Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year: Mile Marker 1063

It's hard believe Christmas has past and we are awaiting the New Year in a familiar place. One can't complain, but one can admit how it just isn't the same without family around you.

We pulled into Soveral Harbor in Palm Beach Gardens on the 22 of December, fully planning to stay until the end of the week. The calender was set by the need to provision, schedule routine maintenance, and the fact those things are not readily available on the 25th. Some marinas even close, but Soveral is in a private setting so we enjoyed five days of meals at Carmine's and surrounding restaurants that don't serve "boat food" from the fryer! We even rented a car to do the beaches and some sightseeing. This trip we spent a day at White Hall, the Palm Beach museum/home that Henry Flagler built for his third wife, a younger woman not readily accepted by society at that time. They served High Tea, so when in Rome . . .  Les Mis opened on Christmas so we rounded the week out with a movie, just to keep busy on Christmas. The weather was fabulous while in our slip, it figures. 

But when we left the slip to begin days of tedious bridge openings through the Palm Beaches, Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale, winds began to pick up and all the fronts affecting the north whipped us with undesirable weather, though not quite the same. Tall bridges are behind us and the real estate we motored past is beautiful at all price points. It is necessary to travel at almost idle speed because the area is so residential, yet we have to adjust speed to "make" the next bridge efficiently. There were 22 bascule bridges for us to negotiate in two days! Dec. 28 we anchored in Boca Rotan Lake and early in the morning, before the winds picked up, we made the four hour run to Bahia Mar Resort in Ft. Lauderdale. We are SOOO the small boat here! (Photos later.)

Unfortunately, the winds are NOT favorable for our run to Miami for several days. The vessel next to us, Sabi,  returned from a four hour run in the ocean, having to cancel their New Years plans due to rough seas. (My canary on the ocean.)  Have beach chairs, will travel, and the beach here is fabulous, just crowded for the holiday. I'm sure we will find the fireworks and provisions easily as Lauderdale offers a for-fee water taxi to locations on both sides of the waterway. Today we had a long walk to people watch and enjoy the beach before the weather turned again, which it did during lunch. Sometimes its really nice not to have a sheadule or a destination; then we can catch up on things like the blog, and just relaxing.

Promise in a sling for new zinc and a cutlass bearing.
Merry Christmas Promise. Next, a new coat of wax in Ft. Lauderdale.
Decorated for Christmas
Nice beach here, too.

Jupiter Inlet Light

High Tea at Whte Hall
December 2012

The view from White Hall across the Intercoastal Waterway
Palm Harbor Marina on the other side

White Hall, Henry Flagler's Palm Beach "Home"

Real Estate in Ft. Lauderdale on the waterway

Canals, palm trees and Venitian archetecture-
must be Florida! 

Waiting for a bridge in Ft. Lauderdale
Only in Florida

My brother Paul reminded me to enjoy the details.
This one's for you, Paul!

The best thing we saw on our beaach/street walk today
before the fog, cloulds and chill set in.
Bucket list: to see the turtles.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ah, Florida. Mile Marker 965

You may wonder where we've been, fear not. We have fallen into the pattern of getting up just before sunrise, traveling with good weather, then crashing as soon as chores  are completed and we have tomorrow's float plan filled out. This has been a long run of mostly good luck, until we reached our current slip in Ft. Pierce at Harbor Town Marina.  

In the last two weeks we have stopped at Dataw Island, Sea Pines in Hilton Head Isle of Hope and then we anchored in New Teakettle Creek. After a simple anchor set and preparing for a rainy night, our generator failed again. The resolution to this reoccurring problem awaits us in Miami where a serviceman will work with us to get us island hopping and anchor setting again.

In the meantime we moved on to Florida with several one day slogs and stays in Fernandiina, St. Augustine, Titusville, Datona Beach, Melbourne, and, now, Fort Stewart. We had planned some routine maintenance this morning but with 25-30 knot gusts we cancelled the plan, stayed at the dock, and enjoyed the sunshine and quiet as this cold front blows itself out. No complaints here, it has been in the high 70s, low 80s and the drop to 60 something today is almost welcome. We have finally put the foul weather back in the closet, retrieved some shorts and located the sunscreen.

