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. 

   

  

   

what’s your adventure?

This was my blog post 2 years ago. I am happy to say that I have overcome my fears of overnight sailing. I didn’t say I liked them, just that it doesn’t scare me so much as it did then. I prefer to see things at all times, especially if things start to go wrong.  I love gazing at the stars as much as anyone, but I’d rather do it at anchor. But truthfully, there really isn’t much to see at night out on the water. We hardly ever see another boat or ship. If the winds get out of hand or the waves get larger than they were, then its not really enjoyable in my opinion. In a crisis, I like to be able to see what’s going on.  Thats just me. I’m sure Keith would disagree to some extent.  He loves the nighttime sail.  And that is why he gets the midnight to 4am watch. When I am getting up at 4am, I know its almost time to watch the sunrise.   We still have different ideas of adventure.

4/10/2014

What’s your adventure

Adventure…… websters dictionary defines this word several different ways. 1.An undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks… and 2, an exciting or remarkable experience.

Everyone has their idea of what their ultimate adventure would be. The other night Keith and I got into a thought provoking conversation. He asked me if I wanted an adventure. Of course I do. But my idea of an adventure is not the same as his idea of an adventure. His idea of an adventure is number 1, “One usually involving danger and unknown risks”. He has never been one to let fear get in his way. Mine is number 2. “An exciting or remarkable experience”. My idea doesn’t involve danger and unknown risks.Traveling to new places is an adventure to me. It seems safe enough. Here’s the thing, neither is wrong in their thinking.

During this discussion, we talked about our future and what we would like to do and where we would like to go and what risks we were willing to take to achieve this. I hate to admit this, but I am a worry wart. I worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. So naturally I worry about all the bad things that can go wrong. But I won’t let it interfere with our plans to sail to new places. Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves in planning trips. It’s not wrong to dream it. But when we start talking about doing several days at sea, (that means possibly no land in sight), then I get scared. Why? Because I’ve never done it before. It may be great. I have certainly heard stories of couples that do this and love it. Maybe I will too.

I want to be one of those people that take risks. I am willing to bet that the enjoyment level is so much more if you had to take risks to get where you wanted to go. And once you got there, what an achievement and thrill it would be. I’ll get there. Life is too short not to go out there and enjoy it.
photo

Waiting

We are officially unemployed. And when I say we, I mean keith.(I’ve been unemployed for 2 years) Keith has worked his last shift at Gordon Hospital. sigh. They were very good to him and we will both miss the folks there. But it’s finally time to take a few months off and enjoy traveling. We will both get jobs later this year. Not sure where.Not sure when. Hopefully somewhere where we can stay on the boat. Keith should get to do locum tenens, so maybe someplace exciting.
We did get to be up in north Ga for the last 2 weeks. The snow was pretty, but I missed my warmer weather down south. We spent some quality time with 2 of our kids. It was birthday week for all the men in our little family. Our youngest is active duty Air Force and spending a few months working in Okinawa so he couldn’t be there. We were stationed there ourselves 20 years ago. He still remembers some of it.

Keith and the grand dog Bullet

Keith and the grand dog Bullet

We are working very hard to get ready to leave. Our new lifejackets came in and we each now have our own personal EPIRB’s. Note for you landlubbers: those are small beacons that attach to our life jackets and send out a signal to the Coast Guard, should one of us fall overboard. Something I found out by reading the box, is that if we ever have to use it and are found by the Coast Guard, the company will give us a free replacement. Dear Lord, thats one piece of equipment I hope to never have to use.

 

We are waiting on one more piece of mail to come in. Our new Garmin chart plotter. Once we get it, Keith can install it. Update: the chart plotter arrived and well, installing it will be easier said than done. Nothing ever comes easy on a boat.

new life jackets and EPIRB's.

new life jackets and EPIRB’s.

Stuffing groceries everywhere

Stuffing groceries everywhere

We are so close to being able to leave. We are watching the weather very closely. We need about 4 days of good weather all in a row. We are hoping to take our first day and motor down to Cumberland Island. Anchor there for one night, more if the weather makes us. From there, we will go on the outside and scoot down the Atlantic coast. At this point, we don’t know where we will end up. It all depends on what the weather decides to do. We do know we want to make a stop in Cocoa Florida. Then we have some boat work in Stuart Florida. We have discussed going to the Bahamas. But just not sure if we will make it this year. The big reason being is that our boat really needs new chainplates. They are supposed to be replaced every 20 years. Or so I’m told. Well, our boat is 29 years old and has never had them replaced. We are just not sure if we want to cross the Gulf stream with uncertain chainplates. So therein lies the rub. What to do? We will just have to go with what we are most comfortable with.

So we wait. We are both getting antsy.  I think it will be several days before we can leave. Its okay. Life is still good.

