Monday, June 30, 2014

June 29, 2014 Boater stories-Charleston

We spent the day getting things ready to leave on Monday, but also watching the weather forecasts for the tropical storm that is forming off the east coast. 

On Friday, we met another couple in the Marina, Tom and Bev.  Their home port on their boat was Bayfield, Wisconsin.  And since we have been there with our trailer-able Catalina 25, we were instant friends.  We found out that they just returned to the US after sailing around the world for 23 years!!!  So we asked if they would join us sometime before Monday, when we were scheduled to leave, to share some of their stories.  So today, they came over to our boat for happy hour.  We invited Gary, too. 

What a fun couple!  Tom was able to work occasionally as a machinist, so that helped support them over the years.  It also allowed them to stay in places for longer stretches of time.  Actually, Bev said she worked occasionally, too. We picked their brains about all kinds of things.  They left Bayfield, WI, went thru the Great Lakes, part way down the east coast.  Then they took off towards Bermuda and headed south to the US Virgin Islands, bypassing the Bahamas all together.  Then down the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and onward.  It was interesting to listen to them go through the technology changes over the last 23 years.  Tom remembers the first time he approached a couple boats with his bag of paperback books to swap and found out they were using Kindles, which they hadn't heard of. 

Sunday night, Gary talked us into going to another local place (he lived here for 5 years in early 2000’s).  Wild Wings has a great local band on Sunday nights.  We ordered a sample platter of their chicken wings about 8:30 and found out the band didn’t start until 11:00!  So after eating, we checked the weather again.  We were debating on whether we would leave in the morning or not because of the tropical storm. 

When the waitress asked us if we wanted anything else, we said we were checking the weather first.  She sweetly offered us her umbrella if it started to rain before we left.  We chuckled because it didn't enter her mind that we were checking off shore weather.

We ended up deciding not to leave in the morning.  We stayed to hear a few songs-great band playing 70’s music like we used to listen to when we were dating.  But we just couldn’t make another late night.   And by the way, we didn't go out for Bloody Mary's this morning. 

June 27-28, 2014 Charleston continues

Since we have no schedule or place we HAVE to be, the weather is the major influence on when and where we go.  We want to “go on the outside” when we leave here instead of the ICW, so we decided to wait out the weekend squalls that were predicted.  So today, I took advantage of our extra, unplanned time, and found someone who could get me in for a massage.  Those stubborn muscles still remember that I sat in a dental chair for over 25 years. 

Dave’s indulgence has been watching the World Cup.  He’s been watching the games on the computer, since we have an internet connection in the marina.  I am making him explain to me how he is determining that the weather is unfavorable for us to leave.  Partly so I can learn and help with that decision, and partly to be sure we’re not staying just so he can watch the World Cup. 

On Friday evening, we had friends from Marathon stop over for happy hour (Miami and Shelly).  They left Marathon a week after we did and caught up with us here.  They are going to continue going north on the ICW, since they only have a 4 foot draft, ours is 5 foot.  Plus they have a destination with a time element attached.  Of course, Miami had to give Dave a hard time about not leaving.

That evening, we went back to our favorite Italian/people watching restaurant.  Hard to try something new when we were so impressed with this place (and love the leftovers). 

On Saturday, I decided to spend the afternoon at the Charleston Museum.  They have the oldest museum in the US.  The citizens started the museum in the 1730’s.  They wanted to preserve the culture of Europe in this new civilization.  After the museum, I took the trolly to church at 5:30 and got caught in a downpour after church.  The church bulletin didn’t quite make it to the trolly stop as an umbrella.  There was a beautiful rainbow over the harbor when I returned to the boat. 

Dave’s day was spent working on the water system again.  We have 2 water tanks.  We noticed when we switched to the aft tank, the pump worked much better.  So Dave decided to put in a shut off valve for the water maker system, which is connected to our forward water tank.  Now the pump is working great again.  We have a new water pump, but our Marathon friend recommended rebuilding the pump.  So Dave still plans to do that when we are going to be somewhere where he can have a kit sent to us. 

Dave also put a 12 volt outlet in the cockpit.  Now we are able to charge our phones, or use our mini iPad for navigation or listen to books.  Such a handy guy :)

A new boat neighbor invited us to go an Irish Pub Saturday night.  Little did he know that our son plays in an Irish Band.  We were able to walk about 10 blocks to Tommy Condon’s.  The lead guy has been playing there for many years.  Tonight they had 4 people.  He played the bodhran-Irish drum, there were 2 guitar players and his son played an electric type of violin.  He was amazing!  Besides Irish songs, they would go into Pink Floyd, Neil Young, John Denver, Johny Cash-real crowd pleasers.  Our friend, Gary, is from Tennessee.  At the table next to us were 2 people from Sioux Falls, SD.  But when they played Dixie, the majority of the place was obviously from the south.  Talk about ‘southern pride”.  It was cool to experience.  Of course our friend loved it when they played Rocky Top Tennessee.  We South Dakotans were feeling left out.  Only song I could think of for SD was Home on the Range.  Fun night, but we’re getting too old to close the bar.  And it seemed like the band got louder as the crowd got rowdier. 

