Friday, December 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Before we left the boat in Marathon we installed a 210 watt solar panel across the stern posts to help generate power to the batteries (it only took a couple trips up to Miami), however, we're getting a shadow from the radar dome and have to re-arrange the panel to get it out and producing like it should. Hopefully we can just rotate it 90 degrees and run it fore & aft. You can see the shadow cast across it in the picture below.
This was an adventure in itself as we rented a car for the trip to Miami and had no idea where we were going ..... Bought this huge panel (65" X 37") .... stuffed it into the trunk with a 1 foot overhang sticking out and drove home to Marathon. On the way back we discovered that RON forgot to measure the distance between the posts where we were going to mount it. As it turned out the space was 1 inch more than we needed.
You should have seen us at 11 o'clock at night loading this thing across the top of the tender (and it took up the whole front end of the boat) for the trip out to Wind Warrior, then lift it onto the deck without losing the whole works, and us, into the water. Finally, we had gotten a very rare night where the wind wasn't blowing.
We finally have the windmill generating power when the wind blows. The problem there was a broken wire inside the post.
Scott hadn't shown up yet by the time we left so we have another friend Eric looking after things for us. Wind Warrior is in good hands. Eric's going to make contact with Scott to help out while he's there.
The problem with our batteries seems to be a faulty thermostat in the fridge that is forcing it to run 24 hours a day at 5 amps per hour. We removed it when we left and are taking it home for repair or most likely replacement.
Other than that, the boats' in good hands while we're gone and Eric is keeping us up to date on her. He's doing a great job.
Nothing else to report for now.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
The boat is in the hands of a friend we met in Marathon.
We're still having a lot of trouble keeping the batteries charged so it makes it very difficult to even turn on a light at night. The problem seems to be that the fridge will NOT shut off which is drawing 5 amps per hour and between the wind generator and solar panel we're only recharging at about 3 amps per hour during the day so the barrel is getting empty.
Hopefully it's just a matter of replacing the thermostat in the fridge when we get home so it'll shut down when it gets cold.
I also found out that a solar panel cannot have any shadow over it as all the units are hooked up in series and that a shadow really cuts things down, so now it's a matter of rotating it 90 degrees to get it out from under the radar shadow. Hope that works.
Well, the blog probably won't get updated again until after Christmas for those of you following it.
See you in a couple of weeks.
Friday, November 4, 2011
FANTASTIC SAILING !! We left Miami in about 25 knots of wind and 5 foot choppy seas, but after 10 miles we were into the Hawk Channel on the outside of the Keys, which is protected by a barrier reef, and the seas died down to 1-2 feet but we still had plenty of wind. We sailed down to Marathon all the way through the Hawk Channel. For all you armchair sailors who dream about sailing in the Gulfstream....... if you look at the horizon in the video you can see a thin strip of darker blue water. The "Stream" was 1-2 miles outside of us. Poor tender getting dragged along at 7-8 knots all day. Marathon is a great place with plenty of moorings and plenty of stores. We're still trying to get the lay of things down here and are getting real tired of not having enough battery power to run things all day, so yesterday we jumped in the rental car and drove back to Miami where we bought a 210 watt solar panel and a 2000 watt generator (for when the sun isn't out). We also have to get the wind generator working properly. Now for the big job..... off to West Marine to buy enough material to "create" an arch to mount the panel on up between to radar mast and windmill mast. Oh yeah, the panel is 65 inches long and the space between the poles is 66! Perfect fit. When all is said and done we'll be lighting up the whole anchorage with cold beer in hand.
By the way... the sunsets here are spectacular...... and we don't have a tan... hehehe.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Oh alright, so I slacked off for a couple weeks. Well, we've still been on the move and we're now in Miami, Florida at the Dinner Key Marina ... And it's raining like hell.
Last week we picked up Lew Page in North Palm Beach and headed out for Fort Lauderdale, via the ICW. Man what a sight we had. The huge houses just got bigger ... and nicer ... and bigger still.
It took Lew a couple days to relax and forget about work but things finally started to go better with a few rums in him. "STOP TRYING TO WORK FROM HERE LEW !!!" "THE WORLD WILL GO ON!!"
We landed in a mooring field across from the Las Olas Marina in about 7 feet of water ... WHAT TIMING !!!!
Throughout the night 200ft mega yachts started arriving, some under tow, some escorted by Tow Boats US boats, and others ... they just used their twin screw, double bow thrusters ... and fully automated, computerized docking systems.
