Friends and Family in Long Island Sound

We woke up to gloomy skies over New York City, which seems to be our normal weather condition any time we are going north or south on the East River. However, it still doesn’t get old driving our home past the familiar skyline.

We arrived at the Norwalk Yacht Club and hopped on their free launch with our scooters, headed towards John and Joans where they had graciously agreed to lend us their car for various errands around town including refilling the propane tanks and picking up groceries. We spend a lovely couple of days hanging out with at Norwalk, enjoying the fireflies from their porch while we hung out. I tried to capture a video (firefiles are cool!) and failed terribly.

From Norwalk, we headed Northeast towards the Thimble Islands. We were a bit nervous as Southwestern winds were predicted and our last visit to the Thimbles was extremely rocky and rolly. However, after we dropped anchor and set up for work, the rest of the day and into the evening there was no wind, and it was picture perfect. Later in the afternoon, a catamaran dropped anchor just behind us, and captured some amazing shots of Highwind in the sunset while we were working on the roof preparing for the solar replacement project.

After a brief shouted conversation to exchange contact info, David started a texting conversation and we discovered they were heading to Sag Harbor – near where we later planned to meet up with Steve, a colleague of mine.

The Thimbles were beautiful in the morning as we pulled anchor, but we ran into some fog once we got out of the Mystic River back into the Sound. Our next destination was a return to Mystic, where we stayed again at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Entry to the museum comes included with our moorage and though we both had busy work schedules, we were both able to (separately) visit the museum – there being more exhibits and buildings open this time around without Covid closures. In the evening, we scootered to an Escape Room which was great fun. They were very impressed that we escaped with only two people!

For Friday, we decided to head towards Sag Harbor, and set anchor surrounded by several mega-yachts, with about 15 more moored in the harbor marina. We remained in contact with the folks on the Catamaran and they invited us aboard for drinks. We dropped the dingy and headed their way for a fun conversation before heading into town for dinner. They have been living aboard for about 8 months and have a fun YouTube channel if you want to check out their adventures. In town we had a little bit of culture shock…as Steve told me – “Welcome to the Hamptons!”. However, we ate some delicious Mexican food before heading back to the boat.

On Saturday morning, we headed towards an anchorage off Robin’s Island, where Steve, his wife Lauren, and some friends would join us to raft up. Yay, our first raft in new-Highwind! The weather was amazing, and we had a blast swimming with floaties, grilling lunch, swimming to the sandbar, and hanging out.

The weather was predicting a lightning storm, and most people in Robin’s Island were day-trippers. Not wanting to be the tallest thing around, we managed to find a spot for the night in Greenport. Unfortunately sometime during the day, David injured his back, so he stayed on the boat to rest while I headed into town to meet up with the group one last time for some delicious oysters.

Yesterday, in the morning (after there was absolutely no lightning, rain or storm of any kind), David’s back was still not feeling better, so we headed towards Port Jefferson, and made plans to get off the boat quickly (staying on a mooring at Port Jefferson Yacht Club, instead of anchoring) so we could head to the ER. After several hours, an encounter with a lady trying to detox, some painkillers and muscle relaxers, there was only mild improvement, so we hobbled back to the boat to hope that a couple of days rest will do the trick. Unfortunately today hasn’t been much better, but we’ve seen a couple of very pretty sunsets from this spot. Depending upon how things go for David, we have a few different options for seeking healthcare, but the current plan is for him to stay in bed for another day and hope for some improvement. The town here is very cute, so we will have to return next year, when David is (hopefully) more mobile!

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on Friends and Family in Long Island Sound

Fun 4th On the Chesapeake

In Solomans, we met up with Mark, Robin, Jan and Jim for a lovely dinner, which of course we forgot to photograph. We did however see a beautiful sunset on the way to the restaurant.

Sunset at Solomans – a similar view to last year!

