Brenda

May 142017
 

We haven”t posted since we first arrived mainly because it has been all maintenance and provisioning.  Scott has spent the last 3 days in the engine compartment changing the oil on the gen, doing a valve lash, disinfecting the water supply lines, changing out some seals that needed updating, and so much more.  He also spent some time upgrading the software for the chart plotter.  With groceries, laundry, waxing the boat and cleaning out of the way we are all set for a Monday morning start.  

I cannot say enough about this marina.  The staff is so accommodating, the slip location is awesome, wifi is fantastic, location to the little village with its artisan shops, restaurants and boutiques.  Provisioning is a short car ride away and an Enterprise Car Rental who will pick you up about 2 miles away as well.  We were lucky enough to be here for a dock party with the folks that are either living onboard, passing through or just an overnight.  

Tonight we will plan our journey to the next spot which will likely be on the hook someplace near St. Augustine.  The weather over the next few days is looking good with fair winds and blue skies.  

It’s Mother’s Day today too.  Happy Mom’s day to all the lovely ladies!

 Posted by at 12:47 PM
Mar 212017
 

We leisurely started our day as this is our last day on vacation.  Our day would consist of packing, cleaning, and prepping for the day when we would start again.  Leaving the lock after pulling anchor in quiet calm waters and barely any breeze we head west down the Cape Canaveral Barge Canal toward the ICW.  Diesel is available at Harbortown Marina on the canal and we need to top up and drop off garbage.  Scott deicdes to run a video on the go pro for the trip.  The video consists of pulling up anchor, heading west on the canal, stopping at Harbortown Marina and then pulling out to head west on the canal again to the ICW where we will head south toward Cocoa Village Marina.  This trip would be one of the calmest in winds we have encountered this trip.

At the marina, where Conductance will call home, we set the lines for no tidal waters but waves from winds and big wakes from passing boats on the ICW that do not slow for marinas.  Then the cleaning of the interior, laundry, washing the entire hull, rinsing the gas motor on the dingy, Low Voltage, rinsing the A/C units and engines from the salt water, and deep clean after 10 days of being together.

Cocoa Village Marina is a great marina that offers transient slips, security, restrooms, 24 hour laundry, showers and a short walk to the village.  It is a tight turn around so if you are planning on going here be sure it is a calm day and you have help from staff getting in.  Grocery is over 1 mile away.  The hardware store is across the street.  The boys found out that there is a homemade ice cream shop nearby that Obama and his family have been to.  Apparently there is a Youtube vid as well.  

It’s a long day of prepping and getting set to leave at 5:00 AM to make our flight home.

 Posted by at 8:00 PM
Jan 162017
 

We made it.  We made it to the Atlantic Ocean.  No more fresh water and back to the salt.  We had unhooked from the dolphin and started to head east toward Stuart Florida.  The travel was with light winds, a few fishermen and a lot of scenery of the lifestyle of the folks on the east coast.  Boats became larger and we were passing more of them.   It must have been the day for the animals. Making our way east we saw our first alligator and also some horses coming to the water for a drink.  We locked through our last lock, St Lucie Lock with an 8 foot drop.  It was easy.  Hold the line and let it out.  Down is so much easier than going up in all locks.  As we were leaving I yelled to Scott “manatee”.  Directly in front of our bow was the beautiful manatee diving and swimming.  We slowed completely down and only pushed through as needed until the gentle giant was past.  Apparently it wanted a ride in the lock.

Down the St. Lucie Canal towards the St. Lucie River andthe many boats we would pass.  They come within only about 10 feet of your boat at full speed.  It’s creepy to this laker girl.  No one slows down.  You rock all the time from so much wake.  It seems strange to us as we always slow for the boats that pass, but that’s in the north.  Down here it’s all about doing whatever works.  There is so much boat traffic that is it normal to come so close to each other.  It’s just different to us but Scott is getting used to it already.

