Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 29, 2015 Lunch at the Grande

We wanted to take Bob and Olivia out to lunch before we left.  They had a favorite Italian restaurant that has a $9.99 lunch buffet everyday.  We drove to Juno Beach, just north of North Palm Beach, to the Grande restaurant.  Everybody that worked there knew them by name.   It was wonderful!  They had mussels in a tomato sauce with calamari, 2 types of pasta, soup (a spinach with egg in chicken broth), salad bar, fruit, garlic knots and cheese pizza.  That would have been fine for us, but Olivia likes a special dish they make here and had it made for us to try.

Our waiter Mark had a special table to make this pasta.  They have a big parmesan cheese wheel that costs about $1200 and lasts about 4 months.  There is a section in the middle that has been hollowed out.  They pour brandy into the well and light it.  The warmth heats the cheese and softens it.  Then they add linguini that is already prepared and pull the softened cheese into the pasta.  Then it is plated with prosciutto and basil on top.  It was really unique and delicious.  Olivia thinks she can improvise and make this at home.  She loves to cook.


Of course, Bob wouldn’t let us pay for lunch, but at least we split the bill.  We’ll never be able to repay them for anything.  Bob took $20 of what we gave him and bought $20 worth of power ball numbers.  If he wins $3 million tonight with those numbers, he is going to share with us :))

Back at their boat, we played 3 games of Chase the Ace where you only lose $1 per hand, and the winner gets $4.  Olivia won twice and Bob once.  So I guess we were able to pay them back a little bit :)

December 28, 2015 Old Port Cove marina facilities

Originally, this was our departure date for the Bahamas.  We now know what they are talking about when they say “Christmas winds”.  There hasn’t been a good weather window to cross to the Bahamas.  And it keeps changing daily.

Today, I loaded up laundry and the computer and went to shore to use the Old Port Cove facilities as guests of Bob and Olivia.  They had a nice laundry, business center, lounge, and restrooms with showers.  While doing laundry, I was able to get GREAT wifi reception and get caught up on a lot of things online and just storing things in the computer with unlimited power.  AS land lovers, we really took our power for granted.
business area
TV lounge

While I was away, Dave brought our new pillow top mattress pad and our mattress out into the saloon area.  He laid them on the table and cut the pad to fit our mattress.  Now we’ll have more leg room.  The rectangular mattress pad was curled up at the bow (the V of our bed) where we put our feet. 

He also checked our smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.  That’s one of those things they say to do on New Year’s day.  But we hope to be in the Bahamas by then and wanted to know now if they needed replacing.  Everything was fine. 

Dave gave himself a haircut just cutting the same length all over.  I had been planning to do that for him for over a week.  Now I can add the finishing touches. 

I visited with Bob and Olivia for a little while (long enough for 2 beers) before going back to the boat.  Bob had recently had a dental exam, cleaning and full mouth x-rays.  He had the x-rays on his computer and the estimate in writing.  So I gave him a second opinion.  I agreed with the treatment plan.  And I thought the fees were fair.  We also discussed spending $9,000 on his teeth vs getting implant dentures down the road.  I tried to convince him to keep his teeth.  Implant dentures are not cheap and it is a miserable process to go through IF you have the bone you need.  But I also thought he could wait 3 months until he was home in Michigan with his family dentist as long as he wasn’t in any pain.  We have felt like we owed Bob and Olivia something for all the things they have done for us.  Now Bob feels like he owes me.  And there is my dental infomercial for the day. 
Bob and Olivia's boat is the closest to the shore on the left.  We are the sailboat in front of those anchored
Bob and Olivia's boat and our dinghy

We ran the water maker again tonight.  And we found salty water in the bilge again.  Not a lot, but it keeps showing up after using the water maker.  Once the water is desalinated, that water goes overboard.  So Dave is going to check out that pump and the hoses tomorrow. 

Running the water maker means showers!  Yeah.  I love complaining about the heat and humidity to all my northern family and friends.  We have an awesome breeze coming in over our heads at night and only need to use a sheet.  That’s what we expect for the rest of the winter.  
most of these boats are waiting for good weather

Monday, December 28, 2015

December 27, 2015 Church and groceries

This morning, I took the dinghy over to Old Port Cove marina.  Bob gave me a ride to a Catholic church about 2 miles from them.  It was just across the lake from their marina and our boat.  But that shore is all private property, so there isn’t a place to land the dinghy.  After church, I walked a mile back to the Publix grocery store.  You always think you are done provisioning and only need milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables.  But somehow I end up with a cart full of groceries. 
Christmas decorations in the neighborhood of the church
Here’s something I thought of in advance.  I bought a birthday card for my Aunt Dorothy who will be 100 in February.  I wrote on it and sent it to her son with a note to give it to her on her birthday.  I don’t think I would send one from the Bahamas.  She is in a nursing home, has some dementia, but is actually pretty healthy. 

