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December 29, 2002

Beautiful Places on "Florida's First Coast"

The Pine Island anchorage was as nice as advertised. Easy to get into and out of and good depth. Another beautiful setting and remote from people. We had the spot all to ourselves until late in the day when another sailboat pulled in and dropped the hook. It was a warm sunny afternoon so a nice hot shower and shave felt good. The new water pump makes a big difference with the higher pressure. I launched the dinghy and went to explore the immediate area around us. Got some nice photos for the album and tried my hand at fishing but only managed to loose a lure that got snagged on some underwater brush! Stew for dinner again! It was cold again with a clear sky – lots of visible stars – and the temperature dropped quickly to frost levels. We slept in and got underway about 10 AM since the trip to St Augustine is only 11 miles. We had a favorable tide current again and were at the Municipal Marina by 11:30. They assigned us a slip at the end of the dock that was easy to get into and we signed up for shore power so I can try our 115 VAC refrigeration system. No joy – it clicks when the breaker is turned on but doesn’t run. Looks like I’ll have to get a refrigeration mechanic to check it out. We will need it when we leave the boat for the trip north in 2 weeks. After showering and cleaning up the boat, we did a short walking tour of the old St Augustine downtown area. While it is geared to tourists, it is nicely done and very attractive. Another nice day with temperature reaching about 65 and bright sun. We hauled the dinghy onto the dock and let some air out so we could remove the drain plug that had gotten stuck under the floorboards. Another small problem solved! We will stay here two nights and then head for Daytona Beach and link up with our friend Captain Chuck Ellenwood.

Posted by Dick at 07:54 PM

December 27, 2002

To What to My Wondering Eyes Should Appear ...

Christmas Eve was a cold and windy day with a front coming through. We had a quiet evening aboard and called the Turner clan gathering at daughter KAT’s house to wish them all Merry Christmas. Throughout the night I could hear the wind howling and got up once to check that all was well and it seemed that it was. About 5 AM there was this loud thump and a grinding sound and I knew in a moment it wasn’t “Saint Nicolas coming down the chimney with a bound”! After “springing from my bed to see what was the matter”, I discovered not “a little old driver so lively and quick” but the Ortega Bridge looming over Omega to the “light of the moon on the crest of the waves”. We had dragged the anchor almost 1000 feet and were pinned against the side of the bridge by the wind and outgoing tide. At least there was no damage to the boat and we were afloat. The bridge tender leaned over the rail and asked if we were OK (yes) and did I want her to call the Coast Guard (no). I tried to pull Omega away from the bridge with the dinghy but no joy – too much wind and tide. We then decided to wait until daylight (by now it was 6 AM) and the slack tide to try again – also by using the anchor to kedge the boat away from the bridge. In the mean time, the bridge tender had called the Jacksonville fire department rescue boat and they were on the way to help. They arrived about 30 minutes later (enough time to get properly dressed and brew a cup of tea) and in no time had towed us away from the bridge. A hearty “well done and thank you” as well as a Merry Christmas to them and the bridge tender and we were back at our anchorage with the hook set again. I ended up switching to the larger CQR anchor that has the heavy chain rode and let out a lot of chain to be sure we didn’t drag again. It was a cold day but the wind continued from the west with gusts in the 20’s and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave the boat to go to the Laird’s for Christmas dinner. But by the time we were to leave for the party, the winds had died and the GPS said we were not moving at all so we went. Joanne and Rich were very gracious hosts and welcomed us to their family gathering with their son Dan and daughter Debbie plus grandmom DiPrizito and Debbie’s neighbor George who is a delightful Englishman. We were back at the boat by 10 PM but I was not fully asleep all night listening and watching to be sure we were not having any more problems. Lessons learned: 1) My Danforth anchor is not large enough for the boat in these conditions and the extra effort required to launch the CQR with the chain rode is obviously a prudent move. 2) Always turn on the GPS anchor drag feature that gives an alarm if you move farther that the amount you enter. 3) Always trust your 6th sense – I felt that all was not right but the snug bed on a cold night kept me from getting up to check – shame on me. 4) There are a lot of good people in this world who are ready to help in this kind of situation and we met several of them from the Jax Fire department and the lady bridgetender. We were fortunate in that it could have been a lot worse. Needless to say, an exciting Christmas for us.
On the 26th, we had the Lairds onboard for a day cruise down the St. John’s River. We couldn’t sail – no wind! But it was a nice day on the water and was uneventful. Go to the photo album to see the photos of the Pelican who hitched a ride with us! This part of Florida appeals to both of us and has a lot of say for it. After the day cruise, we filled the diesel and water tanks at the Ortega Boatyard Marina and went back on the hook. We left Ortega this morning and we are now anchored (with the CQR!) East of Jax in a quiet cove off the St. John’s River. Tomorrow we will go east to pick up the southbound Intercoastal again and anchor at Pine Island – just north of St. Augustine. Then on to St. Augustine where we will get a Marina slip and be tourists for a day as well as do laundry and some provisioning.

