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The blog quote for this entry is not from the logbook, but from Euripides, The Bacchae:

And the end men looked for cometh not,
And a path is there where no man thought

This will be the last blog entry. We have just found out that Carol's sister, Joan, has cancer, prognosis unknown at this time. Carol will head to Tallahassee tomorrow, Sunday, for a week or two. At some point, maybe in stages, we'll take the boat north to Brunswick, Ga. and leave it there for the duration. Brunswick is about the same distance from our house as Oriental, maybe a half hour more driving time, and is only about 4 hours to Tallahassee. A trip to Oriental would take too much of Carol's time away from Joan.

Carol will be spending all of her time with Joan, through whatever resolution may come. I'll pick up a car at the house and stay on the boat for a couple of months so that I can be nearby without actually being there. If circumstances allow, I might help a friend take her boat south to Florida.

Of course, everything could change, just like it already did.

Posted by sailziveli 07:47 Comments (0)

Still in Marathon #3

sunny 0 °F

The ad rem logbook quote for this blog entry is: Make voyages! Attempt them .... there's nothing else, Tennessee Williams.

Who says boating cannot be fun? Just motor to the dinghy dock. (This is the emptiest I've ever seen it.) Dinghy_Dock.jpgIn the City Marina there are spots for about 200 boats and all but about five or six are in the harbor on mooring balls. So, every time people want to get mail, take a shower, go out to eat, etc. they have to motor to the dingy dock, and there the fun begins. It is the adult equivalent of a kid going to the carnival and driving bumper cars. What could be better? The way is narrow, no one yields, ever; every one is in a hurry so smash-em-up happens and no one minds. The marina has a rule that dinghies have to travel at idle speed in the channel approaching the dingy mooring area, that means in the event about walking speed, 3 to 4 MPH. Boats carom off those already moored; crash into those trying to get out while they are trying to get in; if there's no space just bulldoze your way through and push between two other boats to get to the dock. Best of all, no one cares because no harm, no foul. The dinghies all have 16-in. air filled rubber tubes so they cannot do any damage to each other; if you "ram" a moored dingy, just ricochet and proceed until you hit another. There are no notes under the wipers with addresses and insurance policy numbers. It's all very civilized, a lot of fun and, occasionally, an interesting way to meet new people. However, don't ever bump another boat in the mooring field; those rules are very different.

Along the way and in the harbor we have met and seen many Canadian boats flying the red and white maple leaf; many also fly a pennant which, I assume, signifies Quebec since there are white fleur-de-lis on a blue field. These two are right behind us Canadian_Flags.jpgand there are six or seven more in our immediate mooring area; maybe we’re in a segregated Canadian ghetto. The folks have all been uniformly nice, although some were weak in English, French Quebec again. Regardless, it's hard not to admire their enterprise; whichever way they arrived in Marathon, it's a long trek from Canada. Although, we did meet one Canadian couple in St. Augustine that admitted to keeping their boat in Savannah, GA.

In the harbor all of the boats co-exist with all of the birds, and there are lots of birds: gulls, pelicans, cormorants, the odd duck and many others. There is no interaction between the birds and humans except for the occasional splatter of bird poop on the poop deck. The birds seem oblivious to the boats and people and there does not seem to have been any "learning" where the birds congregate for food as they might near shrimp boats or fish cleaning stations. For the past several mid-mornings there have been many birds, almost certainly more than 1,000, that soar and glide over about 1/2-mile of mangrove swamp. They break into loose groups, sometimes only a couple of hundred or more, recombine and then break up again. (This picture shows about a fraction of 1%) P1240086.jpgWhen they catch a thermal, the mass of the birds circling from low to high provides a sharp definition to the size and shape of the column of warm air. And then, they're gone. This had been fascinating to me so, one morning, I took out the binoculars to try to identify the birds. They have to be common, carrion eating buzzards. It just so unusual to see so many at once. Road kill might attract five or ten; it should take a beached whale to get this much attention. I probably won't enjoy the show as much again.

There is a strange tradition in the Keys that involves sundown; not drinking sundowners, that's to be expected during a good, or any, sunset. This is a noisy one that requires blowing conch horns at the appropriate time except that everyone seems to want to start early. By the time the sun actually sets all save the most leather-lunged have ceased their exertions and, probably, gone back to drinking. What inquiring minds want to know is how can there be so many of these obnoxious horns when harvesting conch in the Keys and, also, the Bahamas is prohibited and why would anyone want to do this anyway? And, by the way, the horns are really, really loud with a low frequency sound that carries very well across water.

We've been learning more about the dew point than I think is absolutely necessary, since I thought that I already knew enough about it. When we first got the boat it didn't seem possible that condensation at and below the water line could put much water into the bilge of the boat. We'd lift a floor board to see water and think that the boat's taking on water and we're going to sink right here at the dock; we never did. I hadn't thought this would be an issue in FL where the surface water temperatures are so much higher than in NC; wrong again! When we do our bilge inspection it's not unusual to pump out a gallon or two. What's new, or at least not previously noticed, are the inside surfaces of the boat. While things topside get dripping wet, on the inside they also pick up moisture, hard surfaces as well as cloth. I don't know a word to describe between dry and damp, but that's what happens until the sun heats up with a little breeze. It feels a lot like living in a sponge: a pervasive, not quite comfortable, sense of moisture all around.

Today is Sunday and the wind generator installation starts tomorrow morning. So, the great emptying began. The deck is covered with stuff Topsaide.jpgand we look a little like a derelict boat. When I started emptying the rear cabin, it's under Carol's purview, it struck me that she is a much more contemporary person than am I. Her storage methodology is based on chaos theory where chaos always triumphs and, therefore, order and discernable pattern are futile and pointless; there's just space and stuff to occupy the space. I learned the word shipshape in 1967 when I reported for duty on the USS Alacrity, MSO-520, to the deck force under the immediate tutelage of a 250-lb. black, cigar chewing, 2d class Boson’s Mate, named Nails (all absolutely true), who did not much like skinny, white college guys with smart mouths, always and ever a failing of mine. I immediately figured out two things: one, that Nails had a particular vision of the world on our ship and that his definition of shipshape was good enough for me and that although I really did not enjoy chipping, painting and cleaning haze gray, then the ubiquitous color of the United States Navy, I would do it effectively and quietly to Nails' vision; second, that I needed to get off the deck force as soon as possible, which I did, but it was not nearly soon enough for me. Anyway, it seems like the distance between 1967/Nails/shipshape and 2009/chaos theory/storage is a chasm that cannot be bridged, easily or ever, despite our 41 years of marriage.

