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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

St Simon Island

We arrived at Golden Isles Marina at 4:45pm after a wonderful day of sailing. We left Fernandina Beach at high tide (10:30am) and set out for the outside pass. It was a bit rolly in the channel but once we made the turn north it was really super. Up went the Sails (helped dry them out) and we were making 7 to 8 knots followed by a school of dolphin leading the way…this is the way it’s written in the books! You don’t get too many days like this. There was a lot of debris blown up by the winds we have had and too many man-o-war to count.

When we made the turn back west into the St. Simon Channel, we were bucking the tide but had the wind behind us. It was slow going the last hour, just when you really are ready to quit for the day. Docking was easy and Schooner jumped ship quickly and peed on the dock! That was a first!! This was the first day without rain in a week…but I spoke too soon because before too long, a big thunderhead developed and down it came.

This morning we were up early (for us) and found out we would not be able to stay in Savannah until Friday, so we decided to take advantage of the bikes and explore St. Simon Island. About noon, we set out for the St. Simon Lighthouse, that is 3.6 miles from where we are docked, according to our Streets & Trips map. It was a great ride, mostly on a flat, shade covered, bike path.

Once at the Lighthouse, we toured the museum and climbed to the top for pictures. After the 129 steps to the top and coming back down we were ready for something to eat. A short ride over to the downtown (2 blocks on 1 street) we found a dinner called “The 4th Day of May Café”. I had, by far, the best-grilled grouper po-boy since I left Alabama! Gordon had his favorite standby, a Reuben, and it was good as well. I was able to find a pressed penny machine two shops down to get 3 more pennies to commemorate our outing. No sooner had we talked about NO rain, and it began to pour… it only lasted about 15 minutes, but long enough to get us wet!

We decided to ride out to Ft Frederica National Monument, (6.5miles) which was a British fort built in 1742. There wasn’t much to see but a few home sites that had been excavated and a partial wall from the actual fort. However, the film they showed in the air-conditioned visitor’s center was very interesting. A side note for any history buffs is, that at this fort, a decisive battle with the Spanish was fought in the early 1700’s. It was then held under British control, stopping the Spanish from moving any further north.

On the ride back to the boat, we made a few more stops at points of interest, making the day’s total mileage accumulation a whopping 21 miles. I have made a slide show of our journey for your perusing and will now be turning in …me and my legs are tired!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

I finally have some time to sit down and tell you all of our weekend. We arrived in Fernandina Beach, Florida, after 4 days of traveling in the rain, on Thursday afternoon. Gordon filled up our tank with diesel and we took our place along the dock there at the city marina and watched it rain some more. Andie and her family (a 2year old, a 5mo. old and a German Shorthaired Pointer) are to arrive on Friday afternoon and this boat can get really small, especially if it is raining!

The family arrived on schedule and after we calmed down Schooner and Mauser, we walked into town and had a super dinner at The Marina Inn, a diner-like restaurant. Everyone enjoyed their dinner including Havyn, who ate all of her grouper and applesauce! We got back in time to walk the dogs before a late shower soaked the boat.

The weather looked O.K. when we all got moving on Saturday morning, so it was off to the farmers market, which is held downtown on Saturday mornings. You can get the most wonderful focciasia bread there and we bought 2!! We also got a pint of blueberries, which Havyn ate all of that afternoon!

Later, we split up and the guys went to the grocery store while Andie, Havyn, Emeryn and I hit the streets for some shopping. It was a lot of fun walking the streets and browsing shops. Andie, the girls and I stopped for lunch at Café’ Karibo to get out of the rain mostly, but the lunch was very good and filling. We met back up with Gordon and Jeremy and headed for the beach. The only thing Jeremy wanted to do was find a shark’s tooth, because we had told him how good Fernandina beach was for finding them. He had dreamed of finding a really big one!!! We walked and looked where I had always been able to find sharks teeth but none were to be found…we even tried to play a joke on Jeremy and toss some that I had found on previous visits. He caught Andie when the one she tossed flew by him to the sand! We were about to give up when a local woman showed us all the teeth she had found that afternoon,(a film can full!) and she gave Jeremy a sand shark tooth so he could look at it as he looked for more! Well that was all it took!! Jeremy was able to find 3 more small teeth and 1 bigger one just laying in a tire track!! He is still asking if we put it there…I promise Jeremy we didn’t! It wasn’t the 3inch he was hoping for, but it was a really nice 1.5 inch Mackerel Shark tooth. Gordon also found his first and Andie found 2. I on the other hand found zero, but all in all it was a good hunt.

