Frosty Jumps Ship

After an exciting month on Sea Major, Frosty has decided to move on.  He has posted a “crew available” add in the lounge at the Vero Beach Municipal Marina and is plugged into the outlet right outside the laundry room to entice the other boaters!

He did however make one final appearance last night to welcome our Rhode Island sailing friends, Joe and Anne, to Vero Beach.  They made it in right after sunset and rafted up to Sea Major.  Since the mooring field is so crowded, a lot of the balls have two boats on them.  So Little Wing is tied to our boat with three dock lines and a bunch of fenders have been placed between the two boats for protection. 

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Over the past few days, Mitchell and I have quickly learned why Vero Beach is referred to as “Velcro Beach” by other boaters.  The mooring field and docks are located in a harbor that is very well protected from strong wind and waves.  Day and night, the boats move back and forth with the breeze and only have to deal with the waves made by other dinghies that drive by.  Also, our mooring ball is extremely close to the dinghy dock (which is extremely close to the showers, lounge and laundry room).  So close in fact, that I have already taken the dinghy in on three separate occasions all by myself (without running into any bridges)! 

While here, we have been enjoying walks around town every day before beginning work on the boat.  The beach is less than a mile away and the (free) bus will take you to the grocery, hardware store, West Marine, mall, etc.  Therefore we plan on staying for a while longer having decided to put the final touches on the boat here instead of further south.  The most recent addition to the boat is our “new” SSB radio that Mitchell has spent the past two days installing.  It will allow us to communicate with other boats, land based facilities and emergency personal.  We will also use it to send short emails while on the water, get weather information, and listen to BBC/VOA/NPR and cruiser nets (which provide local information to cruisers about the area they are visiting).

Here is a picture of what Sea Major looks like when Mitchell is in the middle of a project.

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While in Vero Beach, we have also made some new friends.  Their names are Drena and JR and they are on the sailboat Journey.  They are our age and have a cat named Leo who looks a lot like Muna.  While swapping stories with them the other night, we learned that Drena was a Kindergarten teacher, JR was an engineer and, like us, they also left jobs to go sailing for a couple of years.  If you want to visit their blog the address is: http://sailingjourney.net/.  We look forward to sharing a lot more memories with them as Journey and Sea Major work their way south!

A Sailor’s Christmas

Expecting the worst, Mitchell and I were pleasantly surprised with how lovely a day today turned out to be!  Not being able to fly back to spend Christmas with our families and a 50% chance of rain in the forecast, both of us were a little worried about how the day would turn out.  In the end, we found that all our worries were for nothing.  The weather was absolutely beautiful and we got to share a meal with a wonderful community of boaters.

The morning was spent cooking a ham and brownies for the Christmas potluck.  After carefully loading them into the dinghy, we made way for land and placed our contributions on the washers/dryers with the other food.  Once our plates were loaded up, we headed over to the picnic tables and shared Christmas lunch with about 50 other sailors at the marina.

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking off our lunch on the beach and enjoying girly drinks near the pool. Once back on Sea Major, Frosty made a final appearance.  He was complimented by the surrounding sailboats and even photographed by a few couples driving by in their dinghy!

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To top off the day, we received the following message and picture from our cat!

Merry Christmas Mommy and Daddy.  I’m making myself perfectly at home, beating up Cousin Aunt Janny Jan’s cats, and making sure I’m comfortable at all times.  I’m being well taken care of so don’t worry about me. Have fun, Merry Christmas, I love you.
Muna

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HoHoHo

Today Santa Mitch graciously drove the boat, through the rain and fog, so that I could stay down below and read my birthday gift book.

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Doing over 7 knots the whole day with the north wind on our stern, we pulled into Vero Beach by late afternoon and picked up a $15 mooring (what a deal).  Within an hour we were showered, signed up for the Christmas Day potluck and ready to head into town.

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Back on the boat, after an overpriced lunch, Mitchell outdid himself once again by finding a local Christmas radio station, getting our Christmas tree lights back up and running and making homemade cinnamon rolls (with leftover birthday cake icing to dip them in).

We are going to spend the remainder of the night watching Christmas movies on the computer while the boat “sails” back and forth on its mooring ball.  We miss all of you and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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Bon Natalie Turns 23!!! (by Mitchell)

There is an old saying back in Columbus that goes something like, “it is all downhill after 24.”  Well, by my reckoning Natalie must have turned 23 yesterday since today doesn’t look so bleak.  It was a birthday to remember and I remember it like it was only yesterday…

We had tied the boat up to a free municipal dock in New Smyrna, FL (no map) while I replaced the boat batteries with new and improved golf cart batteries.  Of course the new batteries didn’t fit in the same space as the old batteries and a major renovation of our boats interior was required.  After 2 days of lifting, pulling, pushing, and dropping the new batteries, we finally got them installed and were able to cast off the dock lines on Dec. 21.

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I am sure the old men in the over-55 high rise were sorry to see Bon Nat sail away but telle est la vie vieillard.  Apparently Katers Schmidt had arranged with BirthdayDolphinDelivery.com to have birthday dolphins greet us on our passage south and we were not disappointed.  We saw no less than 15 dolphins and two manatees (which I looked and found is the platinum package $$$).  They thought of everything and even sent out some birthday beer which the dolphins must have drank since one of them had the six-pack rings still around its tail.  You really can’t trust dolphins but it was very thoughtful.

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We had a short but lovely day coming down the ICW and arrived in Titusville, FL (Google it) to take care of urgent boat stuff like filling the diesel and water tanks.  Coming into the marina we saw Little Wing (our friend’s boat from RI) and decided to stay on a mooring for the evening.  Well guys, let me say that if you want to see your wife’s eyes light up on her birthday and really feel love, just tell her that she can get a hot (all the water she wants) birthday shower!    

We showered and were ready for a fancy dinner and a night out on the town!  We walked down the main street and right away I knew we were in the right place.  There was a Burger King and a KFC practically right across from one another.  But Natalie’s carnivorous habits were not going to be satisfied with a mere quarter pounder with cheese in paradise, and we wound up at Chops Lounge where she had the filet mignon and I had the Delmonico.  After dinner we retired to the Sea Major to bake a birthday cake and watch a movie but after her super exciting birthday extravaganza Bon Nat was tuckered out and ready for bed so we left the cake making for this evening.     

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Bad Moon Arising Over New Smyrna Beach

With St. Augustine growing smaller and smaller over the stern rail yesterday, we made way for Daytona Beach- the home of NASCAR.   After 4 circles around the race track, Sea Major was disqualified for going too slow and forced to anchor near the bridge.  

This morning, we got to sleep in while waiting for the rush hour restrictions to be lifted from the bascule bridge that we needed go through.  By noon we had made it to New Smyrna, FL (map) – shark bite capital of the world and one hour away from Uncle Perry’s business.  We tied up to a lovely public dock for the fee of zero dollars.  There is no electric or tied in plumbing but we don’t have to deal with The Sea Minor for transportation; we just step onto the mainland without a hassle.  The dock is even located at the edge of a pretty little park that has 3 fishing piers and one other free dock. 

Over the past couple of months, many people who look at our blog cannot understand the lack of fresh fish caught by Mitchell.  Well, around 6:00 p.m., my darling husband Mitch, hit the lowest fishing point in his entire life as the moon rose in the distance. 

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 A young man of 8 years by the name of Kay, which means water, was fishing near The Major.  Fishing next to him, Mitchell witnessed this young man pull in two nice redfish, while to no avail, he again got the big skunk. 

Mitch’s Uncle Perry has again joined us for the evening.  He reminded me of the great exploits of my husband from the Russian River to Pymatuning and beyond.  I am ready to call in a Fisherman Whisper to help my husband with his problem.  As we move down the coast, we need to be able to enjoy the harvest of the Atlantic Ocean.  Until this time, I guess it will be our favorite of Velveeta Shells and Cheese.

Watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean…

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…while the cars sped by on New Smyrna Beach! 

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Tomorrow we are headed into town to run some errands with Perry’s car! 

 

St. Augustine

The past three days in St. Augustine, FL have been a whirlwind.

I started off Friday by driving the dinghy all by myself for the first time!  Since Mitchell didn’t feel like getting a shower, I was forced to drive from our mooring ball to the marina dock alone.  Luckily, I survived and only ran into the bridge once!!

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Later that evening, we got to have dinner with our sailing friends, Joe and Anne, from Rhode Island after FINALLY catching up to them.   They had left about a month before us to work their way south and are also headed to the Caribbean.  We look forward to running into them many more times along the way!

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Then on Saturday, Mitchell’s Uncle Perry and Aunt Gayle came for a visit.  We spent the day working our way from one restaurant to the next; sharing appetizers and girly drinks at each one.  The remainder of the night was spent in the cockpit eating cheese and crackers while the mason jar candles swung back and forth with the boat.  After tucking Perry and Gayle into bed in the vee berth, we were lolled to sleep with 6 inches of rain.  [Having not showered the day before, Mitchell was able to use the dinghy as a bath tub this morning before he pumped out the water.]