Looking at all of our options for fireworks on the Chesapeake during the 4th of July weekend, we decided our best option would be to head to St Michael’s for their Saturday evening display. Though we had planned to anchor just outside the town, on our cruise, we were able to grab a spot at one of the marinas in town due to a last minute cancellation. While in town, we headed towards the Maritime Museum where we walked around a recovered lighthouse building. It was extremely hot out, so a quick ice-cream break was required.

We stopped at a couple of wine tasting rooms on the way home, but unfortunately were extremely disappointed and ended up returning to the boat empty-handed. Back on the boat, a very brief rainstorm rolled in, and then quickly rolled out, leaving behind an amazing double rainbow.

Rainbow at St Michaels

We had a spectacular view of the fireworks from our Juliet Balcony in the evening.

On Sunday we largely spend the day relaxing and trying to stay cool and ended up eating out in town for a lovely pizza dinner.

For the Monday holiday, we decided to head to Annapolis for a couple of days. We would be able to visit the town together, and then on Tuesday while David and I went back to work, Mark and Robin would be able to do some further exploring. We went to the Naval Academy and the Capitol Building where we got to stand in the room where George Washington resigned. It turned out that the marina we were staying in was right by the Annapolis Yacht Club, which we had reciprocal with and we ate a lovely meal in their dining room.

After Annapolis, we headed for one night to Rock Hall. There wasn’t much there, but as we were walking back from dinner, we did see fireflies up close – I’d never actually seen them before!

We’d been keeping an eye on the progress of the storm Elsa and knew that it would be blowing past us on Thursday evening. We decided to find shelter in a protected anchorage on the Sassafrass River. Unfortunately we knew from last year that this spot had no internet, so we spent the day anchored just up river where we did have connection, and then moved after work and battened down ready for the storm to hit us. As it turned out, we only had a little rain and not unusual amounts of wind. Mark and Robin survived the night!

On Friday morning we headed to Chesapeake City where we met up again with Jan and Jim for one last meal and said our goodbyes.

Sunset at Chesapeake City after a big family dinner

At O-Dark-Thirty (aka 5:30am), David and I awoke and set out on our long run down the Delaware.

On our previous two times on this stretch, we had done this in two legs – the Delaware River as one and the New Jersey Coast as the other. With an excellent forecast predicted, and the much larger fuel capacity of the new Highwind, we thought that we might be able to make it all the way to Sandy Hook in one shot. The weather was perfect and the conditions were about as good as you could hope. We got a great current push through the C+D canal, and through 2/3s of the Delaware River, setting us up to leave the eastern exit to Cape May around 10:20am and make the long run up the Jersey coast.

As we were nearing Sandy Hook, we started looking at diesel prices, and Atlantic Highlands, our usual reliably-cheap diesel, turned out to be more expensive than most other marinas. We found that it was only a little bit further to make it all the way to the New York Harbor and get cheaper diesel right there, where we could anchor just off the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island. We decided to change our destination, and after 13 hours of cruising we dropped anchor in a spot with an amazing view of the south of Manhattan, with plenty of sunlight remaining.

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on Fun 4th On the Chesapeake

Waiting in Deltaville

Deltaville may be boring as hell, but the sunsets on the coast sure are nice.

Monday rolled around and the boat yard managed to find a local turbo shop that would turn around the turbo in ~7 business days, and an injector company that would to the injectors in ~10. The rebuild of the injectors was less than 1/4 of the price of new, so it made sense to just do it all. As expected, we found the port engine’s injectors to be almost as dead, but fortunately the turbo was just fine. So everything was sent off, and we sat on our hands.

With the dates for the rebuilds pretty solid, David’s parents had been itching to come out and visit for a while, so we told them the whole situation, and they decided to book a flight for July 1st, to stay in the area for two weeks, and they could spend a bunch of it with us, and a bunch with other relatives, however it worked out. But we took those plane flights to the boat yard and used that as leverage — “you gave those dates, David’s parents are coming, we need to be out of here by the 1st.”

