Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 21-23, 2014 GA Festivities

Sunday, I sang with the choir at church again.  When I got back, we found out there was a party at the yacht club at the marina that everyone was invited to.  A couple from Australia, their 2 sons and her parents had been working on a boat here for 9 years and were finally ready to leave.  They wanted to throw this party to thank everyone for helping them and to say good-bye.  It was a nice chance for us to meet some of the sailors on the other docks.  They provided beer, wine, shrimp, oysters, ribs, pork, chicken, potatoes, mac and cheese, salads, bread sticks and desserts.  They had a 2 person band that played a lot of 70’s songs and several people danced.  It went from about 2:00 to 6:00.  And we even had a doggie bag of ribs and chicken.  Very nice people that were glad to share with people they had never met, like us. 

Tuesday, Dave gave me my Christmas present early, a day of shopping and a massage.  Since I didn’t know anyone here, I picked a place near a mall.  I took a taxi there about 11:00 am and spent some time wandering through stores.  Christmas is really different living on the boat.  You are really limited in what you can have aboard for personal items.  So exchanging gifts doesn’t seem that important.  And when we need something, we usually order it on Amazon when we know we will be someplace for a few days to have it shipped.  Dave has been considering getting some slippers for the boat.  I was excited to find him a pair of Green Bay Packer slippers.  I was looking for a couple kitchen items, but I think I need to find a Bed, Bath & Beyond when we have a rental car.  I had a nice lunch at a restaurant, not the food court.  And JC Penny’s salon was able to fit me in for a haircut/trim.

Then I had an awesome 90 minute massage.  I really felt fortunate to find her.  She also gave me some great tips to help reduce inflammation in my knees (besides losing weight) such as reduce sugar and be sure to eat greens.  And if it’s hard for us to get fresh greens on the boat, I could drink them with a powdered source of greens.  So we’ll see. 

We've been spending the evenings watching our favorite Christmas movies on DVD or on Amazon Prime, which allows us to watch  movies for free (although the choices aren't always great).  And sometimes our wifi connection isn't great. 

December 18-20, 2014 GA cooking and boat prep

On Thursday, we called Dave’s mom to get the recipe for Hap’s pork chops that he would do in the oven.  We had been to a little local grocery store this week that was owned by Mexicans.  They had every part of the pig available in the store.  Dave said “everything but the squeal.”  And they had a lot of packages that were around $5 value, but you could pick 5 marked packages for $20.  I let him pick the pork knuckles for a pork and beans dish and the pork chops, but convinced him to get two different fish (swai nuggets and flounder) and a breakfast sausage. 

We made the pork chops on the stove top then placed them in our Wonderbag for the day.  If you haven’t read about this bag before, it’s a bag that works like a crock pot with no energy source.  I am always the one trying to include vegetables in our meals.  When I asked Dave if he wanted a vegetable, he said  “You know that's your decision, I’ll give you a private moment so you can talk to yourself about it.”  Don’t know why I even asked.  They turned out perfect.  I don't think either of us said a word to each other until our plates were clean.   

Friday, I spent a day with the 24 hour flu while Dave guarded the gangway of the boat on his computer at the table.  Didn’t want anyone else getting it :)

Dave also spent time this week preparing the boat for the prop/shaft work we will have done here in January.  First he decoupled the shaft to be able to find out what our maximum RPM's were on this engine.  It needed to get to 3000rpm's and he was able to do that.  The prop has to be set to the engine's max speed.  This prop was set to our old tachometer.   And then he made sure the decoupling bolts were able to be loosened before we have the work done in the boat yard.  Sometimes mechanics have to spend a half day just getting them to loosen.  He had no problem.  He used a crowbar, "his little yellow friend", under the motor mount to be sure the motor wasn't causing the vibration.  We'll find out what else we can do as prep work before January 6.  Dave was told that if you had a crow bar on board, you would be able to get anything of any weight to your boat, even if it was an inch at a time. 

On Saturday, I took the marina bicycle to the Winn Dixie about 2 miles away.  I wanted to pick up a few things to make some fun Christmas treats and whatever we thought we would need for Christmas.  Next time I do that, I will carry one of those baskets and stop when it gets full or too heavy.  I filled my backpack and could barely lift it onto my back.  Plus I had a bag hanging off of each handle bar.  Luckily I was in a parking lot with lots of room when I tried to mount the bike and had room to swerve.  I almost called Dave to meet me part way.  But once I started moving, it was fine.  When I arrived at the marina, I noticed one of the bags had a hole and it would have just been a matter of time before I started loosing things. 

I made Chex mix and some Christmas candy from a recipe I saw on FaceBook.  It was with almond bark, pretzels, peanut butter and pieces of Heath candy bars.  We made lots of friends on the dock that night.  There are several single guys on boats that loved something home made. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 15-17, 2014 GA Wedding Anniversary

Dec 15:  Today, Dave met a man from Norway.  He was helping his son move a boat from Boston to Key West.  We took them some warm banana bread and visited for awhile.  He has a boat that he keeps in Greece and would be interested in swapping boats sometime.  That would be so cool.  we have always wanted to sail there.  We swapped contact information and may make it happen some day.  And we found out the boatyard can work on our boat Jan 6, 2015.  Yeah, earlier than we thought. 

Dec 16:  Dave is lining up the things he needs to get his Coast Guard approved Captain’s License.  He has studied for the exam and is looking into where he can take the test while we are here.  He also needs CPR and 1st aid.  I need to renew my CPR by the end of January to keep my SD dental license active.  So we’ll both take the classes.  Today, we went to an office in Brunswick to get our TWiC cards.  Transportation Worker Identification Credential.  Since we were here, I got mine, too.  So I better start studying for the test. 

