We woke up to grey skies and rain. The weather service was calling for winds and seas to increase as the day went on. We decided that we should de

part early and head for Battle Island. Battle Island gets its name from the skirmish in 1885 between troops and the Ojibwe. The Battle Island light is perched on a high bluff of 118 feet. Battle Island light was built in 1877 and its last lighthouse keeper resided until the 1991. Seas were building but as we rounded the point to make our way into Battle Island harbor, it was calm. The small harbor was empty.  The mooring balls stated in Bonnie Dahl’s Cruising guide were not present. There was the stripped out hull of a runabout on shore and a dock with lines. No sign of any activity. We dropped anchor and waited for the rain to stop before going ashore to explore. Once ashore, there was an old tractor that appeared to be in working order. The dirt track we followed toward the lighthouse had tire tracks. There was evidence of man in the woods, an lichen covered Chevy truck, and various drums and metal pieces. The lighthouse keeper’s residence looked as though they just walk out and locked the door. Old Electrolux vacuum, box tv, kitchen utensils hanging on the walls, etc. The house appeared to be a duplex. The lighthouse area was spectacular in that it was situated on a tall craggy, bluff looking West through East over Lake Superior. The west waves were crashing below. Definitely, worth the stop.  Back at the boat we decided that we would continue on 5 miles north and spend the night in the village of Rossport. Since this will be the last town that is close to us we decided to gas up , White Star, the tender. We use the tender constantly when at anchor. We splash White Star in the water first thing after the anchor is set.

After 2 days in Loon Harbour, we were itching to get moving on to explore the next harbor. Woke up to fog so thick we were unable to see our anchor ball 100 ft away.  The way out of Loon has no tricky points, but after that we had to navigate through some waters that it would be nice to see.  The radar works great in the fog but is a bit disconcerting when the charts do not line up with the radar imagine. We waited a few hours and the ceiling lifted enough to see the water and the shores of the numerous islands that we would snake through. We spoke to Day Dreams and Waterford who were anchored in Otter Cove and contemplating departing.  We left and less than an hour later the fog descended.  Visiblity was less than a quarter of a mile, but we were committed. We snaked through the passage and lamented on the fact that we were unable to see the beautiful scenery. We were keeping our fingers crossed that once we were closer to land the fog would lift once again.  The entrance into Otter Cove could be tough in the fog as the navigation is based on line of site through a narrows. It is doable but prone to anxious moments when using only radar and the depth finder. The fog cooperated and we successfully transited the narrows into a beautiful harbor with high wooded bluffs surrounding all sides.  Day Dreams and Waterford decided not to leave as a Grand Banks “Ceildih of Washburn, WI ( that was anchored in the Eastern slot at Loon Harbour) has recently arrived an reported thick fog in the lake. As there were 3 boats in the inner cove, we decided to anchor in the East end of the bay in 20 ft of water. We beat the rain. They decided to stay as their next destinations was Woodbine Harbour which is 4 hours away.  Lucky us, they stayed.  We had a nice 2 hour cocktail party aboard Day Dreams catching up and celebrating Gary’s 64 th birthday.  The morning of the 7th we woke up to clouds and 54 degrees. But… we did see clearing to the west. It had the potential to be a beautiful day. Day Dreams, Waterford and Ceildih departed.  We were all alone and the sun was coming out.  We decided to relocate Alizann into the inner harbor, hoping to see the Mythical Moose!! At the end of the harbor is a stream that’s shores are lined with tasty moose grasses All settled in the harbor, tender down, time to take a hike to the waterfall. Up the stream White Star went. We could hear the falls. A short walk and you were at the base of the falls. Boy, was the water flowing over the falls. Not surprising since we have had much rain in the past month. We stopped an took many pictures and decided to continue on the adventurous hike which led to a large lake. The hike was varied in terrain. Climbing over logs, walking through water, climbing up rocks.  The trail was well marked by orange tags and many of the trees that blocked the trail had been cut away. Who are these people who clear these trails in the middle of nowhere? The hike was very pretty. Many mosses, mushrooms, lichens and moose tracks and scat! Needless to say, “It was Wet.” We arrived at the lake which was approximately 3 miles long. More moose tracks! Back at the boat we decided to take advantage of the sunny skies and above 50 degree weather and lay on the boat deck and read. It was beautiful. All alone in the anchorage? How lucky. Of course late in the day, a small sailboat arrived but was determined to be a lone and anchored in the outer harbor out of site. We loaded up White Star for our evening cocktail cruise/fishing trip. We fished but no luck. It was clouding over and getting late so we decided to explore the stream in the large bay looking for “What Else?” MOOSE! No luck, maybe tonight. Stayed up searching the shore for wildlife and listening to the song of the Loons.