Bob came to pick me up.  Then we loaded everything in the dinghy, and I headed back to the boat.  There Dave helped unload.  Then I have more work ahead of me.  We have to bag a lot of the foods, label the cans, then tuck things away. 

Dave cleaned our fuel today with our fuel polisher.  It takes a couple hours to run the fuel through it.  He cleaned some muck out of the fuel filter.  He checked the generator to see if there was any water leaking, as it did last spring.  Everything was fine.  He also checked the generator fuel filter.  He spent some time working on our fuel gauge.  It hasn’t been reliable.  After checking several things, the next test was to be done when you have an empty tank.  Well, we never have an empty tank.  So we will have to go by how many hours we run the engine. 

Dave also put away our fenders and dock lines today.  We don’t plan to be at a dock for the next 6 months.  He also ran our jack lines today.  He runs two lines from the cockpit to the bow, one on port and one starboard.  If you go forward on the boat when we are out to sea, you hook your life vest into this line to keep you from getting tossed overboard. 

We had a light dinner of appetizers while listening to the Packers lose their game-so sad.  We didn’t even listen to the end.  We thought we may as well save our power.  Final score 38-8 :(

December 26, 2015 shopping in North Palm Beach, FL

Today we had a “shopping day” with Bob and Olivia.  They have a car here at this marina.  Dave wanted to return an impeller for our outboard motor.  We bought one here in March and they said we could return it anytime, even thought they knew we were leaving for the Bahamas.  We drove to Boat Owners World.  They didn’t have anything for the galley, so Olivia and I waited in the car. 

While we were there, another couple that we knew from Brunswick Landing Marina were there, Ed and Pam.  It was fun to visit with them again.  They are leaving for the Bahamas after Jan 1. 

We also stopped at a Walgreen's for Dave to find a non scented hand soap.  Most are too smelly and bother his sinuses.  We also refilled a propane tank.  Then Bob and Olivia wanted to show us a couple of specialty markets.  First we stopped at Carmine’s Italian market.  It was amazing.  It had a HUGE deli with all kinds of prepared foods, 9 home made soups, pastas, pizza, meats, fish, seafood, you name it.  They also had Italian products on the shelves and a restaurant.  It reminded me of an upscale Cossetta's in St Paul, MN.  I bought a hard salami and a hard Parmesan cheese.  Maybe we’ll make it back here before we leave.  Second we stopped at the Cod and Caper’s Seafood market and restaurant.  It was so cool to see all kinds of fish laid out in a meat counter.  This one is walking distance from their marina, so we’ll see if we make it there.  We hope to be catching our own fish soon.

After all of our shopping, we went to their favorite neighborhood sports bar for a late lunch/early dinner.  We spent a couple hours at Duffy’s and had some great burgers, wings, salad for me, etc.  I actually miss having salads.  Greens just don’t keep well on our boat. 

We went back to their boat and visited and played “chase the ace”.  It is a betting card game.  Olivia ended up with the $4-big winner.  It was fun spending the day with them and being off of the boat for a day.

Dave and Bob on their "veranda"

the game really wasn't that serious
the big winner of $4
fun night Mary and Olivia
Dave patiently waiting in the dinghy while we're taking photos

December 25, 2015 Merry Christmas from North Palm Beach, FL

Merry Christmas!
We have been listening to Jimmy Buffett’s Christmas CD for many years.  The line from a song really hit home today “a sailor spends his Christmas in a harbor on a hook”.  The last two Christmases on the boat have been in a marina.  This year we are at anchor or on a hook. 

We spent the day on the boat.  Dave started a beef roast this morning that we put in our Wonderbag.  So about 3:00 we had a beautiful roast beef dinner.  We even had pumpkin pie with whipped cream. 

This evening, I convinced Dave to play a few games with me.  He was a good sport, but he really doesn’t enjoy playing games anymore.  I guess I’ll make the most of meeting friends in marinas, anchorages or with guests. 

