2007/12/16

2007.12.15 Hope Town

We arrived in Green Turtle Cay last Sunday and stayed five days…. We do love New Plymouth still very unspoiled although we did notice the houses getting smarter looking, fresh paint …and some developer is building condos, we think he is asking just short of a million….the locals say he has not sold any yet!!!!
The marina where we stay on Black Sound is very laid back to say the least, Kevin the owner seems to be enjoying life and is not extremely pro active at keeping his marina in good shape and maybe that’s part of its charm…. he has a great spot that sells itself and he knows it… we did things quite differently this time around… never went to the “Wrecking tree café” but hung out at Pineapple’s beach bar where we had wifi, nice drinks and great sunsets.
We met up with a couple of Canadians from Ottawa, who had dragged anchor and almost plowed into Soli at one in the morning back in Manjack Cay… it was nice “running into them” but not so literally…
We went to our beach and walked all around the South end of the cay…Jacqueline found her first sand dollar,we found starfish and even a live sea biscuit… and David a conch shell.
We also found out that our dinghy, which we had spent a whole day patching up in Westend still leaks….these supposedly inflatable floors, Zodiac anyway, are not an engineering marvel as far as we are concerned…I have never heard David use profane language like this before and of course being French like Zodiac I felt responsible … especially since I had talked David out of buying a new one this summer while in Canada or the States and of course now it’s very difficult to find one in the Bahamas and also much more expensive…. I messed up on that one!!!!
Well it works well enough for David to come and get me at the dock!!!
Please note the banking hours !!!




We also found that our macerator was still not working on our way from Green Turtle to Great Guana Cay…. So yesterday, anchored in idyllic Fisher’s bay instead of relaxing after having made the potentially stressful Whale Cay passage without any problem we were experiencing the literal meaning of ASDIP (an another s----y day in paradise) !!!!! we took the b----y macerator apart AGAIN and saw that the new impeller we had just replaced was missing a couple of paddles!!! We were somewhat discouraged to say the least and since we did not have another spare we started reassembling the pump again… Captain Weber, monitoring our progress (from the cockpit of L’Equipe anchored nearby) or lack thereof hailed us over our walky talkies and started talking about rotation…clockwise or anti…at this point we were so fed up but we started taking it apart AGAIN and really studying all the components very carefully…I won’t go into the smelly details of that operation but we realized we had not noticed a notch in the casing and had basically almost blocked the poor thing… anyhow IT NOW WORKS and we can take a macerator apart and put it back together in our sleep… good thing too as we will have to do it AGAIN when we find a new impeller!

We woke up this morning and the wind was really up…. More importantly the direction was changing to the west and that meant we had zero protection in that anchorage… we had to get out and make our move to Hope Town a few days early… so the stress of not being in position to catch our flight to the UK on Wednesday is now over… all we need to do is to get a ferry to Marsh Harbour, a taxi to the airport, a puddle jumper from Bahama Air to Nassau and British Airways to Heathrow….piece of cake!

So we are really back to the point where we turned around last year… we are tied up to a dock in Hope Town marina with power on board while we are away so we will not lose all the goodies in our freezer…

We gave Soli a nice fresh water rinse, a bit of a luxury at .25 a gallon, but she deserves it, launched the dinghy (which did not need pumping exceptionally…. must have gotten scared with all our talk of replacing it!) did some laundry… and went to our favourite restaurant for supper…Wahoo with a mango sauce… now remember this is the kind of fish which the guys caught. We had three, last year, as well as a mahi mahi when we went deep sea fishing…we are looking forward to going again with Truman on Lucky Strike and this time Jacqueline is coming… not staying behind and reading “The other Boleyn girl”! .

So here we are nicely and safely tucked away, the wind is howling outside but we are cozy and David is doing some business…. The Blackberry is working very well so he is 100% in touch with the office…. I also changed the sim card in my phone to a Batelco card so calls will be less expensive… Alan (Agro-Hall’s proud agent) tested it last night at one AM with great success….’tis like being married to a doctor!!!
We would never dare complain about Olga (a tropical depression) which is sending us these strong winds when we hear about the snow expected in Montreal tomorrow…35 cms… we hope Catherine and Mike have no problem driving to Montreal on Tuesday…try and leave early guys!!!
I have been trying to post pics... but keep getting kicked out of the wifi connection sorry!!!!

2007/12/11

2007.12.11 Green Turtle Cay

We are holed up in Black Sound waiting out some high winds...probably side effects from huricane Olga which is hamering some islands further South...New Plymouth on Green Turtle is a good place to be stuck as we love it... very laid back and pretty...
Yesterday was quite an interesting day, David and I took apart our macerator pump and changed the impeller...good thing we had a spare !!!! some of you may ask what is a macerator pump... it is the pump that empties our holding tank and liquifies the whole thing and disposes of it overboard... they do not have pump out stations in the Bahamas.... so that was a good job done!

