Saturday, January 23, 2010

St. Augustine FL to Stuart FL

It's terribly tempting to stop where it's comfortable and just meld into the local sailing community, especially when the local is as pretty and welcoming as St. Augustine. But I have to get south. And so on January 15th I shoved off for Daytona Beach.

The day was sunny and warmish - light winds and of course current against me. By warmish, I mean around 65. Still jeans and a long sleeve shirt weather. I arrived at Loggerhead Marina for the evening. It's a lovely marina with a restaurant on premises. The heads and showers are clean and spacious. They really do want to make one's stay comfortable and easy. Loggerhead Club and Marina has a bunch of facilities all over Florida.

The possibility had existed that a good friend of mine's daughter or her inlaws would come and visit, but that weekend they just couldn't get to Daytona from Orlando. So I continued on to Titusville the next day.

On my way to Titusville, near Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, the wind was on the nose, of course, increasing as the day went on. But it was 72! Ok, so still had jeans on and a light jacket, but it's getting warmer.

There's a cut a few miles before Titusville as you head south called Haulover Cut and just south of that is a small island that is home to a family of pure white pelicans! I would have taken a picture except for the narrow channel and the high winds - I was busy trying to not run aground.

As I pulled into the anchorage north of the Titusville swing bridge I got hailed on the VHF - someone who apparently knew me!

Well, I recognize people but forget names (did you know you can almost go through life without using a proper name? You can.) Anyway, the person calling me as I was anchoring in 20 kt winds seemed a little put off that I didn't know who they were - my response was to please wait until I'm done with the multi-lap 42 foot dash and can actually see them.

With the anchor safely down, I had a look with the binoculars and hey! presto! It's Don and Ellen on Sirius Endeavour, a 43 foot Endeavour center cockpit ketch. It turns out I do know them and the other boat nearby, Synergy, with Karen and Chris aboard all from Brunswick, GA! What a pleasure to see them again! They had sailed directly from Brunswick to Titusville outside to the Ponce de Leon inlet.

Don came over for a glass or three of wine and Karen and Chris stopped by as well. They were all tired from their trip and wanted to get back to their boats, so off they went. The winds started to build and on the morning of the 17th, winds had increased to 25 to 30 kts with gusts to 35 - 40 kts. So we all stayed aboard our boats because it was just too rough to dinghy about. The winds howled all night, too. My friend, Lee in Brunswick, GA, called me to see how we were doing and told me they had gusts up to 50kts.

The next morning the winds had remained at 10-15 kts out of the southwest. That made sailing down the ICW a perfect endeavor. So at 0930, we weighed anchor and set off for Eau Gallie. Don indicated he couldn't motor very fast (and he was correct - I could keep up at just above an idle). But when we set sail, he motorsailing with his genoa, and Pelican under jib, staysail, and mizzen we were flying!

Most of the day I was running 7+ knots with flat seas and 10-20 kt winds. For the first time, I got to try my shaft powered alternator. For several hours I got to see how it worked - the drag is about a 1/2 knot and below a solid 5.5kts it doesn't produce any power. But anywhere above 5.5 kts it works like a charm - powering the autopilot, the refrigerator, and the instruments with power to spare - I think it will also power the water maker when that becomes necessary. At 7 knots, there is 6-8 amps going into the battery bank if it's low.

Another purpose for the alternator is if the main engine's alternator fails, I can still turn this one on while traveling and charge the batteries.

I replaced my solar panel some time back with a newer, 130 watt one. The old one was 100 watt and I think was so old that it couldn't produce even 50 watts. Older solar panels do degrade relatively quickly. Up north, the panel is of limited usefulness. During the day I'll get up to 5 amps out of it for a couple of hours and that's about it. Down here, at anchor, on a sunny day (which are mercifully common!) I'll get up to 6 hours of 5-7 amps out of it - it will power the refrigerator quite easily during the day. It means I don't have to run the generator or engine every day if I don't want to. As long as it's warm enough for a cool shower, I don't even need the hot water!

At Eau Gallie we anchored off a marina where Don and Ellen had friends. Unfortunately, they were swamped getting their boat ready for cruising. Don and Ellen invited me over for dinner so with bottle of wine in hand and a bag of cheeses, sausage, and crackers went over (actually Don came and got me). We had a lovely cocktail hour or two and later chicken quesadillas that Ellen apparently specializes in because they were spectacular! Sirius Endeavor is a lovely boat. Don and Ellen keep her in tip-top shape. That's no mean feat as cruising takes a real toll on boats.

I have family in Ft. Pierce who, for some strange reason, wanted to see me and so the next morning I left Eau Gallie. Sirius Endeavour was only going as far as Vero Beach to meet up with friends and Synergy. As I left the anchorage I heard a vessel 'Whoosh' calling the Coast Guard about a line of crab pots in the ICW - really in the middle of the channel.

Whoosh is another Pearson 424. Jack and Patricia are well known in our community and probably the entire cruising community. When I heard them calling the Coast Guard, I had to call them to see if she was the Whoosh I know. She was! So I followed her all day to a little anchorage just south of the Ft. Pierce inlet and kayaked over with bottle of wine, cheese, and crackers, to meet Jack and Patricia. We had a lovely cocktail hour. They are wonderful people who have cruised all over - I got a lot of great information from them about single or short handed sailing.

While traveling past Vero Beach I saw so many dead fish! Apparently they froze to death. Very sad - some were huge!

The next morning Whoosh was going out the Ft. Pierce inlet headed for Miami. I motored over to the Ft. Pierce City Marina to stay so I could visit my cousin and his wife who have a house nearby. For two days we ate, shopped for various items, and generally had a good time. Joe and Del are great people.

As a favor to Joe, I let him change my fan belts. He seemed to enjoy it, and who am I to keep someone from happiness?

The Ft. Pierce City Marina is a very nice marina - clean and friendly with two restaurants and not far from the city center or shopping. It's a little difficult to maneuver in, but Pelican is not the easiest boat to do close work with...

As I'm trying to get south I wanted to leave on the 22nd for Stuart, FL. Joe came with me and as we left Ft. Pierce. The wind, once again, was perfect for sailing with the day being near 80, so shorts and t-shirts prevailed. Joe steered the whole day with a big grin on his face. There was some bad weather north of us and a half hour after we left we got a call from Del telling us it was raining cats and dogs! Meanwhile, we were in sunny, warm, and breezy weather!

We got into Stuart at the Harborage Yacht Club and Marina so I can get some canvas work done. The marina is new and provides so many services that others charge for - they are so helpful and nice. It's amazing and extraordinarily pleasurable to be here. I have to careful I don't stick... Free wi-fi, free cable, great weekly rates, the best daily rates for the area.

Del came down to pick up Joe and some friends from up north who had just flown in, Bobbie and Warren, came by and we all went to Pirate's Cove in Manatee Pocket for dinner. We had a great time, of course. Bobbie and Warren drove back to their friend's house in Ft. Lauderdale. Joe and Del drove me back to the marina and left for home.

As I was walking down the dock to Pelican I saw my friends Dave and Nancy from Liberty - I met them in Beaufort, SC. Our paths have been nearly crossing all the way down - they're now headed to the Bahamas with a weather window. I hope to see them there!

Now I'm looking to see the best route to Key West- east or west coast of Florida. I sort of had my heart set on going the Okeechobee Waterway to Ft. Myers but I need to be in Key West by Feb 18th. More about that later. My friend, Lou, would like to do the trip from West Palm to Miami. That sounds like fun - more than motoring alone to the west coast, but I want to see what the west coast is like. Well, let's see how the canvas thing goes.

Now I'm off to fix the steaming light... It's always something.

See you on the water!

I went to sleep.

No comments: