Monday, April 28, 2008

Wednesday 4/23/08

Up until today, Neptune has smiled on us for the past several days with the best weather we could have hoped for. Sunny-dry days and calm winds make for comfortable cruising and peaceful nights at anchor. Today is overcast, windy and rainy, but Connie & I are warm and dry in the pilothouse as we continue the trip north.

Here’s a shot of the sunrise leaving the anchorage on the Amelia River in Fernandina, FL where we spent Tuesday evening.

We took on 292 gallons of fuel at Palm Coast Marina the other day. We went in there because the fee for docking is economical; there isn’t what we consider to be a good anchorage nearby and because we also needed a pumpout. Yes, it was painful at $4.08 per gallon. The good news? Well they have a Boat U.S. discount if you buy at least 300 gallons. I whined enough to get the discount, a whopping $0.02 a gallon even though I was 8 gallons short of the 300. Hey, victories come in all sizes and I’ll take what I can get.

Truth be told, the expense in boating is not only fuel as you’d expect, but we also have to consider dockage. At a range of $1.50-$2.00 per foot, plus electricity/taxes, etc. paying for a slip puts us in the range of $65.00 to $80.00 per night. It doesn’t take long for those numbers to add up. On the other hand after 4 years we are getting more confident in our ability to select an anchorage, (free) that is safe and protected from predicted weather. We make our own electricity with the generator and have sufficient water and food to last for days. Plus, the anchorages, (most of the time) are peaceful.

We passed by Little Cumberland Island this morning, (4/23/08) and enjoyed seeing the wild horses grazing on a distant shore. Last year we were primed to take pictures since they were close to the boat. Except that was the time when, “Bubba & the Turk” pulled us over for a safety check and dropped my driver’s license over the side. Conditions weren’t perfect, so the pictures of the horses will have to wait until the fall when we head south.

You’d think that given the length of the trip, (1,500+ miles) that we’d travel anonymously?


Earlier today we were hailed by a vessel that wanted to pass. Connie had the helm and told them that she’d drop back to idle speed to make the maneuver easier for both of us. As they passed, the skipper of the other boat told us that he’d see us in Greenwich Bay this summer. Now our hailing port is Bristol, RI, but these people are from RI and keep their boat in Warwick Cove, close to the Brewer Yard where we spend our summers. Every once in a while we’re reminded of just how small this boating community is.

Early this afternoon we plan to be at Brunswick Landing Marina for a one night stay. Our friends Bill & Robin Evans, (Blue Magic) are docked there and we have dinner reservations. We’ve cruised with these folks for a couple of years both in Lucaya as well as Marathon and shared many sea stories along with several bottles of wine.

Over the next few nights we anchored, sometimes in familiar spots like Queen Bess Creek and others that are new to us this season. There are times when it seems we are miles from any signs of civilization from the time we drop anchor to daybreak. Not a light or building to be seen anywhere. On Friday evening we pulled into Bass Creek not too far off the ICW. I'll let the picture below speak for itself.

Anchoring in Bass Creek

The dolphins have been playing in our bow wave off and on, and seem to be more numerous than in previous years. They come alongside and Connie, (she’s the one with hearing!) can hear them spouting.

Sunday, (4/27/08) we changed plans and rather than anchor decided to spend the night at Bucksport Plantation Marina and Restaurant in where else?? Bucksport, SC. Besides having reasonably priced fuel, ($3.75 gallon) they have locally made country sausage and great chili. This is not a fancy marina, but the folks here are friendly and I’m ready for a bowl of their chili

Point of interest: Bucksport is named for Capt. Henry Buck and was the departure point for huge shipments of yellow pine and cypress. He also lent his name to the shipbuilding community of Bucksport, ME. Busy guy that Capt. Henry!.

We pulled into Bucksport as planned only to discover, (after pumping 15 gallons!) that they had run dry. I was not pleased to say the least, because the bottom of the tank is where the diesel gremlins lurk, waiting to foul my filters and injectors. After voicing my displeasure…………..(my high school Italian teacher would have been impressed with my command of the vernacular); we asked if the restaurant was open? Sure we were told. Except that when the dock attendant returned he explained that the kitchen had just closed.

So, here we were with no fuel and a closed kitchen. Keep in mind I was anticipating that bowl of chili all afternoon. A quick call to nearby Osprey Marina determined that they had fuel at $3.86 and also had a transient space available. That quick our plans changed and we were enroute for Osprey Marina The approach there is a little unnerving, and the basin is tight but well protected. We made a smooth approach, and secured for the night. The fuel tank was topped off and the holding tank was empty. I could make a few analogies here but I’ll leave it to your imagination…….

Monday we pulled off the dock at 6:30 a.m. and headed for an early, (8:30 a.m.) arrival at Grande Dunes. This will qualify as a day off for us, a chance to wash The Rose, do some laundry and then spend some time at the waterfront restaurant-bar. My high school classmate Jere Russo and wife Meredith live in SC and drove to the coast to have dinner with us. What a great time we had!

Jere Russo with yours truly on The Rose

Here are a few more pictures from the Intracoastal Waterway.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning, fly fishing on the river.

Dewee, (Dewey) Creek off the Intracoastal Waterway


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wednesday, 4/2/08

Our plans to run outside in the Hawk Channel from Marathon north were abandoned after putting up with wind and seas on the beam for 4 hours. Once we reached a point where we could cut back into the Florida Bay we quickly slipped into the lee of the shore and had much more comfortable cruising conditions. We were not in danger and The Rose was fine, we were simply uncomfortable.