When we got back to the boats, we told Gary to check with us when he was going to brunch with Bloody Mary’s in the morning.  That was the beer talking. 

Pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 18-26, 2014 Charleston Tourists

There is a free trolley system within the city of Charleston that we can catch about a block from our marina.  Very handy for cruisers with no cars.  On Thursday, I went to the visitor’s center and took a 90 minute bus ride around Charleston and toured a home that was built in the 1700’s.  Lot of history in this city and they are so proud of their restorations.

I went to St John the Baptist Catholic Church on Sunday morning.  It is a beautiful cathedral that was built in the 1890’s after the first one was lost to a fire.  They had a tour after mass that I attended.  Lots of symbolism that you don’t realize without the tour.  The windows were “painted stain glass”.  Which means there is a basic stain to the frames, but then the scenes are painted over the stained glass.  There is much more detail than usual stain glass, like patterns in the material, or texture to the hair.
After church, I stopped at the City Market to stroll through and not buy anything.  No room on the boat.  This is a covered market area about 3 blocks long with a lot of jewelry, t-shirts, wood or glass items and some food items.  So I bought Benne cookies-a 300 year old Charleston recipe with a sweet sesame flavor.  And I bought a cheesy, garlic grits mix.

We went to the Charleston Riverdogs minor league baseball game on Monday night.  We could take a free trolley there, but it quits at 8:00pm.  The league is owned by the actor Bill Murray.  I understand he is part owner of the St Paul, MN team, too.  There was a fundraiser event with $1 hot dogs and $1 beers.  After those, we still had to try the bacon wrapped foot long corn dogs.  The game starts at 7:05, but by 7:35, they postponed the game because of rain.  We were able to get tickets for Wed night and still catch the free bus back to the visitor center.  By then it was 8:00, so we had to walk the remaining 10 blocks.  It wasn’t raining anymore, so it was a nice walk.  We stopped to look inside the Embassy Suites hotel.  It is the former Citadel building from 1842, a military college.  The "new citadel" was built in 1920 and has a beautiful campus.

Harbor tour:  Right at our marina, there was a ferry boat that had harbor tours.  So we decided to have a relaxed view of the harbor from a tourist point of view instead as a sailor.  There are 4 forts in Charleston Harbor.  2 different ones had the first shots of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  Charleston is the third largest natural port on the East Coast, so there is a lot of shipping done through this harbor.

Restaurants:  Smokehouse BBQ and Brewery,  Joe Pasta for Italian, Fleet Landing for seafood,  Saffron for breakfast.  At the Italian restaurant, we sat at a table at a window on King street and people watched.  Dave let me in on his "people watching gimmick".  He looks for people that match the music that is playing in the restaurant, either in their gait or by their attitude.  Made it a lot of fun.

St John the Baptist Cathedral


City Market

bacon wrapped foot long corndog at Riverdogs stadium.  Rained out

Embassy Suites hotel-former citadel

Fort Sumter

Sailing class

USS Yorktown aircraft carrier

June 18-26, 2014 Charleston work

Rather than give a day to day account of our time in Charleston, I will review the week in two blogs, one work and one play. 

The first full day was spent getting caught up on sleep and on the computer.  There actually is some stress involved with sailing, believe it or not.  So it's nice to just have some down time.  We then spent the week mixing routine maintenance, projects (and complications there of), and site seeing.

We added our SPOT locator to the blog site.  Now if you click on it, you can follow our location.  Hope it works.

One of the reasons we decided to stay here a week involved getting mail.  Dave needed to order a new autopilot drive.  We also had important mail waiting for us in Florida, so we decided to stay a week instead of a few days.  That also gave us time to do more projects and take our time as tourists.   

This small marina is cheaper than the city marina, but it sure is rough.  We haven’t felt this rock and roll motion since we left Mobile Bay (with a little in St Augustine).  There is only one shower for everyone to use, but we often shower on our boat.  BUT they have free laundry, which is rare.  Marathon was $3.00 per load each machine.  And free laundry means washing bedding and rugs, too. 

Maintenance for me: clean the heads, floors, refrigerator maintenance (important because it is so small), defrost the freezer (every 3 months), grocery shopping, rearrange food storage, prepare food to be eaten under way, and laundry.

Maintenance for Dave: changed the oil on the engine (every 100 hours) and the high pressure pump of the water maker.
Since we weren’t using the water maker, he had to flush it.
Scrubbed the deck and cockpit.  Cleaned off the back end of the boat.  Small barnacles can enter a small space but then they grow and expand and can separate layers.  So always a concern.  They are sharp, so you have to wear gloves.  Not sure when he is going to clean the entire hull again.  Alligators and sharks are a concern.   

