Taking time off to work

Taking time off to work. Now that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one. But it’s really happening. We had a busy summer. We took a road trip, rode out a tropical storm on the boat, evacuated the boat for a hurricane, and endured a broken finger. Now it’s time to  take this season off of sailing to stay in one place and work.

getting the boat ready for hurricane Matthew

getting the boat ready for hurricane Matthew

As you already know, we took an impromptu road trip that lasted about 8 days. After that, we prepared ourselves for tropical storm Hermine. We removed all the canvas from the boat, and got her as ready as possible for come what may. Fortunately it never turned into a hurricane. We sustained some high winds, but overall it wasn’t too bad. Not long after that, we learned of a hurricane headed our way. Once again, we removed the canvas from the boat and did everything we could to secure the boat. We had plans of staying off the boat for this storm. All was going well, but just before the storm hit, Keith had an accident with an angle grinder. The backing plate flew off when he started it up, and cut his finger, breaking the bone in the process.  We spent 5 hours in the emergency room getting it stitched and splinted with instructions to follow up for surgery. Unfortunately we would be evacuated from the east coast before that would take place.  We, along with the rest of the southern  east coast, drove until we found a hotel with a vacancy. For us, that ended up being Callaway Gardens.  It wasn’t the most relaxing for us. We were worried about the boat, and concerned about Keiths impending surgery.

Fast forward 4 weeks. The boat did not suffer any damage during the hurricane. That was such a huge relief. Keith has had his surgery and still sports 2 wires sticking out of his finger and a splint that goes from his forearm to his fingertips. When it is all said and done, he will have had his hand in a splint for 8 weeks. To say he is frustrated would be an understatement.

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remnants of hurricane Matthew.

remnants of hurricane Matthew.

post surgery

post surgery

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Hurricane season is now over. But we aren’t heading south. We decided this summer that we would both get jobs and work as much as we could. That means sitting the season out. We will work up until october of next year and save up as much as we can.  Once Keith gets his splint off and can use his hand, we will be able to work on boat projects again. I’m not sure what the next year will hold for us, but we will work towards our goal of getting to sail next year. As for being here for the next year, Jekyll Island is a great place to be. Life is still good.

………..A great big thanks goes out to our son Taylor for getting my blog back up and running after I let it expire and lost everything. He did all the leg work for me to get it back up and running. I thought I had lost 3 years worth of blogging. What a relief it is to have it back!

 

 

Are you kidding me

Summers in Georgia are hot. Dang hot! Georgia has 4 seasons, cool, tolerable,  really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  Right now we are in the ‘are you kidding me’ season. We got a taste of it in Florida when we had the boat pulled. Having our boat in a gravel lot was hot, dirty and miserable. Needless to say, we completed our boat work and bottom paint as quickly as we could, and by the end of June, we were back in the water.

Keith painting the boot stripe

Keith painting the boot stripe

nice and clean finally

nice and clean finally

We sailed back to Jekyll Island, where we stay during hurricane season. As much fun as it was sailing to the Bahamas and Florida, it was great to get back.  This has become our home over the last few years. We know the people here. We are welcomed  back by them. It feels like home.

Now we are in the ‘are you kidding me’ season. It’s HOT!  Thankfully, we have an air conditioner in the boat. While there are a lot of boats that have central air (so to speak)  installed, we do not. We do, however, have a window unit air conditioner that we use when we are at the marina and can plug into shore power. There are some days when the a/c can not keep up with the heat. Still, it’s better than no a/c at all.                                 We are thrilled that this marina has a swimming pool. It’s been so hot that the boaters have moved our dock parties to the pool. Now we sip our beverages waist deep in the, not too cool, water.

In July we found ourselves with  nothing to do, so we decided to take an impromptu road trip, in search of cooler weather. We had no agenda other than to head Northwest. We made our decisions along the way. We ended up in Colorado springs for a few days. We explored the garden of the gods, hiked one of the trails and stood next to a ‘balanced’ rock. To say we were amazed at the beauty of Colorado would be an understatement.

