My cousin Johnny paid us a
visit early in the morning before going to work. He has followed our
voyage through our journal so it was fun for us to show him the boat. We
also ran into a couple we met at Port Royal Landing Marina back in
June. Greg and Katie own a trawler and had just arrived here
yesterday from St. Augustine. They were going to be here a few days and then return to
Our morning was hectic,
rushing around for last minute supplies, but we managed to leave by 11:30 a.m.
We wanted to get into St. Augustine
before dark so this was cutting it close for us. Some draw bridges
only open on the hour or half-hour and some wonít open during rush hour
so itís important for us to time these when possible. The fixed
bridges on the waterway are normally 65 feet (our mast height is 63.5 ft)
but we had a scare as we approached a new fixed bridge.
was at the helm and the current was carrying us swiftly towards the
approaching fixed bridge when he noticed the bridge height showed 59
feet. He tried to slow us down and put the boat in reverse but the
current prevented us from slowing. We thought for sure our mast was
going to hit the bridge and there was nothing we could do. I looked
up, expecting to hear crashing metal and breathed a sigh of relief when we
cleared it by an inch or so. Lucky for us, the bridge height reading
My Uncle John and Aunt Vicky
live in Jacksonville
and have traveled the ICW extensively with their 28 foot power boat.
We werenít able to see them when we were at the marina but they
surprised us by chasing us down as we made our way south down the
ICW. They caught up with us about 15 miles south. It sure
would be nice to cover the miles as fast as they did. We had a quick
chat before they waved good-bye and returned home.
saw a couple boats in a well-protected anchorage off
Island, about 12 miles from
St. Augustine. The forecast was for 20-25 knot NE winds after
thought this would be a better spot to anchor as the
offered little protection from winds from the NE. I was hoping to
cover more ground today but we decided to drop anchor here off
along with two other boats. By
there were six of us. I
managed to do a few exercises on deck and work on the alphabet with the
boys. I donít have any routine schedule with them as far as school
work goes. Whenever I have time I take each one separately and spend
30 minutes going over the alphabet, tracing letters and doing activities
from a preschool workbook. In addition, we read to them every
night. They really enjoy learning. A couple cruising families
weíve met with school-aged children home school them. I really
admire parents that can do that, especially while on a sailboat.
December 2nd, 2003
St Augustine. (Oldest City In America)
The strong, northeasterly breeze came as
predicted and when we arrived at the St. Augustine anchorage north of the
Bridge of Lions it was bumpy and crowded. The anchorage south of the
bridge was more protected but our cruising guide books indicated the
holding ground wasnít as good. Getting our dinghy in the water was
quite a feat in these 25 knot winds. Our boat does not have davits
so we keep the dinghy on deck and use the halyard to lift it off the
deck. In these winds it wants to fly like a kite so it takes some
strength to guide it over the life lines and into the water. A lot
of boats have davits but the
monitor wind vain on our stern prevents that. Carrying a dingy on
davits can be convenient with coastal cruising where the weather is more
predictable, but can be hazardous offshore in bad weather.
|Pierre and I love St.
Augustine. It is considered the oldest city in America
(founded in 1565) and is home to the beautiful and historic campus
of Flagler College.
The town is especially
stunning after dark in December with its array of Christmas lights
lining the waterfront.
December 3rd, 2003
An Invitation To Australia.
I was intrigued to see that Chardonnay, a sailboat flying an Australian flag, was anchored
nearby. I remember seeing their boat for the first time in Norfolk
and then again at a few other anchorages. I decided to hop in the
dinghy and go introduce myself. David and Roseanne are a friendly,
young couple who sold their house in Sidney and came to America to buy a
boat and go cruising. They said boats in Australia are very
expensive and you can do better buying a boat in the U.S. Roseanne
has insulin dependent diabetes and is bringing awareness of the condition
on her website at www.sailingwithdiabetes.com. She works part-time from
the boat using her laptop and a Verizon wireless internet
connection. David is an accountant in Australia and seems to be a very
competent sailor and mechanic. He said heís always been one to fix
a problem himself instead of paying someone else to do it. I told
them Iíve always wanted to see the South Pacific, Australia and New
Zealand. Roseanne replied ďWell, whatís stopping you. Weíll be
passing through the Panama Canal in February so why donít you follow
us.Ē How tempting is that? It is something to consider, but
at this point our plan is to get our boat to St. Petersburg, FL, and work
on getting it ready for offshore. From there we would like to cruise
the Yucatan in Mexico and then head down to Central America. These
are our plans today but itineraries change often when cruising.
It costs $7.50/day to park
our dinghy at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. We arenít used
to paying to dock our dinghy but this is the only place we can get
ashore. This includes showers and internet access so itís not such
a bad deal.
I received an email from our
Norwegian friends on Hermine II.
They said it took them 12 days to get to the Virgin Islands once
they went offshore in Beaufort, NC. They had several problems which
included broken rigging, engine problems and low batteries but Eva said
none that were too tough for them to handle. They were exhausted
when they arrived but are now enjoying snorkeling and the warmth of the
December 4th, 2003
Noises From Below.
