7th December 2008

Hooray – we’re off!!!!

At last we have left Thunderbolt Marine and are now on our way south, spending this first night on the road in Killkenny Creek Marina. We decided to stop here rather than anchor because of the cold weather and here we have power and that means our heat pump is working full blast!!!

Where to begin….. On Friday 5th all sorts of riggers and the electrician descended finally on the boat and fitted our new solar panels above the bimini… We have high hopes that they will look after much of our power needs. The riggers were finished very close to knocking off time at 16.00 hrs but we were saved by the electrician – Calvin – who stayed on overtime to finish hooking up everything – a most professional and very nice individual, originally from St Thomas. Calvin also helped David get out heat pump going and I am now WARM, Thank you!

Since it was late on Friday evening when all the work was finished we decided to leave on Sunday morning rather than, as originally intended on the Saturday. Saturday was spent loading the dinghy onto the foredeck and lashing it down, tidying and cleaning the boat up again, so that she was shipshape and generally getting everything ready for a Sunday departure.

In the meantime Catherine went up the road to make a few final purchases, which included five pounds of the most delicious fresh shrimp, the first pound of which we consumed on Saturday evening as a farewell to Thunderbolt. They were, as all who have enjoyed Catherine’s cooking , will know , were absolutely delicious. She did admit to me afterwards that the fisherman who sold the shrimp to her had given her instructions as to how to cook them to the best! We were also treated to a Xmas parade of boats all decked out in lights....the generators must have been going full blast!

Sunday dawned bright and clear,. We had a leisurely start to the day since we knew from past experience that this first day’s run would not be long, about four and a half hours. We also did not wish to arrive at a particularly difficult and narrow passage at anything less than close to high tide, so we thought to leave at around 10.00 hrs.

All went well, until the instruments were switched on and “James” , our automatic pilot, decided to go on strike. Since all the instruments are connected together through a computer all our other instruments were not working and all showing “Error 17” with a loud buzzing. Much muttering…!!! James has rested all summer so why strike now???

Back into our large cockpit locker, take out all the stuff that had been so carefully stowed and start tracing wires. Several telephone calls to our guru, back in Montreal, who had set all these instruments up, unload the aft cabin with many stores, and dismantle panels to get at more wiring. Nothing doing…. David Hudson, in Montreal, issuing instructions as to where to look and what wires to tweak or check with our ammeter, which neither of us really knew how to use, but we found nothing. Finally “James” was disconnected and low and behold we had the other instruments reading correctly, but without the pilot it would be a long voyage and we really did not know where there might be a competent service centre. Besides, although I hate to admit it, “James” does steer very well, almost better and straighter than I!!

A rapid conference as to what we should do, during which time Catherine went and fiddled with wires that we had already fiddled with and spoke lovingly to them and to the recalcitrant striker. She plugged them all back and low and behold, he smiled and started working again as if nothing had happened.

It was, by now 12.30 hrs and our window was getting rapidly smaller, but we decided to make a run for it, figuring that we could make this stop before dark, just, if the gods were smiling upon us. They were! With the current we were making 7.5 knots, the one bridge which had to open to let us through and which might have delayed us promptly opened with a cheery “Come on up Cap’n and I’ll open for you”, when we called the bridge master on the VHF and we were through and continuing on our way. We arrived at Hells Gate (the narrow shallow passage) about half an hour after high water so no problem there and so on uneventfully to this marina, with “James” happily driving us along.

The weather bright sun but cold, with both of us in long johns heavy sweaters and jackets, the wind from the north and thus at our backs which made life pretty bearable, but it was still chilly, hence the reason to stop here rather than anchor out. We have both decided that we are getting too old not to have our creature comforts and one of those is heat when we need it and can get it!!

An early start tomorrow since we have quite a way to go to the old private reserve of the Rockerfellers and sundry other wealthy gentlemen of a by gone era, namely Jekyl Island.

After that it’s on to Fernandina Beach and Florida. Don’t know whether we are going to make Hope Town in time for Christmas, but after all we are cruising and we do not have a schedule to make on this voyage, unlike last year.

We do not have any wifi here, in fact we only have a very weak cell ‘phone signal, so this will have to wait to be posted from Jekyl Island tomorrow along with some of the pictures that the resident photographer, come chef, come electrical engineer come everything has taken. She is texting with grand daughter Kaitkyn at the moment…complaing that her thumbs are not as nimble as Kait’s.

By the way… a note to Fil, please tell Dom that I thoroughly enjoyed his first novel, a good tale with wonderful descriptions of little Italy. Catherine is immersed in the book now and is also thoroughly enjoying it. Congratulations to Dom on his first novel and for any other readers of this blog, the book is at Chapters, City of Sinners, by D.C. Iannuzzi, and is a worthwhile read, so try it, you will certainly enjoy it!

All for now…. Tata.


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