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Thursday, May 31, 2007

15 MAY thru 31 MAY 07: St. Augustine, Florida

GPS Position: 29°52'.748N: 81°18'.895W

We left Vero Beach around 0800 and headed up the ICW towards Cocoa, FL. Andie finally got to see dolphin real close and for a lengthy spell, as several of them played in the bow wake of the boat for about 25 minutes. We made Cocoa about 1830 and dropped anchor south of the Rt. 520 bridge. Kim made dinner and we watched TV for awhile before going to bed.

This morning, I got up around 0700 and started the genset to charge the batteries and make a pot of coffee. Halfway through brewing the pot, the generator quit making power (crap!) So, now what's the matter with the generator?!?

We went on up the ICW towards Daytona and I called ahead and made reservations at the Daytona Marina & Boat Works. We went to the Chart House for dinner, but before our meal came, the lights in the restaurant went out. A transformer that feeds the marina complex blew and killed the electric service everywhere.

I wasn’t too worried, as I figured I could replace the capacitor run the genset. When I went to replace it, however, I discovered that the electrical end had sustained a small explosion near the end of the rotor this morning and all of the capacitors in the world couldn’t fix that. Another blown genset? Next Generation is gonna’ love this.In the morning, there was still no power. I got up and started making all of the necessary phone calls of the day. I reserved a car and put in a call to Next Generation Power to report the failure. They were really good about it and said they’d have a unit waiting for me when I got to Jacksonville, FL. Then, I arranged for dockage at the Halifax River Marina next door and moved the boat to our new marina.

With everything secured, we spent the next two days touring Daytona and Daytona Beach and playing tourist with Andie and Havyn. Needless to say, each day was full and we returned to the boat each night dog-tired.

On the 21st, we pulled out of Halifax Harbor and motored on up the ICW towards St. Augustine. The weather was nice, the currents worked in our favor and before we knew it, we were in St. Augustine, FL and in need of a place to stay.

On the south side of the city, Just north of the St. Rt. 312 bridge, we passed a place called the Fish Creek Marina. We got no answer to phone or radio, but saw a couple of other boats tied up to the floating dock. We pulled in, tied on and hooked up for the night. The other boaters there said a Captain Hugh ran the place and he’d be back in the morning. So we stayed and had a quiet night.

Next morning, I went up to find Capt’n Hugh, so I could pay our bill. Hugh charged us a whopping $1.00 per foot (including 50-amp electric and water.) And, we were on our way towards Jax and the River Walk Area of the city.

We stayed at the River City Brewing Co. and Marina, which is located on the south side of the St. John’s River, right in the heart of the financial district.

There’s food, fuel and good dockage here and the permanent residents are very friendly. After docking, I called Next Generation Power and told me I’d have the new electrical end tomorrow afternoon.

On the 23rd, took the tram to the Riverfest Complex and explored its many stores and eateries. Then we walked the streets adjacent to the complex and looked for the many different and colorful Jaguars that cover the city. The, in the afternoon, the new electrical end arrived. It was installed in no time and worked just fine, so once again, we have full power when we're afloat.

On the 25th, it was off to Fernandina Beach. It was another uneventful passage up the ICW and we arrived at the City Marina at 1500. We’ll be here for the next few days and Kim and I are looking forward to showing Andie how much the island has changed since she lived here as a child. I got on line and reserved a car for tomorrow. Then we walked into town and spent the rest of the day visiting its many shops and enjoying the warm weather.

After 3 days of touring Amelia Island, it was decided that Kim would drive Andie and Havyn back to Atlanta, stay for a couple of days and then drive back down to St. Augustine and meet me there. Our one-year warranty runs out soon and I have a few items I need to have corrected before it expires.

Andie, Havyn and Kim all left this morning and headed to Atlanta. I'll miss them all, as the boat will be really quiet without them around. Once they were gone, I headed the boat south towards St. Augustine and my appointment to finish up the warranty issues.

The trip down the ICW was uneventful as the day was beautiful and there wasn't very much traffic on the water. It also helped that I hit all of the bascule bridges just right, so the entire trip only took about eight hours.

I finally made my anchorage in St. Augustine around 1745 hrs., which was just north of the Vilano Beach Bridge, on the eastern side of the GIWW. The depth is 12 to 14 feet in sand and it’s pretty quiet. Shawn is supposed to call me first thing in the morning and give me my entry time into St. Augustine Marine.

Shawn called me about 0800 this morning and said that St. Augustine Marine would have room for the boat any time after noon. I puttered about the boat until 1100, pulled anchor and headed through St. Augustine, towards the marina.

