Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Orlando

Disappointment once again as Monday  came and went with the person doing the work on the boat “unable” to work in the rain and then came Christmas short days so a half day Tuesday when it was discovered the newly ordered chain didn’t fit. But thankfully Dave and Mary in the next slip had the appropriate size (unbelievably the manufacturer’s manual listed the wrong “short” link, and you would think between them, the marina staff, and West Marine someone could have figured the correct linkage spacing out.

   So in order to get away from this very frustrating situation, even though we had our “tree” up
on the boat already, we decided to invoke our motto “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

 In this case a trip to the fantasy worlds of Orlando. So realizing our boat would now not be ready for at least four more days if not more (now approaching the end of 3 weeks!!), off we went to Disneyworld and Universal Studios. Christmas Eve was spent at Universal Islands and Studios for a two park pass so we could ride the Hogwarts Express train between parks,

and go to the new Diagon Alley section. We covered a lot in 10 exhausting hours, ending the day in the New York section watching the Blues Brothers and a Macy’s parade.

 We are stayed at another pet friendly La Quinta right next to the upcoming large ferris wheel being built similar to London’s Big Eye. We are also just awed by the rampant consumerism and prices, such as $4 at Diagon for a small tub of ice cream or water or $16 for a video game at Dave/Busters, $25 for parking and a whopping $134 per person for park entry, but there is a certain Vegas style city that never sleeps excitement at the same time.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two weeks in Brunswick and still counting

Our repairs have taken longer than initially predicted partly because damage to the boat from the pounding on the shoal we took had aggravated some additional issues that necessitated removing the propeller shaft and fixing the strut, and we had to order a new windlass that would arrive in several days, plus one of the guys working on the boat got sick for two days. So plan is that all will be finished today, Friday Dec. 19th, and the boat put back in the water to sit for a couple of days after which they will realign the motor again once the boat reshapes itself and we should be off again by Tuesday. So that’s two and a half weeks in Brunswick and instead of Vero Beach by Christmas it will be Fernandina, the most northern most of Florida cities. 

At least we have really gotten to explore this beautiful area,
 and play golf three times.  So here are a couple of scenes from that venue on Jekyll Island,

Including the bar at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel which was featured in a scene from the golf movie 'Bagger Vance'.

 And on our third visit witnessed their fine display of Christmas Lights

                                                                                    and the ICW side Rah Bar.

Meanwhile during our two weeks we have begun a study of fast food establishments, and some other local establishments. So far locally one of the best sandwiches was from Tipsy’s in Brunswick – a Green Gobbler (turkey, avocado, on grilled texas toast, wow), Hungry Hannah’s – average well cared for food preparation at an amazingly reasonable price (owner’s attitude is great as a sign proclaims they will not take your order if you are talking on a cell phone, preferring to wait ) . Others have been so far Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Burger King, IHOP twice since we got bored with the continental breakfast at La Quinta accompanied by barking dogs and screaming children, local Fox Pizza that was better than the much proclaimed Moon Doggy’s pizza, Krystal Burger – sad imitation of White Castle; and saw an original MacDonalds layout,
to the point that one night we actually microwaved frozen tv dinners in the hotel room as a healthier alternative.

 As we were putting the boat in on Friday it was suddenly discovered by the marina that our existing chain would not fit the new windlass, and the amps required a new breaker (first question was of course why did this just get discovered on Friday rather than on Mon. when the unit arrived) so now a new chain had to be ordered and HOPEFULLY will be here on Monday and we can still make our departure Tuesday. If not then we will make do in Brunswick for Christmas. Tonight went on a three peat Sunday football watch at Marsh Grill and met Jimmy Orr at the bar,
Jim Orr on left and friend Larry at Marshside Grill
a received form the 1960s Baltimore Colts and two time Super Bowl winner, and again enjoyed the kitchen staff antics (one a Cowboy fan and another the Steelers).

Meanwhile the cats are still enjoying hotel life, and we put Christmas lights on the Balia to try to join in with the local boaters.

