Friday. I hope it works.

Meanwhile, Ann escaped to the cockpit and worked on pastels all day. It's nice to see the paintings all around the inside of Fleetwing, I enjoy them. She was invited to speak at the SSCA Gam but declined. Painting on a boat is a very specialized project and if you're not a painter, it's hard to communicate how to do it.

And Hoolie loves to run, and run, and run...
We took Hoolie over to the dog park again but only allowed him a short run due to the heat, in the high 80's. I'm sure we'll remember the heat fondly when we're up north for the holidays. On Friday, we're off to the nearest Apple store to pick up an iPad Pro 12.9 inch model with all the accessories. Ann will probably veer off and seek out the nearest Chico's. Seven days until we head north.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Titusville - The fuel leak is fixed

The long walk  back to Fleetwing - but it's well lit
I had the replacements for the fuel pump and filter holder but I didn't feel comfortable doing the work so I had a mechanic come over from Westland Marina. He was former Navy and did the job in short order.

Meanwhile, I'm installing my new AIS receiver with WiFi output. The major part of any electronic installation is running wires. Plugging things in is easy, finding 12v power is easy, mounting the components is easy -  but running wires, for example, for the external GPS antenna is not easy. The manufacturers of boats seem to make all openings just large enough for their systems with no thought for what may be needed for future installations. So I have yet another wire to run from the back rail where the antenna goes to the nav station, such fun.

Peaceful nighttime
We found that the no-pull harness  for Hoolie actually works! It's amazing, I had held no hope for it but work it did. Now Ann can take Hoolie for a walk without straining her arms. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Titusville - Updating Waterway Guide and taking on water

Evidently, there's good fishing in the marina
I spent most of the day updating Waterway Guide alerts. I try to include a small chart of the shallow area covered with a dotted line showing the best path through the hazard for the deepest water. I like the visual chart I can provide with Waterway Guide as opposed to just text with Active Captain. I construct the chart using my iPad photo editing program on a chart I copy from Aqua Map. It makes for a good outline on how to get through a problem area.

My new AIS transponder arrived today and I'll take a try at installing it on Wednesday. I'm also due to get the permanent repair done on the fuel filter holder where I stripped the threads on the bleeder screw. My workaround of putting an O-Ring around the screw has held tight ever since the Hudson River. Since the screw holding it tight has stripped threads, it can't be a permanent fix. I could tighten the screw just enough to stop the fuel leak.

And another guy is standing by for his turn
We're trying a new leash on Hoolie. He could pull a dogsled all by himself except that we're on the other end, not a dogsled! So we're trying out a "no pull harness" which hasn't worked in the past but perhaps this time it will.

All topped off by good color in the sunset - perfect
We're aiming for a Thursday of next week departure date for returning to New York for the holidays. It's still less expensive to rent the car and keep it as opposed to renting one-way cars for each leg of the trip.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Titusville - Hobby Lobby and propane refill

We're in Florida, lots of flowers about
Since I had the propane tank recertified last year, I had no problems getting it refilled this time. Most places don't even look at the date but a few do. So while Ann shopped at the biggest Hobby Lobby I've ever seen, I made sure she had ample propane for dinner preparation, an important need for me.

I thought I'd show how our new, inflatable fenders are working out. They won't flip out.
Who needs fender boards with a 5 ft fender?
I now have a car reserved for our trip home and back, about two months worth. Enterprise has gotten too expensive. I can remember when Enterprise was the upstart company and Hertz dominated the car rental market. Now it's the other way around and Enterprise no longer gives big discounts to major firms like IBM. So with Hertz now looking for business, they turned out to be $600 cheaper for the time period I wanted. What a turnaround.

Nice colors, Ann noticed the sunset light
My AIS transponder is due to arrive Tuesday and I'll do a full report on what I find. It will be my third AIS but the first one that transmits over WiFi to my iPad for the display of AIS targets. It also displays instrument data with the appropriate interfaces.

