Monday, December 28, 2015

Last Leg Home

Friday November 20

Roger and I arrived at Marker 1 in Dunedin on November 20.  Never got around to writing about this last leg, will do so soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

From the OW to the GICW

Leaving Stuart and starting the OW (Okeechobee Waterway) was like entering another world.  From expensive waterfront homes and condos on the AICW we transitioned to more moderately priced homes and budget prices marinas (what few there are.)  The OW is used as a hurricane hole and summer storage area for many boat owners.  They come down to Florida for the winter, store their boats well inland for the summer hurricane season while they go home somewhere up north.
Last night in Stuart

I learned a new skill, one which requires more practice.  Before crossing Lake Okeechobee we needed one stop for the night.  The best (free & safe) option was to tie up to the dolphins (wooden pilings) just before the Port Mayaca Lock.  The advice I read was to tie a long line to your bow, then back down to an adjacent dolphin and attach a stern line to the dolphin.  It was not a pretty sight.  Next time I will tie on the stern first, using a thinner 1/2 inch line rather than the 5/8 inch dock line I used.  Then I can more easily maneuver the boat going forward.
Typical lock dolphins (borrowed picture)

Crossing Lake Okeechobee was a little beamy, we had 15-20 mph NE winds on our stern quarter all morning.  Good time for Roger to tell me he tends to get seasick.  But the crossing only took a few hours until we were back into the canal on the west side of Okeechobee.  We stopped at Moore Haven City Docks which were more than adequate, except for the restrooms.  As we tied up we heard Mexican music coming from the adjacent park.  A Quinceañera was in progress.  It wasn't as formal as some I've read about, but the young girl had a nice dress, flowers in her hair.  Family and friends were enjoying the music and the food.  The main course was grilled slabs of ribs, prepared in a large smoker.  I tried to buy some ribs from the cook, but he said they were for the party only.

The Moore Haven bonus for me was the new Nordic Tug 44 that pulled in behind us.  This was the first 44' built, and was on its way to the Ft. Myers Boat Show.  The major change from the 42' was the extra 2' at the stern cockpit.
New Nordic Tug 44

Arriving in Cape Coral we headed for the AGLCA Harbor Host's canal side home.  Kitty has a dock behind her home where Loopers are welcome to spend the night.  We first met Kitty 2 years ago when she hosted a Loopers party, again at her home.  Leaving from Kitty's and heading for Ft Myers Beach we were concerned about tides.  It seemed we couldn't get above mid tide at both our starting point and our ending point.  So we opted to leave on a low tide knowing we got in the channel near low tide the day before, we should be able to get out.  Arriving at Snook Bight we had plenty of water, love it when plans work out.  We wanted to get to Snook Bight for their cheap diesel fuel and access to Publix.  Snook Bight's fuel prices are among the lowest in Florida right now, and we had not purchased fuel since Brunswick GA.  Our average diesel cost this year is only $2.38/gallon.  Last year our average cost was $3.57.  I don’t want to write about 2013, OK it was $4.90.
Roger & Kitty
We are on the home stretch now, heading north on the GICW (Gulf Intra Coastal Waterway.)  Last night we anchored at Cayo Costa State Park.  Roger cooked up the last of our R.E. Mayo scallops, our freezer is about empty.  Beautiful, quite anchorage, room for couple of dozen boats.  Today we stopped for the night in Venice, met up with Ken & Ann Shanley on Charis.  We cruised with Ken & Ann over parts of the last 3 years.  Last year we crossed our wake in Traverse Bay with Charis right behind us.  This year we were with them from Norfolk to Jacksonville.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Last day on the AICW, first day on the OW

Yesterday, Wednesday was a long day from Titusville to Vero Beach.  We finished just an hour before sunset, overnighting at the Vero Beach Yacht Club, one of the best stops we've made.  Easy tie-along-side docking, small but very nice clubhouse, friendly members and staff.  High point for the day was a visit from John & Ann Henderson.  John was one of our first Power Squadron instructors back in Peoria IL, over 15 years ago.  After drinks at the VBYC, John & Ann took us to dinner at Mulligan's on the Atlantic Ocean.

Today we travelled from Vero Beach to Stuart, marking a significant point on this cruise.   We made the turn from the AICW (Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, aka the "Ditch") to the OW (Okeechobee Waterway.)  The official AICW continues to Miami, and the unofficial AICW continues all the way to Key West.  Its taken a little over a month for Adagio to travel the 988 miles since Norfolk VA.

