4 December, 2015
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.