Sunday, November 28, 2010

We're here in beautiful Abacos!!!

Sunday, 28 November, 2010

So,   about those plans to cross over on Friday.....we were just finishing up our breakfast at anchor in Lake Worth onWednesday when Kokopelli called on the radio to say they were leaving for the trip in 30 minutes!  Yikes!  Talk about a Chinese fire drill!!  We stowed everything PDQ, hoisted the dinghy, raised the anchor and then headed over to the nearby marina to fill the fuel and water tanks.  Kokopelli was kind and motored slowly towards the inlet while we got all this done.  We caught up to them just outside the Lake Worth inlet and began our crossing at 11:00 am.  The seas were not too bad,  about 2-3 feet with some swells and light winds.  We had on our life vests and tethers and felt very safe.  It was so wonderful having Kokopelli ahead of us, in sight, and made us feel so confident about making our first crossing. 

After 8 hours, we reached the Bahamas banks just after dark and continued our journey until just after 3 am.  Along the way, it was too bumpy for real meals so we snacked on crackers, chocolate and nuts.  We were happy to finally put the anchor down at Great Sale Cay and get a few hours sleep after a long but exciting day.

Thanksgiving morning, we started out again at 8 am for our first full day in the Bahamas.  We were indeed thankful for a safe trip over and it was a beautiful, sunny day again so we had good motoring with lots of time to marvel at the clear, blue-green water.  It's so clear you can see the bottom even in very deep water.  We stopped that day at 4:00 in a pretty anchorage off Manjack Cay.  That night our friends on Kokopelli, Ian and Sue LeMair invited us for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on their boat.  We dinghied over with our contributions to the meal (wine, stuffing, cranberry sauce and brownies) and proceeded to have a delicious meal with new good friends.

Friday morning, we left the anchorage at 7:30, heading for MarshHarbour and the marina where they stay.  We reached the wonderful marina at noon and were helped at the dock by Jason, the dockmaster, Stephen, the owners son and Larry Thackston, a boat owner there.  Once the boat was all tied up, we headed for the Jim Room, the bar & grill at the marina where we enjoyed a scrumptious conch club sandwich and a "bilge burner" cocktail with Ian and Sue.  YUM!!  The chef at the Jib Room is Marvin and he really knows his trade!!

Immigration and customs officers both came to the marina and cleared us all in so we were happy to trade out our quarantine flag for our Bahamas flag.  Later that afternoon, we took a good long walk around the area and saw many beautiful homes with awesome views.  It's hillier here than we expected so we got a good workout walking the area.

Saturday, we were treated to a steak dinner with all the fixin's at the Jib Room with our friends Ian and Sue, Larry and Pat.  After dinner, there was entertainment with "rake 'n scrape" -- the local Bahamas music where they use a saw and screwdriver to keep the beat.  Then there was the "limbo man"....he was totally amazing as he lowered the bar gradually...until he had it only 18 inches from the ground.  It hurt our knees and backs to watch him get that low and manage to go under the bar.  Talk about flexibility!

All in all, we are totally loving it here!  The scenery to too beautiful to describe and the views are "to die for".  The locals are very friendly and we love biking or walking around the marina and downtown.  We are planning on being here at the marina for a few more days and then we'll venture out when the weather allows.  We'll try to upload some pictures so you can see the views we're talking about. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The latest plan...

Tuesday, 23 November, 2010

So, we're still at anchor in Lake Worth but we now have a plan for hopping over to the Abacos and we're excited to have put in the trip's waypoints on the chartplotter. Yesterday, we heard discussion between Galatea and Kokopelli on the VHF.  These are boats we had passed when heading south on the ICW from Vero Beach and Galatea hails from Edisto Island, SC....a place near and dear to our hearts.  We called Kokopelli after the overheard conversation and told them that we have the same route plans and would love to tag along with them.  Turns out, Kokopelli has crossed the gulfstream 12 times in the past and has been to the Abacos many times.

After Chris Parker's morning report today, Kokopelli has decided to try to make the jump on Friday morning.  This suits us just fine since it means we a) have experienced sailors to go with and b) Bethie gets to have her Thanksgiving meal on Thursday since we'll still be in Florida and c) because we will make a crossing during daylight rather than at night.  All of this gives us an extra measure of confidence about making the crossing and we are grateful to have discovered kindred spirits here.

After getting our forwarded mail from the West Marine today, we will go back to Publix for yet more groceries.  A high point of our day so far has been walking beside highway A1A, carrying 2 bags of trash in search of a dumpster.  How's that for adventures in cruising??