Keith and the 'floating' rock

Keith and the ‘floating’ rock

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

We then headed down south to Canon City where we did some river rafting and zip lining. That was a cool town where everyone was laid back. Lots of young people with backpacks exploring the area.  The weather there was warm, but nothing near as warm as  Georgia. After that, we drove through New Mexico. It was very much like you would picture it to be with their adobe homes and picturesque mountains.  Then we drove through El Paso on to San Antonio Texas and stayed in San Antonio for a couple of days. We ate authentic tex-mex food for days. That was almost worth the trip right there. After Texas, we drove back to Georgia coast.  I have to say, the mountains in Colorado were breathtaking. The scenery in New Mexico was stunning. The driving in Texas was something I wished Georgia would take note of. People there actually know what the left hand lane is for. Having lived in Texas for 7 years, it was nice to go back and explore some of our old stomping grounds.

Road trip

Road trip

Arkansas river that we rafted down

Arkansas river that we rafted down

Rafting in Colorado

Rafting in Colorado

first time zip lining

first time zip lining

zip lining

zip lining

So here we are back in Georgia, back on the boat, and trying to keep cool. We have learned that early morning and evenings are the best times to do any outdoor work. Keith likes to take the cast net out and catch shrimp for fishing. Once we have enough, we will take the dinghy out and fish. Keith has also been known to go out just as the sun is coming up and do a little fishing. Sometimes he will get to see alligators doing their own fishing. Soon Fall will be here and the weather will be perfect. Until then……

you know its hot when:

you can say 113 degrees without fainting.                                                                       you learn that a seat belt makes a pretty good branding iron.                                          the temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.                                                   you’ve experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.       you would give anything to be able to splash cold water on your face.

Life is good!

 

Life on the hard

Wait. What? Life on the hard is what we refer to as living on your boat while its on land. june 1st is the first day of hurricane season. That is when most insurance companies require boats to be at a certain designation and remain there until hurricane season is over. For us, that location is anywhere north of Cumberland Island. We decided we liked Jekyll Island and would make that our home base during hurricane season. This year, we will get there late. The boat needed some things done and in order to do them, we needed to pull the boat out of the water. We opted to do this in Green Cove springs this time. Our boat is nestled in among about a hundred other boats. Some owners choose to do their own work, while others hire someone to do it for them. We are somewhere in the middle. We have been doing our own repairs, but we hired someone to sand and paint the bottom of our boat. This allows us to move on to other things in hopes that we will finish faster and can get back in the water. Its been interesting living on the boat while it is on land, being held up by boat stands. Here are some things I have learned in the last few weeks:

1. Getting off and on the boat takes time. Getting off the boat requires you to go up the companionway steps, maneuver through whatever tools your husband has left laying out, and climb down the steep ladder to the ground. Many times your hands will be full, requiring stealth balancing skills.
2. Once you get off the boat, you will almost always have to go back up for something you forgot. Just reverse #1
3. Getting groceries on the boat takes time and creativity. We often use a rope to haul them up.
4. The cockpit lockers are always 20 degrees hotter and you will need to be in them for most of the day.
5. Whatever goes down your sink, ends up in a puddle under your boat.
6. Not everyone here is working on their boats. There are some boats here that look like they have been here a while and have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. No one is ever seen working on them. Yet there are people living on them.
7. Having shade comes at a cost of having mosquitos. But it is totally worth it.
8. I miss the motion of the ocean. I like the bobbing affect you get being on water.
9. I like having shore power. That means we can have a/c, tv, and can charge our phones without having to share a 12volt plug.

and finally,

10. This too shall pass. I don’t think I could do this for very long. We anticipated this would take us about 4-6 weeks. I think we are pretty much on schedule. To keep ourselves sane, we have gotten away from the boat when we could, even if its only for a dinner out or a weekend to Miami to see our son and daughter in law who were passing through. Hopefully we will be back in the water and on our way to Jekyll Island by July 1st.

It may suck at times, but life is still good.

Hauling out

Hauling out

Our shady spot

Our shady spot

Me, helping remove the fuel tank for cleaning

Me, helping remove the fuel tank for cleaning

Keith removing hoses to get to the fuel tank

Keith removing hoses to get to the fuel tank

polishing and waxing

polishing and waxing

from 7a-7p, the cockpit looks like this. Its cleaned up every evening for cocktail hour.

from 7a-7p, the cockpit looks like this. Its cleaned up every evening for cocktail hour.