David is doing the stainless steel on the boat today...do not let anyone tell you that SS does not rust...in salt water EVERYTHING rusts!

I have been sitting at this lovely little beach bar where they very kindly let me bum their wifi signal...thanks Pineapple's... but it is noon and people are starting to arrive for lunch so I guess I better clear my stool...
ttyl
2007.12.07 on our way to Great Sale Cay

I have been so bad!!!!! I could tell you that the battery on my laptop is not as young as last year and it runs dry a lot quicker which is why I have not written as often as I should…but the true culprit is CJ (yes Mrs. Catherine MacLellan) who loaned me a copy of “Gone with the wind” which I had read as a kid but am rereading with so much pleasure and a totally different perspective…the first time around I enjoyed the love story and found the war and politics boring … this time I am thoroughly enjoying the history lesson and a very interesting rendition of the times and the people and what they went through …. So thank you CJ!

Now back to our trip, I left you so far back I am not even going to try and catch up….well maybe a little it will make my mind work!

I last wrote on the way to Fernandina beach, we did stop there and anchored in the same place as last year….it was another one of those tide against wind situation, sorry to be so repetitive, but here is poor old Soli stuck in the middle of a power trip between tide and wind …one is pushing her one way and the other is pushing her the other way so she ends up riding forward on her anchor…long story short.. I know it’s too late already, in the middle of the night I woke up David as the chain was rubbing against her poor gelcoat and we were up for the next few hours monitoring her as we were swinging all over the place and coming very close to L’Equipe…. I am glad to report we did not hit her… we finally picked up the anchor and reset it further up the river…..That was Fernandina Beach.!!!

The next stop was in St. Augustine …. There is a wicked current in the marina which is just South of the bridge of Lions …the two previous times we docked there we were on the North side of the dock and it was not bad at all ... this time they assigned us a slip on the South side….we were caught in that current and found it very difficult to maneuver the boat…. Coming very close to boats already tied up ….so we ended up on our good old North side again.
I then went in search of some bread…. A fellow cruiser and I walked to this convenience store where they had ONE loaf of white sliced bread…I offered it to him, he kindly declined and we both walked out empty handed…. Needless to say he was another spoiled Montrealer and we both could not bring ourselves to buying that bread!

L’Equipe had gone up the St. Sebastian River and tied up to a very nice little marina in Oyster creek which they said was well worth the extra few miles and they will go there again.

The next leg was to Daytona and nothing too memorable happened except that we went aground near Matanzas inlet…. Now inlets are openings between he ICW and the Atlantic so there is a lot of water movement, tides and currents shift the bottom constantly and as hard as they try to keep the markers updated the sea works faster to change it again….so after about 20 minutes of revving engine, a little cursing but most likely the tide coming up we were afloat again and catching up to L’Equipe who had sailed right by us… was it not nice of us to show them NOT where to go!
We docked at Halifax marina in Daytona, did laundry and went for a nice supper at the Charthouse.

The next leg was to Titusville also pretty uneventful except that we went aground AGAIN … this old boy was shouting to us from the shore “just wait for the tide…. It will float the bloody thing off”… we resented our precious Soli being referred to as a b….y thing so this time David got us off in 10 minutes !
Titusville Marina is where I played with Manatees last year but we anchored so I did not get a chance to say hello to my old friends and see how big the baby had grown.

Last Saturday (a week ago… did I ever need to catch up) we were on our way to Vero Beach… which Louise had aptly renamed Velcro Beach as they could not seem to leave! The most memorable thing about it was the most unpleasant man working at the marina… we wanted to ask him if he was the mayor’s brother in law to keep that job!!!
We rafted up to L’Equipe on a buoy and had drinks and guacamole….starting to get that cruising feelin!

Sunday was on the other hand very memorable… if you remember the film/song “Never on a Sunday” it would apply to when NOT to go through St. Lucie and Jupiter inlets unless it is raining of course…
Every single yahoo and there are lots of them were out enjoying a nice sunny Sunday on the water…in their fishing boats, runabouts, seadoos anything with an engine that floats was out on the ICW that day and they have no idea or care what their wake do to the sailboats they are passing or the erosion to the shore for that matter… it was an absolute zoo!
We arrived at out destination of Lakeworth and a blessedly peaceful anchorage ….ouf!

On Monday we stayed at anchor did some bits and pieces as David likes to say, he worked in the office and Heinz drove J and I to shore a couple of times to do a bit of provisioning …I was so afraid of overbuying that I put my bag in the shopping cart and every selected item went into the bag…. This way I was sure not to have a problem bringing it back.

Tuesday was positioning the boats to their jumping off point in by Lakeworth inlet…. It was a short hop … we spent the day getting Soli ready for the crossing…jack lines , were attached on both sides of the boat to secure to with tethers which in turn are attached to our PFD (inflatable life jackets) ….and we all went to bed early as we had a 0330 start planned for the next day.
David trying on his new foulies (foul weather gear) we fortunately did not need them!

