April, 2009

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GCSM April 28 “Fleetwood” is off the road again and on the hard

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

The under the water line looks good. I had feared that the hard hit I took on St.Nicholas eve that slammed me into the bulkhead and bruised ribs might have strained the hull. Not so. But it looks like I’ll have to swallow my vain phobia for a clear finish and paint the hull. After managing to keep it clear for thirty years.

My next door neigbors are Bob and Gail from San Diego on ” Tullum III”. They remember me from Simons Town S.A. in 2007. But I did not recognize them. They described Christian and Mireille of “Memmestra” and George of “Ierges” in perfect detail. (Vin Rouge….)  I know they stayed longer than I did. Luis and Ramona, do you remember them? Am I suffering of amnesia? We three agreed that the Caribbean just does not hold a candle to the Pacific and Westward. If the Panama Canal would not be such a hassle for me I’d be going back in a heart beat. By the time I get back from Europe in 2011 the N.W.Passage will be ice free.


Sunrise in Green Cove Springs Marina on the St.John’s River

GCSMarina Friday Apr 24

Friday, April 24th, 2009



Thursday in GCS

Wednesday April 22

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Miss Crystal told me this morning that she has me lined up to go on the hard on Tuesday. I have ordered my supplies from Fisheries. I rode the klapfiets to my favorite grocery store. It has been closed. The next one is twice the distance and twice the price. The Mexican restaurant across the road from the Marina has gone South. Will the last Mexican, por favor,  turn the lights off.  Since I do not have a car anylonger or Howard to drive me to mass to the new church, I plan to go to mass within “klapfiets” distance at the old church where my Mexican hermanos y hermanas worship, if they and the padre have not packed up as well. I am trying to get as much fixed on the boat while still in the water. But may end up overindulging on the new blog.

Green Cove Springs Tuesday Apr 21

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I arrived here at 3 p.m. It was a great trip up the St. John’s River. The wind was mostly from the west and that gave me a chance to sail most of the way. Sometimes I envie my fellow cruisers with their 36 foot and up boats, with refrigeration, hot/cold showers, roller furling and anchor windlasses. But to-day, I was eating my heart out. And I doubt that the 36 foot and bigger boats could have had the fun I had.  “Fleetwood” is just a big dinghy. The gusts would come off the river bank and she just digs in her second chine and accelarates like a bat out of hell.  And I just stand there in the cockpit, raise my arms to the heavens and holler and whoopee.  A kid in a candy store. What a change from yesterday’s tough uphill battle.

I finally managed to talk to Miss Crystal here at the Marina, from Jacksonville. And as it turns out they are full up in the work yard. But she figures they might be able to squeeze me in by the end of the week. Keep my fingers crossed… I have a few things to organize. Order parts/supplies from Fisheries, for the refinishing. Get my auto pilots sent here, etc. If I have time left before the haul out I might go see a dentist.  I am anchored out off the marina, because their docks have been condemned and need to be rebuilt. I blew up the dinghy with the new pump that Greg Clark organized for me in Ft. Lauderdale. Works perfect. I took a shower and then re=acquainted with many familiar Porch People, Sea Jack Ski, One Eyed Jim, Paul, Sandy, Baron, Rene, etc. etc. Heard some nasty accounts of a friend I made here and who I had crowned with sainthood. Proves my judgement is fallible for the second time in the last two months.   This is a special place and I am glad to be back here. Hope the work will go fast and lasts longer than the previous efforts.

The St.John’s River runs from South to North. How many major rivers do you know in the U.S.A. that run North?  This question is mainly directed to my grandchildren. I am listening.

Monday/Tuesday Apr 20/21 On the Atlantic

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Monday Morning:
After last night’s Tuna Sashimi feast, I retired early. Managed to catch a number of hours of sleep between sticking my head out of the cabin and checking my position on the laptop.

The wind direction and strength flip flopped all over the place. For quite a few hours I was sailing wing on wing with the light 150% genova poled out and the main all the way up. Hitting 7 plus knots of speed.

Tuesday Morning:

This was meant to go out last night but after my phone call to you I found my head on the laptop. Dead tired. Woke up early. The last of the moon was up over the illuminated bridge, here in Jacksonville across the St.John’s River; the picture shall be available.

