Monday, September 25, 2006

Highest View Around

Well, sorry, no great adventures, just normal tourist stuff to report.

Kathy’s sister Kari and her family Kami and Mike were here in St. Augustine over the weekend. We toured the fort (built in the late 1500's!), shopped in the old part of town where they had old tourist souvenirs, got pummeled in the rough Atlantic, and climbed the lighthouse.

Mom and Dad are here now, staying in a motel overlooking our anchorage. Dad and I worked on the windless, which was successful (for the time being). Kathy and Rachel had a history lesson in town in the oldest schoolhouse in America. Pretty cool. Mom toured the old section of town with them and then sat in on the lesson which was religions of the Middle East. Not the same as when I went to school.

Dad and I plan on visiting the Hunter factory tomorrow. It’s in Alachua, about an hour from here. That should give me some good insight into how our boat was built, and what’s in all those hidden spaces I can’t get to.

Friday, September 15, 2006

St. Augustine

The headlines today read “Storms Wipe Out Florida Beaches”. We’re glad we took the ICW to St. Augustine. There are 2 hurricanes followed by a tropical storm out near Bermuda.
As we approached the Ponce Inlet in Daytona, we could see huge breakers all the way inside the inlet. It was an easy decision to continue north up the ICW.
GW Meadows rode with us under one of the many 65 foot bridges in Daytona. Problem was, due to exceptionally high tides, we couldn’t get under some of them until the next day, and then, just made it under at low tide. Here's a pic of our mast just squeaking under a bridge. These high bridges were favored until we couldn’t get under them, so now we like the bascule bridges (they have a bridge tender, and open when you call on the radio) better.
GW loaned us his car to visit the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. We climbed to the top for a looksee, took pictures, and acted like tourists. (Well, we are tourists). Their museum of Fresnel lenses used in lighthouses was awesome. Those lenses are works of art. GW and Jan had us over for a great lasagna dinner. Rachel and I got a tour of the Just Fly command center before dinner in their beautiful new home. Besides the fortune he’s made in the hanggliding business, he’s something of a real estate tycoon as well. To top all that, he is also the guy who puts the yellow first down line on the field for tv during college football games.
The ICW is very scenic from Daytona to St. Augie. It requires constant vigilance to stay in the narrow deep part of the waterway. But the going is smooth as long as the engine runs well, which ours did. That’s right, days of motoring, and nothing broke! Maybe we’re over the hump now.
Kathy and Rachel are into the swing of things schoolwise. They’re both doing a fantastic job of interacting in the teacher/student mode instead of the mom/daughter roles that they are used to. I was busy driving the boat. (Maybe they’ll let me play teacher soon). Rachel is such a good student that it makes Kathy’s job easy. Rachel reads every spare moment. For school, she’s reading Around the World in 80 Days. She also has another book or two going for “fun” reading.
Yesterday a mom and baby dolphin swam beside us at 6 knots for a long time. They were twisted sideways to get a good look at us. She was probably showing her baby what humans (and a dog) look like, while we were showing our dog what a dolphin looks like up close. This morning we saw our first bald eagle of the trip.
There will be much to see in St. Augie, so we’ll be here a week or two. Several of our family will drive over to meet us here as well, so there’s another fun period ahead.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Danforth picture

For some reason, the photo didn't make it, so here goes again. We just had another wonderful dinner with Joe and Georgia, and said our goodbyes. Joe dropped us off at the dinghy, so we're a one bicycle family again. Having Joe's van was excellent, we couldn't have done everything without it.
Thanks Joe and Georgia!

Danforth Anchor Woes

It seems like we’ve been in Melbourne forever. Everything is in order, and we plan to leave tomorrow. Due to big swells from the hurricane out near Bermuda, and huge afternoon thunderstorms, we’ll stay in the ICW (intercoastal waterway) rather than get caught in bad weather on the 50 mile run to Ponce Inlet near Daytona.
The dentist ground down a filling in the molar which was causing the pain. The filling was being impacted by the upper molars during normal chewing, making is extra sensitive. It feels much better now.
Last Wednesday a huge storm hit us from the northwest, the most vulnerable direction in our current anchorage. Our main anchor, a 45 pound Danforth, bent the shank, causing it to dislodge from the bottom, and start dragging towards the 520 causeway. I cranked up the engine, and used full power to drive away from the cement seawall only 20 feet away. The wind was probably blowing 60mph and the rain was pelting my face such that vision was nil. Putting on a pair of swim goggles partly solved that problem. I veered away from another sailboat dragging it’s anchor straight for us. The bimini top ripped at 2 seams, and tore away over my head. Kathy yelled up to ask if she could do anything, and I told her to stay below. The rain was intense, possibly mixed with hail. I didn’t understand how the boat was driving forward with the anchor down, but was glad we were making forward progress. Having the anchor line wrap around the prop was a big concern, but I couldn’t do anything about it. The lightning was flashing everywhere, but for once I wasn’t concerned about it since I couldn’t do anything about that either. (Supposedly sailboats have a “cone of protection” from lightning due to the mast and wire rigging). A quick glance to the rear showed the dinghy with the outboard motor attached doing cartwheels in the air at the end of it’s painter like a little kite. We were at full engine revs with the turbo kicked in just to make slow headway. I was keeping a close eye on the engine temp which climbed steadily, finally going past the usual 180 degree temp, and on up to near redline. We were almost to the ICW channel in 15 feet of water, so I shut down the engine, ran forward and dropped the 35 pound Bruce anchor, paid out 100 feet of rode, and snubbed it. We jerked to a stop. I heaved a sigh of relief and went below. I was cold for the first time during our voyage. (Writing this now gives me chills again).
It continued raining and blowing for another half-hour. When it was over, I put on the mask and snorkel to see where that pesky anchor line was. It was wrapped around the keel, but was easy to pull off with Kathy paying out the slack, even with no underwater visibility. I could then pull the Danforth in by hand, and as it came up we expected to see the anchor line fouled around the wrong end of the anchor, but it wasn’t. Instead, the shank was bent close to 45 degrees, which prevented the flukes from digging into the bottom.
By now it was almost dark, so I grabbed a spotlight and went in search of the cooler (with 2 lifejackets inside), and the 2 oars which had been in the dinghy. They were actually easy to spot up in the rocks on shore.
We set the gps anchor alarm, ate dinner and went to bed. The next morning I changed out the engine sea water impeller which had separated from the hub. We probably sucked up a bag in the storm, shutting off the coolant water to the heat exchanger. The engine runs fine now. We bought a 45 pound Delta (a different type of anchor called a plow) and gave the bent Danforth anchor away. We pulled out the sewing machine and repaired the bimini and made it stronger than before.
Lucky for us the shuttle launch was cancelled (the main reason we’ve been hanging out here), so Kathy and I got to watch the launch from the space center yesterday. It was fantastic. Rachel elected to spend the night at her friend Christina’s for a 6 girl birthday sleepover.
In the future, if storms are expected, or we leave the boat, we’ll set both anchors. I had become complacent due to weathering Tropical Storm Ernesto so easily. This afternoon cumulonimbus was twice as strong as Ernesto.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Wild and Horrible Night

