Monday, December 1, 2008

Last Days in Vero Beach to First Days in Stuart

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #17
Vero Beach Completed

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another free bus ride to the Publix grocery store to purchase the things we could not carry on the last trip on Tuesday. Worked on the blog, went down to the exclusive shops along the beach for some window shopping while Al stayed back and watched a football game in the cruiser’s lounge.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We did a first today. We rode our bikes to church. They even had a bike rack for the cruisers. The wind was blowing quite a bit, so we got a work out going against it. Coming back to the marina was a cinch.

After lunch we were going to go to shore but the clouds rolled in and it rained. When it stopped, we took our chances and went in to get our bikes which we have had t the bike rack since arriving. We needed to break them down and pack them since we are leaving for Stuart tomorrow. After one load of laundry and packing the bikes, back to the boat we went before the worst storm hit. Wind and rain in buckets came while we were safe and sound on Blue Heaven. So it does rain in paradise. Look at the streaks of rain being blown across the water!

Now there is something I have been meaning to write about since North Carolina, but kept forgetting. We are thankful that Jeannie on Estelle mentioned it the night before we heard our first weird sounds in the boat. Otherwise, I think we would have thought we had a rodent or cockroaches on board. Usually at night you can hear a very distinct snap and crackle sound. Sort of like Rice Krispies without the pop! If you put your ear near the floor it is even louder. We were told it is krill or shrimp feeding off the growth on the bottom of the boat. It is something helpful, while I know I would have thought our boat was infested if we had not been told. It is so loud at times in Vero Beach, I thought it might keep me awake, but the fresh air just seems to knock me out.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We motored all the way to Stuart, FL where we will be staying for December and January. Somewhere along the way, we were not even sure when, but the water changed to a pretty shade of blue. We got into our slip at Harborage Yacht Club and Marina around 1:30pm. Luckily, the winds were not blowing but the dockhand had to encourage a manatee out of slip until we could pull in. Luke and Jeannie McLaughlin from our sailing club were there to greet us.

Later that evening we celebrated our arrival going with three couples to a restaurant that serves the most delicious ribs. One of the couples was Trudy and Dave whom we met back on the street in the Solomon Islands in October!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Luke and Jeannie who rented a car showed us all around the area to give us our bearings of where things are. There are the typical stores such as Target, Kohls, CVS, Home Depot, Wall Mart, and Kmart which are out on the highway for anything you might need. The actual town of Stuart across the bridge from the marina has a lot of quaint stores and interesting restaurants.

Al and I biked over to the town and did the river walk and stopped at the Chamber of Commerce for information about the area and the maps we will need.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Once again Luke helped by taking us to get our propane tanks filled. Later Al and I biked about 3 miles to a hardware store to get coaxial cable for our TV since the marina has cable available at each slip. Now we will be able to have 97 channels. I don’t feel we are quite in paradise anymore! We are definitely back to civilization for a while.

This will be my last blog entry for awhile. Once we get back (we are going home to Lancaster for the holidays) and start moving south again, probably around the end of January, I will start again. Hope you have a wonderful and healthy holiday.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Cruising Style

Vero Beach Continued

November 26, 2008

This morning’s mission was to get to the laundry before everyone else. I sent Al over at 7am to do four loads and shockingly it worked. He was able to do all four at once at the marina and was done it record time, two hours.

While he did that job, my job was to make an apple pie for the Thanksgiving feast. Yes, I baked an apple pie on the boat and it turned out surprisingly well.

After lunch we took the bikes ashore rode all around the beach area which tired us enough to lead to a quiet night on board.

Thursday, November 27, 2008 (Thanksgiving Day)

“Over the river and through the woods” to the community center in the park we went by way of dinghy bringing our contribution for the potluck cruiser's Thanksgiving dinner. I had the apple pie, but I also made mashed potatoes and gravy because there was a plea on the notice at the cruisers lounge.
Take 75 great cooks, add 75 significant others and some children, add beautiful, sunny 70 degree weather plus cruiser camaraderie and you have on fantastic Thanksgiving meal. I must admit I had a twinge of missing family, but knowing I will be home for Christmas helped. I also must admit, I did not miss making the entire meal myself!

