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November 17, 2007

Saint Augustine again

We are now anchored at Fort George, Florida that is a national park at the site of an old plantation. It is another beautiful place and very protected. Today we will cross the St Johns River and go to saint Augustine. Sue’s sister in law and her husband live in the area and we were planning to spend a day and visit with them, but she has just had foot surgery and cannot get around yet so that won’t happen.
Since the last log, we have spent a day in Charleston strolling through the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, had lunch at a favorite restaurant called Joseph’s, and did a provisioning run to the nearby supermarket. The marina in Mount Pleasant has a courtesy van service that is very convenient and flexible so all of the getting around was easy.
We put diesel fuel in Courage for the first time since we bought her and it only took 150 gallons. Our engine log says we had run the engine about 70 hours and the generator about 20 so we seem to be using about 2 gallons per hour. This is better than I had feared. I was also able to replace the fuel tank site gages (clear plastic tubes) so now I can really see how much fuel is in the tanks!
Since Charleston we have anchored out in the Bull River which is nice but very exposed if the wind is blowing which it wasn’t, then the New River (there are a lot of New Rivers!!), the Wahoo River (one of our favorites), the Brickhill River on the west side of Cumberland Island, a slip at the Amelia Island Yacht Basin, and here at Fort George last night.
While at Amelia Island, we visited with sailing friends Ginny and Jerry Clapsaddle of Chessel. They bought a wonderful property facing east across a pond and salt marsh and are in the final stages of building a very unique custom home. It is raised up one story for flood protection and has windows on all four sides and an open loft area above the living area for ventilation. It is a real architectural gem and although they are having some problems with the project, when it is done they will have a most beautiful and unique property. They are both artists (Ginny does pottery and Jerry paints) and the house has studio area for both of them and Ginny’s kilns and outside. They were gracious hosts and treated us to dinner at a nearby restaurant. They are keeping their boat and we certainly hope to see them again somewhere along our cruising path.
The weather has gotten chilly the last few days with a clod front that came through but it has been sunny and very pleasant. The pilothouse is certainly a great place to be as we motor down the ICW. The reverse cycle A/C heater is also nice other than having to run the generator to use it.
Leaving Amelia Island, the shift and throttle controls froze up and were very hard to move. Caused a little panic as we were backing out of our slip at the marina. Finally discovered that the new fly bridge cover I made was binding on the controls on the fly bridge and causing the problem. The easy fix was to remove the “top hat” that I sewed into it to cover the controls that stick up from the “dashboard”. All is back to normal now.
Yesterday at the marina, I scrubbed the teak decks with granular Tide with bleach and the now look very nice. I will also treat them with another product to bring the wood back to “like new” appearance, and then apply some protective coating. It is a purely cosmetic thing, but makes a big difference in the “Bristol” condition of Courage.
We seem to be getting several projects crossed off the list every day in spite of being on the move. We used some travel time to make project lists of all of the fixes or improvements we would like for every area of the boat and it is about 6 pages long! Most are fairly quick and inexpensive but there are a few big ones like adding stabilizers that will cost about $35k to have professionally installed and are therefore way down the priority list!
We have a slip reservation in Daytona Beach for a week and may stay longer. Sue’s son Josh and his fiancée Lu Chen are on vacation in Orlando and they may come to Daytona to visit with us and see Courage next week while we are there.

Posted by Dick at 02:31 PM

November 09, 2007

The Cruising Life Again!