The weather at this time of year in Virginia is quite hot and muggy. Luckily, we were now in the water, so able to turn on the AC to find relief. However, we started rationing fresh water again, because the water at the ship yard was NOT terribly potable, so we were back to taking showers in the brackish water in the ship yard’s facilities. I also made arrangements with a mobile pump out service to empty our black-water tanks since there were no pump out facilities at the ship yard. Despite repeated appointments, they never actually showed up, so by the second week, we were also using the facilities on land for that too as our holding tanks both bumped over 80% full!

I decided to pull out the pole, but unfortunately it was so humid out that I spent the entire time slipping down the pole. As facebook is reminding us, around this time last year we were already north of Long Island Sound, heading towards Maine, where we spent at least a month in the fog before summer truly began. We’re experiencing the weather a little differently as we’re stuck in Virginia and the weeks tick by.

At least the sunsets here are exceptional. We decided to take some of this time in the evening to do the work to finally break in the dingy engine, so we did a couple of sunset runs for 30 mins to put some variable speeds on the boat. One night we were joined by Alex, our friend who is working on his sailboat a stones throw from where we are moored. He took the shot above of Highwind from the bow of his boat!

Since we had two more weekends of waiting for repairs, we decided to make some plans, so we organized to spend a weekend with Jan and Jim, David’s Aunt and Uncle. We’d seen them on our way north and south, but since it was still Covid-times, we only met with them briefly. This time, Jan drove out to pick us up and we hung out with them for the weekend – it was great fun to spend some quality time together. On Saturday evening we went to an outdoor dueling piano show with a picnic. We had a good time hanging out, but unfortunately the show ran into technical difficulties and had to be cancelled before it began! We ended up getting tickets to the show at its normal location for the following evening, which was very fun.

For the second weekend, we decided to rent a car and head to Washington DC. It had been many years since either of us had been there and we hoped that by now things would be more open for visiting. As it turned out, many museums and attractions were either still closed or required advanced time-specific tickets that we did not plan far enough in advance. On Saturday morning, we managed to get tickets for a hop on-hop off tour that visited the major sites, which was actually quite good.

In the afternoon, I convinced David to visit some of DC’s amazing street art, since we couldn’t get into any of the Smithsonian or other museums. We rented scooters and made our way to the DC Alley Museum on Blagden Alley, where there was a collection all together!

Since we like to collect stars, we had made a reservation at the Rooster and Owl for dinner and enjoyed a lovely meal! We dressed up for the first time in forever!! (And I regretted my shoe choice for the 1 mile walk back to the hotel).

Amazingly, all of the parts arrived at the shipyard on schedule and the rebuild of the engines could begin. We were all set up to leave by Thursday afternoon. As we set off, an unpredicted thunderstorm seemed to roll in over the north Chesapeake with 180 degree visible lightening in front of us. The wind picked up and soon we were being tossed around in random 6 ft chop.

Random un-forecasted black cloud thunderstorm coming out of nowhere — it looked way more ominous than this picture does justice

We hadn’t done a great job of tying everything down, due to the frantic nature of leaving, and the predicted very calm conditions. Everything that wasn’t tied down got tossed everywhere. One of the Kayaks broke loose a mount from the deck and we almost lost it, managing to tie it down on top of the dinghy for now. The TV was apparently poorly secured to the wall panel by the previous owners and hit the floor, breaking it.

Starboard engine temperature dropping rapidly, causing it to dump more fuel and run at higher load

With the conditions having completely deteriorated, David noticed the starboard engine temperature starting to drop. It looked like potentially a sensor issue, but we slowed down off plane, and he went down to the engine bay to check for coolant or some other obvious failure. While he found no coolant or oil, he did find a large unexpected supply of seawater in there, and it appeared to be coming from the shaft seal area.

All of these things together led us to make the decision to turn around and head back to Deltaville so the boat yard could fix it. It was just after 5pm, but we managed to get hold of someone at Regatta Point and reserved a spot we could pull into (which turned out to be in a complete downpour for the 5 mins while I was tying the lines).

