Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov. 15 Up at 6:30 a.m. and ready to go under the Las Olas bridge by the 7:15 opening were we. As we came around the corner and lined up with the bridge, the bridge tender told us there was a marathon running across it and we would have to wait. I love how this boat can hover in one spot! 15 mins later, we were able to go under it, touch and go at a dock, and pick up the captain. The New river is long and full of bends and 6 bridges. Many sections have boats of all sizes parked along the sides. We timed it to have as slack a tide as possible. The captain handled calling all of the bridges for “on demand” openings and John handled the boat. I watched for traffic coming ahead or behind us. Luckily, early in the morning, there isn’t too much. Finally, about 2 hours later, we reached the marina. Now John had to back into a strange shaped slip and dodge a boat across the way. Somehow, we all got the job done but with much nail biting. After we were tied up and the engines off, John had a stiff drink! This was our first slip in a marina, our first mutliple bridge opening transit, and only about our 7th time into a dock. What a morning! Now, we will stay here till about Dec. 5th when we will go over to the Bahams. Stay tuned.....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov. 9-10 It was a gray day but it was nice to be back in a familiar marina. They now had a courtesy car so I took it to the good supermarket on Sea Island and stocked up on fresh things. We decided to take on 1625 gallons of fuel which took awhile and added 6.4 tons to our boat weight! That night, our friends, Scott and Gail Ledbetter came to see the boat and have dinner. We always love seeing them even if it is for only one night in passing. He went to elementary school with me in Greenwich.
The weather was not great and the wind was blowing so we talked to the marina dock master and he said we could go down the ICW to the bottom of Cumberland Island on a high tide in the afternoon without any trouble. The trip went without a hitch and “the ditch” was quiet of traffic. We passed a big submarine facility along the way. As we anchored, a group of dolphins came over to say hi and welcome us. I don’t know how they see in such muddy water.

Nov. 11-12 The weather was still gray but the wind and waves were not bad so we headed down to St. Augustine. Coming in the inlet there is a white knuckle affair. There was surf breaking on both sides of us and in the channel, there were 6-8ft slow swells the we surfed in to the protected harbor. The sandbars shift so much there that the buoys are moved constantly. What we did right was to come in on an ingoing tide and have a wind that was almost following. Once in the harbor, we turned north and followed the ICW buoys north up the river and under the bridge. The ICW buoys are different from the channel buoys which are right red returning to the harbor. This makes for an interesting go of it. We have to be very attentive! Above the bridge, we anchored along side the ICW in deep water.
This was a lay day because of tropical storm Ida that was just north of us. She was causing wind and seas down where we were. In the river there is a strong current and when there is wind against the current, you get chop. At times, we had about a 2ft chop but with our added weight, the boat hardly moved. We watched Homeland Security fast boats practice going up and down the river all day.

Nov. 13-14 The sun was out and the tide was going out at a nice clip so we decided to brave the inlet and see what was out there. It was exciting but not bad and the tide had us going 9kts which made it get over with sooner. Outside, there were confused seas and they were big. We knew it would get better the further south we went so we just battered down the hatches and rolled our way down the coast. The autopilot couldn’t steer the boat so we used the Z drive control manually which became tiring. We have a remote control on an umbilical cord but we had never used it. John tried and the engine went off. I freaked. It was not one of my better moments. Without forward motion, we were like a bobbing cork and the waves were, did I say, Big. He started the engine again and called the former owner to find out how to work the remote and we used it the rest of the day. By sundown, the seas had calmed enough that the auto pilot was able to be used again. Thank heaven.We made it by Cape Canaveral just before they closed the waters off of it to traffic as there was to be a shuttle launch. We lead a charmed life! The rest of the night and next day went well. The sun came out again and the water turned blue. By the late afternoon, we came in the Ft. Lauderdale channel along with a million “gnats” of all sizes. Is is Saturday and everyone is on the water. Through a few bridges and then we anchored off the channel in a spot we were told was ok by our captain. We leave early tomorrow morning and pick him up nearby. He will help us go up the New River to our marina.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nov. 2-5 Into the Beaufort Town Docks, we motored at slack tide because there is alot of current by the docks. Docking is so much easier now and less stressful for me especially. We have been to this marina so many time that we know the dock hands by name and enjoy them. John had a few mechanical issues to deal with and get mechanics lined up so I went ashore and poked around town. It was John’s birthday the next day but our favorite restaurant was closed then so we went our first night. Another funky thing about this marina is their loaner cars which are early 1990’s vintage but they work for errands at the edge of town which is where the grocery stores are located. This year, ours was even adorned with a small rubber frog on the roof above the front windshield! Our last day, we were delayed from leaving by a package we needed. Down the dock came a cruising friend we hadn’t seen since the fall of 2007. At that time, he was building his trawler at the dock by his house in the Chesapeake. Now, he had finished the exterior and was almost finished with the interior. He and his wife were headed for the Bahamas for the winter. I love the kismet of the cruising world. If we had left on time or not been there that day, we would have never known they were on the move.
About 3pm, we left for Charleston, SC. The weather was glorious and the seas low. Overnight, we had a good moon and balmy temperatures which made for a delightful passage. It took all day to get to Charleston but the weather worked for us for once. Coming into Charleston in the main shipping channel any time is entertaining but at night it is more of a white knuckle ordeal. All the lights of the city combined with the aids to navigation take a while to sort out. Our AIS once again proved to be invaluable as many tankers and freighters were coming and going along with us. We felt like a mouse next to all of these lumbering elephants. John was trying to steer while I was trying to pick out the large slow moving objects in the distance from all of the lights. This gauntlet takes more than an hour but we finally pulled off the main channel into our smaller one and anchored across the harbor from the Battery part of Charleston.