The dreaded ladder

The dreaded ladder

sometimes people just give you a case of beer. Thanks Jacob, aka, capt Ron

sometimes people just give you a case of beer. Thanks Jacob, aka, capt Ron

cleaning rags in the work area

cleaning rags in our work area

……….The End

We ended our bahamas trip in the same place we started out. Great Sale Cay. Not only that, but we were stuck there once again waiting on good weather. I say stuck as if it were a bad thing. It wasn’t. It was a nice island. We did some fishing and met some really nice folks. And we actually ran into several people who had a boat exactly like ours. (Island Packet 31)
When we got to Great Sale Cay a second time, we were the first to arrive at the anchorage. 24 hours later, there were over 35 other boats that came in expecting to do what we were doing. We were all waiting on the right conditions to make the crossover back into the United States. We ended up having a few days to wait and get to know the other boaters. Now there are several ways you can get to know the other boaters. One is to just drive your dinghy up to them and say hi. Which we did. The other is to listen on the VHF radio and chat with whoever wanted to chat. Which we did. I will get to the radio part in a minute.
Right after we anchored, we went over to the second boat in and introduced ourselves. Keith offered to dive down and make sure their anchor was set good. It was. Then they invited us up for cocktails. This was working out pretty good. They were a very charming couple from British Columbia. Pierre and Carolyn on s/v Obsession. Their english was very good. Unfortunately our southern accent and euphemisms were a bit much for them to understand.  Sometimes they would look at us funny, so we would have to explain what we meant. We made plans to get together again and went back to our boat, where we met the third boat that had just pulled in. Joe and Tammy on s/v Tammera Sue. Their boat was identical to ours, so we chatted and made plans to get together for cocktails with them as well. This was fun. This is what was supposed to happen much sooner in the game. Not our last few days there. But it happened and it was loads of fun.
We had planned on leaving out with Pierre and Carolyn but our plans had changed at the last moment and regrettfully we were not able to reach them on the vhf radio to inform them. I hate that we didn’t get to tell them good bye.

So lets talk about the VHF radio. Most of you know what this is, but if you don’t, its a marine radio that is used to contact the coast guard and other boaters. Here in the states, its strictly enforced. You call on channel 16 but when you reach your party, you switch to another channel to converse. In the bahamas, its supposed to be that way too, but its not really enforced like it is here. But most boaters will still abide by the rules. We used it at the anchorage to glean information from other boaters as to when they were going to leave, where they were going and such. One night while we were sitting in the cockpit having a beverage, Keith gets on the radio and this is how the rest unfolds:
Keith: “Great sale cay marina, great sale cay marina, this is sailboat Otter.”
(now keep in mind there is no such place)
Silence.
Keith: “switching to channel 17”
Silence
Keith: “yes, I would like to request a room with a pool, and dinner and drinks and a turndown service.”
Silence
Mail voice on the radio: “was someone needing help with anything?”
Keith: “um, no, sorry that was just me being silly on the radio.”
New mail voice: “Yes, I’m coming in to the anchorage now, I don’t need any help but could I get a mint on my pillow?”
sometimes you just have to have fun.

I wonder how many of the 35 boats out there were listening. Its very common for others to switch their channels and eavesdrop on the conversation. I’m sure many of them were listening in. They must have thought we had lost our minds at this point.

 

The next night we had found out by listening to the radio, that several boats were leaving in the morning. We decided to be one of them. Several of them were actually going to the same location as us, so we figured it would be a good time to leave and tag along.
We were the first ones out. We were quickly followed by 4 other boats. This is called ‘buddy boating’. We all sailed the 9 hours or so, to the ‘bank’, where we make our crossover into the gulf stream. We couldn’t always see each other but we were fortunate to be able to talk to each other over the radio during that time. Once the first boat made it into the stream,(we were eventually passed)  they radioed back and let us all know what the conditions were like. It was comforting to know ahead of time what to expect. As the night wore on, we all went different speeds and lost contact with each other. It was good while it lasted. We picked up speed once we hit the gulf stream. There were times when we were going 10 knots. Thats double what our boat usually does. It felt like we were flying through the stream, waves and all. I have been trying to convince Keith to buddy boat, and now that he’s finally done it, I think he enjoyed it more than he thought he would. I rest my case. Its good to be back in the states. Life is good!

very last sunset in the Bahamas

very last sunset in the Bahamas

fishing

fishing

fishing in the dinghy

fishing in the dinghy

Contemplating being back in the US

Contemplating being back in the US

Military meals ready to eat.

Military meals ready to eat.

