Monday, February 19, 2007

Back to Jacksonville

After Bill's birthday celebration, we prepped to leave Vero Beach for our return to Jacksonville. The weather was not very cooperative and we debated whether to leave ahead of the stormy weather or wait for it to pass. We decided to go ahead and leave on Tuesday. We went from Vero Beach to Titusville in off-and-on rain and anchored for the night. On Wednesday we left Titusville to go to New Smyrna but decided to go on to Daytona once we had arrived at New Smyrna. Arrival there was questionable about five miles out. Bill called me to inform me that he had an alarm going off and that the engine temp gauge was pegged. He shut down and dropped his anchor and we came along and rafted to him to ascertain the problem.

We determined that he had lost his circulating pump belt and, since we had checked supplies before leaving on this trip, he had a spare belt. I went over and Bill and I replaced the belt.

We got back under way and decided that we had enough time to make Daytona. This would put us further up the coast away from the incoming storms as well as give us a location with good marine services should we need them. We anchored for the night in relatively strong wind but all was well. On Thursday we left Daytona planning to go to St. Augustine where we could supposedly get a free dock at Cap's Seafood restaurant.

Passing under the Bridge of Lions (under reconstruction) in St. Augustine

We had a favorable current all day and when we arrived at Cap's we determined that there was no way we could put our boats on the dock they had. A few miles further north was our "Plan B" anchorage but once we arrived there, we decided that the current would be favorable all the way north and that we could make Jacksonville by dark. The consensus was to go ahead to Jacksonville and tie up at the "Jacksonville Landing" in downtown Jacksonville (free) for one night. Our tidal currents did, in fact, remain favorable and we came into Jacksonville just at nightfall.

The next day we left the Landing at sunrise -

and made our way to Ortega Landing where we will be keeping our boat for the next few weeks. This is a new development where one would purchase a membership in the Marina. The condos and clubhouse are still under construction but it will be a very nice facility when complete.

After we got settled in, I washed down the boat for the first time since we left in December while Stacy met others on the docks.

We organized a dinner on our aft deck and invited two other couples from Virginia to join us.

Bill brought over a cake for Stacy's birthday (early since we were heading back to Athens on Sunday).

Stacy tried to cut the cake and finally determined that it was a toilet paper cake that Bill and Ellen spent much time in creating.

We all had great fun and heard many stories about the other couples' travels in New York, Canada, and Michigan where we are headed.

We are now in Athens as Stacy's mother had surgery this morning (Monday). So far, everything seems fine. Stacy will be staying with her during her initial recovery while I travel back and forth to the boat to do maintenance in preparation for our northbound trip starting in April.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bill's Birthday Eve

In Bill & Ellen's family they celebrate birthdays on the eve of the actual birth date. Tomorrow is Bill's 70th birthday so we celebrated today. We started with breakfast on our aft deck and we got Bill & Ellen tickets to the Boston Pops concert just on the other side of the bridge from us.

Bill & I went over at 3:00 to claim our spot and left our chairs and ground cloth. There were quite a few people already there even though we were told that they wouldn't open the gates until 3:00.

The concert was primarily a Gershwin set and was a well done production. We were able to watch the sun set while listening to the orchestra. Afterwards there was a fireworks presentation. Bill met people there that recognized him as "Captain Bill from Newburyport" and we all had a great evening. I guess you can't beat the Boston Pops next to the intracoastal waterway in south Florida in 70 degree weather in February with a nice sunset followed by starlight.

We plan to leave here Monday to arrive in Jacksonville by next weekend.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Vero Beach

We have been in Vero Beach for a week now and it seem to have been a very busy week. We found a local restaurant/bar at the end of our mooring field to watch the Superbowl.

At the beginning of the week we added another chapter to the mysterious battery charging problems on Bill's boat. We decided after trying three different chargers and eliminating cables as potential problems that the new batteries were faulty. The battery supplier agreed to replace them and we had to schlep them out of the boat and over to the marina office to swap them. Stacy and Ellen had a tea party while we were hoisting 130 lb batteries.

After the battery replacement day, we decided to tackle the disabled bow thruster. Bill noticed the bow thruster not working in the last lock we entered crossing the Okeechobee Waterway. I decided to get in the 60 something degree water and see what was going on. Apparently the propeller nuts had somehow loosened and one of the props was gone. We ordered a new prop and had it overnight with new nuts, washers, zincs and zinc screws. The next day I dove in again and found that the remaining prop was stuck on the shaft and we had to devise a tool to try to pull the prop. After breaking two hammers in the process and determining that his anchor windlass was now not working (we had planned to use the windlass to pull the rope for our "puller") , we finally admitted defeat and made our almost day long trip into town on the bus system to get a puller at the local NAPA store. The puller worked and we got the props replaced and the thruster seems to work well at this point.

We spent three night looking at Taplin home movies from the 60's and 70's. Bill and Ellen re-lived their past raising 8 children and we were amazed at the life they had and how Bill & Ellen could have the time and energy to do all the things they did. As with most home movies, most were Christmas and sporting events.

While repairing the bow thruster, I dove down and checked Bill's prop and shafts and noticed that he had lost the zinc on his prop shaft. This is a dangerous condition as it can allow corrosion of the propeller and shaft. Yesterday Bill got a new zinc and I dove under the boat and installed it.

Today we took my tank into town and had it refilled and picked up a new fuse holder to replace the one causing the anchor windlass problem.

We will be here through this weekend at the least. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ft. Myers & Okeechobee Waterway eastbound

I have changed the template for the blog and am trying some other tricks to make the pictures open properly. Not sure how well it will work but here we are.

At Ft. Myers beach there is a free trolley that runs the length of the island. We can tie our dinghy to the mangroves as was shown in a previous post and walk a short distance to the trolley stop. We left Ft. Myers beach on Tuesday and started our way across the Okeechobee Waterway to the east coast. We stopped at the town of LaBelle for the night and then got an early start on Wednesday to stage for crossing the lake.

"Somebody Pinch Me!"

The weather forecast was for the winds to pick up and, since the lake is 3 hours across we decided to make long days so that we could cross on Wednesday before the winds came in.

For once Bill, since he did not have electronic charting of the area, was following us and we were able to get a picture of something other than his stern. As you can see, being on this lake is much like the ocean in distances but can be rougher because it is only 8-10 feet deep all the way across.

We crossed the lake and then tied to these "dolphins" just after the lock and stayed the night here.

On Thursday we left early again and made our way to Vero Beach. Bill planned to go on ahead and get fuel in Ft. Pierce but missed his turn and had to come back. We got a chance to meet him head on at one of the bridges in Ft. Pierce.

After getting rafted up we had a nice dinner on the aft deck.

We missed the storms and tornadoes that hit north of us and we are in blustery and on-and-off rain at the moment. It is "supposed" to clear by Monday.