Archive for December, 2009

Pictures from SC, GA and FL

December 16, 2009

This picture is from when we took a group sailing off Oriental, NC. Don (of the D and Don crew) is on the left.

Here is Laura enjoying the view from the bow while we are sailing down a part of the ICW in SC.

This sunset is from the ocean as we sailed past Mytle Beach to Charleston.

Here is another picture of Laura on the bow. We are sailing off-shore from St Marys, GA to St Augustine, FL

In the southern FL ICW, multi-million dollar homes are a dime-a-dozen. Here is my favorite…

There are always clouds over the gulfstream and here is the light from the sunset causing some great pastell colors on them.

Awesome sunrise just south of Key Largo, FL


Tuesday, 12/15/09

December 15, 2009

Friday, 12/4
Last night we anchored in one of our favorite spots behind a small island at Rock Point just south of Melbourne. It was a quiet evening and very comfortable.

We picked up the anchor just after first light and started motoring south toward Vero Beach. The day was beautiful and we made great time. In Ft Pierce we fueled up the boat (just 75 gallons from North Carolina) and continued down the ICW south. Just before dark we anchored on the south side of the Jensen Beach bridge to set us up for Lake Worth tomorrow night.

Saturday, 12/5
Another fairly nice day motoring down the ICW as the winds and swells off-shore would make for a very sloppy sail in the ocean. We motored down one of the most crowded areas of the waterway with multi-million dollar homes covering both shores.

We were happy to pass under our last bridge of the day in North Palm Beach late in the afternoon and motor into the nice anchorage in Ft Worth. I motored the boat up next to the west shore and we dropped anchor in 8 feet. The winds were clocking around and an hour later we were facing the opposite direction. Not a problem as the bottom in this anchorage is muddy with good holding.

Sunday, 12/6
The weather forecast is iffy for running off-shore tonight but we’ll plan to pick up our anchor and motor down to the inlet just before dark for an overnight run to Key Biscayne.

Just after lunch, we took the dinghy for a ride and found the dinghy dock at the north end of the lake. We dropped off our trash and Laura went to the grocery store for a few items while I kept an eye on the dinghy – this was not a very secure area. Back to the boat a couple hours later to put away the groceries and prepare for the sail off-shore.

At 4 pm we picked up our anchor and motored to the inlet. The winds were howling in the low 20s from the east which would make for a lumpy sea but a nice sail with winds on the beam. As we neared the inlet, I called on the radio for a sea condition from any boats off-shore. One fishing boat answered me and said the seas were 5-7 feet with 25-30 knot winds.

As we were motoring out the inlet, the winds were so high they just about stopped the boat even though we had a little tidal current helping us. I finally decided it was too much and we turned around to anchor just south of the inlet. The major reason I decided to change plans was we only had about 70 miles to go for the overnight sail. With high winds on the beam we’d be flying with only a little sail out. I didn’t think we’d be able to slow the boat down enough to get there after sunup. So… We anchored again.

Monday, 12/7
Up at first light and pulled the anchor for our loooooong day motoring south in the ICW. We really didn’t want to motor this part of the ICW but didn’t really have a choice with the weather and distances we needed to go. There were 18 bridges between Lake Worth and Ft. Lauderdale that had to open for us. They were all on different schedules but I was a pro at timing our speed to get at each one just before they opened. The day was fairly uneventful until we motored into our planned anchorage in Lake Sylvia near the Ft Lauderdale inlet.

As I motored into the inlet, I was following our directions to avoid the shallow area when the boat hit something hard and quickly stopped. I was able to move the boat a little with the motor but we were hard aground. For the past 23 years I’ve had towing insurance with Boat/U.S. but have never used it. Today was the first! I called them on the radio and a boat showed up about ½ hour later. They slowly pulled us off and we were floating again just before dark. We were happy to be loose except that two boats had come into the crowded anchorage while we were aground and took the only good anchoring spot. I motored the boat between them and the nearby private docks and we anchored in a small safe area with maybe 30 feet around us.

The wind helped by staying low and I spent a restless night checking the boats around us every couple hours. I think I ended up with maybe 3 hours sleep total.

Tuesday, 12/8
We picked up our anchor just after first light and motored out of the Lake Sylvia after a very anxious night watching the boats around us swing around the anchorage with no wind. Out of the Ft Lauderdale inlet by 8 pm and we turned south for a pretty nice sail to Biscayne Bay. The seas were a little lumpy but we stayed close to shore so we wouldn’t get slowed down by the north-heading Gulfstream.