Wednesday was “C” day for crossing….we had a nice track from the inlet to the anchorage that we had made the day before so we had no worries finding our way back to the opening of the inlet in the dark…well just like Tom Thumb having his bread crumbs eaten by the birds … our track had vanished off the screen of our chart plotter, fortunately J had plotted some way points and we followed L”E to the inlet.

Heinz was wondering what that “unchartered green light” was… a fisherman has dropped anchor right in the middle of the channel and that green light was his starboard running light….
There was more breeze from the North than had been predicted and that made for some fair size rollers and we were pitching and rolling … I can think of a couple of people who would not have traded places with me!!! But as the morning wore on and we started to leave the great Gulf Stream the waters calmed down considerably for the last part of the crossing…
I, exceptionally, did not keep David supplied with endless mugs of tea at the beginning of the trip when it was pitch dark and he was doing battle with the elements….and you all know why… what goes in must come out and I was not keen to take over the helm… later when the day broke and I could see where we were going I happily took over several times.
We did the crossing in 9.5 hours same as last year and arrived in Westend and the magical turquoise water of the Bahamas and docked at the Old Bahama Bay Marina …renamed Ginn sur Mer… (I will try and attach the website of the horrors they are planning) the staff remembered us, as friendly and efficient as usual as long as you are not in a rush…we need to get into the island time mode!
We changed linen, did laundry had deliciously long showers and went out to enjoy our first grouper sandwich.

Thursday - We spend an extra day to rest up a bit and get ready for the couple of long days to get us to Green Turtle Cay before Sunday… Sorry CJ your friend John was not here this time …Chris Parker (our weather guru) was all doom and gloom for next week and we wanted to be within easy reach of Hope Town where we are going to leave Soli while we are in the UK….so if we are stuck somewhere with bad weather let it be Green Turtle. Thursday did not end up being restful at all…it was really dinghy day… D and I spent most of it finding and patching leaks on the inflatable (or very deflatable in our case) floor of our Zodiac … it was hard work but hopefully we have done it and it will last this season …otherwise David wishes to give it a burial at sea and without honors…

We were planning on going to the beach bar to enjoy our first Rum punches and Bahama Mama (J’s new poison) with music from the local band but by the time we were through with Mr. Zodiac’s reject and had our showers the band had packed up… 1700!!!! We are amazed how few boats there are about, we are told the season has not really started yet…wonderful…we like quiet and deserted!

We had our first dinner on L’Equipe, Soli’s galley produced a salade niçoise which went very well with J’s ciabbatta and some Beaujolais nouveau…not a bad year!


Friday – We left at a civilized hour, after a quick dip in the pool, to make the next leg to an anchorage off a deserted island called Great Sale Cay…it was a long but easy day for us … Heinz on the other hand was trying his hand at fishing from L’Equipe stern with his new fishing rod.
He did extremely well…caught 3 very large barracudas which are unfortunately not good to eat (although some of the natives do) and had to be thrown back, not before a picture was taken of course, he also caught another delicious fish…we are not sure as of yet what it was but the nasty thing tore his way out of the net. In any case this is very encouraging… not sure why I bought these little beef filets unless it will be our contribution to surf and turf!
We anchored in the bight of the Great Sale Cay and with zero light pollution were treated to the most magnificent starlit sky…

Saturday – TODAY… aren’t you happy we are reaching the end of this long diatribe … I know I am… we have picked up our hook at 0630 this morning, I took my first sunrise picture and we should be in Green Turtle Cay by sundown or shortly thereafter…I need to go topside and stop this NOW…

2007/12/03


North Lakeworth 2007.12.02


Soli's herb garden, basil, parsley and mint for mojitos...

We are anchored in Lake Worth and will try to blog soon... I just wanted to see if I had managed to fix the comment (or lack thereof) problem...it seems to be working now ...so hope to hear from y'all soon... a good old boy from Georgia just came to visit and have a chat, David showed him the book he is reading of another Southern boy, Bill Clinton so not to be outdone I showed him the book I am reding, a good Southern girl, Scarlett O'Hara, Gone with the wind!!!


ttys

2007/11/27

Jekyll Island 2007.11.27

We were afraid to wake up to a dense fog at Jekyll Harbour Marina like last year when we were stuck there for 2 days and still left in somewhat foggy conditions… but visibility was good so we cast off with the expert and friendly help of marina staff.
We are now underway and I will catch you up a bit on yesterday…

.





The day started off well enough, we picked up our hook and left New Teakettle Creek where we had a wonderful sleep… well most of us, most of the time, I was accused of going crashing on deck at 03:30… just checking on the anchor, the chain was hitting the hull as the tide turned us around!







Within an hour or so a very thick fog bank enveloped us in a white cocoon where we could not see anything and even sounds were muffled… I was at the bow looking out, or trying to, for anything and could see buoys appearing out of the fog just a few yards away… but most importantly listening for any sound of motors approaching us. On several occasions I blew our horn to warn boats of our presence….


One was a little crab boat and the fishermen stopped by to have a chat with us… they were picking up their crab pots and I had heard them talking and laughing, no radar on board so fortunately they heard our horn and did not ram into us!
We had finally given up trying to navigate blindly except for the chart plotter which we can trust 90% of the time but it’s that 10%, when if you followed the magenta line, you would be taking a shortcut on land that had us worried! So we dropped anchor and decided to wait it out….


The problem was we were pretty much in the channel so after a while we moved to a better spot to wait for L’Equipe which had also anchored on the other side of the Sapelo Sound.


We resumed our meandering through Georgia, the sun was shining, we had hoped going much further down and anchor again in some little creek but after the fog delay we decided to stop at Jekyll Harbour Marina… the last bit of the way was Jekyll Creek and it looked like someone had pulled the plug as there was so little water… we saw 3’8 (+2’ for the keel) which is not very much since we draw 5’, needless to say we were crawling along so that if we hit bottom it would be a gentle hit, to the despair of Heinz who was following us and plowing through the mud a good part of the time and needed speed not to loose momentum and steerage!!!

Anyhow no one went aground although the tow boat from “Boats Us” was lurking around figuring they had a couple of potential customers….sorry guys not today!!!

We had dinner on board and were invited to L’Equipe for a counsel of war as Jacqueline had found a bottle of Babancour (a delicious rum from Haiti which we discovered last year) and I brought some baklava from Marche Akavan which unbelievably has not gone stale yet… so this was our first cockpit party!

We should be in Florida by now, although new have not seen any sign of welcome, David is still wearing his watch cap and neck warmer…. but no socks or long underwear so that’s a good sign!

It’s only 12:20 and I think I will go and search charts and guides to see if I can find another anchorage further than Fernandina Beach.

ttfn
New Tea Kettle Creek GA 20071125

I could say that I have been lazy about blogging so far but by the time Jacqueline and I spent the day provisioning and then even more stressful stowing it all away and doing this day after day for a week, I had no energy at the end of the day…. Hopefully this will now change.

At 0730 this morning we severed our umbilical cords, yes there are several, water, power and of course mooring lines but most important the use of the Weber’s van and availability of all the trappings of civilization…just one more ciabbatta…a few more packs of Cape Cod chips… Well that’s all over now, no more panic ….did I forget anything…well if I did we will have to do without it, I don’t think that I could have gone to Publix (local super market) one more time if you paid me.

The day’s run was pleasantly uneventful, winding our way through the golden marshes of Georgia again, some people might find them boring or dull, but I love their simple understated beauty. We saw our first dolphins, egrets, cormorants and my favourites, the pelicans flying in perfect fighter pilot formation, inches from the water’s surface.

David was at the helm as usual with the occasional short relief from yours truly…. This was an almost 9 hour run.

We are now anchored in New Tea Kettle Creek in almost the same spot as last time and it is a nice quiet evening, somewhat overcast so we will not be treated to a Georgia marsh sunset today..

The sun is getting low and it is starting to get cool in the cabin… Heinz suggested we open the engine compartment door… that Westerbeke certainly produces a lot of heat and we’ll probably have to light up our little Origo alcohol stove later on.



Time to think about supper… a nice thick Tuscan soup with ciabbatta sounds like good comfort food on a chilly night.

As Catherine has said we are now underway, at long last, I was getting tired of spending time in Thunderbolt shipyard, although the people were very nice to us and most accommodating.

An uneventful first days run – it was nice to see our speed over the ground increase to something over ten knots despite engine revs for seven – that’s the beauty of getting the tides in the right place !! A couple of spots where we had to slow down as the water got a little skinny but both boats eased through it without any problem. So here we are in New Teakettle Creek peacefully at anchor and about to have supper. Tomorrow it’s another start at daybreak (about 07.00 hrs in these parts). We have hopes of making Fernandina Beach with no stop at Jekyll Island…… Florida at last and hopefully warmer than it has been in Georgia this past couple of days !! Who would have thought that we would have had to break out the long underwear, Guernsey sweaters and Musto jackets this far South .

All for now – bibi.

2007/11/21

Thunderbolt 20.11.07
Another glorious day – sun – not a cloud in the sky – 80*F temp and lots and lots of work!!! Catherine and Jacqueline disappeared at around 09.30 hrs to reappear at around 15.00 hrs with a van full of food…….. food in cans, food in boxes, food in bags, etc etc but no fresh meat or veggies – that comes tomorrow.

