Thursday, 23 February 2017

TowBoat US to the Rescue!

Well, another amusing day on the high seas J. We spent the night anchored on the side of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), because our engine had been overheating and we were drenched in a huge rainstorm. So my captain went at the engine first thing in the morning, unfortunately with no success.

Fortunately, though, we had just renewed our membership with TowBoat US, and they came within an hour and towed us about 5 miles to Beach Marina, where we are now happily ensconced, awaiting the arrival of a mechanic to deal with our engine (probably tomorrow morning).

The upside of all this is that we can have a hot shower and do a load of laundry here, and the sun is now finally shining, after another rainstorm today. All part of a day in the life of sailors (and a lesson in patience for Marilyn) – we might make it to St. Augustine by the weekend. And after all, we're still in Florida - not a bad place to be in Winter, even in the rain.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Down the Ditch During a Cold Front

The Intracoastal Waterway is affectionately called “the ditch” – and we headed down it today in a miserable cold front, bringing thunder, lightening and tons of rain – not great. Though it would have been lovely on a sunny day – lots of gorgeous homes on the water on one side, and interesting vegetation on the other.

However, today was challenging in a few ways – here’s how Jeff described it in an e-mail to friends we’re meeting in St. Augustine ..

“The adventure continues. 2hrs down the intracoastal from Jacksonville we simultaneously got heavy rain/t-storm... and the engine overheat alarm went off. It had been running a little hot and I guess it got too hot. Anchored off to the side and waiting for the engine to cool down. Could be low coolant, loose belt or bad thermostat. For the moment I'm having a nap!!”

So we hunkered down in the cabin for lunch, and as I was preparing it, a can of beer exploded all over everything L. Looks like a good day for both of us to take a nap!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Smooth Departure

A 7 a.m. departure with the sunrise, and a calm 7-hour motor (narrow river, wind on our nose, lots of current) crossing under several bridges, took us to this quiet little bay off the St. John’s River, next to Blount Island. We’ll anchor here until about noon tomorrow, and then on to St. Augustine.

There was lots to see along the way – many large cranes and huge tanker boats, as well as pelicans and dolphin in the water. We might even have spotted the eyes of an alligator hiding just below the surface! This is “gator country”, after all …. No swimming in this water!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Ready to Sail Away!

Finally … the engine’s overhauled, the prop is stable, the bathroom sump pump is working again, the GPS on the I-Pad is functioning as of today, the boat is clean, full of water, provisioned and ready to roll – whew! It’s been a long and busy 20 days since we arrived here in the boatyard.

Yesterday we took a few hours off on a beautiful sunny afternoon, and walked for an hour and a half and had a picnic lunch in a near-by conservation area – a lovely break.

Tonight we said good-bye to our German friends, and tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. we leave for Jacksonville – a 5-6 hour trip under two bridges. We need to coordinate our timing at those bridges so they’re open when we arrive. The second one opens at 12:00 noon, and then not again until 6:00 p.m. – so the timing is critical. All part of the adventure …

We may visit with some from friends who live near St. Augustine en route – maybe take them for a sail. So off we go – I’ll keep you posted as we make our way to Lake Worth for the crossing of the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas (probably in a week).

The first pic below is a boat salvaged from a fire, being towed into the boat yard.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Great Day on the Dock!

I didn’t think hanging out on the dock in the boatyard would provide anything worth writing about – but I was wrong!

We started the day with me doing some computer work and Jeff doing a ton of engine maintenance, as the wind was howling, and neither of us was tempted to venture outside.

But the afternoon gave me my first time “off “ since we arrived, and I spent it happily immersed in rehearsing choir music and watercolour painting (pic below). Then I had a business phone call, so I decided to take a walk along the dock while talking. I looked left and almost fell into the river, as I spotted an 8-foot-long alligator sunning on a wooden raft – a few feet from where I stood! I called Jeff, and we both watched the gator for 15 minutes – and he never blinked an eyelid (and yes, he was alive). The first picture below are of his eyes just above the water, yesterday.

Then, on the way back to the boat, we spotted four young people fishing off the dock – and they were pulling in bream and catfish, one after the other. I think they snagged 20 in the short time we were there.

We ended the day with a delayed Valentine’s dinner at Whitey’s Fish Cabin – about a 20-minute drive from the boatyard. The best seafood we’ve ever had - what a great day on the dock J!