Saturday, November 28, 2020

Mayaka Lock, anchorage (of sorts)

I keep saying "I'm not going to do more long days" and yet we keep doing them. We left this morning around 6:30, before the sun came up and were getting tied off after sunset. 

The entire day was amazing. Blue skies, warm temps, calm winds, lots of sun -- we haven't had a day like that in a long time. As we are now somewhat seasoned boaters we know to look at the weather ahead. Come Monday and Tuesday nights we're looking at a low front coming in, dropping temps 30 degrees. Our warm 83 degree days will turn into the upper 50s. So we're trying to get somewhere to plug in and hang out with the heater on. 

When I first plotted the course to Mayaka Lock (which, by the way, we have never locked through because the lake it so low typically that the doors are just open!) Navionics said it was a 9 hour ride. When we set out, however, it was much more positive, giving us an arrival time around 2:30, which would have been awesome. But we got caught by a bridge (a delay of 15 minutes) and when we reached the first lock, Lucie Lock, they were still locking someone down, so we had to wait for the turn around (about 45 minutes). Add to that it was a glorious day in south Florida on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend -- traffic galore in some places. But the real drag was the section of the waterway between the 2 locks. Turns out that since the lake is high there is a current running toward the Atlantic Ocean -- a formidable one at that -- which slowed us down nearly a knot. Our ETA was looking around 4:35.

Sunrise

Sunset

The plan was to lock through Mayaka, get onto the lake, and anchor for the night. The lock closes at 5, and the last lock through at 4:30. We pushed a bit to try to get there in time. At 4:28 we rounded the last corner of the canal to we were in view. We hailed the lockmaster, asked for a lock through, and he said the door will be open when we get there. We love it when a plan comes together! 

Lots of boats out. We can't blame them.
Lovely day on the water.
(Note: We locked up to the lake, about a foot. Woo!) 

Pulling out of the lock the anchorage is just off the right. We dropped anchor. It didn't catch. We tried again, Again it didn't catch, We tried a third, a fourth, and a fifth time. The sun was now setting. We changed our plans and decided to tie up on the dolphins (a cluster of pilings bolted together so they look like the nose of a dolphin sticking out of the water) just outside the lock. They are meant for that. We tried to tie between a set, and they were too far apart for our lines. So we moved to another pair, but they were space perfectly to line up so our dingy would be what would bump if the wind changed. We gave up, tied off, and dropped the dinghy to keep it away from the pilings. By the time we were done it was nearly dark.

Tomorrow should be a shorter day. And by Monday we'll be in Fort Myers. At least that's the plan.

And, hey! DOLPHINS! (Watch the volume!)



Friday, November 20, 2020

Vero Beach, marina

Always moving just
a little east, every day.
Last night on the ball was a bit noisy but of late I'm getting used to the sound of water splashing on our hull. I used to need earplugs, now I sleep fine. Which is good, since there was a lot of it. Winds continue to batter the east coast. They did die down just before dawn.

Getting off the ball was very easy and we were underway around 7 am. I'd made a proclamation about spending no more than 5 hours underway. Seems like a decent time to call it a day. But we pushed it a little today. With the holiday coming the only marina that had space for us was the SunText Vero Beach Marina (aka Loggerhead until recently). We wanted to stay for a week somewhere while we do the holiday thing. These folks had space. I wanted to get in and get settled if possible, so we put in an 8 hour day. You know, like work.

Docking was a little nerve wracking because there was some wind. In hindsight we agreed that we're both a little gun shy now after St. Augustine. It went like clockwork. We just were too wound up to see that. (See what I did there?)

Yes, that pad, that one right there... stop looking at me!
Our bad luck continues to follow us. Lizzie is still being trained to use a piddle pad on the boat. She needs to learn this because there will be times when getting her to shore is right out! Like, for example, off the gulf coast where the only land around is infested with alligators. Right out! For whatever reason, she hates that piddle pad. That dog will hold it for 24 to 36 hours. However, if we aren't looking, she'll relieve herself on the carpet of our master bedroom. Let me be clear, going on the boat isn't the issue, it's going on the boat on the pad we bought for her that is... right out! So while underway I closed the bedroom door to ensure she doesn't do just that. Which in reflection was a silly thing to do since she's upstairs with us and we have a gate so she can't come down. However, I did it. And when I needed to go into the bedroom later the door was locked.

