Friday, April 16, 2021

St Augustine - at a dock


We arrive in St Augustine! Looks pretty full. 

Heading north to St Augustine, the only area of concern was Ft Matanzas but by favoring the shore a little more than last year, we found 10 MLLW. I will be editing the Bob423 Savannah to Titusville long track to follow the little deeper water closer to shore through there. Everything else was pretty routine. 

Remember the large restaurant just south of the docks, it is no more.

We had a forecast of rain coming in the afternoon and with a foul tide, we weren't sure we could make St Augustine before the rains fell. However, we just made it in time. The forecast is for more of the same for the next five days! With that, we decided to stay put until Wednesday and use the time to explore St Augustine which we missed on the way down due to the pandemic. 

I just had waterproofed the bimini, just in time - look at the beading!

Ann wants to shop at the embroidery store which has some fabulous runners for tables. It's a nice place to just walk around - provided there are gaps in the predicted rain for the next five days! 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Bethune Park in Daytona - At anchor


Two dinghy docks!

It was a nice day to travel with full sun and warm winds. We passed through the two shallow areas at Ponce de Leon with no problems. The first one, by R18, had 7.8 MLLW and the second shallow area by R2 showed 7.6 MLLW, just follow the bob423 track for good water. 

Hoolie does enjoy his dinghy rides!

There are several places where the ICW turns are not obvious to those not familiar with the passage. At Ponce de Leon we had a powerboat pass us and headed north by R18 as if to go out the Ponce de Leon inlet. We proceeded to take a sharp turn to port to pass R18 and continue on the ICW. 

Pretty soon, we looked back and saw the powerboat slow down, turn around, and then proceeded to make the turn by R18. They never did speed up to pass us a second time. I see where that turn could confuse some people since there are red and green buoys heading straight too as if that was the ICW. If you don't know you're supposed to turn to port, you would just proceed straight ahead. 

Bethune Park has a very good and sturdy launching dock that's also good for dinghies. I took advantage of the docks for Hoolie relief - he enjoyed himself too. The anchorage was more crowded than I remember in the past but the place is so large that there's plenty of room for many more boats. We anchored in 10 feet of water and the anchor grabbed immediately. Judging from past experience, the anchor and chain will be very muddy in the morning - good work for our washdown pump. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Titusville - Alligator and flowers


Right off "A" dock, where we are at

Florida is famous for alligators and flowers. We saw both today. The alligator was in the marina between dock A and shore. He wasn't doing very much, just lazing along. He stayed in the marina all afternoon, not moving very much at all. There was another, smaller alligator nearby but the bigger one chased him away. I don't think the divers want to go in the water anytime soon. 

Just a tree in someone's backyard

We went to the produce store and in the backyard was this beautiful tree covered in blue flowers. I've never seen anything like it, not even in Key West. I have no idea what it's called but it was stunning - just a tree in somebody's backyard. 

A closeup of one of the flower clusters

On our walk through Sand Point Park, there are plantings all around. This one in particular is in the photo and again, no idea of the name but it was likewise stunning. It's nice to just walk around and see such beautiful plants - not so much the alligator. 

Just a solitary planning in the parking lot. What is it?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Titusville - In celebration of our stay in Titusville - a night out at Shilos


Here's to a happy time in Titusville!

Shilos is an experience in overeating. The helpings are huge and it's a very popular restaurant in Titusville. For the most part, it's pretty good. We had the seafood dinner. The shrimp were the best part of the dish and the fish was not bad. The french fried and onion rings are very good. However, when you've had full belly clams, the clam strips served in Shilos and all restaurants south of Branford, Connecticut bear no resemblance to the real thing. 

Nevertheless, we celebrated our stay in Titusville. We received our vaccine shots earlier than we would have in New York and the weather was warmer. We enjoyed the morning walks and runs in the warm weather and the other long term residences of the dock were fun to be around. Hoolie enjoyed the dog park, he could just run and run to his heart's content, a big thing for Hoolie. 

