Georgia under our keel

All work and no play. That’s what has been happening the last few weeks. Since the engine was still being worked on, we went up north ga so Keith could work a few shifts. While he was at work, I helped our daughter and son in law move into another house.  Fast forward a few days and we are back at cocoa and the engine is finally done. Boat is ready, we are ready, we have a good weather window and its finally time to head north. North of Cumberland Island is where our insurance company wants us to be during hurricane season and after spending 6 months along the Florida coast, we were ready to be back at Jekylll.
We thought about going out the lock at Cape Canaveral but having to time it and  the draw bridges opening schedule, we opted for the intracoastal waterway. We sailed up to New Smyrna and anchored close to the inlet.

New Smyrna inlet has a reputation for having lots of shallow spots. We even had sea tow come and take us in when we came through, back in January  But we read our charts. We read reviews on active captain and we stayed where we were supposed to and made it out of the inlet just fine.  I motored the boat and Keith kept a lookout on the bow for shallow spots. Whew! I’m pretty sure we held our breath most of the way. Once outside the inlet we celebrated the blue open ocean with laughter and an ice cold coke.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I used to think the ICW was the safest way to travel. Nope! I love being out in the great big ocean with no worries of running aground, or having someone run into you. We had sailed for hours and hours and hadn’t  seen sight of another boat. The winds were perfect coming from the south. The waves were 2-4 feet. No storms predicted. We always watch the weather very closely and saw that this was the perfect time to head north.
This is very relaxing. We are see flying fish and Keith even spotted a shark at one point. We don’t see many dolphin. They are more prevalent in the ICW.

We had the whole place to ourselves

We had the whole place to ourselves

Keith viewing a shark

Keith looking at a shark

Later that night, I took the 8-12am watch. Keith slept, well, sorta. The winds changed and every now and then the sails would backfill, causing them to make a loud noise. Unfortunately my attempts at adjusting the sails failed so Keith got up, adjusted the sails and our course and went back to sleep. Night watches aren’t too bad. The sky is amazing to look at. We almost always see shooting stars. The milky way was brushed across a clear sparkling sky.  I kept an eye out for other boats,looked at the stars,  read my book, ate cheese-its, and watched a lightening storm to our west very closely, praying it wouldn’t come our way (it didn’t). We swapped out, I took my turn at attempting to sleep, woke up 30 minutes early on my 4 hour nap and sent Keith below to sleep. He wanted me to wake him in time to see the sunrise. It was stunning. But since he was up, I might have gone below to sneak in a 45 min power nap. I got up, cooked a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. Keith ate and went back for the rest of his nap that I might have taken from him.

Later that afternoon, we had a pod of dolphin swim along the bow of the boat. Some of you have seen that video on my Facebook page. It was truly amazing. There were three beautifully colored dolphin. They played together, nudged each other, would swim off and race back to the bow of the boat. We watched for a good 5 minutes and never stopped watching until they went away. It was truly the highlight of our trip.

Three dolphin that swam along our boat

Three dolphin that swam along our boat

We made pretty good time. We were able to make it into Fernandina Marina at 1pm. We got fuel for the boat, and grabbed lunch at a nearby restaurant. We didn’t really want to stay at the marina, so we sailed over to Cumberland Island, anchored and cooked dinner. We tossed around the idea of staying a few days and exploring the island, but in the end, decided to just press on.The trip to Jekyll from Cumberland only took us 4 hours. Keith docked us perfectly between two boats, in-spite of our throttle coming apart at that exact moment.

Monday: Keith got up early, jogged over to the beach to watch the sunrise. I slept in and had coffee ready when he got back. Laundry is done and the inside of the boat has been scrubbed. Keith is working on the throttle. Later we will wash all the salt off of the outside of the boat, inflate the dinghy, and take it for a ride. Life is good.

BOAT (V): Break out another thousand

Since we never made it to the Bahamas this year, we decided to make our way back to Jekyll Island. Except that we still haven’t made it back yet. We Left Stuart, Florida around the first of May. We ended up back in Cocoa, Florida. we were having some engine issues and since there was a company here that we liked and trusted to work on marine engines, we decided to stay here and get it fixed. Coming into the marina was a fiasco. Our throttle came loose just as we were coming into the slip, and the winds blew us into another boat, in-spite of having 3 guys help us dock. Fortunately there wasn’t much damage to the other boat, and none to ours. But one guy got his finger caught between our front railing and a pole and lost the tip of his finger. Needless to say, we felt horrible.