In the morning, the technicians were back on the boat bright and early. The theory was that the new shaft seals were still breaking in for the first hour of our trip, but we wanted to try to find any other issues that might be causing water, as well as duplicate the temperature issue to diagnose it with an IR camera. We went to fire up and sea trial and found that the starboard engine wouldn’t even try to start. Some diagnosing found that the boatyard had neglected to tighten down the bolts to either engine start battery after installing secondary bilge pumps (a small side project David had them do), and in the 6 ft seas the previous day, they’d shaken loose and could no longer start the motors.

They fixed that issue, and we went out for a quick sea trial, at which point we found that there was some water leaking in from a few rotten hoses in the aft lazarette area, but nothing else was coming from the shaft seals anymore. Also the engine still didn’t get up to temp, verified with a camera. So they called a bunch of stores in the area and managed to find one with an actual factory thermostat in stock, and swapped it out to find the expected defective one — stuck wide open! We swapped out the rotten lines and went out for one last sea trial. This time, everything seemed fine — no unexpected water in the bilges, no leaking, and the engine got up to temp. David had the day off work, so we managed to still head up to Solomons and make it there by evening, finally escaping Deltaville, and meeting up with David’s parents as they flew in.

We had a completely uneventful trip up to Solomons in perfect conditions

Total time in Deltaville: 7 weeks.

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on Waiting in Deltaville

Deltaville & Seattle

After spending a great weekend in Norfolk, we started thinking about our plans for heading north and the Chesapeake. Our shaft seal on the port side had started leaking again, so we knew that we needed to get hauled out sometime soon. We started calling around and managed to find a boat yard in Deltaville, VA that had an opening to be able to haul the boat with a couple of days notice and fix the seals and do some other work.

We stayed for a few extra days in an anchorage just north of Norfolk that we had been in before, so we knew it had good holding and was sheltered. We then headed straight towards Deltaville to get hauled. We decided to take advantage of our vaccinated status, and the time the boat would spend on the hard, to visit Seattle for a week. We would be able to organize our storage unit, which had been packed for us while we were here on the East Coast, and also see family and friends in person!

In a random coincidence, someone who had been chatting with David about purchasing one of the electronics that we have replaced turned out to also have his boat on the hard at the same marina! We made arrangements to meet him after we were pulled out of the water. He invited us to a drink that evening with some other boat-yard liveaboards and we enjoyed good company and a beautiful sunset on the dock.

Sunset over Deltaville

After a bit of a panic where our pre-arranged driver didn’t show up on time (and there are no ubers out here!), we did make it safely to the airport and were greeted in Seattle with beautiful blue skies and mountains.

Over the course of three weekends, we spent many hours going through all of our possessions (that are not on the boat), sorting out what to send to the boat, what to give away, what to donate and what to throw away. We gave away tons of our stuff to friends and family, so at least lots went to a good home. We went from a completely packed-to-the-gills 10×20 unit, to a not-even-filled 5×5 closet. It was emotionally draining letting go of so many things, but we believe that we will be on the boat for hopefully the next several years, or more, and it just didn’t make sense to hold on to all that stuff and have it hidden away. We pared everything down to the stuff we may need when we visit Seattle and family heirlooms/childhood memories.

In the gallery below, the first image is what greeted us when we opened the door of the unit – floor to ceiling all the way to the back of the unit! The second shows the actual size of that unit after we had kept only what was going to the boat and what was to be saved. All our remaining possessions after we shipped the boxes to the boat fit into a small van!

We ended up staying an extra week due to the boatyard delaying work on Highwind, and it was so lovely to be able to catch up with family and friends. My brother even flew up from California for a quick visit! I was also able to get to two magical classes at Divine.

Last weekend, we returned back to Virginia, and are now living on the boat while it is in the yard. They got virtually nothing done on the boat while we were gone, despite me calling every other day to check on status, so basically they straight-up lied to us about having availability for us. So now we just get to yell at them every single day until we can get out of here. It’s looking like we’ll be here for one more full week, but ideally start heading north again for next weekend, the 12th.