Merry Christmas to all

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Polishing sunsets and golf

 It turns out Pounce was more than stressed with a flare up of his food allergies necessitating a trip to an ER vet, but now four days later he is on the mend with medication. While boat repairs began we took some time to enjoy our coastal surroundings by playing golf at the historical Jekyll Island Club, once the most exclusive private club in the country and now an elegant hotel with resort cottages. Built in the late 1800s the founding members included names of Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Marshall Field.

 Jay enjoyed a nice rusty round, while Cindy was creating some other sport that was some sort of golf hybrid, on the Indian Mounds course – one of 3 on this quiet Island resort.

If there's rocker then Cindy will find it

We then enjoyed the sunset at the local 685 (that’s the ICW mile marker there) restaurant.


 Wednesday and Friday we worked on cleaning/waxing the hull to take advantage of the boat being out of the water, so between that and golf we are two very stiff people today. Today, Saturday we are venturing back out to sightsee on St. Simon, where last night we enjoyed another water spot sunset. Perhaps a repeat , from our first one on Wednesday, visit to Southern Soul BBQ where we enjoyed the best pulled pork sandwich ever at this iconic establishment featured on the Food Network’s diners and dives show.

Sunset on St. Simon Friday, we are thinking of doing an entire series of bar sunset shots

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Some unfortunate bad times amongst the good

So much for schedule planning as we have had several days of glitches, but are trying to make the best of the situations presented. Admittedly it has been emotionally difficult at times as the trip has presented a few more challenges than we anticipated. We arrived in Savannah to stay at one of our past trip repeat marinas Thunderbolt, where they deliver Krispy Kreme donuts to your boat early every morning.

 We had planned to spend 2 or 3 days there but ended up staying 4 as we needed to accomplish several things and then still have some time to enjoy one of our favorite southern towns. The first day we did errands of restocking including finding special kitty food and Christmas gifts. Then we really felt it necessary to spend half a day reviewing the next few days charts because of the detail required to negociate various shoaled areas, with such enticing names as “hell’s gate”, and planning to arrive at the correct tide time for some areas. The stress of navigating virtually constantly for 6 – 8 hours each day really makes us appreciate the wonderful sailing area of the Great Lakes even more, and we realized we needed to de-stress by staying put for more than two days.

 Then to increase our stress level Cindy’s leg vein issues reared their ugly head, probably due to the inactivity of standing or sitting for hours at the helm each day. With a history of DVT she headed in to a local vein center for an ultrasound to confirm a blood clot, and was put on blood thinners; then having the as always frustrating experience of trying to get a prescription filled at an “in network” drug store when out of town compounded by the fact that the physician wrote the prescription for the “start up kit” which the drugstore didn’t carry. And although the hospital drug store did have it, they were out of network and at $700 a bit expensive so it was back to the doctors office to get a prescription for the specific dosage redone so the participating pharmacy could process it. The office ended up given me a second sample so I could get thru the first two weeks of the drug start up to end the frustration after 5 hours of driving all over the place.

  That 4th and final day ended with a late afternoon bus tour of Savannah’s historic district and dinner at the famous Pirate House restaurant. The beauty of the live oak trees with hanging moss constantly awes, and Jay found a terrific ice cream place as always.

On Saturday the 6th with favorable calm weather we ventured out into the Atlantic and truly enjoyed the tranquility of not having to negociate potential dangers every bit of the way. The fog that we had 2 of the past 3 days lifted early, but then returned as we made our way back to the ICW coming into Sapalo River Inlet to complete our 50 mile day by anchoring at peaceful New Teakettle to await the next day’s rising tide through the difficult Mud River as the wind was going to pick up overnight making the ICW the better bet for Sunday to Brunswick than out on the ocean. So much for the plan.

  As we turned to enter the inlet the coastal fog returned, odd at 2 in the afternoon; but with radar to locate buoys, GPS, and “local knowledge” to “just follow the buoys in” (confirmed by a fishing vessel in the same area we contacted once we saw them on radar)we proceeded slowly. With only 3 more hours of daylight to get back in,  not enough to make it all the way to Brunswick channel another 35 miles away, we continued cautiously. We were in 14-20 ft charted waters but only about 100 ft of visibility when we ran aground on an uncharted shoal off “experimental shoal” about 100 yards further into the channel than expected but well to the correct side of the buoys.

