Thursday, December 29, 2005

Merry New Year

Our last entry had us making it to Vero Beach Fl. Since then much has happened!

From Vero Beach we used the ICW to make our way to Jensen Beach. A little strange there as there is a nice big anchorage area with hardly any boats in it. Red flag? Especially since we just came from the Vero Beach mooring field with boats rafted up two and three deep. We sounded our way in in about 8 feet of water and dropped the hook. Good holding. We hailed a guy getting away from his boat in his dingy and asked where to dock our dingy and he pointed out the pier next to the public launch ramp. A little later we took our dingy in and explored the small town of Jensen Beach. This doesn’t take long. Good news is that they had a Publix (large grocery store) there and a friendly little bar (Conch Charlies) for lunch. Jensen Beach seems like an ok stop for cruisers to me but hardly anybody there. And, who knew, there was a piano waiting to be played right on the street. Snappy couldn't walk by without playing some Joplin.

The next day we were off to knock down another hunk of the ICW. This hunk featured 10 draw bridges all with a different opening schedule. This really gets annoying and by the end of the day we have really had it with the ICW. Good news though…this brought us to Palm Beach anchored in Lake Worth just south of the large class A inlet to the Atlantic. We’ll use that to make an outside run to Ft. Lauderdale when the weather permits. The wind has been blowing 15-20 knots from the due north for days now and has stirred up the ocean pretty good. We’d like that to simmer down a bit before we make our run. Ideally we are to be in Ft. Lauderdale by Friday and this is only Wednesday. This anchorage is ok but a little wide open and far from anything. A good number of other cruising boats here but it looks like about a 1-2 mile dingy ride to get to anywhere. We spend the rest of this day aboard and listen to the weather radio.

On Thursday we worked on the boat all day. My major accomplishment was to finally fix the y-valve in the aft head. It was frozen in the ‘flush overboard’ position (sorry Earth). I had a new one ready to install but I couldn’t get the hoses off the old one. For you sailors I think you know the hose I’m talking about…that white stuff that is very tacky and hard to work with. Add to this that I am stuffing myself under the sink in the head trying to muscle off these hoses. Now matter how hard I swore I couldn’t get a hose to budge even a millilmeter (like a 1/16 only smaller!). I decided that I was being too careful. This y-valve already didn’t work so why not just start cutting it to pieces with my Dremel. I had the Dremel plugged in and revved up when Sue said, “Would it do any good to take off those other three screws on the y-valve?” I thought not and said as much but didn’t want that to have been the clever solution after I was ripping away with my Dremel. Sure enough, by removing those screws I can take the guts out of the y-valve and guess what…they are the same guts as are in the new one! Way to go Sue! Now the hoses can stay in place and I can just do a one for one switch. I did and this now works as it is supposed to!

Weather reports are for the winds and seas to lay down for tomorrow and we plan an early start as we want to make sure we get to the marina in Ft. Lauderdale while they are still open. I get up at 3 and check the weather and the wind is still blowing hard out of the north. I hate NOAA weather. They are so wrong so often. I had the feeling that this wind and the waves that go with was NOT settling down on this day so I went back to bed. Later as the day wore on the wind actually built up. Glad I trusted my instincts on that one but now it’s going to be another day in Palm Beach. The cruising guide showed a marina not too far away from us so we called to see if they had a dingy dock. They did and for the docking fee you could also use their showers. Sounds good and then we can go exploring. This marina is about 4 miles north of the town of West Palm Beach. I don’t know why, but I always figure that if there is water and marinas there will also be restaurants and other stores. WRONG! We walked north first of all. Just shabby neighborhood and run down businesses. We walked south…and then more south…and then more. All service businesses like upholstery, tires, walker tune ups, brain x-rays…that sort of thing. Being stubborn we ended up walking all the way down town…the entire 4+ miles. Finally there are a couple of restaurants, library, and book store but of course no groceries. We took a cab back!

Now maybe the weather will cooperate. Saturday looks to be the day they promised for Friday. The wind is supposed to be SE at 5 knots. We’d rather motor sail into this wind than negotiate the 23 bridges (I’m not kidding) between Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. We decide to go at first light. It’s 40 nm to Ft Lauderdale inlet (actually called Port Everglades) so if we can average 5 knots that’s 8 hours we should be there by 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

Up anchor at dawn and off we go. Well, NOAA got it partly right. The wind is SE but more like 15 knots. That’s ok. We are under full sail, on course and making 6+ knots. Later in the morning the wind turned to be more south (of course). We were able to keep the main up and motor sail the rest of the way. The ride got a little bumpy as we were barging into the seas but it was so great to back out on the ocean and out of the little ditch. As we made our way into the inlet for Ft. Lauderdale we counted 5 huge cruise ships moored there. Glad none of them was on the move! From this inlet we needed to make our way up the New River about 3 miles to the marina where the boat will stay for awhile to get some work done.