December 17, 2014
Happy Anniversary to my Happy Wanderer.  We started with a 2 year honeymoon in Germany (compliments of the USAF) 37 years ago.  Now we are starting the second year of our second honeymoon living on a sailboat.  Thank you, Dave, for showing this South Dakota girl the world.  Dave has always had a lust for adventure and I have enjoyed the ride. 

To celebrate our anniversary, we took the marina’s one speed bicycles to St. Simons Island.  We figured it would be at least 6 miles one way, but it would be mostly flat.  There was a nice bicycle lane across the savannah to the island.  There were  5 bridges.  I don’t know why I didn’t think about that 65 foot bridge we sailed under last June on the Intracoastal Waterway.  Another one was 40 feet and the other 3 were 6 or 9 foot, so basically flat. 

The bicycle path at the island circled the end of the island.  It was a beautiful ride, but added some miles.  When we got to the ocean, we felt like tourists.  There were a lot of little shops and restaurants.  We went to the lighthouse and looked out over the channel markers for the inlet.  It was interesting to see what we had come through in the fog over a week ago.  I remember Dave saying there was a light house on the shore, but we couldn’t see it at the time.  We also watched dolphins frolicking in the water.  This would be a great place for a family reunion.

We decided to have a light late lunch before returning to the boat.  We picked a place with out door seating in the sunshine.  We each had a cup of their New England Clam chowder and their Crab Bisque.  They were both excellent.  We decided it was the amount of butter they used.  We also shared a shrimp sampler of 12 shrimp, 3 each of buffalo, coconut, bacon wrapped, and fried.  Dave’s favorite part was the free serve yourself ice cream with toppings that came with every order. 

When we went back to our bikes, Dave announced “it’s all down hill on the way home!”  Some people walking by burst out laughing.  When you think about it, we were at sea level. 

We stopped at a grocery store and hobbled around leaning on the cart.  We filled our back packs with some essentials and made it back to the boat just before dark.   

We didn’t have evening plans for our anniversary because I wanted to go to choir practice for Christmas.  The  church is about a mile away, so I took a taxi and someone gave me a ride home.  Had to take those stairs to the choir loft pretty slow up and down. 

We figured we actually biked about 20 miles.  Remember, we have been sitting on a boat for a year with occasionally walking or swimming.  We loved it.

Late breakfast before our ride
Dave's speed

My speed

This is the 40 foot bridge

cool to cross the ICW since we have sailed under this bridge

Lighthouse we didn't see in the fog

free ice cream is the best

beautiful bike path. interesting to see fallen leaves next to palm plants

This is why they picked Savannah for that city's name. It's about an hour north of here (by car that is).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 14, 2014 Church and One year anniversary

This morning, I rode bicycle to church.  The catholic church is about a mile away.  I have been to some beautiful cathedrals and basilicas in our travels, but the special thing about this small church was that it had the name of one of my grandfathers,  St Francis Xavier.  He was always known as FX.  And the size of the church was similar to the one I attended growing up in Miller, SD.  I talked to the choir director about singing with them for Christmas.  They would love to have me join them, especially since they have several members that won’t be here.  They practice on Wednesday nights, so there is only one more practice before Christmas Eve.  And that happens to be our anniversary.  Dave was OK with me spending the evening there. 

There is a beautiful park next to the church.  The sunlight was shining through the Spanish moss and I tied to capture it on film.  The fountain, railings, and plants have all been restored to what it looked like in the 1800’s. 

the town has several squares

Dec 14 was when we left Alabama and started our cruising life.  One year and 1860 nautical miles or 2140 miles.  Dave thought that was nothing to brag about.  We did spend a lot of time in Ft Myers Beach, FL and in Wilmington, NC.

We feel very fortunate that we both want to be on this adventure.  We have met a lot single guys or couples where the wife is only doing this because the husband wants to.  But we have also met some great sailing couples.  And it has been fun to hear their stories of where they have been, or exchange tips about living aboard a boat. 

Here are a few things that I really enjoy.  Seeing dolphins from our boat, the rocking of the boat (to a degree), the sunrises and sunsets on the water, seeing new places, learning new things related to boating, rarely setting an alarm clock, meeting new people and hearing about their sailing adventures and the simplicity of life. 

We miss our son, being able to be at important functions of family or friends, and sitting on a comfortable couch or easy chair. 

I still smile every time I return to our boat and every time I see the water.  They say you should discuss whether you want to continue cruising on a yearly basis.  Our decision is to keep going. 

December 13, 2014 GA farmer's market

This morning I finally went to the local Farmer’s Market.  They have it every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday about 2 blocks from here in Mary Ross Park.  I always have to spell my name on the telephone because people think I am saying Mary Ross instead of Mary Roth.  So I kind of liked the name of the park. 

It was nice to get fresh fruits and vegetables again.  There were large bunches of greens with a stalk similar to celery, but not as dense.  I found out it was mustard and that the whole bunch would cook down to 2 servings of mustard greens.  I decided to pass on that.  We had recently read about making soup stock using turnips.  So I bought a bunch of about 10 turnips.  The lady told me that a lot of people only cook the roots.  I guess I hadn’t thought about making turnip greens.  I was able to get eggs here, but it was a cardboard flat with 20 eggs.  Luckily I had brought some bags and was able to carefully carry them back to the boat.  I have a hard container that I can put 12 eggs in and close the lid.  But these eggs looked too big for that.  So now what to do with these eggs.  I have read that if you buy eggs that aren’t refrigerated, you don’t have to refrigerate them at the boat.  So we are going to test that, especially since it isn’t hot here.

