Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 101 (Dec. 15)

I know I don’t have the blog completely up to date but today we flew home for Christmas and we don’t plan on returning to the boat until roughly Jan 10th. I will try to get the last couple of days completed and posted but then the blog will not be resumed until roughly Jan 10.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
<3 Nice Butt Crew

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 94

We woke up and had a little bit of a late start, taking time to eat breakfast before we got underway.
We thought that since we went for so long yesterday that we would only go maybe 50 miles today and stop in good time (long before dusk).
While underway we noticed the vibration in the shaft getting worse and papa looked up a place where we could be hulled and have the cutlass bearing replaced and the shaft realigned. He found a place in Fort Peirce that seemed reasonable and was close...or he thought was close. Since he made arrangements for us to be there tomorrow we needed to keep moving in order to get close so we could get in early and give the mechanics time to inspect the boat before its hulled in the morning. So we looked at the carts and decided we would go to some marina on down the ICW.
It was getting late when we neared the marina and we were soo ready to pull in after what now was two long days of traveling...but there was a problem...none of the 4 marinas in the area had enough depth for us to get in! We were forced to carry on.
An hour and a half later the sun was setting and we reached Pauls Island. Here was an anchorage just off the ICW. We anchored in a little over 5’ of water and put up our stay sail. Tonight was suppose to be windy.
We were all exhausted and happy to sit in the cockpit and eat a light supper. It was warm and we rolled up the back of the enclosure while we ate.
At one point in time we heard either a dolphin or a manatee surface but by the time we got up to look it was gone.


Day 93

We left Palm Coast this morning. We thought we’d have a short 40mile day but we decided to press farther. 74 miles later it was quickly getting dark and we anchored just north of Titusville in the lee of the train bridge.
Today’s is a really short post but really all we did was navigated the shallow water and bitched about the ignorant power boaters who planed past us. OHH and i saw a pink flamingo! xD

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 92

We decided to layover a day. Today was beautiful. It was soo hot and sunny. Pretty much all day I worked on my slideshow since the fact that we could be going home any day had finally sunk in lol. Grama walked up and did some laundry and Papa and Gram’s did a little walk into town.

Since getting our TV we’ve had upwards of 20 channels that we could watch but here we can only receive 2 channels that are completely snowy =[. Later in the evening this started to bug Grama and apparently they had cable there so we decided to run a cord from the TV, through my berth, up my hatch and around the jib to the connection. When we looked on the dock there were 4 places you could plug in...and of course none worked lol.

While we were out fooling around we noticed people cheering and shouting merry Christmas on down towards the ICW. When we looked closely we saw a parade of boats decorated with Christmas decorations heading past. We had heard of the boat parade but had never been given a date or time so we thought we would run over and see if we could catch the end of the parade. We got there just as the last boat passed us =[ but then we were told that almost all of the boats had to turn around and come back past to return to their docks. So we pretty much got to see the whole parade =].

Once we were back on the dock we saw one of the boats that had been in the parade turning into our marina. We watched and they seemed to be having trouble docking so we went over to lend a hand and toss them their lines.

Once they were secure they offered for us to come aboard and have a drink with them, which we accepted. One of the couples was Dutch while the other was English and we chatted of a while.

After a while i headed back to Nice Butt and downloaded a movie for us (4 Christmases) and once everyone was back on board we made some supper and watched the movie.


Day 91

Since we were told that the dock was full today with reservations we had to get off the dock by 11:00 but we decided to explore the town once more before we left. We walked into town and found a horse and carriage tour and decided to take it.

We had to ask the driver to cut the tour short because we needed to be back at 11. When we were back on board we quickly slipped our lines and headed off to Palm Coast Marina where Dick and Ruth are.

It wasn’t too long before we were there but found no one aboard Grace C. We figured Ruth’s parents had come down and they we off at their condo so we just kinda hung out.


Day 90

Well i got up this morning and headed for the showers early. I tried to convince papa to layover here but that wasn’t happening so i wanted to quickly get up to the boat house and get online. When we were getting ready to cast off we had some more electric problems... which was a bummer but I headed up to the boat house to stay out of the way.