The cruise up the New River was surprisingly wonderful. The river is very narrow and lined with beautiful homes (yes, that's a house in the pic!) most of which have huge boats moored out front –both power and sail. There are three little draw bridges but we were following a boat being towed so the captain of the tow boat did all the calling to the bridges and we just tagged along. After the third bridge we found Pier 17 Marina. We knew nobody was working today but they told us previously to just tie up by the travel lift if we get in and nobody is there. That’s just what we did!

This is more of a boat yard than a Marina but that’s ok because this is where we are going to have the boat hauled out for new bottom job and some other minor projects. Also at 70 cents a foot it is a real deal! A brief walk around the area showed us that once again – no provisioning anywhere nearby. Yikes we are out of ice and most fresh food. Lots of canned stuff though and ‘envelope’ dinners so we won’t starve. My daughter and husband will be down with a car on Wednesday and we’ll survive until then. In the meantime we have our own list of boat maintenance projects that we need to do.

Christmas morning! Beautiful weather. We sit out in the cockpit having our morning coffee. There’s nobody here but us. Suddenly, Sue says, “What’s that floating down the river?” We both look and sure enough there is an entire hunk of pier, about 10 feet long floating down the river. But wait now it’s going up river…and now it makes a circle and what the…it’s got a bow wave! This thing is under power and that means something under the water is towing it. Yes, we see a line going under the water getting tight and then slack. On a close pass to our boat we see the brown shadow of a manatee. Poor girl has gotten herself tangled up in this thing somehow and can’t get loose.

So we had to shoot her.

Just kidding!

Being a man of action I called the coast guard. They laughed until they stopped and then said a manatee rescue man would call me on the cell. Manatee Rescue Man called a few moments later and asked more details about where this thing was and said it would take him 30 -40 minutes to get there. (I suspect that much of this time was taken up by climbing into his Manatee Rescue Man Superhero costume.) Well that’s no good but I said ok and then Sue and I launched the dingy to go after the manatee ourselves. I had my knife in my teeth and a fearless gleam in my eye. Sue said I looked silly. As we rowed over toward the pier which was now bumping and crashing against pilings across the river another boat came out by us. It was the tow boat guys from yesterday. They had heard my call to the coast guard. Before either of us could get there a man across the river had figured out what was going on and managed to cut the manatee loose from the pier. So, just another standard Christmas morning!

One of my main projects is to finally have the time to install the 12 volt refrigeration on this boat. It came with engine driven cold plate refrigeration. I don’t care for this as it means you HAVE to run your engine probably twice a day to re-freeze the cold plates. But this boat has a 100 amp alternator and a wind driven generator. This is a better set up for 12 volt refrigeration then. Of course there are issues though….Where to put the compressor. It needs air flow to be able to do its job so you can’t stick it in a tiny locker. The instructions say that the engine room is ok but will need ductwork to bring outside air to the compressor. I have ductwork already in place and a nice shelf in the engine room where the old refrigerator business was so I decide that that’s where I’ll install the new compressor. The problem now is there are pipes and tubes running all over this boat and no diagram or labels. The previous owner said the system needed charging but that probably doesn’t mean there is no refrigerant in the system. Furthermore, as I trace down the copper tubing that carries the refrigerant I find that it seems to get tangled up with the copper tubing for the aft air conditioner! Could those two things be sharing the same refrigerant supply? I wouldn’t install air conditioning on a boat but since it is here I want the option to use it. I’m imagining a time when we are living at a marina for awhile while working somewhere. When you live on the anchor you usually get a nice breeze and air conditioning is silly. When you are stuck back in a marina and no breeze it can be a welcome relief. That’s where you’ll have the 110 to run it anyway. So, after hours of climbing all over the boat I managed to make some diagrams of how things are hooked together to a point but was not willing to begin cutting tubing just yet.