We had a very relaxing day at anchor and feel blessed that we have this opportunity to live aboard our sailboat.  Merry Christmas everyone!
looks like we were a little tipsy

December 24, 2015 Christmas Eve in North Palm Beach, FL

After a lazy morning, we put the dinghy in the water and ran the motor for the first time in 6 months.  We hopped in and went for a spin around the anchorage.  We found a spot on the north end that I had read about on Active Captain.  There was a sandy shore near a bridge where people land their dinghies and walk to the Publix grocery store. 

Then we motored over to Bob and Olivia’s motor yacht/condo on the water.  Their boat is close to our length, 43 feet, but it was one of the littlest in the marina.  There was some BIG MONEY parked here.  There wasn’t a dinghy dock for people to tie up to, only renters of slips are allowed.  So Bob got special permission for us to enter the marina and tie up to their boat.  They spent about 7 months here last year while Olivia recuperated with a broken arm.  She broke it tripping on the dock in this marina.  Things can happen so fast.  Bob had all kinds of trivia about the boats in the area.  Tiger Woods usually docks his boat here, which is about 170 feet long, but it is in the Bahamas at this time.  Another 4 million dollar boat was a high school graduation present to someone. 

We were checking out the ease of tying up to their boat so I could go to church for Christmas.  I had gone to a church on the other side of the lake with a rental car last year and assumed I would go there on Christmas morning to avoid going to shore by dinghy in the dark.  Olivia told me about another church walking distance from the marina.  On the internet is came up as Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center, A Passionist Ministry.  It appeared to be a retreat center and part of the Catholic church.  Olivia called them and they did have a mass Christmas Eve at 7:00.  And according to the lady on the phone “it will be special and shouldn’t be missed”.

So while Dave and Bob shared a couple beers (Bob always offers you a beer), Olivia and I drove their car over to check out Our Lady of Florida.  We saw on the door that there was a 7:00 pm mass and daily mass at 7:30 am Mon-Fri.  Since everything was locked up, we walked around the grounds.  They had 26 beautifully manicured acres right on the lake.  There were a couple wings of what appeared to be motel rooms.  We found out that there are 75 rooms for those on retreats. 
view of the grounds from a brochure
When we returned to the parking lot, there was someone getting into a car out front.  We caught him and asked him about the mass that night-like was it the usual Catholic mass with communion and all.  We asked about seeing the chapel and he took us to the door, put in his code, and directed us to the chapel and more information about the spiritual center.  We thanked him and asked his name.  He was Father Damien.  You wouldn’t have guessed since he was wearing shorts.  Not sure I’ve ever seen a priest in shorts before. 

We found our way in, picked up some literature, and enjoyed the beautiful chapel decorated for Christmas.  There was a whole wall of stained glass windows, which wouldn’t be as beautiful in the dark.  So I was glad we checked it out. 

It was now close to 4:00.  We returned to our boat, started the water maker, ate leftovers, showered and returned to their boat in the marina by 6:30.  Dave had agreed to go to church with me, which was a treat.   Bob wanted to give us a ride to church and said he would pick us up.  We decided to go early, otherwise Bob would have wanted us to have another beer with him before church. 

The mass was lovely.  It was nothing out of the ordinary, no choir, just an organist that led the singing.  Maybe the attraction was the small size of the church and not as crowded as the other big Catholic churches in the area that were sure to be very crowded.  We sat about mid way in the church.  Those in front of us looked like they all came from big money dressed in dresses and suits.  I was in capris and Dave in shorts.  We looked a little under dressed, but still welcome and comfortable.  During communion, we realized that the back half of the church was full of families with kids.  It was a nice community.  Not sure if these people were regulars or just visiting the area with families.  A 7 year old brought the baby Jesus up and laid him in the manger at the beginning of mass.  The priest introduced him and said he was from North Carolina. 

We decided to walk back to the marina after church.  It was a beautiful warm evening and there was a full moon.  The last full moon on Christmas was 38 years ago in 1977.  That was one week after our wedding.  We were with family in Miller, SD.  We began our 2 year honey moon in Germany on Dec 26, 1977, compliments of the United States Air Force. 

Bob cast us off from his boat and wished us Merry Christmas.  We returned to the boat in the dark.  Thankfully, it was a calm night and the full moon helped light the way. 

December 23, 2015 ICW bridges to Lake Workth, FL

We only had about 25 miles to go today but this is where the bridges only open on a set schedule.  And if you miss that opening, you are waiting for a half hour in a narrow channel with other boats, trying to stay out of each others way.  So we wanted to be well rested and didn't leave until about 10:00.  We passed a lot of beautiful homes on the water.  They just get bigger as you go south from here. 