After I got back to the boat, Dave came up with some ideas for meals.  So he went back to the market with me.  We ended up buying lots of onions and garlic and basil.  And he wanted a half gallon of raw milk for $4.  Dave made an awesome French onion soup and cooked turnips.  Then he made pesto using the fresh basil we bought and Georgia pecans (from Farmer’s Market) instead of pine nuts.  Very Good!!
turnips with bacon and French onion soup

Dave's pesto

shrimp pesto spaghetti

December 12, 2014 GA Bikes, lights and show

This afternoon, we used the marina bicycles and went in search of the marina’s boatyard.  It is at the far end of the docks.  There are 15 docks and then a long dock along the shoreline before you get to the boatyard.  When we left the street level, there was a ramp connected to the long dock.  Well, being a mountain biker all those years in SD gave Dave the courage to ride down the ramp and turn at the end before going into the water.  Plus the handle bars were just about as wide as the railings on the ramp.  I walked my bike.  Even on the dock, it was strange riding your bike.  It was similar to standing close to a window in a tall building.  You know you are safe, but it still feels a little scary.  And there was no one on the dock, or I would have been walking mine the whole way.

notice the turn you have to make at the bottom of the ramp

At the boat yard, we talked to the manager about having some work done on our prop.  There is a vibration that could be caused by a variety of things.  The boat would have to be hauled out of the water and we’d have to get a room somewhere.  (maybe time for another road trip.)  With their schedule and the Holidays, it may be the middle of January before they could work on it.  So we’ll line things up and see where we still plan to be here. 

We found out Dave is being assigned to a local ophthalmologist, so we are waiting to hear from them, or we will receive a letter with their information to call them.  Well the letter will go to our mail forwarding service and then we’ll have it sent here.  So no plans can be made yet.   If we decide to move the boat further south, we’ll check into having the prop fixed there.  But it should be done before we go to the Bahamas. 

Tonight they had “Deck the Hull” in the marina.  The boats were judged for 3 places for best decorations.  The winners will receive a month free at the marina.  Obviously, the people that decorated live in the area.  There is no way you would be able to store those decorations on board.  Right from the cockpit of our boat, you could see 4 decorated boats.  It was a beautiful still night, so the reflections in the water were very pretty.  I only use my cell phone, so the picture really didn’t do it justice.  But it was very festive.

This evening we went to the Ritz Theater in downtown Brunswick for the live production of a 40’s style radio show of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  They were even dressed in 40’s style clothing.  It was fun to watch.  They are doing  “A Christmas Carol” next weekend, so I think we’ll go to that, too.
before the show

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11, 2014 GA making progress and buns

The heater kicked in about 7:00am after a big trawler left the marina.  I think they were the power hogs.  The outside temperature on my phone said 29 degrees.  I snuggled back into bed.  A couple things I learned about life on a boat in cold weather (and from growing up on the prairie in SD).  Hurry to the bathroom right after your spouse has been there, because the seat will still be warm.  Warm up your clothes under the covers before putting them on.  Now if anyone has any advice for Dave about my Christmas present, he’s looking for an adapter for me to drink coffee while still under the covers,  I’d appreciate any info you can give him. 

Today, Dave looked further into the AC/heater.  He found something burnt out on the main board.  We had that board replaced last winter, so we now have to decide if we can replace that part of the board, replace the board again, or get a whole new unit.  He checked to see if the AC still worked, and it did.  So since we don’t plan to spend a lot of time in cold weather, we have the space heater for when we have shore power, and we are getting a small propane space heater for when we are anchored, we may just forget about having in house heat.  Lots of boaters don’t have it.  That's the plan for now.

Then Dave moved on to the water maker.  He put in the new impeller and it ran perfectly.  Woohoo!   Then he ran fresh water to clear the lines.  Then he “pickled” the system again, because we won’t need to use it while we are in a marina.  Otherwise you need to use it at least every 3 days to keep the lines fresh.  We have water available at our slip.  We just have to use a hose to fill our tanks.  So far, we have had good water at every marina.  That may not be the case in some foreign countries.  So we do have a filter system attached to our faucet that we can use if we need to.  He also ordered a replacement impeller for future use.  Speaking of water, we now know why people put lemon in their water.  We have had some strange tasting water in restaurants in the south. 

I made buns from scratch using my sister Bev’s recipe.  Dave has always “loved her buns”.  So when I was looking through recipes yesterday, he said “why don’t you just get the recipe Bev uses.” And it was nice to visit with her and find out that she was feeling good after her decompression illness in Florida. 

Today, Dave hooked up our fog horn. It is removable and we will store it inside the boat.  But if we are in fog, we will mount it outside and run the wiring to it that Dave connected today.  We have controls for it on the VHF control panel.  It has settings for underway (by motor) one long, stopped- 2 long, sailing- one long and two short, towing-one long and three short.  Each one of these signals will sound every two minutes automatically.  If you are anchored in fog, you have to ring a bell for an extended time every minute.  Luckily, the fog cleared by the time we were anchored a few days ago.  We detached the horn, otherwise Dave would be using it as a PA system to “tell other boaters where to go” or practice his pirate talk. 

Our AIS (automatic identification system) wasn’t working after we arrived here.  There is one antenna serving 2 AIS (Icom and ray marine). The one antenna has a splitter for the two.  The cable going to the icon wasn’t seating fully, so he put a new vhf connector on it and now it is working.  I got to help by holding the solder for him. 