Projects:  Replaced autopilot drive, no complications. Old one had a broken wire which Dave fixed, so now we have a spare autopilot (just need to store it on board).  The real test will be once we are on the move again.
Received RayMarine part in St Augustine and installed here-NMEA multiplexer-used to connect all of our electronics so they mesh.  But you risk loosing everything that is connected if you are hit by lightening.  What we want is for the AIS to show up on our chart plotter.  It will show ships that could possibly collide with us.  Previously, it only worked in our cabin below, not out in the cockpit.  After several days of working on this, 2 phone calls to RayMarine and one to iCom-AIS, it still wasn’t communicating.  Dave was going to give it a break, look at it again in another port, and maybe hire someone to get everything to mesh.  He updated firm ware the on the chart plotter (that runs the chart plotter) and the soft ware.  THEN it recognized the AIS!!  Happy Dance on the boat!!
He placed a shut off valve for our forward water tank.  Then if he is working on the system, he can shut off the source.
Mounted an additional wench handle pocket. 

Friday-discovered fresh water in the bilge.  Dave retraced everything he had done involving water.  We checked all bilges and storage areas under the bed and in the lazerettes.  No other areas with water on board.  So far the water hasn’t returned.  There was air in the water lines making the water pump run longer than normal.  That was taken care of but has returned.  So Dave is going to look at all the water connections to see if there is a leak anywhere besides the areas he had been working on.  May need to replace the water pump.
cleaning the bilge

Our boat is second from right

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 17, 2014 Charleston, SC

This morning, we would be on a rising tide, so it wasn't as critical as to when we left.  So we left about 9:30.  The worst spot today for depths would be Watts Cut and we made it through there fine.  Dave was looking ahead at the rest of the route about 1:00 and discovered that the last bascule bridge (draw bridge) that we had to go through right before Charleston closes at 3:30 everyday because of the high volume of traffic.  And it will open on demand after 6:30 IF there is a bridge tender there.  So we thought we better high tail it to be sure we made it on time.  We actually got there about 2:45 for the 3:00 opening. 

After the Elliot Cut with the bascule bride, we entered the Ashley River along with all  kinds of water traffic.  The historic part of Charleston is on an island with the Ashley River on the west side and the Cooper River on the east side.  We were headed to the Charleston Maritime Center Marina on the east side.  So we had to round the southern tip of the island and head north along the east side.

We saw what looked like two different sailing classes.   One group were in boats that were about 20 feet with 2 sails and 3 people on board.  It looked like 2 students and an instructor.  The other group was closer to shore.  They were in small sailing dinghies with one sail.  That's where you really learn to sail.  What an opportunity these kids have.

When we rounded the island, there was much more traffic.  There were tour boats, ferries, cargo ships, cruise ships and other personal sailboats and power boats.  We are back to civilization!
You could also see Ft Sumter, an aircraft carrier that is part of a museum, cargo ships from Singapore and Norway, and a double masted schooner at the end of our pier.

Once we were safely at our dock, we showered and went on a "walk about".  We headed for the historic district.  There were many restaurants to chose from.  We decided on a brewery/smokehouse.  We are enjoying sampling BBQ across the south.  We enjoyed their brews and shared a BBQ sampler platter.  Then we walked around about a 6 block radius and stopped at a tavern for a while and an Irish Pub.  At the pub, we met two guys probably in their early 30's that were locals.  One had what I would think of as a South Carolina accent, that slow drawl.  We enjoyed talking with them and exchanging Ole and Lena jokes for some of their southern jokes.  We ended up staying out way past our bedtime.

shoreline of Charleston

sharing the waters with the cruise ship

Schooner at our marina

USS Yorktown air craft carrier museum

cargo ship from Singapore

our boat is the second from the right, longest cable-stayed bridge beyond the marina

June 16, 2014 ICW routine

This morning as Dave brought up the anchor, he found 2 starfish and 2 crabs on the anchor.  They were all about 3 inches in diameter.  But the crabs were poised and ready to defend themselves.  Of course, he didn't have a camera on him. 

We are establishing a good routine when we are ready to leave an anchorage.  We fill liter bottles with water, and now I have been adding some lime juice, since we have them on board.  We replenish a snack bag with nuts, dried fruit, cheese and crackers. (That's more critical when you are in rough waters and don't want to be below deck for very long.  On nicer days, I usually make a lunch of sandwiches, raw veggies and chips. ) Dave goes to the bow to bring up the anchor.  I remove our bug screens and close the hatches.  I also close the through hulls and turn off the fresh water.  If there was a water leak while we were underway, the water pump would run.  And once the water tank was drained, the pump could burn out.  We probably wouldn't hear the pump running while the boat engine was running.  So as a precaution, we turn it the fresh water.  And actually, we should get in the habit of doing that if we are going to leave the boat for several hours. 