We plan on three travel days for the 152 miles to Ft Myers.  The OW is all new water for Adagio.  When we cruised down (south) the GICW (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway) in 2012 we went all the way to Key West without going to Cape Coral or Ft Myers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Crew on Board

After 5 1/2 months on the boat Jan and Duke were ready to return to our dirt home in Dunedin.  That meant I needed someone to help move the boat from Jacksonville to Dunedin.  Fortunately our friend Roger was able to help.  He also drove our truck from Peoria, where we parked it last May, to Dunedin.
Roger Nelson

We returned to Huckins Yachts to find Adagio back in the water with fresh bottom paint, new zincs, and a shiny hull.  After a quick trip to Publix and a ride back from Enterprise, we headed down the St Johns River with an out-going tide.  River traffic was light, only a single tug all morning, no ships, and few pleasure boaters.  That changed when we reached the AICW south from the St. Johns.  Fishing boats lined the channel for the first couple of hundred yards.

We opted for a short first day and stopped at Beach Marina in JAX Beach; don’t go there.  While the docks were good and the dock hands helpful, the restrooms were awful.

Our second day was a little longer, we stayed at St Augustine Municipal Marina.  Docking there can be difficult due to the strong current.  We wanted to arrive at slack tide, but missed by an hour.  The marina tries to put you in a slip so you have the current against you to make things easier coming in, but we had to dock with it behind us.  I’ve been to St A several times before, while it can be somewhat touristy, I always enjoy the free Greek Orthodox shrine and museum.  This time, with Jan at home, I stayed as long as I wanted.
Dolphins following Adagio
Leaving St A, a sailboat called on the Vhf and asked for a bridge clearance status.  It seems tides are running much higher than normal and some sailboats can’t get through bridges where normally they might have 65’ clearance at high tide.  We saw 62’ when we went through.  We passed Fort Matanzas, built by the Spanish in 1740 to protect the “back door” to St Augustine.  Jan & I stopped there, I remember thinking then the Spanish then must have had a very small stature.  The doorways were very short as were the soldiers’ bunks.  We also passed Marineland which was a great stop for us in 2012.

Fort Matanzas
Rather than staying in one of the larger marinas in Daytona Beach or further down in New Smyrna, we found a small place right off the AICW and only a few blocks from the Atlantic.  Adventure Yacht Harbor was easy getting in, easy docking, and the dock staff were great.  After beer and shrimp at Boondocks, we returned to the boat where Roger cooked up some scallops we had left from R.E. Mayo’s.

Headed to the beach
Today we moved on to Titusville.  Since Jan & I reached the Chesapeake back in September we had been following Active Captain hazard locations and comments by “Bob423.”  Bob was doing a super job of providing updated information for all the AICW problem areas; shoaling, markers, etc.  When we pulled in to Titusville, Bob423 was docked next to us.  I knew it was him as I also follow his blog, “Fleetwing.”

Roger is a left-wing, Obama loving, railroad union thug.  My political hero is Barry Goldwater.  So far no punches have been thrown, but we’ve got a few weeks to go.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

10/30/15 Amelia Island to Jacksonville

Adagio was in the lead when our chart plotter went out in a very shallow area, so Charis took the lead.  We were able to reboot the chart plotter after several tries.  Fortunately, we have the I-pad as a backup.

Once we arrived at the St. Johns River, we parted company with Ken and Ann.  After a month together, we were sad to see them go.  They are meeting family and plan to attend the Florida Gators game on Saturday.  We are headed upriver (20 miles) to Huchins Marine where we will leave the boat for wash, wax and bottom paint.  While that is being done, Ron, Duke and I will rent a car and head for Dunedin where Duke and I will stay.  Ron and friend Roger Nelson will then head back to the boat and bring her the rest of the way. 

For Duke and me, this is the end of our journey for the year.  It has been good!

10/29/15 Brunswick to Amelia Island

Shallow waters were encountered on our route to Amelia Island.  We had to be very careful that we hit the shallowest areas on a rising or high tide. Our hope was to be in Fernandina, but the marina was completely full due to the Florida / Georgia game on Saturday, so we settled for the marina just before the bridge. 

Ken and Ann settled in a slip but then realized that there was not enough depth and they moved to another location. We thought we were ok in our slip, but discovered in the morning that we were sitting on the bottom.  We waited until 1000 to leave.  By then we had a high tide and had floated off the bottom. 

