Monday, May 28, 2012

Fun Sailing!

After going through the Alligator-Pungo Canal it was time to run up the Alligator River.  We were able to sail all the way up and spent the night in South Lake.  Yesterday we sailed across the Albemarle Sound and past Elizabeth City to spend the night behind Goat Island.  A nice quiet anchorage which gives us only a short hop to the first lock in the Dismal Swamp.  Nati is proving to be a nice sailing boat.  She is no floating shoe box!

We are both looking forward to zipping up the Chesapeake.  Maybe we can even catch a boat or two in the process!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ok, what the heck is going on??!!

We have been gone from Melbourne for 19 days now and if my memory is correct we have had rain, thunderstorms, clouds and now two tropical depressions follow us north every day!  It is getting a little old!!

At the moment good old Beryl is wandering around the Atlantic and we wake up to showers AGAIN this  morning.  So much for solar power.........

Where is the sun??

Today is heading up past Elizabeth City ............only 85 miles to Norfolk.  Here we come "Great Dismal Swamp"!

Saying goodbye

After three fun days it was time to say goodbye to our friends.  We have more mile to go and R&R are getting ready for a club cruise.  We will be back though.....nice area, good protection and even better friends.  Besides, "Spunky McDougals" is too good not to go back to!

Renate & Reiner along with Feline Purr-fect!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fairfield Harbor

After a nice night in Back Creek, just off Adams Creek we came out to the Neuse River and turned left towards New Bern.  Yes.........we can sail!!  The winds started nice but kept dropping over the day but we didn't care.  No motors......just the quiet of using wind power.

Later on the winds went right behind us and Anne thought of trying our spinnaker for the first time......great idea, lets not try it in 30 knots!

First time with a sock and we got it to work!

As we approached our destination we ended up getting a personalized escort into the creek by Reiner on their center cockpit boat.  

We are spending a couple of days docked at Reiner & Renate's home to visit and pick up a few things that they still had for Nati.  This area is very pleasant and safe from foul weather.  We have had a lot of laughs with our friends but tomorrow will most likely be the day for heading north once again.

Feline at her home

Fairfield Harbor

Nati at her dock

Saturday, May 19, 2012

INSIDE the Outer Banks of NC

With NE winds still in the forecast we have little choice but to motor north if we want to get to New Bern and the Chesapeake.  Current can be your best alley or your worst enemy when it comes to motoring along the ICW in these parts.  There are a few bridges to catch and some only open on the hour so one is always trying to establish SOG (speed over ground) so you don't have to just sit by a bridge and wait a good portion of an hour for them to open.  It's kind of crazy, but that is the way it goes.  There are times when the current flows at 2 or more knots.

We spent last night in Carolina Beach and it blew hard for most of the night.   We love our "Spade" anchor!   At least the rain rinsed off Nati from our ride up the St Fear River.  The mooring field is just about ready to open in the harbor.  We counted around 11 mooring balls.  Anchoring here is not too easy so it may be a blessing in the long run.

Scenes of the ICW....

Nice digs!

Much nicer digs with free power!

A weekend at Carolina Inlet

Napoleon's Hat.....NC style!

Osprey Marina

In the morning we headed north to this marina for fuel and then we thought to hang out there for the day and change the oil in the engines and just relax.  Notice the lack of sun......since heading north our solar panels have had pretty much  every day off..........where the heck is the sun.  The lingering low just off the coast has just sat there and we have been very lucky (??!!??) to have no sun, plenty of rain and contrary winds since leaving Florida.

Heading north at 2.0 knots!

Osprey Marina is one of the best!  The best fuel price around and we actually saved enough to cover our dock price.  The people are friendly and they have amenities galore.  It has been a long time side we have picked up a "givie" bag of useful stuff.  For dinner we decided to order a meal from Scatori's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant.......WOW!  We heard the chef worked under Emerill and it was one great meal!!  Can't say we have ever had a takeout meal, delivered for free to the marina that was half as good as that was.  WE will be back!

And guess who we found??!!  The Catalina on the right is "Waves of Grace", from Rochester..

Looking west out the marina entrance

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OK, so we are close!