I am back in that same municipal Marina, where I left from last July. It turns out that this is free moorage for 72 hours. I understood from the previous visit that the Jacksonville city fathers had not quite figure out how to run this marina. There are also some river front docks, down town, that are also free for short stay.


Moon over St.John's River

Sunday evening’s fabulous sail with the full main and poled out big genoa had to come down in stages, with the Southerly building, till I was down to just a double reefed mainsail. I passed St. Augustine in the middle of the night and entered the St. John’s River entrance at 9.30 a.m. Then it was an uphill battle against a strong S.W. and a strong ebb. Just the engine alone I would not have made any progress at all,

I motorsailed with a double reefed main in about 20 knots of wind with heavier gusts off the banks. It tore the two top slugs out of the mast track and that caused a lot of nasty vibration in the rig. The wind was coming nearly straight down the river so I had to keep tacking across the shipping lanes. It took me 7 hours to go the 14 miles to Jacksonville.

I left messages with Green Cove Springs Marina but they never returned my calls. So, I still do not know if I making the trip up river for nothing because if they have no room for me (which I was warned about by another boat there now) I nee to move elsewhere. Though in the last mail I had from Crystal at GCSM, in February, she said they would make room for me. Stay tuned.

Jeannine would have liked me to do the haul out in West Norfolk, Sean is out at sea for the next 6 months and I’d be company. But I like the facilities in Green Cove and I know my way there and the support system in the neighborhood, etc. And living on the boat I’d probably will put in more hours and get it done without losing the weather window across the Atlantic, like what happened to me last year.

April 19 Sunday evening on the Atlantic

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
At 16.15 hr I am at 29.10 N 80.42 W. with 54 Miles to go to St. Augustine and 82 nmiles to Jacksonville, St.John’s River entrance.I just talked to Herb. I need to be off the Atlantic on Tuesday because of gale force winds developing north of 30 degrees North.

I am right now heading for the St. John’s river entrance at Jacksonville, where I should arrive early Monday morning.

Then I plan to call Green Cove Springs Marina to see if they can haul me out right away, in the affirmative, that’s where I’ll head for. In the contrary, I will hang around till the gales move away and head for the Chesapeake. Stay tuned.

This has been quite a day. The N.E. winds shifted to the the E. this morning and then petered out to nothing. Because I do not have my autopilots I did not want to motor. So the sails slapped in the sloppy seas without much wind, then the wind slowly picked up from the south. Then it shifted from the west. Right now I am wing on wing with a poled out 150% and full main dead down wind doing 6 1/2 knots. But the winds are building and I am going to have to size the sails down.

I caught a sweet 16″ Blue Fin Tuna again. Just had the sashimi. All dark red meat. I like this lure.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       dsc_0002


The bloody and the sanitized version. 

Early in the morning I had my Sunday sermon, in French, from a station in Oakland, Ca., you figure…

April 17th Fort Pierce, Fl.

Friday, April 17th, 2009

It was a bit breezy during the night but the anchor held just fine, and I had  a good night’s rest. We had a n impromtu conch shell blowing contest in the anchorage.  At least 5 boats participated. They all get their conches in the Bahamas. But “Fleetwood” has these fine shells from the Solomons and I just blow them away with sounds they have never heard…..

The ICW cruising guide I have aboard is a few years out of date. The two bridges that are shown as bascule briddges with a 28 foot clearance have been replaced wit fixed bridges with 66 foot clearance. I tried to time myself carefully from leaving the anchorage on making the every 30 minutes opening and then had this pleasant  surprise. So, up went the mainsail and I motor sailed the rest of the way. The wind was strong enough to use the wind vane, so, I had a chance, to leave the helm for a short dive into the cabin.

I talked to Herb at the SouthBound II net, he suggested I wait to head out of Ft. Pierce till Sunday. But the local weather forecasts tell me that I’m o.k. for early to-morrow morning. I can always turn back. So, I’m planning to head for Jacksonville and,  if the weather turns, escape into Cape Canaveral, Ponce de Leon or St. Augustine and if, by the time I get close to Jacksonville, the forecast has improved and I can continue to the Chesapeake, I will do so.

