Sunday, November 17, 2019

Titusville - Last day and end of blog until January 6

I go by this place every time I go for donuts, I've got to try it out sometime!;
Price seems reasonable
The time as come to head north. It's our annual northward migration for the holidays. We do enjoy being with family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. We'll see a little snow, just enough to remind us of why we like to head south for the winter although we're seeing a little of winter down here in Titusville! It's only in the 50s and that's cold for this time of the year.

The Heron has taken to fishing at night!
We don't pick up the car until Monday morning and then it's a race to get it loaded, the boat locked up, and then heading north on I95. We are headed for Deltaville, Virginia, but we won't get there until Tuesday afternoon. We left our car there in October so we will turn in the rental and take our own car back to New York - and the cold weather (the real cold weather, not just the 50s).

Poor Fleetwing, all alone for the next month or so
We will return to Titusville in January with Rowan in tow for the trip down to Key West. It will be the first trip for Rowan with just us. Ann will do most of the homeschooling but I'll probably be called upon for the math. Hopefully, there will be a rocket launch, Rowan is a great fan of space and i hope there will be a launch for him to see.

So until January, it's bye for now. I hope you've enjoyed the blog so far. I will pick it up again in January and you can follow us to Key West. Part of Rowan's duties on the boat will be to write his own intro to the blog every night so you can see his take on boat living.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Titusville - It's cold here...

A Great Blue Heron, sitting on a pole, enduring the cold, not happy
Well, it's cold compared to what we're used to, not compared to up north. After all, it's 54 right now! We're used to temperatures in the 70s, not this. Our blood has thinned out and to make matters worse, we're headed north on Monday! Sunday will be our last day on Fleetwing so we will secure her for the duration of our absence. We had good luck in Deltaville with leaving a dehumidifier running set at 65% humidity so we will do the same thing in Titusville. In Deltaville, the dehumidifier prevented any formation of mildew and hopefully, we will have the same result in Titusville.

He look even less happy here
The wildlife around here did not look happy with the sudden drop in temperatures. Our local blue heron was all hunched up to conserve body heat. On Fleetwing, we just run the electric heaters to keep the cabin nice and toasty.

We will empty the freezer and turn it off. We learned our lesson on that several years ago when we left the freezer running and then suffered a power outage. Everything in the freezer spoiled and oh that stink, wow. It took months and many washings to get rid of the odor. Never again.

We have a two day drip ahead of us to Deltaville and then it's a one day hop to home - to the frozen north for the holidays.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Titusville - the marina next door

Jeff Belford of Boaters Edge will make sure you get satisfaction
Westland Marina and Boatyard is next door to the Titusville Marina. They are also the home of Boater's Edge which provides service on marine engines. Most recently, I had them replace my aft oil seal on my Volvo diesel along with the dampener. Since they are right next door, the mechanic just walked over to my slip, very convenient. They are very reasonable and will guarantee customer satisfaction. They have serviced my diesel three times over the past two years and I've been very happy with their service.

In case you need a haulout, Westland has one!
The boatyard here has a travel lift which comes in handy if you need your boat hauled. I used it once when I needed the prop looked at for damage. It turned out it was fine but it was nice to know it was okay. The travel lift was big enough that I didn't have to remove any canvass on my 42 ft Beneteau sailboat.

Westland has a nice boaters' lounge too
We are just counting the days until we go north for the holidays. It's nice and warm down here with temperatures in the 70's during the day with not much wind, although that may change over the weekend. We have a few odds and ends to do on Saturday but on Sunday, it's a major packing day. I'll pick up the rental Monday morning. We'll load it up and move out as soon as possible, up to cold weather!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Titusville - High winds coming

Looks nice and secure, snuggled against the docks
As much as I like Titusville Marina, it does have an Achilles Heel - it's open to an east wind. There's a good amount of fetch from across the Indian River and the waves will roll right into the marina when the wind is right. Some docks are better than others such as "A" dock, followed by "B" dock with 'C" dock being the worst. "D" dock is a little better. The docks are fixed, which is fine since there is no tide here but you do have to be careful in setting your fenders. If at all possible, you would like a dock with the finger on the east side of your boat so an east will push you away from the dock. However, those docks are usually the first ones to go.

However, watch out for waves coming through the harbor entrance with an east wind
We are secure here on "A" dock and the slip tucked up on the end behind two huge powerboats. They shield us from the worst of the winds and waves and by being on "A" dock, we are at a good angle to the opening to the harbor, an east wind is away from us, not into us. It is still a very good idea to have one of these inflatable fenders. They are worth their weight in gold when the wind pipes up and you find yourself too close to a dock you cannot leave. I carry one on board for high wind days or when I leave Fleetwing for an extended period of time, you can never be too safe. Uninflated, it tucks away nicely in a cockpit locker.

Why the concern about high winds? Well, there's a front due here on Saturday and Sunday with winds predicted in the 30 kt range with higher gusts, oh well, more wind...

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Titusville - preparing for our absence

Note the aft, port lines
All was calm last night until around 10:00 when all of a sudden, a 30 kts wind came out of nowhere. It was part of a cold front from the north that finally reached Florida last night. We seemed to have had a lot of wind this fall, more so than I remember in the past.

This guy will be doing all the heavy lifting while we're up north
In leaving your boat to the elements, you want to be sure it will be safe while you're away. That's easy to say but harder to ensure. The first step is to have your boat tied off so it doesn't touch anything. The best safety margin is space between you and anything hard that boat might rub up against. Your friend in these situations are rubber snubbers.  They absorb the shock of a boat surging against wind without a lot of line played out. It's just right for Fleetwing in a narrow slip. You don't get a jerk as the line comes up taut since it has rubber to ease the strain.

All this is good in theory but we're hoping for the best. You never know what Mother Nature is planning for entertainment for your boat while you're away. Hopefully, she will play nice.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Titusville - Engine day

An Osprey surveying his domain - sailboat spreaders make such good perches!
First, it was the Mercury outboard. I needed to drain the carburetor of the last bit of gasoline. I didn't do that in Deltaville and found that the outboard would not start, it was clogged with old fuel that had evaporated, leaving deposits that would not clean up without disassembly of the fuel line. Having learned my lesson (I think) I ran the outboard dry of fuel while idling on the dinghy and then unscrewed the carburetor bowl screw to completely dry out the motor. Hopefully, that will work. I will know in January.

Next on the list of tasks was changing the oil on the main diesel, the Volvo D2-55. I've done that many times so it's now routine but still time consuming. The manual says to change the oil every 300 hours but I prefer to do that every 100 to 150 hours instead, just to be on the safe side. When we return to Fleetwing in January, we'll have Rowan in tow so I wanted all boat chores done now.

I never tire of sunset photos - especially off the aft of Fleetwing while sipping wine
The weather is predicted to turn cooler on Wednesday with a high of not even 70. That sounds like a good teak day, a chore for tomorrow. Work is never done on a boat!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Titusville - Space X Launch!

A Space X launch of 60 internet satellite was today's event. It was a morning launch at 10:00 am and so I walked to the 65 ft high bridge over the ICW for a good view. It turned out that everyone else had the same idea but there was still plenty of room. The rocket lifted on time and it was a great show. When all the satellites are in orbit, internet coverage will be worldwide. Hopefully, that will offer some competition to the local ISPs!

Up, up and away!
The rest of the day was not nearly as exciting, just the usual boat stuff of laundry and paying the bill for boat repairs. The dampener itself was $1000, such is boating, not cheap. It's just a heavy hunk of metal with some rubber on the edges to absorb starting and stopping the prop. With that repair along with the aft oil seal, we are good to go for Key West in January.

