Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Slip at OYCM

As we worked our way south on the ICW from Fernandina Beach, we heard Odyssey on the radio. We hailed them and, sure enough, it was our new friends Paul and Sue on their trawler (we met them through Barb and Barry). They were watching our blog and had hoped to surprise us at Cumberland Island. They must have learned a few covert activities from Paul and Shari. We decided to meet at Ft. George and have dinner together. Yes, they are trawler friends, and some trawler people make very good cruising friends. We had a wonderful dinner aboard Odyssey and finished it off with chocolate ice cream!!

Ft. George turned out to be a narrow anchorage, coupled with thunderstorms. It was not a peaceful night and Ft. George will not be a choice of ours in the future. We pulled up anchor as soon as we had enough water to get across the shoal at the entrance - then we headed south again on the ICW. The weather called for 5 - 10 knots, but we saw much more than that and it was a rowdy ride up the St. Johns River. Paul and Shari met us on their whaler, Gretel, and Shari got soaked trying to get aboard Hold Fast underway. They brought more wonderful food to sustain us through the ride.

There were many friendly and familiar faces ready to give a hand putting Hold Fast into her slip. We are back in C97, our original slip here at the marina. We have come full circle since we first left here a year ago.

We look forward to catching up with all our Jacksonville friends and church families and are also looking forward to seeing family out west. We have internet!! Drop us an email if we have not had contact yet. We do not want to miss out on seeing anyone.

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.
{GMST}30|16.500|N|081|42.952|W|IN SLIP C97|OYCM{GEND}

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back at Fernandina Beach

What a great stay at Cumberland Island! At slack tide this morning, we moved back to Fernandina Harbor Marina to fuel up and take a mooring for the night. We also did a little walking around and grocery shopping. To our surprise and delight, Joint Venture was still here taking in the sights.

To take advantage of this temporary benefit of wifi, here are a couple of recent pictures for your view pleasure:

Snorkeling Fowl Cay in the Abacos with Barb and Barry on their 17' whaler. This was the second good snorkel of the day.

Dolphins at play on Hold Fast's bow on the west side of the Gulf Stream.

Paul and Shari on 'Quick Trip' as we escort them from Cumberland Island toward Fernandina Beach.

The grass is always greener...

Scratching that itch:

Momma and foal, about a week old.

A foal less than 24 hours old.

Inside Mrs. Carnagies office house ('tabby house'):

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.
{GMST}30|40.183|N|081|28.165|W|Moored|Fernandina Beach{GEND}

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Anchored at Cumberland Island

This evening I purposely soaked in the beauty of Cumberland Island. As the sun was setting and the moon on the rise, deer were walking near shore where the ponies had previously been grazing. The breeze was over 20 knots today and calmed down tonight. Our view of the Cumberland Island shoreline is peaceful. We are anchored further north than our previous stops. When looking west from this position, we have a view of Kings Bay, the submarine base.
Yesterday, when Hold Fast was still on the mooring at Fernandina Beach, we headed in for lunch at a highly reviewed and affordable restaurant [Karibrew]. As we were pulling up to the dinghy dock, we spied the adventuresome Auto-Paul and Shari attempting a covert mission out to Hold Fast. It was a pleasant surprise and a very nice welcome back to the states! After lunch, Paul and Myron prepared their dinghy (Quick Trip) and Shari and I did a little grocery shopping. I am always glad to have fresh tomatoes and onions for salsa. Hold Fast towed both dinghies out to Cumberland Island. We continued our visit at anchor here and munched on fantastic snacks that Shari brought. It was not as heart wrenching to see them depart because we will see them again in a few days - hopefully for Thursday night pizza!
Cumberland Island had been evacuated due to tropical storm Beryl and was only reopened to visitors today. We got in a good walk, saw the ponies and their colts up close, and visited with the park rangers, one of whom opened the Carnegie office building (taffy house) and showed us around. After our walk we had lunch with Dennis and Annaka aboard 'Bodyguard,' a steel boat about 39'. Dennis and Annaka are from the Netherlands and made the boat themselves. We did not expect to see them again after they departed Marsh Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas - so it was another pleasant surprise.
We were half expecting to see Brad and Sabrina on Joint Venture today, and half expecting them to head offshore again and sail north. The wind forecast must have been favorable because they are nowhere in sight. If so, we wish them well on their adventures and hope to see them again in the fall.
Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.
{GMST}30|46.138|N|081|28.268|W|Anchored|Cumberland Island{GEND}