We anchored for 3 nights as we traveled north and made Telemar Bay Marina in Indian Harbour Beach on Saturday in the middle of a weather front with wind gusting to 25 mph. When I least expect it, my docking skills are put to the test.

Monday, 4/7/08

After 2 stormy days in a slip at Telemar Bay Marina we were hauled out this morning as scheduled. After four years you’d think that this would be, “business as usual” for us. WRONG! We still get butterflies watching our baby come up in the travel lift, hoping that the slings hadn’t outlived their useful life or that some knucklehead might have missed a few stitches when it was originally assembled. To further complicate the process, the slings, (2) have to be placed precisely around the hull. Too far forward on the forward sling and we’ll end up with the boat, (46,000 lbs) slipping and hitting the ground. Too far back and we damage the sending unit for the fathometer. Maybe this year I’ll break down and have stickers placed on the hull, “sling here” like the rest of the world?

Once out of the water, the bottom has to be scraped and pressure washed to clean off the growth that has accumulated since we last had a diver clean her. Connie & I left at this point to grab some lunch. When we returned to the marina, the boat was moved to a corner of the yard where she was ready to be placed on blocks and stands. That process is definitely more complicated than the haul-out. Most boats have a keel so that they can be blocked and supported almost anywhere on the hull. The Rose doesn’t have a keel, so it has to be supported differently. We’ve learned that a picture is worth a thousand words even with shipyard workers. Rather than convince them verbally, Connie whipped out pictures from our previous shipyard visits and our pre-purchase survey. Seeing is believing and The Rose is safely braced, awaiting fresh bottom paint and a wax job. The fact that we had tipped the two guys responsible BEFORE the work started really got their attention. We’ve worked with this yard before and their crew is proud of their work so the tip was more appreciation than anything else.

Fred the driver of the travel-lift is a retired E-8 Navy Sr. Chief Petty Officer and he took note of the USN Burgee I have flying off the bow. Needless to say the boat was handled with TLC!

The Rose with her hull & bottom prepped.

The other member of the crew is Greg, the individual who will paint the bottom, and is part of that special breed you may have seen on the TV show……….dirtiest jobs? He is meticulous with his work, and even signs/dates every bottom he paints.

Greg the Bottom Master

The crew that will buff and wax the upper hull and pilothouse have already made contact and will finish up after the bottom is done. We initially had planned to have a few “dings” around the waterline touched up while we were hauled out. Instead we have decided to simply paint from the rub rail down because it will be quicker, easier and cheaper. Unfortunately this task was also responsible for the delay. Plus we had to coordinate between the bottom paint, detailing, and painting the hull from the rub rail-down.

You might wonder how long all this work will take. We’ve been, “promised” 8 days from start to finish. Connie and I have allowed for a longer period of time, but that’s a secret that will not be shared with the yard. If the weather cooperates, (we’re outside, exposed to the elements) that’s about right. Of course we extended the work to be done so all bets are off. The plus side? The long range forecast looks good and we’re parked in a bay that is very well protected on three sides with a concrete floor. For painting that is a decent set-up and contributes to a better job.

Well, as always the best of intentions fall by the wayside. The good news is that the bottom paint arrived on time as scheduled. The bad news……the manufacturer sent the wrong product. Gushing apologies from everyone does not sooth my fevered brow and Connie is avoiding the whole crew, rather than tell them what she really thinks of this mess!

Rather than sitting & twiddling our thumbs we have convinced the bottom guy to paint the dinghy while we’re waiting for the correct bottom paint and also moved up the schedule for painting the sides while the weather smiles on us.

In the meantime we also spent some time with neighbors and friends from the condo. We enjoyed breakfast with Ted & Mary Cooper who have graciously provided transportation to and from the boat when we were car-less. You may recall that last year Ted met us in N Palm Beach and cruised with us for two days.

Tammy & Ed, the folks that have compounded and buffed the boat for the last year have become friends as well as trusted technicians. We joined them for dinner & drinks at Port Canaveral.

Geno & Juanita from Holladay Manor had us over for dinner one night and drinks with our neighbors from Indialantic another.

This week we plan to drive to Gainesville for the annual meeting and election of the officers for the Great Harbour Trawler Assoc. It’s an opportunity to renew friendships with fellow boat owners from the Mirage family. Mirage is also sponsoring, (for the 3rd year) a three day seminar on boat systems. We can only attend the 1st of the three days but it is packed with useful information. Both Connie & I will attend sessions on Yanmar engines and Vacuflush toilets, both essential components. There are a number of newer owners who wanted information on cruising the Bahamas which we gladly shared. It is amazing how much information passes at one of these gatherings. After 4 years we can occasionally contribute a few tips.

This whole process of bottom work and hull paint is taking a bit longer than planned, but over the past three years we have learned to relax and make the best of whatever the situation presents.

Saturday, 4/19/08

Sure enough we have been in the yard longer than promised. Is 15 days longer than 8.........? Finally we are in the slings waiting for the paint to dry…….sound familiar?

We’ll drop the car back at the condo this afternoon and have our neighbor Edna drive us back to the marina where we’ll spend our final night before heading north.

As always this has been a, “learning experience” for us and at this rate we should have a Ph. D. in boating.

Paul & Connie