We take the water, snacks, binoculars, and now we take fly swatters all to the cockpit.  We also turn on the instruments, VHF, and sometimes the autopilot.  Some days I load up the CD player and we have music through out the day.  Seems to make the day go faster. 

All this takes about 10 minutes.  Then when I am at the helm, we bring up the anchor and I get us back on the route.  Then Dave usually takes the helm for the first watch.  I text Jackie and Brian, our float planners, to let them know we are leaving and where we are headed and when we expect to be there.  Then I text them when we arrive.  So far, so good.  They haven't had to call the Coast Guard to find us yet.  Over the past week, we added applying insect repellent to our ankles and feet.  We get huge horse flies that want to bite our ankles.  Why is that anyway?

Today was an uneventful day on the ICW.  We did use an alternate route in one spot to avoid a shallow stretch because it was about an hour before low tide.  Again, the Active Captain app gave us the suggestion of using the alternate route. 

We anchored west of Watts Cut which we would go through in the morning at high tide.  We went past it tonight at low tide and it looked pretty shallow.  Officially we were at Edisto Island, SC
the view of Watts cut at low tide. not sure we'd make it through

June 15, 2014 Father's Day/rocket launch

Happy Father’s Day to Dave!
We had his favorite breakfast, pancakes, bacon and eggs fried over easy.  We even put bananas in the pancakes. 

We were 6 feet deeper than when we anchored last night.  Crazy!  We left at 9:00 to time another shallow area during high tide.  At high tide-10:30-we planned to enter Hell Gate.  It was a narrow channel with warnings of shoaling at the east side for half of it and the west side for the second half.  Before entering, a barge hailed us on the VHF and asked us to wait until he exited, since the channel was so narrow.  We didn’t mind at all.  Just as we were about to enter, a bigger motorized boat with a lot of people on it were hovering near the entrance.  At first we thought they were stuck.  Then we realized it was a site seeing boat looking at dolphins.  We weren’t sure what they were going to do next, but we proceeded and made it past them fine.  We usually have an air horn ready to blast if we need to get someone’s attention. 

We saw lots of dolphins through out the day.  We even had a few greet us when we anchored tonight.  We anchored off the ICW by Hilton Head, SC.  We saw some really nice homes along the coast.  South Carolina is one of about 4 states I have not been to.  Check that one off.

For lunch and dinner today, we had Dave’s beans from the Wonderbag.  They really turned out good.  We left them in the bag all night and until about 1:00 today.  They didn’t over cook.  Just awesome! 

When we had passed Cape Canaveral in Florida, I had checked to see when the next launch would be.  It originally was going to be about June 10.  We weren’t going to wait there to watch it, but thought we may see it further up the coast.  Well, the rocket launch was postponed until today.  We sat out on the deck of our boat waiting to see if we could see it from here.  The launch was at 8:00pm.  About 8:20 we noticed a jet stream in the sky.  Then it turned and flew right over us.  Of course it was very high, but it was very fast and had to be the rocket that was launched. It was  much higher and faster than a jet would have been.  Another cool evening. 
Happy Father's Day

Talking to his mom while waiting on our deck for the rocket launch

The site I was watching for days before the launch

when we first noticed the rocket

rocket flying over our rigging

June 14, 2014 Keller, GA on ICW

I soaked a 1 lb bag of navy beans overnight.  So this morning, we cooked them for about 30 minutes and put them in the Wonderbag. They only needed to sit 3 hours, but we just left them all day.

Last night we looked at our route and the tides.  We decided we should get an early start so we could be at a shallow area at high tide.  We are learning as we go.  We left at 8:30 am.  About 11:00 we went thru Mud River and had no problems with high tide at 10:30. 

We crossed Sapelo Sound about 1:00.  We passed another sailboat and they hailed us on the VHF.  They recognized the name of our boat from Marathon.  They had been there at the same time.  At about 2:30, in Bear Creek, we passed a boat that was sitting at about a 25 degree heel stuck in the mud.  They were going to wait until after low tide at 4:30 and let the water rise so they could float off rather than be towed.  The tide changes about 8 feet in this area. 

About 3:00 we were heading right into a thunderstorm.  We considered stopping, but it was coming our way anyway.  So we figured we would be out of it sooner if we just kept going.  It rained pretty hard and there was lightning all around us.  Dave navigated and I prayed and we made it through.  We were glad we had isinglass side windows made.  Our new seat cushion got wet at the stern, but should be ok. 

We anchored near Keller, GA in Buckhead Creek.  It was near low tide, so it was nice to know it wouldn’t get any more shallow.  But with an 8 ft tide, you have to take that into consideration when you are deciding how much anchor rode to let out. 

Dave cooked the navy beans with the bone from the Boston Butt (which we didn’t use for the pulled pork) and his own concoction of spices.  Then we put the beans back in the Wonderbag.  This has been fun. 
at least we weren't heeled like this when we were stuck

another afternoon squall

June 13, 2014 North of Brunswick, GA/Wonderbag

I happen to wake up early this morning and could see the full moon out a window.  So I snuck outside and took photos of the full moon reflecting on the water.  Beautiful!