Now it was nearly time for the Bears game! Maybe if we travel back down river toward town we can find a place that is open where we can get some food and watch the game. The dingy ride back down river was fun as I didn’t really get a good look at things on the way up being a little nervous following the boat ahead and being in new waters. I’ve never seen so many HUGE boats in one place. Ft. Lauderdale is like a boater candy store! After about 30 minutes we came to a place where there were some boats tied up and people about and some obviously open establishments with TVs! Sue went ashore and found the dockmaster and found it was ok for us to tie up the dingy as long as we wanted. Perfect. We got some good seats right by the TV with the Bears game and had Christmas dinner (cheeseburger for me), some beers, and enjoyed watching the Bears pound the Packers! Now THAT’S a merry Christmas!


Monday is an exciting day as we meet with our two main contractors for work we want done. First to come is John and Linda from our canvas company. We have a nice discussion about exactly what we want in our new dodger and they make the necessary measurements to get the job rolling. I can’t wait to get rid of this pontoon boat awning! While we were still talking with John and Linda Art showed up from Stem to Stern Boat maintenance. He is going to take care of engine and bottom work and maybe some other projects. He sees that we are still discussing canvas and says, “So, do you need to go to the store?” This guy is a former cruiser and as all cruisers know, a car is a valuable commodity. “YES, take Sue to the store and thank you.”

When they returned we had a nice long talk with Art from Stem to Stern Boat Maintenance. He is very knowledgable about boats (he built his own and went cruising for 5 years) and we put together a prioritized list of things that he and I need to do. He doesn’t care how much of any project I do myself. Some contractors won’t let the owner do any of a job as they want all the hours for themselves. Top of the list is why the engine is dripping oil and where is it coming from. Next is removing the entire pulpit so it can be re-welded and put back. We are also going to replace all the lifelines at this time. Once the boat is hauled Art will have all the old bottom paint sanded off and we’ll go with a hard paint like Micron something or other. Other smaller jobs include fixing the knot meter, checking out the rudder bearing, replacing the through hull for the air conditioning (it’s frozen), checking on engine running temperature (I think 180 is a little high) and so forth. This is a great place to re-fit a boat. Every possible boat type of worker is in this town. We like Art and are glad he is on the job.

Finally we had our first visitors from back home! Rich P. and Mary Beth. Rich is a guidance counselor from Maine East and they were on vacation near Palm Beach. What fun to reminince and get caught up with old friends. We went out to eat at a fun place called Shooters (usually I stay away from a place with this name down south) with good food.

A busy day but things we have only been talking about over the last 1000 miles are now beginning to happen.

On Tuesday I started the official engine investigation. First job was to clean up the oil that was already there and wipe down the engine so we could detect exactly where the drip is coming from. This is not fun but I managed and then laid out fresh oil absorbing pads so we could look at them after about 24 hours. Now for removing the pulpit. Yikes, the pulpit meets the toe rail in four places each with four bolts that are through bolted. To get at the nuts we had to drag most of the chain out of the chain locker and remove the door to the chain locker in the v-berth. I could just about stuff upper half in there but I couldn’t turn or look up to find the bolts. SUE? Sue just fit! What a great crew. I stuffed her in there with a socket and extension so she could hold the nuts while I turned the heads from top sides. Took us about and hour to get all 16 bolts out but we did it! The tricky part now is that the wires to the running lights are run through the tubing of the pulpit. I cut the wires up by the light where there is plenty of extra to repair later. I tied a line then to the end of the wire and began pulling it through the piping. No way. Way at the top the wire makes a nearly 90 degree bend. This is the two strand coated wire and very rubbery which makes it impossible to pull it around a tight bend like this. No solution was jumping up at us so we decided to leave that puzzle for Art tomorrow.

We finished off the evening with wrapping presents for daughter and son-in-law who will be arriving tomorrow. Fun!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rafting in Vero Beach

"On the Road Again down the ICW from Titusville"
We left Titusville (I think there's an old joke lurking in that town name by the way. Something about buying two tickets to Pittsburg...) at 7:30 am on Sunday. Looking to make an anchorage near Melbourne FL just around the corner from Dragon Point. This is the far southern tip of Merritt Island near Satellite Beach We were nicely tucked away with several other boats. Some of these boats were forced out by the marine police and later we found out why. There was a Christmas boat parade with power boats (who else would do this?) decorated with christmas lights with many festive drunks...I mean festive holiday people on board. There was actually plenty of room but as long as you're paying three really large marine policeman, you might as well give them someone to harass.
Stiff north wind is still blowing and keeping us off of the ocean which is frustrating and we rocked and rolled pretty good all night.

