We love the dolphins that like to play alongside our moving boat. Sometimes we have several at a time!
So now we have made it to Georgia! We had a 90 day permit for Florida, and our mechanical delays made us past the exit time. Great to finally get out.
Along the ICW you encounter many bridges. Some are very beautiful. The big ones have 65 foot clearance and some are drawbridges that we need to have opened.
Some cruisers don’t like the hassle of going under drawbridges… This is still new enough for us that it’s great fun calling the bridge on the radio and having them open up for you… and having them say “Have a great day, Captain!”.
Below is a little video showing the boat actually moving… The first bit is going through a drawbridge on the ICW. The second bit of the video shows going under a railroad drawbridge, which is a little different, in that it is always open. If a train comes, they stop on the bridge, ask the computer to lower the drawbridge, and it checks to be sure nobody is under the bridge and closes it. After the train leaves, the bridge checks surroundings for safety and opens again. Kinda cool. You may notice it looks like we go really fast through the bridges… Ha! The video is sped up a lot so you don’t fall asleep watching! The rest of the video just shows views from the boat (At normal speed).
A lot of the ICW has speed limits, or the requirement to go slowly enough that you create a minimal wake. In the fast stretches, it often has a 25 knot speed limit… not a problem for us since we would be hard pressed to do over 10! But the minimal wake requirement is a bit more vague. How small is small enough? So one time, in one of the minimal wake zones, we were plowing slowly along northward, and a sheriff’s boat passed us going south. We waved (minimally) and they waved back, so I figured we were within limits. Then we got a call on the radio… “Motor vessel Grace, this is the Sheriff, please go to channel 68”. Everybody is supposed to monitor channel 16, but you don’t chat on it. You move to another channel for conversations. So I acknowledge “Going to 68” and as I dial it up on the radio, I’m thinking, “How do you get a speeding ticket in a boat?” When I call them on 68 they said “Motor vessel Grace, first off, you’re doing fine. In a few minutes you will be passing under a bridge (A 65 foot clearance bridge, not a drawbridge) and there are a lot of stand up paddle boarders there. Some of them seem pretty inexperienced, so you might want to watch out for them and give the newbies a pretty gentle wake.” I thought that was really great… not only was I not getting a ticket, the cops were protecting the newbie paddle boarders. Fun.
When we have chartered sailboats, I will admit to being a little nervous the first few times spending the night anchored, or “On the hook”. How well can I trust an unknown anchor? So it was with Grace… this was our first night on the hook. Proper procedure is to drop the anchor, and slowly back up so the anchor rode (chain) lays nicely along the bottom for a ways. Then you back up more firmly to be sure it holds you, and then you monitor (sleep lightly) to make sure it continues to hold. You take bearings to nearby landmarks so if your anchor drags you will notice it. The first night we anchored was in Ft Pierce, and it went fabulously, so we were a little more comfortable the next night, in Cocoa (Just as we saw no bunnies in the Playboy Boatyard, we saw no chocolate in Cocoa). Our third night on the hook was at Daytona Beach. It feels very trustworthy now!
Here is somebody whose “Someday” came!
I Guess not everyone has fun on the ICW… We several boats in very sad shape. If a sailboat runs aground, and the tide goes out further, it will heel over dramatically. But hopefully not take on water! A few boats were in that position, but several were half sunk and just abandoned.
We were told St Augustine was a beautiful stop, so we planned on spending the weekend there. We arrived on Friday, and picked a marina near the old downtown area. When we plugged into the 50amp shore power, we turned on all three air conditioners, and within minutes tripped the breaker on the shore power pedestal (Where you plug in on the dock). So I shut everything off, reset the breaker on the pedestal, and started over. Yep, in a few minutes it popped off again. I called the dock master, and asked if I could run my line to another slip’s pedestal, and once that was done, I shut off all our breakers on the boat, so I could start all over. The power seemed fine, all air conditioners were working fine, but one of our two 24 volt panels would not come on. When I tried to turn on the main switch for that panel. it would just spring back to the off position. The good news was the A/C was working; the bad news was the interior lighting, the refrigerator and the water pump were not. It’s now after 5pm on Friday, and this breaker is not a common part. I have spares of almost everything, but not a breaker that size. We had plenty of drinking water, we put bags of ice from the ice maker (a separate box from the fridge) in the refrigerator, and used the marina’s facilities and our flashlights to get through the night. Oh yeah, one more thing… the engine’s computer “ignition” was on that panel too, so we couldn’t have started the main engine. So in the morning I called a supply house, we figured out how to use a smaller breaker to get by till I could find a proper replacement, and we rode our bikes to pick it up. I took the malfunctioning breaker out, (Only 6 wires on it!) and was idly flipping it on and off while I got ready to install the new one… and it dawned on me it was flipping on and off just fine in my hand! So was it not working only when powered? Too weird! Then it dawned on me it might have been the guard on the switch that keeps it from being accidentally switched off. I reinstalled it, without the guard, and it worked fine! The guard had just gotten misaligned enough it would switch off and not back on. Properly aligned, it worked fine, and the supply house even took back the unused breaker!
That afternoon we finally got to see a bit of St Augustine.
Cherryl couldn’t resist making someone’s baby look and smile so they all could take pictures…
A fascinating old fort, built by the Spanish when they held Florida.
They even showed us what a complicated procedure it was to fire off one of these cannons. I have dropped all but the firing from the video…
Sunday morning we decided it was time to get out of Florida. Instead of following the ICW, we “went outside” to take the faster way, a straight line in the ocean. It was a beautiful day, but a long one. And we saw one nice turtle, but almost no other sea life. We did make it a ways into Georgia, stopping in a nice little marina. We decided we will leave the boat there while we fly out to go camping with our kids in South Dakota. So Monday we spent washing every square inch of the boat. That boat has a lot of square inches! But she really looks great now.
Entering the inlet at Brunswick Georgia we were called on the radio by a large freighter leaving the bay. He wanted to know my intentions… which side of him I would like to pass on. He was a HUGE ship! About the size of Pittsburgh… Seeing it from a distance I first thought I was looking at the stern and it was going in the same direction we were. No, that big blunt end is the bow! It was fun talking to him and then seeing up close how fast these things move. The channel was very narrow so we were quite close.
Tuesday I decided to try and put together our sailboat. We have a small sailboat aft on the boat deck that we have never had in the water. We have a little 2hp outboard for it, or oars, or sails. I’d made a new bridle for it a while ago, so we can lift it with the davit (Crane), but hadn’t launched it yet. I tried the outboard, but even with new fuel it runs so poorly I think it will need a good tuneup before I use it. The oars would work fine, but who wants to row when you can sail? It felt kind of like putting a puzzle together – a unique puzzle where I had to find parts stored in various places, figure out how they fit together, and ended up with a complete working sailboat! My kind of puzzle! We had pretty light variable breeze, but it handled pretty well. Fun!
Brunswick has many gorgeous old homes, and even an Oneida Street. So Oneida, this one’s for you!
So this is where we have to leave our boat for a little while…
Our next adventure will be crossing the U.S. to spend some time with our kids.