It was fun strolling the streets of St.
Augustine but it was once again time for us to move on. We passed
under the Bridge of Lions at 7:30 a.m. on our way to Daytona Beach.
We had a nice visit with David and Roseanne on our boat yesterday
evening. They planned to spend some more time in St. Augustine so we
exchanged email addresses and phone numbers with hopes of keeping in
We made it 12 miles south of St. Augustine
when some strange sounds occurred from the engine and the boat stopped its
forward progress. Initially, Pierre suspected a transmission problem
but wanted to dive down and inspect the propeller. We dropped our
anchor on the edge of the narrow ICW channel and called Tow Boat U.S.
Our propeller looked fine, the linkage was secure and the
transmission fluid level was normal, leading us to believe the
transmission was the culprit.
|Tow Boat U.S. arrived after a
couple hours and towed us to St. Augustine Marine, a boatyard south
of the city.
It was late afternoon when we arrived
and we were told a mechanic could not take a look until tomorrow.
December 5th, 2003
It wasnít until afternoon
before a mechanic came to evaluate the problem. Of course, when we
started the engine and put it in gear, it wasnít making any funny noises
and seemed fine. The mechanic recommended leaving it tied to the
dock and in gear for a couple hours to make sure it was okay.
We were relieved when it passed the test. We thought we were going
to be here for several days; now it looks like we will be able to leave in
Thomas, being the
independent four year-old that he is, tried to get his Razor scooter off
the deck and onto the dock by himself. Pierre was down below, not
realizing what was going on, when he suddenly heard loud screaming and
crying from both boys. Thomas said he had dropped Patrickís
scooter in the water. This occurred right before dusk. The
water was 64 degrees, murky and 18 feet deep. I returned to the boat
to see two sullen boys. I considered going in the water to try and
retrieve it but realized the chance of recovering it would be slim given
the current conditions. I knocked on a few boats and found someone
with a grappling anchor and Pierre and I took turns dragging it along the
bottom in hopes of hooking it. No luck. We told them the
dolphins would now have a scooter to play with.
The only good thing about
having to return to St. Augustine was that my cousin Johnny and two of his
children, Sammy and Jack, were able to visit the boat and we were able to
have dinner together. This detour in our trip was necessary, but we
were now pushed for time to get the boat around to St. Petersburg as
December 6th, 2003
The engine ran perfectly on
our trip to Daytona Beach, right to the point where we dropped the anchor
just south of the Sea Breeze Bridge. When we put the boat in reverse
to set the anchor, we heard a loud noise that sounded like metal on
metal. It made the same sound when put into forward. So much
for getting off easy in St. Augustine.
Itís hard to know who to
call when youíre in a new town and are having engine problems. I
called West Marine and asked if they had any recommendations for good
mechanics and they were able to give me a couple names. We resigned ourselves
to the fact that we wouldnít be able to get anyone to look at it until
Monday. To our surprise, I received a call back from J. R. at Cutter
Doc who said he could come out Sunday morning to take a look.
Early Christmas; Expense.
Pierre felt compelled to check the prop
again to make sure a loose zinc was not the cause of our
problem. It was a windy and very cold morning (high 30ís)
when Pierre and I debated as to who was going overboard in the 65
degree water. I knew it was my turn but somehow I convinced
him that it would be better if he went. The boys and I were
bundled on deck when he took the plunge.
Getting out of the water in the cold air
was numbing to the skin but his luck got worse when he tried to warm
up with a hot shower. He was completely soaped up when our
tank ran out of water. While frantically trying to change
tanks to restore his water, I inadvertently turned off the fuel line
to the engine, causing it to stall.
Pierre could not believe it. Now
there was air in the fuel line and he would have to bleed the engine
before J. R. arrived in 20 minutes. Luckily he bled it quickly
and had the engine running when I returned to the boat with J. R.
Itís always a leap of
faith when you have to choose a mechanic without knowing them but we felt
J. R.ís ability. He determined the transmission was blown and would
need to be rebuilt. He removed it for us but advised us that he was
going on vacation and wouldnít be back until Dec. 20th.
We realized there was no way for us to make it to St. Petersburg before
Christmas so we needed to find a place to keep the boat until after the
We had to stay at anchor for
a couple days before a space came available at Halifax Harbor
Marina. This is the municipal marina for Daytona Beach and is
considered one of the nicest marinaís in the country. Tow Boat
U.S. towed us into the marina Tuesday evening. Fortunately, we have
the $99/year unlimited towing package. Without the plan, it would
cost $140 per hour of towing which includes the travel time for the boat
to reach us and return to its home port.
We rented a car and drove to
Jacksonville to pick up our van. We had a nice dinner with my Uncle
John and Aunt Vicky before returning to Daytona Beach.
I havenít been to Daytona
in close to 20 years and was impressed with how it has changed.
Itís more sophisticated with its art deco Ocean Walk and rejuvenated
downtown and seems to have lost a lot of the tackiness associated with
being a Spring Break destination.