We did a few things at anchor before leaving this morning.  We made water with our water maker for about an hour.  Dave said it was the purest water we have made (he checks the clarity of the water before putting it in our water tank).  We also wanted to try out our Wonderbag.  I mentioned that Jackie Killion told us about this.  It is a quilted bag with a special lining that cooks like a crock pot with no fuel.  We made pulled pork with a Boston Butt roast.  First Dave made a rub and browned the meat.   Then he cooked onion and garlic and made a broth.   Then you add the meat back to the broth and cook it for about 45 minutes.  Then you put the whole pot in the bag and leave it all day.  I’ll jump ahead to the results.  It could have been done in 3-4 hours, but we left it from 11:30 to about 6:30.  When we opened the bag, the pot and lid were still hot enough to need hot pads. The meat was unbelievable.  It was so tender and juicy.  This thing is a winner!  I would recommend it to sailors, campers, for traveling several miles with a dish to share when you arrive, or maybe for a hot dish to take to a pot luck after work, or just to be frugal with fuel or electricity.   Dave wants to try beans next.

We ended up leaving our anchorage at 12:30 pm.  About 3:00, near Jekyll Island we were at low tide.  We went through a long stretch where our instruments read 0.1 feet below our keel.  We went slowly so we  wouldn’t dig in too deep if we stopped.  Dave said it felt like we was sliding along a muddy bottom.  Made it, no problem.  We are going to check our route and high and low tides for tomorrow. 

The coasts of Georgia and South Carolina have many islands and inlets between them.  So the ICW snakes around the  islands, then you cross the inlets (or sounds).  Today we crossed St Andrews sound and St Simons Sound.  The islands were called the Golden Isles.  They have resorts and golf courses. 

We anchored in a channel off of the ICW called Wally’s Leg north of Brunswick.  It was very quiet.  We ate inside because of a few bugs.  But I had to go outside for the beautiful sunset.  As I was enjoying the scenery, an alligator crossed the creek near our boat.  Pretty cool to see.  Dave decided he wouldn’t clean the hull of the boat in the morning.
full moon before sunrise

Wonderbag and wonder cook

cover that goes on top and helps seal it when closed

cinching it closed with drawsting

wonderful pulled pork

sunset in Georgia

alligator crossing the creek where we are anchored

June 12, 2014 Georgia, Finally

Well, we finally made it to Georgia!  Dave and I lived in Valdosta, Georgia in 1980-81 while Dave was in the Air Force.  We came here after living in Germany and felt like we were in another foreign country :) But we did enjoy having fresh shrimp for the first time in my life, going to the beaches (Atlantic and Gulf), and going to Disney World. And another good memory was having catfish served family style at Ray’s Mill Pond out in the sticks.  When you came in Ray would say “Sit Any Whaaar, sit any whaaar!”

Our boat had swung to the east during the night bringing us about 20 ft from the shore.  Our rudder was in the mud, but we easily puttered out with no problem. 

We continued along the ICW today.  We use the Active Captain application on our phone which has been a lifesaver.  People that travel these waters put in comments if there is a change in the charting,  There is a lot of shoaling along the ICW, where sand bars build up in areas that should be deep enough to travel through.  So boaters add their comments.  In some areas, the electronic charts are wrong and you need to follow the advice on Active Captain.  They also warn you of currents when crossing rivers and inlets. 

Today we crossed the St John’s River that flows into Jacksonville, FL.  This is a major shipping port.  Luckily there wasn’t barge traffic when we crossed.  Dave said he could feel the current wanting to push the boat sideways, but he had no problem at the speed he was going (max is about 6mph).  Then we entered Sister’s creek after passing through a draw bridge that we requested the opening.  Of course, I thought of my sisters and had to e-mail them (one doesn’t text and one isn’t on Facebook).

At about 2:00, right before our shift change from me to Dave, I thought I had just made it through a shallow area, went around a bend, and hit bottom.  Everything we read on Active Captain said this was a confusing area.  And it didn’t help that it was about a half hour before low tide (changes 4-5 feet in this area).  SO, Dave took over the helm and we spent 1 hour 15 minutes trying to get out.  We never came to a dead stop.  We were able to turn the boat from side to side about 45 degrees trying to make a path through the sand back to the channel where we last had deep enough water. We also knew that the tide would be rising again, which was in our favor.  About 2:45 we put out a sail which heeled our boat to one side.  It didn’t help immediately, but I believe it did once the tide started to rise.  Once we were out, we still had to go back through that area.  We went slowly and made it through OK. 

This was right by Fernandina Beach, FL.  We purposely didn’t want to anchor near here because of the smell from the paper mills.  Well, we got to smell them for over an hour today. 