Woke up today with beautiful sunshine, up anchor and on our way to Woodbine harbor 28 nm away. The course that Captain Marty laid in was a pretty weave past LaMB Island, Fluor and Agate Islands. Sheer cliffs many shoals on both sides. Lamb Island looked like Marina Cay in the BVI’s from far away. Many red roof buildings.  Lamb island was a favorite stop for boaters prior to the 1980’s. Boaters would stop and chat with the lighthouse keeper and his wife. In the early 80’s Ontario automated most of the lighthouses. According to Archie of Archie’s Fish Charters in Thunder Bay, Ontario was going to let the buildings at the lighthouses decay. Private individuals have decided that these building need to be maintained and or restored for history. The group wants the Ontario government to designate them as historical landmarks and assist in helping with the maintenance. They are going out to the buildings and repairing them. Some are living on the islands and maintaining the houses. Woodbine Harbour is surrounded by tall towering bluffs covered in a mix of hardwoods and conifers. We rounded the corner and to our surprise we were the only one in this popular anchorage. We were greeted by the resident Loons. We spent the first part of the day exploring the Moose area looking for a trail that went to Kenny Lake. We located the trail but could only travel 1/8 mile in. We surmise that few, if any have traversed the trail this year. We aborted our hike in the bush and decided to cruise the anchorage and explore the shores.  On the northwest shore of the harbor there was a primitive campsite with a picnic table. This was not noted in Bonnie Dahl or GLCC.  As we were eating a lovely dinner of steak, baked potatoes and salad, Marty noticed some excited baitfish and then a large fish jump. He suited up with his gear and went off to fish. Mart’s trip was very productive. He caught a 24 inch Brook Trout. Once again with his favorite lure, The Fat Free Guppy. The weather was calling for rain and high winds, seas building 3-5.  We expected a possible rocky night. This did occur.  The evening was dead calm.

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Captain's Log

Inertia can be a bad thing sometimes.  Every day that the weather didn’t look good for a crossing, new projects reared their heads.  Finally, we decide that we need to get off the dock, and all of the critical chores are done.  So here’s the plan.  We’ll cruise down the ICW to Fort Lauderdale or Miami, anchor out and wait for a weather window to slip over to the Bahamas.  We set Thursday, the 4th as our target, leaving around Noon, and taking 2 days to get into position down south.

First, a word about all of this timing business.  Running between the east coast of Florida and the Bahamas is The Florida Current, which runs from the Gulf of Mexico, and is the precursor of the Gulf Stream, which begins roughly around the Florida/Georgia border.  This river of warm water begins its’ journey off the coast of Africa, where it becomes known as the Equatorial Current.  From there, it flows westward to the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico, where it turns to the north and flows northward along the east Coast of the United States.  The Gulf Stream turns east just below Newfoundland, as the Labrador Current, then becomes known as The North Atlantic Drift, or North Atlantic Current before it reaches Europe, where it splits into the Norwegian and Canary Currents, flowing North and South, respectively.  The Canary Current then feeds the Equatorial Current, and is off to the races, back to America.  But, I digress.  The deal is, that the Florida Current runs at about 3.6 knots, and is 30 or 40 miles wide.  When the wind has a northerly component of any magnitude, it stacks up steep, high frequency waves in the Current, and to put it mildly, you don’t wanna be there.  So far this season, we have had front after front racing across Florida with great frequency, and very little settled weather.  This does not make for very long or predictable weather windows.  As a Low passes, you get south winds on the front side, north on the back, with crummy, rainy weather.  As a generalization, when a High goes by, you get the opposite-north winds first, then south with clear and windy conditions.  So……. pick your poison.

