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Monday, February 23, 2009


It’s Monday, the23rd, and all of our “necessary” errands are complete. So, Kim and I decided to use our last day with a rental car for a bit of sight seeing. As many times as we’d been in the Daytona Beach area, we had never visited the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse and it’s been well over twenty-five years since we had driven on the beach. So, with those two goals in mind, we set out to do some exploring.

While we’ve never visited the Ponce Inlet Light, we’ve been by it many times and have some great pictures of it, taken from within the inlet. But this was going to be different, we were actually going to climb the tower and take pictures from the Gallery Deck, which is 140 feet, 9 inches from ground level.

We finally made the lighthouse around 11:00 am. The route was clearly marked (which is unusual for the State of Florida) so we were in the lighthouse parking lot by 11:30. Once there, the first order of business was a trip to the gift shop. Inside, one not only purchases the compulsory lighthouse admission ticket, but gets to explore the hundreds (yes hundreds) of lighthouse related souvenirs and trinkets to commemorate the visit to this beautifully kept beacon. We spent about 30 minutes looking over the gift shop’s inventory, making a couple of pressed pennies at their Pressed Penny Machine and then, ticket in hand, ventured out into the main lighthouse complex.

The complex consists of four main buildings, three lesser buildings and the lighthouse proper. The three main structures where the residences of the Light Keeper, 1st Assistant Keeper and 2nd Assistant Keeper (now converted to a lens museum.) The three lesser buildings were for oil storage and maintenance and firewood storage. After visiting all of the open buildings, it was time to climb the tower.

At 176 feet, 6-1/2 inches above ground level, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest lighthouse in the nation. Visitors who climb its 203 steps and 9 landings (huff, huff, puff, puff) are treated to a magnificent view of the Florida coastline and the Halifax River, from Daytona Beach to New Smyrna Beach. While the lens room is off limits to the public, one can stand at the opening to the room, look through Lexan panels and watch the light revolve within the lens. From this floor, there are two openings that access the Gallery Deck from which one can survey the Central Florida Coast and a good deal of the interior. It was a cool, crisp day with no humidity or clouds in the sky and the view was absolutely stunning!

With the picture taking finished, Kim and I descended the staircase (down is sooo much easier), got back in the car and headed for the beach. At the first entrance, we paid the $5.00 admission fee (good for 24 hours) and drove out onto the sand. I had forgotten how hard the sand was at Daytona Beach. It’s like driving on asphalt. It’s easy to see why the original Daytona Stock Car Races were run 50% on a road that parallels the beach and 50% on the beach proper.

The nice thing about a cool, windy day is there’s hardly anyone else out on the beach, so you pretty much have it all to yourself. That was our situation as we drove every drivable mile from Ponce Inlet to the Daytona Beach, Main Street Pier. The beach was drop dead gorgeous and, even though it was only 58-°F, there were still tourists braving the surf for a dip in the ocean.

When we completed our beach transit, it was back up to the main road and off to Hog Heaven, a local barbeque house, just off the beach, that serves some first class, done right barbequed pork and chicken. Then, with full bellies, it was back to the boat, where we got everything ready for tomorrow and Wednesday, which are going to be scrub and clean the boat days (Oh Boy, I can hardly wait!)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Projects In Paradise

Daytona Beach has been a real treat, so far. The Halifax Harbor Marina is still gorgeous, the people here are still friendly and the weather has been extremely cooperative, which has allowed us to walk or bicycle around town and take in the sights. The beach is only a mile and a half away and there are parks everywhere, so we’ve gotten lots of exercise and had a lot of fun in the process.

On those few occasions when the weather has been somewhat less accommodating, we’ve devoted that time to doing “projects.” You know, those little jobs and improvement ideas we’ve come up with while underway, but never quite gotten around to doing. So, when the weather turned rainy for a few days, followed by a period of cold (60-°F) and wind, we decided to see how many of these improvements we could knock out. Besides, someone conveniently placed a fully stocked West Marine store within 100 yards of our slip, so there was no excuse not to work on the boat.

When Hunter Marine built our boat, they provided us with lots of interior storage compartments. Inside of these, one can store filters, parts, hardware, cleaning supplies and anything else necessary to maintain a boat in tiptop condition. Some had built in doors or lids that opened easily, still others came with screw fastened panels that requires one to remove a wood screw, or two, before the contents could be accessed. Needless to say, after a couple of years of screwing and unscrewing the fasteners, the screw-holes became worn and nearly stripped. It was either start that messy process of gluing toothpick pieces into the worn holes or coming up with a more permanent fix of the problem.