Denise, when she's not snowed in at the house, has been most supportive of us while we're out playing. When we're at a place where we can get mail, she sorts through the growing pile of mail at the house and forwards stuff to us. In almost every package is a small treasure: an Economist magazine or two. Whether on the train, at my desk or in a comfortable chair at the house, my morning routine for decades has included three things: a news periodical, very strong Darjeeling tea and granola. The boat has been the first interruption of that pattern. It is wonderful to reenter the world of information and ideas, even if it's a brief sojourn. Carol has also learned a new trick: she goes to the nearby public library and "begs" old copies of the Wall Street Journal to which I have subscribed for +/- 25 years. Old in this case is about 48-hours, the boating equivalent of CNN Headline News. Grubbing from the library is not quite the same as wearing every piece of your clothing on your body and pushing the rest of your possessions about in a stolen K-Mart shopping basket with a broken wheel, but it's getting really close. Like the Temptations sang: Ain't Too Proud to Beg. All the papers read about the same anyway, regardless of origin.

At one point I tried to explain the boats in the mooring aligning to the wind. This picture shows the concept.Boats_in_a_Row.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 03:30 Comments (0)

Still in Marathon #2

The logbook quote for this blog entry is: I love to sail on forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts, Herman Melville, Moby Dick. Great quote but a little intimidating for rookies and it sounds a little like someone searching for merit badges for which we have no need or any interest. The Bahamas are reported to be pretty tame and there have not been any confirmed barbarian sightings there since Conan moved to Sacramento.

Having seen pictures and heard reports of snow and freezing cold from one end of NC to the other, I should not complain, but I will anyway. Yesterday it got down to 48 degrees and was in the low 60's during the day. Oh, horrors! What ever shall we do? On the other hand, Carol's insistence that we carry the sleeping bags and keep them even after I wanted to mail them home has been good; last night was a sleeping bag night, not to get into it, rather opening it up and using it as a blanket. The sleeping bags are goose down and I had imagined that in this humid atmosphere that they would have lost most of their warming loft. They may in fact have less loft, but this is not the Arctic, so they did OK. It is strange, though, in the early morning to be able to see your breath condensing in the cabin. Today will be the end all that for at least a week and it's back to gin and tonics before supper while watching the setting sun.

Regarding gin .... drinking seems to be a major component of sailboating's cultural mystique and I'm not sure that we've been doing enough to become members of the club. There is one person with whom we've visited and see around the marina that I have never seen without a glass of rum and coke in his hand ..... ever, even while driving his dingy. The books report that buying bottled liquor in the Bahamas costs less than buying cokes and beer and, probably, not too much more than buying water and diesel fuel. Maybe drinking a lot is a cost effective way of maintaining body hydration levels over there. Now, if there were only a way to get around that liver thing.

A phrase that has stuck in my mind from somewhere is: conservation society. It probably came from the recent 2-year long campaign season and sounds like a functional, but aspirational, oxymoron in a society where 2/3's of GDP comes from consumer spending. It does have a certain resonance on the boat though. It is pretty much the case that space limits the ability to acquire stuff in general and non-boat specific stuff in particular. We have come up with a sort of an axiom: the boat comes first, whether the resource at issue is time, money or space. There is always a place somewhere, somehow to store more motor oil or another cruising guide; it's the gold sequined, open-toed high heels that seem questionable, at least to a guy. All that being said, we now have a lot more stuff on the boat than when we left Oriental including the 5th anchor which we don't need and, now, the replacement hose for the engine cooling system as well as the spare parts for the O/B motor.

It is amazing how much solid waste we generate most of which comes from the packaging for food and drink. Coke cans, occasionally a Coors can and water bottles account for a lot of the bulk. It's hard to buy anything, from flags to flashlights, that does not come in a blister pack; these eat up tons of space. Disposal at a marina is not a problem; they all have dumpsters. And, most marinas have the facility to handle all of the by products from oil changes. In the out islands of the Bahamas disposal will almost certainly be a problem; we'll probably have to keep everything on board until we return to a populated port location.

An amazing truth will herein be revealed and blog readers should remember that they read it here first, before it hit the front page of the NY Times or the supermarket racks of the National Enquirer. Our small piece of fiberglass flotsam has an aspect which transcends even Roswell, NM or Area 51 for X-files eeriness: we have a black hole on board, and a unique one at that. In the far reaches of the universe the mass and the gravity of all other black holes dictate that they only pull things into themselves; ours, on occasion, also yields its treasure. We thought that we had been misplacing or losing small items such as flashlights and metal rules. The Eureka moment came the black hole simultaneously gave up both my wallet, claimed by gravity, not the sea as first thought, in Morehead City, and Carol's lost storm boot, the biggest item yet taken and physically too big too have been lost on such a small boat. The return of the wallet did us no good; Carol never lets me have any money and all the accounts and credit cards had long since been changed. Finding Carol's boot was good; she stayed warm and dry in a rain storm. One wonders if this black hole is sentient and can be propitiated; there are no virgins nearby that we can sacrifice but we might be able to gin up a Barbie doll. Maybe we could barter; I'm still missing a really good LED flashlight that I would give a lot to have back.

It's interesting how attuned to the boat we have become in the past two months. The boat has all sorts of noises not heard in a house or car; it also moves around a lot, but in predictable ways. We both notice when the boat "does something new." We have learned the hard way that any new sound should never, ever be ignored; there is almost always a penalty for having done so.

The single most frequent recreational activity on board is, of course, reading. Others might drink, but we read; P1230084.jpg Carol spends more time at it than do I, but we both do it a lot. It is, after all, an activity suited to small, confined spaces, i.e. our boat. With all the need to be frugal with space, books are not generally part of that discipline P1230083.jpg as my side of the V-berth shows. The good news is that we read, seemingly a dying art in today's world of text messages and Facebook postings. The bad news is what we read: mind candy with no nutritional value which may, in fact, be hazardous to mental health. Ludlum and Clancey are great; lots of absorbing pages with no particular point except to divert the mind. We actually do have some "good" books in the library. I have intended for years to read Faust, von Goethe, and have it on board. My mind, however, simply rebels at reading 400 pages in poetic meter; it took me until 2 years ago to read the Aeneid despite having read the Iliad and the Odyssey many times. It's that poetry thing. Carol similarly has a couple of aspirational books. The thing that feeds the mind candy habit is that many marinas have libraries where you swap books, taking one and leaving one. There are also used book stores galore and, here in Marathon, a Salvation Army Thrift Store that has even more of the same. I suppose in the islands there will be informal book swaps. When everything else has been read, desperation may drive me to von Goethe; until then more thrillers.