Just like our friends on Kismet a few weeks ago we are now tucked behind Butler Island in SC.  After having finished up a 212 mile sail on the outside we barely made it into Winyah Bay before we got spanked with a "real" T-storm. Zero visibility so we did a few circles until it passed but we are here and no worse for wear.

Our little buddies that showed us the way..............

We didn't have a great sail up the coast but it was good practice for us  being offshore and dealing with all the items you have to have set before you do real distance on a small sailboat.  Nati seems to really like big wind and waves and we have a real comfort with her.........can't wait to do more!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NC, here we come!

With any luck Nati will be taking us north to NC over the next couple of days.  The tide is going out in the morning and we are too.

The weather gods have been treated nice so here we go...........we'll be back online in two or three days.....

Nati at Beach Marina

Florida fishing!

We should not have to say anything else...........

We now love pilings!

It used to be that a dock with a piling was UGLY!  Now, with our Big A rub rail they are much nicer than a floating dock.......go figure!

Looks nice to Nati!

Friday, May 11, 2012

New gear update

While hanging out in Melbourne we didn't just sit around and do nothing all day long.  It is actually a rare thing to do much for "vacation"!

This morning at 8:30am we were recharged to 100% by our new solar panels!  Now that is cool!!  We hope we'll never have to use the engines to charge up again.

Charge controllers ready for work

connections are run through the bimini

250 of the total 500 watts of power

We went with Solibian flexible panels and Genasum controllers which are being sold by Bruce Schwab.  As a note, Bruce is the only American to finish the Vendee Globe race and that he did in 2005.  Bruce is very well versed in what sailboat power needs and we feel the cost and work of installing them will be money in the bank.

I used wire as thick as I could to reduce the power loss over the distance the power had to travel.  Overall we used over 160 feet of 8 and 10 gauge wire to complete the project.  Marty was my right hand man for the job......thanks for taking my many calls Marty!  I hope I did it right!

The panels were ordered with zippers sewn into the edges and then we had the other side sewn into the bimini.  NO STAINLESS ADDED!!  NO EXTRA WEIGHT ADDED!!!

All together the panels come it at just over 20 lbs complete!

We also bought a new 55 lb Spade anchor from Aqua Tech Marine.  Yes, we are saying 55 LBS!!  Living on our boat full time means that there will be days when it is not too much fun and having a great anchor is worth every penney........ok, many pennies!

One A-20 aluminum and one S-120 Steel

Ready for action


Our Spectra watermaker is 95% complete.  All we have to do is to tie into the salt water wash with one '''t", another to the fresh water rinse and then tap into the water tank to provide us with us to 14 gallons an hour of fresh sweet water.  That is going to be nice!!

A few more hoses is all that is needed

Mission control

The pumps are located under our bunk so we put in a little door to operate the watermaker.

Finally we have our new bimini and extra side curtains and sun shades.  Nati is almost one color now and the curtains make the trip north on the outside all the difference in keeping warm and comfortable.  Karen also make up a new mainsail cover so things are looking good.

Clear Strata-glass!

The sun shade is needed down south

Side curtains

We have done a ton of work on Nati since being at Eau Gallie.  It should pay off down the road in making us safe, comfortable and provide our family and guests more living space.  Anne has done one round of stainless cleaning with this new product we found at the Miami Boat Show.  It is looking great.

Now I have to go find some more things to charge!!  The freezer is on along with the frig, the computer is running, the air card is charging and running, Anne's phone is on a charger AND we are still operating with 100% charged batteries!!  Life is GREAT!!

Follow-up of our trip to St Augustine.....

Ah, sleep!  Sure felt good last night as the mooring field was quiet and the breeze was gentle.  Today we have much more we'll cover the trip north.

The trip from Melbourne up to Cape Canaveral was a good starter for us after a month off.  The wind tried but when we got out in front of Jean & Tom's "camp" we saw 1.5 kts and knew we would be doing some motoring.  Not a big deal as we only had a few miles to go, turned right and into the canal.  We caught the timing for the bridge without stopping and motored into a quiet anchorage for the night.  We were the only boat there!

Morning ......time to pull up the new Spade anchor (happy we have a windlass!) and into the Canaveral Lock.  It's plenty big and again, we were the only boat inside.

After the canal it was through a double bascule bridge and time to head into the Atlantic.  We wish every inlet would be like this one.......BIG and no nasty chop to plow through....