After our trip to Publix, we will head over to the Old Port Cove Marina for a chance to fill up on gas/ diesel and water.  While at the Old Port Cove Marina, we hope to walk over to Kokopelli and meet her owners.  It will be nice to put faces with names!  Think that about covers it for now. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jumpin' off point....waiting for our weather window

Sunday, 21 November, 2010

So we're all nice and anchored in the northern part of Lake Worth near North Palm Beach.  We left Vero Beach yesterday morning around 7:00 am and motored down the ICW until we reached our current anchorage around 3:45.  There were already several nice cruising sailboats anchored there and the full moon at night was gorgeus.

Our Saturday went well, especially after the rain stopped and the sun came out.  It was fairly windy along the way but turned out to be a beautiful, typical Florida day in the afternoon.  We saw lots of expensive, huge houses along the waterway and got to see a few manatees too.

Today, we dinghied into the dinghy dock near the anchorage and walked to a nearby Publix for some reprovisioning and a trip to West Marine for a dinghy patch kit and some other incidentals.  We are sitting in a McDonald's now, availing ourself of their free wi-fi since our internet antenna still doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

We will try to reprogram our autopilot today since it needs to "relearn" our hull's movements since Mike reinstalled it.  We will also probably try to repatch the leak in the dinghy floor and will hope that will do the trick.  It would be great to have a rigid-bottom dinghy and that will probably be our next major purchase for the boat.

It will be wonderful when we can set out for the Bahamas via the Lake Worth inlet....hopefully Wednesday night of this week if the weather is good.  More to come later.....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beautiful Vero Beach

Thursday, 18 November, 2010

Well, we headed out from Eau Gallie/ Melbourne, Florida on Monday morning for the short (35 mile) trip down the ICW to Vero Beach, Florida....commonly known as "Velcro Beach" because nobody wants to leave once there.  We needed to get our dinghy outboard repaired since the shift lever broke off in Eau Gallie on the dinghy dock and Vero Beach City marina put us in touch with Vinny of Complete Marine.  He picked up the motor Monday afternoon after our arrival and had it back to us, all fixed and spiffed up Wednesday morning.  That's service!

We are moored on a mooring ball there in the marina and it's such fun to watch as other sailboats and motorboats come in.  Our spot is just across from the gas dock, so it's a great location to see all the action.  We have enjoyed getting to know many friendly boaters and love the free bus service Vero Beach provides.  We've already been to Publix and West Marine twice and I got a great snorkle mask/ snorkle at a dive shop here.

Yesterday, Scott and I walked to the beach....about 3 long blocks away from the marina and made it back just in time to catch the bus to West Marine.  The beach here is very beautiful and the water is clear and light green.  This is a very prosperous area with well-manicured lawns and lovely houses.  The bouganvilla is gorgeous and we've even see some here that are like small trees.

We've come over to Riverside Cafe this evening to catch up on our email and had delicious cheesburgers while we wait to go to the weekly happy hour at the marina.  All in all, not a bad lifesyle!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nov 12-13 update

Saturday, 13 November, 2010
Scott and I are still here in Melbourne, Florida and are enjoying the SSCA (seven seas cruising association) GAM here.  We arrived here around 4:00 pm on Thursday and put down the anchor in a lovely spot just off of Eau Gallie/ Melbourne.  We are very glad it worked out for us to be able to attend such a great event as this and we've enjoyed meeting many friendly, knowledgeable folks at the GAM.
Our Thursday night in this anchorage proved to be exciting since the winds got up over 30 knots during the night and both Scott and I worried about our anchor not holding.  I even had a nightmare about us breaking loose and going up on shore!  But, thankfully, all was well Friday morning considering our anchor behaved admirably.  Scott says (and I agree) that this was a pretty good test for the new anchor.
Friday, we attended the seminars all day and the weather was windy but warm -- around 78 degrees.  A lovely lady from Ontario, Danielle Courtneau, kindly gave me a ride across the bridge at 3:00 when the seminar ended so I could replenish our fridge.  We were totally out of bread, milk, etc. so I was very happy to get a chance to go to the Publix here.  When you don't have a car or other way to get to a store, reprovisioning takes on a whole new meaning. When we got back to the dinghy dock from our errand, I saw Scott there with our dinghy and 2 other men, the cover off our motor.  Turns out, the throttle lever on our outboard motor had broken off sometime during the day so we couldn't put the motor in unfortunate development!  Some kind SSCA folk offered us a tow in their dinghy so we bumped over the waves back to Painkiller, grateful for their help.  Coincidentally, we'd been given information by kind folks at lunch that day about Vero Beach and, thanks to them,  we had the number for the Vero Beach Municipal Marina.  Scott called them to discuss getting a replacement part when we're there Monday and Tuesday.  So we feel good about being able to get the outboard motor repaired there next week.  Ah, the kindness of strangers....
Saturday morning, Scott discovered he could use vice grips to grab what was left of the throttle shifter to put it in "forward" so we were able to dinghy over to the dock for the day's seminars.  I enjoyed learning to tie some knots from Pam Wall, a veteran sailor and real wit and Scott attended a seminar on weather.  We left the civic center around 3:00 to head over to the library overlooking the water, so we could catch up on email, etc.  Tonight, we're thinking we'd like to have dinner at a restuarant next to the dinghy dock -- Squid Lips.  What a name, huh?