Wednesday will be a big day of last minute things to do. We'll get the last of the groceries and a few odds and ends from CVS. I'll top off the water tank. Today I applied waterproofing to the bimini for the first time in several years. There's some rain coming and we want a dry cockpit. It will feel a little strange moving again after so many months at a dock but it's time to head north. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Titusville - After the storm


No room at the inn

We are starting to get into the summer thunderstorms, time to head north! It rained all day long on Monday. The dinghy is full and needs attention as does the bimini - it needs waterproofing. I have the treatment, it just has to be applied, a task for Tuesday. 

The marina outdoor meeting area is at the left, open air with grills

The sky is a deep blue, the winds are light and the air is warm. It's a nice after-the-storm day. Tuesday night I'll be my all-time-date out for one last dinner at Shilos. We'll have wine, food and discuss the meaning of life. Being in our 70s, we have all the answers (of course), but no one wants to listen?!

In the meantime, Titusville Marina is doing well as you can see from the photo. I think all the marinas in Florida were just about full for the winter. I heard that it's almost impossible to get a long-term slip anywhere south of Jacksonville. A lot of people are retiring to boats!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Titusville - Red Sky at Morning, Sailors Take Warning

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning

 Awoke early this morning a took a look outside and found a glorious sunrise. I grabbed the camera and took a couple of photos. After the exhilaration of a beautiful sunrise, the realization set in on what it meant. The old saying goes, "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning", meaning bad weather on the way. 

The adage proved to be true!

Well, we certainly proved that adage to be correct. We had severe thunderstorms predicted from 8:00 am through 3:00 pm, all day long. There were a couple of small gaps which I used to take Hoolie out but otherwise, it was solid rain and thunder. The dinghy is full of water, a job for Monday to empty it one more time. 

At any rate, it was a nice sunrise but the rest of the day was kaput. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Titusville - Storms coming through


Storms rolling through

Storms are coming through tonight. It's been very dry for the last several weeks so we're due for some rain. We're looking to get that out of the way before we start our trip north on Thursday. We had a pigeon stop by for a drink out of our dinghy which had some rainwater in the bottom. It was apparently the only place for freshwater refreshment for the pigeon. I thought he was going to mess in the dinghy so I greatly discouraged the bird but he was not to be put off - he was thirsty! 

And, there are more to come!

I eventually gave up, it was just one bird, but later on, I emptied the dinghy of any rainwater. The pigeon still came back but had no joy. Meanwhile, the wind blows and the storms roll through. At least there's no lightning, just wind and some rain. 

We're hoping for good weather for the trip north but no weather forecast is good beyond three days per my experience along the ICW. You just can't plan beyond that window so you go with the flow - of weather.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Titusville - Pastel Day

Playalinda - Serenity

 I have the great good fortune to be married to an artist. Our house is full of Ann's paintings, all of which I love to admire. She started out in watercolors but over the last few years has transitioned to pastels. The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise in that it has given Ann even more time to paint. 

She has taken to the online courses that have blossomed due to the shut-in nature of the pandemic. Artists from all over the world have taken to the internet more than at any time in the past to teach the finer techniques of painting in all media types. Ann has subscribed to several sites which she found helpful. 

Shrimp boat at B&B's Seafood - a place you've got to visit at least once

The first painting in today's group is of the beach at Playalinda. The original painting is intriguingly serene. The color of the sand is just right, clouds are just right, the water likewise. The photo does not do it justice, the gradations of shadings are lost in the photo. Every time I've passed by the painting, I've just stood and took in the scene. Paintings are personal, some touch you and some do not. 

The second example is more traditional but shows the progression of Ann as an artist. There's a lot going on in the painting that may not be apparent. The composition is carefully thought out, the reflection of the clouds in the water with the golden color (in the original, the photo looks more yellow), the boat is balanced by the house in the distance on the right, and so on - and more. All I have to do is just admire them, Ann does all the work in giving them life. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Titusville - Our weekly Black Point Drive - we see an eagle!