Dave really felt like he accomplished some things today.  I rewarded him with a great Italian dinner with the fresh backed buns.  They were good, but not as good as Bev’s.  Dave said he would gladly eat my practice buns. 

Before dinner, we both had showers in the marina shower house.  They were really nice.  I have only seen one shower house as nice since we started cruising a year ago, and that was at Gulf Shores, AL at the Wharf.  When I came out of the shower house, I was greeted by a beautiful sunset and a dolphin in the marina. 
Sorry, I didn't catch the dolphin on film

December 10, 2014 GA West Marine bicycle trip

The Marina has complimentary bicycles for transient boaters to use.  So we thought we would ride 2 miles to West Marine.  It was close to noon, so we decided to have lunch downtown, make theater reservations for this weekend (more on that later), and ride to West Marine.  Well, there are 3 bicycles and there was only one available.  We have 2 collapsable bikes on board.  We need to service them to use them (fill tires and lube).  That will happen another day.  So I graciously declined making the bike ride and let Dave go by himself.  I even gave him permission not to stop at the grocery store. 

Dave had called West Marine to be sure they carried the impeller that he needed for the water maker.  That was one that they normally stock, and yes they had one.  When he got there, they didn’t have one!  This has happened before with West Marine.  So he let them have a piece of his mind, put back the other things, and left.  But before he got back on his bike, he thought “maybe they sat one aside for him”.  So he sheepishly went back in to check, and yes they had.  He had to apologize profusely and thanked them for their service. 

Dave said the bike ride was very pleasant.  Of course it’s pretty flat here and we were used to  biking in the Black Hills.  Even within town, you had some elevation changes.  Dave said the only hill he encountered was  where the sidewalk had “tee pee-ed”.  He said he handled it like a pro and even got some air on his single speed heavy bike. 

While Dave was at West Marine, he found a solution to our heater problem :)  A nice space heater!  We started running it close to 5:00 with a couple hatches open because of the new stink smell that goes with it.  Around 7:00, we closed things up to warm up the boat.  At about 8:00, I noticed the heater wasn’t running.  I asked Dave if it was set on a thermostat.  He checked and it was totally off.  So then we noticed that other things plugged into outlets weren’t working (such as our laptops working off of battery).  Dave went out to check our electrical box and found out it was a problem with our entire dock.  The marina has several docks with boats that are here long term.  Our dock has all the transient boats, fuel and the office.  I think all of us transient boaters were running our heaters and it overloaded the system.  Well, a repairman attempted to fix it, but no luck.  So we got under our v-berth to pull out the blankets we have stored for guests.  The inside temp was 52 degrees.  I think it’s been worse. 
I think he wanted to curl up around it like dog
When we get into the storage areas under our v-berth, we can lift the mattress and get to a couple sections.  But to get to the areas closer to the bow, we have to pull back the mattress about half way, crawl over the mattress, lift the boards supporting the mattress, put them aside, and reach into the wells, all without standing in them.  Plus you have to shuffle things out of the way to get to what you want.  So we don’t get into that storage often.  And we often have things setting aside to go back into that space “while you are there”.  It’s times like this that I am glad we are sailing now.  I can’t imagine doing some of these things 20 years from now, maybe even 10. 

Dave spent more time working on the AC/heater this evening.  When he came to bed, I thanked him for working so hard.  He said “yeah, like the Tasmanian Devil, spinning in circles and not accomplishing anything.”

This marina has sailing classes.  There were about 4 boats that took off after school with teenagers.  What an opportunity!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 9, 2014 GA work, work, work

We spent some time this morning with computer projects.  We had to print some pages, then scan them and e-mail them.  We have to dig out the printer and scanner, then put everything away again.  It’s not like you can just walk into your home office and take care of business.

This marina has FREE laundry.  So I spent my afternoon in their nice lounge area attached to the laundry room doing some work on the computer  (with a very slow internet connection) while doing laundry.  I met Werner, an older gentleman originally from Germany, who lives on his boat in the marina.  He has been here 10 years.  So I asked him all kinds of questions about the area and the marina and hurricanes. 

Dave worked on our AC/heater.  He checked the wiring on the solenoid because he had heard clunking noises back around Thanksgiving when it quit working.  We didn’t deal with it then, because we didn’t need it to get the boat moving out of NC.  So now Dave is going to check into replacing parts vs replacing the whole unit.  We actually have 2 units.  The larger one, forward, heats the main cabin and our v-berth.  The smaller unit heats the aft cabin and there is a little vent in the galley in the aft section of the boat.  Only the aft unit is running. We are able to run the AC for extended periods.  But last winter when we ran the heat for several days, the forward unit stopped.  We replaced a board then, but the mechanic didn’t know what caused it to go bad.  So maybe replacing the whole thing would be best.  It will take more investigating to be sure.   It’s getting into the 30’s at night now. So we  may get a little space heater.  We are starting to sound like southerners whining about the cold.  At least we own cold weather gear, like long underwear, fleece and smart wool socks.  

Today, Dave replaced the filters in the water maker.  He cleaned the cover and the impeller and put it al back together.  Then he had to run it to put fresh water into the system and it wouldn’t work again.  He talked to Cruise RO, the WM company.  They said he should replace the impeller.  Then if it’s still not working, they will replace the pump.  The closest West Marine is 1.8 miles from here.  The marina has bicycles to use for free, so we may just take a ride tomorrow and carry back packs for the grocery store. 

