Florida Keys

Monday, May 6, 2013

Today is my birthday.  I cannot think of a better way to spend it than on the water except if my friends and family could be with me to share this day.  I had said last week that I would like to be in Marathon, FL for my birthday, and it’s going to happen.  James is planning to take me out to eat tonight, and I will be able to get a hot shower with unlimited water!  I’ve not had one of those in going on two weeks.  YAY!!!  Isn’t it amazing how when you do without, the little things become big things.  Living simple is one of the aspects I like about sailing/cruising. Not that I don’t like flush toilets, unlimited hot water, a large refrigerator where everything stays the temperature it’s supposed to be, and Internet access whenever I want it.  Doing without makes me appreciate more what I have, and I enjoy the idea of leaving a small footprint on our planet.

Crandon Park Marina

Crandon Park Marina

Saturday morning we left Crandon Marina after topping off our fuel tanks (they have the cheapest diesel in the Miami area), and sailed south to No Name Harbor, again.  The last time we were there it was quiet with only a handful of sailboats and one or two motorboats.  Not this time.  It was crowded and noisy with motorboats of all sizes and kinds along with a few more sailboats than before.  The motorboats came and went all day along with their very loud music.  The majority of the boats had multiple girls in their requisite bikinis.  James and I had decided that it was pre-Cinco de Mayo celebrating, but a fellow cruiser said it was just a typical Saturday.  There was a cool breeze which made it nice to sit in the cockpit and people/boat watch.  James also wanted to watch as other boaters anchored near us.  When they got too close, he would give his very concerned look causing more than one to change their anchoring spot.  One large cruiser became our central entertainment.  First he came in and made multiple attempts to dock at the seawall at the pump out station with his bikini clad girlfriend who didn’t have any idea what to do with the boat hook.  Finally they managed to tie up with some help.  They pumped out and then proceeded to anchor behind us.  Later in the day they decided to move and had great trouble anchoring to the extent of banging their anchor into the sailboat behind us.  The girlfriend was helpless as they guy would run up to the bow and then back to the helm.  Actually he wasn’t running which was part of the problem.  We had decided he had too much drink.  When he tried to anchor beside us, James suggested he move further up where there was more room.

No Name Harbor at sunrise

No Name Harbor at sunrise

The next morning we arose around daybreak to begin our sail down the keys with our ultimate destination –Key West.  With little difficulty we followed the “breadcrumbs” we had lain with our GPS several days ago along the Cape Florida Channel to Hawks Channel.  Once in Hawks Channel we raised the sails and sailed at a good clip of 7 knots all the way to Rodriguez Key.  It was a gorgeous sailing day…perfect temperature and wind.  Our first anchorage slipped at Rodriguez necessitating raising the anchor and trying again.  Thankfully the second time we got a good hold because the wind howled at about 15 knots all night.  James had set his usual anchor alarm and got up several times during the night to check on our holding.  We should have slept in the aft cabin in retrospect because we rolled and flopped around in the V berth like we were on a night sail.  I must say I’ve had better sleeps.

Again we arose around daybreak and were under way by 7:00 am.  It was an overcast windy day with temperatures in the high 60’s for most of the morning.  We dressed in long sleeves for the first time in a month.  I had been concerned that it might be too hot in the keys; this was totally unexpected!

Cool Sailing Day

Cool Sailing Day

Last week James had asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I had replied to be in Marathon.  My birthday wish was coming true as we motored into Marathon Marina in Boot Key about 5:00 pm.  After the usual settling into the dock and showers, we walked to 7 Mile Grill for my birthday dinner.  We had hamburgers…not fancy but appropriate.  My mother always cooked us our favorite meal for our birthdays.  Mine was always hamburgers!  We brought their famous Key Lime pie back to the boat for later.  James surprised me with a candle that he had weaseled out of the waitress.  He proceeded to light it and sing “Happy Birthday” to me.