We found our home at Manatee Pocket, a very busy inlet.  We are staying the night at Sailfish Marina.  It’s mainly a fishing marina with large deep sea fishing boats. There isn’t a lot of slips available so we are at the end of the fuel dock.  It’s actually a great spot to watch the boats go by.  The marina has laundry, gas and diesel, wifi that works.  We con’t need much more than that.  We did, however, head out on the dingy to dinner at Shirmper’s Raw Grill.  A lovely dinner on an open patio.  We ended up traveling back to the boat after dark.  The boat traffic was gone.  I think we passed one boat.  The interesting thing to us is how many boats are anchored and look like they haven’t moved in years.  They are just anchored out in the open area, with their dingy attached.  Liveaboards we are assuming.

We have been looking for a slip to leave the boat at for the 4 months at home.  Not an easy task as it seems.  We are looking at leaving her on the hard for the duration which hasn’t proved to be any cheaper really.  Wet slip real estate is slightly higher priced but not significant.  We are thinking that she might be better out of the salt water and wait for our return when we come back to move north.  Forgetting that Monday is an official holiday we are finding several places closed.  That could change the date for departure home by at least one day.

 

 Posted by at 2:54 AM
Jan 122017
 

Holy H E double hockey sticks.  That was an adventure.  We started out with Lady V before the sun was up to get out of the channel of Carrabelle River and into the bay and then into The Gulf.  When we got to The Gulf the waves started.  Marine forecasts were predicted for 2-4 feet SE winds.  The waves would hit our bow straight on.  These waves progressed to 4-6 foot with some 2 foot.  It was a slow go at 10-12 mph……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….for 7 hours, yes, 7 hours.  Up and down, up and down.  Lady V is a lot heavier than us so she took those waves with a little less effort.  We had only done about 65 miles in those 7 hours.  The waves started to subside after that and we could pick up speed slowly.  Scott had calculated we needed to do an average of 17.5 miles per hour to get in before dark.  After we had a look at our data we did 17.2 average mph and 11 hours.  I’d say that’s a good day’s work.

Ok folks, some of you don’t boat.  So 65 miles doesn’t seem like much.  So let’s just say put yourself in a swimming pool and turn on the waves like in a wave pool.  Now do that for 7 hours and note that you really need to be someplace before dark sets in and you’ve only made 1/3 of the way.  We usually can do about 25 or more mph in good water.  So only doing 65 miles in 7 hours is a tad slow.  We have headaches and neck aches to prove it.  On the good side, we did it.  We are in Clearwater without the heat on and just putting on pants and sweaters at 7:30.

On the flip side the dolphins enjoyed us being in The Gulf today.  We had several pods enjoying our wake and diving under the boat to come out the other side.  They would run along the side or dash in front of us.  It was a really neat to see them so close.

Tonight we dock at Clearwater Beach Marina.  We filled our diesel tanks upon coming in and found a nice quiet slip.  We’re really tired after our curry dinner and a couple bevies.  It’s an early night tonight.  Sweet dreams!

 Posted by at 1:27 AM
Jan 102017
 

Waking up to a hot shower and prepared breakfast that is provided for marine guests here at The Moorings was a nice reprieve.  A few loopers arrived today from the various ports along the Panhandle.  Everyone is in the waiting period to cross The Gulf.  Weather looks like the best on Wednesday so I think that’s when we’ll go.  A few slower moving boats are looking at a crossing Wednesday to Thursday or Thursday to Friday.  It’s always a conversation here in Carrabelle.

We went into town today to pick up a new hose that froze along our route and had a bulge that would be nasty if it let go.  It was inside the boat where the connection was.  It’s not a far walk to the grocery store, post office, hardware store, restaurant.  Actually where we are on the east side of The Moorings I think its closer to those amenities than it is to the laundry, restrooms, breakfast and showers.  It is a brisk walk when its 28 F here in the morning.

Scott did some maintenance on the engines for the journey ahead of us.  Changing out the racors a bit earlier than needed but they should be good now for the remainder of the Florida portion as well as up the east coast a bit.  I’m sure there was more than that that he checked in the 2 plus hours he was in the engine compartment but I won’t bore with the details. I cleaned up the boat and checked for anything we might need.  I’m sure that once we hit Clearwater we will have most amenities available.  It’s just getting there.