Sunday was spent with walks between showers and more beaching and Gordon grilling steaks for dinner. It was a great day spent with family.
The kids left after lunch on Monday and after trying to get some pictures of Havyn and Emeryn in their matching sailor dresses (and that didn’t go so well but it was the thought that counted!)

Both girls have spent their first time aboard the boat at 5 months and now Havyn is an old pro at moving about it. I can’t wait until she can travel again with us.

In the morning it is off to St Simon Island…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It’s Tuesday, the 19th of May and we are in the Camachee Cove Marina, which is on the north side of St. Augustine, Florida. It’s a good place to be, the Camachee Cove Marina; especially when you consider that it’s rained non-stop and the wind has howled relentlessly at 20 to 45 knots (23 to 52 m.p.h.) since 10:00 am yesterday and we were on the water during a thrilling seven hours of it.

When we left Daytona yesterday, at 8:00 am, the weather was drop-dead gorgeous. 82 degrees with clear skies, a light southerly breeze at 2 knots and no humidity made us think we were going to have a really good day of it, but that warm, fuzzy feeling soon changed. As we rolled north on the ICW at 6.5 knots, we noticed that the wind began to swing around to the northeast and towering black clouds billowed up out of nowhere on the southwestern horizon. The temperature decreased as the wind speed increased and in a matter of 30 minutes or so, as the rain started coming down in sheets, it looked and felt as if we were on a different planet from the one we started out from this morning.

Now if you’ve ever been sailing, than you’re probably aware that a sailboat “heels,” or tilts over, when running with the sails up. Depending on the wind speed, wind direction and amount of sail deployed, a boat can easily heel over 10 to 15 degrees as it runs before the wind. While this is kinda’ scary the first time it happens, it soon becomes a normal part of sailing and something that one prepares for before getting underway. You pack things away a bit better, tighten things a bit more securely, pad things better, and make sure that nothing is where it will slide out, fall over or break when the boat heals over. Heeling, however, is not supposed to occur when you’re just motoring, but yesterday became an exception to that rule.

As the wind picked up to a steady 25 knots, it settled in to blowing straight at the side (abeam) of the boat. One can’t really change their course or direction in the ICW to diminish the wind’s effect, so you become a pawn of the environment and just have to play out the cards you’re dealt. To compound the problem, our boat has so much freeboard (body above the water), such a tall mast (61’) and an enclosure that’s like a tiny sail, that it amplifies the effects of any wind. The net result was, the wind heeled us over at a steady 5 degrees and, when the gusts kicked up in the 40 knot range, as much as 10 degrees for short bursts.

And then there were the drawbridges. The ICW has many draw (bascule) bridges that must be opened for almost all sailboats and many of the larger powerboats. Normally, one calls ahead to the bridge operator, who acknowledges your presence and opens the bridge so as to best service both the boater’s needs and the needs of highway traffic. This usually results in some sort of waiting for the boats at the base of the bridge, until traffic is stopped and the bridge opens fully. The bridge operators, however, must have known that the storm would create problems for any boat waiting in the wind, because we never had to wait on any bridge yesterday. They were fully opened before we got to them and we passed through all safely and without incident.

We passed through the Port of St. Augustine, making the 4:00 pm opening of the Bridge of Lions right on schedule. From the bridge, we had to point into the wind and go almost all of the way out of the St. Augustine Inlet, before making a U-turn and reentering the ICW and points north of the city; all of this in a 30 knot breeze. When we got back in the northbound ICW, it was a short half-mile to Camachee Cove. We had to turn west and go across a current of about 4 knots to gain their channel. Once inside, we lost the current, but the wind was now blowing at our backs and pushing us on into the marina. Fortunately, there’s a pretty large turning basin between the channel and the main part on the marina, so I was able to flip the boat around 180 degrees, head back east and pull up to a long floating dock that ran east and west on the south side of the marina. Boy, did it feel great to be tied to something solid!

