Yet Even More Odd Socks

And on the third day in Savannah they rested.  Both of us are kind of worn out today, so we declared quarantine and holed up to read.  Well, except for my 4 mile ride to pick up Chinese take out (she loves me, she really, really loves me).  So not a lot to report but a couple of “cool boat” items.

This morning we woke late to find the Savannah fire department practicing docking maneuvers with their new fireboat “Courageous“.  Courageous has 1,410 hp in diesel power driving two jet pumps and can hit 42.5 mph.  It can also pump 7,300 gallons per minute to fight flames.

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The amiable crew was interested in Endeavor and the Loop.  I offered a ride on our boat in exchange for one on theirs but did not close the deal.  Something about civilians being dangerous around water cannons…

The second item is primarily about a yacht, but more about what the yacht is sitting on.  Huntress, the yacht on the left, got lifted out of the water today for a new bottom paint job.  She is a 180 foot, 822 ton charter yacht. Scrape together $275,000 and you too can rent her for a week. Click the link to see interior photos.

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The interesting part for me was the syncrolift dock.  Those blue objects on the dock are massive winches to raise and lower the center platform section of the dock.  Dockhands lower the platform into the water, down below the lowest point of the boat, and then back the boat above the platform.  Divers then position railway stands to hold the ship upright when the platform is lifted.  Once the boat is lifted, it is rolled back onto solid ground on railway tracks.  The lift in this yard can lift 1150 tons and boats 200 feet long.

I’m guessing their yard bill will come to $1,000 to $2,000… per minute.

The Birds

Negotiate to use courtesy car from the marina.  Plan stops needed to pick up needed provisions.  Race around finding said provisions.  Do Laundry.  Take Showers. Fill water tanks. Get fuel.

Those are things a cruiser does.

What a cruiser lives for is docktails.

And a good story.

Today’s good story centered on three birds.

The first bird caught out attention while calmly floating by on a small island of marsh grass.  The tide was flowing north and the critter seemed content to let the world pass by from the helm of its small boat.

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The second bird kept Peg amused by stealing french fries off the railing at Tubby’s Tank House, the cafe where we ate lunch with Tom and Tracy.  The local birds have become brazen in grabbing any morsel of food left unattended.

The third bird was the best of all.  There are 5 looper boats at the marina dock and we agreed to have docktails in the dock gazebo at 5:30.  In addition to Endeavor and Bucket List, we were joined by the crews of Panacea, Katy Corrine, and The Perch.

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The last boat, The Perch, is so named because Margo, an Umbrella Cockatoo, accompanies owner Michael on his journeys.

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The temperature was a bit cool for her, so she crawled under Michael’s shirt to stay warm.  She slowly worked he way up to his neck.

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Meeting this delightful bird was a highlight of the day.  She was a rescue bird and is about 35 years old.  I believe Michael said she has been with him 15 years.  It was fun to interact with her and learn how social these birds can be.

Just like Loopers.

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Sensations

Motoring through the Georgia marshlands. Honda outboard droning along contentedly.  Hellgate behind us… a total non-event.  Riding a 2 mph tidal boost up the Vernon river.  Reading “11/22/63”, by Stephen King, on my iPhone.

The outboard drone starts sounding… wrong.  Sort of an odd beating rhythm like when two motors are at slightly different rpm’s.  The sensation gets stronger.  Glance at the sky and realize the rotors of 3 Blackhawk helicopters are creating a funky quartet with the Honda.

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Later, start getting an evil vibe off the autopilot.  The electro-mechanical marvel will keep Endeavor on a true course in the worst conditions, come wind or cross-current.

But step away from the cockpit for ONE SECOND, and the damn thing goes straight at the nearest channel marker like a guided missile.  The saving grace is she is a SLOW missile.

Maybe there is an evil vortex around those poles and it awakens when we look away.

Maybe I shouldn’t read Stephen King while piloting.

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Later, a sensation of pure goodness hits me when I see these guys cavorting.  Sure going to miss their daily visits.  Not bored of seeing them and probably never will be.

Later, mid-day sensation of slow motion juggling while slipping Endeavor backwards into a tight spot along the inside of the face dock.  Worth the risk of sinking our boat and 3 others to get on the inside away from wakes on the river?

Yep. Tomorrow it’s going to blow and waves will be rocking everyone on the outside of the dock while we sleep soundly.

Thunderbolt Marina, in Thunderbolt, Georgia, is not so much a marina as an extra dock in a large marine service yard.  The yard works on some serious vessels.

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The Marina dock offers two options: outside, with wakes and waves, and inside, more or less calm.  A stiff current flows through parallel to the dock.

The 1+ mph current was flowing from left to right in the picture below.  Lined up forward and to port of the other sailboat, then gently slowed the engine so she would drift backward with the current.  Small bursts left and right with the outboard coaxed her to starboard and next to the dock.