As you can see we did not go hungry!

Afterwards we biked to work off some off that turkey dinner. Later we enjoyed an evening of solving the world’s problems with the parents on Bird on a Wire, Gotta Life and another couple from Miakoda who also had two daughters. The girls chose to do something a little less intense which was beautifying each other with new hairdos. I think I should have been down below; I could use a new hairdo about now!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bird on a Wire and Gotta Life left this morning to head south. Bird on a Wire is heading through Lake Okeechobee to the west coast for the holidays (They are lucky because their mast is low enough to get under the bridge which ours is not), while Gotta Life will be heading to the Bahamas soon. We will miss the activity being all alone on the mooring.

We spent the morning doing a simple task of getting a prescription filled. It took the better part of the morning to ride the bus to CVS. We had to transfer buses but it also gave us the opportunity to go to the small farmer’s market in the park where the transfer station is located. We got some good reasonable vegetables.
After lunch I went to the beach to enjoy the sound of the surf and warmth of the sun. It was nice to just sit and read and relax as well as walking the beach. Al stayed back at the boat to putter around. Another couple stopped by to invite us to go to happy hour at the Riverside Café which we did and ended up staying for a light dinner.

This is the way we end our days in Vero Beach with beautiful sunsets. What a life! We have alot for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Velcro Beach," I mean, Vero Beach

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #15
Vero Beach, FL
Monday, November 24, 2008

Some of the homes along the ICW are a wonder, but the ones close to Vero Beach are even more so. As you motor by, you wonder from where all that wealth came. We arrived in the famed Vero Beach, known to all cruisers because of the great mooring field and free bus service to about whatever type of store you need. This is where many leave to go to the Bahamas. However, many call this place “Velcro Beach,” because they stick and cannot get away from it for a long time because it is so nice.

We were assigned to a mooring with two other boats, Bird on a Wire and Gotta Life. Both boats have families on board, each with two middle school-age girls. We had seen both of these boats at other places along the way. It was nice to finally meet them.

After getting tied up and a line on the mooring, we headed in to check out the facilities and to go for a walk to give us some bearings of where things are. Once back at the boat we were invited to share dinner with the others on Gotta Life. We ate like kings with steak, spicy potatoes, Mandarin orange and almond salad and Raisin Spice Bars for dessert. It was nice to get to know one another over a delicious meal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Up and to the bath house for a long shower (something we don’t get on the boat). After breakfast we caught the bus to go grocery shopping. Of course, the bus does not go direct, so we saw a bit of Vero Beach along the way. At home grocery shopping takes an hour. Here it took two and one half hours and that was only half our list. You are only allowed to bring on the bus what you can carry and put at your feet and on your lap. We will do another trip later this week.

When we came back to the boat, the young girls were having their music class. It was like having our own private concert. Erin and Geneva on Gotta a Life have four instruments on board. They have a saxophone, flute, keyboard and clarinet. I wonder where they put it all. And Al complains about my rug hooking supplies!

After lunch Al napped while I tidied up the cabin. Then we went ashore to explore. We found an art museum, the beach, and of course a cooking store. (I think I have found one in almost every place we have been!) When we came back to the boat the girls entertained us by jumping off the high dinghy davit platform on Gotta Life.
For dinner it was a dinghy ride to Riverside Café just past the bridge to the entrance of the anchorage.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happeings in Cocoa, or should we say, The Non-Happenings

Blue Heaven Rendezvous # 14
Heading to Cocoa, Fl
Saturday, November 22, 2008

After some hot showers (that little Honda generator is nice!) which made us feel better after the uncomfortable night we had or I should say, I had, we headed to Cocoa.

When we arrived at Cocoa we were a bit confused. Claiborne Young, in his book about Eastern Florida cruising, said to anchor between the land and the power lines. Skipper Bob, on the other hand, said to anchor south of the power lines. Since all the boats were south, we followed their lead and anchored south. Not one boat ever anchored in the other spot. Now, we are a bit skeptical about Young’s suggestions.