The tongue of the lock is no more.
If you recall from when we first got the boat we discovered that the locks on these stateroom doors were invented by a moron. You can only lock and unlock them from the inside -- you cannot unlock them from the outside. Ever. Usually interior doors have a small hole that you can put a key (typically a tiny flathead screwdriver-like thing) to unlock. NOT THESE! You cannot unlock them for any reason. Seriously, who needs that kind of privacy on a boat?!

Russ removed the trim around the door then took a hacksaw to the tongue to cut it. And that's how we got the door opened. 

Not near as "Mission Impossible" as the last time.

We accidentally locked the guest stateroom. To get into it
Russ took out the vac system, then made his way through
the closet into the room. You can see his feet.
Kinda like boat spelunking.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

Titusville, mooring ball

We ended up staying 2 nights on anchor in Rockhouse Creek. When we woke after the first night the winds were over 20 mph with sustained gusts in the 30s. It was howling! The anchorage was protected a bit, so it wasn't near as bouncy as it could have or should have been. 

We thought about leaving anyway but decided against it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we cross a fairly unprotected piece of the ICW, and weather would be on the beam, our least favorite way to travel. 

But more importantly, from 6 am to around noon the wind and tide were moving in the same direction, north to south. There was a sailboat anchored behind us and, as far as we could tell, they were new or inexperienced. They didn't put on an all-around light during the night, and their rode had to be really short, like 3 to 1. Ours was 7 to 1 for the wind. Not only were they whipping back and forth like crazy on their line, but we were a bit close to them since our rode was longer. In conclusion, bringing up the anchor then maneuvering inQuest around the sailboat while a king tide and 30 mph winds were pushing us into her, well, that just didn't sound like fun. Add on top of that the new belts Russ installed since one of the old one broke... basically I lacked confidence.

The pink semicircle is our track from being
on anchor. When on anchor we always record our
motion so we know we aren't dragging.
So we waited a day, bobbing around on the creek, watching the kiteboarders in the distance enjoy the blustery day.

While the winds were still high this morning they shifted to the east so they had less impact on us. More importantly, the sailboat left. So, yay!

Not the best ride. The open waters were bumpy but not terrible. Gray skies, some rain. Nice temps, in the  lower 70s made the ride decent. Russ started calling ahead for space in marinas. We're getting the same answer up and down the coats. No room. Between the weather, the weekend, Covid, snowbirds, and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, space it getting to be a premium.

Still enjoy a lovely sunrise.
We were able to find a marina in Vero Beach, about 70 miles south of Titusville. That's where we'll park the boat for the holiday. But tonight, and probably tomorrow too, we'll be on the hook.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

New Smyrna, anchorage

We left Palm Coast without any issues. 

I am beginning to really dislike this hurricane season. While Iota is hundreds of miles away, it's screwing up our weather, just like Eta did, causing lots of windy days for the next week. You can see this with a weather app we use called Windy. While we are in the ICW the winds were coming from the north. Our ride was fine since the waves were following (boaters headed north were bouncing). But it's just the start of some bad days ahead.

We planned on anchoring tonight. The wind and current on this little inlet made anchoring the biggest challenge we'd had in a long time. We tried to anchor between 2 already anchored boats, but all of us kept swinging back and forth and in ways that we just couldn't predict, and not all in the same direction that we'd come to be able to read. We gave up and moved closer to the inlet, away from everyone, and did just fine. The wind and the current are against each other (the wind is coming in and the tide is going out) and our boat can't decide which it wants to follow.
We did get to catch up with the Mackeys!
We also caught up with my brother and my f
olks.
So a good visit to St. Augustine.