Marathon Marina

Marathon Marina

We slept in on Tuesday morning and took it easy that morning.  Marathon Marina has the best Wi-Fi yet from any marina so we took advantage.   In the afternoon we walked to West Marine (sailors find it difficult to bypass) and then took a $5 taxi ride to Publix.  While I was putting away our groceries, another sailboat came into the slip near us.  Several of the men on the dock began helping them dock as they were having difficulty.  The Island Packet’s new owners of less than a week are Paul and Paulette, Canadians who are working in the Netherlands at the moment.  They had hired Captain Blaine, a licensed yacht captain, to assist them in sailing their new boat to West Palm Beach where it is to be shipped to Barcelona, Spain.  Captain Blaine is a character who invited to go to Pirates Karaoke at the bar and grill down the street.  It was a fun time listening to some rather good singers and others who were really bad but had a fun deprecating humorous attitude. Capt. Blaine being one of the good singers goaded us as a group into singing.  After numerous rounds of drinks, we agreed to sing “Love Shack”.  It was quite comical.  I was glad it wasn’t being recorded!

"Table 52"

“Table 52”

On the way to Marathon we came by Tennessee Reef which was a surprise.  Of course I had to Google it to find out more information.  In the late 20’s and early 30’s several non-manned lighthouses were built to mark the reefs along the Florida coast.  Tennessee Reef Light was constructed in 1933. It is the only one to still have its Fresnel lens and lights.

TN Reef Light...James' artistic photography

TN Reef Light…James’ artistic photography

TN Reef on chart

TN Reef on chart

TN Reef Light

TN Reef Light

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Waiting for Weather

Thursday, May 2, 2013 We are now at Crandon Park Marina in Miami, Fl.  Our plan was to leave for the keys yesterday from No Name Harbor which is on the southerly tip of Key Biscayne, but the weather did not cooperate.  The forecast for Wednesday was lower winds which we had been waiting for, but a low front begat storms.  Monday morning appeared to be ok for traveling, but as the day progressed the weather deteriorated.  After weathering torrential rains, we are glad we have waited.  The next good weather window looks to be Saturday or Sunday.  If we had to wait out the storms, we decided we would like to have electricity, plenty of water, and a laundry.  Crandon Park has these amenities, but unfortunately the showers are cold.  I mean literally, there is no hot water.  With unlimited water and electricity at the dock, we can shower on the boat.  Not quite the same as a hot shower on land but will have to do, and the price is right.

Our bus stop under the coconut trees

Our bus stop under the coconut trees

Today we decided we would take a city tour of Miami.  After studying the bus transit map, we walked to the entrance of the marina, crossed the road to the bus top to wait for the bus that is supposed to come every 20 minutes.  As we were crossing the road, a patrolman told us that that bus stop had been eliminated and that we would have to walk across the bridge to the next stop.  It looked to be about ½ mile so off we went.  At the next stop, there was a sign stating that that bus stop was also not on the route any longer.  Ok, we then walked another ¼ of a mile to the next stop.  By the way, all this time not a single bus has passed on either side of the road.  About 30 minutes later a bus finally rolls up that took us downtown.

Metromover

Metromover

Once downtown we caught the Metromover which is kind of cool.  First of all it is free and is a small train that moves on tires on a track without a driver.  It is computer controlled.  It reminded me of the trains that the Dauntless rode in the book Divergent.   We didn’t get on the right loop at first, so we got off and caught another one.  After getting off, we then walked about several blocks to Bayfront Park where we bought tickets for the Red Bus City Tour.  It had only taken us about 2 hours to get there!  Not a very efficient use of our time this morning.  Oh, well we certainly have time to spend at the moment.  The tour had two parts, downtown and the beach.  First we did the downtown and then came back and caught the bus for the beach tour.  The buses are double-decker so of course we sat on top for the first tour, but by the time the second one started threatening rain clouds had formed so we chose a seat inside.  As soon as the bus took off, the rains came in sheets!!! The bus leaked like a sieve.  Water dripped through the light fixtures, ran down the steps from above, and coursed down the floor.   The guide passed out plastic ponchos.  It was all very comical.  We could hardly see out the windows for the condensation and the hard rain.  Many of the streets in South Beach were flooded.  It was a much different South Beach than we had seen last week.

The Miami Tower also called the "cake layered building"    Lights up at night with changing colors for the holiday, etc.

The Miami Tower also called the “cake layered building” Lights up at night with changing colors for the holiday, etc.

Playing dominoes in Little Havana

Playing dominoes in Little Havana

South Beach restaurants

South Beach restaurants

Flooding in South Beach

Flooding in South Beach

We decided to splurge on a taxi to come back.  I am in my jammies, and James is taking his pre-bedtime nap.  Tomorrow is another day.