Mike, Skip, and I fished from Skip’s boat this morning. We caught a few small trout, and released them. The red drum didn’t want anything to do with us even though Mike tossed his lures onto their heads. We then went to Skip’s home to bid Mike, Kari, and Kami farewell on their drive back home to Tallahassee. Laurie gave me a haircut; we visited for a while, and then left for the beach. After a couple of hours of surf and sand, we shopped at Wal Mart and headed home.
Approaching our anchorage off the 520 causeway, we could see 2 marine patrol boats with their lights going, right next to Stardust. A man was visible on Stardust- she had been boarded! Getting closer, we saw numerous police cars in the park, and blocking access to the park.
I got out of the van, and told the policeman blocking the park that that was my boat out there surrounded by patrol boats. He asked for proof, so I showed him the photo of Stardust on the cover of my notebook. He said that a man was seen swimming towards Stardust, and was “missing”, but that our boat did not appear to be disturbed.
Fishermen on shore described a man who claimed that his dinghy had been stolen, and was going to swim out to his boat, pointing at Stardust. He took off his shirt and shoes, then got in the water and started “dog paddling” out to Stardust. It took him a long time, but just before he got to the boat, he went under, and was not seen again. They called the police, which got the Coast Guard, Marine patrol, sheriffs, dive teams, and investigators on site. It took an hour to find the drowned man’s body. I overheard the cops talking about how he had a rap sheet for selling stolen boat electronics. In the meantime, there were 3 wrecks on the bridge above us due to rubbernecking motorists.
They finally let us dinghy out to our boat at 8:00. Everything was fine onboard. Hopefully Rachel won’t dream about drowned men under our boat. She couldn’t believe that people actually had the job of searching for bodies underwater.
Tomorrow is Rachel’s first day of school. She went to bed trying to decide what to wear for her first day of school. I told her I was certain she would be the prettiest girl in the whole school. I have a dentist appointment for 1pm to find out what is up with my painful molar.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Cape Canaveral Day Sail

We sailed with Kathy’s sister, Kari, her husband Mike, and daughter Kami. Kami’s friend Nicki came along too, as did Mike’s sister Laurie, and husband Skip. Kari joined us at our anchorage for the trip up the ICW (intercoastal waterway), through the barge canal, the Canaveral Lock, and into Cape Marina where we picked up everyone else. Then we motored out into the ocean and put up the sails. The wind was 10-12 kts and seas were smooth, so we had a nice 2 hours under sail. Then the wind quit and we motored to shallow water over the Canaveral Bight for a swim.
A huge storm cell over land had us worried about the return trip since the past 2 days saw drenching rain in the afternoons. But it dissipated while we swam, giving us a smooth trip home.
Kami and Nicki are spending the night with us, and I’m going fishing with Mike and Skip on Skip’s boat in the morning.
Another perfect day!

Friday, September 01, 2006


As expected, Stardust sat quietly at her anchorage. A few things had moved about below deck, indicating that there was a little rock and roll, but she looked better than when we left, due to a freshwater shower.
Then we had a full day putting everything back. The jib halyard is chafed where it goes over the mast-top pulley, so I ordered a new one, which will be in on Wednesday.
A molar is giving me trouble, so a dentist visit is scheduled for next Tuesday.
We’re going to visit the Canaveral Yacht Club on Saturday, as they have races scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. There will be a lobster dinner Saturday eve, and the Bostiks will be there as well. I may find a spot on a race boat Sunday. Kathy and Rachel will meet the Kreilings on Sunday for some beach action.
So we’ll be in the area for at least another week. The Melbourne-Cocoa-Cape Canaveral area is very nice, and there is much to do.