It continues to be much warmer than normal, at least compared to our past experiences. The temperature reaches into the 80's every day now. We're always running the AC now. We have a ton of boat work to complete before leaving on Thursday of next week in our rental car to return for the holidays. It's our annual road trip north.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Titusville - We tour Merritt Island

"Donuts 4 You" has the best donuts in Titusville - Sarah was a connoisseur of donuts, I'll take her word for it
We started out the day with a fine storm, lots of rain and some wind. I inflated our blow up fender that's 12 inches in diameter and five feet long. I hung it right by the pier that we are against. Due to the length of the fender, there's no chance of it flipping out! We are great fans of this addition to our boat. You may not need it often but when it's needed, all you do is inflate it with the dinghy pump. I got the heavy duty type.

They were always looking at you as you passed by
We were prepared for rain all day but it cleared up and we decided to explore Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. We had a Jeep for a rental car so naturally, we had to go on all the back roads that we couldn't with a street car. We didn't see as many birds as we expected, perhaps it's because it's been warmer than usual, I don't know. What we did see were a lot of alligators but they kept to the marshes, away from the road. The sun even came out for a while, nice.

Lots of alligators to see
Hoolie notified us it was time to go to the dog park but his clock was an hour off due to the time change. Likewise for dinner. He sat right next to me, asking for his evening meal but it was too soon! A time change is tougher on a dog than us. We have one more day with the Jeep and Ann's going to Hobby Lobby, there's a brand new one in Titusville, a huge store. As for me, I have to get the propane refilled. I had a problem last year when the tank was outdated. You have to get the tank recertified after 10 years which I dd in Titusville for $20 each but it's only good for another 5 years. Then you have to do it all over again. For now, I'm okay on the tank dating. 
We enjoy just walking through the marshland

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Titusville - We provision

Everybody's got to eat - he caught this one right in the marina
When I got the car, I had the option of getting a Jeep at the same price. It's a great car. I can see the attraction. It's put together like Lego. You can remove the top, the sides, the doors if you want and then put it all back together by yourself. It has huge tires and a full size spare mounted on the back. The ground clearance is about twice that of most cars. It's a fun car to drive. We'll take it to the Black Point drive on Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge on Sunday so expect a lot of bird photos tomorrow.

I find it amazing the way palm trees can just keep surviving any storm that comes its way
The Walmart here is an exceptional store for a Walmart. They are not all the same. We refuse to go to the one at home in New York. We are now provisioned for the rest of our stay here. Meanwhile, Hoolie rediscovered the dog park and he did his usual running around at top speed. He's 10 years old now but he doesn't show any signs of slowing down, unlike the rest of us.

We will take a day off from all the boat chores to explore Merritt Island on Sunday. You can get wrapped up in boat stuff and never smell the roses.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Titusville Marina - at a dock

There were five dredges around Ponce de Leon inlet!
There were storms predicted for later today so we thought to leave early in the morning to reach Titusville before the front arrived. We left about 1/2 hour before sunrise but after it was light and headed south. There are two hazards by Ponce de Leon inlet. One to the north by R2 and R2A where I found only 6.0 MLW at R2 and a second hazard at R18 where I found 14 MLW. It had obviously been dredged since I found 5.0 MLW there in the spring. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I uploaded my track tonight;.

Titusville is packed!
The wind picked up in the afternoon but the rains held off until after we arrived at Titusville. The place here is full! I've never seen it so full as today. We just about got the last slip available and if I hadn't made reservations last year, I doubt I would have had a slip! Titusville is no longer a secret well kept.

Our home for the next two months, A42
So I ordered a new AIS that transmits over WiFi so my iPad can pick up and display AIS targets. I'll let you know how it turns out when it arrives next week. I tried to order a new iPad Pro but it's not available yet and the delay, if you put yourself on a waitlist, is one to two weeks. That's too long for getting the shipment to Titusville. I'll get it when I arrived home, two weeks off.