The traffic really picks up when you get to Jupiter.  They had the light house decorated with bows.  We have great memories of being in this area last year in November by car and again in March by boat.  South of Jupiter, just as we approached the Donald Ross bridge for it’s 1:00 opening, they announced that there had been an auto accident which backed up traffic on the bridge.  So the bridge would remain closed until further notice!  Well, we had been in a parade with about 6 boats going from bridge to bridge.  So now we all had to do the Shriner parade dance with all of them in the narrow channel.  They only dredge the center of the canal, so it’s pretty shallow right outside of the channel.  There is typically about 100 ft between the channel markers.
Jupiter Lighthouse with Christmas bows

I went below and made toffee for the first time.  It is one of Dave’s favorites and we had an easy recipe to try.  Of course, I had to move a lot of things to dig out a container of rarely used utensils to find our candy thermometer.  Not sure how that made the cut to keep on the boat.  In case you were wondering, the other utensils were a back up can opener, a couple unique graters, oyster shucking knives, crab utensils and gloves for cleaning crab. 

The bridge was closed for an hour and 15 minutes.  This bridge usually opens on the hour and the half hour, but they were given special permission to open and let our parade through at 2:15.  The PGA Bridge also opened on the hour and half hour, so we were too late for the 2:30 and waited with the others again for the 3:00 opening.  Then the last bridge before Lake Worth is close and opens 15 minutes and 45 minutes past the hour.  So we all paraded through at 3:15. 
our parade of boats heading through the draw bridge
another view of our parade before the Parker bridge-last one today

I have been following the posts on Facebook of others sailors we met this summer in Brunswick, GA as they move south.  One was complaining about the bridge openings.  She was even considering naming her next boat “F… You”, so she could say that when the bridge tender asked for your boat name.  Another came back with surprise that there were so many negative comments out there.  This lady had been living aboard her sailboat for about 20 years and had spent many years outside of the US.  She reminded everyone that this is the sailing life, kick back and enjoy the ride.  I am always going to think of Gloria when we are in a hurry for some reason.  She was a grand lady and I always enjoyed hearing her stories.  I hope our paths cross again. 

Santa having some fun on the ICW before the big day

We turned off to the right as soon as we passed under the bridge to get fuel at North Palm Beach Marina.  They remembered us from last March when we spent about a week there with Dave’s mom and preparing to cross to the Bahamas.  We asked them if they would have a slip available Christmas Eve.  If the weather turned for the worst, it would be nice to be able to get to church from a dock instead of by dinghy.  They said all their slips were full, but they could but on the fuel dock and to call by noon on Christmas Eve.  It felt good to come across previous connections. 

After fueling, we went to the north end of Lake Worth to anchor for a few days.  It was now after 4:00.   Whew!  We’re one step closer to leaving for the Bahamas. 
our view from  our anchorage on Lake Worth

We had friends that we met in Brunswick, GA this summer that were staying at the Old Port Cove marina.  So we anchored near that marina with plans to connect with them tomorrow.  We contacted Bob and Olivia, and Olivia and I went outside on our decks and waved to each other.  We’ll connect tomorrow. 

December 22, 2015 Hobe Sound, FL

80 degrees this morning !! Hello Florida!
We woke up to no-see-ums biting us this morning.  Time to break out the no-see-um nets instead of the regular bug screens.  Hello Florida!

With the way the weather was looking, we didn’t have to hurry to get positioned to cross to the Bahamas.  So we had a relaxed evening and planned to only go part way to Lake Worth in North Palm Beach (which is where we will cross from).

This morning, we noticed another sailboat at our anchorage, but closer to the ICW canal.  We were looking at it’s broad side, but it looked like it was leaning.  As we left our anchorage, we could see that it was stuck and heeling.  That meant they spent the night at that angle, which makes for interesting sleeping arrangements.  We saw that Tow Boat US arrived to help them.  Our navigational information said not to enter the anchorage from that approach.  I guess they know what they are talking about on Active Captain.

We only spent 4 hours on the ICW today.  We passed through Port St Lucie.  This is where the cut off across Florida begins and enters Lake Okeechobee and comes out at Ft Myers on the Gulf side.  So there is always heavy traffic here.  Lots of sport fishermen. 