 The beating we and the boat took was severe as several things went wrong. After our initial attempt to reverse off the 3 ft shoal failed, we set an anchor to prevent drifting more onto the shoal while we waited for the rising tide to help lift us off. A pan-pan was called in to the Coast Guard and a local vessel was headed our way to assist if possible, presuming they could even find us in the fog. Probably about 10 minutes into the wait, and maybe 15 more before we realized what had happened since we had returned to the safety of the cockpit as the boat crashed back onto the shoal lurching with each wave (thankfully the seas were only 2-3 ft). The cleat holding the anchor line had sheared off from the pressure so line was paying out and we were going more onto the shoal with each wave.

 Once we realized what had happened we began to take up the anchor line by revving the engine with each wave rise before crashing back down but making slow progress back to our initial anchor location. By that hour later , and about 70 hits on the bottom, the tide had risen enough that we were able to get off the shoal to deeper water. The local vessel, Good Buddy, that had come was too small to physically assist but stayed in the area in case the boat would have broken up and we would have had to abandon ship, and then helped lead us in the shortest direction to deeper water.

 The situation also literally scared the piss out of the cats, so we stripped the wet sheets off the bed and slept in the main cabin and guest room and tried to comfort ourselves and them as well as we could at our anchorage.

 Sunday we made it into Brunswick, and even though at the time the only visible damage was to the windlass which took a beating trying to pull us off the shoal we decided it would be prudent to have the boat hauled out and inspected. First task at the dock was laundry so we could have our bed back, and off to a stress relieving cheeseburger and football at a local sports bar that we realized we had visited on a previous trip, Marshside Grill.
So yesterday, Monday, we did so and discovered a bent rudder post with the packing around it destroyed plus fiberglass damage. So we began the process of filing an insurance claim and today find ourselves waiting for damage estimates and the final determinations by the surveyor/adjuster who arrived last night. So the kitties, and we, are recuperating at a La Quinta while the boat is on the hard waiting for authorization to begin repairs.

  So it has definitely been a very stressful week, and both Jay and Cindy are experiencing classic hyper sensitivity to even minor potential inconveniences resulting from a high alert status created by the grounding. Cindy has lots of bruises from the pounding, not a good thing to do when on blood thinners, and Jay got his hand caught under the anchor chain as he was manually lifting the anchor under those difficult circumstances. Patches seems, as always, to have forgotten the whole incident but Pounce is definitely still being more than usually skittish.

  Sometimes it’s hard to remain positive, and we have several times thought of going home, but try to focus instead on some of the positives in our decision making and boat handling capabilities even in those bad circumstances. We talk with other travelers and there are many stories of delays due to necessary repairs, but we just didn’t realize how frequent those events happen and thus hadn’t really expected it. The Mud River is one of the shallowest areas on the entire ICW and in our frame of mind it was nice Sunday to be able to follow “Sea Mistress” along the magenta line through the area, a boat that has made the trip several times; because if we had had a second issue that day I am not so sure we might not have given up. So sorry for the rather bleak blog but it is as much a part of our experience that we want to share with everyone as are the good times.

Monday, December 1, 2014

With the Wadey Bunch in Charleston

 Well we are almost on schedule for Georgia and Florida thru December. Friday we arrived at Isle Of Palms and joined up with the Wadey Bunch (Brad, Amy, Mason and Maddy Wade) for dinner.
And then they joined us for a short day of sailing in Charleston Harbor past Forts Sumter and Moultrie, several dophin sightings, a sunset hour of fishing on the dock and a spaghetti dinner overnight on the boat at Charleston City Marina.

 Sunday we cruised south again to a repeat anchorage on Tom’s Creek just off the Modesto River, with the cats alternating strolls on the deck and some amazing quiet. It is the first night that it has been warm enough, just reaching a low of 45 degrees, to be able to anchor out and we relished the opportunity to be part of the marshland beauty.