Disney has a cruise port here

Plenty of marinas 

Looking west back into the canal

There are plenty of water activities taking place in and around Cape Canaveral.  We didn't realize how many people came to the area for fishing, boating, sailing and even the cruise lines go out from here.  On the way south we went by a few of these fishing boats anchored a few miles offshore with dozens of people fishing over the side.  The rolling action of the ocean was fairly pronounced so we did comment about the number of people that were chumming the water unintentionally.  Maybe a few??!!

Looking for the "big one!"

So after heading offshore we had to go quite a ways east to get around the Cape.  From there it was a heading of 338 degrees and off we went.  The wind was not as forecasted but we managed.....

Of course the T-storms had to come through but overall we knocked on wood and saw only one blow through.  We used the radar for the first time and saw it coming towards us and it even gave us an avenue to go through a small section of it at a right angle.  Pretty cool machine.......I have to read the book!

From there we kept making progress into the night, using the radar to avoid boats and small storms but the wind slowly kept going further in front of us until 1AM.  Then........the Direction Finder took over and it was either head towards Ireland or motor.  Well, motor we did and the seas were rather rough (Kissey.......remember our last night heading south??!!) but we know now how strong our boat is and what she can take!  All we can say is "we love her!!

Dawn brought us almost to St Augustine and we caught sight of a sailboat coming out of the inlet so we hailed her and they told us almost the opposite of what Boat US told us when we called them on information on the inlet.  Note, this inlet is not a class "A" inlet; meaning it is sometimes not the greatest avenue to get inside.  But......the channel was marked correctly and we never saw less than 13 feet under us.  The dredge must be doing a good job!

A common Yellow Throated Warbler needs a break on a long trip too!
Now we will spend another night in St Augustine and decide which way to head north from here.  We are checking weather to see if a long run outside is warranted or not.  There is also a good Ranger vs. Capital game Saturday night so who knows......this small city is very nice to hang out in and the moorings are not too crowded.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We made it! St Augustine, FL

It was a loooong 125 mile jog on the outside.  The forecasted NW winds that were suppose to come in on Thursday arrived at 1 in the morning..........OK, 1:00 am is actually Thursday but in some definitions it is Wednesday night!

1 in the morning, the jib backwinds and we are 40 miles from St Augustine......great!

Nati is now 100% salt and we are going to hit the sack now!

One big dredge in St Augustine Inlet

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On the road....I mean water again!

It has been a month tied to the dock but it is time to get moving ...........there is a 3 year old along with an 18 month old to harass and spoil!

So north we head...up the Indian River on the ICW for some motor/sailing.  Since we hope to have a some SW wind for the next day and night we have decided to go outside at the Cape Canaveral Canal and make a run towards St. Augustine.  If the winds behave we should be pulling in tomorrow morning before the noon slack tide.  It will feel good to finally get back into the ocean.

Some of "old Florida"

Going east on the canal
This morning we go through the lock, under two bridges and into the Atlantic.....the night was very pleasant.  Had the gantries of Cape Canaveral watching us all night!

A room with a view!

One last project.....our new LED anchor light!

While up there I figured it would be a good time for a few shots of the basin and of our new 500 watts of power.

The Basin is a great place to ride out weather.  You can see that it is very small and compact.  Our dock space was great also......always a view!

Another view of Nati

The "Basin"

Toward Eau Gallie Boatworks

Looking west

Last hooray at Eau Gallie Yacht Basin

YUMMMMMM!  Oye-stas!

Harry went out and picked up a box of these guys for a little feast and it sure was good!  I also was able to get a little practice at shucking again.  Those shells sure can be a wrestling match.  The good news was that I didn't stab myself....

Harry, Alan and the crew!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We are almost ready to move along!!

Yep, still in Melbourne but things are moving along well.

We now have 500 watts of solar power on board.  It is on our new bimini and this is just a preview of the update we'll do once all in wrapped up.

The above picture shows only half of what we have on the "roof"!!

Just pulled into the marina after a night of "meatloaf surprise" at Jean & Tom's home.  One never knows what Jean will put into her meatloaf.......also had a chance to see NJ beat up Philly in the hockey playoffs.

All in all another very productive day in the nice warm south!!