December 14th, 2003
In Atlanta, The Next Destination.
We have a lot to do to get
ready to depart the boat tomorrow. We plan to return to the boat
around December 27th to be here when J. R. installs the
transmission. We met an older couple, Gary and Blanche who had just
sold their Tayana 37. We joined them for a cookout at the local
sailing club yesterday and enjoyed a spectacular lighted Christmas boat
parade last night.
The transmission troubles
have put an unexpected intermission into our journey. We plan to
visit my parents in St. Petersburg before heading to Atlanta for
Christmas. While in St. Petersburg, we will find a place to keep the
boat when we bring her around in January. Once there, we want to
spend a month or two repairing some deck leaks, replacing the rubber
gaskets for the hatches and other necessities to get her ready for
For now though, all focus is
on Santaís arrival. The boys have paid a visit to Santa and are
eager to leave the boat. They informed me the boat doesnít have a
chimney and were worried that Santa may bypass Victoria.
December 15-28th, 2003
Home For Christmas.
The boys were full of energy
and excitement as we departed Daytona on Dec. 17th via our
green van to visit their Granny and Pop Pop in St. Petersburg, FL.
Our visit with my parents and sisterís
family went by fast and after having an early Christmas with them, we
were on our way to Atlanta. Santa hadnít even arrived yet and we were
wondering how all these boxes of gifts were going to fit on the boat.
While in St. Petersburg,
we secured a spot for Victoria at The Harborage Marina for around
$500 a month. We were lucky to get a slip in St. Petersburg as many
marinaís, such as the municipal marina, have a long waiting list for
liveaboards. The Harborage is located
about two miles south of downtown St. Petersburg and has nice
facilities, including a swimming pool. We
also found a preschool for the boys. With
the boys in school, we will be able to be more productive in dealing
with the boat repairs. Pierre thinks it
will take us at least two months to do everything thatís needed to get
the boat ready for offshore.
We arrived in Atlanta on
Dec. 22nd and drove straight to the dentist office.
Pierre and I set up routine appointments since we were back
in town and had no idea when we might be back again.
The boys were thoroughly
confused when we returned to our home and they saw other people living
there. Two boys were now in their
bedroom. We stopped by to get some items
from the attic and to see our cat Happy. Happy has been Pierreís cat for
almost 19 years and he left her in the care of our tenants.
He was disappointed when she saw him and
paid him little mind. We have been very
pleased with our French tenants. The
house looked great and they seemed very content.
As we drove away, Thomas
asked if we were going to stay in our house, on the boat, or at a hotel.
None of the above. We
would be staying with Pierreís nephew Tom Campbell, his wife Diane and
their 8 yr old daughter Jamie near Emory
We made it a point to
visit as many of the boysí preschool friends as possible during our
short visit. It was pure joy for them to be back with their old
buddies, Addie and Lucy, Thomas Hills and Garland. We
also had a very short but enjoyable visit with many of our neighbors and
As expected, our short
Christmas visit was hectic but we were privileged to spend a wonderful
Christmas morning with Tommy, Diane and Jamie and also attend several
Our van was packed full
when we drove out of town on Dec. 28th to head back to the
boat in Daytona Beach. Santa, our family and friends were extremely
generous to the boys and Pierre and I. The
challenge will be seeing if we can get everything on the boat and have
it remain afloat.
December 29th, 2003
Boat Gets New Trans For Christmas!
J.R. arrived bright and
early to install our rebuilt transmission. I
took the boys to the library for several hours so J.R. could work in
peace. After the installation we went
for a sea trial and although there was a different feel to the shifting,
everything seemed to work fine. Pierre
quizzed J.R. as to what could have caused the transmission to fail.
He said it is often due to not changing
the transmission fluid routinely. A
lesson learned. We have been more casual with the gearbox oil changes
than with the engine oil and fuel filter changes.
Wednesday December 30th, 2003
Some "Down Time" For Maintenance
The reason for our stay in
Daytona was to have the transmission rebuilt. Now that the job is
complete, we still canít seem to leave. Our nesting instinct has taken
over. We were fortunate to be on a dock with several friendly people.
Ron and Bess, Helen and Bob, Walter and Barbara and Tom all made our
stay fun and interesting.
|Ron, the token ambassador
of the dock, lives on a sailboat with his wife Bess and their two dogs.
Ron is quite a character and has lived on boats for many years and in
the past has worked in boatyards as a marine electrician. Heís retired
now and was a huge help for me in tackling some of our electrical
problems. Our Heart Interface inverter stopped working and I wasnít sure
how to troubleshoot it. Ron came on board and determined the cause was
the inverter or its remote, not a faulty wire. The next day we drove
across the state to Bradenton where, after a couple days in the repair
shop, it was determined that the remote was the culprit. The technician
said moisture on the circuit board caused the failure. This was an easy
fix. With Ronís mentoring, I was able to reinstall the inverter and put
an AC outlet in the engine room. He spent many hours helping us with