As we approached Biscayne Bay, we checked the weather and wind forecasts then decided to keep going to take advantage of the favorable winds the next couple days. We knew we’d be anchoring in the dark at Rodriquez Key just south of Key Largo.

It was a beautiful evening and the last several hours were a lovely sail with our big sails out and 10-12 knot winds on the beam. As we approached the anchorage I could see 5 anchored boats on our radar with 2 anchor lights on – what could they be thinking? We motored around the anchored boats and I was just about to turn the boat into the wind when I heard something like a jet engine behind us. A big spotlight came on and I thought we were going to get run over by a large powerboat. I turned on our deck lights so they could see us better as they slowed and pulled along side. It was our Department of Homeland Security in a 40 foot center-console boat with four (4) 300 horsepower outboards (do they need 1,200 horsepower to outrun helicopters??). They asked us several questions then left about 10 minutes later satisfied we weren’t anchoring in the dark because we had 20 Cubans in the cabin.

We anchored in the poor holding of Rodriguez and spent a little while up on the deck checking out all the stars while sipping a glass of wine.

Wednesday, 12/9
We picked up our anchor just before sunrise and sailed out into the Hawk Channel. The winds were SSE and we were heading SW so it would be a close-hauled sail (sailing into the wind as close as we can). The Florida Keys form an arc starting south in Biscayne and end up almost west in Key West. Sailing down them allows you to change course to the west 5 – 10 degrees every couple hours. We hoped the wind would say far enough off our bow to allow sailing.
We sailed the first 3-4 hours then had to tack and motor-sail the rest of the day. We probably ran the engine for about 4 of the 9 travelling hours.

We arrived in Marathon around 5 pm and picked up a mooring to settled down for the evening. It was a warm day and night especially when the wind died in the early evening. Our plan is to spend the next month on the mooring and move the boat into the marina around the middle of January. This would save us a few bucks in marina fees (versus the mooring).

Thursday, 12/10
We woke up around 7 pm and it was very warm. Inside the boat temp was 82 and even with a fan blowing on us all night, I had drenched the sheets sweating while sleeping.

I started the engine to charge the batteries and refrigeration then put on a pot of coffee. As I was drinking coffee up in the cockpit, there was no wind and the sweat was running down my face. At 7:30 am it was 82 degrees, about 95% humidity and no wind.
Laura came up a little while later and I got out the computer to sign up for a month of Internet. As I was signing up, I said to Laura, “This is our last chance to change our minds and put the boat in a marina.” We talked about it for maybe 15 minutes and decided to change plans. Between the mooring fee, fuel for the engine, fuel for the generator, Internet, dinghy and wear and tear on the boat we figured the marina was only going to cost about $350 / month more than the mooring. Plus, in the marina we’d have instant access to the dock and be able to market our charter business much easier.
After running the engine for an hour, I changed the oil in our engine and transmission, cleaned everything up and brought the used oil into the marina for disposal. Laura and I then walked to the barber shop for two haircuts from “Jersey Girl”. I couldn’t believe all the hair on the floor after the hairdresser finished my haircut. It probably would have filled a small grocery bag after 2 months without a haircut. Home Depot was across the street from the Barber Shop but we couldn’t think of anything we needed.
Back at the boat slipped our mooring and motored to the marina where we tied up and spent the next couple hours configuring the boat for dockside. I charged the refrigerant in the air-conditioner (it runs out slowly when we don’t use it) and started cooling down the boat. It was 87 in the boat with about 95% humidity when we started.
We forgot that we had thrown out our box fan before leaving Catskill. We used it to push the air-conditioned air into our bedroom. Around 5 pm, we lowered the dinghy and motored the 3 miles to the City Marina where we tied up and walked back down to Home Depot to buy a fan. Geez! We were just here about 6 hours ago! Back to the boat and downstairs was getting much cooler with lower humidity. By the time we were ready for bed, the boat was cooled down to 75 degrees and much drier.

Friday, 12/11
Walked a couple miles in the morning (west on US 1). We spent a quiet day in the marina picking up the boat from 7+ weeks of travelling down the coast.

The marina and restaurant have changed hands over the summer. The restaurant was opening today so many of the boaters were going to check it out for happy-hour. We met some of our boating friends over there around 5:30 pm and had a good time checking out the new digs with new friends. Back to the boat around 7 pm for a lite dinner.

Saturday, 12/12
We walked a couple miles in the morning (east on US 1) and spent the day on general cleanup around the boat. Tonight is our first dock party! Willem (the marina manager and local party host) is going to deep fry a turkey which is left over from Thanksgiving. Boaters are bring side dishes and everyone is excited. Laura made bread and sausage dressing along with two Key lime Pies.