A back of the boat sunset
Next on the to-do list is getting the outboard ready for a two-month idle period, an oil change on the main engine, and a few other odds and ends. Next Monday is our leaving day.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Titusville - Black Point Drive, Playalinda Beach

It looks ordinary - but the donuts are extraordinary
We did see a few birds
For once we had a day without rain and high winds. It was a Sunday, so naturally, we started out with the best donuts on the ICW at "Donuts 4 U", rated at 4.8 stars out of 5 by customers. It doesn't look like much on the outside and the inside does not improve on expectations - but then you taste the donuts! We enjoy them.

Just a beautiful beach
With the beautiful day, we decided to try Black Point Drive once again but the birds were still not in evidence. I think they all went on strike. Well, how about the beach, we thought, Playalinda to be exact. It's out in the same general direction and the beach goes on forever. The waves were really crashing in from all the recent high winds. What I didn't expect was how close one of the NASA launch pads was to Playalinda. It would make a great watching site if they allowed the drive to remain open during a launch. I think they usually close the drive, though.

A NASA launch pad was really close - the three side towers are to protect the central launch
assembly from lightning strikes
This coming week will be a real workweek in getting the boat ready for our absence over the next two months. When we left the boat in Deltaville, we had a dehumidifier running and set at 65% humidity for then it cut in. With that, we had no mildew. We will try the same thing here in Titusville and hope for the same result.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Titusville - Paintings, Manatees, Wind

An example of single-point perspective
Ann continues to take Great Courses drawing lessons. As I mentioned before, they are free if you belong to a local library. They can be streamed to your TV via an iPhone, iPad, or even a Roku device. Her latest lesson involved the use of single-point perspective which is used on the watercolor above. I like her work in watercolor, very light and airy.

We are the third boat in, protected by two very large power boats, a good spot!
Last night the wind howled and we recorded a gust to 38.4 kts with a steady wind in the low 30s. We were secure as the third boat on "A" dock, as far away from the entrance you can get. Titusville has many good points but it is not well protected from an east wind. The entrance is wide open to the east and boats near the entrance will bounce a bit in winds greater than 15 kts. All the docks are secure enough, no problem there, you just have to be sure you are securely tied up if the wind pipes up.

Hoolie will not let a manatee get up on land!!
Hoolie did some manatee hunting today and found one by the walk. He made sure it stayed in the water! We counted three in all. Later that evening, we had Gordon and Eta over again. They are headed south on Sunday and will spend most of the winter in St Lucie.

The winds are predicted to final subside on Sunday and we'll try again to see if there is any wildlife on Black Point Drive on Merritt Island. Last week we saw nary a bird.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Titusville - Gordon and Eta arrive

A wonderful dinner with friends on a stormy night - what could be better!
The dampener arrived as scheduled before 10:30. It goes between the flywheel and the output shaft and it absorbs the shock of shifting in and out of gear. With a hundred-pound flywheel spinning and a heavy propeller to start up, there's a lot of shock to absorb. After 5000 hours of engine time, the rubber bumpers started to give way. You can't just buy the wear-out parts, you have to buy the complete unit, a $1000 investment, not counting labor. Our mechanic installed it today and reassembled the rest of the parts so now we are operational again and ready for our trip to Key West upon our return in January.

Gordon and Eta followed our tracks and finally arrived at Titusville this afternoon. We were invited over for drinks and dinner tonight and just now got back to Fleetwing at 9:30, rather late for us. The dinner was superb as usual and we all had a great time.

We have a car for the weekend again and will probably drive through Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge again sometime over the next two days. We saw very few birds on our last time through, perhaps more have arrived.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Titusville - Aft oil seal replaced

Our enthusiastic mechanic, the engine is once again apart in pieces in the aft cabin
Today was the day we had the rear oil seal replaced on the Volvo engine. The part only costs $200 but the labor takes 5 hours so the labor costs much more than the part. The mechanic that came over had never done it before but I had the instructions written by the previous mechanic for him to follow complete with photos of the stages of disassembly.