Yesterday afternoon I had called Enterprise Car Rental to be sure they would pick us up in Cocoa if we rented a car to be able to go to the Kennedy Space Center. I called the one in Cape Canaveral, because the one in Cocoa closed at noon and were not open Sunday to return the car. I told her we would be in Cocoa at the municipal dock, but she said to call an hour before we were to rent the car, and give them directions. After getting into Cocoa and having lunch we went ashore. We walked around town killing time until we could get the car. We saw all the shops and especially the one store Al liked, was SF Travis Co. It was the largest hardware store we have ever been in. It was two stories high and went from one room to another, to another, etc. It had a wrench that was almost as tall as me! The only thing the sales clerk said they did not carry was wood, because they have termites.

Finally it was time to call the rental agency and when we did, the young lady said, “We cannot pick you up in Cocoa that is a half hour away.” I said yesterday you did not have a problem with it, and today you can’t? She said we could have the car if we could get to the agency. So we cancelled the car and there went our plans for Sunday. It was too late to call another agency, so we figure we will do it on our way back north.

At the park off the municipal dock they were having a special day, because the Christmas tree lightning and boat parade were that night. There were little ones playing in man-made snow and people were ice skating at the rink they had set up. It was a great place to soothe ourselves after our plans were foiled by the mean Grinch lady at Enterprise!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We took our bikes into Cocoa and found a bike friendly road that followed the water. It was a lovely ride and gave us the exercise we so badly needed. We also checked out Cocoa Village Marina for future reference.

Back to the boat we went for a leisurely afternoon. While sitting in the cockpit I looked up to see a racing boat raising its spinnaker in the anchorage. I said to Al, “They are going to hit that anchored boat!” Sure enough the bows came together and the spinnaker caught on the anchored boat’s spreaders. There was no one on the anchored boat. A lot of the boats in the anchorage are what Al and I call “derelict” boats. Boats that you can tell haven’t been moved for a long time. The growth along their waterline tells it all. One of the racers hoped on board the anchored boat while the others dropped the spinnaker. He gathered it up and then hopped on board the race boat. Off they went, raising their jib to continue the race as if nothing had happened. Luckily, no major damage was done as you can see by my pictures of the incident.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not some of Our Better Days

Blue Heaven Rendezvous # 13
From St. Augustine to Cocoa

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It is funny this is posting is #13 because today we had some bad luck. We left St. Augustine before 7am to make the 7:30am bridge opening. Al called the bridge to let him know we were planning to go through and there was one power boat in front of us. Meanwhile, a catamaran called the bridge tender asking if he would hold it open because they were just around the bend, but we did not hear his response. We saw the bridge go up and the powerboat went through and just as we were about to enter we heard the horns blowing which usually indicate that the bridge is going down. Our hearts were in our throats as Al did a 180 ◦ and was frantically calling the bridge tender. All he could say was “Sorry, he was a little fast on the horn” and that we should come on through the open bridge. So we guess he wasn’t going to hold it open for the catamaran, but by the time we got straightened out to go through, it gave enough time for the catamaran to catch up and through the bridge they went. A few minutes later the catamaran hailed us on the radio and thanked us for the maneuver at the entrance to the bridge which of course helped them. Not too long ago we heard the Alligator River Bridge did close on a sailboat and de-masted it, so that is why we had heart palpitations aplenty!

The rest of the day was a motor down the ICW. After checking fuel prices on the internet, Al decided we would stop at Halifax Marina in Daytona to fuel up. We started to head in and ran a ground (bad luck #2) because somehow we missed seeing an important mark. Luckily, it was sand, because Al motored us back into the correct channel with only our ego’s bruised.
At least we did not ground Blue Heaven like the boat in the picture!
Not far from the marina we anchored by 4pm between marker 40 and 44 with several other boats. Our excitement for the night was me giving Al a haircut. I just had to get rid of his little flips!

Friday, November 21, 2008

We were up early again to be out of the anchorage before 7am. To me, this is getting old. When it is so cold outside, I just want to stay under the covers. Al wanted to leave early to possibly make Cocoa today.

We were able to motor-sail and eventually got some decent sailing in with the winds blowing 18 – 20 knots. They pushed us along quite nice at 7.2 knots. Even though we had plenty of time to get to Cocoa, Al decided with the wind direction that it would be better to anchor on the south port side of the Addison Point Bridge. He thought it would have more protection than Cocoa. He was wrong! There was land there which protected us from the wave action, but there was nothing high on the land to protect us from the wind. The wind howled at 20 knots and we continually swung on our anchor. The worst part was the snubber line (a line that takes the load from the anchor chain to the cleat and gives some stretch from the anchor to the boat) was making all sorts of loud noises. I gave up sleeping in the v-berth and finally fell asleep in the main cabin. Sporadic sleep (you women would know about that), while all the while Al snored away. I don’t know how men do it! This was the first night out of 36 that was not pleasant sleeping, other than our over-night ocean passage, so I guess we are doing pretty well if you look at it that way.

The clincher came by way of email from Estelle that said they had a quiet night at Cocoa!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

St. Augustine

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #12

Tuesday. November 18, 2008

We had a quiet night behind the protection of Pine Island, but as soon as we got into the ICW, it was blowing twenty knots. I was glad we were not too far from St. Augustine. We left at 8:45am and were tied at the dock in Camachee Cove Marina by 10:30am. After getting checked in, which was once again a long walk to the office and back, we had lunch on board. We pulled out our folding bikes to see the sights of St. Augustine. It was a 1/12 to 2 mile bike ride. Our first stop along the way was The Mission Grounds. This is where the very large cross is located that can be seen from the water. The grounds are kept very nice with various paths and a pond where we saw sea turtles that had come in from the inlet from the waterway. There also was a very friendly resident Blue Heron who was not too scared of people as you can see by my picture.

We biked past the fort and along the waterfront to check out the municipal marina for future stops here. We then toured “The Oldest House” on the east coast which had quite a story behind it, from a family with twelve children to eventually a tavern and brothel.

Afterward we rode back to the marina. It was a bit chilly. I had on three layers and did not get overheated the entire bike ride. Al, are you sure you headed south and not north!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We awoke to freezing temperatures outside, but were warm and cozy inside due to being plugged in at the dock and using our heat pump. We did some chores in the morning and then used the marina courtesy car to go to the grocery store for just a few things. After lunch we once again biked to see the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine. The building used to be the Alcazar Hotel built by Floridian entrepreneur Henry Flagler. When it went defunct, Lightner, a very wealthy man from Chicago purchased it to house his personal collections. Lightner was a publisher of an arts and antique magazine who took advantage of the stock market crash, buying up all that he could from the wealthy who had lost their fortunes. His collections ranged from unique furniture, cut glass dishes, to cigar band collections, toys and more. It was amazing. There was something for everyone to enjoy seeing. Also, the former hotel was phenomenal in itself for what had been built back then. It had the largest indoor swimming pool, steam rooms and special baths. as well as ball rooms and other beautiful rooms.
This is for my rug hooking friends. There were two hooked rugs in his collection. How would you like to have this in your house when relatives come for Thanksgiving!

Back to the boat we went and used the courtesy car to take us to a “real” Italian restaurant for dinner. Nothing fancy, but the real Italian homemade sauce makes it

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #11

Monday, November 17, 2008

We have 48 miles to cover today, so we were up at 6am and off the mooring ball by 7am. We wanted to get under a bridge below Fernandina Beach before high tide. When we got to the bridge, it was 67 feet, so we were fine with our 61 ft. mast. With 8 foot tides, you really have to be careful about bridges with extra high tides and where you anchor.

Today going down the ICW there were some wicked currents at spots. At one place you could see the trawler in front of us being pulled side ways. Coming off the St. John River we saw dolphins actually jumping out of the water which was quite a site.

We were anchored behind Pine Island by 2:30pm. We got in much earlier than we expected, because the currents were with us a lot of the way. We were the second boat in and then around 4pm five other boats came in, one of them being Estelle. We could not resist one last cocktail hour together, and once again we said our good-byes.

Since there wasn't much to describe on this long motoring day, I thought I would share some thoughts and feelings about the trip so far.

A lot of former cruisers told us it can be stressful in the ICW. We haven’t found it to be so, but we know it is because we found our experienced cruising buddies, Jim and Jeannie Lea, at the start, and have basically been following them. We don’t leave it all up to them. Al does check the weather and looks at charts for upcoming anchorages and comes to his own conclusions, which happen to usually be the same as the Leas. This has boosted his self-confidence in this area. Now that we are on our own, we will see if it is more stressful

Al checking bridge openings.