Back at the dock, the Admiral and I are finishing our second bottle of wine (this becomes important later) when the late forecast comes out.  To make a long story short, tomorrow, the 4th, looks like the best weather for the next 10 days to head across.  Otherwise, we’d be at anchor somewhere down along the ICW until the weather settles.  So much for “Plan A”.  We tentatively decide that we’ll cross tomorrow, but will sleep on it first, then check the morning forecast.  Nonetheless, we get the Girl all spiffed up and ready to stretch her legs after nearly 2 months of dormancy.  The dinghy would have to wait until morning to be hauled up, as no potentially dangerous stuff after vino.  After a restless night (da vino and da excitement), the new forecast hadn’t changed.  Winds were predicted to be 15-20 out of the southeast, then clocking to the north by eight in the evening.  Waves 2’-4’ out of the south, with a 4-5 second frequency, then subsiding to 1’-3’ in the evening.  Not fantastic, but the best we could expect for the next week or so.  We’d be across the current by the time that the wind changed, and have following seas most of the way to Great Harbour Cay, down in the Berry’s, some 30 hours after departure.  We got off the dock by 0810.  A little under 2 hours later, we passed the sea buoy outside the St. Lucie inlet.  We were thinkin’ maybe 3’-5’ on 4 seconds.  Wind steady at 20 knots-not good.  We figured that the waves were just stacked up in the shallows, and that once we got into deeper water, that they’d lay down a bit. My first engine room check after being out in the ocean did not go well.  Think hot engine room, slammin’ seas, lots of adrenaline, no breakfast and that second bottle of vino the night before.  Whew doggie!  Ah, didn’t feel so good.  Meanwhile, the Admiral went below to tie the cupboard doors shut, as they were threatening to empty themselves onto the galley floor.  I took the wheel.  When she returned to the pilothouse, she reported that she felt a little funky too.  By 1300, we had bailed on the notion of going to Great Harbour, and set our sights on Grand Bahama, only 70 miles away.  For the rest of the day, that wicked witch, Mal D’ Mer had me in her steely grasp.  I saw my belated breakfast twice, and couldn’t even manage to keep saltine crackers from spewing out the pilothouse door.  Suz soldiered on at the wheel, and engine room checks were not on the program (thank you trusty John Deere and engine room camera).  During the trip, we were joined at times by pods of dolphins, soaring out of the choppy seas, high into the air.  Schools of flying fish skittered between the waves, under a canopy of blowing water.  Meanwhile, sheets of water slammed into the windshields as waves broke on our bow-pretty spectacular.  As the sun went down, and the sky darkened, I stood my watch from 1900 -0100, but it wasn’t pretty.  The wind never came around, and the seas stayed up until around 0100.  Furthermore, we had really underestimated the effect that the current would have on our trusty little vessel as we headed southeast against it.  At times, we were making just a little over 3 knots.  We arrived at the sea buoy for Bell’s Channel at Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama at 0330.  Suz debated waking me up, versus just cruising for a few more hours to await sunup before entering a harbor that was unknown to us.  In the end, she decided to wake me up to discuss a plan.  The channel through the reef was very narrow on the chart, and was a mile or so long before arriving at the jetty.  We decided to proceed slowly to the seabuoy to see how accurate our GPS was, comparing our position on the electronic chart to what we were seeing out the window.  The plot was right on the nut, and since there was a pair of lighted buoys halfway to the jetty, we decided to go on in.  We breathed a sigh of relief when the chart showed us to be inside the reef, and we traversed the mile of shallow water without incident.  As we neared the opening to the harbor, Suz illuminated the jetties guarding both sides with our handheld spotlight, and we glided in at 5.2 knots on a flood current.  Once inside, the harbor was dead calm, and a warm drizzle began to fall.  We debated anchoring in the harbor, but opted instead for tying up to the fuel dock at Grand Bahama Yacht Club, where we slept the sleep of the dead until the drizzle gave way to a torrential downpour as a cold front passed over us, dropping the temperature from 74 to 62 degrees.  But……..We at de Bahamas!

-Uuurp 

Happy New Year!

We’re back at Sunset Bay Marina here in Stuart, Florida.  After the whirlwind that was the Holiday season, we’re ready to settle in for a few weeks of mundane before heading to the Bahamas.  Here’s a quick recap of the last month:

We tooled into Hinckley’s yard on Monday, the 7th of December, and as promised, the crew had us out of the water the next morning.  Our first surprise came shortly thereafter.  “What?  We can’t stay on the boat while she’s on the hard?”  Darn.  We hadn’t even considered the possibility, as we were allowed to stay onboard at the yard up in Maine.  No worries, the Admiral finds a Clarion Hotel, and gets us a room.  Only problem is that it’s 5 miles away, and we have no vehicle.  Since we’re driving the gearbox to Fort Lauderdale for its’ rebuild the next morning, the yard gives us the Hinckley pickup, and we’re off to the hotel.  The Clarion, Stuart Florida, is not exactly what you would call a high-end accommodation.  In fact, it would even be a stretch to call it middle of the road.  The Admiral peeled back the sheets, and there were no critters, so we called it good.  06h30, and we were blowin’ down I-95 in our awesome F-150 with 235K miles on the odometer.  When every day is a weekend, ya kinda forget about the “W” word.  The freeway is slammed with traffic beginning at Palm Beach, the blinding thunderstorms that are blowing through aren’t helping matters much either.  Ms. Google tells us that there are 5 accidents between us and the promised land of Fort Lauderdale, so we take a 15 mile cross country jaunt to avoid the morass.  We get to Shane’s (the local Keypower guru) place by 08h30, and it’s a trip.  His little machine shop is in a warehouse that he shares with his son, who happens to own Islamorada Brewing Company, a local microbrewery.  You guessed it, the place is stacked to the ceiling with cases and palettes of kegs.  Shane has an accent which is familiar to us, so we have a nice chat about South Africa, where we had figured that he was from (see Africa trip with Annie & Mike 2006).  Shane tells us that he’ll be a couple hours, so we take a hike.  Brian at Hinckley had told us that his favorite place for breakfast in Ft. L was Lester’s, which just happened to be at the end of the street.  As instructed, I ordered the Lox and Eggs.  Whoa! Lox, eggs, and onions all scrambled together in a heap of steaming goodness topped with cheese?  What’s not to like?  After breakfast, we cruised around the warehouse district, where we found the shops of many of our favorite marine vendors, including Bluewater Charts.  We have always ordered our charts, electronic and paper, as well as our cruising guides online from Bluewater, and now had a chance to see the place in person (for us, that was pretty much on par as touring hardware and kitchen supply stores).  Anyway, John, the president, owner, and pretty much Grand Poobah of BWC, took us on a private tour of the place.  We found out that, in addition to selling charts, they also stored charts for hundreds of megayachts in their stacks.  Never really thought about it, but when the owner of the boat is having you and the crew meet him (or her) in the Med, you don’t need all those charts of the Caribbean cluttering up the joint.  That’s where BWC comes in.  You ship the charts that you’re not using this season to them for storage, and they send you the ones that you’ll need.  So, the Admiral is telling John what a great store he has, and that we buy our stuff from him, and he sends us on our way, to explore the place on our own, while he heads back to his desk.  We’re wandering through, checking out all the folks at computers, talking on their integrated headsets to customers around the world, and Suz is wondering if this is where “her IT dude” works.  Well, John reappears, so she asks him.  Yes, as a matter of fact, Shawn’s desk is right over here (John had pulled our file, probably checking our story out, when he went back to his desk).  Anyway, Shawn and Suz had a nice chat.  She told him that she’d be calling soon for some new charts on the deep Caribbean (in literature, do they call that foreshadowing?).  Before we leave, the Chairwoman works John over for a donation to the Krogen Rendezvous next year, to which he kindly accedes.  But, I digress.  Back at the shop, Shane finds out that the gearbox has cannibalized itself.  The metal shavings that Hinckley drained out with the gear oil are from the spacers in one of the bearing sets.  There are 5 sets in the box.  Only one is munched, but the pieces have been circulating through the other gears since September.  Might as well replace all 5.  Only problem is that the bearings are not available locally.  Shane calls British Columbia, and Keypower can get a set out today.  Okay, no fixee gears today.  Back to Stuart.  Long story short, left hand didn’t tell the right hand that the parts needed to be overnighted, so no go the next day.  Good day to wax the boat, and do some odds ‘n ends.  The good news was that Hinckley gave us the truck, or Brian gave us a ride every night to get back home (to the Clarion).  Friday morning, we were on the road by 05h30.  Avoided the traffic jams.  No thunderstorms.  Got to Ft. L before Shane, so were forced to eat at Lester’s again (sob, sob).  Picked up the goods, and were back to Hinckley before noon.  The reinstall took longer than we thought, so we were able to complete the waxing of the hull.  At 15h00, the work was almost done, so I called Brian, figuring there was no way that they’d splash us before the weekend, as quitting time was 15h30.  Nope, they were getting us in as promised.  We were in the water, and on our way to Sunset Bay marina, our home for the next 2 months, by 16h30.  Alizann was at the dock shortly after dark, and her owners fell into bed shortly thereafter.  This was quite a diatribe.  Even so, it was the super-condensed, sanitized version of our week.