Well, my hearty mates, I have finally gotten down to the task of writing the first installment of our new adventure. Since the trip down under, we have been freeloading at my daughter Liz’s house in Bensalem, PA and acting as her “peeps” for people. We did odd jobs and kept her company in exchange for a roof over our heads and some storage space for “stuff” in her cellar. We think it worked out well for both parties and we certainly enjoyed her company – ad the company of her three cats Copper, Keri, and Suzi.
After unpacking from the down under trip and settling in, I started looking a boats listed on Yachtworld.com and organizing the most interesting listings into folders by boat builder. The search was restricted to trawlers style boats, single engine in about the 40 foot +/- range under $200k. I looked at DeFever, Monk, Island Gypsy, Marine Trader, Mainship, CHB, Krogen, and a few one off specials. We made a checklist of the features we wanted and rated the boats against the list.
The bottom line of all this was the purchase of Courage, a 1987 42 foot Krogen trawler located at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Great Bridge (Chesapeake) Virginia. Most of the Krogens listed that weren’t major “project” boats were out of our price range. The owner of Courage seemed anxious to sell and the boat checked out as solid but needing cosmetic work to be up to standard. I negotiated what I’ve been told was a “good deal” and it closed in mid August, but because of other commitments we both had, we didn’t really move aboard until September. Other than the one hour sea trial associated with the purchase, we didn’t have any time aboard her until the end of September when we did a 5 day move from Chesapeake VA to New Bern, NC. This was compounded by the prior owner reneging on the promise to spend a day aboard familiarizing us with her. We have had to learn by ourselves and as with all boats, she has her own peculiarities – some of which we still have not deciphered! So far, she is “as advertised” and all the major “stuff” has worked well – no unpleasant surprises. The web site will shortly have a new look with a photo of Courage on the opening page and a new write up “About Courage” replacing the old Omega stuff. I have also updated the “About Us” section. These updates are dependent on my son in law Chris finding the time in his very busy schedule to do these updates. His business (designing websites like ours) is booming so he has little free time, but I’m sure it will get done. In the mean time, I can continue to update the photo albums and ships log. He did set up a new URL for “Couragecruising.com” so if you go there it points to the old omegasailing.com site and is transparent to people typing in either name.
After leaving Courage at the Sheraton Marina in New Bern, we returned to Liz’s house for last minute projects, spent a week in San Diego with Louisa, Chris and Neva while doing booth duty for Fresh Creek Technologies at the big annual trade show. And completed the follow up visits to the eye doctor who did the cataract surgery on my right eye. It went well, other that a recovery period somewhat longer that normal but the result is good. I am now 20/20 in my right eye, have much reduced stigmatism, and the glaucoma has gone. Amazing technology. The left eye will wait until at least next spring since the cataracts in that eye are very early stage.
We attended toe Krogen 30 year Celebration Rendezvous in Solomons, MD in October and also the Southbound Rendezvous in New Bern the end of the month. Both were enjoyable. There were some old friends at both but mostly new faces. The cruising community (both power and sail) has a high turnover rate.
We departed New Bern November 1st and with stops in Adams Creek, Morehead City, Spooners Creek, Mile Hammock Bay, Carolina Beach, Lightkeepers Marina, and Georgetown, SC, we arrived at Charleston Harbor yesterday afternoon only to find our long time sailing friends Ann and Neville Clement aboard the home build Catamaran “Peace IV” anchored in the harbor. We decided to drop the hook next to them and they joined us aboard Courage for supper last night. We had visited with them last summer at their northern homeport of East Greenwich, RI for several days. They are enjoyable and very interesting people and it is always fun to cross paths with them. They headed offshore this morning towards Florida while we will shortly head in to Mount Pleasant to the Charleston Harbor Marina. We always like to spend a day here, as it is one of our favorite places to visit. We also need fuel (it will be the first time we have filled up the tanks on Courage and will be a big hit on the credit card!) and provisions and Sue “needs” more earrings from the downtown market in town.
The no plan plan is to leave here in two days and head towards Daytona Beach for Turkey day with Chuck and Kathy. We have also been invited for Christmas with Ethan and Carolyn in Ft Myers and have to arrange for a place to berth Courage for the second half of December. The water level in Lake Okeechobee is so low that Courage cannot make that trip across Florida. So the only way to the West Coast of Florida is via Marathon in the Keys. I have promised several of you faithful readers to keep the log updated regularly and will work at it but remember that we are retired and that “there is no plan”!

Posted by Dick at 09:05 AM