When we finally departed it was a short day to St. Augustine and we got in early enough to walk into town. The town had some amazing Spanish architecture with detailed balconys and borders. We walked down the main street and looked in a few little shops and eventually decided to go into a little Greek restaurant for supper.

After we ate we decided to take the lights tour we had heard about earlier. It took us around the town to see the Christmas lights and past the Ripley’s Believe it or not Museum that ran the lights tour.

When we made it back to the boat i took to sitting on the bow where i could get somewhat of an internet connection and could make a few calls home =].


Day 89

When we woke up this morning it was very foggy. With us not being able to get an early start going outside would be impossible so Kathy and Archie decided to stay. Ourselves on the other hand wanted to move and see something new.

We headed alone down the ICW to Jacksonville Beach. When we arrived we decided to mount our TV arm and out TV on the wall. It took a while but its sweet lmao. Shortly after we noticed we had started to have some electrical problems and papa had a guy come to look at it. Since we weren’t going out for supper right away headed up to the boat house where they’d let you plug in to internet. I stayed online until it was closing and even had the guy stayed a little late for me haha. This is a place where i would like to layover.

When i returned to the boat Andy (the mechanic) was just finishing up and we headed to the restaurant for supper. It was definitely a good choice. It was good food (and we had Gator Bites again) and they were having some sort of music might where almost everyone there was scheduled to sing or play a song or two.

As we were sitting there Grama said “it’s starting to feel a little bit like vacation” and I had to agree =] it was nice.


Day 88

We moved today to the outside dock so we could get an early start in the morning (where we were you needed to wait until slack tide before you could get out of the slip). Other than that it was a fairly uneventful day. Papa and I went up to a little cafe so we could get internet and then later on in the evening we watched Santa come and light up the St. Marys Christmas tree.


Day 87

Well another debate we’ve been having is everyone else has a TV with a little (but really good) antenna and they can get about 12 station in the middle of nowhere!...and Grama and I really want one! We brought it up to papa (again) and to our amazement he said ok and they went to look at TV’s today! Honestly i thought he would humour us and go look but there was no way we’d get one.

I opted to stay behind while they went because i wasn’t feeling too well and about 45mins after they left they called me and got me to measure the three spots we might be able to put it.

When they arrived back Papa was carrying a big box! =] We felt like kids at Christmas when we opened it lmao and it! He bought us a 19” flat screen and a swivel arm thing haha for when we mount it on the wall. We hurried and plugged it in and got the antenna on and sat there watching a couple commercials before switching through the channels.

Tonight we had Archie and Lindsey, the captain of the gorgeous sailing vessel Janey and his friend who flew down for a week for thanksgiving, and Kathy and Larry over for supper. It was a fun night, everyone chatted and although we did mute the TV we couldn’t bring ourselves to turn it off lmao.

In our talks we semi decided that Janey, Sinn Fein and ourselves would head out on Wed (today is Mon. Dec. 1st) and do a long day sail out in the ocean to St. Augustine, which through the ICW is a two day hull.


Day 86

Well today was raining and wet so us girls borrowed Ed’s car and headed to town. We spent a while in good will haha and then got some groceries and looked around Lows for some good LED reading lights for papa, as well as a stool! For the readers who we haven’t talked to this stool has been under debate for a while. Grama has trouble getting on and off the boat when we’re tied to short floating docks, and really sometimes i have trouble lmao we’re short :P, but the debate is where do we put it? We let Kathy convince us just to go back with it haha.

It was a long day of shopping and when we got back to the boat we just kinda flopped down and had a quiet night.