Meantime this scribe assisted Greg, from the shipwright yard, in drilling holes in our beautiful boat and erecting our new wind generator. Now, as many of you may realize the last thing any sailor wants to do is drill holes in your hull – holes let water in, and that’s a bad thing !!! Not to worry however, all was done in a most professional manner and we are very content to see the new addition to “Solitaire”s stern. Tomorrow the electrician is supposed to come to wire everything up, there’s one more hole to drill, and, with the help of the Honda generator we should be yet another step closer to being entirely self sufficient. Amazing how one needs electricity and how careful one is when you have to produce it yourself, rather than just switch on a light !

A note …. The resident photographer will post a couple of snaps of the new addition in a short while .




David was inspired and went up to fix Soli's booties too.


















He also put into practice his long ago learnt skill of splicing rope...don't think he welcomed the interuption for picture taking!









”L’Equipe” also now sports the same machine, not on her stern, but above the radar dome on her mizzen mast, also very impressive. We hope that our expectations are not too far fetched !!

The boat is still something of a mess, but slowly but surely she is coming together, clothes are being put away, I have been told that if my clothes do not fit into a drawer and a shelf then I have too much……… probably true, but my clothes, being larger than the Admiral’s, take up more room !! (the skipper’s shelf and his drawer are also proportionately larger!) Ah well, some will have to go home. Since we have the Weber’s van here in Thunderbolt we are filling a box with stuff that we don’t really need to go back to Montreal , so maybe some of the surplus clothes will go home.
As I write this Catherine is doing the dishes, after our first home cooked meal for a week or more, it really all seems to be coming together! It is a very nice change after eating out for so long! Last night we went to River Drive in Savannah, where we had docked the previous cruise, a delicious meal at The Boar’s Head, and maybe the last meal out for some time. That said, as those of you who have followed the previous blog will have noted, we do not exactly starve when the ladies are cooking !!

It is 21.00 hrs and about our bed time…… yes we really do go to bed quite early, ready for that early start in the morning so will hand over to the Admiral.

Bonsoir!

The admiral is also ready to crawl into bed with “Gone with the wind” I read it a very long time ago but CJ (Catherine Junior) lent me a copy and it is so very suitable as we are in Georgia enjoying “Southern hospitality” and the remarkably wonderful friendly people….”y’all this and y’all that”… I am expecting Scarlett or Rhett to appear any minute. The trees are sumptuously dripping with Spanish moss… must take my camera tomorrow and take a few pics.




I am reminded of all the people who asked about our “VACATION” last winter!!!! I AM on vacation at home sitting in front of computer … here I hardly sit to have a meal (when I find time to have a meal) and David is equally busy readying the boat for our departure and on the phone and computer working hard to fix ships who said men can’t multi task!

I was unable to post…it appears that Wi-Fi in this marina only works at high tide!!!! As the tide is about 10 feet we are way down at the moment and not getting a signal… the next high tide should be in the middle of the night but I am sorry to say it is beyond my level of dedication to stay up to post…will have to wait until tomorrow.

2007/11/20



Thunderbolt GA 07.11.18

It is now five days since we left Montreal and this will be the first report of the new cruise south.

We left Montreal at 06.30 hrs in the Weber’s Windstar and crossed into the USA by the 1000 Islands Bridge. A very picturesque drive with no excitements at all, but time to enjoy the scenery and the colours of Virginia which were in full spate and magnificent. We have done this trip previously taking the road closer to the coast, which entails much more traffic and passing through the outskirts of New York and Baltimore so this time was a treat and far more colourful. Our first night was in Woodstock VA and the second day passed in similar fashion enjoying the scenery. We arrived in Savannah at about 17.30 hrs and enjoyed our first shrimp dinner at Tubby’s a local watering hole where we have eaten three times to date. We stayed at La Quinta hotel for the first three nights since, for the first two the boats were still on the hard and for the third night it was quite cold, but have been living aboard since then.


Thursday 15th we were on board “Solitaire 1” at 07.30 hrs and hard at work preparing her for the launch. The next day was spent polishing the hull and at close to noon the trailer came and we were off to the launching, always a nerve wracking moment. All went very smoothly, the people at this yard are very professional, as they must be, considering the size of the boats around – we, at 40’, are dinghies compared to most of the boats that they handle. For example there is a 135 Perini Navi on the hard being refurbished at present!!

We had remembered all the seacocks and “Solitaire 1” took to the water as to the manner borne – more importantly the engine started with little fuss and so we moved out of the launching area stern first, and onto our berth for the next week or so. “L’Equipe” followed soon after with, again, no excitements.

Since then it has been work, work and more work. We now have the sails bent on and arranged as they should be – we have given the engine and all water intakes etc a good inspection and cleaning, clothes are slowly but surely being put away and the cabin is not looking such a disaster area. Tomorrow the 19th we expect to have our new wind generator installed so that the batteries will be charged by the wind – our new Honda generator will also help with this, so we hope not to have to run the engine as much as we did last cruise when moored in Hopetown for three or four weeks.
Jacqueline fixing up the spreader boots on L'Equipe ...