The facility is alive with construction. A new building for boat related companies, a concrete “seawall,” parking lot and associated facilities are all under construction. I checked in with Shawn, registered the boat and was told to make myself at home until all of the warranty work was completed. This is still the best-run marine facility I’ve ever seen and it’s a real treat to be here again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

01 MAY thru 15 MAY 07: Vero Beach, Florida

GPS Position: 27°39'.590N: 80°22'.249W

We left Chub Cay around 0830 and struck out for Bimini. We left in the company of 6 big powerboats and a really fast catamaran. The powerboats quickly pulled out of sight leaving nothing but the not-so-fond memory of their wakes and the cat finally pulled out of sight after six hours of running. We were alone on the Great Bahama Banks.

The wind was in our favor, so we made pretty good time into Bimini. Arriving around 2130 hrs, we dropped anchor on the west side of the island and crashed. I set the alarm for 0230, as both Chris Parker and NOAA reported that the best time to cross would be between 0300 and 1000 tomorrow. When the alarm jolted me awake, I went up topside and checked the conditions. You could have used the ocean as a mirror it was so flat. At 0300 sharp, I pulled the anchor and started across the Gulf Stream for the good ole’ USA.

The weather held for the entire trip over to Ft. Lauderdale and we made Port Everglades at 0930, right on schedule. From there, we traveled inland to the Downtown Riverwalk Marina, which is operated by the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Once settled, I called and cleared us with US Customs. Next, I called and reserved a rental car, so we could do some shopping and go over and report, in
person, to immigration. Kim and I went over and picked up the car, checked in with immigration and then went to Skyline Chili to pig out on Cincinnati style chili spaghetti. Uummmm good!

Over the course of the next six days, we made the usual rounds to grocery stores, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart to restock the boat after our time in the islands. We drove to Miami Beach and ate lunch at an old hangout of ours from the seventies. We also went to Miami Ink, of TLC fame, but wasn’t to impressed. The word dump comes to mind, but that’s just our opinion.

Our camera broke on our last day in Chub Cay, so we went looking for a new one. We called Patrick, who’s a manager with H. H. Gregg, and arranged for Andie to pick one up in Kennesaw tomorrow and bring it to us. It’s difficult being without a camera.

We rode bicycles to the beach and watched the air show and the Thunderbirds. We also watched all of the strange people that were down on the beach. We’re not sure which was the better show, the people or the planes.

We bought a new mattress for our bed from the Zeno Mattress Company ( the original one had given up the ghost.) It’s a custom made, 8” thick natural rubber,
memory foam mattress that’s more comfortable that anything we’ve ever slept on. All in all, it was a productive six days.

On the 9th, we picked up Andie and Havyn at the airport. She’s a pretty baby and really good tempered, so having them with us for a couple of weeks should be a lot of fun. We spent the next two days showing Andie around Ft. Lauderdale and getting her and Havyn used to the regimen of living on the boat. It wasn't much of an adjustment, so we should be clear to leave here on the12th.

We got up this morning, had breakfast and were underway by 1030. Traveling the ICW on a Saturday still stinks. There are lots of boats with stupid people behind the wheel. The worst thing on the ICW are the jet skis. Kids jumping wakes and circling your boat like Indians around a wagon train just drive me crazy. The only salvation is that Andie and Havyn seem to enjoy the traveling and Andie is seeing more than her share of dolphin.

Tonight, we are on Lake Worth, just south of West Palm Beach, FL, in about 15 feet of water. We anchored around 1830 and had a light dinner. The wind is just right to gently rock the boat, so the baby is sleeping really good and the night should be uneventful.

The morning of the12th, I checked my E-mail and got word from BESO that they are at Soverel Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach, FL. I E-mailed them back and told Chip that we were on the way north and would stop there for the next night or two. It will be really great to see chip and Kay again.

Today is Mother’s Day and we arrived at Soverel around noon, pulled into the marina and found our slip. The marina is nice, modern and clean, but the maneuvering room is very tight. It took us 15 minutes or so to back into the slip and another 20 minutes to get everything hooked up. We have 50 amp service, which means we’ll have A/C tonight.

Once settled, we took Andie and Havyn to meet Chip & Kay and agreed to all have diner together. We then walked around the several shops that surrounded the marina and then returned to the boat to relax a bit before dinner. Dinner was really good and the companionship and conversation were excellent. We went back to the boat after dinner and crashed in the comfort of A/C

The next morning, we said our goodbyes again, as Chip and Kay were leaving for Bermuda. After a late start, we finally got underway around 1100 and getting out of Soverel Harbour was a real bitch. I almost tore the dinghy off of the back of the boat when the wind blew the rear of the boat into the pilings at the slip. I almost didn’t get away, but all’s well that ends well and we sustained no damage.

After leaving the marina, we made our way north up the ICW, accompanied by lots of rain and wind; 22 to 25 Kts to be exact. We finally got a spot free rinse on the boat, however, so it didn’t turn out too bad. We ended up in Vero Beach at the City Marina (no anchoring in Vero Beach, as it’s again’ the law) on a mooring. Hopefully, we can get an earlier start tomorrow and make better progress up the Intercoastal.