Kind of like parallel parking, backwards, down a hill, on ice.

Okay, so it took two tries, and the judges scored us only 6.7, but we got ‘er done.

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Another view of the tight spot.  By backing in the exit is made easier.

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Note the height of the tide: later the river will be far up the poles where the wood changes color.  The dock floats up and down with the tide.

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Later, Birthday Girl wished to go shop at a Goodwill, so we biked about 8 miles, round-trip, to make it so.

There, she made the fastest in-shop-exit cycle ever: about 37 seconds.  Turns out it was a Goodwill “outlet”; the place they sell stuff which won’t sell in their regular stores. And, you know, even the Admiral has standards…

Later yet, celebrated my lovely bride’s 29th birthday at Jalapenos Mexican Grill.  She got the sensation of eating from a live volcano…

…putting on a colorful sombrero and having Happy Birthday sung to her by the staff  Then downing her complimentary shot of tequila and wedge of lime.

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Her meal was named MolcaJete, which refers to the type of stone bowl.  The steak, chicken and shrimp contents are eaten fajita style.  A Coronarita finished off her selection.

I tried their BBQ Fajitas, a sinfully rich combination of chicken fajitas slathered in BBQ sauce. A Pina Colada added more sweetness.

More calories than we consumed the whole time in the Bahamas?  Maybe, but how often does the Admiral turn 29?

At least once more, as always.

Bugs, Yes. Gators, No.

The perfect setting: a sun-drenched mud bank along a remote creek in the marsh lands of coastal Georgia.  Just the recipe for sighting a dozing alligator.  We haven’t seen one since the Tenn-Tom waterway and reports from other cruisers got us kinda excited.

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Darn, No gators.  But we did find BUGS!  For the first time since starting up the east coast we’ve got swarms of minuscule No-See-Um vampires around the boat.  Oh well, the honeymoon couldn’t last.

Marsh lands are wild and beautiful, but the lack of solid ground makes it difficult to get off the boat and wander. This is some truly remote boating.  My dear first mate is going a bit stir crazy, wanting to be able to hike and ride her bike.

With mutiny imminent, the crew of Endeavor decided to do more miles per day in these backwoods sections and spend a bit more time ashore in towns.  Thus, we did a 47 mile day today to set us up for a casual 21 mile hop into Savannah, Georgia tomorrow. We’ll spend a few days there and then scoot to Beaufort, South Carolina for another stop, before heading to Charleston to meet Nikki and Nate.  We stopped at 47 miles because a canal coming up, named “Hellgate”, is so shallow even Endeavor might bump bottom at low tide.  We’ll transit it tomorrow morning at high tide with 8 more feet of water .

We’ve temporarily outpaced Bucket List, but will meet up with them again up the river.  Endeavor, with its shallow draft, can often keep moving safely during low tide.  Even so, the margins are not huge: pulling into this anchorage at low tide we had 1.3 feet between our rudders and the mud bottom.

Bucket List, with its 4′ 4″ keel is more likely to run aground if it strays from the narrow channel.  Tom and Tracy wisely decided to travel only during the rising-tide cycle.  Better to be safe than speedy.

Queen Bess Creek (1 of 1)

The Hours

Divide the 3,870 miles we’ve gone so far by an average 6.5 miles per hour, and I’ve spent about 595 hours at the helm.  To stay sane, I listen to audiobooks, read the manual for our chart plotter, bother Peg, listen to podcasts, tidy up the cockpit, listen to music, tidy up the deck gear, bother Peg, and listen to Coast Guard alerts.

Occasionally I watch out for other boats.

The long hours of introspection are some times broken up by conversation.  Not all human. Today stared with this charming dawn chat with a volunteer mast lookout. (With Audio)

Later on,  I listened as Bucket List negotiated an overtaking maneuver with the cruise ship Independence.

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Once done, I couldn’t help but ask the cruise ship captain a couple of questions.  I found out his ship drafts 8.5’ and he must time the tides carefully. The section we were approaching has spots  4 feet deep at low tide, so he needed to make use of most of the 7 foot increase high tide brings or risk running aground.

Later it was cell phone conversations with airline pilot friend Kyle, on his way to Baltimore, and wood milling friend Brian, on his way to frustration putting the finish on a stunning table for a wood show.

But mostly, it was another day of contemplating the beauty of creation as scenic vistas slowly slid by.

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South River (1 of 4)

Maybe I’m Amazed

Funny how the stars line up sometimes.  Last Friday our two kids became first-time homeowners… 2,000 miles apart and on the same day.

Chris bought a home in Big Lake, Minnesota, about 72 miles from our home in Hudson, Wisconsin.  He has big plans for a new project workshop.