Staying busy

3 1/2 weeks to go. It’s time to get serious about leaving. Time to empty the boat of things we don’t need and add the things that we do need. That involves going through every nook and cranny and sorting things out, stocking up groceries, and going up the mast to repair wind gauge. Plus much more.  Unfortunately for the next 3 weeks, we will spend 2 of them in North Georgia while Keith works his last shifts at Gordon Hospital. That gives us about a week to get things ready. We’ve kinda been working on it so it shouldn’t be too bad.

our dirty little secret, aka our quarter berth, storage space before we organized it

our dirty little secret, aka our quarter berth, storage space before we organized it

Keith doing a little mast climbing

Keith doing a little mast climbing

Keith at the top of the mast.

Keith at the top of the mast.

Keith's big catch

Keith’s big catch

Last week, we made ourselves Florida residents. We wanted to do this last year, but I was overwhelmed with the paperwork and put it aside. This time we made ourselves do it. It turned out not to be as bad as we thought. And very impressed with how smoothly it went. The DMV was a much better experience then we have ever experienced in all our years in Georgia.

Our dirty fishing boat after doing some cast netting for shrimp/bait

Our dirty fishing boat after doing some cast netting for shrimp/bait

It can’t be all work, so we find time to have a little bit of fun. The fishing here is great. The redfish are abundant, as well as the sea trout. We also like to catch our own bait. Keith will take the little dinghy out and catch shrimp to use as bait. He also puts out a bait trap to catch mud minnows. Sometimes he will catch big fish in the cast net and we use them as bait.

Hopefully this time next month we will be in sunny Florida. Fingers crossed. Life is good.

A productive day fishing

A productive day fishing

Our theme song

As we get ready to go, I’m reminded of a song by Fastball,  that my daughter shared with me once and said it sounded like our theme song. Here’s the lyrics:

They made up their minds And they started packing
They left before the sun came up that day
An exit to eternal summer slacking
But where were they going without ever
Knowing the way?

They drank up the wine
And they got to talking
They now had more important things to say
And when the car broke down they started walking
Where were they going without ever
Knowing the way?

[Chorus:]
Anyone can see the road that they walk on
Is paved in gold
And it’s always summer
They’ll never get cold
They’ll never get hungry
They’ll never get old and grey
You can see their shadows wandering off somewhere
They won’t make it home
But they really don’t care
They wanted the highway
They’re happier there today, today

Their children woke up
And they couldn’t find them
They left before the sun came up that day
They just drove off and left it all behind ’em
But where were they going without ever
Knowing the way?

I have to say, this certainly sounds like us. Life is good.

December

Christmas is behind us. That means its getting closer til we can finally depart and head south.  I am very glad that we were able to spend time off the boat at our daughter and son in laws house for Christmas.  Our son drove down from Knoxville to spend Christmas Day with us. Our youngest lives in Alaska with is wife and 2 dogs. We face timed on Christmas morning. So in a way, we were all together.

face timing our kids in Alaska

face timing our kids in Alaska

Keith worked 5 days leading up to Christmas while I visited my sister and my mom. He will work some in January and possibly some the first of Feb, but after that, its all systems go! Or so I think.

I posted last time that we would be taking the boat to St Mary’s and having it pulled so we can paint the bottom. Well it turns out I’m the last to know things. Seems like the Captain has decided to put it on hold until June after all. I’m good with this. That just means we can press on with our plans to head south.

Until then, we will hang out here on Jekyll Island and enjoy the warm winter we are having.Every year  Jekyll Island hides these glass orbs. They are hand painted by various artists. Everyday they hide 4 orbs somewhere on the island. Its like an adult version of an Easter egg hunt, only better. We were here a few weeks last year and I searched high and low to no avail. This year I am determined. My bike is ready to go. I want one of those orbs!

An Orb on Jekyll Island

An Orb on Jekyll Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s getting close

Its finally getting close. Close enough that we now need to start getting things in order and getting ready to leave for the winter. We spent part of Saturday pulling stuff out of our storage spots and reorganizing. We changed some things around to make better use of our space, and make some things more accessible. But also to make space for supplies. Soon we will need to make a trip to Sams and stock up on paper towels and toilet paper. Can you believe its been a full year since I’ve bought them? I stocked up pretty well last year. I’m told these kinds of things are expensive in the Bahamas, so we try and take what we can store up.

cleaning out all the cubbie's

cleaning out all the cubbie’s

reorganizing our cabinets

reorganizing our cubbies

All cleaned!

All cleaned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lets not forget ziplock bags. I use them for everything. Having cardboard boxes such as cereal boxes, are not good to have on board. I’m told it attracts bugs. That’s not something I want to learn the hard way, so I take their word for it and don’t chance it. So as soon as I buy groceries, I get rid of all cardboard.

Getting rid of cardboard

Getting rid of cardboard

If we get a good weather window in January, we will take the boat down to St Marys boatyard and have it pulled so we can repaint the bottom. We had hoped we could wait until June or July to have it done  with some other things, but it can’t wait. Bad things grow on the bottom of your boat if you don’t keep it clean, and having the right kind of paint on the bottom of the boat will make it easier to clean and slow down the growth of stuff that likes to live on the boat. Hopefully we can get it done quickly. Once its done, we will look for another weather window and head south.

