Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sick and tired but happy

We have been knocked on our asses recently by some kind of virus which is like a really bad cold only it produces a really bad cough. Deb sounds like a bear choking on a salmon and I sound like a 70 yr old chain smoker who just switched brands. It's horrible.

I popped out of the boat in the morning, squinting into the rising sun. I had my sweat filled t-shirt I wore all night and a ratty old pair of shorts. I needed fresh air. I jumped onto the dock and I coughed a few times, and then spit into the water. "Tea. I need strong tea." I wheezed. I made a few lazy circles on the dock, took a few deep breaths and then jumped back on the boat and opened the propane tank. Deb was sitting on the settee coughing and looking into space when I stumbled down the companionway. I fired up the hot water and sat beside her. "Being sick on the boat REALLY sucks!". We sat there and coughed all morning eating tylenol while I sipped tea and she stared at something not there. "Maybe we should eat?" Nah. "Maybe we should surf the web until we fall asleep?" OK.

Eventually I found some energy to make soup. When I'm sick I want soup. Soup makes everything better even if it's 90 degrees in the boat. I can make soup out of anything and do it in ten minutes. I made a pot of potato leek soup because that's what was on the counter at the time. If there was a tomato and a banana sitting there I would have been in trouble. I like to think the soup helped. We started on the road to recovery soon after. A few days later and Deb is fine now and I am still on the edge. One more day and it looks like I'll be back to abnormal.

We weren't slackers the whole time either. I managed to install another solar panel and Deb finished Aidens blanket. Aiden is our second grandson due in August. I'm not sure how I got those panels reconfigured and mounted but somehow it's done. It's all a blur to me now. The amazing thing about the whole hazy dream like project was that I only lost one screw overboard. No shit! Just one, and it was the last one. It hit the dinghy and bounced back to eye level before it plunked into the water. I laughed. I laughed until I realized I didn't have another one that size. Any other day that would have pissed me off but I think the whole new solar panel could have fallen in the drink and I would have laughed. Must have been the fever.

Imagine what we can do when we are healthy! I'll have to remember this when I'm lounging in the cockpit next week.

We are still in VA getting some work done on the vessel. We plan on leaving soon for the Chesapeake where we will goof around for a bit and then find another spot to dump the boat while we welcome Aiden into this crazy world of ours.

Here are some pics of our road trip to Savannah for family time. I can't explain in words the emotions we felt having the family together again. Mason is a doll and Kell looks great. I wanted to hug them both and not let go. Nicole looks awesome and ready to be a Mom. Her and Jonathan hosted a great weekend. It was such a good time being together again.

Grandma is happy and so is Mason!

Mom, Grandpa smells funny

Young parents, skips the toys. Buy boxes!

We totally wore the little guy out

Grandpa I'm not sure I like this.

Why is he always smiling around Grandma?
And why do their clothes match the walls?

We sure do miss these two

Whoa! Almost time baby girl.
Great Grandma loves her little man.

So far I've got Mason trimming the jib and Aiden on the main. Deb will have the helm and Gramps will sit back and enjoy a brew while criticizing sail trim and heading. Life will be good.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

What the hell are you doing?

Leaving Charleston we entered the ICW at near low tide. Stupid move? Read on.

This area is notorious for shoaling and we were told that they recently dredged the area. Cool! Off we went. It was a little dicey going through the turns but we were doing fine. We were just about to get out of the "bad area" when the depth started dropping. When it got to six feet I went into neutral but the current carried us into the ground. Ugh. No problem, I'll just back off and try another route. We angled from one side of the channel to the other and no deeper water could be found. Again we bumped and again I was backing off when I saw some boats coming up behind us.

A large power yacht came quickly upon us and moved to go around. We were moving slowly backward away from the shoal trying to find deeper water. The guy went wide to port and zoomed past only to be stuck hard in the muck. OK, that was interesting. I wonder what he thought we were doing? Lunch break? Stop for a swim?