Our British Columbia Friends Pierre and Carolyn

Our British Columbia Friends Pierre and Carolyn

Sharks, barracudas and a naked man

Is this everything we thought it would be? Did Kenny Chesney and Bob Marley get it right when they sang about life in the Islands? I have to say that so far this has been quite the experience. I will also say that I was expecting  more partying with  other boaters and sharing stories. I envisioned having dock parties, and sundowners with others like ourselves.  That hasn’t really happened. We have pretty much been to ourselves. (could you be with your spouse 24/7 for a whole month?) We have met a few people and shared drinks with them, but it wasn’t in the capacity I was expecting. To be fair, this is our first year to be here. I guess to be part of the party, one would need to be at the right marina. But we didn’t want to spend all our time just at marinas. Because of chance and weather, we found ourselves at certain anchorages to avoid the direction of the winds. We did take advantage of what each anchorage had to offer. Let me explain.

Since leaving the marina at Spanish cay, we have been to several islands. The first one was munjack cay (pronounced key). It was so nice we ended up staying 3 1/2 days. The snorkeling was great. The fishing, not so great. All we caught was bait fish which ended up in my freezer to use as needed. Riding around in the dinghy was awesome. We saw lots of turtles and a pair of spotted eagle Rays, black with white spots. It was gorgeous and we were loving every minute of it.

the town of New Plymoth on Green Turtle cay

the town of New Plymoth on Green Turtle cay


If only it were true!

If only it were true!


baked barracuda

baked barracuda


Catching barracuda, yes we ate them.

Catching barracuda, yes we ate them.


Keith's conch

Keith’s conch


our boat at anchor

our boat at anchor


beautiful water with our boat in the background

beautiful water with our boat in the background


snorkeling

snorkeling


memory tree selfie

memory tree selfie


Keith climbed the tree for a good spot to hang our sea biscuit

Keith climbed the tree for a good spot to hang our sea biscuit


Leaving our mark on the memory tree

Leaving our mark on the memory tree


memory tree on Allens-Pensacola cay

memory tree on Allens-Pensacola cay


nice day for a sail

nice day for a sail

Then we headed to green turtle cay for a few days. We rented a golf cart and explored the island. Green turtle cay is fairly small. About 450 people live on the island. They have 3 small grocery stores where we were able to get what we needed for about 3 times what we would pay in the states. Then we found a laundromat. That wasn’t cheap either. But it was nice to have clean smelling clothes and sheets again. We were docked next to a nice guy who had a boat like ours, only bigger. Archie, on s/v slip away, was pretty interesting to talk to. He worked in the control tower in New York on 9/11. He had some stories to tell. I always like meeting other boaters. Most of them would give you the shirt off their back. And they all seem to have pretty neat stories to tell.
Once the weather cleared up, we left Green Turtle and had a great sail to Allens-Pensacola cay. We had read about this place and it lived up to our expectations. We fished, and hiked and snorkeled. One interesting thing there is this memory tree that boaters have decorated. It’s a small hike over to the Atlantic Ocean side, and once there, you are greeted by this large tree decorated in all kinds of boating paraphernalia. Since we had read about this, we decided to leave our mark of being there. We have been collecting these cool sea biscuits and one in particular was large enough to write our names, the boat name, our home of Jekyll island and the year. Keith was able to get a line through it and hang it from the tree. Keith and Lynn were here!
We met another boater there on s/v Abraxis and fished with him. He shared his snapper with us and we shared our barracuda and conch with him. He was an interesting fellow. The first time we met him, Keith and I were in our dinghy going over to his boat to say hi and take him some brownies that I had just made. As we got closer, I quickly realized that he was wearing nothing but a smile. So we turned the dinghy in the other direction fairly quick and decided to explore a reef first. Later we went up to his boat to introduce ourselves. I noticed that he ducked down below just before we got there, probably to put some pants on. After that, we just called him on the VHF radio.
One day we went out to fish and we were told that conch made good chum to attract the fish. Keith snorkeled for a bit and found the biggest conch I have ever seen. We used part of it for chum and ate the rest. Since we ate the conch, we got to keep the shell. Snorkeling was great. Lots of things to see. It is a little scary to see a barracuda while you are snorkeling. I quickly removed all my jewelry. Just to be safe! We always snorkeled before we fished. No need in luring the bad guys until we are out of the water. Those pesky Sharks were still coming around whenever we would catch a fish. One time while we were fishing, our dinghy anchor got stuck and wouldn’t come up. Keith put on his mask and snorkel and dove in and got it. I don’t know if I could have done that. Kudos to Keith!
Since the weather is expected to get rough in a couple of days, we decided to move north and duck into a marina that we have wanted to check out. Not to mention, we are low on fresh foods and ice. If all goes as planned, we will stay there for a few days and then head west a bit to anchor out and stage ourselves for crossing back over to the states. We have some things that we need to do and our son is flying home from Alaska for a week and we can’t miss that opportunity to see him. These last few weeks have been fun and challenging. Weather has played a large part in what we did and where we went. But as nice as its been, I’ll be glad to be back in the states. Life is good