We’ve been skyping and texting Aiden and his brother, Steve, back home.  It’s looking like about 10 cm of snow overnight.  A snow day may happen for them in Niagara tomorrow with forecasts of snow and freezing rain.

As we sit here looking out over the Carrabelle River it has calmed to glass.  The lights reflect off the no wind evening and almost full moon night.  The pelicans are back on their perches at the pillars near our bow.  It’s a beautiful night but cold.  The heat is still on in the boat and we’re supposed to be in Florida.  At least we are here and not in Niagara…….

 

 Posted by at 1:39 PM
Jan 092017
 

This morning we were up at dawn to grab the car from the local who was allowing us to use his car while he was at work on the barge.  We can’t even say how thankful we are for that.  I had no idea how we would get Aiden to the Tallahassee Airport.  It’s an hour and a half easy drive.  We set him up as an unaccompanied minor on Delta.  They were great for the most part.  They put a tracking device on his wrist , let Scott and I take him to the gate and from there he was seated first and chaperoned to his seat.  His stopover again he would be escorted from his gate to the awaiting connection and then mom was picking him up from the Buffalo airport.  The only thing that should be done by the airline is feedback.  We haven’t had any contact with him since we dropped him off.  I’m making a suggestion that with every unaccompanied minor they should throw in free wifi so that parents have access if needed.  Aiden made it home to his brother’s place safe and sound and ready for his big presentation at school tomorrow.

Scott and I decided to push on to Carrabelle and stay at The Moorings for what will definitely be a waiting game.  As we crossed the Apalachicola Bay we noticed a tow and her double barges waiting.  We were following the buoys when the depths dropped to 3.5 feet.  We slowed down and took a moment to figure out what was going on.  We were in the channel, looking at charts, seeing the barge, and looking at buoys.  Something was wrong.  Relying on our charts instead of the buoys and the tow and her barges we headed toward port.  The depths did indeed get deeper.  We contacted the fellow that loaned us his truck and asked about the situation.  He said that several buoys had been blown off course in a previous storm.  He said follow your charts.  Following charts over buoys is the opposite to what you would normally do.  Now that we were in deeper water we realized that the tow and her barges had run aground following the buoys.  You would think that the captain of the tow would have hailed us on the radio to let us know.  Scott knew something was wrong so he took a moment and realized that he should be following the charts.  We call this the drama for the day.

Now at The Moorings in a lovely spot we wait.  We need to wait for the time to cross The Gulf for 184 miles which is 7.5 hours for us.  It’s very uncomfortable in chop for that long so a window is a prediction that we will be waiting for by watching weather buoy wave heights, weather radar and local forecasts.  We will be traveling with Lady V again as we have now met them in Carrabelle also waiting on that window.  I am certain that other Loopers will be waiting as well.  There is a breakfast served here every morning so I’m guessing that we will partake in that event to meet others waiting on the cross.

 

 

 Posted by at 1:24 AM
Jan 082017
 

We are very shaken up after last night as the wind howled and gale winds were reported in the area.  Both Scott and I woke up around 3:00 AM to check lines and fenders as the wind hit the stern from the north.  Aiden of course, slept through it all.  Today the sun is out but the winds have not let up.  The lines to keep Conductance secure are working hard with gusts reported over 30 mph.  The temps are low in the 40’s.  We have our portable heaters going as well as the internal heaters.  With the back in canvas its a battle that just keeps us warm enough to not be cold.  At least we can use the back space instead of being stuck in the cave.

We went for a brisk walk into town with our parkas on, hoods on and hands in pockets.  Instead of the requirement of the ice cream stop today it was hot chocolate and tea.  Apalachicola is such a cute town.  I think it is better than Panama City.  More to offer for the tourist, a little rustic and lots of history.  The boys tried to fix our “Bruce the Beaver” who lost his lantern and wires breaking.  A little solder and heat shink and its off to the store to find the appropriate rechargeable battery.  We came back empty handed.  Every battery could be found except the standard one we needed.  So Bruce has to wait to see if the fix worked.  Aiden and his work buddy are working on their school presentation to be delivered on Monday.  It’s all being done by wifi, facetime, and imessage.  Good job boys.  Scott is working on some fine tuning for the new electronics that he installed.  Some communication is not being delivered to the screen so he’s looking up info for the debug.  He never stops working.