We are now in our fall home for the next two weeks. We will rent a car and return north for the holidays to return in January for the trip to Key West. We are looking forward to both the holidays up north and the trip to Key West. Time for some fun.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Daytona at Bethune Park - at anchor

The Memorial Bridge in Daytona. A new high rise!
We had 47 Nm to go so we left earlier than usual for us, around 8:00 am. Our one challenge for the day was getting through Matanzas which has a history of shoaling. It was dredged last year but it's gradually getting shallower. We made it through today at low tide and saw a minimum of 7.1 MLW. You just followed the buoys and you were fine.

The rest of the trip was uneventful although you had to pay attention to the chart since there were a few more shallow spots that followed. Everything was captured in the track I uploaded. Once again the winds were mostly light and it was a pleasant trip south.

Hoolie's beach is just to the right of the sailboat
We are now anchored in Bethune Park in Daytona. It's a large anchorage with plenty of room for everyone. We're anchored in 11 ft of water with Hoolie's beach nearby. The dinghy dock is still not repaired from hurricane Matthew but there's a sandy beach just to the south that's fine for landing a dinghy.

We are now staged for Titusville for arrival in the early afternoon, before the predicted storms. We have a car rented for the weekend so we'll provision and see the sights. We are looking forward to a couple of weeks in one spot. Hoolie's looking forward to his dog park jaunts.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

St Augustine - at a dock

Sunrise at the Jacksonville free docks, we're still the only boat there
We started the day off with a  beautiful sunrise! I must have taken a dozen photos but only chose one to show in the blog. It was another perfect day for traveling with flat water and very little wind. Unfortunately, the perfect day was not to be. After crossing the St Johns River just after leaving the Jacksonville free docks, I saw completely different buoyage than I was used to. The channel was on the right going south and not on the left as it was in the past. I entered hesitantly and that was a mistake. I was paying great attention to the buoys and not enough attention to the depth sounder. We came to a sudden halt in what SonarChart said was 10 ft of water at MLW but I found 4.5 ft! I had cut the green buoys too closely. To pass in deep water, you had to favor the red side through the first three red buoys. For that reason, there's no track uploaded tonight until I can edit it to show a passage free of shallow water. It reinforces my motto, "I make all the mistakes first so you don't have to!"

There's the pesky piling that's barely above water G23
in Pablo Creek
So beware of the entrance to Pablo Creek after crossing the St Johns River going south. The buoys placements will not match your charts and don't cut the greens. SonarChart will help you find the deep water here. We backed off and by looking at SonarChart, continued onward to deeper water and back to the ICW.

One of Ann's favorite places to shop in St Augustine, the table cloth shop
In addition to that piece of trouble, there was an old post barely showing above water opposite G23 in the channel. Go slow to see it. Otherwise, everything was fine. We're at a dock in the St Augustine Marina for the night. We will take off for Daytona in the morning and then it's on to Titusville on 11/2!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Jacksonville - at their free dock on Sisters Creek

We passed the naval base as a submarine was coming in!
The night at Jekyll was dead calm as usual. We had three boats in the anchorage and, for a change, we were the first to leave. There were buoy changes in St Andrews Sound that I haven't sorted out yet but I didn't care since I had the waypoints I've used for the past five years, I just followed them for 9.5 MLW.

We waved, they waved
The Sound was flat as a Mill Pond, the calmest I've ever seen and we even had the tide behind us as we rounded the cut through St Andrews Sound and headed to Fernandina. We had a large powerboat passed us on Cumberland River but came to an abrupt halt by the 90 degree turn by the R60 and R60A buoys. It's where there used to be a  phantom island that is no longer on the charts. You have to stand off the reds and he didn't. He turned and followed me through the channel after that for 15 to 20 MLW.

We are the only boat at the free docks
We went through a ton of shallow water today and all was okay for getting through. If you go, do yourself a favor and load my track for the passage, it will make things much easier. I'll update Facebook and Waterway Guide with the details in a few days.