There was a Christmas boat parade that was supposed to start around 6:30 pm with all the boats decorated with lights. Everyone here was out at the fuel dock waiting for the colorful show. The first two boats were very nice but the third boat ran aground coming down the inlet. The next hour or so was spent getting that boat floating again and the parade didn’t continue until about 7:30 pm. We had a great time anyway and the food was awesome as usual.

Sunday, 12/13
Boat cleaning day! Laura cleaned up inside while I walked to West Marine for some cleaning supplies. When I returned, I washed down the whole boat with fresh water then used a diluted solution of Muriatic Acid for dissolving the stains on the decks and topsides. Laura helped with polishing the stainless rails while I cleaned the boat sides from our dinghy. A couple hours later the boat looked awesome!

Monday, 12/14
I decided to sign up with an Internet advertising site so did a little research and sent them an email. Since I gave them our florida-phone number, I got the phone out and made sure it was charged. While doing this I noticed there was a voicemail on it. I called our voicemail and it was from someone who had seen our boat on Friday and called Saturday morning for a charter!!!! I called him back and left a message saying we were available anytime this week.

At Saturday’s party one of our friends mentioned they were having problems with their computer. Laura volunteered my services and I agreed to take a look at it. (I don’t usually let people know I have any experience with computers because everyone thinks their computer should work better / faster and nobody wants to pay for having the work done) Later in the morning I worked on Sally’s computer for a couple hours. I didn’t find many problems but downloaded some scanning software for her to see if there was anything nasty slowing it down.

While I was working on the computer, the guy called back about the charter and BOOKED OUR FIRST SAILING CHARTER OF THE SEASON for tomorrow! Sally took Laura to the grocery store (as payment for my computer work) and we’re looking forward to the sunset dinner charter tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12/15
Today is a charter day so I’ll spend most of my time cleaning, polishing while Laura get’s appetizers ready and prepping for the dinner. Our guests will be here around 2 pm for the 4 hour charter. The weather is supposed to be nice but continued warm. I don’t think I mentioned before this that Florida has experienced record high temps for the past 10 days or so. Highs have been in the mid to high 80s with lows around 76. The normal high for this time of year is 75. Geez!

Thursday, 12/3/09

December 15, 2009

December 3rd and we’re still on the move. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with more than enough food to feed 300 people, I don’t think there were that many there, but it was a great crowd. We still missed our families though, and even though miles separated us, you were all on our minds and in our hearts and we are very thankful for our loved ones.

Friday morning there was a “swap meet” in town, and we took some books and DVD’s to swap, but no one else had DVD’s ..oh well, we ended up walking to the book shop and donated a few of the books I had with us. Friday night we met again with about 15 boaters, many others had already picked up anchor and were on their way. Early Saturday morning, that was us. We made it to St Augustine, but anchored as we got in just as the sun was setting. Then instead of wasting a nice weather day at a marina, we left Sunday morning early again and got to the Daytona area by mid afternoon. There we went into a Marina, where I did a bunch of loads of laundry. Bill did a thorough clean up of the boat with fresh water, filled the water tank which we desperately needed.. and we enjoyed a quiet night on the first dock that we’ve had to pay for since leaving NY 6 weeks ago.

Up at 8 we were once again on our way motor-sailing down the ICW to Titusville. On our way there we got a call from our friends Wendy and Chad.. they have crewed on Catamarans for the past few years in the Caribbean, but since the owner of the boat they were on was selling it, they decided to look into getting their own boat and doing couples charters themselves. They had found a gorgeous 55 foot Tyana in Ft Lauderdale under foreclosure. They were on their way north with it to St Augustine where they will have it on the hard and do some major work on it. They want to be ready to have it at the broker show in May in Tortola, BVI, where they will be chartering. They were in Melbourne, only a day away from Titusville, and on their way north, so we decided to hang out there to see them. There was also going to be a storm coming in on Wed- Wed night, and Titusville was a great anchorage to hole up for that. We enjoyed the next two nights having dinner with Chad and Wendy and I have just fallen in love with their boat.. maybe our next one?? Haha.

Today, Thursday, started out a bit cloudy, but we decided to continue our journey. Looking at the forecast, Saturday night into Sunday will prove a nice day to head off shore. Looking ahead, we’re planning on getting down to Lake Worth and head out from there. That will take us to Key Biscayne, only 2 days from there to Marathon!!