We had a week of boatchores, then headed to Asheville, NC for 10 or 12 days of Christmas cheer and intensive partying with Suzanne’s family.

When we returned, it was solid days of repair, upgrade, and replace, and nights of sipsandeats with many of our Krogen buddies (of which there are over 20 here).  I’d go into detail, but suffice it to say that we both put in 10 hour days nearly every day to get the “Fat Girl” into fighting trim.  Oh yeah,  New Years Eve raft-up with 4 other boats with a party on the “Galactic”-“Klassy Kadey”-“Next Dance”-“Bulldog Sally” raft up (there were 17 boats anchored in Kitching Cove altogether).  New Year’s Day brought brunch aboard “Alizann” for our 5 boat raft, followed by a long, hour drive back to the marina for football and naps.  As of now, the last of 5 coats of varnish are on, the heads are rebuilt, the pumps are in shape, her bottom (the boat’s) is scraped and clean, and the crew is charged up for the next adventure.  We hope to get off the dock, and on our way to the Exumas in the next week.

- (Not too much)-Later.

We were pretty excited about going back to Vero.  Besides the awesome tuna nachos (raw Ahi and seaweed on a fried wonton) at the Dockside restaurant, there’s a bait shop next door where I can get one of our fishing reels restrung (?) with Spectra line.  The bike riding is relatively safe, and there’s a great breakfast joint out on the beach that we’ll hit after going to the Farmer’s Market.  Plus, Bill and Lisa are there on “Changing Course”.  Vero’s a popular spot, so when we call on the phone for a mooring ball, Courtney tells me that they’re full, and we’ll have to raft with another boat.  No problem.  “What’s your boat name?”  “Alizann-we should be in the computer.”  “Oh.  You’re 53’ long.  We can’t take boats over 50’ anymore, ‘cause  we had a mooring damaged this year, and City Council voted no more big boats”  “Gosh, we’ve been there before in high winds with no problems, and…….our friends on “Changing Course” are there now.  Same exact boat as ours.”  ………….” Well, says here that they’re 48’ long, they must have lied. “ Can’t tell you to do that.”  “I’m pretty sure that the info that you have in the computer is in error.  We’re 48’.”  “Okay, see you tomorrow.”  Therein lies the marina conundrum.  Do we say we’re 43’ (length at the waterline), 48’ (length on deck), or 53’ (length overall-swim platform and bow pulpit included)?  The ICW between Cocoa has lots of variation in scenery, from wild marshy swamps to quaint “Old Florida” homes to 15,000 foot seasonal “cottages” along the way.  As Alizann wheeled around the corner into the now familiar mooring field at Vero, it was obvious that they were quite busy, with some mooring balls occupied by 3 boats (how does the 50’ rule make sense when there are 3 forty footers on a single ball?).  After a not short pause on the VHF, the Harbormaster directs us to a ball already occupied by a 49’ motoryacht.  At first, we can’t find it, as it’s surrounded by rafted-up sailboats back near the mangroves.  Once spotted, we maneuver thru the forest of sailboats in the brisk breeze.  As we pass each moored boat, heads pop up to watch the show.  Boaters and NASCAR fans-kindred spirits, always waiting for the crash.  Suz gets the fenders and lines rigged, we’re now 10’ from our target, and there’s no one on deck to catch our lines (I’m pretty sure that someone’s on board because their dinghy is there).  As we get to within 5’ and we’re contemplating having Suz jump over to their boat, we see movement down below, and a guy pops out of the side door, only to go back below just as quickly.  Whattheheck?  So….we’re holding, the wind’s pushing the Girl back and forth, we’ve got a crowd watching, our 2-way communicators’ batteries quit, and we’re not sure what our next move will be.  Seemed like a long time, but after maybe 30 seconds or so, the guy reappears with his wife(?), ready to catch our lines.  Suz is at the stern, so I back up close, expecting that our stern will be tied quickly, and she’ll come forward to toss the bow line.  Meanwhile, we’re sawing back and forth in the breeze.  I can’t leave the helm, ‘cause the wind is blowing us back towards the 2 catamarans moored behind us, and trying to shear our bow away from our buddy.  A couple of minutes later, she comes forward and tosses our bow line to the dude, then has to tell him where to cleat it so that it won’t damage his boat.  After several adjustments, spring lines are made fast and introductions are shared.  R and P confess that they’re “newbies”, and have never rafted before (that doesn’t make them unusual-many long time boaters don’t raft).  Heading below for our post-docking debrief and learning session, the Admiral informs me that it took so long at the stern because P didn’t know how to cleat a line.