Captain’s Log

November 15 2008 (Day 71)

We are anchored in Whiteside Creek about 15 miles north of Charleston, S.C. awaiting weather improvement. We arrived here a little past 16:00 Friday after probably our longest, slowest day yet. We made good only 48 statute miles averaging barely 5 knots over 8 hours. Our departure in the morning from Georgetown S.C. was delayed by fog till 8:15. Both wind and current were against us the entire day. Overnight, winds were mostly over 25 knots with gusts into the mid 30’s. This makes for a sleepless night even ‘though the holding was excellent and the worst we could do was drift into shallows and go aground, which we did at low tide around 3:00. No harm no foul, just stopped swinging and actually got some rest. We didn’t drag our anchor but we set it on a rising tide in 8 feet of water and the tidal range in S.C. is upwards of 8 feet. Since our keel is like a mushroom with 2 torpedo like appendages we don’t fall over we just sit upright.

In addition to high winds we had some lightning and a bit of rain after midnight. A bit north of here closer to Beaufort N.C. a tornado touched down causing damage and loss of live. Our friends on Sinn Fein were thankfully tied to a dock at Swansboro N.C. while that whirled around them.

We have made reservations for the Charleston town marina for Sunday and Monday (they were filled up today) so hopefully we can be tourists in the southern ‘low country’ for a bit. From there Beaufort S.C. is 2 days travel, Savannah Geo. another day, then 3 days to the Florida border and another 3 days to Titusville where hopefully we will meet up with Murray and Heather Rand and Don Wilson. Given a few days for sightseeing and weather delays I hope to be in Titusville by December 1.

After experiencing some really cold weather since the lower Chesapeake Bay we have had several days of above average temperatures (70+ F today); hence the unsettled weather. We expect it to get colder overnight till mid week then warm to the mid 60’s later in the week. We ARE anxious to get to Florida.

Since we left Ontario September 7 [Niki insert- it was the 6th :P] this is the first time I’ve actually had a few hours to myself (plus the energy and daylight) to consider reflecting on the record Maxine and Niki keep asking when the fun will begin. But Niki has been working on a DVD presentation of our trip thus far and from the pics and dialog it all looks fun to me. I saw a shirt in Annapolis which summed it succinctly for me. “The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude”. Not to suggest their attitude is not stellar; but with the daily chores of moving a boat, cooking and cleaning, not to mention the Laundromat, they sometimes lose momentary sight of the many smiles, laughs, the beauty and the wondrous sights we’ve experienced each and every day. We live in a beautiful world and we are getting to see parts of it that can only be experienced from the water.

We left Lake Erie as we have often experienced it; rough, cantankerous, showing us how miserable it’s shallow waters can be in stiff headwinds. The trip across New York State through the canal system was work (39 locks in 10 days) but still we saw New York state as few others in this century have; magnificent river systems and mountain ranges connected by man’s ingenuity (and hard labour). Then the mighty Hudson River, in many places far deeper than Lake Erie and our first experience with real tides and currents. And railways !! Rail tracks cover the entire river (both banks). Johnny Cash singing Fulsum Prison Blues ( “I hear the train a coming, coming ‘round the bend”) rang in my ears the entire time along with the train whistles which echoed in our ears all day long (and night). New York !! Niki’s DVD will say it all and I need only add thanks to our friend and tour director Kathy McAuley from Sinn Fein for the New York experience. (Times Square, Central Park, Bubba Gump, the underground, 79th street Marina, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, Canal Street, all in 24 hours !!).

Atlantic Highlands on the Jersey side of New York is a quiet, friendly contrast to a bustling harbour that greets the entire world. Did you know the Atlantic ocean can be less than 10 feet deep for a mile or more off the coast of New Jersey? You can’t imagine Atlantic City (yes, the Donald !) from the water at night ‘till you see Niki’s pics. Cape May is both picturesque and a treacherous point of land to get round entering Delaware Bay. You learn about tides and currents quickly here. We did it right. The current here changes direction about 2 hours after the tide turns. The tide and current turn at different times as you work inland up an estuary. Leaving Cape May at low tide shortly after 6:00 and struggling for 3 hours to get around the Cape and into Delaware Bay (there is a canal that allows you to transit from the Atlantic to the Bay without rounding the Cape but our rig is too high to pass under the 55’ bridge), we caught the change in current immediately and carried speeds over the ground of 7 to 10 knots the entire passage up the Bay, Delaware River, C&D canal and into the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay where we anchored in the Bohemia River at 19:00 hours. It was mid afternoon that day in the canal our cell ‘phone rang to tell us of Mom’s death. The timing afforded me several hours of quiet reflection on a life well lived and a generation now gone.