When Dave didn’t need me outside to watch boat traffic, I decorated the boat with our Dollar Store decorations.  With out room for storing, they get thrown after the holiday.  I chose to get strings of beads this year instead of garland.  We end up with pieces of the garland in the boat.  But I had this fear that the string of beads would break and there would be beads EVERYWHERE.  So it may be back to garland in the future. 
decorating for Christmas
final touch

We anchored early, about 2:00, near Hobe Sound in Peck Lake.  There were a couple boats of teens or college kids in power boats tied to a platform that they were jumping off of.  Lots of screams from the girls in bikinis and macho tricks from the guys.  The life guard in me was just waiting for an accident to happen.  And Dave was frustrated because we weren’t close enough to get a good view of the bikinis.  And he didn’t want to look like a pervert and bring out the binoculars.  But he did notice a boat closer to them with a guy out on his deck doing some work.  He had the right idea. 

I spent some time cleaning about 20 globes of garlic.  We haven’t been happy with any of the prepared garlic we have found.  So I am going to store these in olive oil and some in balsamic vinegar.  I tried it on a smaller scale this summer and liked it.  So we’ll see how long these last us.  My only problem was containing the "paper wrapping" with a breeze coming through the window above me.
cleaning garlic
olive oil vs balsamic vinigar

December 21, 2015 Ft Pierce, FL

The weather is getting warmer!  In the 70’s today.
We put in a 10 hour day on the ICW.  Dave started using the autopilot on the ICW this year.  He made some corrections this summer that made it work better with small changes.  You don’t get as tired at the helm.  And he gets bored if he isn’t at the helm, so I busied myself inside.  I made breakfast while we were underway and brought it outside to share.  That helps us leave earlier. 

Then during the day, I made meatloaf in muffin tins.  We will freeze them and eat them when we make our crossing.  It will be easier to just take out a couple at a time while under way.  I was thinking we would leave soon.  And since the meat was thawed, I went ahead and made it now.  But it looks like we won’t be able to cross until after Christmas, because of the weather, so I’ll wait to prepare some other things.

We ended up anchoring just after sunset about 6:00 pm just north of the Ft Pierce inlet.  It was a little windy, and we seemed to swing on our anchor, but it held just fine.

I watched for the rocket launching, even though we were now about 70 miles south of Cape Canaveral.  It was cloudy, so I only saw an orange ball of fire for about 10 seconds.

December 20, 2015 Fuel lesson!

I made it up in time to catch my 6:45 am taxi to church.  During mass, the priest asked if there were any visitors.  I was the only one (and among the youngest there at this hour).  So he asked my name, where I was from (SD but live on a sailboat), and what our destination was.  So after mass, the lady behind me asked if we needed a chaperon on our trip to the Bahamas.  I said “sure, how soon can you have your bags packed?”  She said “give me 5 minutes.”  That started our conversation and they ended up giving me a ride back to the marina.   You always feel like you are with family when you are at church :)

We decided to take advantage of the marina facilities this morning.  We did 2 loads of laundry and took showers.  This marina didn’t have fuel, so Dave put 20 gallons of fuel into our tank from our yellow jerry cans and took our 4 yellow diesel cans in a dock cart to the marina next door for fuel.  He called ahead to see if they had diesel fuel.  At their fuel dock, a young guy, early 20’s was pumping the fuel.  Dave watched him use the green hose (usually used for diesel) and they visited about how he’s worked there a long time and was the son of the owner. Dave had to take the fuel cans to the back of their store on the outside to fill them.  When he brought them back to the front, the young man came out of the building and said he should bring them inside.  Dave said he didn’t think the cart would fit, and why bring them in?  The guy then explained to Dave that he had filled them with gas and would have to now empty them.  WOAH!!  We thought it was universal that yellow cans were for diesel and red were for gas!!!  Dave had called ahead to see if they had diesel, the handle was green like most diesel tanks, and he had YELLOW cans.  He didn’t think he had to ask it he was pouring diesel.  So they had to empty the gas out of the cans and then fill them with diesel from a truck.  The flow out of the hose was really strong, meant for filling trucks, not little cans.  So it was a struggle for the guy to do without spilling.  In the end, Dave had to clean the cans off with a “fuel diaper”, a cloth made especially for fuel or oil, before bringing them back to the boat. 

That was a lesson learned.  You can’t assume that everyone knows the universal yellow can is for diesel.  In the future, we will always ask.  I’m sure we will get a few people saying “of course, it’s yellow”.  And Dave can’t wait to say “well, let me tell you a story”.