The next couple of days weren’t nearly as exciting.  We had our nachos, got the reel stripped and loaded, ate breakfast at the beach after the Farmer’s Market, and rode the “Jungle Trail” around the North end of the island.  This 30 mile bike ride traverses along the hard packed and soft sand road that the citrus growers used to move their products back in the day.  As a bonus, the holiday lighted boat parade took place one night, starting and ending at the mooring field.  All too soon, it was time to go, as the Girl had an appointment at the Hinckley yard in Stuart to have her leaky gearbox repaired.  (And not a minute too soon, as I was getting pretty tired of emptying oil out of my little Tupperware container hanging under the get-home motor since Maine.)  Along the way, we stopped at Fort Pierce for a few gallons of diesel at the lowest price on the East coast of Florida.

Tales of the Hinckley adventure coming soon.

-Later

Whoa!  1,845 miles on the rental car traveling to and from Ohio.  I have to say that the drive up through the Appalachians in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio is beautiful though, and we had perfect weather for our drive up.  Leaving on Tuesday helped with the traffic.  Most of the vehicles on the road were trucks-not many holiday drivers.  13 hours in a car is very different from 13 hours on the Girl, so we stopped to stretch and change drivers every couple of hours.  Salad, fruit, veggies and grilled chicken provided our last low-cal nourishment before the holiday foodfest  (have lost almost 10 pounds since the wedding.)  It was a rude awakening for Yours Truly to see my necktie hanging a little less than vertical in the pictures.  It’s a real problem on the boat-meet new people, get together for drinks, go out to eat, repeat=more pounds).  Anyhow, I was a good guest and did my best to show appreciation for my sister’s culinary efforts, and watch football (drink lotsa beer) with my brother-in-law, and Dad.   No good deed goes unpunished (found 1.5# previously lost).  My Sis loves the country life-26 chickens, a couple of goats and horses, Guinea Fowl, 2 dogs and a couple of cats keep her busy.  We had a bonfire one night under a full moon, with one of my very talented nephews(Evan) playing guitar, singing and taking requests.  A few sips helped to keep the blood flowing in the 40 degree temperature.  The offshoot of the night was that the Admiral finally cashed my IOU from a few years previous.  For her birthday one year, she got a chit for a guitar, but was never able to follow through with a purchase.  Evan helped her out, and took her down to the music store, where the owner (who tunes lotsa rocker’s guitars) filed down the frets and did some other guitarjujumagic on a new geetar for my Sweetie.  Happy, happy, happy.  All too soon, it was time to roll on down the road back to the Girl.  On Saturday, we drove from Cain’tsee to Cain’tsee through heavy traffic and rain, back on the chicken and veggie diet.  I don’t even want to tell you how long it took.  As an aside, while we were still on dirt, and engaged in that four-letter word, we were always in a hurry and on a schedule.  As residents of “flyover country”, and knowing how beautiful Michigan is, and how much all those folks “flying over” were missing, we often told ourselves that when we had the time, we’d drive more, take back roads, and really see our country.  Now that we’re living “The Life”, there’s time to get excited on the way, and to assimilate on the way home, to say nothing of the scenery and people along the way.