The little restaurant here was conveniently located and the only game in town, so we had dinner on the outside patio.  We are still in the land of no-see-ums, and people from another table asked Ken if they could try his insect repellent (made of all natural oils).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

10/26/15-10-28/15 Kilkenny to Brunswick, GA

Our longest day on the water (73 miles) was from Kilkenny to Brunswick.  Did I mention that Georgia's ICW is very boring?  Winding through marshland on a gray, rainy day with no scenery is boring! Plus, the no-see-ums are out and biting! (We did see lots of dolphins, though)

We stopped in Brunswick Landing in 2012. Sherry, the dockmaster, gives the best directions of any marina staff we've encountered.  She is very specific on what is needed and where the slip is located.  In some marinas, it is a guess as to where the assigned slip is located.

The tides here are huge...8.5 feet.  You can see the difference on the ramp leading to shore.  At high tide, it is almost level, but at low tide it is an uphill hike!

Ben Affleck's new movie, "Live by Night" is being shot here next week.  False storefronts are being erected downtown to look like Ybor City, FL in the 1920s.  According to local folks, Ben is here in town, by we haven't seen him. 
Brunswick turned into 1920's Ybor City

All new construction

No caption needed
Ann and I found a really neat gift shop here and took some of the items with us for gifts and for ourselves.

We will be here two nights and then head for the FL border!  Home here I come.  Duke and I are getting off the boat in Jacksonville.  Ron will leave the boat and take us home in a rental car.  After some work is done on the boat, he will return and bring it the rest of the way to Dunedin with a friend.

10/26/15 Kilkenny, GA

We left Hilton Head at 1100.  This was a very long day (52 miles) but we pulled in before dark.  What a change from upscale Hilton Head.  This is more like redneck hollow.  The docks are rickety and move when you walk on them.  Duke found a turkey on the grounds of the marina and went nuts, thinking it was about the coolest thing he had ever seen.  Hard to believe this marina actually charged $1.50 foot +$3.50 for power + 3% for using a credit card.

We left the next morning in rain, but we did not want a second night at Kilkenny.

10/25/15 Hilton Head

We have arrived in the land of the rich!   This marina sends out a boat to escort you to your slip.  Our boat appeared to be a "baby boat" compared to the 80 footers parked near us.  Although it was overcast, we enjoyed the afternoon walking around the shops.  This is certainly off season....there are few people we had no problems getting the best table at the restaurant overlooking the bay.

Before our late departure, we had breakfast (outside) at the Bakery and took a long walk.

10/24/15 Port Royal, SC (near Beaufort)

This marina was south of Beaufort, where Ron and I stayed three years ago.  Port Royal is a very nice facility! We had the all time best welcome (on the marine radio) from the staff who were "very happy we were staying with them".   Lovely homes surround this marina.  We were placed on the face dock and that is great for easy departures in heavy current.

10/21 & 10/22, 2015 St. James Island, Charleston

The current entering the slip was very strong, but they provided good dock assistants.

Debbie & Cary Wamsley joined us for dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant.  Debbie and Ron were Sea Scout ships' mates in Peoria.  She and husband Cary recently moved to Charleston.

We joined Gold Loopers, Glen and Brenda (Young at Heart) for lunch at a great restaurant, California Dreamin'.  Because the service was very slow, we were given 6 free desserts.  Lucky us!

For dinner, we were invited to  Patty and Jimmy's (Ann's cousins) for a Low Country Boil.  We had a fun time with lots of stories from Ann's cousin Lucy.

10/21/15 Isle of Palms, SC (near Charleston)

Adagio was placed on the gas dock for the night, which turned out to be a very convenient location.  

We joined Ann's cousin Jimmy and wife Patty for happy hour at the restaurant next door.  The restaurant has a very interesting policy.  You only get happy hour prices if you sit at the bar.  If you sit at the table, you pay regular prices!!

Ann and I took a walk on the beach before our mid-day departure.  Ron and Ken spend a lot of time planning around tides and currents.  Due to a really shallow area just before Charleston, we had a late departure.  

10/20/15 Georgetown, SC

This town had been affected by the recent heavy rains and flooding, but the water had receded by the time we had arrived.  Ann and I walked downtown for coffee and shopping.  Apparently only one block was seriously affected by the flooding and everything appeared to be back to normal.

Ann, Ken, Ron and I joined Mary and Scott (Mascot) for dinner at Five Rivers Tavern.

10/17 & 10/18, 2015 Barefoot Landing, Myrtle Beach

Although we don't like traveling on weekends, we wanted to get to Myrtle Beach.  There was more boat traffic, making for a more stressful day.  All of the big boats have been very courteous when passing us.  In other words, they passed us slowly causing minimal wake. 