Back at the boat, he checked online to see what could have happened if we had put gas in our tank.  The first thing he read was “it will either be expensive or very expensive to repair the damage”.  1-2 gallons wouldn’t have hurt, but 20 gallons in our 53 gallon tank would have caused some major damage.  At some point, the engine would have stopped running. Diesel fuel lubricates the engine and all the pressures are set to work with the diesel.  The thing is, if we hadn’t known and had used that fuel down the “road”, we many never have put the two together and figured out what the cause of our problems were.  I hope we can help others avoid this problem.  Always double check what fuel you are getting. 

It was a breezy day on the water.  Even though we had a late start, we motored 8 hours on the ICW and anchored near the Merritt Island Bridge in Cocoa, FL.  We passed the Kennedy Space Center and NASA today.  We had been hearing the coast guard making announcements about the Port of Canaveral being closed before and 30 minutes after the scheduled rocket launch.  So I googled the launch and saw it was at 8:30 tonight.  We were anchored about 10 miles south of the launch and I couldn’t wait.  WELL, 8:30 came and went with no launch  I thought maybe it was delayed, so I checked my sources again, and it was for tomorrow.  OOPS!

Kennedy space center and rocket launch

Little hairy going through when one side won't open

December 19, 2015 New Smyrna Beach City Marina, FL

It was cold this morning!  The weather app said 43, but feels like 37.  We pulled out our foul weather gear, hats and gloves.   It did warm up to 63.  Our great niece and nephew, Claire and Garrett, had given us some green gloves they picked up at the Turkey Trot in Mpls.  With Dave’s red coat and green gloves, he looked like the Grinch.  We had to send them a picture.  They replied that they were in the airport waiting to go to Disney World for the week before Christmas.  We had forgotten it was today.  Seemed strange to be so close to them in Florida.
The Grinch-Thank you Garrett and Claire for the gloves

Today we moved along the ICW to New Smyrna Beach City Marina.  We spent about 8 hours on the water.  There were about 5 or 6 draw bridges to pass under.  These all opened on request.  Further south, they open on a set schedule. 

I spent time below organizing, cooking, cleaning-you know, that stuff I didn’t do when I was working full time. 

We decided to get a slip for the night at the city marina, where we stayed last year on our way north.  We arrived just a little after 3:00.  I was trying to make it to church by 4:00.  But the time we had the boat settled and made it to the office, it was closer to 3:30.  I checked into the free shuttle bus, but you had to schedule a pick up 2 hours in advance.  I was the 6th caller on hold, so decided to go for a taxi.  The 2nd one I called could pick me up shortly after 4:00, so I decided late was better than never.  Well, it was about 4:20 when they arrived, so I made a change of plans.  I had them take me to the Publix grocery store instead.  Then I set a time for them to pick me up to go to the 7:00 am mass in the morning. 

After restocking our boat with perishables and goodies for Christmas, Dave and I walked downtown for dinner.  The marina and taxi drivers recommended about 5 places all within about 6 blocks.  We walked past all of them and then returned to the one putting out the great BBQ smoke.  Dave could go out for BBQ every day of the week.  Yellow Dog Eats was great.  They had ribs tonight as their special.  So we ordered a rack of them along with a pulled pork sandwich and a turkey sandwich.  They were both unique and awesome.  We shared the sandwiches, had a couple ribs, and took the rest back to the boat.  Looking forward to that leftovers dinner. 
crazy boat decorations
these Christmas decorations look our of place with live plants  
downtown New Smyrna Beach

December 18, 2015 Day at anchor in Matanzas Inlet, FL

We thought there were supposed to be some strong winds and rain today, so we decided to stay another night at this anchorage.  It probably would have been fine on the ICW, but we took the day to get some other things done. 

Since we had a wifi connection, I tried updating my blog.  But it was REALLY slow.  I hope to have everything up to date before we leave for the Bahamas.

We needed to store a few things in our bilge, so we took up the floor boards today.  And what should we find but water in our bilge.  It wasn’t much, and it was salty.  So either it is a slow leak into the boat, or it came from running the water maker.  We’ll clean it up, then check it again after the next time we make water.

We enjoyed our steak dinner tonight.  And I convinced Dave to try a game of Triominos.  He actually liked the game :)

December 17, 2015 38th wedding anniversary in FL

Happy 38th Anniversary for us!  I made us a nice “anniversary breakfast” while Dave made the boat ready to leave the anchorage.  We hadn’t decided where to spend the night, at anchor or in St Augustine.  We decided that we would rather keep moving south since Friday looked like we would have bad weather. 