Posted by Dick at 01:12 PM

December 24, 2002

Pre Christmas activities in Florida

Friday December 20 to Tuesday December 24, 2002
Stayed another day in the Ft. George River and went ashore to tour the plantation. It is part of the National Park Service and has recently been restored. We were the only visitors there during the morning and had a nice walk around the slave quarters (made of “taby” – a mixture of crushed shells, sand and lime) as well as the plantation house. Left Saturday AM for Jacksonville and had an uneventful run up the St. John’s River to downtown Jax where we tied up at the free dock at Jacksonville Landing. Another cruising couple – Alyce and Chris Caldwell stopped to talk and we invited them aboard. We ended up going to lunch with then to the Japanese restaurant that is right in the mall by the dock. They are on a Gulfstream Trawler that is having a new bottom put on to get rid of the osmosis blisters and they will be “on the hard” another 6 weeks. Nice people and they recommended the Ortega River and a nice stop over on our exploration of the St John’s River. About 7:30 PM we struck up another conversation with a man in a tux who turned out to be one of the trumpet players in the Jacksonville symphony and their Christmas concert was starting at 8PM so we quick changed into our “dress up” clothes and walked to 1 blocks to the symphony hall and got last minute tickets on stage behind the orchestra. It was a nice Christmas concert with carols, traditional pieces like “The Night Before Christmas” and a youth choir. A nice spur of the moment decision. We had been told that there was a Cougars game Sunday and that many people came by boat and that it would be hectic so we left Sunday AM and made the short trip to the Ortega River. Sue had called her brother in law’s sister Joanne who lives in this area with her husband Rich. They came to the boat Sunday late afternoon and we then went out to dinner at the European Cafe with them, her daughter Debbie, her long time boyfriend Steve and his son Cameron. A nice evening with family and friends. They have also invited us to their house for Christmas dinner and we have accepted. Monday we walked to the nearby Publix supermarket to provision and to West Marine and Pier 17 for boat stuff. I broke down and bought a new fresh water pump ($180) to replace the old one that runs but frequently stalls and trips the circuit breaker. It is now installed and is working fine. Another project done! I also repainted some of the deck wood trim and started stripping the finish off the last pieces of exterior teak that need refinishing. We ended up the day going ashore again to do the wash at the marina laundry. The last two days have been beautiful and Monday was warm enough to be in T-shirt and shorts! YESSSSS!!!! Today it is raining with severe weather warnings. We are dry and snug in the cabin other that a few drips from the leaks I have still not been able to track down and seal. Sue rearranged and cleaned out the starboard side bookshelves and we took a bag full of books and magazines to the local marina swap library.

Posted by Dick at 02:32 PM

December 19, 2002

The weather is here, wish you were beautiful

Got this title from a bumper sticker at the rental car place Monday and couldn't resist using it!
Spent Wed night at another remote anchorage in a salt marsh. Got up this morning to dense fog and dead clam. Used the time waiting for the fog to burn off finishing the installation of the speakers that Ethan gave us. They interface to the computer so we can play the 200 CD’s I put on the hard drive in MP3 format. We now have all of the music we want anytime we want it. The sound quality is good. One of my dreams is to be sitting on the boat at a beautiful tropical anchorage in balmy weather with a tall cold drink and be listening to Dave Brubeck, Ray Bryant, Mose Allison, or Charlie Byrd (etc.) play some cool jazz. It can now happen when we get to the right place! The fog finally disappeared just before noon and we moved south to the Fort George River where there is a historical site with a plantation house. Met another fellow cruising sailor on “Too Lazy Too” – a Morgan Out Island 41 – that has been doing the cruising thing for 8 years with his lady friend. They have done the Bahamas, the Caribbean and are moving south after going to Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, etc this summer. Does that sound good or what? After the fog disappeared, it became the best day so far on our trip. We had a pod of dolphins (porpoises?) around the boat this morning and I was finally able to get a good photo of them that I will put on the site.