Nov. 6-8 We have some friends who live in Charleston and with whom we haven’t connected with the last few visits. Our dinghy is always up on deck for passages so, unless we want to take it down or go into a marina, we don’t go ashore. Our friends came to the rescue and offered us a spot on their yacht club dock. We had the whole place to ourselves and a great view of the harbor to boot. They came for dinner and we all had a jolly evening.
The next morning, we slipped away bright and early because we wanted to get as far down the coast as possible, while we had calm weather. before stopping. It was a great day with even a few dolphins that came over to check us out. Not the large pods we have seen in the past but I’m not fussy! St. Catherine’s Sound, GA was as far as we got and we came in the Sound turned north and anchored off the southern end of Ossabaw Island right next to the ICW (Inter coastal Waterway). The moon was out and the stars in profusion. We made 102NM which was a good long way for us.
Today was sunny but with more wind and confused seas so we were glad we had gone all that way yesterday. As we were leaving the Sound, laughing gulls followed us off our stern thinking we were a fishing boat! They finally figured it out or got tired and left us alone. The channel in to St. Simon’s Island area was very choppy and we were surrounded by shrimp boats dragging their nets. Luckily they stayed out of the channel. It was like coming home pulling into Golden Isles Marina. We had left Windermere 54 here several times while we went home for the holidays. Coming in to the dock with 2 knots of current against us was a new adventure but we landed safely. We will stay here for 2 days because we want to see some old friends from Greenwich here and have them for dinner on board.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Oct 23-24 We are on the move again! Our favorite boatyard finally finished all of the repairs, maintenance and upgrades. They all came out to send us off (and make sure we didn’t hit anything!) The skies were gray but the weather settled for our 5 hour trip down to Fisher’s Island East Harbor. Coming in to Fisher’s Island Sound and on to our anchorage in the dark was a bit unnerving as we hadn’t rigged any night vision covers for our electronic charts. I went out on the deck and looked for buoys with our binoculars while John stared at the charts and slowly maneuvered the boat safely into the anchorage for the night. The next morning we made the short hop over to Skipper’s dock in Stonington Harbor. A good friend was there to take out lines. For most of the day, we rocked and rolled at the dock because there was a southerly wind and the harbor is exposed to the south. We were there to let our friends see the boat which many had not been able to do yet as it was in either Maine or Rhode Island for all of the summer. After the festivities, John and I had a nice quiet dinner at Skipper’s and went to bed early.

Oct. 25-28 Up early and off the dock with no problem. It is sure nice having a boat that maneuvers well in tight places. Down Long Island sound in nice conditions, we motored for the whole day. At about sundown, we anchored in Indian Harbor for the night. This boat has a new tool to us- an AIS system. As the system picks up any boat registered in the system (most large commercial boats and some pleasure boats like us) that are nearby, they show up on our electronic chart labeled by name, speed traveling, and direction traveling. This information is wonderful to have at our fingertips. To be able to call them by name on the radio, as they barrel down on you, and get a response is very reassuring especially in the dark on passage.
The next morning, we pulled into the dock at IHYC and settled in for a few day of showing the boat to friends and family. I am finally calm about coming into a dock! My mother and her nurse even came for dinner, a movie, and spent the night. My son, Chris, and his girlfriend drove over from Long Island and had lunch. John’s mother came too. He has been diagnosed with early prostate cancer and he spent all day Tues. in NYC having tests. We hope he can have treatment in the spring so we can be on the boat all winter in the Bahamas.

Oct. 29-31 After looking at the weather report for the mid atlantic area, we decided to try to go all the way from Greenwich to Beaufort, NC in one fell swoop. We left IHYC at about 9 am and motored down Long Island Sound, down the East River and our into NY Harbor with all of its hustle and bustle. Out the main shipping channel with a good tide and down the Jersey coast we went. By the next morning, we were off of the Delaware Bay area. The first day on any passage is spent constantly listening to things shifting and making noises and “battening the hatches”. We are still learning what objects need to be moved to safer locations. The seas were not bad but coming from several direction (confused). I learned warming even a simple pot of chili on a powerboat with no gimbaled stove or fiddles to keep the pots in place, is quite a challenge. Note to self: design some thing to help with this problem! It was nice to be warm and cozy and have a bed that we could sleep on sideways (boat was slightly rolling) that didn’t slip on its platform. The AIS worked like a dream the whole way. For the next 28 hours, the seas and wind were better. We had franks and beans (John’s favorite) for dinner. Around Hatteras, the seas got confused and choppy because it is shallower there. Also the northern edge of the Gulf Stream seemed to be closer in due to the south wind. For the last stretch to Beaufort, it was sunny but the going was slow due to the current against us from the Gulf Stream. We could tell we were in part of the stream because the water temperature went up to 78 degrees!. Finally around 2 am, we pulled into our anchorage by the coast guard station for Beaufort, NC. We had traveled 462.5 NM in 75 hours. To bed!