Posted by sailziveli 04:16 Comments (1)

Still in Marathon

semi-overcast

Connie and Stan gave us a logbook to use to record the trip; and it is getting filled. Every few pages or so, there are quotes on travel. One that struck me, maybe because it was Helen Keller, my candidate for the most remarkable human being ever, is: Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

We finally decided to get the wind generator. As Carol said,"It's only money." The installation should start on 01/26/09, weather and other things permitting. If all goes well, maybe three days to install the unit and to rewire the solar panels, an effort to increase output by reducing the voltage drop though the old wires and corroding connectors. We were talking with Victoria, a friend who has a boat and who has cruised the south Pacific, and she reminded us of her definition of cruising: getting your boat worked on and repaired in exotic locations. Maybe Marathon is exotic after all.

The daunting thing is that to install the generator the three areas that have all of our storage, the rear cabin and the two lazarettes, will have to be completely emptied. My first thought was to wonder where it will all go; my second thought was not where it will go but where we will go when the areas are emptied. I just cannot imagine how we'll get it done, but we will because we have to.

This has been an interesting decision process, giving us a brief look into the lives of folks who never worked in a corporate office. The young man who will do the installation is a case in point.

He's probably in his mid thirties or so and lives with his wife and two children on their 56-ft. boat. At one time they had houses and cars but sold all that. His wife had been a teacher and is schooling the kids on the boat. He, more or less, "follows the fleet." The boats are south now and so is he; as the weather warms he'll work his way north as cruisers start to return to their home ports. Not withstanding the fact that we can't fix much of anything, this was not something that Carol and I would have considered in the late 60's and early 70's when we were setting out. Of course, the internet and cell phones, axiomatic to his enterprise, didn't exist then. http://www.transmarinepro.com/index.html

The other look, at a great remove, is the Canadian ex-pat who moved to Trinidad and decided to build a better mouse trap, in this case a wind generator. He now has, obviously, distribution in the US; my research on the internet indicated that boaters were very satisfied with his product. It's called the KISS wind generator for Keep It Simple Sailor. http://www.kissenergy.com/

On our last night in Key West, we met Amahl, our night visitor. This blue heron landed on our dingy and stayed there about 20 minutes through repeated flash exposures from the camera. Nothing camera shy about this bird. P1080062.jpg

On the way to Marathon from Key West we tried the new anchor. It must work pretty well; when it set, it set so hard that it seemed that the bow of the boat would come off. I finally found some information on anchoring technique; it confirmed what Mike had told me in Key West. As I was beginning to suspect, I have been doing just about everything just about exactly wrong.

That was an interesting anchorage. It took us about an hour to get from open water to where we anchored. In that time at the helm I never looked up; Carol was watching for other boats. All I looked at was the chartplotter and the depth sounder. There were only two navigation marks in two miles, or so, of shallow water and the book said that we would have to "sound" our way in. Did we ever! It worked OK, but I skipped 63 and 64 and went straight to 65.

We have a lot of printed resources on the boat, guides, charts, etc. So, when we're going someplace new, and every place is new to us, we have to prepare. You study the chart, drawn to scale, and the channel is 1/16-in. wide. And then comes reality! You're at the helm, looking over the bow at the navigation markers you just studied, and it slowly becomes clear that the chart was precisely right: the channel really is 1/16-in. wide and there's no way that you can possibly get the boat through there. That's when the flop sweat starts.

Yesterday, Friday, was a work day. We have developed an extensive checklist of things that we look at on a regular basis. These are things that we've picked up from reading manuals, books, talking to other people and having repairs done to the boat. Our theory, maybe more of a hope, is that if we pay attention to the basics such as fluids, filters, hoses, etc. then the chances of a motor failure go down; they're never zero, but a lower number seems better than a higher one.

I thought that we had a pretty good assortment of generic parts to maintain the boat, but the list keeps growing. I inspect the hoses for the cooling system. All of them have chaffing gear, really just another piece of hose over the active one. I noticed that one of the pieces of chaffing had just about worn through and the hose was next. After fixing that came the simple question: why don't we have lengths of replacement hose? And then, talking to Jay, came the issue of extra shear pins and, maybe, a propeller for the dingy motor. Some things are so obvious that they cannot be seen.

We've been doing some stuff with Sue & Jay. They asked us out to see a "surprise," which turned out to be very interesting. There is a store that sells bait & tackle, diving gear, has a marina, etc. The store also has a large salt water pond in front which is well stocked with native fish. At 4:00 pm the owner feeds the fish chunks of cut up wahoo and squid. In the pond were four tarpon, each at least 3-ft. long, some very big grouper, two nurse sharks, one moray eel and sundry smaller fish. It was fascinating to see the fish on the surface of the water competing for the food. None of the fish seemed very impressed with the nurse sharks which were 4/5-ft. long. Maybe the Jaws theme music would have added some suspense to the meal.

Today, Sunday, the four of us went to Key West to hear a singer Sue and Jay particularly enjoy. Lunch was at Margaritaville and the burgers were really good.P1180075.jpg That really was the table at which we ate, right in front of the stage. Some of the employees in the store were all atwitter because there had been a confirmed Jimmy Buffet sighting that morning.

Then on to the concert which was held in the garden of the oldest extant house in Key West, built in 1829. It has survived lots of hurricanes and several fires. The house is on Duval Street, the main tourist drag in Key West. The concert was actually in the garden behind the house and the garden was remarkable. You leave the noise and the traffic on Duval St. and enter an oasis of tranquility and greenery. This is the four of us again;P1180078_JPG.jpg the two cousins;P1180079_JPG.jpg and two red heads.P1180077_JPG.jpg

The singer, Fiona Molloy, concentrates on Irish music, she was born in Ireland after all, P1180082_JPG.jpgand also likes some American folk music. www.fionamolloy.com/home.html She sang for almost three solid hours: it was a great show and she has a wonderful voice. On a It's a Small World Note: we arrived well before the show started when Fiona was unloading and setting up. The four of us were near Fiona when she looked at Carol and said, "We met in the laundromat." Fiona and Carol had met and talked a couple of weeks earlier when we were in Key West and they were both washing clothes.

Posted by sailziveli 07:14 Comments (3)

Marathon Redux

Seeing Sue & Jay

overcast

After leaving Key West, it took us two days to get back to Marathon, FL, near where Sue and Jay stay on Ohio Key. Funny what a difference the wind makes. With the wind behind us it took about nine hours to get to Key West; against the wind, two days for the reverse trip.

However, we did sail both days for about a half day. Beating to windward and tacking is a lot of fun, and seems to capture an essence of sailing. It is also very hard physical work. Our autopilot is not an option in higher winds and the boat ride can be rough with the bow into the waves and the boat heeling over. When heading up the real reason many sailors seem take down the sails and turn on the motor is geometry. In a perfect Pythagorean world, if you could cut exact 45 degree turns, the boat has to travel 2 miles tacking to cover 1.4 miles of linear course. As a matter of practice on a well piloted boat it may work out to more like 2 miles to travel 1; we probably cannot even do that. A lot of fun but not too much accomplished.