Fast forward to the end of June. We are still here in Cocoa. The engine work ended up taking longer than expected, no big surprise there. So we decided to get our canvas awnings replaced. That took several weeks, but since the engine wasn’t ready, it was no big deal. We are in the final stretch of having the engine finished. But…….then we decided to have all of our interior cushions replaced. We have finally agreed on a fabric, but we have to wait until they get a sample in so we can make sure its what we absolutely want. With any luck, we will have it finalized this week and they can begin making the new cushions. It should only take a week or two to complete. Its quite interesting living on the boat with no cushions. But we are making do with inflatable beds.

So that brings me to the definition of Boat….. (v): break out another thousand. All of these upgrades comes at a cost. We are slightly over budget. Fortunately Keith has been able to pick up some shifts at his job in North Ga. We have decided that we will both go back to work and work as much as we can until Jan, when we hope to try again for the Bahamas. This involves a lot of car traveling as North Ga is a good 8 hours from Cocoa, Florida. I still need to find me a job too. Its hard to find a job like Keith where I can work certain days of the month. If all goes well, We will be able to move the boat the first part of July, back to Jekyll island. Once we are there, I will be able to look for a job. That’ll probably mean me staying there while Keith goes up north to work.

One thing that makes us very nervous is that its hurricane season. We are not supposed to have the boat south of Cumberland Island. If a named storm comes up, we are in trouble. The insurance has said they will not cover any damage. So you can see how important it is for us to get ourselves back to Jekyll.
Its hard to believe that its just now summer. We have been living in Florida since Jan and have had nice warm weather since. I feel like its been summer for the last 6 months. All I can say is thank goodness for a/c and awnings. oh yeah, and beaches. Although in light on the recent shark bites here in Cocoa, its getting harder and harder to get Keith to go in the water.

All in all, its been a good last 6 months. We learned a lot. We will try again next year. Life is still good.

How bad do you want it?

how bad do you want it? What is your breaking point?

I have learned a few things over the course of two years. And that is that this boat life isn’t easy. Let me give you a picture of the way things work for us.

Everything is a chore. Putting sheets on the bed is an aerobic exercise. One that consist of sweating, stretching and swearing. mostly swearing. Imagine your bed up against three walls. You must sit on your bed while putting on the sheets. Not impossible, but not fun either.

Provisioning is interesting also. Being out on a mooring as we have, means you have to pile all your groceries in your dinghy and transport them to your boat. Then you have to lift them up and over the ladder to get them a board. Since we have been storing up things, getting ready to go to the Bahamas, it’s taken numerous Dinghy trips to get it all in. Then you have to find a place on the boat to store it. Ha. That was quite the challenge, but if I can fill a tiny cabinet with clothes, you can bet I can find room for food and supplies.

Let’s talk about water. It is very precious on the boat. It’s a very limited supply that we can easily refill by filling 5 gallon jugs and hauling them up the boat (from the dinghy) on a pulley twice a day. Just kidding about the easy part. Seriously, how hard can that be. Granted, if we were at a marina, all it requires is hooking up a hose and filling it up.

The refrigerator. If you have a big boat, you probably have a decent size refrigerator. Ours is different in that it has a lid, it is somewhat small, and you put things down inside. Yes, it does have a freezer. A Very small freezer. I can get lots of things in my refrigerator. It is a work in progress. I have found ways to make it work more efficiently since you just about have to stand on your head to get things out. I may have said a few choice words from time to time while digging out something that is inevitably at the bottom.

Laundry. Unless you wash it in the sink, using your valuable water supply, it always gets carried off the boat to the nearest washing machines. That also means passing it back-and-forth from the dinghy.

I could go on and on but I think you are getting the picture. This lifestyle isn’t easy. There is a lot of work involved. But it has its rewards. We get to see amazing sunsets every night. We get to meet people just like us, that have the same dream. We get to travel to new and exciting places. We see some of the prettiest beaches. And I get to fish anytime I want.

Yesterday we set out for our trip to the Bahamas. We are expected to be there late today. It didn’t go as planned. Our solar panel Davits broke. Our halyard (that’s the line that raises and lowers the sail) got loose and tangled and since the waves were rough, it took a while to catch it, untangle it and attach it, all while holding on dearly, as the waves shook the boat about. About that time, we had a huge wave come over the boat and soak everything. Including our bed, because we forgot to lock the hatch over our bed. The seas were so rough  at times to where  our autopilot didn’t want to work. Finally after a few hours of this, we relented and came ashore. We found a nice Anchorage to rest and repair and gather our thoughts. Once we set our anchor, our water hose came loose and drained half of our precious water supply adding insult to injury. once again, we learned a lot. Even though we were not successful yesterday, we came away with things that we could   have done better. It was 5 o’clock somewhere and that somewhere was on our boat.