Coconut Grove/Sunday, April 28, 2013

We have now been to two marinas that have pump out at each slip that you do yourself.  I was impressed when I heard that at the first marina in Fort Lauderdale.  How convenient…no need to go to the pump out dock.  Now I am remembering that do it yourself is not always all that great.  At the first marina, they had misplaced the hose, so we had to wait until the next day.  When we tried to get the hose then, the office was closed early.  After a phone call, they promised we could do it at the pump out station the next morning before we left.  We ended up needing to leave earlier than they were open so we skipped emptying our holding tanks.  With two heads on our boat, we can function ok if one tank gets full.  Now we are three days later at Dinner Key Marina where once again they flout dock side pump outs.  The marina has 582 slips and only two hoses…one 25 feet long and one 15 feet.  We finally managed to secure a hose today.  One tank was overflowing, and I had the lovely pleasure of opening the valve and holding the hose while James had to be on the dock and press the button.  We pumped both holding tanks and then when we put the hose in the water to clean out, the pumping station quit necessitating a phone call to the marina office.  I’ve concluded that I would rather have them pump me out at a station…certainly more reliable.

This afternoon we walked into Coconut Grove.  I left James at the Coconut Grove Yacht Club “strange talking” with some sailors about sailing through the Keys.  After a bit of window shopping, I actually bought a dress that was on sale (the only kind of shopping I really like) that I think I might wear to a wedding later this summer.  James then met up with me, and we shared a meal and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory.   We skipped supper since we both were so full-even with sharing.  James walked the docks this evening while I colored my gray roots.  When he returned we ate popcorn and watched a movie on our computer.  Every day is not exciting.

Dinner Key Marina used to be the site of the PanAm Sea base.  I am copying James’ post on Facebook about this PanAm.

We spent the last few nights in Coconut Grove in Key Biscayne which is about 7 miles southwest of Miami.  The marina is Dinner Key, and it is huge. At one time is was the base of the PanAm clipper fleet. They needed sea planes because they serviced Cuba and South America which had no runways.  The old terminal is now used as part of Miami City Hall and one of the hangers is used for various city functions and in the filming of the TV show “Burn Notice”.

Miami City Hall

Miami City Hall

Dinner Key Marina

Dinner Key Marina

old PanAm base

old PanAm base

Ragtime at the marina

Ragtime at the marina

Dinner Key Marina and Refrigerator/Battery Problems

April 26, 2013

Yesterday afternoon we decided to go see a movie while we were on “land” for groceries.  After a quick scan of the movies at the 18 screen Regal Cinema, we decided to see “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise.  Even though I hadn’t heard of it, none of the rest sounded interesting, and Tom Cruise is always nice to look at!  It was an action packed sci-fi flick that was entertaining, and James was happy with his popcorn.

After the movie, we ate pizza at Pizza Rustica which was recommended by the Murdoch’s.  The pizza restaurant is located in the Lincoln Pedestrian Mall which was a fun place to eat.  The tables are outside so we could people watch while we ate and drank our wine served in little plastic cups.

Our last stop before returning to Ragtime was to buy the rest of the groceries we needed.  I had to do a spin through Whole Market just to look, although I did buy two loaves of their breads-Banana Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Orange Walnut.  Walking two blocks, we finished our serious shopping at Publix.  By the time we got to the dinghy, it was dark.  I was glad I remembered flashlights.  It was a peaceful ride home in the moonlight.

The weather has been wonderful the last few days…little or no humidity, low 80’s and nice breeze.  We have slept under the sheets with no fans-just the wind scoops bringing in the nightly breeze.

Anchored in Sunset Lake at sunset

Anchored in Sunset Lake at sunset

Today we left our pleasant anchorage at Sunset Lake and motored to Key Biscayne.  As I was cooking breakfast, I noticed that our refrigerator/freezer was not working.  We have a cold plate in our refrigerator box that freezes to keep everything cold.  If I put things next to the cold plate, it will freeze.  I noticed that the ice cubes were melting and the chicken that had been frozen was thawing.  And I had just restocked food last night!!!  James found someone on the Internet who works on boat refrigeration who would meet us at Dinner Key Marina.  The two guys showed up about an hour ago.  Amazing that we could find someone on a Friday at the last minute!  Fortunately there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the fridge, but we still have issues with our battery bank and charger.  The guys were really nice and knowledgeable and only charged us $75. That’s cheaper than getting Kingsport Heat and Air to make a house call.  James learned more about how it works plus they checked out the Freon which was not low.

