Saturday, June 1, 2013

St. Petersburg, FL to Beaufort, SC (May 15 to 31 )

We had planned an earlier departure for our 2013 cruise, but, as usual, life intervened.  That's not to say we didn't enjoy our extended stay in St. Pete.  We had a relatively quiet Christmas with John and Meredith and grandson Alex.  Alex has grown so much while we were away!
Then, a week late, Samuel arrived.  After a few formula changes he has become the baby everyone hoped for - sleeps, eats, poops, repeats.  In March, daughter Caitlin and her husband Andy flew in from Seattle for some much anticipated sunshine, and even more anticipated visits with their nephews and lots of family at a West Palm wedding.   Congrats Kym and Chris!  It was a beautiful wedding and a great family visit.  In April we helped to host a luncheon meeting of the Great Harbour Trawlers Assoc. which was well attended in downtown St. Pete.  It's always great to catch up with everyone.  More Great Harbours had arrived, too - at one point there were six of us docked in St. Pete.  Between helping out with the grandkids and boat chores, we actually managed to get together with them - and some other friends that passed through - for some great meals.

Boat chores.  For me, that meant some interior re-organizing, cleaning and some exterior cleaning.  For Joe it meant supervising the installation of a new diesel furnace and new batteries, along with some regular maintenance.  The furnace job went great and was done just in time for a few cold nights.  The battery job,'s done, maybe.  After a painful debate with himself, Joe decided to go with LFPs - the latest thing.  Charlie, our electrician, basically moved in.  After the owner of Victron in Holland got the inverters to play nice with the new batteries, Dale, the alternator guy, sold us new monitors to protect the alternators, one alternator burned up anyway and many smaller glitches along the way, everything seems to be in good shape - except our wallet.

So, by this time, Lazy Dolphin had left for Virginia, then Lone Wolf took off across the gulf, then Blue Skies (who lives in St. Pete) headed south on vacation, and finally Sea Dream and Young America left for Clearwater to stage for their gulf crossing.  And Carolyn Ann still sat a the dock - but only for another day or two.
We finally threw off the lines on May  15, heading south to Ft. Myers.  There we turned east to cross Florida at the Okeechobee Waterway.  We'd made good progress during some long days, and on the 18th were ready to cross Lake Okeechobee.  There is a narrow approach to the lake with little room for error as the banks were often lined with rocks.  As we neared one section, we could see there was some construction on the shore line and buoys had been placed to mark the channel.  Actually, it appeared the buoys had been placed down the middle of the channel!  Joe did a great job of easing Carolyn Ann through the narrow opening with only a foot or so on each side.

Because the weather was already getting into the summertime patterns, every afternoon we watched as the clouds gathered.  With weather radar over the charts, Joe kept an eye on the track of the worst of the storms, especially the one trying to make a tornado. always looking for a place to hide if we needed it.  As it turned out, most of the rain missed us, and we didn't hit any of the violent storms.

As we approached the east coast, we cruised through Port St. Lucie on a Sunday.  There was lots of boat activity and two jet skis went zipping past us.  Jet skis?  Odd looking, with wheels tucked in on the sides.  Google "jet skis with wheels" and you get Quadski.  In four seconds it changes from jet ski to ATV and can do about 50 mph on land or water.  If it weren't for the $40,000. price tag we might trade in our dinghy on one.

Cocoa was a "must" stop for us to visit Christy and George who live at the marina there on their N-47.  Christy was under the weather, but Joe and George spent the afternoon at West Marine and then inspecting projects on  both boats.  While they were doing that, I wandered through Cocoa Village.  We'll have to stop in there again because I didn't manage to make it through all the little shops.  That evening Andy (who recently sold his N-37) and Annie picked us up for a trip to the Mexican restaurant that everyone's been telling us about.  The restaurant certainly didn't disappoint and is on our list for a return visit also.  We seem to always hit Cocoa when Andy is somewhere else and almost missed him again.  Later that week he and Annie were getting married and leaving for a European honeymoon.  Congrats, again guys!

A day and a half later, we were at Palm Coast Marina to visit our friends Mike and Melissa (Full Step).  We met them by radio several years ago as we were cruising up the coast.  When we both decided to stop at a marina one night, we had dinner together and have been in  loose contact ever since.  As it turned out, Mike was a retired Montgomery Co. police officer so he and Joe and an instant connection.  They've still got Full Step, but now also a house on a canal at Palm Coast.  After taking us to the grocery store, they took us to the house for dinner.  We really enjoyed the visit and hope to see them on the water again soon - or on our way south, at least.

You may notice a trend here - no pictures of these great visits.  No,  Joe did not lose another camera.  We just haven't gotten into "blog mode" yet, and keep forgetting to take pictures!

From Palm Coast we put in a 12+ hour day to reach an anchorage at Fernandina, FL.  Joe did manage to get our first sunset picture there.  The next day, a full week before our June 1 insurance deadline, we left Florida, crossed 31 degrees latitude, and docked in Brunswick.
We usually end up staying there a while, but it was Memorial Day weekend and many of our friends were out of town.  Todd and Paula generously loaned us their Jeep so we could run some errands and do some shopping.  After one of Paula's fabulous meals, Joe checked the weather and decided we'd leave early Monday to catch a weather window that would allow us to go offshore.

Up at 5:30 and on our way by 6, we went offshore at St. Simons and came back in at the south end of Hilton Head Island - 13 hours and 99.9 miles later.
After a good night's sleep and leisurely morning, we cruised the 25 miles to Distant Island and our friends Chuck and Claria's dock.  Always the gracious hosts, we settled in and started catching up on the past two years.  Claria had made a great meal and we chatted until almost midnight.  We had planned to move on the next day to visit Bettie and Klaas (N-37 Moon Beam), but Bettie wasn't quite up to it after a medical test.  Chuck and Claria said we should just stay another night, so we did.  After pizza and another late night, we bid them adieu - again without a people picture!

The following day, Bettie was feeling better, in spite of the pinched nerve in her neck.  We did a quick touch and go at the Beaufort dock - Klaas jumped on and I jumped off.  It's tricky getting to their dock, so Klaas showed the way on the boat and I rode back in the car with Bettie.  Another late night, with so much laughing!
Low tide hit about the time we would normally have left the next  morning, and low tide is not a good time to navigate the creek, so we got in a little more visiting time.  At least when we could hear each other between the jets that were flying over, and over, and over.
But we finally said good-bye, and Joe again left "his" dog in the hands of Bettie and Klaas.  And we finally remembered to take a picture!

Since we hadn't left until noon, there was no way we'd make it to Charleston in one day.  We did make it to a nice anchorage on Church Creek in time for a classic (cliche?) sunset photo.

We're missing our boys, but had a good enough connection to skype with Alex after we anchored.  He's picking up more words - but had learned the sign for boat before left.  We're grandma and granddad boat.  Samuel is progressing - and growing - also.  I'll close with his sweet smile.

Next stop - Charleston!

More pictures on picasa

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