Thursday, June 1, 2006 - Fort Pierce, Florida
While having a long-awaited Mexican dinner tonight, we called our friends on Living Well to see if they had left Everglades City and found that they were one dock over from our boat at Harbortown Marina! We hope to stop by for a visit tomorrow to see how Steve and Gloria are doing.
Tuesday, June 6, 2006 - Fort Pierce, Florida
Yes, we are on the boat again after sleeping in a real bed and taking real showers, with actual hot water, for the past several days. I knew we had to get the crew back on the boat soon, or they might never go back. Fortunately, Indian River Boatworks did a decent job and installed our new shaft, drive coupling, PSS seal, and even polished up our propellor. We launched, refueled (20 gallons since leaving Green Turtle Cay, 605 hours total) and tied up at the dock just down from our old spot. Sure, we'll be aground in the morning and unable to leave, but we still need to get the motherboard on this computer replaced. During that fateful night off Cat Island five weeks ago, as salt water poured into the boat from our shaft seal, more water independently dripped from a deck leak into the laptop, killing its audio. Yes indeed, I am glad we spent the extra money for Dell's Complete-Care program, so that kind of accident is covered under warranty. The only rub is that the Dell tech's car broke down so he can't get here until tomorrow morning. If only he'd been driving a Dell.
During our many days in Fort Pierce we shopped (amazing what you can buy in this country), went to the beach, and toured the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant, which was the only tourist stop we could find open on a Monday. It's true: Florida Light and Power has an excellent educational center called Energy Encounter at the plant. Sure, there was some propaganda about the safety and security of nuclear power, but however you feel about the economics of nuclear power you would have to be impressed with the hands-on exhibits and the friendly education staff.
After getting the computer fixed tomorrow (we hope) and waiting for the tide to lift us off the slip, we plan to head offshore into the Gulf Stream and see how far north we can get...with a goal of being in St. Mary's sometime Friday.
Thursday, June 8, 2006 - St. Augustine, Florida
Tomorrow we plan to get an early start so we can chalk up the fifty miles to St. Mary's inlet, Georgia.
Friday, June 9, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
We motored, we sailed, we motored again, staying within ten miles of the shore as we headed north. The seas were calm and it was hot when the wind wasn't blowing across the boat. Days like this are probably the boring part of the "hours of boredom and a few moments of sheer terror" that people say represents passage-making. Yesterday I read a book but today I just sat around, listening to music on our iPod (we have the very basic "Shuffle" model, which I have come to admire for its simplicity). We saw a couple of turtles, and one military ship that kept its distance. By dinnertime we were anchored off the town of St. Marys, not far from Cumberland Island. We heard Living Well on the radio, so they are somewhere in the area. This evening I changed the oil in the engine (629 hours) and reinstalled the water heater, which has been sitting the middle of the aft cabin since Royal Island.
Chris Parker the weather guru has us worrying about a low pressure system that just might track over the Yucatan, cross Florida, and arrive on the Carolina coast as a tropical storm. Ye gads! We've come several hundreds of miles north to get clear of tropical weather, but may have moved right into its path. At least we're not talking about a hurricane at this point in the year. Well, actually, we could be, according to the latest from Chris, who says it's possible this system could become Hurricane Alberto. Then again, he also says that nothing may come of this at all. Guess we'll stay tuned.
Sunday, June 11, 2006 - St. Marys, Georgia
Back in St. Marys, we motored Seaductress right up to the visitor's dock--much to the consternation of people who were fishing there, but hey, the fishing dock was only a few feet away--and tied up for dinner in town. This is a nice dock with plenty of water where you are allowed to stay for up to six hours, immediately off a beautiful park which was full of people enjoying the summer evening.
After a peaceful night at anchor pondering the growing storm Alberto, we made reservations today for tomorrow at Amelia Island Yacht Basin, around twelve miles back to the south in Florida. The cruising guru Claiborne Young says this is one of the best protected marinas in the area, suitable for "anything short of a hurricane," which is exactly what a Tropical Storm is, so that's a perfect fit. We'll leave early in the morning so we can get through their entrance channel, which has less than four feet of water at low tide, under more favorable conditions.
Yesterday Krissy and Robert took us over for a wonderful afternoon with their friends Mark and Kathleen (and their incredible twin daughters) in Woodbine. A beautifully restored house, a great pool in the backyard, and a buffet of food that would have made any restaurant proud...what a life! I'm not sure Mark and Kathleen know just how special that kind of experience is for us these days, but it's one we'll long remember.
Monday, June 12, 2006 - Amelia Island, Florida
We used the marina's courtesy van to drive into Fernandina Beach this afternoon and tour Fort Clinch State Park, then got some ice cream and did some grocery shopping. So far we haven't even gotten any rain, but we are expecting lots of that along with winds somewhere between 30 and 50 knots tomorrow afternoon, just some strong squalls, really.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Amelia Island, Florida
Post midnight update: Alberto was a non-event here at the marina. We didn't even get much rain. The highest wind we saw was this afternoon when the wind indicator at the top of the mast saw 30 knots, but down in the cockpit (sheltered by the marina basin) it was probably half that.
Tuesday, June 14, 2006 - Jekyl Island, Georgia
After dinner (good crab cakes and crab chowder at the restaurant!) I hopped on a courtesy bicycle and rode through the old Jekyl Island Club, once the ultra-exclusive haunt of millionaires but now a historic site for ordinary folk. The "cottages" and grounds are still looking like...well...a million bucks.