Yes, we have no bananas

I will catch you really quickly. But stay with me because this gets good. We left Stuart sailed down to Lake worth and found an Anchorage for the night. Our trusty weatherman said that Thursday and Friday would be great for crossing But he didn’t mention Wednesday. Things were going very well and Keith wanted to turn and head east, but I was afraid to cross the Gulf Stream at night incase things got bad. In my mind, if the weatherman had meant Wednesday would be good to cross, he would have said so. We went back and forth all day and finally Keith gave in and let me have my way. We anchored at lake worth before crossing over to the Bahamas. I will admit right now that I was very afraid to cross the Gulf Stream. I wanted to do this during the daytime hours. If things got bad, I wanted to be able to see. As it turns out we were fortunate to have very calm seas.Looking back I should have just let him have his way. But who knew. I will get back to this later.

The crossing actually went very well. Maybe too well…….for Keith. we ended up having to motor all the way. There was no wind to sail. It took us 12 hours to get over to the Bahamas. We arrived around 6 PM and decided to anchor on the border of the Bahamas. Basically we were really out in the middle of nowhere. But our depth was good and it was still another 12 hours to the next good anchorage. We had a good nights sleep and awoke early the next morning to head East to our next destination of great sale cay (pronounced key)
This is where it starts to get good. As Keith was pulling the anchor, I looked out and saw two funnel clouds/water spouts  forming. Not what you want to see if you are setting out for a sail. As the morning wore on, we encountered around 20 funnel clouds. Just as two would go away, 2-3 more would form. All of them were in the direction that we needed to go. We had to change our course many times to dodge the funnel clouds. To say we were scared would be an understatement. So for several hours we went one way, then turned and went another direction, only to turn back and try to go in the direction we needed to go in. Just when we thought the storms were starting to abate, another funnel cloud would form. Each time I said aloud “really, again?” Fortunately Mother Nature got tired of wrecking havoc on our minds and gave up. It didn’t hurt that I was praying to God to make them go away! After lunch the skies cleared and we could finally sail without fear. Keith decided we needed some music to calm us down. Let me just say that even Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffet couldn’t calm me down. I was wound up tight!

funnel cloud/water spout

funnel cloud/water spout

water spout

water spout

water spout touching water below

water spout touching water below

counting 4 funnel clouds in the sky

counting 4 funnel clouds forming in the sky

mimosa's on our first sunrise, before the skies parted

mimosa’s on our first sunrise, before the skies parted

Capt Jack Sparrow, just kidding, Keith sailing the boat.

Capt Jack Sparrow, just kidding, Keith sailing the boat.

Keith getting a good view of things

Keith getting a good view of things

shells we found on the beach

shells we found on the beach

Black tip shark under our boat

Black tip shark under our boat

Fast forward 6 hours. now we sit at great sale cay. This was to be an overnight anchorage and then we would press on. Keep in mind that we still need to clear customs, and that’s still 2 days away. We have no wifi here and I have to use my data sparingly. I was able to get an email from our trusty weatherman only to find out that we are expected to have nasty weather for the next 3 days. It’s been brought to my attention that if we had made our crossover on Wednesday night as Keith wanted to, we would be further in our adventures. Don’t you hate it when someone tells you ‘I told you so’? Well, he’s right. I will eat my crow now.
Did you know it’s bad luck to have bananas on a boat? While it mostly pertains to fishing boats, a lot of  sailboats and motor boats abide by the rule of no bananas on board. We don’t get bananas often. But recently Keith said he wanted some. So I got some. Didn’t give it much thought. Funny , yesterday while watching funnel cloud after funnel cloud form, I looked down and saw my bananas sitting down below. I got up, went below, got the bananas and chunked them overboard. After about an hour or so, the weather got better and we were able to head where we needed to go. Coincidence? We will never know.