So we moved right on past St Augustine.  Passing the inlet and waiting for the Bridge of Lions to open on the half hour can be tricky because of the strong current.  Luckily, there weren’t any other boats waiting for the opening with us.  It can feel like a bunch of cars in a Shrine Circus parade trying to wait in a channel. 

We decided to go to the Active Captain app and leave a review of the anchorage last night so others would avoid the confusion that we experienced.  Active Captain is a wonderful app that every boater should use.  It gives you up to date information about anchorages, hazards, marinas, ect, with peoples opinions.  We were using the Active Captain data on our Garmin Bluechart Mobile App.  So I went to the original Active Captain app to leave a review.  Well on their site, we saw lots of other comments that would have saved us all the trouble last night.  Sooooo, I sent a message to the Active Captain Facebook page asking about the differences in Garmin vs their app.  It was nice to get a response from them so quickly.  We had recently upgraded both of these apps, but they thought something must not have been completed, because their Garmin matched their site. 

So we decided to use our data plan (since we didn’t have a wifi to use) and re download the Active Captain on our Garmin Bluechart Mobile app.  We use this all the time and wanted it to be accurate.   Once this was complete on both of our phones, everything showed up as it should.  Hurray!!  Funny how maybe you should check out those things before you leave the marina.

We continued down the ICW about 15 more miles (about 3 hours) passed St Augustine to Matanzas Inlet.  We had anchored here before and were anchored by 3:30.  We planned to have a nice dinner on the boat for our anniversary. 

Dave went to work right away getting our water maker running.  It had been “pickled” for 6 months while we were at the marina.  You never know what parts will or won’t work.  And we had a new pump since we last used it.  We didn’t want to run it back at the marina because the water wouldn’t have been very clean, and it would have made the filters filthy.  Everything ran great.  And the water here tested as some of the cleanest we have seen.

We decided to start our steak dinner, but found out one of the steaks was still frozen.  So we went to plan B.  We’ll grill the steaks tomorrow and make our second favorite meal, Mexican, tonight.  We ran the generator for about an hour, filling our water tanks.  We found a local wifi we could pick up, so did some catching up on e-mails and Facebook. 

After eating and cleaning up after dinner, we each took showers.  That was the high light of the day for us.  Boy have our priorities changed.  We played a game of cards and called it a night.  We were both tired from our events of the night before. 

December 16, 2015 Ran aground off of ICW

We had an early start and ate breakfast underway.  The ICW was pretty calm, so I could cook easily.  If you are out on the ocean, it’s best to have meals prepared that only need heating or can be eaten cold.  I will prepare some of those things before we cross to the Bahamas.
removing the snubber-it stops the jerking motion of the anchor chain

successful anchorage
 There was some light fog this morning as we left, but it cleared up and we could feel the temperature rising as we headed south.  We crossed the St John’s River that goes into Jacksonville with no problems.  There is a strong current there and lots of shipping traffic, so it can be hairy. 

We came to a previous anchorage about 3:30 and didn’t want to stop.  So looking ahead, we found an anchorage that we would reach close to sunset, and possibly we would be anchoring in the dark.  Dave was OK with that, so I was too, and we contiuned.

About 5:00 a heavy fog rolled in.  After going through all the air in one can in the fog last December, we hooked up a mechanical fog horn.  It worked great.  If you are  moving, you have to sound a 5 second horn every 2 minutes.  We didn’t see any other boats on the ICW.  Gee, I wonder why?  Now it is approaching sunset and it is foggy.
fog rolling in
do you see the red channel marker?
oh there it is!
opposite side of the channel
We came to the anchorage about 5:30, but misinterpreted the directions.  The place we left the ICW looked fine on the chart plotter, but we quickly hit ground.  And we were near a crab pot.  You don’t want to pick up the line to the crab pot in your prop-can be major damage. 
crab pot too close for comfort

We wiggled around in the muck for a while.  As long as you can move, there is hope that you will work your way free.  A fishing boat with a couple guys came by and asked if we needed help.  There was no way they could pull us free.  And we didn’t really want their help because he was drunk and waving a beer bottle as he was talking to us.  But we did find our that this area was very shallow and there were oyster beds in the area, which explained the “crunch crunch” probably scraping the paint off of our keel.  And that the anchorage we were looking for was just a bit further south, around the next bend. 