We crossed St Mary’s inlet about 4:00 right behind another afternoon squall.  It was heading east and we wouldn’t hit the brunt of it, but we could still see lightning, which is always scary.  All along the ICW, we have been traveling with the red channel markers on our left side as you head north.  Along the coast the rule is if you are traveling clockwise along the coast on the ICW, you are retuning.  So heading south is  red right returning.  Heading north you are “heading out” so the red markers are on the left.  Well the ICW uses the Cumberland Sound inlet north of St Mary’s inlet which leads to the town of King’s Bay and a naval submarine base.  So for this section you are returning from the sea.  So the markers from the inlet to the naval base were red on the right (red right returning-from the sea).  Well there is one confusing thing about this area.   Right in front of the base, we left the Cumberland sound markers and went strictly to the ICW in a channel to the north.  Active Captain gave us the exact marker where it would switch back to red on the left.  Active Captain also said there would be a security boat patrolling the area, and yes there was.  They were going to make sure we turned off into the correct channel.  Without Active Captain, you could have turned in the wrong area and hit ground, or the other direction would have had that security boat boarding our vessel. 

We traveled north and found a nice place to anchor on Delaroche Creek.  The closest town was King’s Bay, Georgia.  We celebrated reaching Georgia with BBQ chicken, potatoes and baked beans.  We were leery about eating outside, but there weren’t any bugs.  It was a beautiful quiet night, after we figured out how to stop the anchor rope from knocking against the hull.  
Sister's Creek Bridge

Fernandina Beach paper mill near where we were stuck
Nasty thunderstorm
Naval Base and patrol boat our front

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 11, 2014 ICW to Atlantic Beach, FL

We had a relaxed morning getting ready to leave.  We normally go about 50 miles a day.  Jacksonville, Fl is about 30 miles and we don’t want to spend the night north of there because of the unpleasant smell of the paper mills.  You learn all kinds of things from our Active Captain application on our phones.

I made one more garbage run to shore and mailed some postcards that I waited until this morning to write.  Then we had to take the motor off of the dinghy and mount the dinghy on the davits again.  Not sure where the morning went, but it was about 11:30 when we were ready to leave the mooring field.  The first bridge opens on the half hour, so we called them about 11:45 and realized that they don’t open at 8, noon, and 5 for traffic.  So we had to wait until 12:30 :( But we did get to see some school kids on a field trip on a sailboat.  Something I never did growing up in SD.

We came to the inlet for the ocean and tossed around going outside instead of the ICW, but decided to stay with our original plan since we started so late.  It’s a good thing, too.  Because about 2:45, we ran into a thunderstorm.  We actually turned around and headed south for about 15 minutes then back tracked for a total of 30 minutes of stalling to let it pass to the east.  NOAA weather said there were 35 mph winds on the ocean.  So it would have been much worse out there.  When you have a 54 ft lightning rod in the middle of your boat, it’s even scary to see the lightning.  We had our handheld electronics in the microwave for protection.  We did run into some rain and were able to use the side windows for our cock pit that were made in Fr Myers Beach.  They zip into the Bimini top. 
The new West Marine chair was awesome.  Before, if I wanted to sit back with a back rest, my feet wouldn’t touch the cockpit floor and I wouldn’t be able to reach the wheel.  I could pull this seat forward and everything fit better.  There are even  arm rests.  The back has 5 settings so I was also able to use it as a recliner after dinner. 

We ended up south of the St John’s River that flows into Jacksonville, FL, near Atlantic Beach, FL.  This was one of those strange anchorages where the current is going one way and the wind is going the opposite way.  Plus we are now having to deal with 4-5 ft tide changes.  We will check periodically to make sure our anchor is holding us in place. 

We had a great dinner of leftovers.  So quick to prepare :) 
Kids on field trip passing through the Bridge of Lions

Same ship with the fort behind them

site of Spaniards landing in St Augustine and first Catholic mass on US soil

cushy cushion and storm we missed    

June 10, 2014 Preparations for leaving St Augustine

 First thing this morning, I took the dinghy to shore to return the car.  The car was parked on the street where they start charging $1.50 an hour starting at 8:00.  Not knowing how aggressive they are about ticketing here, I made it to the car right at 8:00.  It didn’t take long to get to Enterprise with a stop for coffee on the way.  They then give you a ride back to the marina.  Otherwise I would have had to take a taxi. 

We sorted through our paperwork from yesterday.  I finalized our new insurance online.  Went from $2500/year to $1500/year.  There are more restrictions for where we can sail during hurricane season, but that was OK this year anyway.  If we later want to change our sailing area, it will be higher, but still less than the first company.  And this is much better coverage for cruiser/live a boards like us. 

