Summer 2003 Vacation - Trip South

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Saturday, July 12, 2003

My boss worked me overtime on Friday so we didn't get to start to the boat until Saturday morning. We arrived about 9:30. Wayne Horne, the local mechanic, had taken the starter off, had it repaired and replaced it. He also did an oil change. Unfortunately my excellently prepared instructions on how to start the boat weren't as excellent as I had thought. He hadn't started the engine to fill the filter and check for leaks. I cranked it up and it started first spin. We settled the crew on board and left to do some last minute shopping and provisioning. It was a nice day, but the winds picked up in the afternoon as the storms moved in. We're getting the discarded weather from the hurricane in the gulf.


Sunday, July 13, 2003

We listened to the weather radio. They promised severe weather today and we elected to sit it out. As is always the way, we didn't get much of a storm. Just a little rain. I'm sure, from the look of the clouds in the distance, someone was getting it. We did a bit more shopping for things we overlooked. The old toaster oven is getting to the point it wouldn't lock down in the toaster mode easily, so we picked up a new toaster oven.

   The crew checking out the cockpit in preparation for departure.
   Sue checking out the weather.

Monday, July 14, 2003

We listened to the weather radio again. Hm, more severe weather. OK, if we are actually going anywhere this trip, we're going to have to start. I've never started on a trip where something didn't break even before we left. This trip didn't disappoint me. Last month I rewired the connector for the GPS. The previous connection was somewhat flaky and didn't always make a good connection which caused me to kill the batteries in the gps more than once. When I went to hook up the GPS it said it was still on battery power. Nuts, or words to that effect, since the internet is a family affair. I checked with the voltmeter and sure enough, no voltage. Tear the binnacle apart and inspect the wiring. Looks fine. Now trace the wires. Oh nuts, they run directly to the power panel. The power panel on this boat is held in by 10 screws, more or less. With something approaching a million wires connected to it, this panel takes some encouragement to come out. Wires frequently are pulled loose from somewhere on the panel during this exercise. Sometimes never to find their way back. I traced the wire to its source, no easy feat in itself, then what is on a boat? It is connected directly to the main 12 V buss through a fuse. The fuse holder is a chintzy in line 3AG fuse holder. The fuse was good and the connections looked OK. I checked the voltage again, and Ah ha! Now we have voltage. I suspect that fuse holder was not making a good connection. I took it back apart and sprayed it with some anti corrosion spray. After successfully reinstalling the power panel we were able to depart with a brief stop at the fuel dock.

About 3PM we were watching storms form on the radar. They looked nasty and so we took refuge in the Brickhill River next to Cumberland Island. We saw 2 group of horses off in the distance on the island as we cruised by. Shortly after we anchored, a fierce storm blew up. Not a lot of wind, but there were numerous ground to cloud lightening strikes nearby. Lots of rain. It rained for most of the evening until just before we went to bed. The rain had cooled things down and sleeping was quite comfortable.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Lifted anchor at about 9:30 and set sail (iron genny). Sue said we have to stop by noon because of the weather. We arrived at Amelia Island around noon and anchored opposite Fernandino Municipal Marina. Storms never showed up. A bit of rain in the afternoon, but nothing substantial. We were going to dink in but the threat of bad weather kept us away. Lazy day. Didn't do much of anything. We anchored on the north side of the river, while the moorings and everybody else was on the south side. It's fine over here. I slept on deck since there wasn't much wind. Very comfortable. We put up the Wind Scoop for the very first time. Sue said she was very comfortable too. I've used them on other boats with much success, but never did try this one out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Dinked in to the marina about 9AM. While attempting to wrestle the outboard on to the dink, I was attacked by one of those pesky(family page, remember?) deer flies. Some folks down here call them horse flies. I don't know or care what they are, I'd like to rid the universe of them. These are those slow moving, biting machines that take a hunk out of you when they leave. He got me about 3-4 times and I had the option of dropping the dink motor in the drink and swatting the pest or continuing the attempt at mounting the motor. I wisely let him bite me. We motored over to the dock and wandered the streets for a while. We tried to rent bikes to go out to the fort and the beach, but there are no bike rentals near the marina. The nice lady at the tourist office called the bike rental places in town, but none of them would deliver to the marina. So we bought some ice and tried to get back to the boat. As I was putting around to the main dock from the dingy dock, the engine died while idling up to the dock. I didn't give it much mind. We paid for the ice and I attempted to restart the motor. Nope. Now this motor is a Yamaha 8hp with about 2 hours of usage. I bought it new about 18 months ago when a boat in the marina slammed into the back of the Wind Angel and put my ding motor in the drink permanently. I was impressed with the reported reliably of that engine. Oh well. After wearing out my arm I collapsed on the dock. Sue had gone into the marina office and inquired about mechanics in the area. She was directed to a mechanic just behind the new Hampton Inn. She set off to see what they might do for us and I considered dropping the nice motor in the drink. I sat there for a while and decide that maybe it was flooded. No good reason, just something to consider. It was running when it quit so I didn't think that was reasonable, but I didn't have any other good ideas. These new engines won't let you open the throttle all the way while cranking, which is the way I was taught to clear a flooded condition. I disconnected the fuel line and proceeded to pull the starter rope until it finally made sounds of life. I asked the gentleman in the marina office to call and see if Sue was still at the mechanics office. She was and came back. Back to the boat with 16 lb of ice and a whipped Jim.