Stay tuned!

Thursday April 16 anchored in ICW at MP 991

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

With the late start, this morning, at 10.30, from Palm Beach and waiting for about 6 bridge openings I pulled into an anchorage off Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound, at 3.30 p.m.  I could have gone another 10/15 miles till sundown but the next stretch is very exposed and runs very close to the Atlantic with just a narrow strip of sand dunes. 

I caught Herb on the South Bound II net and I plan to head out of Ft. Pierce, about 20 miles further North from here, sail all night and then try make it as far as Jacksonville by Sunday morning, about 175 mautical miles from Ft.Pierce. Or if the cold front, with the expected Northerlies moves i n earlier, go into Cape Caneveral (60 miles from Ft. Pierce), Ponce de Leon ( 100 miles) or St. Augustine (150 miles). The winds were straight boutof the N.N.E. and wouldmhave been right on the nose if I would have tried sail outside. They are supposed to go more East late to-morrow/Saturday. The ICW without an auto pilot gets really boring, hand steering. But the landscape is very attractive. An endless summer, every one having a good time on or near the water.

Wednesday evening Palm Beach, Fl.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I am anchored just inside the harbor entrance at 26.47 N 80.02 W I left Ft. Lauderdale at 6 a.m. and arrived here at 15.30 hrs. 50 nautical  miles in 9 1/2 hours. Mostly under sail. The first part motor and when the N.W. dropped and turned into a N.E. I motored for about an hour. The weather forecasters were way off. It was supposed to be S.W. 10/15 knots, never happened. Just the N.W. and the N.E. at around 8 to 12 knots. Great sail though.

I caught a nice small 12″ Blue Fin Tuna. Had most of it as sushi/sashimi for lunch with lime  juice and soya sauce. It melted in my mouth. I have been mocked for losing all those fish on the way from Luperon. This was a lure I had never tried out. I will broil the left overs for dinner. Last night I had Sweetbreads for dinner. They looked so good when I did my grocery shopping yesterday. Beef kidneys, in French Rognon de Boeuf. I cooked them in red wine.  Oh, there will be a few of you who could not be paid to eat them.  

The weather forecast was not very good to go North on the Atlantic, to-morrow, that’s why I tucked into Palm Beach. To continue for a day or more on the ICW.  My problem is that I have both my auto pilots sent out for repair and they have not done anything with them yet. To hand steer the ICW is not my idea of a fun retirement. I was tempted to keep going on the Atlantic but for the threatening thunder clouds and the weatherman talked about possible tornadoes and gusts to 50 knots/hr. But I might give it a try to-morrow. The next harbor to tuck into would be Ft. Pierce and then there is nothing till Orlando. I wished I could just keep going straight for Cheapeake but there are Norhterlies till Saturday and then another cold front moves in on Mon/Tues. So, I may end up in Green Cove Springs.

I posted a small slide show “Botanical Gardens”, see in the index on the right. I visited the Gardens on Easter Sunday after we had a birthday lunch for Jeannnine’s 40th Birthday.  Be sure to check out the web cam web site recording in real time the every moves of this Bald Eagle family. The chicks will soon be taking flying lessons.

Later after dinner: I was spared the wicked part of the thunderstorms. Last nigth we had some dime size hail crystals in the lightning storms. I had Fennel/Anise with the tuna. 

Thursday Morning: I fell asleep messing with the Blog. Still a slow learning process. I have an excellent wi-fi connection here in the anchorage, so, I did some more work on the Blog. I am going to take the ICW because the chance of me getting into Fort Pierce from the Atlantic before the N.E. pipes up to 20/25 knots is too risky. It’s a beautiful colder morning but it will warm up into the high eighties. 

I insert a picture that I took  following the coast north from Ft. Lauderdale. The Twin Adobe color Towers are the hotel that, Greg, the skipper of Lohengrin treated the departing crew couple, Laura and Andy to for their last weekend in the USA. The other picture I took Saturday before Palm Sunday at their hotel when we all crashed their suite prior to all going to the crew party. Note Marlys’s dress up for the Gilligan Island theme of the party.

And I add one more picture I took from the plane just before landing back at Ft. Lauderdale.