We're staying in Boot Key Harbor, run by the city of Marathon. It's a mooring field with about 200 spots to park boats. Most are in use because there is some lousy weather coming through and everyone is looking for a sheltered mooring, which these are. It's a good enough facility which shopping a vigorous walk away. For a look at the area, connect to http://www.bootkeyharbor.com/BKHAerial.htm

We met some folks from Oriental that we didn't know the other day, and have also seen two other sets of people that we did know, also from Oriental; sailboating is a small world it seems.

On Sunday, 01/11/09 Jay invited me to go fishing along with a friend of his, Opie. Jay has about a 16-ft. aluminum boat that handled the three of us very well. We started fishing near one off the old railroad bridges. These are no longer in use and are, through deterioration from the salt and elements, becoming de facto man made reefs and great for fishing. We were catching a lot of fish, but not any that were keepers. Florida has many regulations about fishing and the best fish to eat, of course, have strict size limits; all of the good ones that we caught were under sized. So, we moved to a location more in the open water and, finally, started putting some fish into the cooler. All told, we caught 11 keepers, ranging from about 10-in. to 14-in. The fishing highlight of the day was at the very end. We were back by the bridge, trying to "use up" the last of our bait. Opie had a nice yellowtail on his line and was trying to get it into the boat. When the fish was about 5-ft. from the boat and we were thinking about reaching for the net to land it, along comes a 4/5-ft. shark that also wanted Opie's fish for supper. Opie yanked the fish out of the water and into the air; Jay grabbed the net and caught the fish in mid-air. Tinker to Evers to Chance. If only we had a video!

After Jay and Opie did the hard work of filleting the fish, they gave Carol and me most of the day's catch. We had the fish for dinner last night and the eating was really, really good. I'm not sure how the details will work out, but fishing for supper will be part of a routine in the Bahamas.

Being on the boat is different. At all times the boat demands a great deal of attention; there is always a list of things to do and the list always requires something or another to be purchased. So any project breaks down into three parts: one, schlepp around to try to get the necessary parts and pieces; two, make the repairs and, always, three, discover what other parts and pieces you need but don't have so you go back to step one. It's good to do these projects; it forces us to poke and probe into parts of the boat that do not normally attract attention. In the end, we better understand the boat.

The other aspect of the boat, particularly when the weather is calm and warm, is that it inspires an intense interest in doing absolutely nothing. Sitting about and looking at the horizon is an activity that can fully occupy the mind. This was our view on a lazy Saturday morning in Boot Key Harbor.Mangrove_S.._Harbor.jpg

On Tuesday evening a sailboat was coming into a mooring and ran hard aground. I felt a great deal of sympathy for the boat; we had been on the exact same shoal on 12/31/08, our first time into the harbor. Our keel is different and we were able to power our way off the shoal; this boat was unable to do that. So, five or six guys powered up their dingies and converged at the boat. After a few efforts that didn't work we got serious. One dingy took a halyard from the boat to tip over the boat, via the mast; this has the effect of making the draft shallower. When this was done all the other boats pushed on the other side. Amazingly, it worked and we able to push the boat into deeper water. An interesting example of a successful undirected, ad hoc team. The next day a huge motor vessel went aground near the same area. It was like the Ritz-Carlton except with a hull instead of a foundation. No sails .... so, no one came out to help.

The anticipated front arrived on Tuesday night, a little rain and a lot of wind. The temperature dropped to an unthinkable, bone chilling 58 degrees and we went back under the bunk to retrieve some of the winter wear that we had thought to have been packed away for good. I looked at Spring Creek's weather and there were special weather advisories about snow, more snow and black ice. That makes this seems seriously not too bad.

This is the first time that we have been around a lot of boats in close proximity. The various iterations of sailboats are amazing; sizes, colors, sails and rigging of every conceivable combination. And more interesting, so many dogs. Most of the dogs are poncey little things, lots of bark and not much else. However, some people have real dogs. We met two ladies that are cruising with two setters that weigh about 70-lb. each. I hadn't realized how much I miss having a dog. Wile E. may be a weenie but he's a dog and it's good to have a dog, even a red weenie dog. All dogs, including Wile E., understand faithful and loyal and all dogs talk exactly the right amount.

Carol and I have been talking about getting a wind generator. We've been living like "electrical" hermits in order to save power. The solar panels put out good energy but not enough to keep up with the refrigerator. The choices seem to be four: (1) stop using the refrigerator, an inconvenient idea; (2) run the engine a lot to keep the batteries charged, generally a bad idea; (3) buy a 150-lb generator for which we have no room, an impractical idea; (4) get a wind generator, maybe an OK idea.

If we get the generator, we'll end up here in Marathon until early/mid February. This would be OK since the mooring is cheap and the weather in the Bahamas gets better towards March. More to follow, the next time with pictures of the cousins and, maybe, trophy fish.

Posted by sailziveli 04:37 Comments (2)

Key West, FL

We arrived in Key West on New Year's day. In approximate terms we have covered 1,000 miles, probably a little more, of which about half were on the open water, i.e. the Atlantic Ocean, and the rest on the ICW.

Despite the many years that Carol and I lived in Florida, she had never been to Key West and I had been here only for a few hours at the airport in 1964. So, this is all be new to us.

We are staying in a mooring field managed by the Key West City Marina. Of all the places that we have stayed, this is the one we like the least. Skipping all of the details, if someone had not been kind enough to help us tie onto the mooring ball, we would not have been able to stay here. In most businesses you don't make it extra hard for customers to acquire/consume your product; this place is a notable exception. And, after a long ride to the dingy dock, it's a1/2-mile walk to the showers which have been unfavorably compared to those in a Cuban prison.

Line_Dancing_Pelicans.jpgWe saw these pelicans line dancing on our way from the marina office.

We have about a 1.5 mile ride to get to the dingy dock, a lot of that ride is on exposed, open water. Not a huge deal as long as the winds stay under 15 knots. Otherwise it gets very bouncy and riders get very wet. This stay has shown us that our current dingy solution, an 11-ft. inflatable boat with a 4-HP motor, is not great. When we bought the boat the instructions were that 4-HP was the maximum size that could be safely used. With one person in the boat it may go 8~10 MPH; with two people that drops to about 6~8 MPH. In most cases this is just a matter of inconvenience and a longer ride. However, if we hit areas with strong tidal flows, it may be hard to make safe progress against the current. And, we met a guy who has the exact boat and he has an 8-HP motor and seems to do just fine.

Key West is pretty much a tourist place and economy with Navy and a Coast Guard bases. It is a good place to be a tourist; however, nothing is free except one public restroom. All other activities cost, even state parks.