Here is a picture of my refrigerator.  It is about 16 inches by 24 inches by 28 inches.  I have two wire shelves that helps provides two levels along with plastic baskets to organize (one for produce, one for dairy, and one for small miscellaneous items).  Using a box refrigerator can really try your patience.  I alone am in charge of it, so I know where everything is.  Our motto on the boat is “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”  The motto goes double for the fridge.  Invariably I will need one item that is in the very bottom, so everything has to come out at least on that side.  The tricky part is a spot to put things while you are digging out of the bottom.  As you can see there is little countertop space.  The majority of my counter space is the top hinged opening sections of the fridge which means when you want in the fridge, everything has to be moved to one side.  I’ve also included a picture of our ice trays.  I have two trays, and they make big cubes.  I “harvest” the ice and store in a Ziploc bag in the bottom of the fridge next to the cold plate.  It works really well.  We’ve only bought ice a couple of times.

my galley (kitchen)

my galley (kitchen)

ice trays and harvested ice

ice trays and harvested ice

ice tray

ice tray

inside fridge

inside fridge

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today James began troubleshooting our batteries and charger.  They were not operating correctly.  After a lengthy morning of checking things out and reading on the Internet, he decided we needed a new charger.  He walked the 1 ½ miles (one way) to West Marine and back while I did wash and housekeeping.  I liked my end of the chores better.  Now it seems to be working, so tomorrow we will pump out, take on water, fuel, do some “strange talking” with boaters from the neighboring yacht club about sailing to the keys, and then sail over to No Name Harbor to wait on the weather window.

It’s amazing how much “house” cleaning and clean clothes can make a boat feel good!  I’ve never appreciated clean clothes before like I do now.  I relish their smell!!!  I cooked bbq chicken, black-eyed peas, fried potatoes, and pasta salad for supper.  Our tummies are full; chores are done; broken stuff is fixed (for now)…we’re going to watch a movie.  Life is good!

Miami/April 25, 2013

We are now anchored in South Miami Beach.  What an incredible feeling that we’ve actually made it this far south.  I had doubts earlier on our trip.  And what a change of scenery and weather from the 30 something degrees, murky water, and foliage of the low country to the mid 80’s, turquoise waters, and sandy beaches with palm trees everywhere!

Entering Miami through the jetty

     Entering Miami through the jetty

For the first time on this trip, we sailed on the ocean from the Port Everglades inlet to Miami.  We left the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Marina where we had provisioned, washed clothes, made some minor repairs, cleaned the boat, and had multiple hot showers, at 7 am on Tuesday morning.  After crossing under our 20th + bascule bridge with one more to go before leaving the waters of the ICW, we began to mentally change our attitude from cruising to sailing.  The weather was perfect-no thunderstorms predicted, partly sunny and winds of 10-15 knots.  James had plotted a course on our GPS about a mile off shore.  We had no sooner got up our sails when we spotted a submarine in the distance.  Of course I immediately got the camera to take pictures.  Within a minute, we had a BOATUS boat on our beam, shouting that we were in a Naval Test Range where they were conducting surface operations.  Apparently he had been trying to hail us on 16, but we had forgotten to change the radio back from 9 where we had been talking to the bridges.  We were told we either had to change our course from less than ½ mile from shore or 3 miles from shore.  James reluctantly altered our course towards shore. The guy began shouting you need to move faster and James being obstinate said, “This is as fast as a sailboat can move.”  He replied quite forcefully, “Turn on your engine!”  We obliged.

sub

 We had a nice sail along the shore before we needed to tack out to the 3 miles to avoid some unknown obstructions on the chart.  Three miles out can make a huge difference in wind and waves.  It became extremely rolly with at least 8 foot swells!  Neither one of us became sick, but we didn’t we also didn’t have an appetite for any lunch.  We settled for ginger ale and crackers.  At around 1 pm we entered the channel for Miami.  The channel is well marked and even with all the traffic it wasn’t hard to maneuver into.  The only glitch coming in was that the easiest and most direct way into the harbor is through Government Cut, but apparently whenever a cruise ship is docked there all traffic is directed through Fisherman’s Channel.  I guess they are afraid we might be carrying a bomb.  After Boston I would imagine they are on even more high alert.  Another hour of motoring through the channels found us in a quiet little anchorage called Sunset Lake.  Last night we dinghed over to the small fixed bridge at the end of the lake, tied up to a post by the bridge, climbed up to the road, and walked over to Walgreens and Publix.