Lady V passed us today on her way to Carabelle.  Have a very tall bevy.  You deserve it after that journey.

The weather folks are saying that the window for crossing on Tuesday is not looking good.  Hopefully it will be Wednesday but there have been reports that the weekend may be the next opportunity.  It isn’t unusual to have to wait to cross.  It’s approximately 184 miles to the Clearwater area which means about 7 -7.5 hours at 25-28 mph.  It’s a longer haul for those tht only travel about 7-9 mph which a lot of loopers actually go at top speed.

We’ve booked a flight for Aiden to leave in the morning to go home.  We’ll drop him off at the gate (one of us can go in to the gate waiting area to hand him off to the flight attendant), then he’ll go to his connector flight where he’ll be met by a representative from the airline to make sure he gets to his connector where they will hand him off again.  My mom will pick him directly up from the gate in Buffalo from the attendants there.  I told him that he is getting the celebrity treatment with all the attention he is going to get while he travels.  Aiden and his entourtage, we’ll never hear the end of it!

It looks like we are going to be shaken for at least the next 24-48 hours.  This cold front coming through is not a fast mover.  At least we are snug at a marina instead of anchored out or traveling.  Our next leg to Carabelle may not be for a bit if the winds stay at 25 mph as predicted.

 

 

 

 



 Posted by at 12:37 AM
Jan 012017
 

We started the day out waiting for a tow to get through the lock which got us going an hour later than we expected.  So we watched the tow go by and prepared the boat to lock through.  It wasn’t as cold a morning as we’ve had but with a bit of rain it seemed chilly.  We still wear our parkas.  No hats and mitts anymore!

Locking through by 8:00 AM the rain held off.  It was cold and the winds were non existent.  I forgot to mention that we had put in a bow thruster last year to make this trip through these locks and the next ones to come easier.  The thruster stopped working when on the 3rd lock a stick had become lodged and the shear pin broke.  No thruster till we get a new one.  So it is back to the skill of our Captain to keep the pressure off the lines as we lock.

We passed these beautiful white cliffs of the Town of Epes.  As you travel down the river that is low lying with trees and shrubs you will turn a corner and a massive cliff that is entirely white lines only one side of the river.  It’s stunning and so unexpected.

The Tenn-Tom river comes to a close for us today as we head into the Tombigbee River and Black Warrior River junction leaving the Tennessee River in our rear view mirror.  From this point the river is the TBBW and only 216 miles to go to Mobile and the coast.

Setting up in Demopolis Yacht Basin under a covered slip while the rain pounds on the roof is a welcome retreat.  We filled our diesel and was asked to settle into the Kingfisher Marina for the night.  The place has several boats not from here that have traveled from both the north and the south.  We met a couple from Toronto, Canada who are doing the loop in segments.  They have traveled the east coast to the Keys on past trips but decided to do the entire loop, “cause it’s there”.  I think we’ll be seeing more of Lady V as we are traveling to our destinations in the south.

Demopolis Yacht Basin offers one of the nicest laundry and restroom facilities we’ve seen.  It has an outdoor pool, restaurant, courtesy car for that quick trip into town to replenish supplies.  They are dredging the basin so it looks like they are expanding.  The marina offers a reprieve from the rustic marinas that have been the norm here in Mississippi and Alabama.

It’s New Year’s Eve and we know we won’t be ringing in the new year like most folks.  We decided to treat ourselves to pizza and board games.  Aiden fixed his light that fell off in his berth.  He also started to put together his RC plane.  So where do you put a 5 ft plane that has to travel home in a 200 sq ft space that homes 3 people.  You suspend it!!