Since both of us were working until about 6:30, we decided to check out another restaurant downtown.  It was nice to go for a walk and check out the Christmas lights.  We went to Basil Thai and Sushi restaurant and it was excellent.  It was recommended by the marina. 

December 8, 2014 GA windy anchorage-to marina

We decided to stay put for a few days because of the strong winds that were predicted.  Before going to bed last night, we knew it was going to be a rough one.  It was the first time I had to brace myself with my knees to be able to floss my teeth. 

Our bed is in the v-berth, which is the bow of the boat.  We were being tossed around quite a bit.  About 1:00 am, Dave was snoring and I was wide awake and starting to feel nauseous.  So I took a few blankets and moved to the salon area.  We still had the dinette table made into a bed from our passages.  The center of the boat doesn’t have as much motion, and I was able to sleep here. 

Here’s what we learned about winds.  The Beaufort Scale uses levels of winds.  There are 5 different levels of breezes.  The last two are fresh breeze which was 17-21 mph, and a strong breeze 22-27 mph.  They described a strong breeze as “whistling in the wires”.  We were definitely in that level during the night and today.  The wind in the rigging reminds me of the sound of a blizzard on the prairie.  The rest are: near gale 28-33 mph, gale 34-40, strong gale 41-47, storm 48-55, violent storm 55-63, hurricane 64+.  At 10:00pm last night, the forecast off of the coast near us was for strong breeze of 23-30 mph with gusts to gale.  We felt those gust, and were glad we weren't out on the ocean. 

We weighed our options of staying here another night or moving to a marina.  There is a marina about 5 miles from here that we wanted to check out for a future “hurricane hole”.  So we thought it would be best for us to go there now and check it out (wink wink). 

About 1:00, we pulled up anchor and headed to Brunswick Landing Marina.  Earlier we called them to see if they had a slip available.  You don’t want to move the boat just to find out they can’t accommodate you.  Dave said our anchor had held very well and that it “came up with lots of good muck on it.”  After raising the anchor, he returned to the cock pit and announced “I like these cool windy days when it can blow the snot right off your face.”

Brunswick Landing Marina is in a channel dredged alongside the city of Brunswick off of a river.  So there is no current at the marina.  And it was much more sheltered from the wind.  We tucked up into a slip easily.  After everything was secure, we walked into town, found a happy hour and had a late lunch-early dinner at Tipsy McSways.  They had a hamburger with a list of toppings to choose from.  Dave asked if he could have them all and he did.  But he did bring half of it home. 

We then spent the evening listening to our favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, beat the Atlanta Falcons on the radio on the boat.  We thought if we watched the game in a public place, we may not be welcome in Georgia cheering for the Packers. 

Drinking a beer makes him thing he can eat anything

December 7, 2014 GA USCG and water maker

The reviews of this anchorage were right, we did get some wave action here by passing boats.  Plus we heard the wind come up around 5:00 am.  We were able to sleep in this morning, at least until the US Coast Guard showed up.  Dave was already awake and happen to be looking outside when the USCG boat pulled up along side our boat with about 8 people on board.  3 of them boarded our boat for a routine inspection.  This was our first.  First, they asked to check our bilge to see if we were taking on water.  They wanted to be sure it was safe for them to be on board.  Then they asked for Dave’s driver’s license and our boat registration, HIN-hull identification number and a phone number.  They asked for the horsepower of our engine and of the outboard motors for our dinghy.  For regulations, they asked about life jackets, trash placard, and if we had a horn.  We were both thinking “please don’t try the horn” because the air horn was close to empty after yesterday.  It was a good experience and we found out that we were in “ship shape”.

Today, Dave decided to run the water maker (WM) after it had been sitting for 4 months.   Once it was running, we would take our first showers in 5 days.   4 months ago, we ran “pickling juice” through the lines to avoid any growth in the lines.  When Dave tried to run the WM, it kept blowing the circuit breaker.  He had to tear apart our dinette area to get to the  pumps.  I heard lots of swearing and then rummaging in our aft cabin, aka our garage.  The boost pump didn’t appear to be working, so he bypassed it with a pump that we had removed from our forward shower, but was still in good condition.  The system ran with the shower pump.  So he removed the boost pump and found corrosion on the brass area (another issue).  The pump ran fine when not hooked into the WM system.  He put it back in and it wouldn’t run.  This is where Dave said the Gremlins hiding in our boat like to take over just to confuse the issue.  Dave did notice that with the cap of the impeller loose, the WM ran, with it tight, it wouldn’t.  So he tried to do some adjusting with the cap, replaced it, and it ran!!  We took our showers after about 6 hours of Dave working on this.  When we were done making clean water, we had to flush the sea water out of the system.  Now it stopped working again.  So Dave just loosened the cap for it to work during this process.  If he left it loose, water would eventually leak in this area.  The plan was to call the company in the morning.  After we had dinner, Dave was looking though the WM’s manual in the technical information area to check on ordering filters.  Here was a little note written “if you don’t use the WM for extended periods of time, the impeller may stick to the cap.  You should remove the cap and impeller and clean any residue before replacing them.”  Well, if it had been in the “trouble shooting” area of the manual, it would have saved Dave about 5 hours of work. 
At least it’s running, the lines didn’t stink, so the pickling must have done it’s job.  And Dave said this was some of the purest water we have made with our water maker.  He still plans to replace the filters and recheck everything.

While Dave was doing all this, I was updating my blog, reading a book, or cooking meals and doing dishes.  All in all, it was a lazy day for me. 