So, here we sit, in a really nice spot, riding out a storm that wasn’t supposed to be a storm, looking for a weather window to head northward that may, or may not come in the next couple of days. But, we’re safe, dry, have internet and a firm little piece of land to enjoy while we wait for the storm to pass.

Monday, May 11, 2009


It’s Monday, May the 11th and it’s Space Shuttle launch day. Today, they’re sending up the last Space Shuttle mission to the Hubble Telescope for some repair work. Hopefully, NASA will be able to keep it running for another ten years or so and get more great pictures of the universe.

Not only is today launch day, but it’s also the day we get to see Larry and Pam, who are from Franklin, Ohio. Larry and I used to work together at Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems and, while we’ve kept in touch via e-mail, we haven’t seen each other since I left there in November of 2000. So, this is going to be a doubly exciting day.

Kim and I got up early (0830) and got ready to head for Titusville, FL, which is the best place from which to watch the rocket launch. After a quick snack, Schooner took us out for a walk and then it was into the car for the one-hour trip from Daytona to Titusville.

We arrived in Titusville about 10:15 AM, but once there, spent an extra 15 or 20 minutes going to Lowe’s Building Supply. We had to get some last minute items for completing the new boat cabinets and, not knowing how the day was going to go, were afraid that the stores might be closed by the time we got back to Daytona. We quickly found what we needed and the checkout line wasn’t too long, so we were soon again on our way to the viewing area.

In Titusville, most people go to an area called “Space View Park” to watch launches. The park is really pretty and there are lots of memorials to commemorate the highlights of our country’s space program. The down side is, on launch day, the park gets really crowded. About 30,000 people, plus TV crews, cram the park grounds and you can’t hardly move or have an unobstructed view of the launch. To resolve this issue, we went to the Max Brewer Causeway Memorial Swing Bridge to watch the launch. The distance from the pad is the same as the park, but because it’s not a shaded area, very few people actually go there to watch launches. The parking there is very good and you can either stay on the bridge or go down by the water to watch.

We arrived at the bridge around 10:45 am and pulled into an empty parking spot. Larry and Pam arrived about 30 minutes later and, after hand shakes, hugs and kisses, we all walked down by the ICW to enjoy the cool breeze off of the water, catch up on old times and watch the shuttle take off for outer space.

The four of us sat at the base of the bridge, on the concrete bulwark and swapped updates on the last eight years, interspersed by manatee swimming by and dolphin splashing in the channel in front of us. Suddenly, after what seemed like no more than 10 or 15 minutes (actually over two hours) someone screamed, “There it goes!” And with that call, the launch began at exactly 2:01 pm.

When you see launches on TV, it seems to take forever for the rocket to take off. We all expected the shuttle to do a movie style hover on the pad and gradually build up speed and finally crawl up into the heavens through a billowing cloud of smoke. WRONG!! What really happened was, when the smoke cloud started, the shuttle jumped off of the pad and tore off into space like a bullet followed by a brilliant, blinding pillar of fire. In no time at all, the rocket was out of sight and then, and only then, did you begin to hear the roar of the engines. It was surreal because you first got to watch the launch and then you got an audio replay of the entire event, minus the video. We all sort of looked at each other in amazement, commenting on the brevity of the launch, but excited because we had actually been fortunate enough to see the event with our own eyes.

With the launch over, the crowd broke up and quickly (and I do mean quickly) got back in their cars and headed back to where they had come from. We were no exception and were also on the road in about five minutes. From the bridge, Pam, Kim, Larry and I went to the other side of town and to “Beef O’ Brady’s, a local watering hole with good food and ice-cold beer. We sat and ate lunch and talked and talked and talked some more; finally leaving around 5:30 pm and heading home.
I really hate good-byes and this was no exception. This had been a really great day, doing really cool things with really great people. But, we’ve all promised to get together again, either the next time Kim and I are in Ohio or when Larry and Pam are near us during one of their travels. Either way, we’re looking forward to it.