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Daughter Nikki and husband Nate bought their first home in San Francisco, one of our favorite cities to visit.  For the last several years they have been in a 600 square foot apartment as they built their successful app business.

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This is great!  Both kids say they have space for us to come visit.  We’ll be there as soon as we get back from the Loop, although I don’t know if the RV brakes will hold on their steep-ass hill in San Fran.

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We don’t have any amazing news or improbable coincidences, but are having a great time winding our way through the twisty Georgia waterways.  Tonight we are at Jekyll Island and tomorrow will taking the route below about 31 miles north.  We will pass two ocean inlets and go through a high-tide/low-tide cycle.

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Endeavor and Bucket list departed Cumberland Island at dawn today to catch a ride on the incoming tide.  The boost lasted much of the way, then we slowed to about 3 mph for the last 2.5 miles when we battled the outgoing current near Jekyll Point.

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The water was flat in the still morning air.  We were treated to a brilliant sunrise…

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…Forrest Gump plying his trade…

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…a flock of cormorants competing with Forrest…

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…a pod of dolphins acting like submarines…

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…and a group of submarines acting invisible.

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The nuclear submarine base across from Cumberland Island.  Mariners are given plenty of notice the river will be cleared if a sub is transiting to or from the base. No such luck today!

Actually, a nuclear sub would make an interesting cruising boat.  Can go long distances quickly. Can operate in rough seas. Looks totally Badass.  And don’t get me started on torpedoes.

A downside, I suppose, would be the risk of washing Peg off the deck with the wrong push of a button.  Hmmm…

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The Impermanence of Things

Impermanence, one of the doctrines of Buddhism, maintains temporal things, material or mental, are objects in a continuous change, subject to decline and destruction.

Like wires controlling the tilt feature on our outboard motor.

The Japanese factory worker who applied the nylon strain relief on our motor helped the decline along a little.  He or she put a zip tie in a bad location, eventually causing the engine vibration to break the conductors on two wires where they enter the tilt-control relay.

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No conductor, no motor going up or down on demand.

Impermanence also came to mind while touring Cumberland Island today. The island has been inhabited for the past 4,000 years or so, with each era of people eventually moving on.

The most spectacular era was when the wealthy Carnegie family owned about 90% of the island and built winter retreats.  The ruins of one of their many island mansions, Dungeness, stand on the southern end of the island.  Burned in 1959, the ruins offer a  snapshot of an age.

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The island has a pastoral beauty, largely due to the lovely Spanish moss covered live-oak trees and palmetto plants. Although impermanent themselves, I imagine some were around during the golden age.

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We are anchored on the inland side of the island.  On the ocean side is an impressive beach, changing a little with each tide.

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Between the two are dunes shifting with each wind.

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And running around those dunes are bands of feral ponies.  Did not get to see the ponies but did see their, um, artifacts.  The ponies were originally owned by Lucy Carnegie, owner of those ruins, and were set free on the island as a bequest when she died.  They are now residents of the national park.

Cumberland Island (4 of 12)

Bucket List has again caught up to us and we are plotting our strategy for moving northward through Georgia.  The ICW in Georgia, with many intersecting rivers, is known for having an impermanent channel with shallow spots and an endlessly winding path.  Endeavor doesn’t worry about the depth, but with a 4′ 4″ keel, Tom and Tracy are considering running outside up the coastline to avoid the risk of running aground inland.

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Back to the outboard motor: I guess owning impermanet things means you have to continually try to make them at least semi-permanent.  Thus: maintenance.

As a solution, Peg suggested we play doctor.

A few minutes later I discovered she didn’t mean what I thought she meant.  Damn.

She meant I should get out one of our scalpels and carve out the rubber sealant around the wires enough to allow soldering.

I like my first assumption better.

Well, after some careful carving, enough copper was exposed and the wires soldered.  Not a permanent solution, but hopefully good enough to get us home.

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Georgia On My …

It was a helluva a fine day at sea.

Endeavor is officially in Georgia.  We made a swift 35 mile run from our anchorage south of Jacksonville, Florida to Cumberland Island, Georgia.  Both wind and tide conspired to shoot us along northward.  We peaked a little under 10 mph and averaged 6.5 mph.

The routing of the ICW changed from long, straight, man-made canals to an ever-twisting slalom through the landscape.  I got a workout continually trimming sails to match the new heading.

Atlantic Blvd to Cumberland Island

The traffic we passed changed dramatically as well.  Since joining the ICW at Fort Pierce we have shared the waterway mostly with pleasure craft.  Today this changed abruptly and all sorts of steel crossed our path.  The procession started when the St. Johns river came into view.

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In addition to the freight haulers, we passed the people haulers American Star and Independence of the American Cruise Lines.  These boats sell 14 night cruises up and down the eastern seaboard on the ICW.  About $7,000 for a 14-night trip.