Back in Jacksonville, we spent Sunday running errands with our rentacar, picking up the now-healthy computer from our favorite tech, the dry cleaning, and grocery shopping.  Monday it was boatchores-fabricated brackets for, and installed motion detectors on deck to enhance our feeling of safety while sleeping at night in sketchy locales.  This is mainly for our planned voyage through the southern Caribbean and Central America next year.  Want to get any bugs ironed out now.  Besides having to wait on the railroad bridge in Jacksonville, we had an uneventful ride down the St. Johns River on the ebb tide (which necessitated an O’Dark-thirty departure.)  We hit the narrows (and shallows) below St. Augustine near high tide, and rode the flood all the way to MarineLand.  Just before Matanzas Inlet, there is a tricky S-curve where the water is pretty skinny, requiring taking a course through that makes you feel like you’re going to be up on shore.  A little bit tricky with the current, but if you pay attention and follow the oft-moved temporary buoys, very doable.  A fifty-some-odd foot motor yacht had been overtaking us for the previous few miles before we entered the turn.  After we exited, Suz kept looking back for her.  Two hours later, when we had been tied up at MarineLand, “Have a Nice Day”, the aforementioned boat, steamed by on the ICW.  We just did a quick-hitter there, with virtually no shore leave, except to help a guy on a DeFever motor yacht get an electrical problem ironed out.  Next morning, we plowed out through the silt on a falling tide (not our smartest move, but we needed to get going (that “schedule thing” which gets boaters and pilots in trouble)), our depth sounder reading 4’ (we draw 5.2”).  A few miles down the ICW, a large motoryacht fell in behind us, and followed us for the next 7 hours until we pulled off into the City Dock at Daytona Beach.  As we turned in, we got a hail on the VHF “Alizann, this is “Have a Nice Day”, the motoryacht that has been following you all day, thanks for the ride”.  I asked him, and he had indeed run aground at the “S” the afternoon before, explaining his 2 hour delay, but all’s well that ends well.  Daytona Beach was another “quick hitter”.  We hopped off the boat and visited “Jackie Robinson Stadium”, so named because it was the first stadium to host a game for a biracial pro baseball team.  Learn something new every day.  D.B. is a typical beach town, with a strip along the ICW-T shirt shops, galleries, restaurants-you get the picture.

Another overcast day took us to Titusville, across from Cape Canaveral.  An Atlas V liftoff was scheduled for 17h50 that evening, and we wanted ringside seats for the first ISS resupply mission to be launched from American soil in over a year.  (That over a year thing is a whole ‘nother discussion, and I won’t rant about how incomprehensibly stupid I think the NASA cutbacks have been.  I’ll just limit my comments to “GRRRRRRRR!”).  Anyway, we anchored at the south end of a bay with a 2 mile fetch spawning 2’ seas, but hey, we could see thelaunch pad directly from there.  Well……….with 20 knot winds, and bands of heavy rain blowing through, the launch was scrubbed.  Dark now, we decided to move in to the lee of a bridge somewhere.  Going through the NASA Causeway bridge, the tender informed us that only half of the bridge could open, as the other half was frozen in the down position- tons of fun in a now 25 knot breeze and pouring rain.  The Admiral was standing outside on the side deck, informing me emphatically that we were going to hit the bridge, while from my seat on the centerline, things looked okay.  Still, a bit of “pucker Factor” as we blew through without any loud reports.  The anchorage south of the bridge was full of sailboats, so we opted for the 10 mile trip to Cocoa, where we had anchored the year before.  In the pitch black and pouring rain (which my Marine friends would call a real turd floater), we navigated through the mostly unlit navigational aids with our radar and spotlight.  An hour and a half didn’t come too soon.  Still windy, but no waves, we got the anchor down for a few hours of sleep before our 05h30 curtain call and the next days’ march to Vero Beach.

-Later

Hey there,

On the 17th, we departed Lady’s Island Marina at 06h30 at low tide, and passed under the bridge without an opening.  We planned a short ride to Hilton Head, as we were visiting Frank & Kathy, some Krogen friends who have a home at Windmill Point, Jenkins Island.  With an early start, we could be there in time to ride bikes and tour Hilton Head.  Windmill is pretty cool.  The development has its’ own man-made boat basin, large enough for a hundred or so boats, entered through a small lock off the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway).  As we approached the lock, we realized that there was no need to hang fenders, as the lock is 19’ wide (The Girl is 17’6”-do the math).  We locked through without a nudge of the walls.  Once inside the basin, it was like driving a gokart in a phone booth-kinda tight.  Frank & Kathy came down and opened the pedestrian drawbridge with their garage door opener, and we glided down the fairway into our spot on their neighbor’s seawall.  Sweet.  Cathy said that it was absolutely unsafe to ride our bikes across the bridge to Hilton Head, but once over, the riding on the miles of dedicated paths would be wonderful.  We loaded our bikes onto her SUV, and she dropped us off in the city center, making us promise to call Frank for a pickup on our way home.  The next few hours, we covered 22 miles, and got a pretty good look at H.H.  Suzanne was amazed at how much things had changed since she had visited as a child.  At that time, none of the developments were here, and McDonalds was the only place to eat.  We visited the historic site of Mitchellville, the first community of free Blacks in America.  Formed during the Civil War, the enclave was self-governed, and had the distinction of being the first city requiring mandatory education of it’s’ children.  After the war ended, the population slowly dwindled, as residents relocated in search of employment.  Frank picked us up, and we had no sooner put the bikes in their bag up on the boat deck, when the skies opened up and it poured for the next 2 hours.  That evening, Frank cooked up one of his specialties for us-filets with blue cheese, and roasted asparagus.  We rinsed the steaks down with a couple of bottles of French redpop, and then went home and slept soundly, serenaded by the drizzle falling on the deck over our bed.