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It was wonderful getting to spend time catching up with Perry and Gayle.   We hope they can be suckered into visiting us once again in a different country along our journey.

Once the rain finally let up this morning, we headed into town for brunch and a trolley tour of the city.   Being the oldest town in the United States (founded in 1565), St. Augustine is something that you don’t see every day.  It reminded us more of the towns we have seen in Europe than anything that you see in the U.S.  The Spanish and British influence on the architecture and layout of the town is truly remarkable.

Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church

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The Bridge of Lions

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Casa Monica Hotel – built in 1888

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If you are ever in the area, St. Augustine is definitely worth a stop. 

Guess Who…

made another appearance for Mitchell’s birthday yesterday?  

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Turns out – Frosty has a twin on the ICW in Florida!  

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Frosty was a big hit and got his picture taken by over 20 people standing on the shore of the ICW or on the Freedom sunset cruise that pulled into St. Augustine (map) at the same time as us!

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To end the evening we had dinner at A1A Ale Works and brownies back on the boat!  

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Happy Birthday Mitchell 🙂  I sure am glad that you were born!  

 

13 Down, 1 To Go

13 Down – Maine; New Hampshire (the water only, we didn’t touch land); Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; North Carolina; South Carolina; Georgia

We have finally made it to Florida and are currently anchored off of Amelia Dunlap Island!  The wind is howling, the water is a bit too wavy and we are huddled below deck wearing sweaters and winter hats wondering when we will reach warm weather again?!

The past day was spent on Jekyll Island, GA (map).  Our sailing friend (Joe) from the Rhode Island marina recommended it as a stop.  He had stopped there while sailing south a while back and ended up staying for 2 years.  After biking (almost) the whole island over the past 2 days, Mitchell and I now understand why!

The middle of the island is home to over 30 mansion-sized cottages that were build in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The majority of them are open to the public and are now used as museums or shops.  In the middle of the island lies the Jekyll Island Club Hotel which was beautifully lit up for Christmas.

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After exploring some of the island by bike yesterday afternoon, we decided venture out again after dinner for a Christmas light bike ride.  The moon lit up the bike path (that wound through huge live oak trees that were covered with Spanish moss) enough so that we didn’t even need to turn on our head lamps.  As we rode, I couldn’t help but feel we were in some enchanted forest right out of Avatar.

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Before heading out this morning, we borrowed the marina bikes again and went for another 3 hour bike ride.  This time we explored the south side of the island, riding through maritime forest trails and onto the beach.

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Now We Know

Really written on Monday, December 9th 🙂

The majority of the day yesterday was spent motoring down the ICW in the fog.  Even though it was foggy, we could still see 3-5 miles away; therefore we continued forward, making it from Savannah to just past Sapelo Sound (map).

On our way to the anchorage spot, Mitchell decided to run us aground.  The charts said that there was 7 feet of water at low tide (we were 2 feet above low tide so should have seen 9 feet) where we were motoring, but that turned out not to be true.  Our depth sounder read 3.9 ft (which we found out a couple of days ago is what it reads when the keel begins to drag) right before our boat slowly came to a stop.  Since this happened on a falling tide, the water was only going to get lower.  (If it had happened during a rising tide, we could have just waited a little while for the water to rise and then been on our merry way.)

Knowing that, Mitchell grabbed our spare anchor and rode (anchor rope) and prepared to launch a kedge anchor.  When using this method, you have to use the dinghy to take the anchor/rode away from the stern of your boat; drop it in the water and then use it to pull your boat off the ground.  (Doesn’t sound like much fun, huh?)  While Mitchell prepared this, I ran below and got the number for SeaTow in hopes that they could tow us off the ground if the kedge anchor didn’t work.  (SeaTow is like AAA for boats.)

By some stroke of luck, the next thing we knew, our depth sounder was reading 9 feet and the boat wasn’t stuck anymore.  We made a u-turn and headed back out to deeper waters to anchor for the night.  [This whole incident happened in less than 2 minutes…just enough time to realize that it would have sucked big time waiting eight hours for the tide to rise to get unstuck.]

This morning we woke up to even more fog!!  But this time it was much more dense; allowing us not even 500 ft of visibility.  Therefore we are just killing time until the fog lifts and we can be on our way.

Our view this morning…

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The same exact view once the fog started to lift..

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Christmas Cards

Since we don’t currently have an address, some of our family and friends have sent virtual Christmas cards!  To view them, click on the “Christmas Cards” link at the top of this page.