Today we will repair the solar panel davits hopefully. Then we will check the weather and see if it still possible for us to cross over to the Bahamas and the time frame that we have.

It’s all good. Anything worth having is worth working for. This is still our dream  We are still learning. So how bad do we want it? Bad enough to go through all the things we do to make it work. Life is still good.

Meeting our twin

They say everyone has a twin. Last week we had an opportunity to meet our twin……….. to our boat. Since being at the marina in Stuart Florida, we have seen many Island Packet boats, but one day last week, we had a couple dinghy up to our boat and introduce themselves and said they had an Island Packet 31, just like us. I should mention that Island Packet owners tend to band together just as Harley Davidson owners would. We have similar interests and can help each other with certain tasks. All boats have a hull number. These numbers have significance in that they have the year they are made, the number in which they were made and other things. As it turns out, our new friends boat was made two boats before ours.

Bob and Carol Abel

Bob and Carol Abel

As cruisers, it’s not uncommon to meet people and have them for dinner the same night. This was the case with us. We had our new friends, Bob and Carol over for dinner the very day we met them, which by now was a week ago. We showed them around our boat and they keep saying how much our boat looked like theirs. A few nights later we had the opportunity to have dinner on their boat. It was like being on our own boat. Everything was the same. It was so cool. We were able to get ideas from each other on certain things we had done to the boat to improve daily functions. I came away with some new ideas on how to sew some side awnings that will shield the sun, yet still allow you to see through.

Unfortunately I injured my knee about the same time and ended up coming back up to north Ga so I could see my dr. Our new friends have since moved north and when we return to Stuart Florida, we hope to move south. Fortunately they have a blog and I can keep tabs on their travels. I love meeting new people and meeting people that have the same tastes as we do was even more fun. Life is good

looking inside their boat

looking inside their boat

On the road again

We came, we saw, we stayed. That was not in the plans. The plan was to stay in Cocoa Florida 2, maybe 3 weeks at most. 6 weeks later, there we sat. We will be the first to tell you, that anything that needs ‘doing’ to the boat, you can always expect to double the time it should take. But we are always the ever optimistic.  This is Florida. I am not complaining. okay, maybe I am complaining a bit. This was not our destination. Our destination is the Bahamas. Still Florida is nice. Whats not to love about Florida. I was born and raised  here and eventually moved to Georgia in my teens. Cocoa was a nice town. We did get to see a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral (which was awesome), enjoy a visit from our son and daughter in law, and explore nice beaches. And we got away from the cold weather everyone up north was experiencing.

As for the upgrade on the boat, she got a new sail, to include a stack pack. That will make raising and lowering easier and safer. We also got a jib pole. That is basically a pole that attaches to the front sail to help catch the wind. It sounds like a small job, but the jib pole is actually 14 feet tall and had to be  attached to the mast.  We also had to have a small fuel leak and exhaust system fixed. MarinePro in Cocoa, who works on Yanmar engines, did an excellent job.

installing the new sails

installing the new sails

But  We still had some traveling down the coast of Florida before we could cross over to the Bahamas. This is our Maiden voyage. Since leaving Cocoa, we had 2 great days sailing down the ICW, stopping to anchor on the first night after 10 hours. The next day, after another 10 hours and a short grounding,  we finally made it to Stuart Florida. We have a friend here that we wanted to see and thought it would be a good place to hang out for a while. We actually thought about trying to make our way to the Bahamas now, but decided it would be easier to drive back to north Ga, than to have keith fly out of the Bahamas. This is a nice spot. We docked here one night until a mooring opened up. Now we are on a mooring for the first time ever. For you landlubbers, A mooring is similar to anchoring, but you actually tie up to a ball that is attached at the bottom of the ocean with some type of concrete. You don’t have to worry about dragging an anchor. our electricity is limited. We conserve water like crazy. I have become a water nazi. No running water frivolously  All our water now comes in 5 gallon jugs that we carry back in the dinghy when we go shore. There is no more jumping in the car to buy something for dinner that we just have to have. But its nice. We have sunsets again as  our sunsets were blocked in Cocoa.

We are going to make this happen. Keith has committed himself to work some the end of march and the first of april, so once we get back to the boat on April 6th, we will continue to head south to Fort Lauderdale where we will make our crossover to the Bahamas. At one point, we thought we were not going to be able to go, but its back on! Life is good!