Dave made his new favorite spread.  At the farmer’s market in New Smyrna Beach, I found a spread that was made of only garlic, canola oil, lemon juice and a little salt.  You can use it as a spread anywhere you would use mayonnaise.  He bought at least 24 cloves of garlic last night.  We’re talking about one clove being the clump of about 10 cloves.  He peeled all but a few we will save for other uses.  Then he chopped them very fine and used his own mix with olive oil, lemons and limes and salt.  Pretty powerful stuff.  Good thing we don’t talk to other people often.  I’ll let you know if we get to the point where we can’t stand each other’s smell. 

I went to shore to use the laundry at the marina.  It’s nice to do that while we have access.  We are planning to start washing clothes by hand if we need to.  Other cruisers recommend a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger.  I’m sure I will get photos of that once it happens.

I also picked up packages.  W bought a Wonderbag.  When I use it, I’ll explain with pictures.  But it is similar to a crockpot, only you start the cooking and place it in this bag.  Kind of like I make beans in a thermos.  Jackie Killion saw it on TV, I think on Rachel Ray. 

We repackaged some of our meats for the freezer.  I am trying Ziploc’s vacuum bags for the first time.  They are textured on one side, have a port for removing air, and come with a  little hand pump.  Worked nice.  So we’ll see if the meats keep better.  I even put some bagels in vacuum bags. 

Dave grilled chicken and potatoes tonight on the grill.  The new garlic spread was awesome on the potatoes. 

Now we need to tuck up things for moving the boat again tomorrow.  There are chances of showers and thunderstorms all week.  So we plan to just stay on the ICW instead of the open water. 

June 9, 2014 Official Floridians

Today we rented a car from Enterprise (they will pick you up) so we could do all the paperwork involved to  become Florida residents.  We left town about an hour later than planned after exchanging vehicles. Our phone chargers wouldn’t work in the first car.  New car, so probably bad fuse. 

We drove to Green Cove Springs about 30 miles away.  We are using the mail service called St Brendan’s Isle located there.  We went directly to their location to start the process of becoming state residents.  Scott, that helped us, has been pheasant hunting in Bowdle and Hoven, SD.  Small world.  We had to sign paperwork for them to be able to handle our mail.  We needed 2 pieces of mail to take with us to DMV to get our driver’s licenses.  We had downloaded one and expected to have more in the mail today.  But they hadn’t arrived, possibly later today.  There was another form, called Declaration of Domicile, that we had to take to the court house to be certified to become residents and for voter’s registration.  Scott  had an idea that has worked for others. He made us a mailing label addressed to the two of us.  He told us to first go to the court house with our Declaration on Domicile form.  When they give us the certified copies back, ask them for an envelope with their return address printed on it.  Then put the forms in there with the label on it and use that as our second piece of mail. 

They were also very good about giving us directions to get everything done in one day.  First, we went to the court house to have the Declaration of Domicile notarized and certified.  Then we put them in their envelope with the mailing label. 

Second we went to the Dept of motor vehicles for our driver’s license and to register our boat and dinghy (deen=gee as Miesha would say).  They accepted the two forms of address verification that we had.  Yeah!  I guess it just depends on who you get as to how picky they are about the pieces of mail and whether they were downloaded and printed or actually mailed to  you.  It’s a little tricky when you don’t have utilities or rent/mortgage.  It probably helps if you are friendly like Dave.  And they signed us up for our voter’s registration.  One less stop, we thought.

Miesha recommended Sweet Sensations for lunch.  It was a great sandwich place with lots of desserts.  Dave wanted to try the peanut butter pie.  I picked up some free publications about the town.  It has a population of about 6,000 and seems to have a very active community.  It was a very clean city and everyone was very helpful and pleasant.  There were lots of community festivals throughout the year.

After lunch, we went back to St Brendan’s Isle for some copies to be made.  We thanked them for the addressed envelope, and let them know it worked.  We also mentioned that the DMV registers us to vote.  But they reminded us that we have to take the Declaration of Domicile form there, or they will be asking us to mail it later. 

We also wanted to register for concealed weapons licenses in Florida.  So we went to the Sheriff’s office for that.  All these buildings were within a mile of each other on the same stretch of the road.  There we were given a packet to mail to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  They needed finger prints, which they do starting at 2:00.  So we went to a CVS to have passport photos taken as part of the packet.  We started filling out the forms and realized they had to be notarized.  So when we returned to the Sheriff’s office for our finger prints, they also had a notary public there and signed our forms for free.  We were glad we had just decided to do it all at once.  Otherwise we would have been scrambling to find a notary again.  We completed the packets and went directly to the post office.  I also mailed a post card to Dave’s mom from our new home in Florida.    Oh yes, and we did drop the Declaration of Domicile.  They were so excited that we did that. 

Whew!  By now I was ready to be done.  Before we left the Post office, Dave decided to go back in and file our change of address with them.  We found out that the post office will not accept address changes from a mailing service.  Once it arrives at that service address, it is considered delivered.  So we will have to contact everyone that we still do business with, besides family and friends, to give them our new address.  We actually have already done that with most of our business contacts.  Needless to say, I am going to make a list and keep it updated, because it will be the same whenever we leave St Brendan’s Isle.  Yes, someday we’ll have a permanent address again. 