A peaceful evening
Everything was going smoothly until he removed the dampener. It's the connection between the engine and the prop shaft and is meant to absorb shocks as the transmission is engaged. The absorbing components are made of rubber and they wear out. Given the age of the engine, it was time for a replacement so the repair was stopped to the point where the dampener was to be reinstalled. I ordered a new one shipped overnight and it's supposed to arrive Friday morning. If so, he'll complete the installation on Friday afternoon.

It was hot again today but the forecast is for cooler weather over the next week. We still have a lot of stuff to get done before leaving for New York but we have next week for that. It's a busy time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Titusville - New running area and dog park

The most beautiful sight of all for a sailboater - a 65 ft high bridge!
Today was getting Fleetwing ready for replacing the aft oil seal. The Volvo D2-55 engine has a history of developing oil leaks at the aft shaft where it exits the engine. I've had it done before so I'm familiar with the process. It's a five-hour process to replace a $200 part so the labor is more than the oil seal. One of the advantages of being in the Titusville Marina is that we have a mechanic right next door at Westland Marina, Boater's Edge.  He'll start in at 9:00 and hopefully be done in five hours.

Anybody for a little exercise along the running trial?
Another thing we've enjoyed during our stay here is the excellent running area. It has just been repaved and they've added exercised equipment along the running path. I don't use the equipment but the running path is great. There are no seams to trip over, nice and smooth.

Well, throw your ball, already...
Of course we took Hoolie back to the dog park. It's a big deal for him to get out and run free. he just chases the tennis ball, that's all he's interested in - certainly not the other dogs. They only thing he wants to do is run after a ball. It's nice here now, the rains seemed to have passed and we have a calm night ahead.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Titusville - We take Hoolie to the dog park

I'm read, I'm ready.......  Well, throw it already...
We've come into a rainy period but it stopped this afternoon so we took the opportunity to let Hoolie have some exercise in the dog park next door to the marina. They have two fenced-in areas, one for dogs larger than 25 lbs and one for smaller dogs.

Every light post has an osprey nest on top.
Regardless of the dogs already there, all Hoolie wants to do is chase after a ball. So we enter and the first thing we look for is a stray tennis ball to throw. Hoolie perks up at that and runs with all his might after my toss. The other dogs invariably don't keep up. They will run perhaps a couple of times but then they fade out - while Hoolie is still going strong.

He's out of shape so we didn't run him too much. We were told that Brittanys need a lot of exercise and Hoolie runs hard when he has the chance but once back on Fleetwing, he settles down and naps. We think he's an ideal boat dog.

On Wednesday, I must get the boat ready for the mechanic's arrival on Thursday to replace the aft oil seal on the diesel. As we've cruised now for almost 10 years, we've accumulated a lot of stuff we really don't use but then, we might? It's so hard to get rid of excess baggage when you think that someway, somehow, you just might need that item you haven't used in 10 years... I've got to get all the stuff out of the way so the mechanic can work on the engine.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Titusville - the rains come

The photo doesn't do it justice
Ann is back to painting again and it's a joy to see her work around the boat. She sets up on the cockpit with all her pastels laid out and paints whatever inspires her. I like her work - and I'm not biased :)

We have a change of weather with lots of rain in the forecast. We were so lucky to have a good spell of weather to reach Titusville by November 1st. There's a whole bunch of boats still north of us that's not so lucky. Many of them had insurance that required them to stay north of Florida until November. We don't have that restriction so we came down early.