docking

We slept in this morning and had a leisurely lazy breakfast of cereal and coffee.  There was a cool breeze blowing through the boat so we decided to not get in a hurry to go anywhere.  We did a little housekeeping, checked email on our phones, and read.  About noon we closed up the boat and decided to do a little sightseeing in the dinghy.  First we rode all the way up Collins Canal looking for the dinghy dock to go to the other Publix, which we thought was the newer and nicer one.  When we found the dock, it didn’t look easy to climb up and since the neighborhood looked a little shady, James wasn’t comfortable leaving the dinghy.  We went back to the dinghy dock by the police department (seemed to be much safer) and set off on foot.  We came upon the Publix by the canal and realized it was the one we had gone to last night.  We sure were glad we didn’t climb up the dock on the canal!  We eventually found the “big” Publix.  They are very close to each other and neither is that far from our docking near Sunset Lake.  We will finish provisioning tomorrow.

motoring along Collins Canal

motoring along Collins Canal

Next we walked to the Lincoln Street Pedestrian Mall.  I had hoped there would be lots of interesting little shops but mostly it was your mall stores-Gap, Swatch, Victoria Secret, etc.  But there were many interesting restaurants.  We decided to eat at The Café at Books and Books because Bill and Adair had recommended plus I liked the theme.  It is a bookstore as well as café.  While looking at the menu outside, a nice lady encouraged us to eat there and commented that we looked like tourists.  We said, “Yes, we’re from Tennessee.”  She replied that she thought we were probably from New Zealand or somewhere!  Maybe it was James’ boat hat and our backpacks???

After lunch we caught the SOBE Local Mini Bus.  It makes a huge loop around South Beach for only 25 cents.  What a deal!  We eventually rode the entire route which gave us a good overview of the area.  Of course we had to see what all the hoopla is about South Beach, so we walked many blocks on Ocean Drive past numerous street side restaurants where they hawked their “wares” trying to get us to eat and drink the Happy Hour specials.  We were still full from lunch plus the monster drinks looked large enough to make you so drunk you wouldn’t be able to even walk home or they would be so sickening sweet that you would feel like you were drinking a gallon of Kool-Aid.  We passed.  We did make a trek to the beach to do a quick walk in the surf and collect a small baggie of sand.  Before leaving the area, we had ice cream and people watched.  We did enjoy looking at all the art deco architecture of the old hotels that are now the restaurants, clubs and bars.  An interesting note was that the Johnny Rockets advertised spiked milkshakes.  We’re not in the Bible Belt that’s for sure. J All in all yesterday, I spent a whopping total of $1.00 to buy a little trinket at one of the shops.

I don't think it was 100 but maybe in the direct sun!

I don’t think it was 100 but maybe in the direct sun!

Here is an interesting story.  When we motored into Sunset Lake where we are anchored, the first thing we noticed was this fleet of small “demasted” Pico sailing dinghies.  We thought, “Oh, how neat, they must have fleet races on this lake.”  NOT…Bill Murdoch told us that the man who lives in the house with all the little boats in his backyard, anchored them there to keep people like us from anchoring in front of his house!   Initially he had attempted to play loud rap music and shine bright spotlights toward anchored boats but got eight visits and two tickets from the local police for that approach. What strange things people do.  I counted 27 boats with their masts replaced with pvc pipe and a solar light on top.

race fleet

Tomorrow we will get some more groceries and I’ll cook some dishes ahead of time.  We will do some more trip planning and then probably move somewhere in Key Biscayne, hopefully a marina.  We need to pump out, fuel, and get water.

