May 31, 2009
Here’s a quick greeting from Brunswick, GA – a delightful place about 5 miles off the Intracoastal Waterway on the East River. After several more weather-induced “days in port” and several days of 3-4 hours traveling in the morning and then just beating the afternoon rains into the marina, we put Florida in our wake yesterday. We left mid morning, soon after a submarine left its Kings Bay port in the St. Mary’s river just north of Fernandina Beach. Only our need to time the tides prevented us from being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the sub and its Coast Guard escort came through. We listened to the event via VHF radio and then saw a docked sub later as we passed the base. [ pictures to follow.]
Fernandina Beach is a longtime, favorite vacation spot of ours and we had hoped to spend several days there. This visit was short, but it was made all the better because, with the help of some Lexington colleagues, we connected with friends from UK who retired to Fernandina Beach about 6 years ago. Seeing them again was a real treat!! We partook of their gracious hospitality and, among other delights, luxuriated in 2 hot, spacious, clean showers in about 12 hours!!
The ICW in this area has been described by a cruising friend as the “wilds of rural Georgia” and that is certainly apt- we saw few boats, fewer people and virtually no wildlife yesterday, tho’ we also passed by Cumberland and Jekyll Islands. Georgia is also is renown for several real trouble (read: VERY shallow) spots on the its ICW. We manuvered through two yesterday, face another this afternoon and the final one on Monday before reaching Savannah. But we’re sharpening our skills at reading and comparing tide data for different locations, timing our departures accordingly and watching our speed to arrive at the trouble spot at the appropriate height of the tide.
Internet connections are often intermittent, but we’ll post pix for the above and more info as we progress!
May 30, 2009
After the “40 days and 40 nights” spent in the delightful Palm Coast Marina, we finally got a promising NOAA weather report and headed out once again….we hit rain, rain, and more rain…. torrential downpours… So by the time we got to St. Augustine we decided to call it a day… a wet and soggy one!! We tucked in Comachee Cove marina just north of St. Augustine for a couple more rain days before moving on. When we finally left Comanchee Cove, we headed first for Jacksonville Beach and then on to Fernandina Beach… our original destination for Carolyn’s grading endeavors… In both cases, we got in a good half day of cruising before heading for a marina to beat the afternoon thunderstorms to safety. See the pix!
May 22, 2009
We left Titusville Saturday morning and had a great, if short, trip to New Smyrna Beach as our first day back on the water. We travelled through the Haulover Canal and saw several places we might have anchored for the shuttle launch and then moved slowly and carefully through Mosquito Lagoon… miles and miles at just above idle speed… a great way to see the scenery! New Smyrna Beach City marina is another delightful, small marina right downtown. It would certainly be a potential location for next winter… From New Smyrna, we headed for Palm Coast and arrived early Sunday afternoon after a delightful cruise. About the second hour out, we picked up current/wind on the stern and we just rolled along: 8+ knots at only 1600 rpm, and, less than 3 gallons of fuel/hour! We passed by both extremely rural, uninhabited areas as well as densely populated ones, and the contrast is striking!
As of Friday, we are still at the Palm Coast Marina awaiting a break in the weather!! The powerful Nor’easter pummeling the region has brought much needed water to Florida and new experiences for us: gale force winds and sustained, torrential rainfall. The immediate Palm Coast area has received almost 40 inches…!! The Palm Coast marina is a fine lil’ haven in the storm, however. We are snug and safe, if sitting somewhat higher in the water than when we arrived! Actually, since Monday afternoon, we haven’t been able to get off or on the boat without the assistance of a small ladder, and at one point, the water lapped up over the finger pier!! Now that was disconcerting!! The marina personnel and local boat owners are terrific in helping is make certain Sojourner’s lines keep her secure in the slip and in reassuring us… so now, we’re about 98% convinced we won’t float away (tee hee)! All things being equal and if the wind and rain predictions continue to indicate improving conditions, we hope to head out tomorrow for Jacksonville Beach. St. Augustine is an intermediate stop, if needed, and, of course, staying here awhile longer is always an option as well. We’ll keep you posted!! **More pix**
May 16, 2009
We hadn’t really intended another Titusville posting, but our stay there turned out to be much more eventful than we had anticipated. First, we had neighbors like we have never experienced: marina manatees…everywhere!! One day it took almost ½ hour to convince them to move far enough away from the boat to allow us to leave the dock! On other days, they appeared to snuggle up to Sojourner, actually enjoying the marine growth at her water’s edge and to suckle the boat (!) actually drinking the fresh water runoff when we washed down the boat. Manatees are mammals that live in salt water but have the capacity to absorb fresh water… in fact they prefer it as their bodies do not have to process fresh water as they do salt water. Thus, virtually all marinas with manatee populations have posted warnings against petting, feeding and giving fresh water to these amazing, gentle giants.
Second, we ordered a new outboard for the dinghy, a 4-stroke, 4hp Yamaha that weighs less than half the 4 stroke, 9.9 hp Mercury that came with the boat. Now, the dinghy is truly useable for us and that makes anchoring out a viable alternative to constant marina stays. It also provides us with an exploration vessel until we decide on the kayaks we want to get. Delivery of the new motor was delayed sufficiently that we decided we might as well stay in Titusville for the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis- What an experience!!!
The Titusville marina is almost directly across the ICW from Cape Canaveral so we had a front row seat!! As children of the “Sputnik threat” and resultant “Space Race,” seeing a shuttle launch “up close and personal” was an incredible experience!! Launch day dawned with clouds (the first in two weeks), and the cloud cover continued to grow as the countdown approached the 2:01 p.m. blast off, but nothing could really detract from the awesome and awe-inspiring sense of human imagination and engineering as the rocket sped skyward. The sight of it was breath-taking and the sound AND feel of the accompanying rumble were simply indescribable!
Cousin Evie joined us for the launch and we had intended to take the boat into the ICW for an unobstructed view, but as we checked equipment as part of our departure routine, we discovered we had lost our bow thruster. We are both practicing diligently to dock and undock without bow thruster assistance, but at this point, it is still an insurance policy neither of us is willing to go without. So, we watched the launch from the marina and then spent the remainder of the afternoon tracking down a bow thruster expert! Ultimately, we hired a marine electrician who came Tuesday morning to troubleshoot over the phone with the national Service Manager of the bow thruster manufacturer in Maine. The failed part was identified and a new one arrived the next day via “over night air”. Then we waited for the service technician… Based in Pompano Beach, he was returning home from the Carolinas and arrived in Titusville Friday morning. That gave us time to prepare for our own launch on Saturday morning.
May 1, 2009
Sojourner is finally where she needs to be for us to begin the grand adventure northward. It took several, 2/3-day jaunts to get her here: south from St. Petersburg to Ft. Myers (3 days) ; east from Ft. Myers across the state of Florida via Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway to Stuart (2 days); north from Stuart (actually the Manatee Pocket) to Melbourne via Vero Beach and on to Titusville (2 2-day trips).
At the moment, we are neck-deep in preparing for full-time cruising northward, but we are also working to finish bringing this blog up-to-date. Specifically (perhaps eventually?), we’ll be adding individual but summary posts about each major element of our adventure to-date. The Archive offers a preview of these as it has a space saver for each that is back dated to when it actually happened. Additionally, each summary post will be accompanied by a set of pictures on Flickr , and several of these have been posted already. We will, of course, add info on our current activity as time permits as well.
If all goes well and weather permitting, we’ll start north in about a week. Carolyn has finished teaching and her exams are scheduled for late this coming week. FAMU will send the exams to her so she can grade them on the boat, not quite the University of Kentucky style, aye?!!
At any rate, you now have Sojourner’s blog address, and if you choose, you can subscribe to be alerted by email or in an RSS feed reader whenever there’s a new post. You’ll have to check periodically to find the new stories as Sojourner’s history is filled in and/or new picture sets, however!
We wish you well and we hope you enjoy hearing of Sojourner’s sea stories and adventures!
-Susan & Carolyn