Dave adjusting the anchor.  The second anchor mounted on the bow clanged against the boat the first night.  See the blocks at the base of the mast?  They rubbed against each other in the high winds the second night and went "eee-eee, eee-eee" all night long.
doing my part

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 5-6, 2014 SC to Brunswick, GA

We left our anchorage at 10:00 am.  We were glad to see that it wasn’t foggy.  Dave brought up the anchor and I took the boat out of the anchorage and back into the ICW to follow the channel back out of the harbor.  We decided to start our 3  hour watches at 12:00.  Dave took over at 12:00 and about 12:30 turned south out of the shipping lane.  You have to go off shore aways to avoid a lot of hazards.  We’re usually about 3 miles off shore. 

On my 3:00-6:00 pm watch, I had dolphins swimming with the boat for about 2 hours!  Just when I thought they were gone, they would leap out of the water next to the boat again.    There had to be at least 8 of them.  Another cool experience when you are out on the sea alone.  I ended my watch with a beautiful sunset.  This gives a whole new meaning to “Friday happy hour”. 

Dave’s 6-9:00 pm shift was uneventful.  But when I came up at 9:00 pm, there were 5 boats anchored outside of the Savannah inlet.  Dave said “there are more lights here than in most South Dakota towns.”  You could also see them on the radar.  The AIS makes them show up as arrows.  We can hover our cursor over the boat and bring up information.  It gives you the name of the boat, the country of origin, the destination, whether it’s cargo, cruise ship, private or other, and whether it’s anchored our under engine power.  Very interesting.  There is also an alarm that goes off if one of them is within a certain range of our boat.  We can set that range. 

About 9:30, another boat came out of the Savannah River and was heading straight out across our path.  I watched it for about 15 minutes and it seemed like we would be very close to colliding.  They would have the right away for 3 reasons: 1) he is in a shipping lane and we are crossing it, 2) when 2 boats meet, the boat on the starboard side has the right of way, which was their ship (rule of the water), 3) he was much bigger and wouldn’t have cared if he hit our boat.  So I checked with Dave on whether I should change our course.  He suggested just slowing down until I was sure he would clear our path.  Duh!  That was a simple solution.  So about 9:45, I slowed down until he passed in front of us.  Then about 10:20 pm I resumed our speed.  That kept me awake for the remainder of my 3 hour watch.  And our AIS alarm did go off warning us of the collision after I had figured it out.  But that would be helpful if I had fallen asleep on my watch.
Chart plotter with radar  and AIS overlay.  We are in the center, each ring is 5 km, the arrows are the other ships.  you can see one approaching from behind us on the upper right side of the screen.  the 6 facing north are anchored.  The 7th one at right angles to them is moving out across our path.  The one closest to us is red because the AIS was warning us that they were with in our "comfort zone".
This screen shows the ship crossing our path and in red, since it is in our "comfort zone".  If you look closely, the ships on the top of the screen have 2 markings.  The arrows are the AIS indicators and the purple blobs are the radar indicators.  All I remember about the ship crossing our path was that it was a cargo ship and it's destination was China. 
Uneventful night watches.  By the end of Dave’s watch at 9:00 am, it was foggy again.  We were just turning into the St Simons Sound Inlet shipping lane.  These lanes have red and green buoys leading you into the inlet.  The outermost green buoy starts with the number 1, the red ones are even numbers, and they lead you into the inlet, then can split off into different rivers or channels once you are inside.  So they are kind of like road signs for boats.  Since we were heading into the inlet we had the red on the starboard side - "red right returning".

We entered the channel near #5 green and #6 red.  We had to really slow down because of the fog.  Shortly after we turned into the channel, we heard the Coast Guard make a securite’ announcement on the VHF that they were working on the #10 buoy in the St Simons Sound Inlet and any concerned traffic should contact them.  We were just discussing whether we should call them when we heard them call us by our boat name.  I’m sure they could see us coming by radar.  They just let us know that they had a cutter and were located next to the #10 buoy.  So we had to watch through the fog for them to show up and make sure we cleared them.  We were concerned about moving further into the shipping lane, but they hadn’t hailed any other boats, so I think we were the only crazy ones out there in that fog. 

Once we were inside the inlet, we turned south on the ICW and anchored near Red buoy 24.  We went 144 nautical miles (165.6 miles)  in 27 hours.  By now it was 1:00 and our eyes were strained from staring into the fog.  Besides, Dave ended up putting in 4 more hours after his watch should have ended.  It reminded us of driving though fog or snow.  It also reminded me of cross country skiing in a blizzard with Tami Petersen.  I wish we had radar with us on a couple of those days. 

Dave recently added a built in horn but hadn't wired it yet.  When we are motoring in fog, we are supposed to blast our horn for 5 seconds every 2 minutes.  Our wired horn will do this automatically.  When I could hear the Coast Guard’s horn, I used an air horn for our horn.  But as we were getting close to the mouth of the inlet, it was running out.  So I stopped and saved it to use as a warning if we saw another boat.  Luckily we didn’t meet any other boats before our anchorage.  I guess hooking up the horn just moved up on the list of things to be done. 

We plan to stay in this area for 2-3 days because of some bad weather moving through the area.  We enjoyed listening to the Alabama Crimson Tide college football team beat Missouri State in the SEC-south eastern conference. 

My first sight of the buoy in the fog. just above the sail on our deck

looked like the end of the world past this buoy

December 3-4, 2014 NC to Charleston, SC

We finally left NC after 4 months!!  It felt similar to leaving Alabama last December, but we weren’t as nervous. 