On Monday we pulled our anchor at 7:00 AM again and headed more south. Now this north wind is being our friend and we rolled out our Genny and blew right down this ditch at about 6 kts. Small turns here and there required us to jibe but only cost a minimum of swearing. Good thing because we needed all are swearing skills when we got to Vero Beach.

Along the way there were several dolfins, really. We quickly get the camera and take movies but none yet have captured the essence. However we were able to capture the essence of this scene! This is what you don't want to do on the ICW:

We had called the marina earlier and, as promised in the cruising guide, there is no anchoring in Vero Beach but the marina maintains many mooring balls. The bad news is that they are very busy so you can expect to have to 'raft up' to an already moored boat. This means pulling up parallel to the other boat and tying the two of them together with fenders inbetween. When we came in we got the location and name of our rafting partner - Mooney. Now usually, when two boats raft up there are crewmembers on both boats that throw each other lines and gently reel in the boat to be rafted to the already moored boat. No such luck for us. Mooney had left fenders out on her starboard side and gone ashore. That's brave! If they had ever seen me dock this boat or knew the I would be coming in I bet they would have never left!

More fun-there was plenty of wind and current. Both against our motion so that's good. So I brought Enee in close for Sue to leap (ok Sue does not leap) or step off on to Mooney but the wind/current pushed me off before she could go. We drove around and made another pass. This time Sue got aboard.
Now I have to stay at the helm to continue to drive the boat forward to compensate for the currernt. The only way I could help Sue was to holler impossible directions about every 15 seconds and in the inbetween time complain about how slowly she was accomplishing her tasks.

Good news - after about a half and hour and no damage to either boat we are secure to Mooney. I think we'll go ashore too before Mooney owners get back and tell me how I did it all wrong. I also notice that they are flying a German flag and our boat is bigger than theirs so I hope they are not looking for more liebensraum! More good news...Sue and I are still married!

We may have a chance to get out on the ocean from Palm Beach later in the week and do the last leg to Ft. Lauderdale on the ocean.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

St. Augustine to Titusville with a stop in Tampa!

Here are some pictures from our already reported visit in St. Augustine. A very old (oldest in U.S.) and lovely city.
The sun came up as we approached the inlet just in time to easily see the bouys marking the channel. And quite an impressive channel it was. Note the breaking waves as we scooted into the harbor.
This was our view from our anchorage. Well our first view before we dragged the anchor (Hey, doesn't it seem like we're closer to the channel than we were before? Oh yeah, we're in the middle of it!) We moved to a space where a sailboat had just left and set anchor again. The wind picked up pretty good and we were swinging every direction and not necessarily in the same direction as the nearby boats so we decided to set two anchors before nightfall. It was a good idea. We swung very little and slept very well.

The picture below on the left is of Flagler College; originally built as the Ponce de Leon Resort Hotel. The picture on the right shows some of the original houses in the oldest city all of which house 'chachsky' shops for tourists.

We had hoped to get a weather window and sail on the outside again down to Titusville/Cape Canaveral area. But no such luck. So back in the ditch down to Daytona. We did enjoy a beautiful rainbow at Caribbean Jack's, a short dingy ride from our anchorage; a few beverages were enjoyed as well. As evening fell and the full moon rose, this was one of the first evenings in a very long time that we also enjoyed sitting in the cockpit and feeling the WARM Florida breeze.

The next morning we 'hit the road' at first light (about 7am). We only saw Daytona from the water and Caribbean Jack's since we were eager to move on down the ICW, but we were impressed with the view, especially the bridges. This one has an added feature of dolfin mosaics!

We travelled another 50 miles south to Titusville. Not a very eventful trip although we did see dolfins several times that were actually jumping out of the water. I swear I saw one with a fish in its mouth. Really! Sorry, no pics to prove it.

The picture above is a bit more picturesque on the icw. The picture to the left is of dredging machinery along the way. Not too pretty but we are very happy they are working. As it was we were in several stretches where there was only 4 or 5 feet of water below our keel. Plenty really.

This ospray kept a close eye on us as we passed by. We are seeing more and more of them as we head south. They are spectacular birds with black wings, white breasts and a black 'mask' on its eyes. They like to perch high so it's difficult to get a close up picture of them. However, the pelicans are another story. They almost perch on the boat they are so friendly. Their beeks are a bit too large to be friendly though, I think. See what I mean.....