We have sailed the Bay before and on this trip did little new except we finally got to the bottom of the Bay. Cold weather discouraged us from tarrying and exploring the Bay properly. We simply wanted south, only to find that the cold weather followed us. Nevertheless we enjoyed Annapolis, toured the Naval Academy for the first time and slowed our pace a bit to enjoy anchoring and becoming better acquainted with the fellow sailors trekking south that we previously saw from afar on the waterway and heard conversing via VHF radio. The folks cruising these waterways are as diverse as any group imaginable yet our common bond is a great equalizer. In jeans and sweat shirt executives, mechanics, artists, retired FBI, you name it, share conversation, advice, a hand with docking, and an occasional cool brew. The people we meet, and meet again and again as we travel on are rapidly becoming folks whose acquaintance we will savour all our lives. This is one of the great joys of cruising

The display of naval might at Norfolk was both exhilarating and chilling. But it’s definitely neat to hear warship number 39 talking to warship # 74 on the VHF, less so when it’s yelling at you. The dismal swamp is anything but dismal; the folks at Elizabeth City really do host a wine and cheese every night for cruisers. The mayor even comes round to say hello. The Sounds of North Carolina (Arblemarl and Pamlico) are huge and intimidating as is the Cape Fear River so named because it is the gateway to the ‘graveyard of the Atlantic, a very treacherous coastal stretch. We were fortunate to catch an ebb tide coming down the Cape Fear River and maintained speeds over the ground of 9 and 10 knots for several hours (This means the current gave us a 3+ knots advantage).

November 30 2008 (Day 86)

My idle reflections were interrupted by dinghy visitors and this is my first opportunity to resume my musings. We are in St Mary’s Georgia where we came for Thanksgiving, and to visit Cumberland Is. And now we are waiting out adverse weather again, this time tied to a dock. Maxine and Niki have gone shopping, it’s raining and blowing meaning it’s hard to get at any outside ‘boat chores’, and so I have another moment to myself.

We have toured Charleston and Beaufort S.C. and chosen to blow by Savannah. At St Mary’s we are just a few miles from the Florida border so our next stopover will be historic St Augustine which is 2 days from here. From practically no tides in North Carolina we immediately were faced with 8 foot tides in South Carolina and Georgia where the ICW winds mostly through grassy swamps and marshes. They call it ‘the low country’. For much of the route only the marsh and sand dunes separate us from the Atlantic and there are many openings to the ocean which make for a lot of shifting sand and shoaling (i.e. read difficult navigation and many opportunities to go aground). It feels like we have finally broken the ‘weather barrier’. For the past week we have had the weather we expected at these latitudes. There will be cold fronts still but hopefully they will be short lived. For Niki she felt like things were finally ‘as expected’ when she waded into the Atlantic on Cumberland Is. on a magnificent 20 mile sand beach. The Atlantic that day was a mill pond.

We aren’t as far south as we planned because we stayed longer than planned here as well as in Charleston but all in all we are content with our progress. Following a schedule is not what cruising is about. I think we are starting to get the hang of this way of life and are enjoying most of it. At Thanksgiving dinner we chatted with a couple who returned to land after 5 years of continuous cruising. They sold their boat last year and now have an offer in on another boat. Another couple from Fenelon Falls have been out for 18 months and say they will give it another 6 months before they make a final decision to abandon Ontario. I think we’ll last till next summer!! And that’s all I have to say about that (for now).


Day 85

Well there’s no way we can top yesterday’s events but today we had pretty exciting day doing laundry! Haha (im really bored right now)

Ed lent us his car so Grama, Papa, Kathy and I all headed to town. We dropped Grama and Kathy at the laundry matt and then Papa and I went to find a place to get our hair cut. We found one and once Papa got his cut he fetched Grama to get hers done while he finished up the laundry.

Kathy had gone off to get a pedicure so we decided to go out for lunch at a little Mexican restaurant not far away. It was kinda odd but the server there had to shake everyone’s hand. He said it was nice to meet you to papa and stood there with his hand out until papa shook his hand =/.

When we got back to the boat we had a pretty lazy night just relaxing. We didn’t even bother to have supper we were so full after lunch.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 84 (ok im warning you now this is the longest post ever!!)

We were suppose to head out today but we wanted to visit Cumberland Island.

This morning we headed up to a little boat.. trade.. thing lol it was like a garage sale. On the way back Grama and I checked out what time the ferry was heading over to the island and signed up for the 11:45 ferry. They tell you to get there at 11 and they do an orientation about the island and rules they have for visitors.

We were there on time and sat through the presentation. Part of the orientation was about the few roads and the 2 docks they had, one on each side of the island. You could be picked up on either dock at the appointed time. I thought it was hilarious when the ranger said that under no circumstances were you to attempt to touch or ride any of the animals on the island…who would be stupid enough to try to get close to a wild horse? And even if they tried there’s no way you could get that close to a wild horse.

We got to the island and again had a presentation about rules and some tips about where you can find different animals, and to make sure you keep an eye out to for shark teeth because they use the dredging from the river to maintain their roads.

We walked the beaten path towards the ocean. Since the 4:45pm return ferry was full we needed to be back in time for the 2:45 ferry so we needed to boogie. I doubted whether or not we’d see any of the horses in that time but I was determined to get to the ocean. Maybe 100 feet from where we started we heard some rustling coming from behind some trees. We kinda stopped for a moment to look and right there coming closer from the trees was a horse! He came so close and looked so calm around us he almost seemed domesticated. A moment later another came around the trees.

After watching for a while we decided to carry on. We headed up to the Dungeness ruins. Dungeness was a huge rich home…as in castle HUGE lol.

From there I noticed a few horses back in through the marsh a ways away. It was beautiful and kinda how I pictured seeing them. The one up close just seemed like a bonus lol. We kept moving and when we made it to the washrooms we saw a pregnant dun that didn’t seem to even notice how close we were.

We were starting to worry about the time because if you miss the ferry and there is no room on the last one you’re stuck there for the night…I kinda laughed at that and you probably will too but OMG they’re serious! They will not allow one passenger over there limit, rightly so, and therefore you are stuck. We picked up the pace a bit and it was like just suddenly the scenery changed and we were surrounded by pure white sand dunes and between them on the horizon you could just catch glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean.

We took off our shoes and enjoyed feeling the warm sand between our toes… but we quickly realized you couldn’t stray from the path because of some very sharp burrs lol. Eventually we came to a boardwalk that wound through the dunes and eventually led to the ocean. When we finally reached it I was so excited I didn’t even get any pics lmao.

It was the first beach that we’ve been able to walk along and stick our toes in the water… Ok maybe this trip isn’t going to be that bad after all :P lol. Papa was way behind us and Grama looked at some shells while I went to wade into the ocean. It was sooo cold but after a moment you were numb and it felt nice.

All my family must be amazed because I hate cold water lmao but this was nice. The ocean was soo calm and flat and was accompanied by a sky that was so blue and clear it was hard to tell where the ocean ended and the sky began. I just stood in the water with the smell of the salty ocean, the slightest breeze that unlike most ocean breezes was cool but warm enough for shorts and the only sound was the trickling waves. The small waves from the tide coming in were hitting the parts of my legs that weren’t numb yet and were in a way the only reminder that this was real… I think we’re on vacation now =]. I didn’t want to turn around to see Grama motioning for me to get going but I knew we had to go.

I was surprised when I just caught a glimps of Grama’s back disappearing around a dune and Papa walking towards me. I thought he was just coming to grab me but he walked straight past me without saying anything. He quickly took his shoes off and did exactly what I did…just stood in the ocean taking it all in.

We headed back to catch up with Grama and met up with a park ranger. In our chat with him we asked if there was an opening on the 4:45 ferry and he called another ranger and sure enough there was =].

We walked past the washrooms and past some of the old houses and still we couldn’t even see Grama. It wasn’t until we passed the gates of Dungeness did we see her and still she didn’t stop walking back to the dock.

Finally we got her attention, caught up to her and explained that we now had another 2hours on the island. She was kinda disappointed that we couldn’t have spent more time walking along the beach but we decided to check out the small museum by the first dock and then walk the ‘sea camp’ dock on the other side of the island.

We slowed down the pace as we were walking and kinda kept an eye on the ground for a sharks tooth lol but by now we had pretty much decided that we weren’t going to find one. It was funny because about 20 seconds after I had said that I noticed something on the ground that was pure black and not the usual white or multi coloured shell shards. I picked it up and it was a smooth sharks tooth! From there we had our eyes almost glued to the ground haha.

About a min later there was some rustling in the leaves on the ground next to the path and when you looked it was an armadillo! None of us have ever seen one out in the wild and it was actually kinda cute haha.

By then we were nearing the first dock and there they have a big opening with a few palm trees. And there were half a dozen horses right there! A little closer to us was a colt and he eyed us for a while but let us pretty close to him =].

The museum was interesting but something that’s only a 5min brows through. Grama and I left papa in the museum and continued to walk towards the ‘sea camp dock’. On the way we lingered by the horses waiting for papa to catch up.

The trail to the Sea Camp dock was very pretty, with thick oak trees with vines and Spanish moss (which they remind you all the time that it isn’t Spanish nor is it moss; it’s an air plant related to the pineapple). You can’t see more than a few meters into the woods beside the path because it’s so over grown with untamed ferns and grasses. The sky is impossible to see through the canopy of the oaks and the vines and ferns growing on their branches. But this was our least favourite part of the island. We have now been walking for about 4 hours and are starving because we didn’t pack lunches thinking we’d only be gone 2 hours. The road was straight and continued for what seemed like eternity! We kept walking…and walking… and then we walked some more! We watched and strained trying to see the end of the road where we would be at the sea camp dock but we never saw an end to the road. Eventually we came to a small path off the road and it had a sign “SEA CAMP DOCK ->”.

It was just before 4 when we reached the dock and at 4 the rangers put on a daily even. Today’s was a movie on the history of the island. Well everyone who knows me knows I am by no means a history buff, but it was really interesting watching the movie and hearing about the tribes, the countries who fought over it and the families that shaped the island.

About ¾ of the way through the movie the ferry arrived to head back to St. Marys. The one ranger told us that the 4:45 ferry was their sunset cruise and it was. I can’t believe how quickly the sun disappears after it starts to set. It doesn’t linger on the horizon for more than a second before it’s gone. While on the ferry we saw several dolphins. A bunch decided to play and swim right under the bow! In this video we are traveling 12 knots (faster than our boat can go!) and the dolphins can easily out run the ferry!

Your now probably thinking this is the end of the day, right? Well, yes technically the day is over the sun has set and we’ve just made it back to land. But our nights just beginning :P.

As soon as our feet hit land we took off trying to find the nearest restaurant to grab a bowl of chowder. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet but yesterday Maria met a young girl named Haley and they quickly became friends. Her and her father joined us for the thanksgiving dinner and we made plans for us to all go out for dinner tonight.

Once we had a bit to eat we went back to the boat to quickly wash up. We weren’t on the boat very long before we were called to head up to the restaurant. Since there were 9 of us we couldn’t fit in a van or anything so Ed (the dad) got us a limo xD.

We went to a little tiki bar for supper and one of the ppl that met us there ordered Gator Bites lol... so i guess i can add alligator to the list of different things I’ve tried on this trip.
Well as you can imagine as soon as we got back to the boat we sprawled out in bed and immediately passed out. All in all not a bad day =D