Birthday and Mother's Day

This is both my birthday and Mother’s Day weekend and after 30 some years I have come to terms with having the day as one. I must say though, all 3 of my children called on both days this year! Gordon took me to lunch for my birthday after we shopped at Home Depot for the wood he needed to finish our new cabinet and later took me out for ice cream at Friendly’s. It was great to have a Reese’s Pieces Sundae, it tasted just as I remembered from the days back in Troy!!! Gordon had his favorite Jim Dandy Sundae, a modified banana split with 5 scoops of ice cream!!! Anyway you put it, it was a treat.

For Mother’s Day, Gordon took me to my favorite house…Waffle House!! We both had way too much to eat but managed to still make it out for some shopping. Last year, birthday/ Mother’s day, Gordon bought me a watercolor print of the 5 Bahamian Lighthouses. This year, we picked out a mat and frame for it. It now hangs prominently in the salon!

Later in the afternoon, we met with new friends Anne and Mike for drinks and munchies. They are the owners of our favorite hot dog stand, HOUNDDOGS, here in Daytona. Great fun!!! So, I must say it was a perfect weekend, but I do miss you kids and love you all

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Week of May

It’s hard to believe another week has passed… life in paradise! We have been busy detailing the exterior of the boat. First job was washing all the dirt and bird pooh off! That took the better part of a day and two very sun burnt peoples! Yes, we used sunscreen, and again I truly believe I burn more with it than without it!!! I worked under the Bimini and waxed the cockpit and treated the teak, while Gordon started all the way up at the bow using “Finesse” an abrasive to clean up the oxidation that had built up. This is a long process and all of a sudden it looks like summer has come to Daytona.

You can only work a couple hours in the morning, then a couple hours after 4:00pm works out, too! The in between time, Gordon has been working on his cabinets.

The microwave/ coffee pot came as one unit, so that was an easy install. He didn’t have to do much wood working there, but the head (bathroom) cabinet required total destruction and reconstruction to look like a cabinet when finished. It now looks like it was part of the original build down to the hardware he ordered from Hunter. All of his stuff is tucked away neatly now and not falling about when underway!!

The new cabinet over the washer has taken a bit longer for him. He put many hours of thought into this before the first cut was made.

The opening is 15” X 24” and has about a clear 6½” depth for most of that, although he is going to frame it up to give us a portion that will be 20” deep and 6½ wide. It is wide and tall enough to hold a couple gallon bottles (of TIDE). We haven’t decided what will be stored in this space, but I am in favor of putting all the cleaning products there so that they would all are in one place. Gordon suggested he could put all his filters and engine lubricants in there. I will inform you as to who wins this one!!!

It all hasn’t been work though!! We have managed to make it to 3 more baseball games! It’s really kind of fun. At the Thursday night games, it’s “Thirsty Thursdays” so you can get a 12oz beer or coke for $1. I am waiting for the “Monday Night Belly Buster” game where with the gate admission of $11, it’s all you can eat hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza, popcorn and peanuts!!! Makes for a cheap date night…since Gordon is emulating our President and taking me out!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!!

Can't believe it's already May and almost half of this year is done!! We have been doning more projects on the boat. Gordon now has all the hardware to finish the locker in the head and a new saw to complete a cabinet above the washing machine. We rode the bikes to Sears at the Volusia Mall (12 miles RT) to get him his saw, but I got to pick lunch and chose Jimmie John's. A great sandwich place and of course we ate too much for that ride back!!

I jinxed the no accidents on the bikes the other day... Gordon not me!! LOL He dropped off the sidewalk onto the grass and it was as if he was the little man from Laugh-in!! After 3 wet wipes we had him cleaned up enough to finish the trip back to the boat!! The bad thing was he hit a palm tree on his way down and stove up his "good" shoulder... a skinned knee and elbow and alot of bruised ego. I wish I had photos but he wouldn't let me take any:)

Plan to work on waxing the decks of the boat this week-end weather permitting. good luck betting on the Derby!