update: after 4 nights at great sale cay, we were finally able to pull up anchor and move. We had a rough, wet sail, but it was better than sitting in that same spot another night. We found a nice anchorage called angelfish point. I had to say it was very pretty. Unfortunately we still hadn’t cleared customs and couldn’t get off our boat. Bummer. Today we made it to Spanish Cay, cleared customs, got our fishing permits (yay) and walked to a beach and collected some interesting sand dollars. We may stay here a day or two. Then we will head to Green Turtle Cay and hang out there a few weeks. The water under our boat, at the moment, is crystal clear. So far, I have seen about 5 sharks. The boat next to us brought in their catch of wahoo, and they knew they would get the handouts. There are some mango snapper under my boat that I intend to catch and eat. I’ve never had mango snapper before. I’ll have to get back with you on how it tastes. Life is good!

Still in Stuart

We came, we saw, we stayed. Since arriving in Stuart Florida, we only intended on staying for a week. One week! We are now approaching 2 weeks. We were all set to go south and stage for our crossing to the Bahamas. But as it turns out, our mail order pharmacy only sent one of our prescriptions. That means they left one out. Hmmmm. This means there were no refills left. So we wait until Monday, call the doctor and ask him to please call in a new refill. Tuesday we get notified that we will get the meds but they won’t ship it until the 12th. Great. Now we have missed one weather window and will have to wait for the next one. To make good use of our time, Keith went over the engine and found some misalignment so he spent a few days curled up in the engine compartment. I made it sound easy but in reality it was rough. He was curled up as tight as he could get, just to be able to get at the hard to reach places. I was able to help some by pulling on a rope he had attached to the motor, allowing it to lift enough for him to get the alignment right. We haven’t given it a trial run yet but that will happen soon.

Keith working on the engine

Keith working on the engine

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If you look closely, you can see keith’s face at the top. He’s actually inside the engine compartment.

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The boaters lounge, complete with popcorn machine

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The boater’s lounge

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Dinner at the taco truck

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A nice tiki bar in town called Terra Fermata

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a not so crowded dinghy dock

This really isn’t a bad place to be stuck. The town is actually quite nice. We walk or bike to the historic downtown. It’s given me a little extra time getting groceries that will last us as long as possible. Every time I think I have what I need, I remember something else. Sure I can buy stuff in the Bahamas, but the less I have to buy the better. Groceries can be pricy over there.
So if all goes well, we will pick up our mail in a few days and start working our way to Lake Worth. Once there we will wait for the go ahead from our trusty weatherman, Chris Parker, and make the cross. Let’s talk about this ‘cross’ a minute. We are talking about crossing the Gulf Stream. This is not to be taken lightly. Much planning has to go into this. We have to find out what the wind direction is going to be and what the seas are going to be. Or in other words, how high are the waves going to be. Here’s a definition of the Gulf Stream: the Gulf Stream is a vast and powerful Atlantic Ocean current. The stream is like a river 40 miles wide and 2000 feet deep, flowing at a velocity of 5 miles per hour and discharging 100 billion tons of water per hour.
It’s recommended that you never cross if the wind is blowing from the north as this will hit the opposing current and create really big waves. Lately there have been south winds that would be great for crossing, but here we sit waiting on mail.
When we cross, we will hit that current and get moved along in a northward direction. That’s why we try and go further south in Florida before crossing. This year we are aiming for the Abaco Island. If we were going to Bimini, we would have to start from Miami or the Florida keys. I have heard lots of stories of people crossing the Gulf Stream. Most of them are not fun. Uncomfortable at best. But the pay off is getting into that turquoise water where you can see the bottom in 20 feet of water. With any luck, we will be finding out for ourselves very soon.

Keith has come up with something he calls ‘the cruisers creed’. “Be able to stay anywhere for a month ( off the grid on your own resources), be prepared to leave any moment, and know where you are when you get there”.

Hopefully our next post we will be on our way.  Life is good.

St Augustine to Stuart Florida

Must. Keep. Going.  We ended up leaving St Augustine 2 days ahead of schedule. When the weather is right, you just have to go for it. Actually we thought the weather was going to get bad, so we opted to leave early and get a jump on it. Turns out we would have been ok. But who knew. Sometimes I wonder if the meteorologists really know.
We decided to stick with the waterway and head south. It was that, or go on the outside and motor most of the way due to no wind. Going down the waterway gave us an opportunity to anchor each night. I’ll just tell you right now, I like my sleep. And if I had my way, it would be from 10pm-7am. Yep. I’m not ashamed to admit it. So anchoring allows me this luxury.