The first lock opening wasn’t until 08h00, so we slept in.  Winds were down to 8 knots under cloudy skies as we glided down the ditch to the Wahoo River, where we anchored for the night.  The Girl did 180’s around the hook during the night as the tide ebbed and flooded.  Our intention was to make Jeckyll Island Passage at high tide, as the water isn’t deep enough for us to get through otherwise.  Our trusty little home on the water made good time, and we hit the passage at the last hour of the rising tide.  Since it was only 3 more hours to Cumberland Island, and it was about 3 hours until dark, we decided to push on.  As we passed Kings Point Naval Base, we spied a nuke at the dock being refitted (last time we were through here, there were no subs at the dock).  At the Cumberland anchorage, our hook was down as the last vestiges of sunlight faded away.  We awoke to a beautiful sunny, windy morning.  So breezy, in fact, that we decided against launching the dink, and pulled masking tape (from our varnishing project) instead.  We had a little time to kill, ‘cause we wanted to go through Fernandina Beach at high tide, as we had nearly grounded there last year at this time.  Anchor was up at 12h00, and we had a nice quiet cruise down to the free dock at Sister’s Creek on the outskirts of Jacksonville, where the ICW meets the St. Johns River.  The dock was already pretty full, but the boats there had lots of room between them.  If they pulled in closer to one another, there was plenty of room for another boat.  Nobody’s answering the VHF.  Okay, we’ll pull close enough to yell to them over the bow.  Heads down, nobody makin’ eye contact as we’re holding in a several knot crosscurrent in 18 knot winds over shoal water.  Finally, a guy fishing on the end of the dock walks over to the end boat.  Now, he HAS to acknowledge us.  After a lot of back and forth over the wind, NOPE, they’re NOT going to move.  Okay………decision time.  Do we run up the blind fairway, 100’ wide with uncertain depth on a falling tide, crosswind blowing us on to the boats lined up on the dock to get to a spot that LOOKS like its long enough for us, or do we anchor out in the current on the ICW with a cold front blowing through tonight?    In the end, we went on in and had plenty (12’) of depth.  Later, around dark when a large sailboat came in and got the same treatment, we called him on the VHF, and he rafted on us comfortably. 

In the morning, we had some intermittent mist, but the winds had subsided to around 10 knots.  There’s no future trying to fight the current going up the St. Johns River to Jacksonville, so we needed to wait until 2 hours after low tide to leave.  With an 11h30 departure planned, we had plenty of time to kill, so we walked up to the old bridge over the ICW, looking down on the construction crews that were driving pilings and pouring footings for the new bridge.  Several spans were already in place, but it didn’t look like the bridge would be done for a year or so.  The 3 hour cruise up the river kept us occupied dodging commercial traffic while watching Michigan dismantle Penn State’s vaunted defense.  The Michigan “D” showed their chops, stopping PSU 3 times inside the 10.  We arrived at the mouth of the Ortega River before the game was over, so we just drifted for 30 minutes, watching TV before calling for a bridge opening.  At Ortega Landings Marina, we were greeted by Jeff and Ellen (“Sea Dweller”), who caught our lines and brought us in safely.  Steve and Julia (“Erben Renewal”) are also here, as well as Garry & Jacquie(“Waterford”), and Doug & Jan (“Daydreams”).  I guess that’ll make this stop a mini Krogen rendezvous.  We didn’t see our Lake Superior pals, as Garry & Jacqui are Michigan State fans, while their traveling companions, Doug & Jan root for Ohio State.  They were all hunkered down watching the game.  We headed in to the office to pick up our mail (all 10 or so boxes-Amazon Prime is a wonderful thing).  I’m sure that Jeannie was pleased, as she’ll now be able to get to her desk without having to climb over boxes.  On Sunday morning, we organized a potluck dinner for the Krogen gang, utilizing the swanky clubhouse here.  As the day progressed, the party grew from 12 to well over 20 as more dockpals were invited to join in the fun.

We’ll pick up a rental car tomorrow (Monday), and drive up to Ohio to visit my sister’s family for Thanksgiving.  In the meantime, boatchores and socializing with our pals.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

-Later

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