We woke to dense fog, but nothing was going to stop us.  The draw bridge just south of the marina opens on demand before 6:00 am and after 6:00 pm, and at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.  We decided to take the 10:00 opening since we have never been early morning people.  We were out of the slip at 9:30 as planned with the help of Mike, the dock master.  Then we called the bridge tender to request the opening and motored up and down the river waiting for the opening. 
Dockmaster, Mike, helping us cast off
Our home for 4 months, already a foggy memory
The bridge opening for us.  the fog wasn't going to stop us
Normally it takes about 4 hours to get to the mouth of the Cape Fear River and out on the ocean.  Today it took us 6 hours with fog the entire way.  We shared the watch so we would have 2 sets of eyes.  About 1:00, the fog was lifting, so I let Dave go below for a nap.  But by 2:00 it was back and I panicked when a large boat gave out a warning 5 second horn blast really close and I couldn’t see him.  No more nap for Dave.  We signaled back and forth several times until we saw the boat cross behind us and head for shore. 

It was still foggy once we got to the ocean.  There were 3 different boats on the radar and AIS (automated  identification system) that we couldn’t see at first.  Once we figured out which direction they were going and could actually see them, we set a course for Charleston with the autopilot.  At 5:00, I started the first of our 3 hour watches.  We then rotated shifts every 3 hours. 

Fog lifting on the ocean.  We actually headed WSW because of the curvature of the coastline

The fog cleared and an almost full moon lit our way through the night.  We made our dining table into a bed to sleep on when we were off watch.  It is more centrally located, so more stable than our v-berth.  During my 5:00-8:00 am watch, the sun came up.  It was beautiful and humbling to see and so peaceful when you don’t see land, another vessel or human being.  Just you and the ocean and the sunrise.  Doesn’t get any better. 
"Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light...."
The ocean was fairly calm all night.  There were winds less than 10mph and just rolling 2-4 foot swells.  In the morning, the winds had picked up just over 10mph.  The wind was on our stern most of the passage.  About 12:00 noon, we turned about 90 degrees to the starboard to enter the Charleston shipping channel into their harbor.  Now the waves were hitting us broad side, so it was more rough.  I could hear a few things hitting the floor below, but Dave tried to sleep a little longer.  He got up about 1:00 when we were close to entering the harbor.  I would have woke him up if he hadn’t.  There is a lot of traffic in this harbor.  We chose to go left up the Ashley River and anchor across the ICW from Battery Park in historic Charleston.  The Cooper River has much more commercial traffic, therefore much more turbulence during the night. 

We were anchored by 2:30pm.  We went 150 nautical miles (172.5 miles) in 28.5 hours.  As Dave settled the boat for the night, I cooked us a hot meal, since we had been eating cold prepared foods for the last 24 hours.  We spent the afternoon figuring out our plan for the next leg of our trip and checking weather reports from several sources.  Sounds like a windy weekend coming up.  We caught up on internet since we had service again.  We had soup about 7:00 and went to bed by 8:00 so we can do this all over again tomorrow.  Dave moved the bedding from our salon area back to our bed.  I heard him say “making the bed is just like throwing a casting net for shrimp”.  He’s been practicing casting the net for when we get to Georgia. 

This was the best passage for me so far.  I felt rested, stayed warm, no sea sickness, and fairly calm seas.  I wasn’t sure how it would go since we had been land locked for 4 months.  Dave was great, as always.  He doesn’t sleep as well, but he never complains.  This next passage will be windier and maybe some rain.  But we’re moving south!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November 27- Dec 2, 2014 Thanksgiving and sailing prep

Thanksgiving Day:  We had a scrumptious Thanksgiving Dinner at St Mark’s Catholic Church that I have been attending.  They provided a meal for those without family in the area.  It was the first time I had collard greens for Thanksgiving.  They even let us make a “to go box”.  Everyone was so friendly.  And several people went out of their way to meet us once they heard we were from SD.  They had family there or were from SD, MN or WI.

Saturday afternoon we went to Wrightsville Beach to watch a Boat Christmas Parade.  We went early to get a decent place to park.  We planned to eat at a restaurant on the route but we would have to sit outside.  It was about 4:00 and the parade wasn't until 6:00.  So we walked to another restaurant, ate at their bar, watched college football and walked back to the original restaurant for the parade.  It was shorter than the ones we saw in Alabama, but still fun.

The pictures don't do them justice
I like the reflection on the water.  You had to be there

I wrote our Christmas letter and e-mailed it out to my usual list.  Then I mailed about a dozen cards to aunts and uncles and older family friends that may not use the internet.  I am trying to have people e-mail their greetings to us, since we have a mail forwarding service now.  This is the second year, but I thought I'd get them out early as a reminder.    

Dave spent the next few days going through systems on the boat to be sure we are ready to leave next week.  Checked raw water screens, checked filters, stowed things and rearrange things in storage, etc.  I cleaned and cooked and did laundry today.  We pulled out some winter clothes for the trip south.  We’ll be able to stow them again once we’re in warmer weather again.  It’s a constant shuffle.  One evening, Dave said he was going to bed because he "ran out of nothing to do".

Dave called the insurance agent handling our claim on Monday.  He said everything was approved!!!!  He was putting together the surveyor’s paperwork, the boat yard’s and their payment statement and would send it on Tuesday. 