Lots of houses like this along the ICW

Lots of houses like this along the ICW

We put in around 45 miles a day. That’s a 9 hour day. We motored down the waterway with no depth finder. (remember, we sent the defective one back and didn’t have the replacement yet). We did great. We had our iPad and an app that showed us the danger spots. It worked out just fine for us.  Yes, we had our old garmin that Keith hooked up as a back up, but I got spoiled with the new one in the short time we had it.
Our plan was to get to Stuart, Fl. We are set up to meet with a boat yard to go over some repairs we need to do this summer. We could have gotten here one whole day sooner, but we thought it would be fun to stop at one of our favorite anchorages. Peck Lake.  We were right. We dropped the dinghy and went to shore. After a very short walk, we were on the Atlantic beach side. We treated ourselves to a beach walk, and seashell hunt. Keith fashioned an old whisker pole (thats a pole that can be used to hold your jib sail out) and a gaff (you know, a giant hook to stab a fish with to get it on the boat)  together and went in search of coconuts. He had to get off the beaten path to get to the tree with the ripest coconuts. After a few swings of the whisker pole/gaff, he was rewarded with a coconut. And let me just say that they come down fast. Fortunately Keith was able to jump out of the way fast enough. FYI, if you should find a coconut laying on the beach, don’t open it. We did and well, it was quite nasty. It looked like milk that expired months after its prime. And that smell……..whoa.

opening a bad coconut

opening a coconut

Peck Lake

Peck Lake

getting coconuts

getting coconuts

The other side of Peck Lake

The other side of Peck Lake

The next morning we slept in, had a nice southern breakfast and headed out for a 13 mile ride to Stuart. Fortunately we only had one draw bridge. Draw bridges aren’t that big of a deal, but we don’t much care for them. For those that don’t know,  some are open on demand, where you call and ask them to open for you and some are on a schedule. Either way, it’s a waiting game. You watch to see when traffic stops, then you listen for the horn to blow, then you watch for the bridge to start to open and push it full throttle, assuming you aren’t too close. All this while trying to hold still in a wind or current that you can’t control and hope there aren’t any other boats too close to you. Fortunately we had no problems with any bridges this time around. But it still makes us apprehensive at times.
So we made it to Stuart, washed the boat, found our mooring and grabbed it on the first try. This still makes me happy. Keep in mind this was only our third time on a mooring and the first time we had to have help. We were just inexperienced. We are starting to get the hang of it. We will meet with someone soon to go over our repairs, get it their books, and hopefully head somewhere further south for a month or two . At this point, we don’t know if we will go to the Bahamas, or key Biscayne, before coming back and taking the boat out. We will probably make that decision soon. It’s alright. Life is still good.