Secondly, we have not met much commercial traffic which can be a concern. Only once, were we a bit worried when a tug and barge came through a bridge very close to us due to the narrow channel.

Lastly, I was worried about being with Al twenty-four hours a day after so many years of 5 days a week gone from 7am – 6pm. I think it would have been difficult if we were home. Here it just seems like a long vacation! He has also helped with galley and laundry chores which we
seem to have more, since we have no dishwasher or washer and dryer on board. And according to him, “He has been a total prince.” Well, I don’t know about that

Arleen working on her rug.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fernandino Beach

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #10
Fernandina Beach

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Upon returning from Cumberland Island yesterday, Estelle made reservations for two mooring balls for us. We left the anchorage around 9am and were connected to the mooring by 10:30am. Coming up the Amelia River to Fernandina Beach, I said it certainly isn’t the prettiest place with several pulp mills and their shipping terminals. However, once into port I found Fernandina Beach quite charming. Unfortunately, housekeeping chores had to be done first, such as laundry and food shopping. With only two washers at the marina, it took three hours to accomplish that task between the two boats. Once we put our laundry in the dryers we headed out for a bit of lunch.

Seabird, who we met in Jekyll Island was anchored nearby and had rented a car for the weekend, because they went down to Cocoa Beach to watch the space shuttle last night. Jim and Jeannie said they saw the shuttle (a flash of light) from their boat at Cumberland Island. We forgot to look. Due to the fact that Bruce and Nancy had a car, it made it very easy to do a good stocking up at a Publix grocery store. We made it to the hardware store with one minute to closing, but quickly purchased what we needed. The last stop was a good seafood store which is next door to the marina for fish for dinner. Into the dinghy it all went and back to the boat all the while trying to deal with rain showers and strong winds.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We met Jim and Jeannie at the dock in Fernandina Beach later in the morning to walk around and see some of the interesting houses and churches. A cold front had come through during the night and you would had thought we were in Maine, not Florida, by the way we were dressed. Due to being Sunday, the stores opened late and we got a lot of window shopping done but eventually a few purchases.

Estelle decided to move on to Fort George River, but we decided to stay put another night. They want to reach Miami early December and we want to spend some time seeing the sites at some of the upcoming places, so we parted ways. It was sad to see them go. It was almost a month that we had been sailing together. Jim and Jeannie taught us the ways of the ICW as well about off shore sailing. If it hadn’t been for their encouragement, I know we would not have done it by ourselves. The only consolation is that we know that we will see them some time in the future. We wish them safe passage to Belize with Seabird and hope to see them on the trip back.

Later in the afternoon Al and I went back into the town for an early dinner. I have been hungry for pizza and we found a small restaurant that does wood fire hearth pizzas which were excellent. We were back on the boat by sunset to load the motor and dinghy onto Blue Heaven, readying ourselves for moving down the ICW tomorrow.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cumberland Island Revisited

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #9

Friday, Nov. 14

We enjoyed a slow morning since we were only going to the other end of Cumberland Island which was about 9 miles. We used the dinghy to get to the dock which is where two small ferries land. Today they brought a number of 4th graders for a field trip. We brought our bikes with us and used them to get around the island. It wasn’t the easiest biking due to a lot of loose sand in the primitive roads and paths. It was a unique setting with the monkey vines, Spanish moss hanging from the trees and the southern flora. We were able to see the wild horses, an ice house and the ruins of Dungeness the former Thomas Carnegie mansion (burned in 1959).
Out to the beach we then headed, riding the boardwalk as far as possible and then pushing our bikes the rest of the way. Once on the hard sand of the beach it was easy biking especially since we were going with the wind. The sound of the ocean, sea gulls (and about 50 fourth graders) combined with the magnificent view, made for a memorable bike ride and day on Cumberland Island.

Having fun trying our video portion of our camera for the first time!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jekyll and Cumberland Islands

Blue Heaven Rendezvous #8
Jekyll and Cumberland Islands.