The Fort Lauderdale boat show was about to start in a few days and they were loading up the docks. I honestly didn't think it was possible to fit that many Mega Yachts into such a confined space.
Lew was so excited at this sight that he went up on deck watching most of the night .... and I must admit that I had my fair share of observing time. The loading went on well into the next day, but we had to get going and head on down to Miami.
As we motored down the ICW the homes continued to get bigger. Man there's no shortage of money around here. Some of the boats that were parked in front of these homes were so big that they made the house look small.
Except for this one. Word is that the owner purchased four $10 million homes on this piece of land and raised them. WHY you ask???
So that he could build this $100 MILLION home on the same spot !!!
Well, we can't put the 75 plus pictures of homes in here so you'll just have to take our word for it.
As we departed Port Elizabeth, the weather was very favourable with 4-6 ft seas on the quarter and 15-18 knot NE winds pushing us along at a wonderful 7-8 knots.
When does sailing become a race? ... when Lew sees a bout about 3 miles ahead of you and you know you can take him before the turn off into Miami .... and we did it with about 200 yards to spare.
The weather was very hot and sunny so it's time to cool off a little.
Welcome to ocean sailing Lew !!
"Come on Lew ... We're slowing down !! Get back in the boat before a shark eats you !"
So Miami it was ... until we heard a broadcast from the US Coast Guard that the main channel past the cruise ships was closed for security reasons..... so with a little alteration to port we headed off down past the container piers and straight into downtown.
Around the corner and past the Miami Yacht Club where we anchored behind some huge condos in South Beach.
What a great day that was. Being so close to South Beach warranted a swim in the ocean in the afternoon followed by a great walk and dinner on Lincoln Street, which is a two mile long pedestrian mall loaded with shops, stores and piles of places to eat. Fantastic!
With Hurricane Rhea hurtling itself around the Yucatna Peninsula, it was decided NOT to head on down to Marathon as there would be much more protection for us under the lee of huge high rises in Miami than in the lower keys.
With three days to spare and nowhere to go we headed down through Biscayne Bay to Key Largo where we spent the night anchored off a local Angler's Club and Marina. Nice place but they didn't accept visitors.
What to do next .... ??? Let's head back towards Miami in the morning, about 42 miles to the north, just in case Rhea comes after us as it was now a category 2 hurricane.
WE STRUCK GOLD upon arriving in No Name Harbour at the south end of Key Biscayne. For all you NS boaters ... this place is Rogues Roost .... only bigger and with a huge bar up at the end of it.
Lew was FINALLY settling down ... hehehe ... and a great time was had by all.
The fee .... $20 per night to anchor, as it was within a national park ... and payment was on the honour system.
Too bad we didn't land there first instead of Key Largo.
A great evening was had there then after a wonderful sail we arrived at Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove (about 5 miles south of Miami) .... 585 berths plus 270 moorings ... but no fuel dock, and we haven't fueled up for a week. No problems, we're only down 20 gallons and our three jerry cans hold 15 so in they went. Now we have enough to get us to Marathon.
Last night proved very nice with dinner and a live band at Scotty's Landing Restaurant. We got back to the boat well after dark but just in time to experience the worst wind storm we'd ever seen. Instantly, it started to pour and the wind piped up in excess of 50 knots. You couldn't see anything and the three of us stood there in awe for a minute until the extra dock lines came out to keep the boat from getting beat up against the pilings. By the time we got this done (about 15 minutes) everything went calm, the rain stopped and it was a beautiful night. The local boat owners said it was great because now they didn't have to wash down their boats.
Today, Lew parted his way and flew back to Halifax. In his own words .... "From 90F to 7C, This in not a good thing". With a final drink of our favourite Mount Gay Rum, the taxi arrived and after some goodbyes he was gone.
It was a great week Lew. We'll have to do it again. By the way Lew, the thinder, lightening and rain and wind has returned tonight .... THANKS!
It's about time you RELAXED!!
Tomorrow it's departure time for Jan & I, as we leave this pretty city and head out into Hawk Channel (behind the reef) and sail on down to Marathon and into Boot Key Harbour.
Still no internet coverage so you'll get this update really late from Marathon.
October 30, 2011
In case you thought we fell off the earth, we didn't. We're having a really hard time getting on line ... and that's going to be rectified very soon.
Anyway, we made it to Marathon (Boot Key Harbor) in the Florida Keys, this afternoon. Had a tremendous thunderstorm this morning. WE WERE ANCHORED IN A LITTLE HARBOUR called Metacumbe Bight in 7 feet of water with 125 feet of anchor chain out ... get that one ... we weren't going to drag in any winds. Lew ... I found the leak at the mast and fixed it.
Don ... Thought I had the port water tank fixed but something let go again yesterday.
October 31, 2011
Here we are in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Fla.
I pointed to our home for the next while.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Today, we arrived in PORTUGAL or SPAIN!! ... But it sure could be. No, this is St. Augustine, Florida. After a nice day at sea we turned in to this tiny little inlet with BIG breakers on both sides. I wasn't quite sure how to get in safely but a quick call to BOAT US on the VHF radio and they gave me a clear picture of where the sand bars were. At this point in the day we were looking more for the liquor bars. After rounding the last bouy and turning the corner, what a shock. We were met face on by this very large, very fortified, old Spanish fort with guns pointing from all sides to protect the port.
The Castillo de San Marcos as it now stands, was constructed between 1672 and 1695 and with it's commanding site on the west bank of the Matanzas Bay allowed it's guns to protect not only from attack by sea, but also the ground to the north against land attack. You had to watch those French you know from sneaking up from behind.
On "our" day we journeyed to the Castillo and witnessed them demonstrating the cannon firing. Funny how all the commands were in Spanish except for the last one...."HOLD YOUR EARS ... FIRE!!!!" What a loud boom that made for. The guys explained that with this little 6" gun they could fire a connon ball 1 1/2 miles ... but witht the 16 inch cannon that was built in 1613 in Spain, they could send one of these things 3 miles with some amount of accuracy.
Now, this Castillo never lost one of the 10 battles it was in. The walls are 40 feet thick and made of Coquina, which is a substance made of shells, sand, salt water and lime. Better than cement as it will absorb a striking of a cannon ball and the cannon ball would fall to the ground in the mote. At the end of the day, the soldiers would all go and collect the French cannon balls and the next day they would just fire them all back at the French. Talk about recycling.
St. Augustine was first discovered by Juan Ponce do Lion in 1513 and claimed for the king of Spain. There is a statue of this short discoverer in the main square by the bridge. Oh yeah, he was only 4'11" tall but was the tallest man on the ship as he refused to let anyone taller than himself to go on the trip.
The word here is that the statue has Juan pointing to the north, as a jesture that all the French could go back to the north from where they came.
As one entered the harbour past the Castillo, it was very obvious that this treasure was Spanish. The architecture, the tiny streets, even the Ponce de Lion (or Bridge of Lions) had the flavour.
The Bridge of Lions as seen here is a double bascule bridge and opens on demand except during rush hour. At night it is all lit up.
This is the Anglican Cathedral of St. Augustine. At night the dome is lit up and it looks like gold.
This is the old church of St. Augustine with his statue above the main doors.
These are some of the buildings belonging to the Flagler College.
This building is the city hall and it still carries the architecture from the past.
Another photo of the Flagler College buildings
Aviles Street is a prime example of the narrow back streets here that are full of small pubs and shops. The road is made of inlaid brick that has been in place for over 300 years. Many of the back streets look like this one.
Jan has always wanted to take a horse drawn carriage ride, so since it was such a beautiful night we decided to go. It was amazing driving down the very narrow back streets. The feeling alone took you back 300 years.
Told you it was all lit up at night.
We were on a mooring for a couple nights right off the historic waterfront district and got a full appreciation of the city by night ... the foood .. the music, and the people atmosphere.
And the night view
Day one was finshed off with at terrific sunset. One of the prettiest yet.
Day two started out with a great breakfast of scrambled eggs cooked by chef Ronaldo, then it was time to go sightseeing again. We bought tickets for $10 each that would allow us to travel on this small train all around the city and get on and off at over 21 different stops including the original Ripley's Believe it or Not museum. That place was full of interesting stuff. The train ticket was valid for 3 consecutive days.
The next morning it was time to depart this beloved city and head on down the ICW for Daytona Beach ... and that's where we are now .... at the HALIFAX HARBOUR MARINA ... and get this .... we're the ONLY boat at this 553 boat marina that actually has the word "HALIFAX" on the stern as a port of registry.
As a funny add-on to this ... yesterday we got an email from Larry Guptil who told us that he was watching the 3rd round of the PGA in Georgia when prior to going to break they scanned the harbour in Brunswick Ga.