Moving south

So if you haven’t kept up with us on Facebook, let me update you on our sail south. We left Jekyll island on Tuesday. We knew we wouldn’t have great weather for very long, but we also knew we needed to leave the dock. We had stayed 3 days past our paid up fees and needed to leave before we incurred more fees.
We sailed the ICW down to Cumberland island and hung out there a few days. As nice as it was, it was not without incident. Somehow we managed to run  aground while at anchor. Now that takes real talent. Actually the winds pushed us farther and our anchor dragged a bit. This all took place on our second day. Once the tides were high enough, we pulled up anchor and moved to a deeper spot. What can I say. It made for an interesting post.
When Chris Parker said the weather was going to be better, we decided to go out of the St Marys sound, knowing that we would probably have a few hours of big winds but not big seas until it all settled into a pattern that we could be comfortable with. We probably should have waited. Going out the sound between Cumberland island and Fernanda beach was the worst conditions we have ever endured. I was feeling cautious, no, I was pretty scared and wondering how much of this we would have to endure before it got better. And praying that it was just temporary and once we got out farther the seas would settle. They didn’t. To say it was miserable would be an understatement. I have been on many a boat and don’t get seasick. This day was not one of those days. Any time I had to go below was the worst. After about 6 hours of this, Keith had mercy on me and decided to duck into Jacksonville and anchor for the night. This allowed us two things. One was the opportunity to wait out better weather conditions and the other was to repair the brand new chart plotter we had just purchased. For some unknown reason it decided to just shut itself off randomly until it decided not to come back on at all. It was very interesting coming into an anchorage without a chart plotter and depth finder. After anchoring, we found our water wasn’t running. Fortunately it was just a loose hose, and Keith fixed it rather quickly. IMG_1812
We were exhausted.We slept well that night.The  next morning Keith wired the chart plotter directly to the battery in hopes that it would work accurately. We ventured back out into the big Atlantic Ocean and sailed south. The weather was much better. Well, the waves were much smaller. The winds were ok. Contrary at times. It was a great ‘day sail’. But our chart plotter decided that it wasn’t going to work so we decided to go into St Augustine, hang out there for a few days and check things out. The problem was, we were going to get there after dark so that meant we had to spend many hours tooling around until it was light enough to go in the inlet. As I said before, the wind was contrary and made it impossible to sail in any direction without having to tack, (change the sails to the other side of the boat) several times.
I took the 8-12 shift all set with my kindle, crackers and m&m’s and did well until around 11:30 when Keith relieved me. I was so nervous that I never looked at my kindle or ate my crackers or m&m’s. I’ve done night sails before. But this one was more difficult and made me more nervous. The auto pilot had died earlier requiring constant steering. The chart plotter quit working again and had to rely on the iPad. Thank goodness for the iPad. Keith got up at 11:30 and sent me to bed. I readily went. At 2:30 I checked on him and he sent me back to bed and said he would come get me when he was ready. While I was sleeping, Keith hooked up our old back up Garmin chart plotter. Thank goodness we kept it. At 4am we traded off. He gave me my instructions and headed to bed. I did well for about an hour and a half. Then we got close to shore and the winds were contrary again. I started seeing boats but not until they were close by. I started getting scared and woke him up. I felt so bad. I know he was exhausted. But he got up and we guided the boat into the inlet as the sun was coming up. We called the bridge at 7am and asked them to open, came thru and found our mooring ball that we were assigned. Keep in mind, we have only picked up a mooring one other time, a year ago. I guided the boat as Keith used the boat hook to grab the mooring and tied our boat securely to it. Whew. First try even! What a relief to a stressful night.

what a mooring ball looks like

what a mooring ball looks like

So here we sit at St Augustine enjoying life. Licking our wounds. Working on the electronics that failed us. The plan is to stay here until the weekend. Work on stuff, do laundry, get a few groceries and explore the area. So far, so good.

He even does laundry

He even does laundry

update: Now that I have wifi and can post, I can tell you that the chart plotter is getting sent back, but we won’t have another one until they send it to us. We won’t wait for it here as we have our backup chart plotter. Keith worked on the auto pilot so we will see if its corrected or has a bad motor. We will probably leave here on Saturday or Sunday and head south again.

 

The rocking chair award

  When we were members of the Rome sailing club, there was an award that went out once a year called the rocking chair award. This award was reserved for the boater that exhibited the greatest screw up of the year. Such as drilling a hole in your boat and finding water. Keith almost got the award one year for jumping off the little boat we had at the time and watching it sail away without him. He was used to the other boat we had, falling off and waiting for him. Nope. This one sailed off leaving him in the middle of the lake having to swim to shore. 

Yesterday we exhibited another such screw up. We have been anchored at Cumberland island for a day or two waiting out the windy conditions that weather guru Chris Parker says we will have. Yesterday as the tide went out, we noticed how close we were to a shoal. Aka, sandbar. We said we would move the boat as the tide came in so we wouldn’t have any trouble leaving in the morning. Well, as the tide came in, we decided we never actually ran aground during low tide and having justified that, we took the lazy way out and stayed put. Here’s the thing……there’s a time and a place for being lazy on the boat. Yesterday was not it. 

Fast forward to today. The tide is going out and we are not. Overnight the winds shifted and pushed us over the shoal. We are paying the price for being lazy yesterday. Now we wait for the tide to finish going out, then for it to come in enough for it to lift us off so we can move the boat. There may be a silver lining to this. We had Planned on motoring south on the crooked and treacherous intracoastal waterway to Jacksonville and anchoring there so we could go out the inlet tomorrow as the weather becomes more pleasant for sailing. Being on the ICW is more protected from the winds, and it gives you the opportunity to move along while waiting for better sailing conditions. But it’s not without risks. Unfortunately there are tons of places to run aground in route.  So since we are getting such a late start, we will stay here one more night and then head out the st marys inlet, thus avoiding the route to Jacksonville. It’s a little inconvenient but it’s still an adventure. Ask me tomorrow when it’s all over. 

So the rocking chair award, reserved for the most absurd screw up,goes to us for running aground while at anchor.