The area is beautiful with an interesting history. The housing stock is fairly old. I guess that all the land was "built out" by the late 70's or early 80's. What's interesting is that there are no McMansions anywhere to be seen. The city must have ordinances against tear-downs. I assume that you can remodel the interior of any house as long as you leave the exterior walls as they were. This has really maintained the charm of the place. Many of the houses are hard to see from the street; the foliage can be very thick and very beautiful.Mixed_Greens.jpgBeauganvilla_at_wall.jpg

The historic, old town is at the southwest part of the island as is the port area. This is where we have spent most of our time as do thousands of other visitors. On Tuesday, 01/06, we rented a motor scooter to be able to cover more ground; the island is too big to cover on foot. Scooters are ubiquitous down here; if we lived here, we would have one too.

We did a bunch of touristy stuff including: going to the southernmost point of land in the USA;Carol___Me..thpoint.jpg Carol was very taken with this sign which shows the southern terminus of US1;0Carol___US1.jpg bougainvillea are like weeds here;Carol_by_Beauganvilla.jpg we saw the Key West lighthouse.Key_West_Lighthouse.jpg

There is a Hemingway House on the island that I had wanted to visit; he is, after all, my favorite author. Not only is nothing free, everything is expensive; So, we found this portrait in a hotel on Duval St. It had to satisfy my Hemingway jones for the trip.Me_and_the_MAN_.jpg.

Banyan trees are common in south Florida; this is a fairly large one.Banyan_Tree.jpg I have no idea what type of tree this is but it is huge.Carol___Ea..er_Tree.jpg

Duval St. is, more or less, Key West's answer to Bourbon St., pubs, t-shirt shops and restaurants. In the middle block of Duval is a huge Episcopal ChurchEpiscopal_..n_Duval.jpg, probably much needed by the passers-by, but underutilized. One street over, Whitehead St. is a lovely old, store church with stained glass windows. Old_Church_Window.jpg

On Monday, 01/05, Sue and Jay, having settled in on Ohio Key, came down to Key West and we went out together. We saw and toasted the sundown, with clouds maybe a 4 on a scale of 10, and went to dinner on Duval St.

Last night, Tuesday, we had a reunion of sorts. Two friends from the Whittaker Pointe Marina are in Key West. in 2007 our three boats were within 100-ft. of each other. Now, over a year later, they are probably within 1-mile of each other, although at a 1,000-mile change in latitude.Whittaker_..Reunion.jpg Wayne and Michael are doing well and, after about a year in Key West, will probably be moving on to other places. But, it was great to visit old friends.

We are waiting for yet another anchor to be delivered. We have the boat for a year and a half and are now on our 7th anchor. The event in Ocracoke made a deep impression on me. And since anchors address safety and security, it's a reasonable place to waste money. We'll keep four on board; two recommended by the US Navy; one by LLoyd's of London; the other is generic. Step two is learning to use them well, individually and in pairs.

After the anchor arrives, probably Thursday, and I have watched the Florida game on Thursday night at the local VFW post, we'll head back east to visit Sue and Jay. We should be able to anchor near their RV park on Ohio Key. I hope Jay will take me fishing so that I can pick up some tips.

Posted by sailziveli 05:53 Comments (3)

Four Days, Three Nights

sunny

We probably could have made it to Key West in three and two, but since we passed the magic climate line that separates cold from warm, what's the hurry?

The morning we left Miami we took pictures. PC280010.jpg If Carol and I look about the same height, it's because Carol is standing in the dirt at the base of the tree and I'm on the sidewalk. She is very smart about some things. She also noted that this was the first time that shorts were appropriate for the day's trip.

The marina was beautiful that calm Monday morning. Sunride_at.._Marina.jpg I love this picture and it is my desktop background for now. An interesting thing: I posted this picture to the website the day that we left Miami. The next day there was a message from a guy in Australia telling me how much he like the colors. Go figure! I guess that's why it's called the world wide web.

Of course, Miami is just across Biscayne Bay.PC280006.jpg.

The Dinner Key Marina was interesting, probably the biggest one in which we've stayed, bigger than even the one in Charleston at least in the number of boats; the boats aren't as big because Biscayne Bay is relatively shallow. At the literal end of dock three, on which we stayed, was the Miami City Hall, an odd place for such a building. Turns out that in its earlier days the building was the seaplane terminal for Pan Am's flights to South America.There were some wonderful, old black and white pictures of planes and a time never to be seen again.

After we left the marina and crossed Biscayne Bay, we headed out the Biscayne Channel. It cuts through an area called Stiltville, where there were once many houses like this, PC280013.jpg, including one owned by Carol's uncle which she visited many times. Now, most appear to be unlivable; no new ones can be built, but the old ones are grandfathered until a hurricane blows them away or they rot and fall.

As we exited Biscayne Channel there is the light house at Crandell Park on Key Biscayne, a place Carol visited a lot in her youth.PC280015.jpg

We had planned to stay Monday night in a place called Caeser Creek, maybe for Julius or Syd. There was a shoal across the creek opening so we backed away and went a few hundred yards away to anchor for the night. If the ADA, not the dentists but the Anchoring Dummies Assoc., has an award for 2008, we may not win but we're going to be contenders. Two different anchors and an untold number of tries and we couldn't get an anchor to set. The sand was very soft and neither of our two types of anchors would set without pulling. Of course, one of the two anchors I sold just before we left Oriental would have been just perfect for that particular bottom.

And to add to the anchoring chaos, there was this. We have started pulling the dingy and have two lines to it. One of the things that you don't want to have happen, when in reverse, which happens a lot during anchoring, is pulling the lines into the propeller. So, I put floats on the lines; then I tested them, then I tried them and then I used them. And, they worked perfectly until they didn't and 30-ft. of very good 3/8-in. nylon line got shredded and turned into a sailor's version of the Gordian Knot. I think that we can take the ADA trophy, hands down.

Tuesday night we anchored near Key Largo at Rodriguez Key. Going into Key Largo would have been a long bouncy boat ride on a windy day and Carol still didn't feel 100%, so we stayed on the boat. You have to know that Carol is not feeling well when she passes up a chance to eat out.

Anchoring was event neutral, but maybe not very effective. Wednesday, the last day of the old year we saw this as we pulled up the anchor.Sunrise_in_Key_Largo.jpg. Carol and I have both noted that we hope that we are never so jaded that we are not in awe of the natural beauty such as this.

The bit of good news is that having cleaned the refrigerator coils, our Ah (amp hour) consumption is down significantly, a good thing. And the solar panels give us about 6 really good hours, on a cloudless day, of battery charging. This gives me hope that we will learn to manage this resource.