He's there in the middle - just looking out

We like to go during the week to the Merritt Wildlife Refuge since there are less crowds then. However, it's been very dry and all the ponds on the left side of the road are just bare ground. No water = no birds. Still, we pressed on, after all it's a one way drive. 

Here's look at you!

Even Alligator Alley was unpopulated with its namesake. We were ready to write off the drive due to the dry conditions when we saw a familiar bird high in a nearby tree, it was an eagle! They are magnificent creatures. The white head is unmistakable. He was just sitting high in a tree, not moving and paying us no attention at all. With that we got our cameras out and took about a dozen photos. There were others stopped there too doing the same thing. 

As we moved on, he was still just sitting there surveying his domain, king of the forest from his throne. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Titusville - SpaceX launches more Starlink satellites.


Going up!

Today we had a relatively rare daylight launch from Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX put up another 60 satellites for their Starlink constellation. This is only the first step to complete the 1440 satellites needed for step one. Eventually, Starlink will have over 41,000 satellites and it will serve the entire world. 

Into space once again! Almost routine

The service is now in beta stage and costs $500 for the antenna and $100/month for the service. The present speeds are around 150 Mbps but it's due to double in speed by the end of the year. The big attraction is that it's available anywhere in the world, a boon for those out in the boonies. Plus, it's always nice to have a little competition for the local providers. 

Meanwhile, it's a great attraction for the Kennedy Space Center with so many launches. Each launch only puts up 60 satellites so there's a lot of launches. Musk is financing all this on spec - on the belief that there will be demand for the service worldwide. I think it's a good bet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Titusville - The dinghy is scraped and the motor works!


This is such a great idea! Water, water everywhere - great for a hot day. 
Why don't all parks have this? (all for free too)

One year we left Fleetwing in Titusville and went north for several months during the holidays. When we returned, we found that the outboard would not start. The problem we eventually traced to a lack of gasoline to the carburetor. That was caused by a stuck needle valve which in turn was caused by the leftover gas evaporating over the several months and leaving varnish-like deposits on the small needle valve. The coating was very sticky and the needle valve would not open. $200 later in St Augustine, the outboard was cleaned and the problem fixed. 

Fishing in the harbor - the birds are all around us

However, I did not learn my lesson that time and required a second installment a year later. I had left the outboard mounted on the back of Fleetwing over the summer in Deltaville. The full sun hit it every day of the summer and baked out any gasoline left in the motor. Once again the needle valves were glued shut. $370 later at Zimmerman's, that problem was fixed again. 

Finally, I learn my lesson and now when I leave the outboard for an extended period of time (a month or more), I let it idle on the back of the dinghy without the fuel line plugged in until it quits, having exhausted the motor of all gasoline. 

This morning, I plugged in the gas, squeezed the blub, and the motor came to life on the first pull, great! This was after I paddled the dinghy over to the boat ramp, pulled it up on the dock, flipped it, and proceeded to scrape the bottom of barnacles of which there were a few. That was followed by a cruise around the marina in the dinghy to be sure the motor was working okay, it was.

With all that done, we are ready to head north with the exception of one more thing- bottom scraping of Fleetwing which is due on Wednesday. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Titusville - Leaning tree and Hoolie with stairs


Guess which direction the winds come from?

We had visitors on Fleetwing for wine at 5:00, Jeffrey and Cathy Guttenberger. All of us had the vaccines so we chatted in the cockpit for over an hour. They are headed north and will pass by our home port at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club sometime in June - time for another visit! With vaccinated boaters become more prevalent, it's nice to once again have cockpit wine with new friends.

We have a once-a-day work item for the next week to get Fleetwing ready for the trip north. Today it was a boat wash-down and the scheduling of a bottom cleaning. The weather seems to be settling down so we're looking forward to getting started.

