Thursday, May 16, 2013

Docked at OYCM

The town of Fernandina Beach is comfortable and quaint.  We thoroughly enjoy our time there.  When we arrived last Sunday, we could not get the phone to work and finally tested it out on Shari just after 8 am.  The call put her on notice that we were back, which in turn set us up for a surprise visit from her and Paul.  We told her that we were going to get some sleep and then call her back.  We laid down about noon and were still sleeping about 3 pm when I heard a knock on the hull and Shari's voice.  I stuck my head out and saw Shari, Paul and Fred, plus some guy - a look alike for the tennis player Agassi - who helped them get to our mooring.  Paul encountered an oar mishap in his sport yak. Agassi guy was giving Shari a ride to our boat and found himself in the midst of rescuing Paul and Fred!  Fred and Paul were safe, albeit a little wet.

Shari was so thoughtful to bring us fruit and our favorite cereal - plus cracker jacks.  She is always thinking of others - and we are thankful to be on the receiving end!

Our check-in on Monday was pleasant as usual - another reason we like Fernandina.  After our face to face interview, the customs officer took the time to pull up our Local Boater Option (LBO) applications and complete the process for us.  We now have our registration numbers, which will allow us to call in upon touching U.S. land, and eliminate or reduce the need to meet face to face. 

We timed our departure from the dock on Sister's Creek such that we would ride the max flood current all the way up the St. John's River.  Most of the trip we were at 1,100 RPM, barely above idle, and still moving six knots.  What a joy to have the current for us and not against us.  A Canadian flagged boat joined up with us on the St. John's and was with us all the way to the Main Street Bridge.  While we waited between the Main Street Bridge and the FEC RR Bridge, we asked them where they were headed.  They were from Quebec, so language was difficult.  Once through the FEC RR Bridge, we ascertained that they were headed for Fernandina Beach.  Myron called them back on the radio and let them know that they were no longer on the ICW but on the St. John's River and that they missed their turn about 15 miles back.  He suggested they tie up at that Jacksonville Landing, a free dock for the night, and then ride the current back down the river to the ICW the next day.  Last we saw them they were conferring in their cockpit and headed back to the FEC RR Bridge.

Paul caught up with us on Gretel at the Main Street Bridge and then jumped on board after we were through the FEC.  Auto Paul drove Hold Fast up to the Ortega River Bridge and jumped back on Gretel to meet us at the docks.  A heads up here: Ortega Bridge is only opening one leaf right now, we fit through but it always looks like we will not as we drive up on it!  We were tied up in our old slip by 3 pm on Tuesday.  We caught up with our buddies on the docks and suddenly felt exhausted.  It was another early night, followed by a day of errands.  I am finally forcing myself to break away from the projects and get an update to everyone.  We are in safe.  We are also in project mode - our usual state of frenzy when we pay to be tied to land!

In general, our plans to are continue north...soon.  No further detail at this point.  It all depends upon projects, weather and the possiblity of a young man joining us as crew.

I will leave you with that tantalizing tidbit until it all comes to pass!

Love to all,

Posted by WiFi

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Yesterday we left Fernandina and traveled south on the ICW to Sisters Creek and a free dock at a Jacksonville park. Nice spot.
We normally go to Cumberland Island but it is cool and windy so we passed and will stop there in 3 weeks or so.
Today we should be back in Ortega and back at the marina for some repairs and rest.


Posted by 3G

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fernandina Beach, Florida

As you can see by our position reports, on average we moved right along, especially once we entered the Gulf Stream. All along the way we had thunderstorms to keep us company - and to ruin our ability to conduct Ham transmissions. During the day, the thunderstorms disappeared - "dissipated" Myron said. I said they were out re-grouping to come back and play with us at night. The thunderstorms were isolated for the first two nights. None came close Thursday night, and one intercepted us Friday night. By the sound in the rigging, we guessed about 35 knots - or gale force. We reefed the jib, double reefed the main and Myron was driving Hold Fast on course at nine knots for his three hour watch. On Saturday a line of thunderstorms came off the north Florida coast - sort of a thunderstorm version of the school yard game "Red Rover, Red Rover" … send Hold Fast right over! Again and again we were amazed how the radar showed the storms dissipating along our route - and we praised God. When one did finally intercept us, we praised God that the lightening stayed just over a mile off and that we were able to see the power boats crossing our route. Saturday's storm caught us late in the day. Based upon the way the wind lifted the water from the ocean surface, we estimated the winds as approaching 50 knots, or Force 9 or 10. It was very similar to what we had seen in the Chesapeake (except not in a protected anchorage!) and our friend's wind instrument indicated 55 knots. Since the storms were moving east at 20 knots and we were heading northwest, we could look forward to a relatively short duration of such uncomfortable weather - say under an hour. The main was triple reefed and only a t-shirt of a jib was out to balance the boat. The gradient wind (as opposed to winds in the thunderstorms) clocked during our journey from the northeast to the east, then southeast and south, then southwest and this morning they were on their way to being from the west. To maintain as direct a course as possible, we had a number of interrupted "off-watches" for all hands on deck to jibe the jib pole and jibe the main - this type of thing usually happens at night! We are thankful we made it in early this morning - before the winds became northwest or 'on the nose.'