The solution to fixing the worn holes was a machined brass insert. This clever device, available at any hardware store or building supply, has an external screw thread that screws into where the worn hole was and an internal thread that will accommodate a machine screw, once the insert is in place.
Simple enlarge the worn hole to the proper size for the insert, paint the hole with wood glue and screw the insert into place. Then, substitute a machine screw for the old wood screw and you have a metal-to-metal fastener that will outlast the life of the boat.

Next on our list was to add clean-outs to the cockpit’s scupper cover. The scupper cover is a fiberglass plate that covers the drains where rain and waves that enter the cockpit, drain out through 2” pipes (scuppers) that exit through the hull of the boat. Occasionally, dirt and foreign objects(dog hair)fall through the drain slots and become trapped in the scuppers. To clean them, one has to remove five sealed screws, pull up the plate, store the plate out of the way, clean the scuppers, reinstall the plate and reseal and reinstall the screws. Clean-outs would make this job much, much easier. The ports, however, are fairly pricey ($13.00 to as much as $30.00 each) and, at that price, the cost and hassle of installation outweighed the convenience factor of having the clean-outs. On one of our cycling trips, however, we stopped at a local marine store, called Surplus Unlimited. There, we unexpectedly found matching, 4.5” I.D., O-ring sealed, hard nylon, access ports for only $4.00 each. How could we say no to a deal such as this?

We carefully measured the cover plate and scribed circles where the ports were to be installed. Then, we set the plate back into position and placed the ports on the circles to see how they’d look when installed. A slight position adjustment later, we bored a hole in each scribed circle and cut each hole to finish size with a saber saw. Some sanding, some alignment, some #4200 sealant and a dozen screw holes later, found the ports permanently mounted in position. Total time required from tear-up to clean-up, three hours and we shouldn’t ever have to remove the plate again.

So, with those projects complete, Schooner has informed us that it's time to go for a walk. We'll go out for an hour, tour the park and get some much-needed exercise. Then, will settle in for the evening and plan some more projects to occupy the next inclement day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

We hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day, because we sure did!! We were up fairly early and I gave stinky Schooner a bath. She is shedding her winter coat and it's driving us crazy.

I have been brushing her everyday and taking 3-4 brushfuls of hair out of her, so today, when I bathed her, I emptied the drain of 3-4 handfuls of hair and then an additional 2 brushfuls after I groomed her!! She looks so much better and the final result will be determined in the morning when I make the bed!! (ha ha)

Our good friends, Guy & Marilyn, from Pitsburg (Yes, I am spelling that correctly), Ohio stopped by on their way to Orlando. They are doing about the same thing that Gordon & I have done, although they are doing it by way of a camper trailer. We have met up in Charleston, SC and Orlando, FL before and it is so much fun visiting with them. They are some of our oldest and dearest friends. They were even around before we got married, which is forever ago!!! We enjoyed a nice lunch at THE AQUARIUM, a waterfront restaurant within walking distance of the boat. Thank you guys for stopping and hope to see you again soon.

Now, I must tell everyone about yesterday!! Since Schooner became part of our lives, we pretty much gave up riding bikes. It had been well over a year since we’d done any real riding. Well…. in the last two days we have made up for lost time!!! We took out the bikes, cleaned them up andleaving Schooner to guard the boat, rode out to the Daytona Speedway…5.4 miles each way!

The ride was mostly flat ground, (thankfully) it was about 82-ºF and was a great ride. Once there, we walked most of the midway, where the many vendors were hocking their wares.
All the different Drivers had their semi-trailers set up, so you could buy your choice of racing souvenirs.
Coke had music playing, Doritos, had games set up to play and win samples and Gillette allowed you to shave yourself or wait in line for two “hot” barber babes to shave you!!
Gordon passed on both. I managed to find a pressed penny machine, so I’ve added 3 more pennies to my collection. You really have to go to the speedway at race time to appreciate how many people actually go to this event and the amount of money it brings into this city.

We were gone from the boat for 6 hours and got back around 5:00 pm to let Schooner run! It is wonderful for her here; a lot of grass and space to run and play…and do her doo!!!
Hope all of you are as happy as we are…warm weather is soooo good!! So again, hope everyone had a special day of love and friends like we did!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Signs Said What!?!

The signs around us all said we were in Florida, land of sunshine, beaches, palm trees and perpetual warmth. The ads on satellite TV (ours comes out of New York City) showed “younglings,” in Bikinis and Speedos, frolicking in the sand, all beckoning frozen Northerners to join them and escape the cold of winter. The harsh reality, however, was the temperature in Jacksonville Beach was only 45-°F by day and as low as 18-°F at night. Kim and I, along with the Locals, huddled against the cold, dressed in heavy winter jackets and wool ski caps and there wasn’t a single person in a bathing suit to be found. So, the only sensible this to do was pack up our belongings and head further south; searching for that elusive thing called warm weather.