Both “Solitaire 1” and “L’Equipe” are starting to look as they should, and it will not be long before we are able to cast off and start our new adventure. We look forward to that moment. One thing that we have noticed is the large number of boats passing through on their way south – Canadians, Americans one flying the Dutch flag this afternoon and a couple of French flags have all passed on their way South. It’s time for us !!!

T’is getting late so will close for the moment.

2007/04/23

2007.04.23

It is a few days since we last wrote anything and now our voyage is coming to a close and slowly the bonds of a land based life are increasing already. Are we really ready for this, we ask ourselves........???

We last wrote from Fernandina Beach where we spent one night and had supper ashore at a place recommended by marina staff but truthfully I don';t think that Catherine and i were overly impressed. The following morning , since a comparatively short passage was planned we left at 08.00 hrs bound for Jekyll Island . An uneventful day but with a lot of traffic both north and southbound and we arrived at the marina at 12.00 hrs where we took on fuel as there are few places to replenish on the ICW in this part without leaving the channel and disappearing into the wilds of Georgia.

A quiet night but a very nice marina - they served us great hamburgers for lunch. We also met a very pleasant couple sailing their C & C 38 back to the Chesapeake from the Bahamas - George showed me how his satellite weather mapping system worked ...... now that's a new toy !! Covers the whole of the USA and shows everything that you could possibly wish to know about the weather.

It came in useful the following day.... we were scheduled to depart at dawn ( about 06.45) but after meeting up with George and his weather map decided that discretion might be the better part of valour once again as there were several squalls and thunder showers forecats for the area as a new cold front was passing through. So we waited and before long saw the thunder showers had passed so departed at 08.30 again in company with the C & C and a couple of other boats. It was very windy and we were not making a great deal of headway, in addition to which it was quite cold to the extent that i was wearing shorts but short, polar fleece and squall jacket on my top....... my warm woollen watch cap pulled well down over my ears completed the picture !!!

By one p m we had all had enough so found a delightful little anchorage in Tea Kettle Creek ( yes all the creeks have similar names - remember Cow Pen Creek on the way south) . We anchored behind a small trawler (Carina) that was part of our convoy of four boats. As predicted by the weather forecasts the wind died by the evening and we spent a very peaceful night on the hook.

We were up at dawn and underway by 07.00 hrs on the 21st in order to get the most out of a flood tide, but also because we wanted to reach our destination of Thunderbolt that afternoon. We had 60 miles to do . The weather was glorious light winds on occasion from the right direction so that we were able to sail as we wended our tortuous path through the Georgia swamps and crossed two sounds. It is fascinating to be able to see for miles across flat marshes and to see other boats' masts in the distance doing the same trip.

The trip was great - we had timed things perfectly we had a flood tide most of the way and by the time the tide had turned we were in the river system leading to Thunderbolt so that was pushing us along at eight plus knots. We arrived and docked at a very quiet and deserted marine yard at 15.15 hrs.

Eventually we found the dockmaster of the marina part of the facility who showed us around and gave us a map of the area. Since then Sunday was spent taking the sails off the boat and letting the air out of, and packing up our dinghy.

Monday has been a mad whirl of meeting the dock people, all exceptionally nice, friendly anad very professional, finding a very super marine store just down the street, making arrangements to meet with a canvas specialist for dodger/ bimini repairs and perhaps to make covers for our deck hatchesto keep the sum out of the boat. We have also rented a car so now have wheels and it is already packed with the dinghy and genoa, since both are likely to be replaced for our next trip in November.

At present the plan is for us to be hauled out of the water on Wednesday morning - before that we need to change the engine oil and filters also probably the fuel filter - we need to go to the fuel dock and top up our diesel oil since the recommendation is to leave her with a full tank and of course thoroughly clean and flush our holding tank - we do not wish to leave that in the Georgia heat anything but in pristine condition!!

So, the adventure for this year is slowly coming to a conclusion, by this time next week we should be back in Montreal and I shall have had my first day in the office. I cannot help but wonder how I shall feel....!

Enough for now and over to the Admiral for her closing comments, if any.

Good night!

2007/04/18

2007.04.18

Last blog was on the 13th…. MANATEES DAY!

From Titusville we made our way North to Daytona Beach to yet another marina … Halifax River Marina, we stayed there some 3 days to wait out bad weather…. That’s when Montreal got all that snow and New York 8 inches of rain in one day… a record !!!

