Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vero Beach

Last night the weather forecast changed to include north winds in the wee hours of the morning, earlier than we anticipated.  To ensure a good night’s sleep, we picked up anchor and moved off the island several hundred feet and went to bed.  This morning the winds were out of the north and we were just fine.  It is very good holding there.  

Today was a short day and easy going with the wind at our backs.  We arrived at Vero Beach City Marina, got diesel, gas and water and were on the mooring before noon.  The wind started piping up and we are glad to be all set.  The dockmaster said he had 20 boats arriving today and we were at the head of the herd.  As we walked up the dock to pay our bill, we saw Brian coming toward us.  Brian has a Bristol on C dock back at OYCM.  He and his wife drove down to meet their friends.  We were tickled to find out that their friends were on the four sailboats that anchored/rafted next to us in Rockhouse Creek a few nights ago.  Cruising is a small community!

Here is a picture of the crowded north portion of the mooring field:
The weatherman says we will have strong north winds for the next several days.  This is a good staging area for us to cross over to the Bahamas, so we will wait here as long as we can stand it.  Last year we had less than 24 hours in Vero Beach, and we found it pleasant.  This year seems to promise a more relaxed stay.  We paid for three nights, but weather may stretch that out.

We waited until about 4 pm, after the incoming rush of boats settled down.  Many of the moorings were doubled and tripled up.  We were still all alone on ours, feeling like a step child.  We succumbed to the craving to go for a walk and hiked out to the beach to see the surf.  Upon our return we saw ‘Moma Cal’ had rafted on our port, with captain Doug Patterson from Ottowa on board.  We are always curious to see who the Lord will raft up with us!

Love to all,

Posted via wifi

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Serenity Island (Malamar)

The southeast winds started to puff yesterday afternoon, but soon gave up and disappeared.  Before sunset, we were visited by several manatees, a couple dolphins and hundreds of small ducks.   I thought I saw smoke in the distance but the binoculars revealed a moving mass of fowl looking to roost for the night.  They gave us a wide berth.  Not necessarily because of us, rather likely the gator that stayed close to our hull throughout the night.  Myron could see the gator’s bubbles near the boat.

We had to wait for the 8 am opening of the NASA Causeway Bridge.  Still, we were the first ones out on the ICW.  This gave us the opportunity to see the wildlife.   Just past the bridge we saw half a dozen manatees, some dolphins and a very large gator floating near a group of ducks.  I was on the helm, saw a large log floating right in the channel and asked Myron to take a look.  He went up front to guide me around any hazard.  Just as we approached the ‘log’ he watched the gator sink away.  I did not think gators would be out when it was so chilly.  Apparently they have their duck season as well.

We had southeast winds today which slowed us down a little.  Regardless, we are snuggled in behind a little island known in the cruising community as ‘Serenity.’  It used to be that cruisers would meet on the beach, have a fire and let the kids play.  As evening approaches, it is only us and a small Canadian sailboat.  It is much calmer than last year’s stay here.  

We have internet again, so below are more pictures to share.

Love to all,

Posted via wifi

Fort Matanzas and Matanzas inlet in background:

Close fly-by from blimp at Rockhouse Creek:

Sunset at Rockhouse Creek, two sailboats rafted together behind us:

View of NASA launch site from our anchorage:

Twilight at NASA Causeway anchorage:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Addison Point (aka NASA Causeway)

After a very still night, there was an early morning orderly departure of sailboats from Rockhouse Creek, each of us trying to time the twenty minute opening interval of the Coronado Beach Bridge. It was a quiet and non-eventful day, made special in that we saw temperatures in the upper 70's. We had plenty of daylight to continue, but chose to turn east before the NASA Causeway and anchor around 1:20 pm to call it a day. To give you an idea of the change in temperature, we started out this morning at a brisk 47 degrees in two clothing layers over long wool undergarments, with our feet snuggled in wool socks and muck boots. When we anchored this afternoon, the temperature was in the upper 70's and we were in t-shirts and walking barefoot on the deck. A welcome change.

Sometime after anchoring, we happened to step out on deck just in time to see a six foot or larger gator swim past Hold Fast toward the nearby island. In our excitement to see the gator, one of our solar lights got booted into the water which is when Myron spotted the jellyfish. The water here was never really inviting, but now it is particularly off limits.

This is a new anchorage for us, something we were looking forward to testing out. There is no wifi here, but there is cell phone coverage. We can hear the road traffic rather than surf. The guide says this is a good spot to watch a shuttle launch, but we will not hang out long enough for one to be scheduled - if they ever will again be scheduled. To this point it has been an expectedly pleasant stay and looks promising to protect us for tonight's forecasted southeast winds.

Love to all,

Posted via cell

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rockhouse Creek - Second Time

The light was good when we weighed anchor just after 7 am, but it was downright chilly. I was glad to finish washing the mud off the deck, put the hose away and go inside to warm up my hands. Some dolphins joined us briefly around the inlet, then resumed their hunt. It was another favorable day on the ICW. The wind allowed us to roll out the jib to assist the engine for a few hours. We only had one really obnoxious sport fisher local to Ponce Inlet that came speeding close by us, twice.