Cruisers

I have a confession to make. Cruisers don’t go on cruise ships. But we are not cookie cutter cruisers. We cruise, and when we cant cruise by our own methods, we cruise by other methods. In other words, we cruise in whatever means it takes to get there.
We are not your typical cruisers. Most cruisers will go strictly by their boats. I think that’s what we thought we would do too, but as time goes on, we have found ourselves traveling by car, by boat and by plane. Heck, Even by cruise ship. Who would have thunk! This time, we took a cruise on the spur of the moment. Our Boat is having some things repaired, and custom made. This will take a bit of time. So instead of just sitting here at the dock waiting on all to be completed, we took an opportunity to travel somewhere we had never been. We wanted the  opportunity to explore an area of the world that we someday hope to sail to on our own.

Now we are more about cultural things.  We don’t spend money on pictures. We don’t spend money on a lot of the propaganda of cruising. We usually don’t spend a lot of  money on excursions unless they are something we can’t get on our own and they are somewhat cultural. We have certainly spent our money on fun snorkeling trips in the past. This last trip we explored the Mayan ruins in Belize and an underwater cave in Mexico. We also found some exciting local cuisine we wish to replicate. We saw some beautiful blue waters that we hope to someday snorkel and fish in.
When I agreed to sell my house, I agreed to traveling more. I haven’t regretted anything yet. I have gotten to travel. Whether it be by car, plane or boat. I have gotten to see new places. Don’t Judge us by our means of travel or by our life style. If we say we are cruisers, then we are cruisers. That doesn’t mean we are exploring only by our boat. We are young cruisers. We will explore more by our own boat as time goes by. Life is still good

xunahtunic ruins in Belize

xunantunich ruins in Belize

Taking my lumps

So I was chastised on my last post.   When I spoke of ordering batteries, I spoke of it as if it was something someone does everyday. It has actually been a work in progress for over a year. But I made it sound like he just ordered them online and installed them all in a few hours. He brought this to my attention and then had the nerve to laugh at my short sentence involving his battery installation. As a matter of fact, in true Keith fashion, he brought it up several times that day while laughing.  Ordering them was actually the easy part. I usually have keith read my blog before I post it,for feedback, but this time I didn’t. WordPress was giving me a hard time, and after trying to post my blog for several days, I finally got logged on long enough to make a quick post. I was remiss in giving due credit to all Keith’s hard work and perseverance in researching new batteries. Did I mention that he laughed at me?

Keep in mind that we have solar panels, and a solar panel charger. (I won’t even pretend to understand it all.) So making sure we ended up with the correct batteries,  required lots and lots of research. Once he realized which batteries we needed, he needed to make sure we had a good place to store them in the boat. The new batteries are heavier than the old batteries, therefore, they needed to go somewhere besides the back of the boat where the existing batteries were. Too much weight in the back of the boat is not a good thing. Weight distribution is important.

Keith has spent many hours building cables, calculating voltage drops, installing  new cable wires and crawling into very small areas to get to out of reach places. There was a lot to this project.  So much has gone into the project, that we actually had to get a hotel room for 2 nights as the boat was in such disarray with no power or water.  I am really proud of all the hard work that has gone into this.  I think we are going to be very happy with our new batteries especially on cloudy days when our solar panels don’t get the sun they need. This means I will still get to have ice cubes. That makes me happy. Cheers!

 

IMG_5390.JPG

Keiths diagram of his battery installation

 

IMG_5392.JPG

Keith doing the electrical part of battery installation

 

tools everywhere. looks much better than it actually was

tools everywhere. looks much better than it actually was

The Great Exodus, part two

In case you are wondering if we have jumped ship, we haven’t. We just haven’t done anything very exciting to blog about. Well, that’s not exactly true. We have explored Jekyll island as much as possible. We have traveled to south Florida by car in search of places we may want to sail our boat to. And we have gone north several times to work and visit family.

The holidays were spent dividing our time with working part time and seeing family and making a valiant effort to get the boat ready to head south now that hurricane season is over.
Lord willing, this is really going to happen this time. In case you missed it, we were getting ready last year when several things broke and had to be ordered putting us behind, causing us to cancel our trip south.
This year I think, it’s really going to happen. Since December 1st, we have been watching boat after boat sail past us, heading south. We can’t help but be jealous. We will have our turn soon.
Our boat is just about ready to go. We have been very busy getting her ready. The plan was to leave by now, but we had some rain coming our way, so we will wait. Since we are having to wait for a good weather opportunity, we took the opportunity to purchase new batteries. Hopefully they will arrive at the same time the weather clears up.
If all goes well, our first stop will be St. Augustine. We will rest up there and move on down the coast of Florida. It can take a week to two, to get where we are going. Not to worry, we are in no hurry. Hopefully we will make it to the Bahamas sometime in February.
So that’s the plan. Hopefully with fair winds we will be part of the great exodus south this year. Its all good!