We stayed New Year's Eve in Marathon, in Boot Key Harbor, which I thought was really neat. The have a mooring field of +200 mooring balls (a mooring balls is a float with a pendant onto which a boat ties at the bow; the float is attached to a heavy weight). Since the field is laid out in a grid, the masts of about 200 sailboats were stacked like pickets. When the wind shifted all the boats moved as one as if in a nautical danse macabre. Anyway, it looked more interesting than I can describe.

Seeing all those boats, knowing that everyone was an indulgence, it struck me as ironic that every crew had the lights out in a discipline of denial to save battery power.

On New Year's day we left Boot Key Harbor at first light and headed for Key West. At about 8:30 a.m. we passed Ohio Key, where Sue and Jay are staying. So, we gave them a call; they got into their truck and drove to a bridge to see us go by. We were easy to pick out; we're about the only boat moving today.

This afternoon we'll moor in Key West.

Posted by sailziveli 11:19 Comments (5)

Still in Miami

sunny

Well, here we remain, and that's OK by us. Flexibility in all things and never, ever make the boating gods angry.

We had intended to leave for Key West on Christmas morning. So, we had our "Christmas Dinner" on Christmas Eve. Carol fixed a nice pork roast and we had our presents for dinner: hers was strawberry cheesecake, not from Wolfie's; it's no longer in business. But the guy who owned Wolfie's later started a place called Epicure and, as far as cheesecake goes, it is well named. Mine was a more pedestrian bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano double chocolate cookies. Carol was nice and shared her present; I did give Carol a cookie.

On Christmas day, and the next two days, the winds were about 20 knots. On the ocean this would have been OK; in the shallower waters, +/- 20 feet, where we would have been, this would have made for a very rough ride. So, we opted to hang around.

On Friday we walked up Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Lincoln Road is about a 2/3's of a mile, open air, pedestrian mall that, more or less, goes from the bay to the ocean. In a place like Miami Beach where there is so much wealth on ostentatious display, the mall is less about shopping and more about consumption. We hadn't seen anything like this since north Michigan Avenue in Chicago. We did have a nice lunch there, in the center of the mall under umbrellas. An interesting place to visit, but give us the land and people in Spring Creek. And on top of all that, there were no pickup trucks or Christmas decorations anywhere to be seen. Maybe there's a law.

We were anchored out for a week and while at anchor it was plain that the boat was drawing too many amp hours from the batteries, a bad thing. Plus, it was overcast for several days so the solar panels were no help. Since the only thing that was running, most of that time, was the refrigerator, the problem was easy to identify.

There seems to be a perverse rule to all which boat designers adhere: if something is important to access, put it somewhere that is impossible to access. It's a good thing that I'm a skinny guy; if I weighed two pounds more I couldn't get to places like the evaporator coil for the refrigerator. We dug down to it and, sure enough, the cooling fins on the evaporator coil were caked solid with crud as was the duct leading to it and vent too. To clean the coil we found a small air compressor with a tank at an Ace Hardware; it's 110 volts and I wanted to wait until we were on shore power to use it. Plus I wanted shore power for a good recharge on the batteries.

So, yesterday, Saturday, we pulled in to Dinner Key Marina, in Coconut Grove, very close to where Carol grew up in Coral Gables. The air compressor worked well enough and we managed to get the coil clean and to jerry-rig a filter to reduce further accumulation. And then the fun began. We we barefoot and all of a sudden we were walking in water in the rear of the main cabin, a very, very bad thing. It appeared to be fresh water and there is a 40-gal. tank in the rear cabin. Since I had just filled both water tanks, that seemed like the place to look.

We literally deconstructed the rear cabin to get to the tank and to expose all of the water hoses to and from the tank. After a couple of hours of work and inspection there was no place that could have put out that volume of water. And then the light went off! On the stern platform there is a fresh water shower head. It turns out that it was stuck in the open position and when Carol left the water switch on it pumped 40-50 gallons into the boat in a short time. The fix was dirt simple. The bilge pump evacuated most of the water and we used a hand pump to get most of the rest. But it was another couple of hours to put the rear cabin back together again.

Too much work and too much excitement for old, retired folks. That brought us to the existential question of the day: do real sailors order pizza for delivery? The other Rhett had the right answer: I don't really give a damn! It was late, we were tired and there was more work to do; so, Papa John's tasted great.

Carol's feeling a little off today, so we'll stay another day at the marina so she can rest and, maybe, head out tomorrow morning.

One of the interesting things that we've learned so far is that traveling by boat is not like traveling by car on an interstate; there isn't always another exit down the road with a Motel 6. When we can't travel at night, which includes almost all inland waters, plus the Keys and the Bahamas, we have to organize a day's travel around a place to stop at night: an anchorage or a marina. Although we've passed the winter solstice and are farther south, there are still only about 10.5 hours of working daylight. So, some days when we can manage 50-miles but the next safe place is 60-miles, we settle for two 30-mile increments. Trying to figure out how to traverse the Keys through Hawk Channel has been particularly vexing in this regard but I think that we're ready to try.

Posted by sailziveli 04:46 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (1)

Oddments, #1

1. As of today, Tuesday, 12/23/08, we have been underway 42 days, exactly six weeks. We have been gone from the house, and on the boat, an additional week. I haven't yet killed Carol although there certainly have been grounds for justifiable homicide. She hasn't yet divorced me although there have certainly been grounds to have done so.

2. Sea Harbour in Oriental is just north of ICW mile 180; Miami is at ICW mile 1089. We're a little over 800 ICW miles, so far. Of that 800 miles, almost 300 were on the open water. We have about another 150 or so open water miles to Key West

3. In Florida we must have seen more than 300 signs about protecting the manatees. We have yet to see even one manatee.

4. Having been on the ICW for about 500 miles, I have been amazed at how clean and litter free it is. There is the occasional piece of stuff from high water during a storm, but is is surprising to see a beer can or any other common trash.

5. We have motored out of several ports. On the charts, printed at the end of the channel are always these three words: North Atlantic Ocean. If this doesn't focus your mind, you should stay in the tub with a rubber ducky.

6. On a sail boat, things always happen slowly, until they don't. The segue is hard on an old man.

7. In open water, well away from the shore, the Atlantic Ocean is an incredibly beautiful gray/green color. The fact that I'm red/green color blind has not dimished my enjoyment of the color. There have also been some little bits of seaweed from the Sargasso Sea that have provided a nice yellowish contrast to the water.

8. Not meaning to upset any ladies, but ..... on boats with hetero couples it seems to be the natural order of things that men are the captains and women are the first mates. What's interesting is this: on sailboats the "first mate" usually is also usually the first mate, i.e. original marriage. There is a much higher incidence of trophy wives on motor vessels. I guess the deal is that you need a new babe to go with the new boat. Lucky for us that we bought a sailboat.