sunset

Life is Good

Tonight we have the perfect anchorage.  We are anchored in Peck Lake with several other sailboats.  There is a constant cool breeze blowing through the cabin with the help of our wind scoops.  We were undecided today when we left Vero Beach whether to go to a mooring ball at Stuart which is to the west of the ICW and the beginning of the trek across Florida through Lake Okeechobee or anchor at Lake Peck.  As got closer to the St. Lucie inlet, we decided we would rather skip all the low water and constant watching for markers to go to Stuart and just head south to Lake Peck.  The guidebooks’ talk about the short walk to the deserted beach won out.  We anchored with ease, snatched on the wind scoops, had drinks, and then headed to shore in the dinghy.  It was a very short walk to the beach, and we had it to ourselves.  I collected sand and a few shells…nothing unusual.  It was nice to walk in the water, listen to the waves crashing, and watch the terns or sandpipers (need to brush up on my birds) rush around looking for food while trying to avoid the water coming in.  Once we walked back to the inland side, the no-see-ums began biting.  We quickly rowed back to Ragtime, and put up our nets.  Tomorrow we continue to head south and will probably end up at Lake Worth.

IMG_7092 IMG_7095IMG_7080

My non sailing friends seem to think that being on a sailboat is like a cruise.  It is not a cruise…ask my sister-in-law.  Other non-sailors ask me what we do all day and do we get stir crazy being cooped up.  We usually have friends along with us, but this is our first long trip by ourselves, so there is little excess  of time except for the evenings.  A typical day consists of readying the boat for leaving which depends on whether we are at anchor or a marina.  If we are anchored, this means raising the anchor which can sometimes be easy peasy and other times like the morning the anchor came up wrapped in the chain…not so easy!!!  This morning we left our mooring ball and went to the fuel dock.  We need to fuel about every 3 days.  While we are there, we also pump out our head, top of our water tank and buy ice.  Once we are under way, I cook breakfast.  We eat and then there are dishes to wash.  Next on the list is to check all our guidebooks and charts to make sure we are heading the correct direction and what obstacles might there be such as particularly low water depths, inlet currents, and especially bridges.  Our boat is 57 feet tall.  Many of the bridges are 65 feet, but there are numerous bascule or swing bridges that we have to cross under which means checking their opening schedules.  Fortunately the bridges in Florida seem easier to transverse than in South Carolina.  Most of them open on request except for morning and evening work traffic.  After getting James situated with food and water information, I head down below to make the bed, tidy up and lather up with sunscreen.  I will then relieve him at the helm so he can take care of some of his tasks.  Before I know it, it is time for lunch!  The day passes quickly.  We try to anchor or dock by about 5 pm.  We eat around 7 pm and then some nights we watch a movie on the computer.  Thanks to friends and our sons, we have quite a movie library! Before going to bed, we talk about where we are going tomorrow.  Often we are in bed by 9 or at the latest 10 pm.  One of our sailor friends calls 9 pm….sailor’s midnight!  I often read to 11 or later depending upon how good the book is :-).  When the sun wakes us at 7 or 8, we slowly roll out of bed and start another day.  Life is good!

Florida…Here We Are!

April 11, 2013

The days seem to be flying by us.  We have now been on the water 17 days and will be in Daytona Beach this evening.  This is the first day in quite a while that I have had time to myself.  The guidebooks and sailors bemoan the low water in Georgia, but at least you know where those areas are unlike what we’ve experienced so far in Florida.  Leaving Ferdinanda was a nightmare.  We listened to the depth marker warning most of the trip with several bumps.  James stayed on the radio talking to other boaters-either asking for advice or giving it! I was constantly checking all our guidebooks and charts to decide where to go.  Entry into St. Augustine was a little tricky as well as leaving.  We saw two sailboats aground as we left yesterday.  This morning we left our anchorage at Fort Matanzas, and it’s been easy motoring.

Fort Matanzas...means slaughter in Spanish

Fort Matanzas…means slaughter in Spanish

oops, maybe we shouldn't have been there after hours?

oops, maybe we shouldn’t have been there after hours?