Nov 10 update

Wednesday, 10 November, 2010

We are now at New Smyrna Beach, FL after spending yesterday in St. Augustine.  We hoisted the anchor around 8 am Tuesday morning after anchoring in a beautiful tidal creek just off the ICW.  We knew it would take about 2 hours or less to reach St. Augustine and we wanted to arrive there on a slack high tide.  As it turns out, we arrived at the municipal marina there right at 10 am after passing through the beautiful Bridge of Lions at the edge of historic downtown St.Augustine.
We gassed up the boat, gave her a bath, pumped out the holding tank and then we both had wonderful, hot showers in the modern, well-kept facilities there at the marina.  We also were able to do a load of laundry since the restaurant where we had lunch (A1A Aleworks) was just across the street from the marina.  Scott had delicious fish tacos and I had a wonderful crab BLT.  After having to dodge crabpots for several days on the ICW, I felt that the crabs had it comin!' to 'em!!  It was sweet revenge!  After lunch, we had fun exploring the old section of town.  We went down many quaint alleys and walked all around the imposing Spanish fort there.
Linda Reynolds and her husband, Gordon joined us that evening; Linda was our boat broker during our purchase and we really enjoy her personality and expertise!  After sharing some wine in the cockpit we headed out for a wonderful Cuban meal and mohitos at the Havana Cafe.  After dinner, we strolled around the old section of town with them.  What a great city and Scott and I feel sure we'll be back there someday.
At 7:00 this morning, we eased out of our slip at the marina and headed on down the ICW.  It was another day of shallow spots and some bascule bridges but we managed to make it 70 miles before we put down the anchor just outside the channel south of the fixed New Smyrna Beach bridge.  We'll have a good night here and then plan on getting another early start tomorrow so we can make it to Melbourne by late tomorrow afternoon. for the SSCA gam set to start on Friday.  For those not familiar with the term "gam", it's a gathering of cruisers.

Nov 7 update

Sunday, 07 November, 2010
It's 5:15 pm and we are sitting at a beautiful anchorage up Brickhill River, adjacent to Cumberland Island, Georgia.  We had a long but good day, travelling 65 miles from our anchorage in Wahoo Creek last night.  We left Hinckley at 8:20 yesterday (Saturday) morning after our repairs, mile marker 582.3 and had a good run.  We anchored at 3:10 pm in Wahoo River-- mile marker 630 and about 2 miles upriver.
This morning, we set out at first light -- 7 am-- after the time change last night and had clear conditions.  Once again, it was a chilly morning but we turned the heater on and the cabin was comfy during our breakfast.  Luckily, Scott remembered the time change or we'd have gotten up at 5 am!!
We passed by many beautiful marshes today and had a good, high tide for most of our run.  Around Brunswick, Ga. things got a little dicey as the St. Simons Sound was full of sailboats in a regatta and the channels weren't very well marked.  Scott navigated beautifully through all the confusion and then we entered a very narrow channel, rimmed with a rock jetty on one side, to continue our journey on the ICW.  We stopped at Jekyll Harbour Marina to refuel and then continued on to our anchorage for the night.
We are excited that tomorrow we will need to pull new charts, new cruising guides and a new Waterway Guide because we will be entering Florida on the ICW.

