2010.11.27  Camachee Cove, St. Augustine

We had a really good, easy day...this morning Angie (Lady of Lorien) came a knocking and said "the boat next to us left...there is an open slip if you want to move" and we did just that after topping up our tank.
It was a beautiful crisp sunny day....just the way I like them, no humidity a nice little breeze so no bugs...just perfect. I cleaned, tidied up, did some laundry, put my plants in the sun and generally enjoyed the simple life of a cruiser while at a dock. Tomorrow will may borrow a courtesy car and go for a spin around town...St Augustine is the oldest settlement in the USA.
It is awfully comfortable I must say, the A/C or heat running on shore power at will, no restriction on water etc., quite decadent...must find out their monthly rates...just kidding the high seas and Hope Town beckons us!!!

We had supper on board and went for a nice walk all the way around the harbor...we are on the north side (although they call it the East side) of the harbor so we have to walk all around to get to the happening part, where we stayed last year....there is a boat I am in love with, her name is "Blue Star" ...just understated elegance, must find out what she is! 'Tis a very nice evening, a fleece, skirt and crocs may not be the height of elegance but is me at my best.

We are awaiting a number of people to descend upon Soli on Monday to start canvas, rigging and most important refrigeration work...we cannot go to the Bahamas without it and right now our 12 volt refrigeration is totally  kaput ...so when Mike comes on board on Monday morning I will put shackles around his ankle and not let him off until it is working satisfactorily... hope he is not reading this or he may not come.

Boats like computers are finicky things....they are wonderful when everything works, but a lot of hassle and worry when that's not the case....and of course I am waiting for that freezer to work so I can stock up on goodies.

I have just finished reading "The strange last voyage of Donald Crawhurst" and am amazed at how these round the world sailors, in the sixties, used to be gone offshore for eight months and manage to stow enough provisions and especially water....what extraordinary courage and tenacity they had...


2010.11.25 Thanksgiving in Fernandina Beach

I have not got off to a very good start , but of course David has been writing so I did not have to. …I spent a WHOLE day on Tuesday to get the blog up and running again as it looked like I could not upload pics anymore then it went from bad to worse and I thought I had lost or killed the whole thing …but tenacity prevailed and we are up and running with a slightly new and improved format. (that BTW is not either one of us surfing in case you were wondering!!!).

We had a longer than expected stay on St. Simons Island as we needed to make repairs to our raw water pump…so after the parts were Fedexed to our friendly local West Marine and Wayne installed  the new impeller with much huffing and puffing and "sorry Mam" and we had to battle again with the alternator belt which had somehow gotten loose AGAIN!

We woke up this morning in an absolute pea soup but by 1000 it had cleared up enough for the skipper to see his way through and we cast off. It was a good day’s run to Fernandina, with no trouble….we were very glad to have gone inside this time as we could see the thick fog banks to the East. It was especially easy for me as David drove and I cleaned up our nav table and tidied up below.
Good thing the skipper has radar and a track and of course old salt savvy!

Still looks pretty foggy to me!

The gang that hangs out under Jekyll Bridge.

Look at that fog bank to the East.

Sunset in Fernandina beach.
I did come up on a couple of occasions…one of them was to look at the horses on Cumberland Island WITH MY BINOCULARS…we WILL stop next time!!!!

We arrived in Fernandina Beach (never have seen the beach mind you) and we are soon going to hit the showers and go for a hopefully nice turkey dinner….so nice Americans walking by our boat said “of course you don’t celebrate our Than
ksgiving” to which we replied “yes we do, we swing both ways”. Pretty sure our favorite ice cream and fudge shop will be closed ..
I did break out the old conch shell ....pretty rusty... ME not the shell, just missing my buddy Steve !

                                       HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!


2010.11.22 St Simon's Island

St. Simon’s Island ………….

The last few days of our stay in Thunderbolt  was a flurry of activity…..   preparing  the boat, cleaning and preparing our dinghy – Catherine doing her provisioning and making sure that her herb garden was arranged to her specifications.  The market garden which has prepared all her herb gardens have really done a super job this time !  We complained that over last voyage much of the soil/peat moss was blown into the cockpit by the wind, this time we have small pebbles covering the soil and we think that this will prevent much of the soil blowing in the wind!
Our new herb garden safely tucked away in the galley sink ready for our first sea passage.
We stowed VV in a locked garage and bid her farewell.