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back in the States

We took a mooring off of Fernandina Harbour Marina two days (or two ‘no sleeps’) and eight hours after slipping the mooring in Man-O-War eastern harbor. I initially told Myron it was 2 days, 6 hours because my mind was too tired to correctly calculate the difference between 6:30 am and 2:30 pm!
We were through the north MOW Cut by about 7 am with light winds to our stern. We ran wing and wing. For a little while we had the engine running at about 1100 RPM to keep proper steerage in the troughs of the waves. As we began to turn west, the winds shifted a little more south which made for a nice broad reach. This allowed us to get all sails out, improved our boat speed and handling and eliminated any need for the engine. Conditions continued to improve. Our speed was around seven knots and we sometimes saw over eight. I was amazed that we were almost abeam Great Sale Cay before nightfall. At sunset we pulled down the mizzen to reduce speed during darkness. This would be one of many sail reductions for the night. As the winds increased we reduced the jib, then we put one reef in the main. Within a few hours we put the second reef in the main. In about another hour we reduced the jib to about 25% and put a third reef in the main. The ride was getting wet. Sometime after 3 am, the winds began to head us. We were in a feeder stream to the Gulf Stream. We wanted and anticipated west winds, but not until we were on the west side of the Gulf Stream about six hours later. As we see often, the forecast was a little off. It appeared tropical depression Beryl was on the move to the northeast earlier than expected, hence our west winds while we were still east of the main Gulf Stream. We sailed as close to the wind as possible, trying as we might to make more west than north while in the Gulf Stream. Brad and Sabrina on Joint Venture made the crossing the same time as we did. They could get XM radio weather and see the squalls. They checked every 30 minutes and would let us know if we were about to be hit with anything that looked ominous. I was in frequent prayer mode over a big squall coming toward us. Later on, Brad told Myron that they saw a very bad squall on XM radio just disappear as it approached us and then reform after it passed us. God is so good (all the time)! He hears our prayers. The nasty weather during darkness due to the surrounding squalls and thunderstorms only lasted about six hours, but it was enough time for us to find new ways and rediscover old ways to get bumped and bruised! Everything always looks better in daylight. The remainder of our journey was quite pleasant. We had to turn on the motor when we lost all winds but at least the seas were flat. We had about a half dozen dolphins ride the bow for at least 20 minutes. Such an experience is a natural healing balm for a bruised and tired body. Dolphins are just plain fun. All in all, the few hours of bad weather was very little compared to all the good.
We chose Fernandina Beach for our arrival so we could check into the U.S. and then head to our favorite Georgia anchoring spot, Cumberland Island. We did not know what to expect for this process. Before we left the Bahamas, I downloaded instructions, phone numbers and check in locations for all of Florida. We have two prepaid cell phones and were not sure how we would get them operational to make our required ‘immediate’ call upon arrival. We charged up the Verizon phone and Myron was able to get service somewhere off of Cape Canaveral. Outside of St. Mary’s inlet, I tried calling the marina to reserve a mooring. I was able to add minutes to the phone and we were set. This was going more smoothly than we anticipated. Once we took the mooring, we called to check into the country. That call was easier than expected and very quickly we had an arrival number. The second call was to the local customs office to arrange presenting ourselves in person. That officer gave us instructions to their office. We had a pleasant walk through town and over to the industrial area. The customs officer was inquisitive but very pleasant. In addition, joy of all joy, the office was air conditioned. Suddenly, we were all done, checked-in and free to roam about the country. Our next plans were to get Thursday pizza at the Moon River pizzeria, but the walk proved too much in the heat after such little sleep. Dinner and sleep aboard on Hold Fast was the mutual consent. There will be enough opportunity for Thursday pizza nights when we are at OYCM.
Soon enough we will head over to our favorite spot on Cumberland Island for a few ‘sleeps’ (overnights), then we will work our way back to OYCM. While we have internet this morning, we are working on summer travel plans out west.
Thank you for your prayers.
Love to all,