Nov 5 update

Friday, 05 November, 2010

We've had a very productive day here at Hinckley Yacht Services in Savannah.  Around 8 this morning, Tim Hamilton, the yard's electrical trouble-shooter came aboard and worked through our problems with the tachometer and alternator.  He found corrosion around some wiring connections down below on the engine and, in short order, he had the corrosion removed and the tachometer and temperature gauges back up and running.  He then assessed the voltage output from the alternator to the 4 main batteries and ran diagnostics.  He found that the alternator really is charging our batteries when the engine is running....what a relief!  He didn't need to pull the alternator and send it to the shop and we were *very* happy about that.  All in all, an easy fix for our problems with the engine.
Next, Dave Rancourt, one of the yard's repairmen, came aboard and managed to get our strainer for the engine off (it was too tight for us to twist) and he got all the muck cleaned out.  He reinstalled the strainer/housing and then proceeded to replace our impeller.  It's a good thing Scott insisted on this new impeller because the current impeller was SHOT!  The flanges on it were all worn down or off save one loan survivor.  No doubt we'd have had problems with it sooner rather than later.  Scott watched while Dave changed it out so he'll know the steps to go through when he does it himself.  Dave was very thorough and checked to make sure none of the broken-off impeller flanges were clogging the pipes.....he found that we were lucky and none were there.
Needless to say, we are thrilled to have all these repairs finished so quickly and to know that our engine should now be properly cooled and happy!  We can't say enough about the professionalism of both Tim and Dave and heartily recommend Hinckley Yacht Services here.
After the repairs were finished, we walked to a nearby Wachovia for some banking business and then stopped by a Piggly-Wiggly for some more items.  We walked back to the boatyard, paid our repair bill and then borrowed the yard's internet to check e-mail.  Scott will work on getting our ethernet up and running this afternoon.  We are looking forward to shoving off first thing tomorrow morning after breakfast as we continue our journey south on the ICW. The weather is beautiful but very cold and windy so we will stay in The Ditch for now.

Nov 4 update

Wednesday, 03 November, 2010
We spent the morning stowing the last of the things we'd brought down to the boat.  It was alot tougher to find "homes" for everything now because the boat was lippin' full already...but we managed to carefully put everything away.  Then we made a final trip to Publix grocery for some last-minute perishables.  We bought a bag of potatoes, onions and a cabbage.  We also got some butter, limes, milk, bananas and some strong tape.
We filled our jerry cans and Scott topped off the boat's tanks and then securely fastened the cans along the starboard rail using the board he'd attached this summer.  At some point when we were not aboard, Dave from the boatyard climbed aloft and put up our desired starboard spreader flag halyard....oh happy day!  Now we can be "regulation" when flying our Bahamas courtesy flag.
Then we just waited until time to shove off from the dock, since high tide wasn't until 7:00 and we just wanted to make the 6:00 opening of the Lady's Island bridge.  We finally got away from the dock just after 5 pm and headed for the bridge....only to have to wait around 20-30 minutes.  When we were through the bridge, we headed for Battery Creek, just off the Beaufort River, in Port Royal, SC.  We have eaten a couple of times at Dockside Restaurant there and love the area.
We were concerned about our low battery status so we did not turn on any lights below that evening.  This meant we ate by candlelight as we enjoyed our warmed-over spaghetti from home with our box cabernet....2008 vintage.  Heaven!  We charged the batteries using the Honda generator and sat in the cockpit, enjoying the evening and the beautiful surroundings.  There were 4 other sailboats moored nearby in the tidal creek and they appeared ghostly in the low light.
We turned in early, knowing we had an early morning ahead.  It was just bliss knowing we were finally starting our voyage!!

Thursday, ‎04 ‎November, ‎2010

We got up at 6:00 AM this morning, after anchoring in a beautiful tidal creek (Battery Creek) near Dockside Restaurant in Port Royal, SC.  After breakfast, we readied the boat for the day ahead and waited until 7:40 to hoist the anchor due to heavy, thick fog and little light.  While motoring out of the creek, several dolphins swam alongside Painkiller and played in our bow's wake.  What a wonderful sight!

It was very slow going, motoring down the Beaufort River towards Port Royal Sound -- the fog was so thick we could only see about 1/8 mile or less ahead.  Our radar was such a huge help to us since our vision was so limited.  The fog began lifting around 10 and we were able to make better progress on our journey to Savannah.

The ICW was beautiful but very shallow in places along the way.  We just took our time and only had one minor "grounding" at mile marker 30 just north of Thunderbolt.  Scott expertly backed the boat and we then proceeded to watch another boat go aground in the same spot.  I didn't feel so bad then!  We reached Hinckley Yacht Services in Savannah around 3:15 just as rain set in.  It felt good to button up the boat and go below into the warm, dry living area.

It had been a long but good day and we had run the gammut of weather from "pea soup" fog to sunshine to windy and finally rain and cold.  After checking in with the manager at Hinckley, we enjoyed a well-deserved cocktail.  We are anxious to have the mechanic look into our mysterious electrical/charging problem first thing tomorrow morning so we can get back on our way south!