Enough of the sailing drama. Here are some neat things that can happen on a passage. This was our first opportunity to see the Matanilla Shoals during bright daylight hours. I have been trying since Friday to find a way to adequately describe the riveting color of the blue water on those banks. Crystalline was an apt word for the quality, but I could not come up with a flavor for the tone of blue. We stared at it as long as we could.

Once we were north of Cape Canaveral, we had an infestation of bugs on the deck and in the cockpit. Some were love bugs, not sure about all the others or why they were way out there with us. Then a small bird landed on deck. It was not a seabird and looked immensely tired. It must have been blown out there to us by the thunderstorms. It seemed happy to have a place to rest and paid for its passage by feasting on the bugs! It joined us in the cockpit for a bit and then tucked itself under the dinghy just before our worst thunderstorm. I did not see it again, however just before daylight I heard it begin to chirp as we got close to land.

We also had more dolphins. Yesterday a large group of dolphins with spots rode with us for almost an hour. I usually stay on the bow until they are gone, but I had to give up and get back to my watch. A few hours later a different pod of dolphins came through. They were highly rambunctious and one jumped and splashed me. I ran to grab the Go-Pro for video and told Myron one of the dolphins splashed me - he seemed to write my comment off to sleep deprivation. I was all the more pleased when that dolphin splashed Myron with water too!

We were glad to grab a mooring this morning. Our plans are short term: get cleaned up, eat and rest. Anything beyond that will be written about later.

Love to all,

Posted via WiFi.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Off St Augustine inlet

We will be in Fernandina tomorrow morning. Big thunderstorm this afternoon lighting all around the boat with 50 Knot winds that is why this is late sorry.

Posted via Ham Radio.

Position Report

Well the wind came up last night and we made some miles thanks to the Gulf Stream.
ETA Sunday Morning.
5/11 8:50 am

Posted via Ham Radio.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Position Update

We pulled up anchor this morning at 4 and got under way for Fernandina so far light air sailing and motor sailing. Should arrive Sunday AM.
5/10 4:23 pm
Posted via Ham Radio.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Great Sale Cay

It was another outstanding visit at Man-O-War Cay. Jay invited us for a tasty curried conch dinner. Jan's recipe was fabulous. Now I wish I had conch! We were all set to stay another week at MOW, making plans with Barb and Barry and the church - then we got a weather window. That turned yesterday into a crash preparation day. The big time consumers were laundry and cleaning the bottom. I narrowed it down to one load of laundry - it is always nice to depart with a good inventory of clean underwear. It took us two hours of hard work in the water cleaning the bottom of Hold Fast. She had a carpet of grass and we want all the speed we can get! We completed the bulk of our voyage preparations, cleaned up and made time for a ginger beer with Barb, Barry and Jay. The rest of our preparations were postponed until our sail on the banks.

Our weather window is small. So small that we made today a long 'day' trip - 79 miles. The winds were too light for Hold Fast on the downwind, so we had to motor assist until later in the day. Not much RPM as we had all sails up full. We had about a dozen dolphins cross our path and they could not resist a little play on our bow wake. It is truly a pleasure to begin a voyage in their company! On our longest leg, about 19 miles, we ran wing and wing and wing. Mizzen on one side, main on another and jib poled out on the same side as the mizzen. We averaged over six knots for the almost 13 hours of moving. We dropped anchored maybe 20 minutes before sundown. A good day!

Preparations while underway on the banks included cooking pasta meals for reheat on the journey, using up all our fresh fruits and veggies - including our last coconut - baking oatmeal raisin coconut cookies, firing up the U.S. phone service, setting up the lee cloth, getting documents in order for clearing into the U.S., and making sure the spinnaker is ready at hand.

It is hard to believe that five months have passed since we came over with Barb and Barry. I told Myron that, to steal a line from the movie 'Captain Ron,' we had just enough parmesan cheese for our time in the Bahamas, and our time must be up because we are almost out of parmesan! We will miss our friends here, the ministries, and the beautiful scenery, but there are positive aspects about any place we drop anchor. For example, I am indeed looking forward to a U.S. supermarket!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Man O War Cay

Our errands in Marsh Harbor are complete and we relocated to a mooring in Man O War Cay. We have already re-connected with Barb and Barry, a quick hello with Paul and some folks from church and also got some quality time with Jay and a new acquaintance 'Pirate Joe.' Joe was an extra in a couple of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies. While we were all visiting, we watched a Maule on floats taxi through the mooring field to the north end of Man O War harbor, then turn around and take off into the wind and lift up just over all the sailboat masts. There were other activities in the harbor that distracted our conversation. We have decided that all the excitement happens by Beach Cruiser at Jay's dock and we may just set up camp over there for tomorrow's entertainment as well!

The clouds threatened all day and finally the rain arrived. It will not dampen our visit though, just put on a rain cover and go. At least it is not very cold - probably barely below 80 degrees. Still qualifies as sweatshirt weather for me!

We will be here until we get a weather break for a sail west and north. In the meantime there are things to prepare on Hold Fast for the crossing. It's always something!

Love to all,

Posted via 3G.