The bottom of a friends boat, before he scraped and painted

The bottom of a friends boat, before he scraped and painted

Until then, we will enjoy Jekyll Island some more, go see the kids and my sister at Christmas and enjoy this great weather we are having in December.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas to all. Life is good!

 

 

Otter decorated for Christmas

Otter decorated for Christmas

 

The princess and the pea boat life

Remember the story about the princess and the pea? She could feel the pea under 20 mattresses. Well, I’m no princess and we don’t have 20 mattresses but I’m pretty certain I could feel a pea under our new cabin cushions. This is very disappointing to us both. We paid a lot of money to have our 28 yr old cushions replaced. We had found a reputable place that was familiar with making boat cushions. They had made our new sail canvas and we were very pleased with it. After looking through books and books of material, we finally settled on some fabric that we both liked. Yay, finally!  It took them about 7 weeks to make all the cushions. So during that time, we slept and sat on air mattresses.  I should mention that we love the fabric we picked out, and the company did an awesome job making the cushions and making sure the stripes lined up. But I do believe they could have done a better job in recommending the foam that goes inside the cushions. We knew a little bit, but we relied on them to know more. What we ended up with was pretty cushions that don’t hold up well. They have somewhat flattened out over the months. So we have come up with a solution. We ordered 1/2 inch dense foam with the intention of adding it to our existing foam.
Today I have taken all the bottom cushions off, taken the foam out, cut new 1/2 inch foam to match the size of the cushion and adhered one piece on top and one piece on bottom of the existing cushion, stuffed it back in the pouch, zipped it up and BAM! With 1 inch added its now as it should have been to begin with.

new cabin cushions

new cabin cushions

So that took care of the seating in the cabin. We still had to address the cushions we sleep on at night. We talked about ordering a custom made mattress, but that really is a lot of money that we just didn’t want to spend. So we got on the internet again and found some thick, dense foam that is about the size of a twin mattress. We decided to order one, cut it to size, add it to the existing cushions and see how it worked. As it turns out, it works great. But it was only big enough for one of us since our bed is bigger than a twin size, so we ordered another one. Once it comes in, we will cut it to size and both of our beds will be perfect. This idea has saved us a lot of money. This is a good thing because Keith recently decided to hang my rugs outside to air out on a windy day. Well, you can probably see where this is going. Lets just say I have one less rug than I started out with.
Life is still good!

All work and no play

I have been negligent on my blog in the past few months. We just haven’t gotten to do much in the way of sailing lately. Then I think about all the blogs that I read, and realize that they blog about other things besides sailing. So going forward, I hope to do better.

Since we got back to Jekyll Island Ga, we have pretty much worked all the time. And when I say we, I mean Keith.  He has been able to keep his previous job and work a week per month, or in this case, most of July and  August and  all of sept and oct. I had planned on getting a job as well, but wasn’t fortunate enough to find one. I even checked with my previous employer. I was willing to move back to Rome for a year or so. But no jobs came open and so I decided to stay on Jekyll Island and get some things done, and drive back to see Keith some weeks.

Now after 2 months away, we are back at the boat and finally getting some things done to get her ready to leave in Feb.  Keith has been polishing the inside teak every morning. I used to ‘dust’ the inside teak, but he is so, how should I say this….. picky, that now I just let him do it. He has a ritual of teak cleaners that he uses and usually tackles a certain spot inside the boat that he will work on this spot for several days and then move on to another spot. This works for both of us. I certainly have other things to do.

keith's teak cleaning

keith’s teak cleaning

This week, Keith has gone up the mast to change out some light bulbs. That’s about 35 feet straight up. I could never do that. I have a terrible fear of heights. It’s not his favorite thing to do, but fortunately he’s willing to do it. He’s tuned the rigging on the boat, installed some fishing pole holders so we can store our poles inside now. The latest boat project is to fix our solar panel railing. We hit some rough seas last year and they came apart in one spot. We got it back together, but had to go back and re-adjust them. Sounds easy. HA!  Nothing is an easy repair on a boat. This has proved to be an all day job. Fortunately we didn’t lose any tools to the water this time.

We have tried to spend some time fishing. We have been able to catch our own bait pretty successfully and can catch blue crab fairly easy. Now if we could just catch fish. We have decided that to catch them, we have to  give them what they want, the way they want it, where they want it, and  when they want it, without them knowing you’re giving it to them. With that said, we need to get to know the fish much better.

catching blue crab

catching blue crab

So that’s the jest of our summer. Keith has committed to working until February and then we will head south. Not sure where we will go. We know where we want to go and will make plans accordingly. But plans change and if they do, we will just go with the flow. Life is still good.

Jekyll Island has the most beautiful sunsets

Jekyll Island has the most beautiful sunsets