Next up is a sailboat. I was looking behind us as I was still trying to maneuver in the current and this woman on the sailboat looks over the side at me and gives me the WTF hand waving thing. I give them the slow down hand waving thing, and then the answer your radio hand waving thing, but they continue on. I now hear the woman yell "What the hell are you doing?!" Now I'm pissed off because I keep thinking that these people are stupid or arrogant. When I see a sailboat not moving forward and maneuvering backwards in a channel ahead of me I get a little indicator light flashing in my head that reads "WARNING! SLOW THE FK DOWN!" Apparently the bulb was blown in theirs as they blew past us and they all had smug looks on their faces staring us down. They were about twenty feet off our starboard side and I casually said "Very shallow up there. You have a radio?"

The WTF woman just glared at me as they passed and she leaned over to say something to her husband when...

YES! They abruptly stopped, spilling drinks and iPhones and heeling nicely to their port side. Black smoke came out the exhaust when the captain called for warp factor ten and buried himself deeper onto the shoal. The smug looks were replaced with frowns and looks of concern but I never got the look back so I could give them my WTF gestures.

All three of us sat there until the tide came up and then we all peeled off and went on our way. The gesturing sailboat kept the RPM's up so as to avoid any eye contact with the smiling captain of the Kelly Nicole.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Running from Arthur

A brief update:
Since we left Florida we seem to have been under a cloud of bad weather as you can see from the many pics I had posted. Well, it turns out we did have a cloud over us and its name is now Arthur. After one really hideous storm in Camp Lejeune that had us under brisk winds and purple lightning we took a look at the weather radar wondering when this will pass. Huh, looks like a nice low has settled offshore. Ok, let’s keep moving. Once we got somewhere with internet Deb took a look at the spiral and said “It’s a damn tropical depression!” I got my phone and looked at my Hurricane Tracker app and sure enough there was a message about a tropical depression forming with a 60% chance of it forming into a hurricane. Shit!

So we tried to outrun Arthur and make it to the “safety” of the Chesapeake. We made stops in Morehead City and Oriental with many anchorages along the way there. We finally got to meet up with Dan and Jaye in Oriental for an afternoon of fun but wished we could have stayed for pizza night. I finally cured my pizza craving by downing 5 slices last night. At least Dan and Jaye didn't have to witness my gorging. We had some choices to make in Oriental. Stay, have fun, but pay the big buck to ride out the storm which could be intense at that location, or kick ass to VA and maybe lessen the blow. We chose to run.

I will cover all this in a little more detail later. I just wanted to post that we are OK for now tucked into a sheltered canal at AYB in Great Bridge VA. Looks like we will be settling in for a spell so maybe I can catch up on blog posts and some much needed boat work.

The sun sets on our anchorage after the Pungo Alligator canal.
Some of the supposed anchorage spots after the canal really suck.

Cheers! Stay safe!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saint Augustine. Part Deaux

Back where we started. When we began our cruising life it was in the city of Conquistadors, Pirates and wacky tourists. St Augustine Florida is a great little town and we are happy to have spent some time there. Well, now we are back. Actually we are much further north but I'm playing catch up with the blog.

We are on a mooring and contemplating our journey north to the Chesapeake. Not too many of us left hanging around. The only folks running around are the tourists. I had one guy take a photo of me at the city marina filling a water jug. Really dude? Imagine the slideshow back home. "This is a poor American fellow stealing water from a hose to live another day. Look, he has no shoes."

When the tour boat comes past the moorings it's tempting to drop trou or do a naked yoga pose on deck just to hear the screaming. My fear is that they would all run to the other side of the boat and capsize it.

Walking around town is a trip. So many nationalities and different outfits. You can always spot the Europeans as they do not wear baseball caps and sneakers. My favorite is watching tourists try to get our lingo. They understand English but sometimes it's difficult. Our waiter told a table of Italians "Two for one brewskis include Sweetwater 420's from 4 to 7." They all just stared at him not saying a word. "Buy one beer, and you get one free" Free! They all smiled.

Related to cruising, my one problem with St. Augustine is the lack of a grocery store nearby. You have to take the bus to get to a store and it's not on a quick route. If you miss the bus you may have to wait hours for the next one to come along. A small Spanish themed Publix or Food Lion in an old building would be cool or at least a public market in one of the squares on a weekend. Something for the boaters please. Look at all the beer and rum we buy in town!

Being in the harbor allows us to explore the city a bit better then when we were at Camachee Cove. If you get off St George street and into some of the neighborhoods you can see some beautiful homes. There are also some fantastic restaurants here, even for vegetarians. Not that we can afford to eat out much. We tend to go out for lunch when it's cheaper and closer to happy hour :)

So with a better appreciation for the nations oldest city we bid it farewell. I'm sure we will be back in the fall/winter months. It's a good place for some nights out on the town and to have a few laughs with friends. We have met some very nice people in St Aug and we plan on seeing them again.

We had our share of storms in Florida

If you are going to steal a sailboat, you should know how to sail.
Yes, someone tried to swipe this boat and crashed it into the bridge.

This guy is having fun. Different.

One of the tour boats. This time there was a wedding.
"Don't do it!!" Kidding. I'm sure they will live happily ever after.

Silly me trying to be artistic. 

Caught Eric Clapton taking a photo. No, it's me.

I want to have sangria at this table

Ball in the wall!

Someone's happy. Wonder why?

I could live there...if I had money

My fav short cut. Not sure they like me running back and forth.



The horse and carriage will not stop for you.
Unless you want an ear nibbled you best get out
of the way.

This tree was awesome. I want to climb it.

Beet soup. Yum

Not sure why I took this

Bet the aft cabin is nice.

I have a lot of typing to do when I get WiFi, which is not very often. I can't see spending too many hours typing and not experiencing, so the posts are getting a tad spaced out. Our facebook page has everyday stuff. Check it out. Promise to do better with updates.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Up the lazy river in the land where sailboats and beer come to die

From Vero to Cocoa to Titusville and Daytona to St. Augustine there was a common theme - dead sailboats and bad beer. Wherever there was a spot to drop anchor there was a collection of dead sailboats. By dead sailboat I mean one that doesn't, can't or will not sail ever again. Some of the dead sailboats have people living on them and some are abandoned. Some may even have dead people on them for all I know. I'm pretty sure no one has inspected them for some time.


I find it hard to look at them. What were once pretty under sail are now an eyesore. When we are anchored among them I feel the look of disgust from the other boaters passing by. "Hi! We're not one of them! We cruise!" This is what I feel like yelling out to the passers by. Why should I care?
First of all it's all it's a shame to see a good boat lay rotting. Second, it's an eyesore. Third, they take up precious anchorage and forth, the leave a stain on the sailing community.

Permanent eyesore

Not sure what's going on here
There are many many more to see along the ICW in Florida but I felt wrong taking pictures of vessels with people living on them. One guy looked right at us as we anchored and stood there with his hands on his hips. No return wave, just a dirty stare. We weren't remotely close or were we blasting Marley as we dropped the hook, but he just stared...for a while. Pretty creepy.

People who live on these dead sailboats have the freedom to live the way they want, which is pretty much the motto of our country. Well, used to be. So, should we fault the folks for living at anchor on a non functioning sailboat when it's obviously their home? There were plenty of homes in our old neighborhood that were eyesores but we didn't boot the people out. Some of these folks out here are actually commuting to work. They just don't make enough to properly care for the boat, I like to assume. Not knowing someone's life story and how they got there should keep us from criticizing. But...

I would like to see the FWC or the USCG inspect these boats for waste management, containment of hazards, and seaworthiness while maintaining the owners right to anchor. If the boats do not meet the criteria and are a hazard to the environment, navigation, or a danger to other boaters then they should be fined, or removed. I think most of us around the water agree that getting into a dinghy as a turd floats by is unsettling. The kids splashing along the shore or fishing do not want to snag a human clarke bar either. Would you want to be anchored behind one of these old boats in a blow? I would hope the harbor master or the FWC would be inspecting the vessels to determine if they are derelict or liveaboards.

I remember coming through Cocoa the first time and thinking the anchorage was packed. Turned out most were dead sailboats. The dinghy ride to shore proved I was right. One powerboat looked like a couple was inside the pilot house watching us go by. I waved. No response. On our way back I noticed the couple was again watching us, but not moving. They were mannequins! WTF.

So, what do towns like Cocoa do about these dead boats? If you tow them they may sink. You can't fine someone who has no money. Scrapping a boat on the spot is costly and hazardous to the environment. Not sure what the answer is here. I understand the communities not wanting to have harbors end up like Cocoa's, and I understand the expense to taxpayers in trying to remove dead vessels. The folks living on the water have a right to do so in any way they please I guess. It's a tough situation and I don't have any answers, but I know this situation is getting worse in this crappy economy with austerity budgets and our ignorance of a crumbling infrastructure, which includes safe waterways.

Imagine this scenario:
SV Kelly Nicole pulls into an anchorage with a blown head gasket. We can't find a good mechanic to come out. I attempt the job myself and screw it up. Deb gets tired of a month in the same spot smelling of diesel and oil and goes home to the kids. I hang out on the boat where I spend my money in a local pub. Deb files for divorce and gets half the boats value. I run out of money and can't find a job. The dinghy gets stolen while I'm ashore. I sit and watch as the local liveaboards raid and strip Kelly Nicole. I move under a bridge. Kelly Nicole sits rotting with new squatters living in her and I'm helpless to do anything.
Sad story eh? I bet this is a reality for some folks.

Recently I watched a completely rusted old steel Ketch being towed by a small boat to a spot out front of the city of Fernandina Beach just outside the mooring field. The anchor was dropped and I can bet that next fall she will still be there. In fact she will still be there years from now until she sinks from rusting through. She has a person living on her. She will never be maintained or restored. She will perish on the spot unless the city asks them to leave before that.

So, will there ever be an answer to these dead sailboats?? I doubt it. Americans and politicians are slow to react and now nothing gets done unless someone's pocket is getting lined in green. Laws will be passed forbidding anchoring or giving us time limits. More moorings will be placed and condo owners will demand an unobstructed view. I think we have people fighting for our side in this issue but I'm not sure how much lobbying power they have.

Bad Beer. Oh the horror.

Corporate beers rule Florida. We had a hard time even finding Sam Adams in stores. The bars and restaurants mostly serve the usual mega brewery beers and very few actual craft brews. Apparently Florida is where the big tasteless brewers have drawn the line on craft brews eating into their profits. They are buying lobbying public officials to write laws forcing the craft brewers to use their distributors if they want to sell outside their brewery. Sounds like extortion to me.
We heard from one brewer in St Augustine that Cigar City brewing is about to leave Florida over this underhanded political move. So much for helping the small business person.

This is probably the biggest selection we saw. The
Funky Buddah tasted like the last burning ember of a joint
you sucked off your roach clip.

Red Stripe to the left, Due South to the right. Due South wasn't bad.
Too many IPA's
Some people may assume that we have the boat stocked to the max with beer and that we get sloshed every night. Far from it. We like to have a few good tasting beers when we get into port and no way do we ever get silly unless we are tied to a dock and even then we are talking maybe three to four beers in one night. There have been a few noted exceptions :)  We are definitely lightweights when it comes to chugging, as those days have passed us by. So if we are not consuming mass quantities then we want something that tastes good. Craft brewing came along and we are loving it. So many flavors and styles to enjoy, just not in Florida. One exception is Jacksonville, which has some pretty good brews by Green Room and Bold City. Dukes Brown ale is probably our favorite. St. Augustine has the A1A brewery which has some good brews as well. We are just used to having large selections of tap handles to choose from and Florida was a big disappointment.

Our old town of Rochester has become one hell of a brewers paradise of sorts. We miss our Rohrbach's and Roc City brews. I guess we have to stock up on some good stuff before our trip this fall. Once we get to the Bahamas we may have to switch to Rum, as we are spoiled by the good craft beers we have tasted to ever like Kalik or Presidente. But, when the stores are empty and the sun is hot you  have to make exceptions and I'm willing to bet an ice cold Kalik will taste pretty good while at anchor in the bright blue waters.