Posted by Dick at 05:09 PM

December 18, 2002

On the Road Again

Came back to Omega Monday afternoon and found her in fine shape. The freezer and fridge were still cold after 5 days of not running the cooling. I was impressed with how well the insulation works - but cold weather also helps. We crossed the Florida state line today and are anchored in another beautiful salt marsh away from the world. The breeze is much balmier now and yesterday we were in T shirts for an hour or so at mid-day. Last night we anchored on the west side of Cumberland Island where JFK Jr. was married. It is a beautiful and very remote place and is said to have wild horses on it but we didn't see any. We have decided to spend a few days exploring the St. John's river before continuing south. This starts tomorrow when we get to Jacksonville. We are now about where we hoped to be by mid December so there is no rush to go anywhere. The Bahamas will happen after we get back from the next trip north mid January. Looks like the best bet is to depart around Hillsborough or Lauderdale and shoot for West End in the Abaco's. It can be done in daylight if conditions are right and you start about 4 or 5 AM!

Posted by Dick at 05:09 PM

December 15, 2002

Another of Life's Milestones

Another of life’s milestones has passed for me with the passing of my father. The memorial service was yesterday with my brother in law Walton and is son Ed (both Episcopal ministers) officiating at the Grace Episcopal Church service and interment of his ashes in their memorial garden. We all took part in the service that was a joyous upbeat celebration of the life of a very unique individual. Our plan is to have our mother’s ashes exhumed and placed with his in the garden at a later date. Our step-mother Ruth is holding up well and has been surrounded by family and friends. She will be spending most of the upcoming holidays with family so the real loneliness will probably not hit her until after the first of the year. Sue and I return to the boat and continue the Great Adventure on Monday.

Posted by Dick at 10:08 AM

December 10, 2002

Dad dies - the end of an era

Palmer Johnson did a nice job replacing the oil pressure transducer that had been acting up and did it quickly and correctly. Their excellent reputation is well deserved. We were underway by 11:30 AM went about 10 miles to a nice secluded anchorage. Another cold front came through so it was not so pleasant in the cockpit But once we anchored and got the stove and oven going, the cabin got toasty warm and we had a quiet and pleasant evening. My sister Milbrey called to say that our dad was not doing well (he is 93 going on 94 and was not expected to live beyond the next several days. He is in the hospice program and is getting drugs to manage the pain so he sleeps most of the time. Given our location, I cannot get there in less than a day and a half and his condition is difficult to predict so I have decided to continue on with our trip. He and I had a wonderful time together before we left in November and I feel like I have said my good by to him and am sad but at peace with the fact that at age 93 – almost 94 - he is dying.
December 10, 2002
Underway at 9 Am in overcast, drizzling rain and a gentle somewhat warm wind from the north. Got to mile marker 651 and anchored in another beautiful but secluded anchorage about 25 miles north of Brunswick, GA. Got a voice mail from sister Milbrey saying that dad had died about 10 this morning. She and Walt are on their way there and their son Ed and Ruth’s son David were there with her. The emotional shock of his death hit me harder than I had anticipated. He has been close to checking out several times recently and I thought I had come to terms with it but that was not the case and I broke down and cried. I called my four children to let them know. We have made reservations to put the boat in a marina and pick up a rental car in Brunswick. We will drive to Jacksonville tomorrow afternoon and fly to Newark tomorrow night. Dad will be cremated so there is no rush for the memorial service and it will probably be Saturday at Grace Church in Haddonfield so the family can gather form their respective locations. It has been a gloomy day is all respects.

Posted by Dick at 05:45 PM

December 08, 2002

Georgia on My Mind

We made it to another state on the way south! We are at the Palmer Johnson marina in Savannah after a 40 mile day. The marina is adjacent to the boatbuilding facility where they build some of the worlds fanciest megayachts and there are several of them here being refurbished, upgraded or whatever. This place delivers Crispie Cream doughnuts and a newspaper to your boat at 6:30 AM as part of the service and they have the lowest docking fee we have encountered so far. Much warmer today with overcast sky, occasional sun and almost no wind. More beautiful country and an up close look at Hilton Head as we went by. Got clothes washed and another hot shower so we are good to go again.

Posted by Dick at 10:01 PM

December 07, 2002

Ice on the deck!

