April 21st, 2009

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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…