Our adventure has been a testament to good planning. Rick has managed to maximize each day's bridge travels and tides and we have docked at reasonable times so we could do some walking and sightseeing. We even got to the beach in Hilton Head but we're so out of practice, we only lasted two hours, but it was great! Then  we successfully crossed the inlets of Georgia (Susan's least favorites) and we even had plenty of water for that stretch of the ICW. We have had our share of rain, but our enclosure makes rain a minimal issue. It has been a little challenging watching the winds build up here. Our location matches where we were at this late last year! For now we have hunkered down like everyone else. Tomorrow we'll make a long run to West Palm Beach where we'll stay for Christmas, departing after the next cold front. The weather is not trustworthy more than 24-48 hours out, but we do watch the trends.

Rick particularly likes this part of Florida. Dolphins rode with him yesterday in our starboard side wake for over an hour. We see them daily and don't take them for granted. In Titusville we watched a manetee come up under a dock to enjoy the air conditioning discharge from another Catalina. We would like to see more manatees, but the fact they can stay protected and out of sight is probably better. As we travel south now, we will see more of them in the warm waters near Boca and points below, but then they are a hazard to us. They tend to pop up and boaters are responsible to not hit them. Pelicans dominate the waters here in Florida and we pass rookeries every day. We watch fish eating birds feed and dive in the water with lots of sun sparkle to highlight the waterway, lots to keep us watching with appreciation for nature.

There have been a few hold-your-breath moments here in Florida. Rick maintains that the bridge boards reading 62-64 on the arched bridges don't represent the height in the middle of the bridge. Hence we slowly slid under several bridges reading that low with success, only clinking on one bridge so far and it read 64'. Remember that 64' mast is our blessing and curse.

Live Oaks, Spanish Moss and Christmas
Historic Isle of Hope, SC
We wish everyone the best holidays can offer, time with family and peace all year. We'll be thinking of you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Welcome to South Carolina, Mile Marker 467

Georgetown, Sc, was a productive rice growing community before the civil war. Today it is a quaint community on the river that provides a break from the ICW. This is our third visit here so we skipped tourist things and just walked the streets in an effort to repair Susan's sea legs. We enjoyed dinner at the Rice Paddy and spent two days on maintenance and dock walking and talking, gathering local knowledge and viewing the town Christmas parade and tree lighting. There is always some festival here!

Monday morning we set off in what was labeled as "possible light fog off shore," only to run hours in the fog and rain. Skies cleared by late afternoon and as we approached Charleston, it was positively beautiful, sunny and warm. It was a textbook perfect float plan, 64 miles in one day, clearing bridges and making bridge openings like clockwork.

Local advice was to skip City Cock in Charleston, to stay at Charleston Harbor Marina and Resort with the resort amenities and a shuttle available to town. We would NOT recommend this to anyone! The Cooper River is commercial and cruise ships dock across the river from the marina. Hence, one rocks all the time and the docks rise hugely each time a ship goes up or down river. The marina is more than three miles from anything. All the rivers have current to contend with, but we would go back to City dock if given a chance.

The shuttle service served us relatively well. Tuesday we spent the morning walking the beach on Sullivan's Island. It was overcast but warm and the beach was beautiful. We found breakfast and lunch at a local coffee shop. This is a permanent community, not a tourist destination. It was hard not to spend part of each day in the city of Charleston so we planned a meal each day in the historic district. No debate, this is one of the best towns for foodies. For boaters following us on this journey, we highly recommend Husk, Magnolias, Blossom, S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad,) The Peninsula Grill, and Poogan's Porch. This is the time we live on shrimp, grits, cornbread, biscuits, chutneys, and local foods. Once again, we just enjoyed walking street after street, no big agenda this visit.

The weatherman predicted rain Tuesday, then moved it to Wednesday, then Thursday . . . you get the situation. The tides are best for us tomorrow, so Friday it is, rain or shine. We are ready to move on and eager to get to Miami in general. It will be another long day tomorrow as we head to Dataw Island, a new stop for us. We are a little disappointed not to be making as many friends as we made last year, but we are late traveling. Still, we are meeting a few folks, many who are late as a result of Sandy and Athena. Here's to better days for everyone.
Fog on the Wacamaw River
Rain through the windshield

And how we survive the rain and fog.

The famous bridge boards.
Cypress knees are back again.

Mistle toe in tree tops.

Our favorite!

Sullivan's Island Light

The Charleston Market at closing.