Daytona Beach was a good place to get my restowing seriously underway so now all our dry goods are stored as previously explained and even our clothes are packed….. we have so much clothing on board it is insane…. We had some to start with from cruising on Lake Champlain then brought more as we started phase one to Baltimore and then more again when we flew down to Balto ….. I counted for myself only 26 short sleeve t-shirts, 13 long sleeve ones.. I did not know I owned that many… I probably wore the same 6 the whole time in the Bahamas!!!! David was not much better and I think he has more shoes on board than Imelda Marcos !!!! so it is a good thing we are renting a car to drive back as it is ALL going home and we will start fresh and hopefully streamlined next season!!!!



We left Daytona just as the sun was peaking over the landscape ... a beautiful crisp morning ...we bundled up with fleece and jackets but still in shorts and no socks ...after all this IS Florida!!!










The next leg of the trip, Daytona Beach to St. Augustine was uneventful… except for the fact that we were stopped and boarded by the Florida Law Enforcement.. (the cops), it was quite impressive, their boat followed us and as we slowed down one officer came on board , he asked to see the boat’s documents, asked about our safety gear, fire extinguishers, PFDs, VHF etc. but was most interested in our holding tank setup….we have a “Y” valve which was fortunately in the proper position ie to the holding tank and not overboard….






He said that it should be locked in that position… so I produced a little plastic tie and that made us all legal !!!! he was a nice chap and gave me permission to take his picture for our blog then called his partner to come and pick him up...






The weather had been great clear blue skies and a nice gentle breeze…. We arrived at St. Augustine Municipal Marina ...they did not roll out the red carpet but came pretty close with this blue mat... I think they were hoping we would buy it!!!










They are located just South of the Bridge of Lions…which was in a bad state of repair, so it was decided to redo it…. In order not to interrupt traffic, they first built a new bridge, a temporary one, then demolished the original bridge, they are now in the process of rebuilding it, as there are four small historic looking towers which belong to the original bridge which they wish to preserve and then they will tear down the temporary bridge…. WOW !!!

St Augustine is one of the oldest settlements in America, founded in 1565 by the Spanish, they have the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America… it is very quaint, charming and full of history…. We have promised ourselves to spend an extra day here next time and visit all the interesting sites.

We had a very good supper in a nice pub the “1A1” which had been recommended by a charming couple , Pat and Lloyd, who were walking the docks, looking at boats, as we all do… we then went in search of our ice cream place which was closed so off to bead early as we had another early start this morning.



This lovely cormorant was on our dock as we pulled away....doing what cormorants seem to do most of the time when they are not in the water...dry their wings!!!!

We have been underway since 0715 as we wanted to make the 0730 Bridge of Lions opening…failing to do so we would have been stuck until 0900 as it does not open during rush hour, we have been traveling in this smoke all morning ….




David finally asked one of the bridge masters what it was and we were told that there is a fire in GEORGIA !!!! Must be a very big fire ….I hope it is not where we are going!!!!!

This evening, we are planning to stop in Fernandina Beach and will most likely anchor as we did on the way down….sorry this is not more interesting …so I will stop for now as my eyes are stinging from the smoke.




We actually docked at the Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina as we needed fuel and I picked up a brochure on Manetees.... the calves are 3 to 4 feet and weigh 60 to 70 lbs at birth.... now, that's some baby to push out but on the other end the mama is likely to be 13 feet long and could weigh as much as 3000 lbs... the pamphlet also said you should not touch them....ooops ! I hope my friend will not squeal on me.... after all SHE did turn on her back to have her belly rubbed!!

2007/04/14

2007.04.13 Vero Beach FL

Friday the thirteenth!!!! Good thing we are not superstitious ….

We stayed at Vero Beach as planned …. Pretty uneventful… I went for a short walk and saw some beautiful Spanish moss hanging from live oak trees, this is a very typical southern US type of vegetation and brings Scarlet O’Hara to mind, sorry I did not have my camera with me….I was only going to check out wifi availability and got carried away….I am always sorry when I don’t have my camera with me and am usually told “you don’t need to take IT…”

We had a nice little supper in the cockpit and went to bed early in preparation for a long trek the next day….. David as usual is a mean driving machine whether at the wheel of a car or the helm of a boat, he can go on for 8,10, and 12 hours and stays concentrated and focused… never complains and does not seem to get tired…. I need to helm when he needs to go below and with all the tea I feed him it’s amazing he does not need relief from the helm more often !!!!

I spend the day doing everything from cleaning…. Yesterday I did quite a nice job outside, to cooking and tidying up…I also keep the logbook Tony gave us as well as talk to bridge masters etc, not much need of my help with navigation except today when we went through a few very shallow spots…..alway the risk of going aground!

I am now starting to get Soli ready for decommissioning, although the food stores have gone down drastically, there still remains things to stow for the summer months that we will be away…. BAY LEAVES are the magic ingredient…. All the dry goods are put into Ziplock bags with bay leaves and then into a large plastic bin we were given in West End ….apparently little beasties do not like them!!!!!