Tuesday, Nov. 11

We were glad to get through the channel markers for the Brunswick River from the overnight sail because the winds had piped up to 18-20 knots and seas were getting to 3-4 feet. Once in the river the winds were more 8-10 knots and much flatter water. We motored into Jekyll Creek with Estelle ahead of us. We anchored past the bridge and Jekyll Island Marina. We had a big breakfast because we had eaten a rather light dinner out in the ocean. Al was concerned that we were too close to shore and did not like the strong current here, so we decided to go to the marina. We tried to raise Estelle but they had turned their radio off to be able to sleep. Once tied up we rested until lunch time. Then Jim and Jeannie contacted us on the radio wondering where did we go? They chose to stay anchored so we were to meet them later for a drink on their friend’s boat called Seabird who was tied up at a dock between us at the marina and where Jim and Jeannie were anchored.

So Al and I got our bikes out and rode into the historic district. For those not familiar with Jekyll Island, it was purchased by the millionaires of the 1800’s such as Goodyear, Rockefeller, Pulitzer, Gould and a few others for their winter hunting retreat. They each built their own “cottages” (mansions) and a huge clubhouse where you can stay today and see croquet being played on the pristine lawn with everyone in their proper whites! There is a small free museum that explains all about the island’s history and about the marshlands habitats. There are also some small shops, and wonderful biking and hiking trails. There of course are cottages and places to rent along the Atlantic Ocean side and a beautiful beach. The island is a must see in my book.

We met Nancy and Bruce on Seabird, who are friends of Estelle. These two couples plan to sail to Belize after the holidays. They keep trying to convince us, but Al and I don’t think we are quite ready for that type of adventure yet!

Wednesday, Nov. 12

The weatherman was saying a possibility of rain today with some sun and clouds. It was to be in the high 70’s. We decided to get biking early to try and avoid the rain. We followed the bike trails which took you through the vegetative interior. It was quite beautiful with the green foliage and the hanging Spanish moss. We took a wrong turn and ended up biking to the southern end of the island and ended up biking against the wind. When you have not biked for years, it’s a bit hard on the old knees! We finally reached the small IGA grocery and picked up a few needed items. We got back to the boat with just enough time to give our legs a rest, change into some nicer clothes, because we were to meet our friends on Estelle and Seabird at the Clubhouse for lunch. So we got back on our bikes to the historic district.

The Clubhouse was so civilized! Beautiful furnishing and the dining room had white linen tablecloths and the waitresses were in 1800’s period garb. It truly was a very nice lunch, reasonably priced and the friendships and camaraderie was great.

After lunch we sat in the solarium at the Clubhouse chatting and Al and I finally left the two couples to discuss their plans for their trip to Belize. We visited a few shops in the historic district. Al patiently sat on a bench outside until he finally came into the jewelry store and said it was looking a bit ominous, and suggested we get back to the marina before it rained. I made my wise purchases (How could I resist a 70% off sale!) and got back to the marina with no problem.

Helen and Ray on Rigamarole, who were at the marina, invited us for drinks. It was fun getting to know them and their cruising stories. They are headed to Daytona where they live now, since they sold their house in New Hampshire just recently. They said when we get there, if we need a car for needed items, to give them a call. It certainly is nice to have friends along the way!

Thursday, Nov. 13

We planned to leave with Estelle around 9am but we received an email from the manager of our mail that some bills came in that needed to be paid. So we called Estelle and told them we would catch up, since they had already pulled up their anchor. We were headed to Cumberland Island which is owned by the National Park Service and has no amenities. We quickly wrote our checks and put them in the mail at the marina and left.

It was foggy today but carefully we motored across Jekyll and Andrew Sounds. We entered the Cumberland and then Brickhill Rivers. It was truly a winding passage, weaving back and forth through the marshland, to finally anchor not far from Plum Orchard mansion. Jim and Jeannie picked us up in their dinghy and we tied up on the inside of the dock. Once again this island has history, but the most recent was when Thomas Carnegie in 1882 purchased the island and rebuilt the mansion called Dungeness which unfortunately burned in 1959. He also built several homes for his children, one being Plum Orchard. There are tours but only on the second and fourth Sunday of the month. We looked in the windows and saw a built in swimming pool. An indoor swimming pool in the 1800’s, now that is impressive! Looking at this estate, you can just imagine the parties that went on here.