While underway we did have another (old and familiar) issue. After pulling out of the marina we slowly got up so speed, which we normally do. But a fast boat wanted to pass. We slowed down for them and suddenly there was a lot of squealing coming from the belts of the port engine. After we got passed I kept the rpms slow and Russ investigated. Pretty quickly wafts of rubber reached my nose. But he said it was fine, just go slow until the squeal is gone. Which it did, and we drove without problems the rest of the way here.

That prompted Russ to redouble his efforts to find a serpentine kit for that engine. He made calls, talked to a number of people, but no one seems to have a kit that fits our Yanmar. One gentleman told him this shouldn't be happening and he should try to tighten the belts when they are hot hot hot!

Oh, look! A chicken!
After we anchored Russ did just that. Only to discover that we'd been on one belt today -- the other did, in fact, break.

Man, it's kinda been a bad week for us!

Okay, change of topic. Can anyone tell me what is making this noise? Turn up the volume and listen to the tapping on our hull.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Palm Coast, marina

Boy, when it goes bad it can really go bad. I mean, no one got hurt, and I certainly have heard some extremely bad stories from fellow boaters that resulted in fires or sinking. And NONE of that happened to us. But...

We stayed at River's Edge Marina specifically because it is the cheapest marina in St. Augustine. And they had the cheapest fuel from this point forward. Turns out the reason the fuel is so cheap is because, well, they don't have any themselves but there's this guy you can call and he'll bring a truck of diesel to you! We'd made arrangements with the fuel truck over the weekend. First thing this morning he called and we had a plan. All we had to do was get to the "fuel dock" where he'd fill us up and we'd be on our way.

Recall the tides and currents and our little adventure getting into the slip. The sailboat we moved over for showed up Sunday, so we had a neighbor. The tide was coming in, but close to cresting, so we knew that meant we'd probably move toward the sailboat as we left.

We backed out, and immediately the wind and tide pushed us onto the sailboat. Both they and us had fenders out, so no harm would come to either of us, but it's still something we try to avoid. I worked the throttle to try to get away with no affect. I called Russ to that side to the boat to help fend off. That's when things took a terrible turn. In his rush to do that he left a line on the stern. Which slipped off. Which got wrapped around the port prop. The engine never stalled, but it wouldn't respond either. I'm trying to maneuver our boat off another boat, against the wind and current, with a single engine. We twisted so we got perpendicular to the sailboat. Our fender got stuck in his rails on his bow sprit, so we couldn't move. Our boat continued to swing, like a gate, and we hit the boat next to the sail boat, as well as laid on the pier between them. Russ and the sailor (who realized his boat was in jeopardy and ran to help us) untwisted the fender and pushed us into the fairway, but the only direction we could move was forward. Toward the restaurant.

Great parking for the restaurant, tho
Having walked by the place a number of times I knew the fairway widened there, so it wasn't the worst place to be. It would be easy to turn the boat around, way easier than where we were. But I had little control and fought to keep inQuest from hitting some of the other boats (there were a number of very expensive sailing cats on the piers). With a little bit of finesse (and lots of tears and frustration) I got our boat on the wall by the restaurant. But in trying to get her onto the wall I managed to take out one of their pilings. We didn't hit hard, it's just that the tide was so high that our boat was barely in the water, so a decent part of her weight was on these pilings that, frankly, were not intended to have a boat on them.

Engines off, Russ got ready to dive the prop to cut the line off. I went to find the dockmaster and show him what we did to the piling. Meanwhile the boat next to the sailboat claimed we did some damage. 

Fuel truck. Note the water behind and around him.
While Russ was under water another man walked up and said he was sorry we had such a hard time. I assumed he was another dock worker. Turned out he was the fuel guy! He offered to fill us up right here, and we accepted. He backed his truck down the restaurant's parking lot (which at this point is largely under water) and filled us up.

After checks were written, apologies made, and the prop freed, we headed out. The tide turned by the time we left, but the wind was blowing us off the dock. Ultimately we left with little drama. Similarly, docking here was like clockwork.