Groan, another walk in the rain... 
I took Hoolie out and we all got wet but at least we weren't in a dinghy. Still, wet is wet and we're now drying off inside the cabin with the A/C on to keep the humidity down so we can dry off. We've been busy as beavers even since we've arrived here so on Tuesday, we're just going to take it easy. One of the advantages of this marina is a mechanic next door in the adjacent marina. I'll take advantage of that to get the aft shaft seal replaced on Thursday. Then, I need to start getting the boat secure for our trip north for the holidays with extra lines and fenders. I wonder if it's cold up north?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Titusville - We visit Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge

The few birds there were, were still beautiful
When they were looking for a site to launch satellites from, they wanted a launch over water so not to endanger populated areas. Launching to the east was a requirement since the rotation of the Earth in that direction added to the rocket's velocity and allowed bigger payloads. Cape Canaveral was the natural choice and they bought all the land nearby. However, they did not need all the land for launching rockets and thus was born the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

I think he's drying his feathers
Whenever we're in Titusville, we always take a drive through Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. It's through the heart of the stopover point of birds headed north or south. Of course, this time of the year, they are headed south and it's usually full of migrating birds, but not today. I think the weather has been so warm that the birds are still up north. Perhaps that will change over the next few weeks. We will try again next weekend.

The yellow flowers were all over
Meanwhile, I need to talk to the mechanic next door about once again replacing the aft oil seal on my Volvo D2-55 diesel. It seems to go every 2000 hours. That will occupy me this coming week as we get ready to leave Fleetwing for two months while we return to New York for the holidays.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Titusville Marina - Now and then

Titusville in 2013 - where are the boats?
We've been leaving Fleetwing at Titusville for the holidays since 2013 and the place has changed a lot since we've been coming. The price of a month's dockage has gone up from $10.00/ft to $10.50/ft which is not too bad. The biggest change has been in the occupancy rate. "C" dock used to be empty but not more and there's no room anywhere in the marina. You have to make reservations months in advance if you want to stay for more than a few days. The photo at the top is the marina when we first started staying there, not a lot of business.

Titusville in 2019 - no room at the inn
Then I started publicizing the great rates and other attractions like a dog park next door and walking access to town. Management changed too. Titusville hired and outside marina manager and he's done great things in smoothing out the operation of the marina. The WiFi now works and the bathrooms and showers have been renovated. There's an air-conditioned captain's lounge now along with an LCD TV and in the next few months, new washers and dryers. 

All of the improvements along with the low price has attracted cruisers wanting to save a few bucks compared to higher-priced marinas farther south, especially if they are looking for a place to leave their boat for a few months. The only downside is that the entrance is open to the southeast where occasional strong winds enter, rocking boats on "C" and "B" docks. The docks are fixed since there are no tides and it's just a matter of securing your boat with adequate lines and fenders.

As I write this, we have 20 kt winds but we're fine here on "A" dock which is the best protected of all the docks in Titusville Marina. We feel secure in leaving Fleetwing with the extra lines we have in place and fenders positioned strategically. Meanwhile, we rented a car and after today's laundry and provisioning, we'll explore the Merritt Wildlife Refuge on Sunday - but only after donuts on Sunday morning from our favorite donut shop on the entire east coast!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Titusville - at a dock over the holidays

Hooie loves his  beach at Bethune Park in Daytona
It was a great day, we reached our dock for the holidays. When we first started out, the Titusville Marina was virtually empty. You had no trouble finding a dock. We found it to be the perfect place for a holiday layover. The price, at the time, was only $10/ft for a month's stay and it was a secure location, not directly on the coast and not subject to extreme tidal surges.

We are secure in our slip at Titusville Marina in a web of lines
So I started writing about it in my blog and extolling its virtues in my guidebooks. Well, lo and behold, it started to fill up. Now it's rather hard to find a slip, especially for an extended stay. What are the attractions? First, it's the price. At $10.50/ft for a month, it's the least expensive marina on the east coast. Furthermore, although they are fixed docks, they are massive and the tidal range is less than a foot at most. They have newly renovated heads and showers, three washers and three dryers, and a nearby fenced-in dog park. There's an Enterprise car rental nearby with $20/day weekend rates and plenty of places nearby to visit like the Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Add in free, high-speed WiFi that actually works and it's a real bargain. It's a great place to spend some time relaxing.