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We are also back in military territory, with jet fighters flying overhead.

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One section, Amelia River, seemed to be the Bermuda Triangle of the ICW.  Within one mile we saw the following hulks.  Sad.

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We will be crossing a large number of rivers on the way up the coast, many host ocean-going ships, so we have to be alert.  The rivers are also greatly affected by tidal flow, so we have to time our passage carefully.  A good plan determines whether we slog up the current at a crawl or take a sleigh ride like today.

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Forever, Florida

Florida, like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going and going and going.  53 days, exactly 1/4 of our trip so far, has been spent along the Florida coastline.  We’ve seen most of the 2,170 miles of coastline, only skipping Miami-Fort Pierce due to our Bahamas detour.

Yesterday we left the St. Augustine Public Marina and motored a few miles north to the Camachee Cove Marina.  Immediately after leaving the marina we hailed the Bridge of Lions for an opening. One of the prettier bascule bridges we’ve passed through.

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Camachee Cove Marina  is densely packed and maneuvering was much tighter than the previous marina.  We managed to spin Endeavor in the narrow fairway and back into the slip.

Altlantic Blvd Bridge (5 of 12)

Moving to the marina put us in a cozy spot to meet up with Tracy and Tom, who arrived early afternoon aboard Bucket List.  Peg took the opportunity to do laundry while I cleaned gunk out of the air conditioner cooling water strainer.  Now we don’t smell so ripe and the A/C doesn’t overheat.  Both good things.

The marina is home to a number of DHS, Sheriff and rescue boats, including this 1200 horsepower monster belonging to the border patrol.  I doubt much can outrun this thing.

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Tom and Tracy hosted us for dinner on their boat, serving beef tips, mashed potatoes and vegetables hit the spot.  This time they were alert (the last time we met they had crossed from the Bahamas and were nearly comatose) and we spent a wonderful evening catching up and playing cards.  We also got a full tour of their new-to-them Catalina 320 Mk II sailboat.  Beautiful boat and an upgrade from Grasshopper III.

This morning Endeavor continued north, taking advantage of an easterly wind to stretch our fuel budget.  This section of the ICW was again narrow with some interesting sights, like this spiral staircase on a boat dock…

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… and the Hamburglar lurking at another.

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The shoreline continues to be marshy lowlands, with occasional forested areas along the way.

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In one section, with forest on the west and homes on the east, we noticed someone had hung swinging metal targets on a tree across from their house.  Definitely the ticket for some cross-channel plinking… hopefully in between boats.

Only a few more days to Georgia!

Altlantic Blvd Bridge (11 of 12)

Touristaville

We’re in our second of three days at St. Augustine, Florida, perhaps better known as Touristaville.  You name it, if it will attract tourists it is found here.  There is some real history here, buried under the veneer of kitschy souvenir shops, pirate boat rides, haunted mansion tours, artisan shops, hop-on-hop-off tour trolleys and so on.

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Pretty much any souvenir you desire can be found somewhere along these pedestrian-only streets.

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Not to say there aren’t some useful shops to be found. With all the energy spent shopping, nutrition is important.  To the rescue come some shops with wickedly nutritive items:

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I mean , it counts as a daily allowance of fruit… right?

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Under kitsch and calories, however, is some serious history. Saint Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied, European-established settlement within the borders of the contiguous United States (Wikipedia). Originally established by the Spanish in 1565, it changed hands to the British, then back to the Spanish, and then finally to the United States in 1821.

The fort, Castillo De San Marcos, is made of a stone called coquina (Spanish for “small shells”), made of ancient shells bonded together to form a type of stone similar to limestone (Wikipedia).  The cool part, from an engineering view, was the material absorbed cannon shells without shattering, sort of like modern day bullet proof vests.  This feature allowed the fort to withstand long sieges by the British until help arrived.

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Several structures from the early city still exist and lend a Spanish flair to the area.

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A striking example of later architecture is Flagler College, which started life as the Ponce De Leon Hotel, built by the railroad tycoon Henry Flagler.  Interestingly, it was also built incorporating, you guessed it, coquina.  This would be useful when the Hilton down the street started lobbing artillery shells their way.

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An example of modern day architecture has us scratching our heads.  From across the busy street we tried to guess what this riverboat-themed building is.  A hotel?  A gift shop?

Nope, a car wash.  Drive in one end and out the other.  Not a clue why.

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The Department of Homeland Security provided some low-key entertainment this morning.  The poor newbie at the controls of this patrol boat was apparently demonstrating boat handling proficiency by repeatedly entering and leaving the slip next to ours.  Not difficult, but try it with your superior officer breathing down your neck.

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We don’t have such pressure when docking… only a peanut gallery of all the other boaters mentally judging our performance… no pressure at all!