9. Another thing about motor vessels ..... When you pass or are in an anchorage, it's almost always all sailboats, probably at the 98/99% level. I guess that when you're spending $100 a day, or more, on fuel, the incremental cost of a marina is not a big deal.

10. If the only thing that a person were to see of this country, the USA, was the view from the ICW, that person would truly think that the streets here are paved with gold. The houses are incredible! Very few would have a price with less than two commas in it. I thought that I had become enured to all this. Then we hit an area near St. Augustine where the piers and docks certainly cost more than our house did. I was stunned.

11. On the trip to Miami, we saw our first flying fish. They don't actually fly, it's more of a glide. And, they always seem to glide into the wind, for more lift and more distance. But, how does a fish underwater know how to gauge the wind direction?

12. While traveling about Miami Beach I have been looking at balconies by the thousands. So far I have seen just two people on balconies.

13. We just tried our second two anchor mooring. It was event neutral, unlike our first attempt. I guess that after a few more attempts we will have eliminated all of the wrong things to do and the only alternative left will be the right way.

Posted by sailziveli 16:54 Comments (1)

Sailed in to Miami Beach B... O... A... T...

Didn't Get to Sleep Last Night

sunny

With apologies to the Beatles and to Michael Jackson, who probably still owns the copyright, Back in the USSR was going through my sleep deprived brain as we were heading into Government Cut, the channel into the Port of Miami. Blog readers might want me to start getting more sleep.

What a trip! It looked so simple on the charts.

After a nice visit with Les and Jean they dropped us off at the boat in Melbourne and we motored to Fort Pierce. No big deal. The next morning we set out for Miami.

Palm Beach is about the eastern most point on Florida's coast. Fort Pierce is west of Palm Beach, more or less in the lee as far as northerly ocean currents are concerned. As we approached Palm Beach, and left the shelter of that lee, it was like the boat had started going through jello. We lost over 40% of our speed.

I have read about the Gulf Stream and am very aware of the issues we will encounter crossing to the Bahamas. The NOAA broadcasts said the the "western wall" of the Gulf Stream was 15 miles east of our position. No matter! Even on the attenuated western edge it must have had at least 1.5 knots of northward velocity. We never got the speed back until the water was less than 100 feet very close to Miami. I guess that this is a good example of the difference between book learning and practical experience.

About 10 PM that night I noticed that we were about to have an oil pressure problem with major downside consequences. Addressing this was something that I should have done in Fort Pierce, but I wasn't paying attention to the accumulated motor hours. So, we found a Walmart parking lot and pulled into it for an hour to make repairs. Of course, in my Mr. Badwrench way, in fixing one problem, I created another. We were able to get that corrected too. A quick stop at a Dunkin' Donuts for caffeine and sugar and we were on our way.

Later that night I saw that the depth sounder was "stuck" at 601 feet. The ocean bottom in not that level for that long and my charts indicated a depth of more than 800 feet. Not a big deal on the ocean, but big trouble everywhere else. So I activated the three R's: reset, restart and reread the owner's manual. Nothing seemed to work. Since nothing worked and I was out of R's, I formed a new hypothesis: 600 feet is the most that the poor thing can register and the digit 1 means that it's more than 600 feet deep. Fortunately, this was the case. In the shallow water of Miami it worked just fine.

Traveling overnight is hard on 60-year old bodies. But there are minor compensations like meteorites, moon rises and sun rises. We saw this to our east Sunrise_in_Miami.jpgand the reflections of the sun on the buildings to our west. Miami_Sunr..he_West.jpgPretty nice.

We are anchored rather out than in a marina. Marinas are dear everywhere except Dudley's in Swansboro, NC, where they charge $0.75 a boat foot. Miami is on another plane. We called one place that wanted $4.50 per foot. They asked if we were going to stay and were told that unless they had a 50% off AARP coupon there was no way.

The anchorage is incredible, as well as being very sheltered. I knew that there was a front coming through and that we needed a good, safe place. What I hadn't counted on was how pretty Sunset Lake is. Anchoring_..et_Lake.jpgIt's a lake, of sorts, formed by a four islands. I'm not too much of a fan of Florida in general and Miami in particular but this place could make me change my mind, maybe.

It's just a 1/2 mile dingy ride to a dingy dock of sorts. From there it's one block to a major street; 25 cents will get you a bus ride anywhere in the South Beach area. Carol and I took the plunge and put down 50 cents to go over to the beach. We had last been here in the 60's before we were married. We used to go there for cheap dates when 25 cents bought two hot bagels and the second run theaters were 50 cents per person. Much has changed; South Beach has gotten younger and we have gotten older. When last we saw it, South Beach was a strip of old hotels with cracked and peeling stucco in faded pastel colors where "old folks" named Max and Irma came on vacation from downstate New York to wither and grow old in noonday sun. Now, almost every hotel has been renovated, updated, decorated and speculated upon. It's a classy place where the young have displaced Max and Irma and there isn't a bagel shop left on the beach. On the bus ride back we saw two or three buildings where Eisenhower was still president but mostly it was Extreme Makeover on steroids.

The weather is still dodgy so we will probably not leave until Thursday, Christmas Day. It should be about three easy days to Key West but we might stay over in Marathon for a day or two. There's no reason to hurry .... we're on boat time.

Posted by sailziveli 17:04 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Brunswick Reflections

While we were in Brunswick, Ga. a big, pretty sailboat pulled in for the night. The next morning, one of the crew said that he had taken a picture and would e-mail it to me, which he just did. Brunswick_Reflections.jpg He titled his e-mail: Brunswick Reflections which seemed good enough. I like the picture and decided it was worth a belated entry.

The story is interesting, though. The boat belongs to a male movie star whose name I promised not to publish on the internet. Suffice it to say that he is a name that all would recognize. The crew was taking to boat from Annapolis, MD, to the Bahamas while he is in Europe filming a movie, and was planning to fly to the boat later. It's an impossibly small point of nexus with another's life, but one none the less.

Posted by sailziveli 13:04 Comments (0)

Sebastian, Fl.

semi-overcast 75 °F

We made good time from St. Augustine south. St. Augustine is a pretty place, but ..... the horrible weather coming into town and the channel navigation through the inlet and waiting for the bridge to open gave me a level 10 case of flop sweat. I am way too old for all of that! A good day in the market would be enough excitement for me on any day.

On Monday we passed Cape Canaveral. Cape_Canaveral.jpgThe picture doesn't show much except for the immense scale of the building where they prepare the rockets for launch.