 Posted by at 2:26 AM
Dec 302016
 

Normally we don’t like marinas.  It’s usually us out there for days on the hook enjoying nature.  What’s happened is its cold.  Way to cold.  So marinas offer everything and entertainment and meeting new people.  It’s been different but having to not run the gen constantly is a welcome advantage.

Today we passed through 4 locks.  The Pickwick, Whitton, Montgomery and the Rankin.  We called ahead to all of them to let them know we would be passing through.  They were very accommodating with only about a 15 minute wait at one and none at a couple others.  Made our long 7.5 hour day move a bit faster.  The winds picked up as we passed from The Tennessee River to the Tennessee=Tombigbee River.  Now on the Tenn-Tom the reality of new frontier awaits.  Heading down the Tenn Tom we notice that it is a summer’s dream.  Lots of cottages and spaces to swim and enjoy those summer days and nights.  It eventually continues into a man made canal section until it meanders back into a river.  The river is shallow with a max depth of around 12 -15 ft deep.  The waterway was made to allow boat traffic to come up from The Gulf and make its way with its wares to various cities along these inland rivers, all the way to Chicago.  It only opened in the 80’s and recreational boaters are very much interested in this part of the inland river system in the USA.  The marinas are saying they had more Great Loopers this year than in years past.

Passing through locks is a task that is so familiar to us but in this chill its a bit different.  Sometimes we were “rained on” by the lock, sometimes the gusty winds churned in the lock and sometimes it is just cold out at 7AM.  We try to be off the boat by no later than 2PM or earlier which is when the winds can kick up.  So now we are tucked in on the end of the dock at Midway Marina in Mississippi.   They shut the water off without telling us because it is supposed to get into the 30’s after 2 AM..  It’s 6:00PM and even after I called to ask about water they didn’t turn it on.  I now have a sink full of dinner dishes  with some water in the tank but we would have filled up more.  Wifi is terrible and guaranteed you will rock if there is any wind or wake from a tow.  So between these several issues we are not happy.

Scott is looking at the engines doing a once over and checking fluid levels.  Aiden is doing homework on the wifi.  I think it will be an early night as we try to push on as far as possible tomorrow.  Still have several locks to get through until Mobile, AL.

Isn’t this just great.  The heat pump relay just went.  Now he’s in the engine compartment rigging up something so we have heat.  Good thing we have back up with 3 marine heaters just in case.  Note to self if ever you boat in the mid south in December to bring, mitts, toques, scarves, parkas, heater back up, blankets, extension cords, slippers, and of course your sense of humour.

 

 Posted by at 2:17 AM
Dec 282016
 

We decided to take the courtesy van to the “downtown” of Grand River to visit the Christmas display put on by Patti’s Restaurant.  A million light display set out by a local that has had business here since 1880.  Beautiful lights in the 40 degree weather.

As we stopped at the grocery store to stock up the temp dropped.  The night was a chilly 32 F.  Setting up the heaters as well as the onboard air/heat which were set to full tilt kept us warm for the night.  Anyone traveling these parts needs portable heaters, toques, scarves and long johns.  It gets chilly even during the first part of the day.

We woke to 32 with frost on the entire boat, ropes and slippery decks everywhere.  We shoved off from GTB at 7:-00 AM with our sites set on Clifton Marina some 133 miles away.  Great mild winds and no locks made that trip easy.  Beautiful rock cliffs and houses on stilts set very high were interesting sites. We passed a few tow and barges but the river is so very wide that it too is easy.  The sun was shining as we ran the gen to stay warm with our extra layers of clothing.  Even with the sun the morning was cold.  The day warmed up to about 50 degrees but we didn’t notice it much until we stopped.

Clifton Marina has everything we need.  A courtesy car is available to head into town.  The main street is lit up with Christmas lights.  Restaurant, restrooms, and friendly folks who also offered covered slips for the rain coming tonight.  As we sit on the transient dock we decide to have dinner and make it a movie night.  Aiden has homework to do and he really wants to get the overwith while he has wifi.

 Posted by at 11:04 PM