Some other visitors said they saw and alligator at the pond, but we were not fortunate to see it. We walked through the maritime forest for a bit and saw numerous armadillos.
We went back to our boats for a nice peaceful evening with a beautiful moon rising over the tree tops while enjoying a drink with Jim and Jeannie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mystical,Magical Moonlight Passage to Jekyll Island

Monday, Nov 10

Around 4am I awoke to tossing and turning about our decision to go outside. I want to do this and what better way than to follow an experienced couple, I keep telling myself over and over.
The weatherman says the winds and seas are even going to be lighter than predicted, so it is a go.

We were out of the anchorage for the 10am opening of the Lady Island Bridge. You don’t want to leave too early, because then you arrive in the dark to enter the channel to Jekyll Island, GA.

It was very flat water and we were seeing dolphins throughout the morning. As we got closer to the open ocean I could not believe how flat it was. It was almost like a huge mill pond. I decided to take advantag and do my small weight exercises. It was great doing exercises while watching dolphins come gracefully to the surface and back into the water again.

(Can you believe how flat it is!)

After we got out in the ocean we finally were able to put those big white things up. They are called sails, if I remember correctly. It seemed so long since we used them. We motored sail for a while and eventually turned the motor off. Hearing the lapping of the water against the hull was a wonderful sound. We sailed slowly but peacefully at 2-4 knots. There were times we thought perhaps we should turn on the motor and just then a puff of air would come, so we continued to sail. This trip was going to be 111 miles, so we planned at 4 knots we would get in shortly after day break to the buoys at the end of the river to go up to Jekyll Island. So if we got too far below 4 knots, we would turn on the engine and motor sail. During the trip I got alot of rug hooking done. It was another very gentle ocean like our first ocean passage.

The sunset was phenomenal. As it was going down the almost full moon was up in the sky and reflecting on the water. We watched intently as the sun slid into the horizon, trying to see the green flash, but none appeared. The sky seemed to get more beautiful every time I came out of the cabin - the reflection of the moon and oranges and reds of the horizon. Once the color faded to dark, it hightened the crystalline sparkles on the water from the moon even more. The moon was so bright it was like a spotlight showing us the way. It definitely was mystical and magical.

After dinner Al tried to rest in the cockpit. He never really fell asleep because he was too excited and because I don’t think he really trusted his boat with the first mate. I also was not overly confident about my sailing abilities but if I don’t take charge at times, I will never get more competent. If we are going to do more off shore passages he is going to have to change his tune on that one. Eventually he told me to go below and get some rest which I did, a good two hours. I awoke to Blue Heaven sailing 6 ½ - 7 knots. The winds had picked up as predicted to 10-15 knots. Al furled the 130 jib in part way to slow us down. Now we were going too fast and would get in too early. Al went below to try to sleep. While I was responsible for the boat, I brought some friends along to ease my fears – Celine Dion, Frank Sinatra, The Eagles and of course Jimmy Buffet. I also found that sitting on the moonlit side of the boat just seemed friendlier. We would also talk to Estelle each hour so you did not feel entirely alone out there. It was not very difficult to sail because there is a lot less traffic out in the ocean than in the Chesapeake or the ICW and with GPS, radar and auto pilot you can actually relax. Once the sails are set, it is pretty much a straight shot down the coast.

Al was back up in an hour because with the wave action from the northeast winds and faster sailing, it was hard to sleep with all the creaking and other noises below. We were still going too fast so we furled the sail all the way and sailed under the main alone for the last twenty-five miles. I had gone down below to try to get some sleep but it was sporadic. Al finally called for me around 4am to come on deck to help him gybe. I stayed up in the cockpit with him for the remaining trip.

It was very interesting watching the moon get lower and lower in the sky until it finally went behind the horizon around 5am, just like a sunset. So for an hour or so we did not have much light. Then finally in the east the sky was getting brighter and brighter until the sun rose. We had done our first overnight and survived, a little road weary or should I say wave weary, but we survived!!!