Fortunately we had reservations at Barefoot Landing because fifteen boats were turned away.  We are tied up on the left side of the river as we head south.  This is just a long dock wall with no restrooms or showers.  However, it is close to shops and restaurants.  The marina on the other side (owned by the same people), is surrounded by high rises and has restrooms and showers, but no shops.  To come to this side, they must cross the bridge. 

We met up with former loopers Julie and Andy (Fruitcakes) and our niece Christine, for happy hour at Flying Fish.  Ann participated in the fish throwing....very funny!

Jan and Dee Ely (Pekin High Dance teacher)

We had planned to get an Uber ride to church, but found that they charged $13 each way.  So we decided to borrow Chris' car instead.  On the way to Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, I stopped by WalMart and got a quick haircut. Then we stopped at Chris' and put in a load of laundry and then went to lunch.  With a second load of laundry in, we went to buy groceries.

Once back at the boat, Ken and Ann invited us back to Flying Fish.   While getting ready, I received a call from Dee Ely, a former colleague at Pekin High.  She joined us for happy hour and it was great catching up!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

10/16/15 Harbour Village to St. James Plantation in Southport

The weather has been perfect, sunny and warm with moderate winds.  St. James Plantation is a manmade harbor surrounded by homes and 3 story condos.  Ann and I visited a lovely shop with locally made art and other gifts.  The patio at the nearby restaurant was filled with people, so Ann and I decided to get a table and enjoy the nice weather.  We learned that happy hour is illegal in NC but they are allowed to set low pricing for the entire day. Since Ann and I wanted a photo taken of us, I approached a table of African-American men. 

Willy Gore agreed to take our photo.  He was so nice and told us a lot about himself.  He was in the military and worked in Ottawa, CA for a number of years.  He reminded us about the Rideau when it freezes and becomes a skating rink.  Willy said he loved it there.   
Ron and Ken joined us for dinner later on the patio. 

10/15/15 Swansboro to Harbour Village (Wrightsville)

Another perfect day!  We pulled in to the gas dock behind Ken and Ann.  This was a really nice community surrounded by very nice homes ranging between $300,000-$800,000.  Ann and I took a very long walk through the neighborhoods.  Dinner was on the boat.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

10/14/15 Oriental,NC to Swansboro, NC

What a smooth ride we had on this sunny day!  Every boater gave us a slow pass, showing how courteous everyone has been here in NC.  We docked in Swansboro on the outside wall in a lot of current, due to the river which feeds this area.  Ann and I walked in to town and found a few nice shops.  After dinner on the boat, we retired early.  Tomorrow we go through the Camp Lejeune area.  We called ahead to make sure there were no 'live fire' activities tomorrow.

Bought a Christmas tree just in case we are still on board then.

10/12/15 & 10/13/15 Oriental Inn and Marina (NC)

We spent two nights here due to windy conditions and small craft advisories.  This proved to be another great spot to stop.  The marina had very nice amenities....great shower rooms with towels, soap, shampoo, a tiki bar, and nice grounds.

We borrowed bikes at Oriental Provisions and rode a mile to the Walmart Express and restocked our pantries.

  There is a good coffee shop near the marina (The Bean).  Ann and I fell in love with Marsha's Cottage, a unique boutique filled with great clothes.  The ladies who worked there, along with some local shoppers, made our visit a lot of fun!  Yes, we walked away with a few new clothes :)

shrimp boat

10/11/15 Second day at Belhaven

Wind again!  We opted to stay in port since travel would have been unpleasant on rough water.  Ann and I have started walking.  On our walk, we saw lots of old homes, some of which are bed and breakfasts.  We learned that a consortium has purchased one of the oldest properties and they are restoring it to its previous glory. 

On our walk, we passed a cute gift shop that was closed.  Four women were getting out of their car and were heading for the porch.  When we mentioned that we thought it was closed, the driver said that she was local and had guests visiting, so the owner was opening especially for them.  So Ann and I joined the group and did a little shopping. 

For happy hour, we sat at the Gazebo and met two sailors, Hans and Greta (not Hansel and Gretel) who were passing through on their annual October cruise to Albermarle Sound.

  For dinner, we went to Jack's Tavern.  Once we returned to the marina, everyone (but Jan) went back to the boats.  The owner, Les, and a friend were entertaining friends on the patio.  Their music was great!

10/10/15 Alligator River Marina to Belhaven Waterway Marina

There was moderate chop as we traveled today.  We were delighted find this small marina with slips surrounding a narrow strip of land.  The grounds are pretty with nice landscaping, a gazebo, lots of lawn furniture and a really nice deck.  The restrooms were nice, with towels provided for showers.  The laundry was free.  Town is only 1/2 block from the marina.

 We ate dinner at Spoon River, a farm to table restaurant with great décor and great food.  The ice cream dessert was unbelievable at$6.00 for a brownie topped with at least 1 pint of ice cream. 

10/9/15 Coinjock to Alligator River Maarina & Gas Station

It was a nice travel day with 1-2 footers on Albermarle Sound.  (The last time we were here, we were in 5-6 footers).  Today, the wind picked up as we neared the marina.  The gas station has a restaurant, so Ken and Ron ate breakfast there before we departed on 10/10.

10/8/15 Atlantic Yacht Basin to Coinjock, VA

We headed for Coinjock NC where we had reservations for not only a slip, but also their famous prime rib.  If you don't reserve the prime rib in advance, it is unlikely that you will get it as your entree'.  The restaurant was packed with boaters and locals, so we were happy we had reserved our food in advance.  The tie up at Coinjock is along a sea wall.  Our boat was definitely the smallest, with other boats ranging from 50 to 90 feet.  Every inch of the wall had a boat tied to it, so reservations were a must as boaters head south to Florida and the Bahamas.

BIG boats

10/7/15 Cape Charles to Atlantic Yacht Basin

Finally!  The water has calmed down enough for us to travel across the bottom of Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk.
King Neptune statue--leaving Oyster Farms, Cape Charles
 There was minimal traffic as we traveled through Norfolk.  We were welcomed to Norfolk by a couple of dolphins swimming along side our boat.  A large German cruise ship was in port and had a unique design on its hull.

Cruise ship

 air craft carrier

There was minimal wait at the railroad bridge which put us in the Virginia Cut on schedule.  We were thrilled when we finally pulled in to Atlantic Yacht Basin and reconnected with friends Ken and Ann Shanley on Charis.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

9/29-10/6, 2015 Rendezvous, Hurricane and Influenza

From Crisfield, we headed for Cape Charles which lies at the bottom of the Eastern Shore.  Wave picked up today (2-3 feet) but were quartering most of the day.  Heading in to Oyster Farms Marina was a bit tricky, but we printed a chart from the marina website which helped to guide us in. 

M.T.O.A. (Marine Trawler Owners' Association) Rendezvous:
Although we missed the "luncheon on board", we did arrive mid afternoon for some workshops and activities.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were packed with workshops.  One lunch and three dinners were included in our registration fee and the meals were excellent.  Although the weather has turned nasty with lots of rain and wind, this marina has been wonderful. 

By Tuesday evening, all eyes were on Hurricane Joaquin, sitting near the Bahamas.  Ron and I decided to rent a car (Chevy Yukon) in case an evacuation was necessary. We always rent compact cars, but this time, we thought a large SUV was a better choice.   By Wednesday, we had packed up items that we would take in case of an evacuation and came up with several options (hotel, friends' homes, etc.)  The hurricane continued to intensify and it appeared that we were possibly going to take a direct hit here.  On Thursday, it appeared that the spaghetti models of storm track (now a Category 4 hurricane) might veer to the east and miss the Atlantic Coast.  This slow-moving hurricane sat on top of the Bahamas for days, and a container ship with 33 aboard was missing (50 foot waves).  It was later determined that this ship had sunk in the hurricane.  Once Joaquin started to move northeast, there was another front approaching from the west.  The two fronts combined to create record breaking rain over South Carolina, causing flooding and dam breaches from Columbia to Charleston.  Winds here on Saturday and Sunday were very strong and made it unpleasant to be outside.

Tied off for the hurricane
Rendezvous dinner

Party in dock building for those stuck here

Took group to church in rental car. (Windy!)

making potholders for entertainment

restaurant at Oyster Farms

One of the couples who attended the rendezvous had coughs and were not feeling well.  By Friday, several men had come down with symptoms of influenza.  Over the next several days, more men came down with the flu.  Last count, there were 25 people who attended the MTOA Rendezvous who were ill.  A few women have developed symptoms, but it predominately affected men. Ron was in bed from Friday through Monday.  Today (Tuesday) he finally felt well enough to go out to lunch.

Tomorrow, God willing, we will have calm seas and will be able to make it to Atlantic Yacht Basin and join Ken and Ann on the way south. 

Red sky at night, sailors' delight