So on Tuesday, we settled our bill with Bennet Brother’s Yacht, returned the rental car, topped off our water tanks, and got everything ready to take off in the morning.  Can’t believe this is finally happening. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 24-26, 2014 Ready to leave NC

Dave talked to the boat yard on Monday.  He was surprised we hadn’t heard from the insurance company since the charges were sent to them before we left over a week ago.  That’s when they told us that the insurance company wanted further explanation of the charges, so the final information went to them just this last Friday.  Well, you can imagine that we were really frustrated.  We thought we would hear from the insurance while we were in Florida, come back, settle our bill and head out. 

Well, the weather looked kind of bad this week, so we probably wouldn’t leave until Friday anyway.  We spent the day unpacking and getting resettled into boat life. 

Dave was also working on our Single Side Band radio.  He is getting it hooked up to our GPS.  Then the screen on the SSB and the VHF radio will show our latitude, longitude and time.  That will be handy in an emergency.  Also, when you are listening to the radio and hear of an emergency, it is nice to see immediately if we are in the area and can offer help.  So far, I have been writing down this information when we leave and periodically though out the day.  Here was Dave’s thought for the day: Projects have to give you a little headache or else you didn’t really earn your accomplishment. 

Tuesday:  Dave needed some boat parts, so we went out for a late breakfast.  We made a grocery store run to replenish our fresh fruits, bread, milk etc.  But I also planned some food for our passage.  It is good to cook foods ahead of time that will take little preparation while under way. 

Wednesday:  We discovered the walls of the compartments along the hull are getting condensation because the water is colder now.  So  we opened a few and did some repackaging of things we had in storage.  The compartment with our canned foods was wet, so a lot of the labels were wet and some rust was showing up on the cans.  So I wrote on the lid of every can what the contents were in case the labels come off.  Then I bagged several cans in 2 gallon bags.  I also organized the cans into like foods.   Should be easier to find things now.  And I updated the "what's on my boat" list.

We decided to call the insurance company to see when they thought we would have an answer.  That’s when we found out they were closed for the rest of the week!!!  We called our surveyor.  He said he received the info from out boat yard on Friday.  But he didn’t get his part submitted until yesterday!  So now we are looking at leaving Tuesday at the earliest.  The surveyor really suggested staying here until we receive the payment, then pay the boat yard, just in case there is anything not covered.  Then we could discuss it with them.  We are tempted to just pay the bill and leave and take what ever the insurance pays. 

We did talk to the owner about how frustrated we are.  Originally we were told to expect everything to take a month to a month and a half.  Now it's been 4 months!!  So we decided to go out for chicken wings and beer.  I had a new appetizer-jalapeno macaroni and cheese bites.  They were sinful. 

view of our marina from the draw bridge
jalapeno macaroni and cheese bites

November 20-23, 2014 Florida Tourists

Thursday: Finally we get to play tourist.  We went out for a late breakfast at the Nook.  We saw a high school friend of Pete’s there, Melissa Beadle.  She is now living in Jupiter.  Small world.  On Jupiter Island, there is a section of rocky beach.  We hiked along there looking at the unusual formations.  Cheryl even climbed down between some for a few photo ops, but ended up getting drenched by a rogue wave.  It was great to check out sea shells, get our feet in the water, and just sit and enjoy the view and sounds.  We spent most of the afternoon at the beach.  We returned to the hotel and enjoyed the pool and hot tub.  Then we had dinner in our room with fresh guacamole, seafood salad, cheese and crackers, etc.  And we played cribbage. 

Friday:  We went to Palm Springs to tour the Flagler Museum.  Henry Flagler was responsible for a lot of the development of Florida by bringing the railroad south and building resort hotels.  He was one of the original owners of Standard Oil with Rockefeller.  He also built the railroad to Key West along the Keys.  His home is now a museum and very fascinating.  If you are interested, read Last Train to Paradise.

Then we returned to Jupiter in time to catch the last tour of their lighthouse.  It had 104 steps.  And the view was beautiful.  Afterwards, we had dinner at a restaurant across the inlet with a view of the lighthouse in the dark.  Very pretty.  We returned to our rooms to pack and play more cribbage. 

It had been a windy, rainy, cooler week than usual.  But it was snowing and cold back in SD and OK, so Bev and Cheryl didn’t complain.  It was still in the 70-80’s.  The dive shop said they didn’t go out again the rest of the week because of the conditions, so we wouldn’t have done any more diving anyway.

Saturday: We all left around 10:00 am.  Our hotel was on the IntraCoastal Waterway, the Jupiter Waterfront Inn.  It was only a 2 story unit with balconies over looking the ICW.  It was very clean and comfortable.  The staff were very nice, always helpful, and had great suggestions for restaurants.  It was really windy today.  Dave walked outside with a cup of coffee and the top of his coffee had breakers splashing the coffee onto his hand. 

The girls checked out a tourist shop next door to our hotel.  We saw a sign that was appropriate for our lifestyle: At the beach (boat for us), life id different.  Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment.  We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun. 

We said our good-byes.  They returned to the airport in their rental car.  And we drove north in ours. 

We had a 10 hour drive so we ended up spending the night in Savannah, GA.  We had a room on Bay Street near the Riverwalk.  We had a great dinner and went to an Irish Pub for some great music.  Dave spent most of the week eating our leftovers in the room.  So he enjoyed the night out. 

Sunday: Drove home to our boat in NC.  Stopped for gas and ate at a great Mexican restaurant.  We’ll enjoy a second meal with our leftovers.  
Blowing Rock Beach on Jupiter Island

minutes later Cheryl was soaking wet

Henry Flagler home now a museum

top of lighthouse

Seafood dinner in Savannah, GA