We finally got enough cold to freeze water on the deck - just when we thought we were making progress getting south to warm weather! It melted quickly and turned out to be another clear beautiful winter day on the water. No wind and by mid morning we were very comfortable in the cockpit as we motored along. Passed mile marker 500 today and has a breif celebration at our progress. We are now anchored at mile 530 and can now "see" the Florida state line about one week ahead. Today we passed torough some of the most remote country I have ever been in with no buildings or other signs of human beings anywhere in sight other than our fellow boaters on the ICW and the obvious construction of the ICW itself.

Posted by Dick at 05:03 PM

December 06, 2002

Charleston, SC at last

Fog held us up from departing for Charleston until about 9:30 AM. Rain and overcast plus cold and windy – not a good day on the water but we are pressing on. Got to Charleston City Marina about 2 PM and after fueling up moved to our slip. Cleaned up Omega’s decks with a wash down and her brown stain “moustache” so she looks good again. Took hot showers and cleaned up and then had the marina courtesy van drop us off downtown at “Hanks” seafood restaurant where I had doz raw oysters and the bouillabaisse (fish soup) and Sue had lobster bisque with a nice salad. After dinner we walked through the old market area window-shopping and (in spit of the cold) had a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cone! We then caught the shuttle trolley bus back to the marina for 50 cents each as the senior citizen rate. This morning was warm and sunny with a very clear sky and we went to fill the propane tank and shopping at Harris Teeter supermarket for provisions. I stopped at the local US Coast Guard station to get the information packet on taking the exam to get my “6 pack” license. This is the entry-level license and would allow us to do short charters for $ along the way. I need 300 “days at sea” plus passing the exam to get it so it will be a while before I can qualify. We then left the marina and continued south to mile marker 479 in a quiet bay just off the ICW channel. It was much warmer underway today and there is a beautiful moon tonight with almost dead calm on the water.

Posted by Dick at 07:22 PM

December 04, 2002

December 4, 2002

The weather forecast was for very cold and freezing rain or snow starting this afternoon so we started out early (8:15 underway) and anchored at mile marker 435 at 1:25 PM for a 40-mile day. We now have the fire going and the stove oven as well to warm up the boat. Refilling the propane tanks is now high on the “to do” list! Much of this leg was through salt marshes – very remote and beautiful. We are close enough to Charleston to pick up their FM classical music station and have good (5 bars) cell phone coverage. As they say in the TV commercial “Can you hear me now?” The cold weather seems to be following us south. As we move from one state to the next we say, maybe it will get warm here but so far it has not worked that way. I have now moved my belt in 2 notches in the last month and believe my stomach is getting flatter. It may be from climbing up and down the companionway ladders and such boat stuff – or perhaps some other form of exercise that involves Sue. Maybe both?

Posted by Dick at 02:19 PM

December 03, 2002

December 1, 2002

We spent the morning doing laundry and going shopping using the courtesy car provided by the marina. Topped up the water and fuel and were underway about 1 PM. Made a short day of it – about 12 miles to a nice anchorage ans settled in for dinner and a quiet evening. The local FM radio station plays easy listening music from way back – I guess because there are a lot of retired people in this area that make up their listening audience.

Posted by Dick at 08:06 PM

December 3, 2002

Another beautiful day on the water with warm sun and almost no wind. Temperature got into the mid 50’s and it was very comfortable in the cockpit as we motored along. We were in the company of several other southbound boats and gathered with them several times to wait for bridges to open. We are now at mile marker 394 - from Norfolk. Today we passed a sign on the lawn of a house along the waterway saying 700+ miles to Miami and 600+ miles to NY City so we are more than half way from our starting point at City Island to Miami which will probably be the jumping off point for the Bahamas. Myrtle Beach SC is behind us and tomorrow we should reach Charleston SC. I uploaded more photos to the web site and will update the ship’s log shortly.

Posted by Dick at 07:58 PM

December 02, 2002

December 2, 2002

A beautiful day to be outside and on the water. Bright sunshine , a gentle breeze, and temperature in the mid 50's. We have now crossed the State line and are just inside South Carolina at the Lighthouse Marina. We were planning to anchor out again but when we got to the anchorage shown on the chare and started in we bumped the bottom so after powering off the mud, we continued another several miles to this spot. I joined Boat US today over the phone ($14 annual membership fee) and saved $10 on tonight's dock charge alone so it should pay off quickly. We are traveling basically southwest since the South Carolina coast has a large arc to it. Have now added a lot of photos to the photo gallery so if you have been reading the Ships Log and not looking at the photos you may want to visit this tab on the home page.

Posted by Dick at 04:49 PM