On Saturday, we'll provision at the local Walmart (there are Walmarts and then there are Walmarts, this one is an upper-tier one) and Ann wants to explore the new Hobby Lobby. Then we'll be off to see who's in town at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. It's a stopping over point for all manner of birds headed south. You never know what you'll see. It's always fun to see the local wildlife.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Bethune Park in Daytona - at anchor

Yeah! The dredge at Ft Matanzas - but don't stray too far from the dredge, I did and found only 6.5 MLLW
We had another fantastic day of good weather for cruising south. We've never experienced this warmth before. Usually, we occasionally run the genset for heat but on this trip, whenever we've turned on the genset, it's been to run the A/C! Tonight it was 95 in the cockpit but on came the genset to cool off the cabin which was up to 98F. It's now a comfortable 78 and we'll turn it off when we go to bed. The big weather change starts Friday with a high only in the '70s. That's more like the Florida we remember from past trips.

Dayton Beach Seabreeze Twin Bridges - tide was at 0.8 ft
Not going to make 65 ft!
We are at one of our favorite anchorages tonight. It has lots and lots of room in 10 ft of water and a nearby sandy beach for Hoolie next to a park. The charts for the area are wrong, especially SonarChart. They show shallow water but there's 10 ft with very little tide, less than a foot and the holding is excellent.

Tomorrow is a big day - we finally arrive in our home for the holidays - Titusville Marina. We will leave Fleetwing there and drive north for the holidays, returning the beginning of January. We missed Key West last year but our plans include a two month stay this year starting 1/28/2020. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

St Augustine - We visit the Lei's Linens

Lei's Linens - a great store!
Ann likes the poinsettia pattern
One place we never miss while in St Augustine is Lei's Linens. She does her own embroidery work on fine linens for table cloths or runners. They are very high quality and Ann always stops by. The products are amazing in the detail of the work with the designs being formed by different colored threads, no prints here. Ann bought a runner for the center of the table for Christmas.

We also stop by the Spanish bakery for fresh bread every time we're in town
Ann is about 1/2 way through an amazing course on How to Draw by Great Courses.  It's taught by a professor at the University of Washington. in Seattle. Normally, the Great Courses cost $50 to $90 each for a complete set for one subject but what is little known is that most libraries offer them for free as part of your library membership. They can then be streamed with Kanopy, an app for both Apple and Android devices.

The local art center was closed but the Bird of Paradise was in full bloom
We are in St Augustine with OnSpotWiFi and we can stream the course with no problem. Ann watched one episode today. If you have unlimited data, via Verizon for example, you can stream it at anchor, we've done it many times and display the course on our 32 inch LCD TV via an HDMI cable. They also have thousands of free movies too for streaming, it's a great bargain - and it's all free by signing in with your library card. You ought to ask your home library if they support Kamopy, we haven't found a local library yet than doesn't support the service.

Ann was out taking pictures this afternoon as part of her "homework" from the course in how to better draw perspectives. Meanwhile, we are still in a heatwave that will last one more day until it turns cooler on Friday. We will leave Thursday morning for our usual Bethune Park anchorage in Daytona. Despite the four day delay at the Alligator River Marina due to the bridge problem, we will still reach Titusville as we planned on November 1st. We both look forward to relaxing a bit form the constant traveling.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

St Augustine - at a dock

The Bridge of Lions at St Augustine ws operational but only with one leaf
It was another beautiful day on the ICW. We backed out of the dock at Sisters Creek against a pretty good current but Fleetwing backs well so we had no problem. With temperatures in the 80's, we even left the dodger window open. We've never seen such heat on any previous trip south. The warm weather is due to end on Friday which is predicted to have a high of only 71.

Did someone mention Christmas?
We want to explore St Augustine on Wednesday and just have a layover day. We've been pushing given the good weather. On our present schedule, we are still due to arrive as planned, November 1st - even with our four-day delay due to the Alligator River swing bridge.