So, with the decision made, we rolled out of bed around 7:00 AM on Saturday, and, after a quick breakfast, began unhooking water hoses, electrical cables and lines. We were clear of the dock by 0830, pulling out of Palm Cove Marina, motoring into the ICW and heading south. But, before we could go very far, we encountered a 45-minute delay, as the bridge construction site, where State Route 90 goes over the ICW, (it was supposed to be unrestricted on Saturday) was closed. A barge was delivering equipment to the construction site and had the entire ICW blocked. So, we puttered around, North of the bridge, until the equipment was off-loaded and the barge moved out of the channel.

The cloud cover finally cleared off around 10:00 AM and with it gone, the sun beat down upon us bright and strong. Although it was still in the high 50’s outside, inside our fully enclosed cockpit, the temperature soon reached a pleasant 78-°F. So, for the remaining 2 hours of our journey to St. Augustine, we sat about in T-shirts and shorts for the first time in over 2 months. It was really quite a treat.

Around 12:00 PM, we finally turned into the Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, which is on the north side of St. Augustine. We had last been there right after our return from the Bahamas in 2008 and it was still as nice as ever. Camachee Cove is fully protected from the weather, right next to the ICW and less than a mile from the St. Augustine Inlet. They also have a courtesy car for transient boaters, so a trip to the grocery or other essential destination is easy to accomplish. Dinner that night was at the Kingfisher Grill, where the food and service was excellent and the atmosphere cheerful. The place was soon full and bustling with activity in spite of the reports of a bad economy.

With dinner done, it was back to the boat for a good night’s sleep. It’s about 50° here tonight (what a difference 30 miles to the south makes) so we won’t need to run the heaters and wake up with dried out sinuses. In the morning, it will be off to Daytona Beach, FL and the Daytona 500 and Bike week.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Weekend

We spent the weekend on the run. We rented a car on Friday and were able to do some errands that sent us to west Jacksonville and beyond! Gordon was able to find this special finishing spray that Hunter uses on the teak. We didn’t buy one can but 2 since we went 3 years using the one provided with the purchase of the boat… is this why we have a storage problem on board?? Sometimes I think G. lives back in our house with 3 children, he doesn’t pass up the ability to have more than one of anything!!

Saturday morning, we took a road trip up the back roads of Highway A1A to Amelia Island. We visited the Historic town of Mayport (founded in 1564) and its lighthouse (1830),
about all there was to see, before taking the ferry across the river and on up to Amelia Island!! It was a ride back in time when we lived here 26 years ago. But now, however, the state of Florida has transformed much of the wetlands into 2 State Parks. On Saturday, there were many kayakers, bird watchers, walkers, and bicyclers using the park along with fisherman on all of the bridges and beachfronts. You could say it was a pretty nice day at 65º and sunny.

On the way back, we stopped in Neptune Beach for an early dinner at SUN DOGS.
It was a diner at the beach and the beer was cold and burgers were great! The black bean soup was excellent with its sour cream and cheddar accompaniments. Gordon says the fries were some of the best he has ever had!! Now, 2 years ago when we visited Jacksonville, we stayed downtown at the River City Marina. At that time Jacksonville was sponsoring a Jaguar promotion. There were Jaguar cats all around the downtown streets; much like the Norfolk Mermaids, Chicago Cows, and Cincinnati Pigs. We, Andie and I, took pictures of 21 of them at that time, well we just found 2 more this weekend. One was in Mayport and the other in Neptune Beach.

Sunday morning, we checked SNEAKYSUNDAY.COM for a place to have brunch and found Ellen’s Kitchen. Again, a little diner, seats about 60, with the best breakfast ever!! And we weren’t the only ones to think so; the place was packed, but the wait was short!! They get you seated, take your order and serve you fast with hot, fresh food. They have a unique way of serving their egg plates; they layer, starting with hashbrowns, cheese, then your egg choice with sides of meat and toast or pancakes. Needless to say we ate too much!! We then made a stop at the “dog park”
to let Schooner burn off some of her energy and she did!! It is a pretty nice park and there were many dogs visiting. We stayed in the small dog side this time, so she didn’t get hurt. She may be sore in the morning though!!

Then it was back to the boat to do some work and take some pictures of the boat‘s interior amenities. We have an interested party looking at the boat from afar!! Then last night, we watched the Super Bowl from the comfort of our bed with a Poppa John’s pizza. I was sorry to see the Cardinals lose, but believe many still lost a bunch of money on that game!! It sure wasn’t the game Pittsburgh fans expected! It did make us remember watching the game 2 years ago in West End, Grand Bahama, when the Colts won. Nothing quite like a Bahamian celebration over a game with conch salad, conch fritters, Caribbean wings and Kalik beer! Oh well, the pizza was good ( :

So, that about says it all for our weekend…. Hope all of you enjoyed your weekend like we did ours!!