Friday, December 16, 2011

Sittin' on the Hard at the Port

On the hard is not much fun but the end may be near. Our spirits went down the drain early yesterday when Bill found out that 2 of the parts could not be obtained in this country and would have to be ordered from Japan. That usually means a 1-2 month wait. However--the next call a few hours later informed us that the parts were found in Georgia and would be here Monday. HURRAY!!! So the big question now is if they will be able to do the work next week.

In the meantime, we are walking the docks looking for critters. This morning there was a large group of birds feeding just west of the bridge. I ran to get my camera because there was some interesting pelican behavior. Gangs of 4 or 5 white pelicans would attack the smaller brown pelicans when they caught a fish. Of course when I came back with my camera the hundreds of birds that had been there were completely gone-go figure.

We are looking into a rental car deal so that we can get out of here this weekend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Changes In Latitude--North Carolina to Florida

The Adventure Begins--

FINALLY!!!! We untied the lines and left Point Marina. After months of dreaming, delays and waiting we finally set off. First stop just a few miles away in Oriental where we met Ralph the diver who cleaned our boat bottom and saildrives (these are the lower units of the engines that have the propellers on them). From there we crossed the Neuse River to Adam’s Creek. The approaching cold front reached us right as we were taking down the sails and anchoring and we discovered the new enclosure modified the aerodynamics of the boat. This made for an “exciting” anchoring. It was a stormy night and we did not sleep too well.

Morning was cool and clear so we picked up a very muddy anchor (but one that held us well through the storm) and headed down Adam’s Creek. Our plan was to take on fuel at Morehead City, however it was Thanksgiving Day and only one marina was open but not until noon. He actually came about 11 so we fueled up and headed out to sea through Beaufort Inlet.

Out at Sea--

There was good wind until later that evening. We ran about 20 miles offshore and tried our luck at fishing. A couple of False Albacore hit our lures and Bill almost got us a Mahi dinner but it got away. Samantha is not too happy with the engine noise and the rocking of the boat. So far she has not been sick but pretty much hides and gives us the evil-eye. Our first day at sea ends with a beautiful clear sunset. Bill says he saw a small green flash—I missed it.

While out at sea, Bill and I trade off watch. We watch the radar for traffic and make sure the autopilot is tracking properly and not running us into anything. I do better if I sleep first so he woke me up around midnight because we were going to pass through the cut at Frying Pan Shoals. The buoy lights were reported out but we found them working. The only things we really had to watch for were the unlighted markers. Using the GPS, Radar, and spotlight we found them easily. The wind and seas were calm, which made this passage thankfully uneventful.

The wind died down and turned to the south so we motored along with the sails up to catch a boost from any wind that might happen to show up. I pass the time by netting up sargassum weed and photographing the critters I find in it. We pass Charleston and Savanna at night with very little traffic, probably due to the holiday. The sunrises are spectacular and we see lots of dolphins—one large pod swam with the boat for over half an hour.

Saturday night we entered St. Mary’s Inlet and anchored at the southern end of Cumberland Island. We are tired and Kitty has not eaten or drunk much. As soon as we anchor I am glad to see that she is up and around and hungry.

Cumberland Island-Beach Camp and Dungeness--

Cumberland Island National Park is just north of the Georgia-Florida border. Although it is out in the middle of nowhere it was inhabited by Indians and became important to the English as an outpost to prevent Spanish expansion before the Revolutionary War. The island is covered with large live oak trees whose curving branches were of strategic importance to navies for shipbuilding. In the late 1800s it became a get-away spot for the rich and famous.

On Sunday we were blessed with beautiful weather so we took the dingy over to the Beach Camp Trail dock and walked the trail to the beach. A canopy of live oaks hung with Spanish moss and ferns led us to a large dune field then an expansive beach at low tide. Amazingly there are no bugs! In the intertidal zone I find dense populations of coquina clams, most with a little tuft of algae growing on the end. The algae sticks out of the sand where each clam is buried. Coquina clams are nothing new but I had never seen them associated with algae. It appears to prevent them from burying deep in the sand and I am not sure what it does for them. Shorebirds of many kinds were abundant and I found several live whelks sticking their “noses” out of the sand. Near one tidal pool I found a ghost shrimp that had climbed out of the sand. This is very unusual—the burrow openings are all over but the shrimp do not voluntarily come out of the burrows. They are quite slow and have very little defense. I put him in a tidal pool where he could hopefully dig down to safety.

Monday morning we got up early and dingied over to the Dungeness trail dock. Dungeness is the name of the estate first built by Nathanial Green (southern general in the Revolutionary War) and later acquired and developed by Thomas Carnegie. Most of the buildings are now in ruins. Again a canopy of live oaks led us to the estate entrance. We saw a pair of does and their fawns crossing the path on the way. We saw wild turkeys, large gobblers standing guard while the hens pecked, and several wild horses which were let go after the Carnegies abandoned the estate.

We only visited the southern part of the island but I can tell you that it is well worth visiting and returning to. I am glad that this island is protected—it is a beautiful place. We had 2 good weather days there and might have stayed longer but a cold front was passing through Monday afternoon so we decided to continue south on Tuesday. Monday afternoon we left Cumberland Sound and headed up to St. Marys to meet our friends, Gwen and Caroline whom we had not seen in about 25 years. We tied up to the public dock and had lunch. As they left, the cold front passed and the wind switched and increased.

St. Marys to Indian Harbour Beach

Once we were out the inlet it was not too long before we left pristine saltmarsh coast and crossed into Florida where just about every stretch of beach is developed. Instead of doing another stretch at sea we came into St. Augustine that evening and anchored just outside of the Intracoastal Waterwaychannel. Wednesday, we continued down the intracoastal waterway and poured on the power to make the bridge opening that led to our anchorage at New Smyrna. However, when we checked the starboard engine it had leaked oil all over the place—not good! Thursday morning we awoke to temperatures in the high 30’s—this is NOT the Florida I know and love--however, between the greenhouse effect of the enclosure and the heater we warmed up quickly in the sun. I drove the boat most of the way and only got a few pictures of the white pelicans and bald eagles that we saw along the way. The end was near when we sighted the Pineda Causeway and that evening we anchored in familiar waters off Dragon Point at the junction of the Indian and Banana Rivers.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're Here!

Sorry for the long wait but I have not had internet access until now and had a large backlog of pictures to process. I have posted the pictures--details will come later. We are now out of the water (on the hard) at Scorpion boatyard in Port Canaveral in order to get our sail drive repaired. It started spewing oil on the trip down and appears to have blown a seal. Until today, it was wonderfully warm but the cold will not last long.