We dropped anchor in Rockhouse Creek at 2:15 pm, earlier than expected. This is the same anchorage we managed to locate in the 3 am darkness when we came in Ponce Inlet last year. Today we were the first here and had our pick on a spot. Within one half hour a motor vessel anchored in front of us. In another half hour four sailboats pulled in. They seemed to gather up at the entrance and strategize. Soon enough two of them anchored offset to us and the other two rafted up to the anchored boats. It was impressive.
During all of that, the Goodyear blimp was making performance climb outs from New Smyrna municipal airport. Next was a T-6. We settled in just in time to be entertained! Either way, we are glad to be done for the day and look forward to another quiet evening.

Love to all,

Posted via Cell Phone.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fort Matanzas

Yesterday, last night and this morning were a blessed and peaceful re-entry into life on the hook.  The St. John’s River was very quiet with no commercial traffic except for a lonely tug with no one to pull.  The ICW was busy with cruisers and small fishing boats, but not too bad.  There were seven other cruisers anchored with us last night at Pine Island.  During the night, it was so quiet we could hear the waves crashing on the Atlantic shore – at least a mile away.  At sunset and sunrise we heard lots of shooting.  Most of it was far enough away that it did not bother us.  I imagine the ducks found it quite a nuisance.  This morning, however, when we were about to prepare a second round of coffee, we heard shots much closer.  Up on deck we discovered, less than half a mile away, a man was shooting from his little aluminum boat, but not skyward.  We could see the water fly up just before we heard the report of the shot.  He had duck decoys out so we suspect a gator took his quarry, or maybe he was a frustrated hunter.  Then we heard him yelling in an accent along the lines of Shelby Stanga on Ax Men, punctuated by similar explicatives.  It suddenly seemed like a good time to pull up anchor and be on our way.  Coffee could wait.

We arrived at the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine for their 10 am opening, after passing a rough and uninviting St. Augustine inlet.  We had the anchor set and engine off at Fort Matanzas at 12:46 pm.  Plenty of time to look for internet, update the blog, get some rest, make a nice dinner and prepare for a much longer day tomorrow.  But first we had to sit on deck and watch dolphins swim around Hold Fast.  We expect more anchoring company tonight, but it was nice to be here early and have first pick at a spot.  We do not expect the same luxury tomorrow. 

Here are some pictures to help you vicariously join our journey.

Love to all,

Posted via WIFI.
{GMST}29|43.034|N|081|14.495|W|Anchored Fort Matanzas|{GEND}

Catching up while the turkey smokes:

Backing out of the slip at OYCM.  Lucky Dog wonders if Dena will return, as his short order cook.

Hold Fast departing OYCM, Roosevelt and RR bridges in the background. We are still putting away lines and fenders.

Sunset at Pine Island.

Friday, November 23, 2012

On The Move

The months of August through November were dedicated to giving some serious 'spa time' to Hold Fast. To name a few of the larger projects, she got new chain plates, a new windlass, new auto pilot drive, new fuel lift pump, new engine heat exchange, new transmission heat exchange, new shower pumpout, an impeller change and the timely various oil changes. During the haul out at Green Cove Springs, she got a number of new and very expensive hoses and a new through hull. For her pedicure of all pedicures, we had her bottom sanded down to the gelcoat and then we applied an epoxy and copper bottom job that should last more than five years. A friend of ours did the same thing and his is nearing 10 years. Hold Fast's bottom was as shiny as a new penny. She was the talk of the boatyard! We also wanted to change our insurance, so she got a marine survey as well. Some of the projects did not get done and will sail off with us, such as the shade sewing project.
Whew! It is a good thing we run out of time, otherwise we would run out of money.
As our stay at OYCM was coming to an end, it meant it was time to prepare the Thanksgiving turkey for our marina friends. We really enjoy smoking the turkey, even though it makes for an early morning. We get to catch up with everyone around the smoker and anticipate some good eats. This year was no disappointment. Everyone came through with good food and the turkey was the best we have ever had. As we cleaned up the leftovers, I realized that I was getting an unexpected benefit - prepared food for several daily trips!
As always, leaving the slip this morning was with mixed emotions. We had the help of many hands and lots of hugs and waves goodbye. We kept today down to a reasonable distance. We knew we would be tired. As I made turkey sandwiches for us today, I assumed all the local boaters I saw had lunches packed with turkey sandwiches as well. We are tucked away next to Pine Island, along with four other boats - so far - more may also join in. Myron is going to build a fire and I am going to heat up some Thanksgiving leftovers!
We hope God brought to your mind some of the precious things to be thankful for.
Love to all,

Posted viaHam Radio.
{GMST}30|03.163|N|081|21.765|W|Anchored|Pine Island{GEND}