We arrived in Titusville Thursday afternoon with a master plan to take a slip at the municipal marina for a few days, rent a car, and visit Scott's dad and wife in Tampa, just a 2 hour drive west. We pulled into the slip, fed the cat, locked the boat, registered at the harbor office, met the Enterprise lady there, loaded the car with our luggage and laundry, and we were off to Tampa. A couple hours later we were having cocktails and a great dinner of stew and corn bread. Thanks Georgia!

And of course this was an opportunity to make new boards for the hatchway since Scott's dad is the master craftsman with the tools. After much consultation they were able to agree on how much to plane the boards and how to round the edges. But are the boards tapered or not?.....

Now we are back at the marina in Titusville preparing to move on south again tomorrow. We need to be in Fort Lauderdale by Friday, Dec. 23rd. We may or may not make an outside sail. Right now the weather isn't in our favor. So we may be 'ditching it' again. That's okay. We have many, many days ahead for ocean sailing. It's just hard to wait. But it is finally, really warm and we are happy to be here!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Fernandina Beach to St. SAIL!

Much of the time you'll read by myself and other sailors how it always seems like the wind is either too weak, too strong, too much on the nose , too much aft, or waves are too high, or too much on the beam for decent sailing. I swear, sailors are more critical of weather conditions than farmers! Once in a while though the weather gets it right. We wanted to sail from Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine. Counting getting into and out of the ocean that would be about 60 miles. At around 5 knots thats 12 hours. Now we don't like arriving in new places at dark so that means leaving at dark which is what we did. We weighed anchor at 11 pm in Fernandina and followed the buoys out. Having already come in that way and the fact that they are really lined up very straight, this was easy. When we reached about 30 feet of water we turned south. The main was already up and we rolled out the genny. Wind was as predicted for once! 10-15 knots from the west. We then used that wind all night and into the morning to truly SAIL (no engine for a change) all the way to St. Augustine which we reached (ha!) at around 9:00 AM. It was a cold sail but it was so pleasant to only hear the wind and the movement of the boat through the water. We maneuvered around many shirmp boats but that presented no major problem.

There is a nice anchorage area just north of the draw bridge in town. A little crowded but we managed to squeeze in and yet stay out of the channel. We've taken the dingy in to the marina ($10 but it includes use of the shower room!). We are now in the process of exploring St. Augustine a little. We hope to spend another day or two here, take care of some boat projects (always) and look for another nice weather window to sail to Cape Canaveral from here.

Sorry no pics right now...Blogger is being BAD.

When in St. Augustine you too can find wifi at St. Augustine Coffee Co. right across from city hall and Flagler College.

Thanks as usual for all who comment and/or email.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

St. Augustine

I got a call from Scott early afternoon today and they made it to St. Augustine about 50 miles south of their previous ancorage. They sailed all through the night (that's right sailed!) and made it in around 10am.

Stay tuned for stories of shrimp boats.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Greetings from Sunny Florida!

We finally had a decent distance to cover and weather window to get out of the ICW and out on to the ocean. On Tuesday at 11:00AM we weighed anchor and headed out via Wassaw Inlet of the Wilmington River, GA. Winds were to be west shifting to north overnight and we thought that to be just right for a 90 mile run to Fernandino Beach Florida. We figured maybe 18-20 hours at 5 knots. By leaving at 11:00 if we're early it's light and if we're late it's light. There is so little light to work with this time of year!

This inlet is "not recommended" by the cruising guide for who knows what reason. It is true that the charts don't show red buoys 4-8 becasue they often move them. So? Our timing was such that we were out at that inlet at nearly high tide and slack water in fine weather. No problem. We made the last buoy and turned south...70 miles from here to St. Mary's River and into Fernandino Beach. We were sailing too! Not fast but we don't want to be too fast or we'll arrive at dark!

At around 3:00 pm Sue said..."Hey, THAT'S not a dolphin! Sure enough it was not. It was a WHALE! We still get silly when we see dolphins but this sighting just about put us over the edge. In a flash I rememberd that you were to call the coast guard with whale sightings. (Why? Coast guard needs more to do?) So I called out our Lat/Long for Sue to write down and hailed the coast guard on the VHF radio. It went something like this...

Me: Coast Guard, Coast Guard this is sailing vessel Nouveau Vie.
Coast Guard Guy: Yes, boat hailing Coast Guard. Can you spell the name of your vessel.

NOTE: Now it turns out that I cannot. This is the name from the previous owner and I just can't get all those vowels in the right place.

