Monday, April 19, 2010

Okeechobee to Charleston (Apr 16 to Jun 21)

Ack! I've almost failed the first grandma test. The proud papa-to-be was disappointed that there was no baby picture included in the last blog posting. Never mind that this omission was solely due to my low level of technical ability. So here, at minus 22 weeks, is baby boy Pica, aka the peanut - or possibly John Alexander or " / " as John is environmentally sensitive? Our trip across Florida on the Okeechobee waterway was much different than our crossing two years ago. That time we were one of the last boats allowed to cross before the waterway was closed because of low water. It was so low that even with our three foot draft, we churned up mud. Once on the eastern side of the lake, it was sad to see docks and boat lifts, obviously unusable for some time, with grass growing under them. But this trip the water was back to normal levels - filling in under the docks and lifts. Everything went fine on the trip across and we re-acquainted ourselves with locking procedures. St. Lucie Lock at fourteen feet was the biggest here - a far cry from the 93' one on the Ohio. After joining the ICW, we stopped again at Jones Fruit Dock for the night. You may remember them from two years ago. Sadly, Mrs. Jones passed away last year and Mr. Jones, at 91, isn't doing so well. No repairs have been made to the dock but the price has doubled to $20/night. We felt good about the stop, though, as Mr. Jones enjoyed visiting with Joe and sent him back to the boat with a coconut for me. We had a couple fairly long cruising days and Joe managed to get his first "sunset at anchor" photo in Mosquito Lagoon. The long days were because we were trying to get into a good position to be able to make it to Gainesville, FL for the annual Mirage seminar. Neil and Peggy (Early Out), who we'd met on the loop last year, had offered us use of their slip in St. Augustine for the week. We were having some heat problems in the engine room and making good enough time to get all the way to Green Cove Springs, so we changed the plan. Jerry (Shalala an N-47) was near Jacksonville and offered us the use of his vehicle since he'd be cruising for the week. We spent the night at Ortega Landing Marina and finally met Jerry's girlfriend, Theresa, and his daughter, Shalala. We'd heard so much about them both and were finally glad to put faces with names. The next morning, Punk drove the vehicle down to Green Cove and Joe and Jerry took off up river together on the boats. When Carolyn Ann arrived at Reynold's Park Marina in Green Cove Springs, there were seven other Mirage Great Harbour boats there to great us. Dockmaster Cap'n. Dave said we're like salmon coming back where they were born. We spent three days in Gainesville at the Mirage factory learning from and socializing with other Mirage owners and others who made presentations. It was well attended and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We sure did. We stayed on in Green Cove Springs for a few more days before heading out with Mike and Linda Borum (Sea Dream) toward Brunswick. As we neared Jacksonville we saw Barb and Randy Semper (Lazy Dolphin) heading down to Green Cove. It was windy on our way up to our planned mooring in Fernandina and the tide was low. About an hour out of Fernandina we got a radio call from Mike on Sea Dream. They'd run aground. The good news was that the tide was coming in, but the bad news was the wind kept pushing them further aground as the water came up. Not wanting to risk arriving in Fernandina after dark, and also having the unlimited towing policy with BoatUS, Mike made the call for help and we went on ahead. We hadn't used a mooring ball in a long time and one of our worst experiences had been at Fernandina the year before. Again the wind was blowing and we had trouble finding the mooring we'd been assigned to, but after two passes I managed to grab hold and we were set for the night. Not too long after that the wind died down and Sea Dream arrived, picked up their mooring and settled in just before ma nature let loose with a thunderstorm. Timing is everything. From Fernandina we went off shore (a taxing day as you can see) to Brunswick where Mike and Linda were leaving Sea Dream while they went back to Nashville for a while. Of course, coming into Brunswick is almost like coming home for us, so we paid for a month and settled in. Andy brought us his truck (thanks, again!) and we visited with lots of old friends - and even a few new ones. We had dinner with Tod and Paula a few times and once were joined by some of our former neighbors, Lisa and Andy. It was great to catch up on all the neighborhood doings. One of the high points of the Brunswick visit for Joe was going to Saturday mass and seeing the Cornwell's there. We're excited to have Sharon traveling along with us in spirit! Henry, one of the new friends, was on his sailboat docked next to Carolyn Ann. He lives in Hawaii and is an engineer (the boating community is top heavy with engineers!) He's had an interesting life and we enjoyed getting to know him. We hadn't been able to add the new engine room ventilation while we were in Green Cove, but Daryl and David had said they'd come to Brunswick to take care of it. The first Sunday they were supposed to come, they'd run into problems the day before while working on another boat and had to post-pone the trip to Brunswick. The following Sunday, after working in hot cramped conditions Saturday to replace some one's batteries, Daryl ended up spending the day in the hospital because of severe leg cramps. Third times the charm, as they say, and on the third Sunday Daryl and David arrived bright and early to cut holes in the boat and wire in the new fan. Everything went smoothly and we were ready to move on again. We finally left Brunswick May 18, anchored out one night and arrived the next day at Chuck and Claria Gorgen's in Beaufort, SC. No one is a better host than the Gorgen's and when they learned that Joe and I had never visited Beaufort, they insisted on taking us to do the tourist routine. We took a carriage ride through the historic streets and picked up lots of interesting tidbits from our guide. One thing we've learned: if a town has some kind of general tour, take it. Beaufort is beautiful to look at, but the history - from pre-revolution through the Civil War to recent events is quite interesting. After the tour, we met up with Klaas and Bettie (Moon Beam an N-37) for lunch and then toured their house - which it turns out is practically a museum itself. From Beaufort, we cruised a twelve hour day to reach the Cooper River Marina in North Charleston. My sister had recently moved to Mt. Pleasant which is nearby and we were eager for a visit and to see how she was settling in. Her new townhouse is great and her 100+ pictures are mostly hung already, thanks in part to our cousin Ronnie who lives near her. We had good times catching up with Ronnie and his wife Susie, as well as Lynn. Our friend John Sarachene was on his way from New Jersey to Gulf Breeze and stopped in for a visit too. Here's where things started getting a little complicated. Joe and I are really enjoying our time on the boat, but we feel bad about leaving our house empty so much of the time. This arrangement is also a bit of a drain on our bank account. So, we decided to put the house up for rent. The rental agent said that houses don't rent well furnished so we'd need to go empty it. We traded John dinner and a bed for the night for a ride to Gulf Breeze. We spent about four days packing up and then had to drive back to Charleston. We dropped Rocky off at Lynn's and drove up to Williamsburg for a retired Park Police get together. Then we drove back to Charleston, picked up the Rockman and headed back to Gulf Breeze to finish up the move. Once we got there, we gave stuff away, loaned stuff out and packed a bunch of boxes. In our free time, we dealt with insurance issues, lawn care issues, and termites - with the impending oil threat always on our minds. Then we packed (really packed - Rocky was in a cave of boxes) the leftovers into the Explorer and headed back to Charleston and the boat. Somehow we managed to pack everything we'd hauled along into the boat - and Carolyn Ann doesn't seem to be riding too low in the water! So, after sitting at the marina for a month, Carolyn Ann was ready to resume the trip north. Anybody want to rent a house? There are a few more pictures on the picasa site:

No comments: