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March 2006

March 15 - 30

Wormsloe plantationAs we left Savannah, we planned to travel south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) until Lake Worth before making our crossing to the Bahamas.  We are planning to cruise in the Bahamas through June, when we will return to the U.S. for hurricane season.  We also planned to stay a few days in Melbourne, FL on the way south to complete a few boat projects, pick up some items we had ordered, and get our website up and running.

We started our journey southward on the ICW on a sunny, breezy and cool day.  We motored for 6 hours through the southern Georgia marshland and covered 35 miles.  Our anchorage in Cow Pen Creek adjacent to St. Catherine’s Island provided a beautiful sunset and a bright moon one day past full.  It was so quiet at dusk that we could hear the air flowing over the wings of a flock of birds that flew by close to the water’s surface.  Sunrise the next day provided little wind and the marshland continued to be tranquil and teaming with wildlife.

After a couple of days travel we made it to Cumberland Island, one of our favorite destinations.  For several years we have taken our small power boat down to St. Mary’s each fall to enjoy Cumberland Island and the surrounding area.  We had estimated that we would be at Cumberland around early afternoon and had discussed anchoring early for the day and enjoying the island.  Since we were familiar with the area, we decided to detour off the ICW and take the Brickhill River which runs closer to Cumberland Island.  The river has good depths, but the detour would require constant monitoring of the chart, since there were no markers on the river.

Livin the Dream agroundOne moment of inattention and you see the result to the right.  We ran into an unmarked little island of mud when the tide was about an hour past full.  That means we spent the next nine hours waiting for the tide to rise again.  The water level difference between high and low is over nine feet here.  John put on his wet suit and explored our surroundings for the nearest deep water.  We used the dinghy to kedge out a spare anchor and set it in the deep part of the river and then waited for high tide.  We floated off about two hours before the next high around 9:00 pm and stayed anchored there for the night. Two dolphin kept us company all night by circling the boat.  The picture is a sight we hope to never see again.  Since it was all soft mud, there was no damage (except to John’s ego). 

 

 

Our travels southward went well after our extended visit on the Brickhill River.  We covered 55 – 65 miles per day, depending on the anchorage we were trying to reach for the night.  We had favorable winds for portions of some days which allowed us to supplement our motoring with a sail and save some diesel fuel.  Dolphin and all types of water fowl were numerous along the route.  On  Pine Island, off the Tolomato River just north of St. Augustine, we saw a bald eagle as we headed into our anchorage for the night.  Unfortunately, our anchoring maneuvers must have driven him away, since he wasn’t around for a photo after we anchored.

Our windlass, which pulls up the anchor, stopped working on the trip.  Lucky for us, all of our anchoring choices were in shallow water, which required less of John’s back muscles as he pulled up the anchor by hand each morning.  Windlass repair/replacement would be another item added to our list for our Melbourne stop. We arrived in Melbourne mid-day after seven days of travel.  We anchored off the Eau Gallie Library, which provided great wireless access and the work on the website began.  While in Melbourne we picked up items shipped to us at a marina, rented a car, took care of laundry, purchased more provisioning items, made several trips to West Marine (I think John had been in withdrawal since Savannah), took the windlass motor to be rebuilt, filled our new propane tank, scrubbed the boat, and topped off the water tank.

Ann would not leave Melbourne until the website was up and running.  John has been actively visiting other cruising websites for several years, so he had specific information he wanted to include and he had ideas on the layout and design.  Since web site building was a new experience to both of us, it took many hours and a couple of calls to technical support to learn and understand the software.

We left Melbourne and continued southward on Sunday, March 26.  We had the wind to our backs allowing us to motor sail most of the day.  We covered 61 miles in 8 hours and anchored in Ft. Pierce for the night.  Our trip the next day took us 56 miles to Palm Beach where we will wait for good weather to cross to the Bahamas.  Right now it looks like we may make the crossing on Saturday, April 1.  (No fooling). 

February 20 - March 15

January and the first half of February were dedicated to getting our house sold, making decisions on items to sell, give away, store in an attic or store in climate controlled storage.  We didn’t visit the boat in Savannah during that time.  We closed on the house 2/15, had an estate sale for 3 days, loaded and put all items in storage thanks to help from friends Eric in Atlanta and Stanley in Bowdon, and left the empty house on 2/20.

We began to slowly move onto the boat from the SUV.  We re-evaluated our need for each item then tried to find the best location for everything on the boat.  We also continued to identify (if possible) all the items left by previous owners and discarded those things related to old systems or those things we could not identify.  Thankfully this freed up a lot of needed space and we decided that we didn’t need everything we had originally brought along.

There were several boat projects and the continuing list of purchases that we needed to complete before we left Savannah:  install inverter, install new anchor/tri-color light at top of mast, evaluate dingy leak, shock the water tanks with bleach, buy & install several new cabin lights, fix the stern light, tryout the dingy outboard motor, check-out and fill the propane tanks, install the ERIPB, clean the boat thoroughly inside & out, purchase a ham radio and tuner, purchase several spare parts for various systems.  Thanks to Will Crake for assistance on inverter and mast light installation.

An unexpected surprise was a visit from Sami Sappong, Ann’s former work colleague from Toronto.  He was in Savannah for a conference and was our first guest after only 3 days on the boat.  We ate lunch in the cockpit and took a stroll along Bluff Drive in Isle of Hope to get a closer look at the beautiful live oaks and old homes along the river before Sami flew back to Toronto.

We also make some great new friends at the marina.  Kurt and Barbara were traveling north on Whale Rider, their 48 foot Krogen.  They were previous sailors (a 61 foot C&C), but were making the Great Circle route on their beautiful trawler.  We also enjoyed the advice and local knowledge of Bill Ballard.  Bill and his wife Lisa keep their Pacific Seacraft Crealock at Isle of Hope.  Bill is a marine surveyor, photographer, and writer who also works part-time at West Marine.  John became close friends with Bill on his many trips to West Marine and during Bill’s visits to the marina. 

Livin the Dream unveiled

 

We were changing the name of the boat from Playful to Livin the Dream and needed to remove the old names.  The name and hailing port on the transom were vinyl lettering and fairly easy to remove.  The boat name was also painted on both sides of the cockpit coaming and it was removed with rubbing compound and a lot of elbow grease.  We ordered the new name and hailing port in vinyl lettering from Boat US and it was relatively easy to install.

 

 

 

 renaming ceremony

 

We had a boat renaming ceremony to show off our boat and celebrate with family and friends.  Isle of Hope supplied us with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70’s on Saturday, March 11 for the celebration.  We had 14 people join us for the celebration where we offered champagne to the gods of the sea and winds and of course to our guests. (See www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/rename for instructions on the renaming ceremony.)   It was a great day, with lots of fun, and we appreciated the efforts made by all to attend the celebration.

The next project was to provision the boat.  Ann was hoping to buy staples for about 3 months and stock the freezer with some items that may be difficult to find in the Bahamas.  The list started with possible menus and the number of times each menu would be prepared.  Then the list of items and quantities was developed.  John thought the quantities were ridiculous, since we had rarely purchased food items to cover more than one week or even a few days at a time.  Ann spent more than 3 hours at the Skidaway Kroger store and filled 3 shopping carts full of food.  It took the next 7 hours to organize the food, determine where & how to store it and put it away.  We weren’t sure we would find a place for everything, but one of the features that sold us on the boat was the space to store everything.

We completed most of the essential boat projects, and the time came to begin our journey south and then to the Bahamas.  Ann’s parents Bobby and Betty and aunt and uncle Hildred and Whit surprised us with a bon voyage farewell.  After a great seafood dinner on Tuesday night, they waved us farewell from the docks late in the morning on Wednesday, March 15.