Me: N e a ...uh...u v i u V i e
Coast Guard Guy: Was that nickle, edward, able...

NOTE: Now if you've ever had someone spell an entire word for you using those military standards you'll know that it doesn't work. As soon as he said, 'nickle', I'm thinking, 'why is this guy saying nickle' and then he is 5 letters on down the line.

Me: Hang on!

I grab some paper and try writing out how I think the boat name is spelled.
ME: Yeah, Coast Guard that is NEAUVOU VIE.
Coast Guard Guy: Roger that (sure!)...What kind of whale did you spot?

Note: Now I'm a Lake Michigan sailor and I can probably tell a Walleye from a Bass but you really got me on kinds of whales

ME: Coast Guard, I'm kinda new at this so don't really know what kind.
Coast Guard guy: OK, was it a Bull, Cow or calf?
ME:( you idiot it was a WHALE!) Not really sure.

I finally gave him the lat/long of the sighting and WAS able to gaurantee that the whale didn't have a dorsal fin (the one on top, right?) but did indeed have a blow hole. (also on top I presume!)

Note to you young writers out there: Anytime you can work the word 'blowhole' into a sentence you should go for it.

Just before dark the wind died but the the slow rolling waves from the north-east did not. We were in for an uncomfortable but not dangerous ride. Clear skies though and beautiful stars and crescent moon. Around 10:00 pm Sue thought it was easier for her to just steer than mess with the autohelm so she disengaged it. But it DIDN'T disengage. This is the autohelm with the motor with a little gear that runs a big gear around a drum on your wheel. With it not disengaged it is very hard to turn the wheel as you have to now turn the little gear with the big gear (high gear on your bike!). After some prying with a screwdriver...I mean I adjusted it carefully...OK, I pried it apart so we could turn the wheel again. Now the night just got longer because it does get tiring staring at the compass late into the night. Oh well...Columbus didn't have an autohelm!

After midnight the wind began to come up again out of the north east. We rolled out the genny and not unlike our sail from Long Island to Norfolk, sailed along about 10 miles off the coast at around 4 knots. Plenty fast for making Fernandina Beach at day light. I love sailing at night. I could see maybe 1 or two running lights of other boats far away from me. Billions of stars and the only sound is the hull swooshing through the waves.

We made the outer buoy of the St Mary's inlet around 4:30 AM and the wind had built some more. We rolled in the genny and turned on the engine. Following the 10 mile stretch of buoys is not a big problem but the 3-4 foot rollers coming under the starboard quarter made steering a real chore. Our timing was good though because as we reached the entrance to the breakwater near shore light was filtering in from the east. We made our way nicely to the anchorage across from downtown Fernandino Beach. Finally we are in sunny Florida. Here's a picture of the city from our anchorage.

Apparently paper mills are a big thing here. Weather prediction is for 30 degree nights, up to 3 inches of rain, and winds with gusts to 30 knots.

How far south do I have to go?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Greetings from Savannah, GA!

Sorry for such a delay in updating. Such are the vagaries in finding the web.

Now let’s see…where was we? Oh yeah! We made our way still on the Intercoastal to Charleston, SC. A very nice town. Charleston sits on a peninsula and we anchored off of the southern shore of that peninsula with a number of other boats.
During that first night it began to rain. And then it rained harder. As I was listening to the rain in my bunk I heard some other water running and it seemed to be coming from inside the boat. I went into the main salon to investigate and there, to my surprise, was a waterfall coming through one of the ports! I don’t mean a drip. I mean a waterfall. I hollered and Sue got up and the two of us are each holding two pans and/or buckets. It’s two in the morning, the wind is howling and these buckets are going to fill rapidly and then what? What to do except to indulge in hysterical laughter for a bit at how ridiculous we looked! I decided that this port for whatever reason needed a little awning to keep the water that was washing across the deck from coming in so I went out into the cold, windy night with my trusty roll of duct tape. This stuff is the stickyist stuff in the world…unless it gets wet! Still after about using half a roll I had managed to fashion an awning of sorts that guided the water past the port and on down to the deck. Sorry, no pictures! We began to mop up the water inside the boat and put on the NOAA weather radio where we hear the phrase, “…conditions are right for tornado formation on Charleston Bay.” That’s not what you want to hear at 2 in the morning! We decided that since there was no real tornado watch or warning just ‘right conditions’, we’d stay with the mother ship and sit anchor watches until morning. Wind and rain continued through the night but no tornadoes.

We were supposed to go into Charleston City Marina on the following day but predictions of high winds made us take her in before those built up. Nobody really wants to see Scott moor this boat in 25 knot winds! The Charleston City Marina features their Mega Dock. OK so what’s a mega dock? I’ll tell you…it is a floating concrete dock that is ½ mile long. We are docked at the far end! That is a long walk to the shower! Lots of neat sailboats and powerboats here. Seems like everybody stops here on their way south. The marina runs a free shuttle bus to town which is on the north end of the peninsula. We used that the next day to explore downtown Charleston. Lots of old houses, lawyers, and real estate offices. Hmmmmmm? This picture shows the marina at low tide. During high tide (7 feet higher) most of the grass is covered!

We left the boat at this marina when we went to Indiana and Chicago for Thanksgiving. Gracie was left in charge of the boat as none of the vets had room for boarding. She did fine and John the deck hand came and fed her part way through our absence.

Upon our return we considered heading out to sea and getting out of the Intercoastal but days of predicted south winds forced our hand to stay on the ‘inside’ and continue south that way. So, from Charleston we headed back down the ICW. At one point the wind came up on our nose at about 25 knots! Luckily the current was with us or we would have been going backwards for a bit. As it was we were only making 2-3 knots for awhile and because the current and wind were opposing each other, at times crashing into 4 foot waves.

The anchorages in this region of the ICW are strange and wonderful. Imagine wide open fields of tall brown grass with rivers running through it. You can anchor in many of those rivers off of the ICW which is what we did at a place near Pine Landing on the South Edisto River…get out your atlases! In anchorages like these there is NOTHING around. No houses. No lights. Strange indeed at night and easy to get disoriented but the stars are wonderful! (Imagine this scene at left in total darkness except for the stars. Spectacular and creepy at the same time)

Next day we made the town of Beaufort S.C. which has a very nice anchorage area just past the swing bridge into town. Nice town but again, you find lots of little shops but rarely anything you need! Did find oil and some needed charts at the marina in town. Best thing about the anchorage…DOLPHINS SWAM RIGHT THROUGH IN THE EVENING! Ok, we are totally queer for dolphins but really they are so cool!

At this point we are trying to make it to Savannah in two days which is easy to do. Another anchorage as I just described in the Wright River about 14 miles from Savannah and we were infested with dolphins! Lots of pelicans and other sea birds to watch as well. This is great anchoring! At one point Sue was looking south and said, “Hey, those buildings are moving!” (See photo at left.) What looked like a skyline was an inbound container ship in the Savannah river that we were seeing over the tree line! It's not coming this way, right!?! We had to share the river with a couple of these ships on our way to Savannah the next day but we’ve become pretty used to that! In fact when arriving in Savannah we had to respond to a hail from the YM Hamburg freighter who suggested we let him pass and follow behind since another very large freighter was coming out our way. Needless to say, we did just that. The picture to the right shows the two monsters passing. We didn't want to be the meat in a freighter sandwich!

Savannah itself is a wonderful town. You can tie up at the city dock for $1.00/foot which is about as low as it goes anywhere. From there you can walk beautiful Savannah. Interesting layout in that every couple of blocks there is a little square/park with big old mansions around it and a statue of somebody or another from either the civil war (sorry, I mean the war of Northern aggression!) or revolutionary war.

It's hard to find blatant references to slavery in the south and probably for good reason. One exception is a statue by the water with a very nice poem by Maya Angelou.

Huge live oaks fill these squares with shade. Best of all we got to hook up with our dear friend Kay from Chicago who was in Savannah on business. What fun to go walk around with a good friend while on our adventure!

Tomorrow we will head for a little town/marina called Thunderbolt to top off our diesel. After that looks like Monday or Tuesday could be ideal for heading out of the Wassaw inlet to the ocean and make for the St. Mary’s River in Florida which is really Fernandina Beach and thereby skipping the rest of Georgia. Some have told us that Georgia is not maintaining the ICW so well and people are running aground a lot. We are anxious to go sailing anyway and this 100 mile run to Florida ought to be just the thing.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Random Thoughts...Random Pictures

We're spending the day in Georgetown, S.C. watching the animal control people chipping the dogs off of the fire hydrants. Did I mention how COLD it is down here!