Just below the Cape we passed through a protected wildlife area. At one point we saw, no exaggeration, between 1,000 and 2,000 water fowl in a 100 yard diameter area. There must have been a rich food source at that place in the water. Unfortunately, I was too busy with the boat to get the camera ready for a picture.

In the way of planning (see below) ... we were trying to get through Daytona Beach to a marina south of the city. We were one bridge opening away from getting there in good light when the bridge operator came on the VHF and said that there was a problem with the bridge, i.e. it would not open, and they needed several hours to repair it. New plan, turn around to the north and anchor out for the night. This was OK but there was a strong tidal cross current which induced me to an all night anchor watch.

Cousin Les and Jean live in Sebastian, FL, but none of the marinas there have a sufficient depth of water in approach or at the dock to accommodate our boat. Staying in Vero Beach would have been better but the one marina there that would have worked was full. Go figure! It's Christmas and there's no room at the inn. So, we stayed in Melbourne, FL, just north of Sebastian.

Les and Jean came and got us on Tuesday, 12/16/08, and we have been with them for two nights, heading back to the boat today, Thursday, 12/18/08. DSCN2058.jpgWe had a great visit which consisted, in large part, of them schlepping us from place to place to get provisions, prescriptions, computer repairs, and other things to keep us going. It was fun visit anyway. We got to see the pictures of their recently completed trip to: Italy, Spain, the Canary Islands and St. Maartens Island. They were on planes and trains, boats and buses and it must have been a heck of a trip because the pictures were awesome. DSCN2060.jpg It was also nice to be in a house with Christmas decorations and a tree. This was, likely, our only chance to see holiday fixings. It's an interesting irony that they'll be in North Carolina for New Years and we will be in Florida.

We don't actually have a plan; plans speak to hubris and only seem to enrage the boating gods and to inspire them to great mischief. We work now more on concepts that allow for variables such as weather, repairs, fatigue, etc. So, our concept is to head to Ft. Pierce. From Ft. Pierce to Miami there are about 40 bascule bridges in approximately120 miles. Too much trouble in shallow water with boat traffic, wind and currents. We'll head outside to Miami and then rest up for a day or two at the south end of Key Biscayne near or in No Name Harbor. After fuel and water, we'll head out for Key West taking the Hawk Channel, which will keep us east, southeast and south of the Keys. The charts indicate pretty good depth of water but we'll not be affected by the Gulf Stream, which is heading in the other direction. I don't know how long this leg of the trip will last, but we will probably be in Key West around the turn of the New Year. This may be the last entry until we get to Key West

The only given is that on January 8th, somewhere, some how, I will be in front of a TV watching the Florida vs. Oklahoma game and, hopefully, rooting the Gators to victory.

Posted by sailziveli 07:42 Archived in USA Comments (1)

St. Augustine

sunny 0 °F

We're staying two nights here, Thursday and Friday, before heading south to Sebastian, FL. The trip into the marina on Thursday was a little too much excitement; 30/40 knot winds in a rain storm with a difficult cross current at the marina entrance. We made it safely in.

My boat handling skills must be improving; I think that I've improved from terrible to merely bad. I've backed into slips, parallel parked the boat and run marina mazes that would have defeated the average lab rat.

We spent the morning sightseeing in St. Augustine. The old fort is truly remarkable, having been built decades before Jamestown or Plymouth Rock. Carol___Ru..he_Fort.jpg. Its preservation is quite good despite 500 years of usage as an active fort and as an historic location. The side bar to the visit was that I bought my Golden Age pass to enter all national parks and sites for free. There aren't many benefits to being old, but the pass, and my first Social Security check this month, are two of them.

I guess that it is a sign of our slipping into the cruiser mentality that given a choice between exotic shopping in old St. Augustine and a trip to West Marine to get stuff to repair a dingy painter and to make a kellett, West Marine came first; then, of course, Walmart for groceries.

I was talking to our neighbor in this marina and some comment I made prompted him to say that in 16 years he had over 35,000 cruising miles. At this point in the trip, along with the visit to the Chesapeake this summer, we have over 1,000 cruising miles; certainly nothing to brag about, but at least the number has a comma.

Posted by sailziveli 12:29 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

It's a Miracle!!!

We left Brunswick, Ga. on Tuesday morning and headed outside for Fernandina Beach under full sail. I went down to the cabin for a few minutes to change clothes and when I returned to the cockpit we were in a squall with 25/30 knot winds. Carol's comment was exactly on point: Do you think that we may have too much sail up? It was a rough ride for a while.

We made it safely to Fernandina Beach which is just barely in Florida, but is there none the less. That night was probably the warmest night of the trip so far. Tonight, in Jacksonville Beach, was even better; it was so nice that we ate at the cockpit table and then had to go inside because the gnats were getting bad. It's a miracle!!! Warm at last, even if just for the night.

Tomorrow, Thursday 12/11/08, it's on to St. Augustine for a couple of days to sight-see and get some replacement boat stuff, e.g. oil filters, that we have used so far. When we leave St. Augustine we'll push south to Sebastian, Fl. to see cousin Les and Jean.

Posted by sailziveli 15:44 Comments (1)

Ever Southward

semi-overcast 62 °F

We left Charleston, SC on Wednesday morning, 12/03/08. The cruising guides indicated that the ICW is dodgey with lots of shoaling from Charleston to Florida; so, we decided to head to Brunswick, GA the short way by sailing. The good news is that the temperature that night was very mild, the warmest evening in several weeks. On the other hand, there was no wind at all; the ocean surface was literally like glass. So, we just drove the boat. That big stick in the middle of the boat has seen about two hours use since we left Oriental. It took about 26 hours to complete the trip.

Carol and I lived in Brunswick for four years in the middle 1970's. Sears moved me here to work in the local store and Carol taught school at Brunswick High; so, this was a homecoming of a sort. Despite living here all that time, I had never seen the area from the water so coming into port was a new experience for me. This is the lighthouse on St. Simons Island. St__Simon_..hthouse.jpgBrunswick is on the mainland and the entrance channel is formed by two islands: St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. St. Simons had become a very high end place; most of Jekyll Island is owned by the state of Georgia and has not been as developed.

This is a picture of the new bridge which replaced the one while I was working here. The_Bridge.jpgThe old bridge was a big part of my retail learning curve. About two weeks before we moved here a freighter hit the old bridge and it was closed for repairs for over a year and a half. With the bridge closed, we lost access to a large part of our trading area. We had to work hard and scramble to "make the day," i.e. beat last year's sales, and were not able to do it very often.

We're staying with a friend, Larry, who lives just south of Brunswick. Larry___Russ.jpgA real bed has been a novel experience, and a very comfortable one. Larry's place is beautiful, opening onto the tidal marshland called the Marshes of Glynn. 6Larry_s_Place.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 08:41 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

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