Our next thought was to move weight forward on the boat.  We moved 5 10 gallon jerry cans of fuel to the bow which are about 35 lbs each.  And we took the dinghy off of the davits and let it float behind us.  I also stayed out on the bow.  It didn’t seem to make a difference because now it was 6:30 and the tide was going down.  So we resigned ourselves to waiting for low tide at 8:00 and then wait about 3 hours after that to rise and float us off of the bottom.  Dave set an anchor so we wouldn’t go any further into the muck or float into more trouble once we were afloat.  We couldn’t really set an anchor like we usually would.  We would usually motor backwards and make sure it’s holding.  All we could do was drop a pile of chain on top of the anchor and hope we stayed put. 

We went below and made dinner.  I cleaned up the dishes and read or played on my phone, while I had power.  Dave tried to sleep.  About 11:00, I looked out and we had swung 180 degrees and were floating!!!!  I woke Dave and we decided to move to a better anchorage.  We could see a big light heading north on the ICW which would be near us soon.  So we decided to wait for it to pass rather than trying to share the canal in the dark.  It was two large tug boats connected.  They had a huge spot light and were scanning the horizon.  They didn’t call us on the radio when they saw us, just passed by.  They probably thought we were anchored for the night. 

We were able to bring up the anchor and motor back to the channel with no problem.  Just a ways down the ICW, we found 3 other sailboats anchored in the area we should have been.  We motored up between them and found a good spot to anchor.  I usually watch Dave’s hand signals, but couldn’t in the dark.  We made it with a few verbal directions and using a flashlight.  We shut the engine off at 11:50 pm.  10 minutes short of our 38th wedding anniversary.  At no time did we feel we were in any danger.  And neither of us lost our temper.  Both of us were at fault in some way for what happened.  And we learned from the experience.  Life with Dave has always been an adventure and the adventures continue. 

December 15, 2015 Leaving Brunswick Landing Marina

Thank you, thank you, thank you Gary for letting us use your car one more time.  We both forgot that we wanted to get some cash before leaving the area.  So we drove somewhere to do that.  We didn’t want to temp fate by riding away from a cash machine on our bicycles.  Then we made one more trip to the storage unit.  We wanted to store the comforters we had been using as a mattress cushion.  We won’t need them where we’re going:) On the way back, we stopped at Burger King and picked up breakfast for us and Gary.  After having breakfast on his dock, Gary followed us to our boat to help us “shove off”.  Ricardo joined us, too.
lining up help to cast us off-Ricardo and Gary with Dave

It only took us a few minutes to unhook our water hoses and power cords and store them away.  Everything else was ready to go.  We gave our last hugs and said our last thank you’s.  Gary took our shower house keys and the last of our mail to the marina office for us so we didn’t have to stop the boat at their dock on the way out.  And Gary took pictures of us leaving.  I often do that for others.  It’s fun to see what your own boat looks like on the water.  It was about 11:00 by the time we left.

wrapping up the hoses

leaving our slip

motoring out of the marina
beautiful calm day

boy voyage
 We planned our departure to pass Jekyll Island at high tide, which was perfect.  When we first passed Jekyll, our keel touched the bottom as we slid along in the muck.  I enjoyed seeing the Rah Bar from the water, since we had been there a couple times this summer.  And we saw dolphins within the first hour of being on the water. 

We motored our way down the ICW to an anchorage at Delaroche Bay about 3:30.  It was halfway down Cumberland Island.  We just wanted a short day to get our heads on right. 

Can’t believe we had the boat at Brunswick Landing Marina for 6 months.  It really is a great marina.  It’s reasonably priced, free laundry, close to downtown with restaurants and local theater, free bicycles which we can use for groceries or parts, close to a Catholic church, and a nice club house for gathering, which includes TV’s for movie night or ball games or yoga DVD’s, free wine at happy hour 3 days a week, 2 potlucks a month, and a free keg of beer tapped all the time.  I think there will be an AA meeting hall next year.  They also provide a big dinner celebration on every major holiday.  We plan to return there in the summer when we leave the Bahamas.  We don’t plan to stay there all summer, but we didn’t plan to do that this summer either.  You just never know when it comes to sailing and free booze :)

It was such a nice day that we were tempted to go out on the ocean instead of the ICW.  But we thought we better get our “sea legs” back before we do that.  Plus we hadn’t planned where we would come back off the ocean.  It’s best to plan ahead for those things.  But we did that once with Cheryl in the Bahamas and it worked out.  Hence the name Luck of a Fool.