The weather radio was still calling for severe weather conditions so Sue again said we're not going anywhere. The afternoon was spent watching the ships loading paper and reading.

Dinner was about 7PM and consisted of asparagus, corn and country style port ribs, Chez Jim style.

The crew is sort of taking to sea life. Robbie heads for a hidey hole in the V berth as soon as the engine starts and doesn't come out until it goes off. Mickey panics for a while but then comes out and continues his life as usual. Mickey is a bit braver than Robbie and has explored most of the deck. Robbie on the other hand is lots more cautious and has only ventured away from the cockpit a couple of times.

Somehow my digital camera was damaged and when we got to the boat it wouldn't work. I decided it was time to retire the 1.3 megapixel camera and get a real camera. Since I've got a couple of smart media cards I wanted to find a camera that would use them. I also had recently purchased 4 NiMh cells to use in it and hoped I'd find a camera that would use these cells. I wandered into the Circuit City in Brunswick and found a display model of an Olympus camera that had everything I wanted. It was a 4 megapixel camera with more options than I could ever figure out how to use and it was only $299. I snatched it up. Most of the pictures on this page were taken with that camera. I'm very impressed with it so far.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Early moring shrimper in the ICW across from Fernandina Island

Still a severe weather advisory in effect. I think that's a permanent summer forecast down here. We lifted anchor and started South. Arrived early at Ft. George River and anchored east of the plantation. Dinked in to take the tour and found that the main house and another one are closed due to "structural problems" I think it is more a protest by the park service to Bush's cuts in funding. Not much to see here and it is HOT. They do have a small garden, growing the crops of the days of plantation life. Sue picked up a piece of Sea Island Cotton. Seems it isn't grown commercially any longer. The cotton gin put that crop out of business. We were relaxing after our brief visit when we spotted one of those pesky PWCs with a couple of people on board that looked to be in trouble. I climbed into the dink and motored over to where they had beached it. Sure enough, they couldn't get it started. I offered to give them a tow back to the ramp where they put in, which was just around the bend. They took me up on it and I rescued Frank and Kay from long walk and swim, since they had beached on the wrong side of the water from the ramp.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Beautiful morning.

We left the anchorage and headed for Jacksonville. We went out the St. John's inlet and put the sails up for a bit of sailing (finally). Sue didn't like the look of the sky and suggested we go in. I wanted to stay, but knew better than to argue so we went in. As we turned south into the ICW we say a storm brewing in the western sky. I put the radar on 16 mile range and saw a pretty good storm on the scope. As we sped south, the storm passed behind us. It was a pretty nasty one with lots of lightening. Sue's aunt is flying in today to visit Sue's cousin who lives in Jax. We planned to stay at the Palm Cove Marina a couple of nights in hopes of seeing them, but they were too busy. We stayed a couple of nights anyway. Perhaps we'll get to see them on the way back. I called the McCormick bridge for an opening and went through it. On the way, I spotted the sign to Palm Cove Marina on the NORTH side of the bridge. I grabbed the guide book and looked at the map closer and realized we were now on the wrong side of the bridge. I sheepishly called the most friendly bridge tender and explained my mistake and he kindly opened it again for me after waiting for traffic to clear. This is obviously a popular liveaboard marina. There are a few boats I don't think are capable of moving moored in here.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Called Enterprise to come pick us up. We decided to get a car and run some errands. West Marine and Winn Dixie took a bunch of our cash.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Returned the rental car. They didn't open until 10 so we didn't get away very early. Poor Robbie. He does not seem to like motoring. Drifted south to St. Augustine and anchored at the north end of the north side of the bridge opposite the old fort. Since we've been to St. Augustine recently we didn't bother to dink in. Just sort of hung around until bed time and relaxed. Very nice breeze all night kept us quite comfortable.

This is actually a link to a panoramic view of St. Augustine's waterfront. It's 600K so be prepared for a wait, if you're on a dial up line.

Click here for a smaller, but less impressive pan image.

Got a pretty good picture of one of the excursion boats as it went by.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Left St. Augustine anchorage and made the 9:30 bridge opening. Stopped at St. Augustine muni marina for ice and fuel. Beautiful day. Enough wind to be cool (relatively speaking) and lots of sun. We arrived at the Crescent Beach bridge and asked for an opening. The bridge went part way up and stopped. I backed down and turned around. Seems someone went through the gate but stopped before he nosed over into the ICW, The bridge tender called the local law and we waited for the mess to be cleaned up. Of course, they can't open the bridge with an inoperative gate so we had to wait for someone to come and halt traffic. I guess we were hanging around for a about an hour before we were able to proceed. Mid afternoon we elected to stop at Palm Coast Marina. None of the few anchorages in this area looked very promising. This is a very nice marina. Pool access, good showers, laundry. There is a restaurant associated with the Flagger Hotel that probably has good food but from the looks of this place, I suspect the prices to be rather high. Since we provisioned in Jax, we elected to cook, as usual.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

We wandered down to Daytona Beach. There is allegedly an anchorage just past one of the bridges on the east side, opposite the sewage plant. I started poking my way east just south of the bridge all the way to the marker that the guide said was south of the entrance. Each time I turned east out of the ICW, I hit ground. Either the instructions are wrong, or that unmarked entrance has filled in. We gave up and kept going. I started to turn into the anchorage on the west side, but the warnings about fouling an anchor and odor from the sewage plant discouraged us.

We arrived at Ponce De Leon Inlet later in the day. Neither guide book had much to say about this place, but we had met a nice Captain at Palm Coast who said that's where the boat he was running was kept. Since I'm sure it drew at least as much as Wind Angel, I kept to the left and went in. What a nice place. We spent two nights there.

The first afternoon about low tide, I noticed the boat was very stable. I turned on the instruments and found we were securely on the bottom. After the tide came back in, I lifted anchor and moved away from the sand bar in the middle of the inlet. One of the guide books warned about the rapid current in the inlet, and so I had a lot of anchor line out. The current isn't as bad as the book makes it out to be, especially for someone used to the tidal currents in Georgia.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Sue and I dinked in and ate lunch at one of the restaurants It was quite good, but then we've been deprived of seafood on this trip. We then hiked over to the lighthouse and did the tour. Interesting place. We both forgot to bring cameras. Neither of us were up for hiking to the top, so we skipped that part of the tour. While we were anchored we were serenaded by the loud speaker system from the casino boat that left a couple of times a day. They started playing music about an hour before they departed.

We received a cell phone call late in the day from my Mother's caretaker. They had to take her to the hospital this morning.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

We lifted anchor early and headed north to find a marina. We stopped at the Seven Seas Marina. I knew this marina since we had stopped there on our way up from Ft. Pierce and I really liked the folks who run it. It is a very friendly place. It's primarily a DIY yard but they usually have a few slips available for transients. True to their reputation they helped me find a rental car (Hertz) and promised to keep an eye on the boat. We had left the cat carrier back in St Simons so we had to stop at a pet shop on the way back to the boat from picking up the car to buy a new cat carrier. Found a really nice buffet on US 1 in a shopping center next to a pet shop that didn't have what we wanted.

Grabbed the cats and headed for the hospital in Dade City. She was pretty weak when we got there and was suffering from lack of adequate thyroid medicine and infected bed sores. We stayed in a dumpy motel in Zehpyer Hills. The only one that would allow our cats. The desk clerk looked like he'd just stepped out of a Hell's Angels movie and there was a sign behind the desk that read "So this isn't Home Sweet Home, live with it!".

Friday, July 25, 2003

We hung around another day, but there wasn't much we could do. They took her in and operated on the bed sore to try to clean it up. She was in pretty bad shape. The crew survived the day in the motel. I wonder how many critters they caught and ate that day?

Saturday, July 26, 2003

We had to have the car back before they closed at 1 PM, 'cause they aren't open on Sunday and I sure didn't want to try to get to the boat from the airport so we drove back early, did a bit of shopping and got back on the boat at around 2 pm. We immediately shoved off and headed north.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

We pushed hard and arrived in St.Augustine once again. It's a great place for people watching. We anchored close to the wall, since the anchorage was pretty crowded. We were North of the Bridge of Lions again. I've never found room south.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Stopped at Ft. George River just north of St. Johns Inlet again. This is a pleasant anchorage except for the traffic. Shortly after we anchored, a large cat came by and went much farther up the river. I wasn't aware there was enough water to go up there, but he did it. I suspect at high tide it is OK. We dropped the dink in the water and took off for the beach. I sat and read, while Sue wandered the beach and took a dip. I took a dip too, while falling out of the dink.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Arrived at the channel to the Amelia Island Yacht Basin at about an hour before low tide. Their channel is pretty shallow and this was a low, low tide. The channel was down to about 25' wide and barely 4.5' deep. I think we dragged most of the way in. It clouded up and drizzled for most of the evening. We took the car into town and bought a few more grocery items we'd forgotten the last time. Sue met a fellow teacher (what's the gender neutral form of fellow?) at the marina. She and her husband live aboard a nice looking Hunter (I think). Her name is Susan. Seems like Sue is always running into a teacher about everywhere we go. They gave us some suggestions for restaurants but the marina had to have the car back by closing, 6 PM. We made up for it by grilling shrimp on the barby.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

We woke up to another nice day after last night's rain. For some reason I was inspecting the transmission and packing when I noticed that there was only one bolt holding the flange to the transmission. I located a couple of bolts/nuts/washers in the bilge nearby. Whether they fell out, or had never been replaced when they replaced the cutlass bearing in May, I don't know. I don't have any idea what happened to the 4th one. I sent Sue up to the marina office to get some replacements. They've got a pretty good shop here, but it caters to outboard mostly. She picked up the loaner car and went down to a local parts house to pick up some schedule 8, fine thread bolts and nuts. I decided to replace all 4 while I was at it. Just before noon we shoved off and headed for Cumberland Island to anchor for the night. Got about a quarter mile past the ferry docks behind the island and dropped anchor. The current and wind were in exactly opposite directions. Then is when the disaster struck. I asked Sue, foolishly, to drop it into reverse to try to get the boat straightened out a bit so I could set the anchor. The engine died. I felt sick. I knew what had happened. The anchor line which I thought was pretty tight and was well below the boat had drifted up into the prop. We went down below to retrieve the cell phone and Tow Boat US phone number and Sue asked, what was that rushing water noise? At first I thought it was the current but as I approached the back of the boat, I realized it was just too loud. I took out a drawer from under the bed and found a geyser. We were taking on water at an alarming rate. I ran forward and grabbed a couple of rags and a screw driver and tried to stem the flow. I slowed it down but didn't get it stopped. I called Tow Boat US and told them what was going on. They said they'd get a diver and boat out right away. They asked if I had called the Coast Guard. I said no, should I? They said yes and said they'd transfer me. I got the Coast Guard on the phone and told them of my plight. They asked me where I was and I told them, just past the ferry docks behind Cumberland Island. He wasn't familiar with the area and asked me what city I was close to. I told him St. Marys. He said, "I've never heard of it, what state is it in?" I replied I thought it was Georgia, but it might be Florida since it is right on the line. He asked me why I was calling Miami? Hm. He promised to transfer me to a closer location. Someone else came on the phone and we went through the same conversation. He finally said, I had the wrong group, again. I asked him for Mayport's phone number and called them directly. They asked the same questions as they always do. How many people on board. 2. Is everyone wearing life jackets. No. What's your lat/long. xx/xx. Is anyone injured? No. Are you in danger of sinking? Perhaps. What's your birthday? Huh? and on and on and on. Never a suggestion he might have someone on the way. Finally he said he'd get someone to come see about us. Some time later someone from Mayport called and said they were on their way. By this time I was talking with TowBoat US on the marine radio, he'd picked up a diver and was on the way from Fernandina.

I went back down to check on the leak. The 1200 gpm pump was not quite keeping up with the leak. I got another rag and slowed it down a bit more. I put on my mask and fins and tried to get under the boat to patch it from there, but the current was too strong for free diving. By the time I got to the strut I didn't have enough breath left to do anything. I've been planning on getting a tank and think now is the time. My regulator is over 20 years old, so I guess I'll replace it too.

TowBoat US and the diver arrived and before we could discuss saving the anchor, he went in and cut the anchor line. It caught the tow operator and myself off guard and we took off towards shallow water. The tow boat captain had a helper that apparently didn't know what he was doing so it took a bit for them to get a line to me. I was forward trying to secure what was left of the anchor line, since it was still fouled in my prop and I couldn't get it in. About that time a monkey fist dropped at my feet and I had to scramble to secure the line. I thought he was going to send me a bridle that I would secure to both forward cleats, so I refrained from securing the anchor line, temporally. He never sent me a bridle and we were being towed back with a short piece of lead line tied to the large tow line. I though surely when we got to better water he'd do something different. Nope. Of course by then I had forgotten all about the anchor line. Murphy ruled that day and when the tow boat captain went to come along side to take us in side by side, he fouled his prop in my anchor line. We were then drifting rapidly toward shallow water and a large barge!. His mate went below and found an anchor and tossed it out to stop us. The diver got to clear another prop. It took him a while and he had to change knives. His wasn't making any progress with the first one. He finally cut it loose. After he got back on board and the captain tried to lift the anchor Murphy struck again!

Over the side for a third time for the diver. He came up and reported the anchor was fouled on a pile of cable. Since the wind and current were pretty strong, there was a lot of tension in the line and he was having difficulty releasing it. They agreed that he'd go down and 3 minutes after he went under, they'd loosen the line so he could try to wrestle it free. Fortunately that worked and he was able to get back on board before we went aground or collided with the barge.

As we started off, I noticed that the water was rising in the bilge again. I reached down to clear the debris from the pump and the outlet hose popped off. I was unable to get it back on. Fortunately the captain had a 3500 gpm pump with him and I was able to get it connected and pumping out the window. Sue says we have to have one.

Of course this took a lot longer than we had expected and the marina we were headed for with a lift to get us out of the water was getting ready to close. Or should have already. About 6 pm with the help of a number of people we hoisted a wounded, but not dead, Wind Angel out of the water at Tirger Point Marina.


I can highly recommend the folks at Tiger Point. They were very helpful and courteous.

Oh, yes, the coast guard finally showed up when we were almost to the yard. Good thing they don't pass out survey cards.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

We spent Wednesday night on the boat on the hard. We never made it to Cumberland Island once again.

We rented a car, drove to St. Simons and picked up our car, loaded up and went home. An abbreviated vacation came to an end.


Friday, August 15, 2003

A sad addendum to the trip: My mother passed away at about 11 AM today.


What exactly happened to cause the leak? I've knows of many boats that have fouled lines in their props and never have I heard of one taking on water. This is my speculation. The current was quite strong and the line would have a lot of tension in it. Once it got wrapped around the shaft, forward of the prop, it acted like a screw thread and pushed the strut forward. The strut is mounted to a steel plate glassed into the inside of the bottom of the boat. The pressure on the shaft tilted the plate and pushed the edge of it through the bottom. Just my wag.


Saturday, September 13, 2003

Picked up the boat with the help of Wake, Phillip and Patty. Wake drove us down from St.Simons and Patty, Sue, Phillip and I brought the boat back to her slip. All is well and the cruising kitty is lighter by almost $6k. Not really, insurance did pick up a lion's share. There's still a 35# CQR on the bottom somewhere off Cumberland Island. I'll be replacing it very soon. That is the best anchor I've ever used for cruising the east coast. I've never had it fail to set and hold. I probably won't be fouling my anchor with the line any time soon, since I just bought a bunch of chain.


View some of the pictures here

View the rest of the pictures here