Yeah. That was perfectly vertical. Before us.
So. That cheap dockage and cheap gas? Yeah. Not worth it in the long run.


Yeah, gonna need a new one of those.
That's the vent for the washer/dryer.
Well, used to be.

That's from a sign on a piling near our slip.
Now we have a racing stripe!


Saturday, November 14, 2020

St. Augustine, marina

I really love St. Augustine. But I seriously hate visiting by boat. We're still in the section of the US where the tides are crazy high, making currents crazy strong. We've been here now 3 times, and each time was a bit of an event.

The tide was coming in when we arrived, which was after another 11 hour day. The sun was setting. It was after 5 pm so anyone who worked at the marina that could help was gone. And I was tired.

We were asked to park in space D18, which is a slip. The good news is it was really wide (40 feet) and we currently were the only occupants. Another boat was coming but at the moment we had it all to ourselves.

First we tried to stern in, which would have made getting on and off the boat trivial. The current was pushing us into the slip, which is never ideal. Every attempt we made to get close had us caught in some swirl that moved the boat in some bewildering direction. We gave up and decided to just bow in. We were successful, however, the current kept pushing us into the other slip. Repeatedly. So, hungry and frustrated, we docked her in the wrong location and went to get a bite to eat. Once our tummies were content we moved the boat over using lines. Even though we were very close to high tide by this time, the current was still amazingly strong. When it goes slack here, you have about 15 minutes.

Bringing the bow over...

...then the stern, then back to the bow, and repeat.

Inch by inch we were able to pull inQuest into the slip we were originally assigned. (NOTE: As I type this the other boat has yet to show up. So we could have done this at slack tide this morning...) But the task got done and we're where we're supposed to be.

Note the chocolate mess with other unfrozen items
This morning we woke to one of our refrigerators (we have 2 small ones) not keeping temp. Water was all over the floor. In the process of combining them -- moving everything into the working one -- the ice cream, which had turned into chocolate soup, spilled in the good freezer and dripped all over the floor.

Ah, boat life! Always a frickin' adventure!


But on the plus side, we did get to see this.
That's the contrail from a launch.



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Jekyll Island (hurricane coming, quick, run towards it!)

Admittedly, it's questionable to head down toward the danger; puts one in a special category with storm chasers and firemen. But we believed Hurricane Eta would totally fall apart over Florida, and once it got to the east coast would be just a bunch of rain. So far, that seems to be correct. It will bring wind in the morning, so we decided to stay 2 nights here, even thought travel tomorrow afternoon would be doable.

We got underway before 7 am, and docked on Jekyll Island Marina just before 5 pm. Very long day, but  we had more favorable currents than unfavorable ones, which pushed and pulled us right along. We had some extended periods where we traveled over 10 knots, which is big for us.

Is it live or is it Memorex?
Throughout the day we traded seats so neither of us got tired driving. A few places were thin, but we were lucky with tides, and hit them while rising or with depth. The advantage of Georgia's 8 foot tidal swings -- mid-tide you get 3+ feet under your keel. It does mean occasionally, however, we cruise at 6 knots against a formidable current. 

Remnants from the car carrier, Golden Ray.
It ran aground SO HARD to remove it it has 
to be dismantled, piece by piece.
Russ also did a feat of engineering. He downloaded "The Bob" route into our autopilot. Now we can just push a button and the boat will follow the route. Cat 'n' Dogs had a similar feature, but it only told you a waypoint was coming up and you, the pilot, had to accept it with a push of a button. Otherwise the boat did NOT turn. Which, we argue, is absolutely not what you want to have happen. If I don't accept a waypoint, the boat should stop, for heaven's sake. Anyway, this autopilot actually autopilots; turns the boat to follow the route and doesn't bother to ask permission to do so. Kinda cool, albeit scary in places. Tight turns and shallow waters provided too much excitement for us. But long stretches with few turns are now much simpler.