Looking good
On  Sunday at 07.00 hrs we finally cast off our moorings and sailed alone down the Wilmington River.  “Indian Summer” looked forlorn, alone in the yard, but we have had nothing but encouraging news of our friend Steve and his battle, so are confident that we shall indeed sail together next year. 

Instead of turning out of the Wilmington river into the ICW, we kept going, as we did last year, and headed for the sea.  It was a picture perfect day…..  hot sun, clear blue sky and unlimited visibility.  The wind from the NE was gentle at maybe 10 knots most of the time, and pretty much astern.  Since we were wanting to make time I am afraid that we did not sail (or motor sail) but motored and made a very steady 7.5 knots over the ground.
Consequently our arrival in St Simon’s Island was well before dark, which had been worrying the Admiral somewhat.

An interesting tidbit we found that we could use Catherine’s Blackberry most of the time even though we were between ten and twelve miles off the coast on the voyage.  Impressive !!!

Another interesting tidbit was to see the thousands (maybe millions) of jelly fish in the water….  We have never seen so many in a constant stream between the entrance to the Wilmington River in Wassaw sound and the entrance channel to Brunswick Harbour just floating along .  They were a dullish brown in colour with a dark purple fringe around the bottom where their  tentacles would have been, although they did not seem to have any tentacles.  Not nice and slightly unnerving as had heard a story some time ago of a boat which had sucked jelly fish into its water cooling resulting in the engine overheating and eventually stopping.  Not sure whether this is an old wives tale or not but thankfully it did not happen to us!

We were also treated to the spectacle of a very large fish – no idea what it was  - and by the time Catherine was primed to take a snap, it disappeared.   It was large – I thought that it could have been a shark by the shape of its tail but don’t really have any idea.  It was clearing the surface of the sea by some four or five feet, we would estimate.
Did not catch the flying shark ...this awful looking car carrier is poor substitute....sorry!

Sunset over the Brunswick bridge.

New moon smiling down on us at Golden Isles  marina

Our arrival at Golden Isles Marina was uneventful and it was nice to be greeted by Melissa the dock master par excellence !!   A quiet night with an early turn in time. 

This morning we started the engine for our normal fridge temperature reduction…  remember our electrical refrigeration is still not working, so we must run the engine at least once a day to keep the freezer frozen.  All was well for fifteen minutes or so but then disaster – no water coming out of the back.   Switch the engine off quickly to avoid overheating and then start looking for trouble.

Open up the raw water strainer hoping not to find too many mashed up jelly fish  (see above) – all clean and actually remarkably so considering some of the junk that is floating in the rivers around the Georgia marshes.  The next on the list is the water pump which we chose to have looked at professionally .   Wayne arrived this evening and removed the pump and although the impeller looked to be not totally destroyed it was condemned as being shot.  We produced the four spares that we have kept aboard for just this eventuality and …oh no….  all were condemned as being used or too old for use !

So here we are …. Tomorrow our first telephone call is to West Marine to order (we hope) a new impeller or two actually and have one of them fitted in the evening by our friend Wayne.   After that it is onwards to the south……  we are running afoul of the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, which is almost as big or bigger holiday as Christmas, and consequently all our gentlemen and women who are to descend upon the boat in St Augustine are busy celebrating until Monday 29th.

So……..present plans are to dawdle to St Augustine and get there on or about Saturday  so that we have the weekend to gather ourselves for the hordes to board “Solitaire 1” on Monday and complete the bits and pieces that need to be completed…..  hopefully we shall have a fully working refrigeration working before we leave !!!

Bi 4 now.


2010.11.17 It’s Fall…… so it must be Thunderbolt !!!

Yes, indeed, here we are once again getting “Soli” ready for her 2010/2011 cruise southwards and she has weathered her summer well !!

We left Montreal on Monday 8th after a delicious lunch chez Mrs. B. aka Wendy, Catherine’s youngest. The U S border posed no problems thanks to our Nexus cards but once into the Adirondacks, the rain which had been falling steadily all day, turned to sleet and eventually snow as we were crossing the higher elevations. Not particularly fun, and we passed several cars which had slipped off the road, however we had no problem and arrived at our friends, Rick and Diane, in Clifton Park on schedule. We were treated to a delicious supper and turned in early as we had an early start the next day.
Our next stop was in New Bern NC to visit cruising buddies from last year and to visit a town, about which we had heard very good things. The distance was 1050 kms or 753 miles which meant that we had to be up and on the road in good time, but owing to a good breakfast and good conversation we did not get away until 07.45 hrs. The driving was easy, traffic comparatively light for the area through which we were travelling and delays none, so we were pulling into our friends driveway in New Bern at 20.30 hrs.

It was nice to watch the outside air temperature slowly rise as we moved south, from a chilly 1* C as we left Clifton Park to a high of 19* C and a cooler 12* C as we arrived.

A drink and a slice of pizza went down well, as we caught up with Gail and Dennis but it was an early night for us after all the driving..

McGuffin at her backyard dock...how classy is that!
 David & Dennis
Gail and Dennis with a New Bern bear (bern is bear in German!)

A quiet morning and then a visit to New Bern and lunch overlooking the Neuse River , followed by a walking tour of the town. What a delightful town it is too, twinned with Berne in Switzerland and with many Swiss connections etc. Gail and Dennis’ house is a delight, somewhat out of the main town but on a creek, “Macguffin” moored at the bottom of the back garden with her own jetty. For us the house was reminiscent of the old southern plantation houses with covered balconies all the way across the back overlooking the creek , boat and back garden. A wonderful visit and we shall miss the Kennedys on our voyage to the Bahamas this year.

We departed New Bern around 10.00 hrs and had a trouble and stress free trip down I 95 and into Savannah. Our first visit, of course, was to “Solitaire 1” whom we found in very good shape, even the Admiral had no complaints, and a cheery Kevin was even there to greet us. After a quick inspection it was off to find our hotel, it’s getting more expensive but still only USD 55.00 - a good steak dinner and bed finished the day.
Wonderful Victory drive in Savannah

Soli and VV were reaquinted!!!

This is what UV rays did to our dark green nylon cover!

Since our arrival we have been hard at work, the Admiral particularly so in the boat, cleaning and tidying the storage and complaining about the amount of bits and pieces that we have managed to accumulate over the years. My motto “you never know when

It will come in handy “ has tended to fall upon deaf ears for the most part !!!

We had a slight scare t’other day when we were unable to get hold of the chap who was storing our sails… did not answer our e mails, did not answer his office ‘phone or cell ‘phone and we were unable to leave a message as his mail box was filled…. etc etc . We had visions of being all set to leave but with no sails. A quick trip to Hilton Head Island reassured us that the loft was still in business and a very helpful neighbour promised to ensure that the loft delivered our sails in the morning. Whilst having dinner that evening we received an e mail saying …. sorry I have been camping and out of touch but I will deliver your sails in the morning………!!! Not very professional but all’s well that ends well and we now have our sails.

Today (17th) it was a beautiful bright sunny Savannah morning and we did indeed put up our sail . We were launched yesterday morning and in fact for the first time in living memory we were not in attendance for the launch, too busy chatting to Catherine Jnr. in Rome and ogling our newest grand daughter on Skype!! It was different to be able to admire that gorgeous dark green hulled machine gliding across the harbour from our car….. who are those lucky people to own that boat …???? Apparently the engine started first crank always a big plus!!
David and Kevin after the "splash"

Our new full cockpit enclosure is slowly taking shape and will be very nice once finished. Cindy our canvas maker was on board doing some last minute fitting just before we were launched and it is going to be very nice when all finished and will give us about a third more living space. We are impressed with the quality of work of the bimini and dodger . We are looking forward to getting to St Augustine Fl. and getting everything completed..

In fact we may well go directly to St Augustine and stay there for a week not only to complete the canvas but also to get all the bugs out of our refrigeration which needs some heavy duty attention… we really do not wish to have the same problems with that system as we have had for the past three years. I have promised Catherine a day or more in Cumberland Island just north of Fernandina Beach for the past eight passings and

on this occasion we were all prepared to drop the hook and walk through the reserve (the whole island is a nature reserve), but maybe we will give it a miss on the southbound voyage in order to get all our work done quickly in St Augustine and visit north bound next year.

So that’s it for us so far – the admiral will probably do some editing and add some words of wisdom … probably the next will be from St Augustine Florida.



2010.11.25 busy summer

We did have a busy summer... traveled across Canada in our trusty 11 year old Volvo,  went on a cruise to Alaska and drove back across the USA....I will not bore you at this point with some of the pics I took of the spectacular places we visited, this is not what this blog is about ...but maybe later in the season on a lean day!!!

 We added two new grand children to our brood...they now number eight.
Veronica Anne MacLellan

Henry Christopher Allin