Last weekend Rob and Minta Fannon joined us for a few days on the boat while we were in Fernandina, FL.  We splurged with three days at the dock.  I washed clothes, took several showers, cleaned the boat, bought some groceries, and ate ashore for suppers.   We also had to make some adjustments to our battery system while we were here.  James plans to blog more about that at some time in the future. We did day sail in the Cumberland River on Saturday with the Fannons.  It was perfect sailing weather:  sunny, cool, and windy!  We had enough wind to stay reefed the whole afternoon.  Friday evening we had drinks with Bob and Lynn Sistco.  James knows Bob from a work project between Eastman and Rayonier (their plant is located in Fernandina).   They brought along a couple they know who are sail0rs so of course there was plenty of conversation.  The following evening we had cocktails onboard a sister J40 ship.   James was ecstatic meeting Mike and Polli Romey from Reedville, VA.  They have had their J40 for over 16 years.  It was enjoyable talking about what we like and dislike about our boats as well as touring each other’s vessels.  I picked up several tips of things I want to do on Ragtime.  Sadly Sunday rolled around too fast for Minta and Rob and us.  With a long face, we all hugged goodbye with Minta scheming as to how she can meet back with us before our trip is over!

Sunday night we anchored in the St. George River.  I think this has been my favorite anchorage so far because of Kingsley Plantation.  We anchored abeam of the plantation house and dinghed ashore.  It seemed it would be simple to just pull our dinghy up and walk to the house but once there we realized we would have to climb the seawall which was at least 8 feet tall!  James was able to get a toe hold and then hoist me up in a most unladylike fashion.  It brought back memories of me climbing on the Captain Table’s dock the day I couldn’t get back in Skip’s sailboat.  Some of you will know what I am talking about. J  The plantation house was closed but we were able to get a fairly good self-tour with the placards they have posted outside on the grounds.  Besides the plantation grounds, the most exciting thing I saw was an armadillo.  Rutting through the ground looking for insect food, he was oblivious to us.  They certainly are strange little creatures.  Kingsley Plantation was established in 1814 by Zephaniah Kingsley along with his wife and children.  Interestingly enough is the fact that his wife was purchased a slave but he married her and legitimized the children’s birth.  Law at the time forbade her from living in his house, so he built another one for her.   Kingsley owned four major plantations, 32,000 acres, and more than 200 slaves.  He was very progressive thinking regarding slavery for his time.  He eventually moved his family to Haiti in 1837.  Kingsley operated his slaves under a “task system” where slaves were assigned a specified amount of work for the day.  Once they completed their work, they were permitted to use the rest of the day as they chose.

Kingsley Plantation

Kingsley Plantation

slave quarters in the distance

slave quarters in the distance

armadillo

armadillo

We arrived in St. Augustine on Monday, the 4th and stayed on a mooring ball for two nights.  The mooring balls are $20 and allow you to tie up at the dinghy dock, free pump out, free showers and use of laundry.  It seems to be a good deal.  We had a beautiful view of the waterfront, the Castille de San Marcos, and the Bridge of Lions.  We also could see our boat often from shore…just to keep an eye on it!  We decided to do a trolley tour to get an overview of the city.  The trolley bus also took us across the bridge to the St. Augustine lighthouse.  I love lighthouses and this one was especially nice. We walked all 219 steps to the top.  I cannot imagine in the “old days” having to carry the heavy bucket of kerosene up all those steps!  Talk about being in shape!!!  We also toured the old Ponce de Leon hotel which is now Flagler College.  The hotel was built by Henry Flagler in 1882 and had over 450 rooms.  It sports Tiffany stained glass windows, oak carved doors, marble floors, and beautiful gold painted murals.  Flagler continued to expand into Florida with the building of the railroads that led down the eastern coast all the way to Key West.   Of course a visit to St. Augustine would be incomplete without touring the Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish fort build in the late 1600’s.  And for a sailor, the visit would not be complete without a visit to the Sailor’s Exchange Consignment Shop on 222 King Street.  Thanks to the Murdoch’s, we ended our stay in St. Augustine with a quick trip there.  James was looking for a back-up block for our traveler; I just love prowling in these stores.  I found a couple of small treasures for decorating.

Ponce de Leon hotel now Flager College

Ponce de Leon hotel now Flagler College

St. Augustine Lighthouse

St. Augustine Lighthouse

James trying to get full length photo of lighthouse!

James trying to get full length photo of lighthouse!

219 steps

219 steps

posing at the Castillo de San Marcos

posing at the Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Castillo de San Marcos

Bridge of Lions

Bridge of Lions

We are now anchored in Daytona just past the Memorial Bascule Bridge.  It is very windy which made anchoring a little tricky.  We seem to be holding but have no desire to dinghy in the choppy water and wind.  Plus it looks like we might have a thunderstorm.  Summer weather is approaching quickly.