In Larry's own words "They showed this nice looking sailboat for about 10 seconds and I thought, GEE WHAT A NICE BOAT ... Hey I know that boat ... Holy Gees, that's Ron on the Stern and Jan driving !!!" Man, you never know who's watching you these days.
Nite all ...
Friday, October 14, 2011
Well, we've had three very long days. Ina a nutshell, we left Charleston 3 days ago and followed the ICW through some more swampland and anchored in a little isolated creek called Tom Point Creek. From there we left in very dense fog for the open ocean 6 miles away and once we got to the inlet the fog cleared. It was quite choppy for 6 miles until we got through the surf and into some deeper water ... yeah right ... 27 feet deep at 18 miles off the coast. The seas were about 3-4 feet on the nose so we just jammed our way along until we got to Savannah.
The Savannah River is 17 miles long up to the city so we opted to anchor just inside the mouth and up a small creek.
This morning we left Savannah and after 11 hours, arrived in Brunswick, Georgia. We're only 15 miles from the Florida border, so tomorrow will be a short day offshore to Fenandina Beach, Fla. where we'll stop and get some badly needed rest.
Today I took this picture ... enjoy.
TONIGHT IT'S BLOWING VERY HARD AND IT STARTED RAINING AGAIN.
Well, I sure haven't been keeping these up-to-date. Sorry about that folks but we've been out to sea lately.
Soooo, as the title says ... We have arrived in Florida. Today we arrived in Fernandina Beach, Florida just in time for a beautiful sunset.
As stated earlier, we've been at sea for a number of days. In a nutshell, we finally got out of the Isle of Palms (near Charleston) and sailed up through the harbour without stopping. On the west side of the city was a 200 foot sailboat that had the tallest mast in the world. Very high as you can see.
By the way, the boat to the left of it was about 100 feet long.
So, on we motored, back into the ICW until 5pm came around and it was time to stop for the night...But where? ... All we see is swamp all around us...There are no cities or towns along here. Jan finds this small creek called Tom Point Creek. It gave us some shelter behind some trees in a place about 75 feet wide and 10 feet of water. Plenty of room here. There was no mention of all the gnats, mosquitoes and flies, but that has to be expected in a swamp.
It was really quite nice when we entered, however, in the morning when we woke up the fog was as thick as I've ever seen. You couldn't see any of the banks around you and the tide was now high so you didn't know how far these shoals came out.
So, once again we headed off into the unknown aiming for the North Edisto River and out into the Atlantic Ocean bound for Savannah, Ga.
Thank God our plotter was accurate.
By the way, I figured out where the Louisiana saying Ieeeee! comes from. It means IEEEEEEEE ... Get your ass out of the water before the gators get you!!!
Oh yeah, this reporting to Homeland Security ??? They have their spies all over the place down here.
Take a look at these two checking us out ......
"What do ya think Fred" ... "Well I don't know what that silly looking red flag is on the back of their boat Ralph, but it ain't American for sure".
"Let's call in the rest of the guys and see what they think." "After all, this is a private country ya know and it's only open to members."
All kidding aside folks, US Homeland Security has been very professional when we call in and they always thank us for reporting.
So on with the story ....
The last two days have been rather straight forward at sea. We weren't ready for the fact you have to go 5 miles out to sea to get around the 6 feet of water in the approaches to the inlets, or that at 25 miles out to sea there is only 32 feet of water under you.
The only real danger out here is getting run over by a shrimp boat or tangled up in their trawl if you get too close. You can usually see them miles away and to enlarge their rigging so you can see them better, they carry hundreds of birds.
We called numberous "shrimpers" to arrange passing but nobody would answer.
After two long days (with short stops at night at Savannah and Brunswick), we finally arrived at Fernandina Beach, Fla.
This is a very quaint little town that was first built and settled by the Portuguese in the late 1700's and followed by the Spanish in the early 1800's. There is a large fort at the entrance to the river inlet.
The historic downtown area is beautiful and peaceful. We took a walk through the streets and saw some of the old buildings and Jan was interested in a date with some old pirate guy.
Ron was trying his hand at borrowing this bike to get back to the marina.
Well, all in all, it was a great day of sailing and discovering new areas. We're settled in at the Fernandina Harbour Marina for the night and it's not very crowded here.
Tomorrow, it's back to sea for another round of get those sails working as we continue to head south to St. Augustine.