Before we left town, we stopped at the Green Cove Springs Marina.  I guess it is a good hurricane hole because it is 30 miles inland.  It is on the St John’s river that flows into Jacksonville from the ocean and turns south.  It is a working marina.  It is fairly reasonable to have your boat hauled out of the water to have work done, which sounds like needs to be done every couple years.  And they allow you to work on the boats yourself, which not all marinas will do.  But it was not a resort type of marina.  I felt like we were in the “red neck/white trash” part of Florida.  I’m glad we checked it out before spending a day getting here by boat from the coast.  I will know to make arrangements to visit family and friends while Dave works on the boat :)

We arrived back in St Augustine about 5:00.  Since we had a car, we decided to have dinner someplace we couldn’t walk to.  We drove east of the marina to the next island before the coast.  We found the Conch House Resort and Marina with a great restaurant.  The outdoor seating had several individual tables with their own tiki huts out over the water.  We had one of their excellent dinner specials, crab stuffed grouper over rice and vegetables.  We each took half home.  It was a nice celebration of becoming Floridians.

Then we made a stop at West Marine.  Dave picked up a few parts he needed.  And we decided to try a new seat cushion.  We are realizing that taking watch can get uncomfortable when you have to be at the helm for 2 hour shifts for 8-10 hour days.  Along the inter coastal waterway, we haven’t been using the autopilot.  There are too many twists and turns.  This one can lay flat, but you can bend it in half.  Then it has five positions you can set the back to.  Plus the side fold out into arm rests.  If we really like it, we may get another one.  We were able to use a gift certificate from Dave’s brother, Dean, from Christmas to cover part of it.  Thank you Dean.  You would have liked this cushion on your watches.  But you will probably get a chance to use it in the future (just like your mom’s metal  drinking glasses, heehee).  

We saved the worst for last-Walmart.  We needed a few things besides groceries, so we decided to go here and do both at once.  We spilt up the list, but it still takes forever.  It was after 10:00 by the time we left.  Then we had to find a place to park near the marina.  Dave went to the marina, at least a block away, to get us a dock cart (nice wheel barrel).  I organized the groceries so the breads, fruits, and eggs don’t get damaged.  And I use several reusable bags that are stronger than the grocery bags.  Then we have to load everything into the dinghy, motor to the boat, unload everything, and put away what had to be refrigerated.  Whew!!

We make the most out of having a car for 24 hours.  I think this was an 18 hour day for me.  I know this was a long post, but it is amazing what extra steps you have to take when you don't have a car at your convenience.
new "home"

June 8, 2014 America's oldest Catholic Parish

 Happy Birthday to my brother, Don, and brother-in-law, Jim!!

I started out the day being able to walk to church at the oldest Catholic parish in the US.  In 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and proclaimed this site for Spain and the Church.  They celebrated mass and began America’s first Mission.  The Cathedral was built in 1797 and is home of America’s oldest Catholic Parish.  It was beautiful, but much simpler than most European cathedrals. The organ was amazing.  Justin in Rapid City would have loved it. 

I then found a Greek and Polish market to take lunch back to Dave at the boat.  I bought a phyllo/filo dough pastry with feta cheese and one with spinach and feta.  I also bought baklava.  Fun treat!

This afternoon, we organized everything we would need to take with us to become residents of Fl.  We would hate to rent a car, drive about 30 miles, and forget something.  We also planned what other errands we would need to do while we have a car for 24 hours.  You don’t want to waste any time.  We need to go to a marine supply store and hit a Walmart for incidentals and groceries (one stop).  So I looked up their locations to map things out. 

I didn’t mention it, but on Friday, I made red beans using our thermos.  I soaked the beans overnight.  Then I brought the beans to a boil, then cooked the beans for 10 minutes.  Then you place then in a thermos for 3 hours (or more depending on the quality of your thermos).  So today, Dave made cajun red beans which we ate over rice.  We also learned to cook rice conserving  energy.  Bring it to a boil, cook 5 minutes and shut off.  Leave lid in place for 30 minutes.  Cooks just fine.  We also do this with pasta.  He also grilled brats.  The leftovers went in the red beans. 

Before going to the grocery store tomorrow, I wanted to check out our spices and our freezer.  I took all of our spices off of our rack, checked each one for freshness (smelled them), consolidated where needed, then documented them in my phone app What’s on my Boat.  I also made note of the ones I have stored. 

I had a pretty good list of the freezer contents already, but was able to  clarify numbers and found some bagels I didn’t know we had.  Then I made myself a gin and tonic (needed to empty a tonic bottle and use up a lime) and went out to the cockpit to enjoy the evening and enter everything into my phone app. 

St Augustine Cathedral-Basilica

awesome organ

murals depicting history

Greek/Polish market

Street in St Augustine