Our second overnighter

I had a one week notice that we were  going to do our second night time sail. I won’t lie, I was nervous. I am not a nighttime person. Our first night time sail didn’t go as planned, NOAA weather was wrong. We were supposed to get 10-15 knot winds and 2-4 ft waves. Instead, we got a steady 25 knot winds. And 6 foot waves. It was hard work and very tiresome.

Right now we are 31.01N  81.15W                                                                                     It is 2:25 am. I am sitting in the cockpit with Keith. Our 2 other crew members have just gone below to nap for 2 hours, then we will swap out. Normally at this time of night I would be sound asleep. If it was just me and Keith I would be down below taking my nap so that we could swap out after a few hours. But we have guests and we gave them first napping shift. Around 3 am, we will start to work our way back to the marina.                 We have been sailing for about 71/2 hours now and expect to take about 5 hrs to get back. We want to stay out long enough to see the sun rise in the morning and we will head back to the dock. Then it will be a matter of hooking things back up and taking a nap.

evening sunset

evening sunset

So how did we do? Well, I stayed up until around 5am. I found a blanket and rested in the cockpit while Keith kept us on course. The sky was beautiful. The air was very chilly. The stars were bright. I looked up just in time to see a shooting star. This isn’t so bad.           So around 5am we handed over the helm and went below for a short nap. We got back much quicker than we expected so we anchored outside of Jekyll creek. It’s a very tricky place to go thru so it was important that we wait until daylight. Once we anchored, we all went below to nap. Needless to say we missed the sunrise. Oh well.  It wasn’t much after sunrise that we woke up, started the coffee and then I made sausage and biscuits. We ate, we pulled up the Rocna anchor and we headed to the marina.

It was a good trip. Much more relaxed than the first time we went out. That’s the way I prefer sailing to be. Just enough wind to keep you going but not so much that you can’t relax. Will it always be this way, no. But I sure will enjoy the times that it is.

early morning

early morning

A long hot summer

Keith Urban said it best. “Its been a long hot summer”. It has been pretty hot this summer. Especially if you live on a boat. Due to insurance regulations, we had to be north of Cumberland Island from June to November. Also known as Hurricane season. We didn’t get much sailing in during that time for several reasons. One, there just wasn’t enough wind. Two, it was too stinkin hot. We had planned on sailing north to explore that area. But, after our nighttime sail, we ended up with a 4 page list of things that we needed to do to the boat before our trip to the Bahamas this winter. So between that and driving north once a month for Keith to work a few shifts, we have decided to stay put  on Jekyll Island.
We did however, take a 2 week trip to Alaska. Our son and daughter in law are stationed up there and it was a perfect time to go. It was everything we dreamed and more. The glaciers are amazingly beautiful. The wildlife, well, we saw a lot. Lots of grizzly bear and moose.As I look back on all the pictures we took, the pictures just didn’t do it justice. We are already thinking we would like to go back next summer. It was interesting that it didn’t get really dark until almost midnight and then it was light again around 5am. The weather was great. For them it was warm, for us, it was cool. A perfect time to get out of the Georgia heat.

Alaska with most of the family

Alaska with most of the family

sunrise at Jekyll Island

sunrise at Jekyll Island

A deserted beach on Jekyll Island

A deserted beach on Jekyll Island

Seine net for catching shrimp. The dolphin love to show up

Seine net for catching shrimp. The dolphin love to show up

But back to the boat, one of the nice things about being at Jekyll Island, is that we can take the dinghy to the beach side, where we fish, swim and seine for shrimp. We also take advantage of having our bikes here. We sometimes get up before the sun and bike over to the atlantic side of the island and watch the sun come up. Actually Keith does this way more than I do. I’m not an early morning kind of person. But I’m always glad when I do get up to see the sunrise.
We have been fortunate to have several friends visit us this summer. Its always nice to have company. Some have spent the night on the boat with us and some haven’t. I don’t think any of the ones that have spent the night with us are rushing out to buy a boat. It’s not for everyone. But it sure is nice for us.
We are getting close to our big trip south. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. We haven’t decided if we will go in  Dec or Jan. But we will be going south for sure. I’m not sure if we will end up in the Keys, or Bahamas. I guess a lot will depend on how well we do just getting to south Florida. I guess I need to start getting serious about stocking up on things. It’s getting close!