Talking about the less appetizing fauna in these parts….I found a water cockroach on the deck this morning as I was taking the fenders in…I rapidly stepped on it and got a juicy green stain on the deck…..David said that they love dark places so I got thoroughly paranoid and removed the covers from all the fenders waiting for a whole army to come out but the whole thing was for naught,,,, there was only the one …but at least now I know for certain!!!










Still on the local fauna… this morning, in Titusville Harbour, we were treated to the visit of a whole family of manatees … we had seen signs forbidding the feeding of manatees and GIVING THEM WATER!!! I still do not understand this …they seem to love fresh water, so this morning as I was filling up the tanks I let the hose spill in the harbour for a while and then I heard this funny noise at the bow… I could not believe my eyes, there were FIVE of the most gentle, slow moving, huge creatures around Soli… out came the camera but they were so close and so large I could not get a shot of a whole manatee….





They are so sweet and gentle they were kissing Soli, kissing each other and looking at us ….I actually was able to caress one on her back…very thick skin, sort of like an elephant’s with algae growing on it…I can’t believe she felt my touch through that thick skin, but next thing I knew she rolled over on her back and exposed a lovely soft light colored belly for me to scratch…..








There was a baby, about five or six feet long, and it kept close to its mother ,,,,,they appear to kiss …they are probably eating the algae off each other’s backs.. they certainly did a good job on Soli’s water line.



We are now in Daytona Beach at Halifax Harbour Marina and will probably wait out some bad weather predicted for this weekend in comfort and safety.

Good night!

2007/04/12

2007.04.11 Palm Beach FL

The “crossing” was brilliant after watching a magnificent sunrise over our Abacos....7 and a half hours of motorsailing with a nice South Easterly wind, the seas were very tame, with the swells going South and the waves going North but all very smooth…. We were doing between 7.5 and Knots SOG (speed over the ground). It is amazing how good planning can make something potentially uncomfortable to down right dangerous a very pleasant experience…. We had received the go ahead from Chris Parker and he was right on again …

Then it was back to “civilization” with the high rise towers of Palm Beach appearing on the horizon…more like culture shock for us after more than three months bumming around the Abacos !!!

We anchored in the same place as on the way out in North Palm Beach right across from Rybovitch… checked in with US custom & immigration by cell phone , after holding on the line for half an hour….”your call is important to us ..remain on the line to maintain your priority..” we were only afraid the battery on the cell would die before our turn came, but it all worked out and we received a clearance number and instructions to present ourselves at their office within 24 hours!

The next morning after a pretty negative experience at Riviera Beach Municipal Marina where we were supposed to go (we did not even dock!!!) we made our way further North to Old Port Cove Marina who greeted us very nicely and with Soli and L’Equipe safely tied to the dock we hopped into a cab and made our way to the immigration office… since we had given them all the info on the phone the day before, the clearance number brought us up on the computer, they stamped our passports and we were off to our first “American “ lunch…no more grouper burgers for me!!!!!

After a quiet afternoon, the skies opened up and we were treated to squalls, thunder and lightning and the radio kept blaring on about tornado warnings in the Palm Beach area… that did not augur well for our trip today but it shortly calmed down and we went to supper at the “Club” which was quite smart … the food delicious and the prices very fair… we might consider staying here next time instead of Lantana… and the Publix was within walking distance …. Need I say more!!!!!

We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunny day, although still quite humid…. I don’t think I like Florida at this time of year… humidity and bugs…. This bring us up to date ….we are now plowing our way back up the ICW… admiring the beautiful villas and wondering AGAIN… where do all these people get the money for the real estate and the toys parked in front and back of the mansions!
I have just made a reservation at Vero Beach (aka Velcro Beach by some people who find it hard to leave!!!)..




Oh !!! and we were just treated to a pair of dolphins swimming alongside Soli… they jumped out of the water





and gave us a refreshing splash to greet us back to Florida along with the magnificent Pelicans which we never saw in the Abacos… I guess Florida is not so bad after all!!!!

2007/04/11

2007.04.11

Well we are now back on the ICW (Intracoastal Water Ways, in case you forgot) and truly on our way North.

We have just said goodbye and lost sight of L’Equipe as they stopped to anchor in Hoby Sound to wait for high tide in order to go up the channel to Stuart, I believe Marcel St. Onge (whom we met in Marsh Harbour) is going to escort them to the Hinkley Yard….sorry we did not get to see you again Marcel but we are trucking North!!!!!
It is actually the first time since November of last year that Soli and L’Equipe have been out of sight of each other except for a quick trip back to Marsh Harbour for repairs on Soli's furler ….






Now, last time we talked was D’s birthday in Westend.. we had a nice potluck supper aboard L’Equipe...



smoked salmon. grilled chicken, caesar salad. rillettes. cheese and birthday cake...

J baked these very creative looking, artisanal and delicious baguettes for the occasion