But we do have friends around
The weather has turned warm again and it's so nice traveling with full sun in the cockpit enclosure. We are due for a repeat tomorrow and the next day but Friday, when we're due to take our last leg to Titusville, has a forecast of rain. We will see if we can duck the rain and make it early into Titusville. Also of note, we had read of giant mosquitos in North Carolina (never saw them) and lots and lots of insects from the flooding (didn't see them either). All of our favorite marinas and anchorages were just fine, no problems. The only delay was in waiting for the Socastee Bridge to reopen but that happened before we got down that far anyway. So really, the hurricanes didn't affect our trip other than a week delay before we could leave New York. There's still a bunch of boaters still holed up in northern harbors waiting for a window to go down the New Jersey coast. However, we're in Florida now and all is good.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jekyll Island - at anchor

No alligators under this tree!
We went through all the trouble spots with high tide today, the only way to go! That included Little Mud River and Jekyll but there were other, less known shallow spots too. I'll cover all of them in my Facebook page later on.

Today we enjoyed just perfect weather with sunshine and warm breezes. We're sitting in the Jekyll anchorage with very little wind, it's like being on land. It's an easy dink over to the floating dinghy dock on shore which is public. There are only two other boats in the anchorage and there's room for a couple more. This place used to be deserted since the NOAA charts show no water here when there was actually 8 to 12 ft at low tide. I made the first few entries on Active Captain and now it always has a few boats.

We like nice sunsets!
I took Hoolie ashore and was told to watch out for alligators since there's a freshwater pond on the other side of the docks. I didn't see any but I did feel a lot of no see'ums. We have screens on Fleetwing that will stop no see'ums. We bought them to screen out pollen for Ann's allergies but also stop the smallest of insects.

We are headed for the Jacksonville free docks on Tuesday. There's no electricity but then it's free.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Crescent River - at anchor

Just a chaotic shore at Kilkenny  
It was a quiet night at Kilkenny Marina. It's out in the boonies for sure and we're told it used to be a plantation. We didn't have far to go so we loitered around until 10:00 to push off. We also didn't have any shallow water today but that will change with our Monday cruise with Mud River and Jekyll. However, we will have a rising tide at both locations so we are in good shape.

Ann had time to bake an Apple pie today!!
We arrived at Crescent near low tide and taking Hoolie ashore was an adventure in mud. We've never hit it at low tide and we were used to the sandy beach nearby - but it's mud at low tide. So I washed the mud off the dinghy, the mud off Hoolie, the mud off everything he touched, etc. His favorite thing is to jump on our bed and "dry off", but not tonight!

A quiet night
The winds have calmed down and the temperatures are rising. It suits us fine and we're still on schedule for Titusville 11/2. We'll shove off around 9:00 on Monday to allow time for the tide to build in at Mud River and Jekyll. We could probably get through at low with our 4' 9" keel but who needs the stress?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Kilkenny Marina - at a dock

Trucks are very popular in Georgia!
We made it through all the shallow spots with no problems. Of course, we had a little help from a 4 ft tide! Still, everything was easy except for Hell Gate which was in the 3.4 MLW range at one spot. You really do need some tide for Hell Gate. The other trouble spots were easy (Fields Cut, Elba Cut) you just had to know the route.

We said our goodbyes this morning at Windmill Harbour Marina. What a great place to visit. Great people, great facilities and it has 360 protection. They even have an outstanding dining area in the clubhouse. I would higher recommend a dinner there if you ever drop by.

This used to be a plantation. Notice the long horizontal limbs of the Live Oaks. They
are prized for their high strength and were used in many of the wooden fighting ships.
The northeast is getting clobbered and we didn't have the best of days. The sun never came out to warm the cockpit and the wind steadily increased to the 20 kt range as the afternoon worn on. I even had to change into long pants, heavens! I came south to get warm, not to wear sweatshirts and jeans.

We're at Kilkenny Marina now which is just after Hell Gate, a convenient stop along the ICW. On Sunday we will aim for the Crescent River anchorage, then Jekyll Island, and Jacksonville on Tuesday at the free docks on Sisters Creek. Hopefull, there will be room for one more boat!