Hoolie has not been coming down the companionway willingly at night. We're not sure what the problem is, maybe getting arthritic? We've been saving an ice cream dish which he loves to clean out as an enticement to come down the stairs. So far that has worked but he never used to have this problem. Sure, he's 12 years old - but he shows no other signs of problems. We'll wait and see what develops.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Titusville - Easter Dinner on Fleetwing


Easter Sunday dinner on Fleetwing

We had our Easter dinner on Fleetwing this year. We normally have ham for Easter but with only the two of us, we got a half ham cut into two pieces - one of which we had today. Ann made deviled eggs, one of my favorites for Easter, along with candied yams and green beans. Hoolie mostly sat very near the table hoping for something to spill (nothing did, oh rats!)

A very small ham, but good

One of the problems with serving ham is you always have leftovers, a lot of leftovers. We finished barely 1/2 of one of the two quarters we bought. We have lots left over. There will be ham and eggs for breakfast, ham sandwiches, ham salad, etc. We'll find a use for the ham no doubt. 

What Easter Sunday dinner would be 
complete without deviled eggs??

Next week is the final stretch before we leave for points north. The major to do is getting the bottom scrubbed and the prop cleaned. After that, we could leave any time. 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Titusville - We head west to the St Johns River


Typical boat ramp in Florida - that's the St Johns River - kind of narrow this far south

We decided to just head west from Titusville to see what we found. We had no destination in mind and no map to follow except just heading west. First off we had to detour around a huge lake that we didn't know existed, South Lake. There were actually a few hills along the way, a rarity in Florida. 

The predominant tree is still the palm

The countryside changed from just palm trees to a mixture of hardwoods and shrubs. Striaght as an arrow, we headed west and eventually ran into the St Johns River which roughly runs north/south. It's very shallow but is the home to numerous alligators. We found C.S. Lee Park and boat ramp and explored the area. These areas are not terribly scenic, they serve to provide water access to residents - and home to alligators - of which we saw none today. 

We had wanted a respite from the high winds on the boat and a trip out west was perfect. This evening, the winds have finally died off and it's like being on land. Monday is the start of a push to get everything ready for the trip north in Fleetwing in 1 and 1/2 weeks. In North Carolina, the lows were in the upper 20s, that's too cold for a trip on a boat. We're hoping everything warms up for us. We've had our shots so we wanted to enjoy the trip home by getting off the boat and seeing the sights. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Titusville - Tour through the Bio Lab Road


Making a stand against the winds

Another, lesser-known road through the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is the Bio Lab Road. It borders the Mosquito Lagoon on the backside of Playalinda Beach. Like the Black Point Drive, it is also a toll road for those without a senior pass. 

How does he ever get anything down that neck?

It goes through the wilds of the park, more so than Black Point Drive, but in the high winds today (35 kt gusts) it was hard to judge the abundance of wildlife. I think most of the birds were hunkered down out of trhe wind! Still, we saw an alligator and a bird with an incredibly long, thin neck. It's hard to understand how they can eat anything and get it down between its mouth and belly. 

The everpresent alligators

The winds are due to howl for another 24 hours before abating to less than 20 kts. In the wintertime in Florida, it may be warmer but the winds do come and let themselves be felt. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Titusville - Where would we be without Zoom


Mr Turtle - Hoolie really wanted to play!

On our trip a few days ago to Smyrna Dunes Park, we came to one place where Hoolie went wild! Crawling across the path ahead was a turtle. It was all we could do to keep Hoolie from charging forward. I'm not sure what he would have done with the turtle, I think he just wanted to plan - but turtles bite pretty well. We got him past the temptation without further incident aside from lunging. 

Everybody knows about Zoom - a lifeline for us on a boat

We are still Zooming twice a week. We have become Zoom experts, the entire family. Our Zoom meetings include family from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Florida (us). It has been a boon for those of us that can't get together. Such an age of connectivity we now have. Aside from that, I'm connected with two websites I own, one with 11,000 members on the ICW and another one with 1000 members on the Beneteau 423 sailboat. Throw in remote work I do for Waterway Guide, it's a web extending in all directions, literally all over the world - all from our little sailboat. What an age.

The temperature has dropped, the winds have piped up - winter has not yet released its grip on us. We'll wait for 4/15 before heading north. Hopefully by then, things will warm up and settle down.