We've found a wonderful little cafe called "The Humidor" and, no, it's not a comedy shop, they have coffee, beer, wine, chess, snacks, guitars, comfy chairs, WiFi AND cigars! All cruisers should make sure you stop here. It is upstairs at 725 Front St. Georgetown, S.C.

Anyway...what follows are some recent favorite pictures and comments with no particular theme.

The pic at the left is from our anchorage off of Butler's Island on the Waccamaw River which is part of the ICW about 5 miles north of Georgetown. Sometimes we forget the great views we get nearly every day.

Besides the nice anchorages the view along the way ain't so bad either!

Not all of the intercoastal looks like this. In fact just below this picture the Waccamaw river turned pretty brown along the edge.

Some parts of the ICW, especially in South Carolina have been and are currently being built up with houses and CONDOS. Yes Condos are everywhere! Condos seem to pop up where ever there are golf courses. You get a pretty good view then not counting the bad fashion!

Here's a fine example of the good and the bad. Some very nice mansions along the way and then...the CONDOS.

Here's some very typical construction down this way. Most houses are built like this one...on stilts. Looks like there is no living on the ground floor but on the second and then the third. Hmmmm...must have gotten some hurricanes up this way in the past!

Local fisherman are plentiful along this part of the ICW as well. Here are two 'old pros' hauling in their nets. They were patiently sitting along the shore for us to pass, then quickly put on their life jackets, started the motor and began to pull in the net which was strung all the way across the river. Who knew? Wonder if they caught anything....
Here's a fairly rare occurance: A Sun Dog. When the upper atmosphere is just right there can be a little rainbow to the left and right of the sun. This shows just one of those with the sun off the picture to the left I think.

That night the full moon also showed a "moon dog".

This effect is either due to ice crystals way up high or it is part of intelligent design of the Earth's atmosphere and in any case BOTH theories should be taught!. . . at least in Kansas.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Wrightsville Beach N.C.

No big events these past couple of days. We have been chugging down the ICW with the rest of the fleet! It's hard for boats to get away from each other since we all go about the same speed and there are only so many good anchorages. We are now anchored in Wrightsville Beach. We are in a fairly large inlet just off of the ocean. In fact tomorrow we will probably take the ocean route abouot 30 miles to Southport N.C. We could both use a change from the shallow water and searching always for the next buoy.

YES...we have been seeing DOLPHINS!

Today’s Sailing/Physics Question…Why do big boats have big winches?

Now I know that seems like a stupid question but just wait. The thing that gives you a mechanical advantage with a winch is that you are applying your effort at the end of the winch handle while the load is being applied at the radius of the winch. Your theoretical mechanical advantage is then simply the ratio of the length of the winch handle to the radius of the winch. For example, the winch handle is 12” (they all are) and the winch is 3” in radius, then your advantage would be 4. You could apply a 10 pound force to crank a line with 40 pounds of tension.

So, what if you buy a bigger boat with bigger winches, say 4” in radius, but have the same winch handles? Well, you lose! Your advantage would now be reduce to 3 making it harder to crank the winch hence my question.


Other factors…

  1. The true radius to use with the winch is the radius of the can itself plus the radius of the line. The load is actually applied somewhere in the middle of the cross section of the line. Therefore if you get a bigger winch AND fatter line you have reduced your advantage twice!
  1. The mechanical advantages above assume winches with no gearing themselves. You get another mechanical advantage with the low gear ratio within the winch. Still, if you kept that gear ratio the same between two winches you’d still lose by moving to a bigger winch.
  1. While it might look like you’d want pencil thin winches to greatly magnify your advantage there is a problem in around how tight a corner you can bend the line and have it adhere to the winch face. Plus there is some effort wasted in just bending the line that doesn’t help you to trim. For this factor fatter line would require bigger winches.

I ask all of this because on our new boat we DO have bigger winches than we had on our Catalina and we do have fatter line…3/4” sheets which I think is over kill. As our crew will attest from our run from Long Island to Norfolk, these winches are a bear to crank in any kind of wind! To solve this problem I am going to 1. replace the sheets with ½ inch or 9/16 inch line. Yes this is a bigger boat but it’s not the Queen Mary! 2. Change out the lead blocks so the line is lead more fairly through this block and into the winch. Right now the line comes into the winch at a pretty steep vertical angle causing a lot of friction where the line crosses the base of the winch. 3. Disassemble the winches themselves and grease. I hesitate on this one because I’ve seen these disassembled and just know I’ll forget something or drop something in the ocean!

Hey sailors! Let’s hear from you! Other ideas?