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on Deltaville & Seattle

Coinjock & Norfolk

You know you are in Norfolk when you see two aircraft carriers docked next to each other.

In favor of pressing northwards, and avoiding the bug situation in the Pungo and Alligator Rivers, we decided to do a long push all the way from RE Mayo to Coinjock, totally bypassing Belhaven. (Yes, we continue to avoid the Dismal Swamp). Coinjock Marina is famous for their prime rib, which you have to reserve in advance. They have a large outdoor dining area, where we enjoyed a lovely dinner when we passed through heading south. Unfortunately, the outdoor dining area was closed, so we ended up ordering our food to go and ate a lovely meal on the boat. We were a hair over a week past our second vaccine, and didn’t realize that the safety period was actually 1 week, not 2.

We stayed only one night here, as everyone does, and headed up to Norfolk the next morning. After you go through a wide expanse of nothingness north of Coinjock, you go through a tiny 1-foot-height-change lock to drop into the Chesapeake water system, and then enter the massive Norfolk naval complex.

This area is all relatively slow due to no wake zones through most of the Norfolk area. Some heavy winds were expected, so we decided to book a night in a marina, rather than anchor. We stayed just across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk, since the marinas were 40% cheaper. In the evening, we visited a nice local brewery and had our first indoor meal since pre-COVID in a little tapas speakeasy place in Portsmouth. We celebrated a little hard and the next morning was kinda rough.

The weather was turning more sour for a few days, so we decided to extend our stay in the marina so that we could explore Norfolk proper for the weekend. A great ferry service allowed us to easily cross the river to get to town, which we used several times. Our first time being on a boat not owned/piloted by us in a while!

At this point we were fully vaccinated, so we were able to enjoy several meals inside and also went to a museum for the first time in over a year and a half. We visited the Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin. Quite a lot of the battleship was open to the public, so we were able to walk around both the exterior and the interior.

We really enjoyed exploring the city and were very glad that we decided to extend our stay. We look forward to doing more exploration and finally going into museums again!

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on Coinjock & Norfolk

Quite a Lot of Places

Highwind at RE Mayo Seafood

The theme of the past two weeks has been the realities of both being quite busy with our jobs and therefore not having much time for living “the boat life”. However, I’m going to start off this post with a picture that I didn’t share in the last post when we were at Butler Island. I managed to convince David to make a gap in his meeting schedule so that we could enjoy a Happy Hour drink at actual Happy Hour, before the sun went down, on our Juliet Balcony. How lovely!

G&Ts on the balcony at Butler Island

We cruised up the Waccamaw stopping in another familiar anchorage for one night. Anticipating some high winds (harhar) over the next few days, but still wanting to make progress, we planned to do several marina hops for save overnights. This is a section that in the past we had blasted through on some long cruising days during the Covid shutdowns where it made no sense to stay in marinas and/or they weren’t accepting transient visitors.

Our first stop was in Myrtle Beach. We did a short scooter ride for some amazing wood fired pizza and along the way saw an advertisement for Dolly Parton’s circus pirate extravaganza show. Sadly we were only partially vaccinated, but I’ve told David that it is a MUST for next year. :). I was also able to get in a quick pole session after work.

We did a quick stop at Ocean Isle Marina next, but didn’t leave the boat for the evening.

One night stay at Ocean Isle Marina

Our next stop was the St James Marina in Southport, for an uneventful though windy night. At this point we were nearing our second shot appointment and after much coordination (see previous post) we decided that Wrightsville Beach was the place. On our cruise to the anchorage, the starboard engine started throwing a warning and was having trouble when we tried to change speed. It was a Sunday, so I started leaving voicemails for every boat mechanic/service/repair place in the Wrightsville Beach area. On the Monday morning, we woke up early, dingyed with the scooters to get our second vaccine shots, and returned to the boat. I started to get calls back from folks and amazingly there was someone in the area able to service Yanmar engines who would be available to help us out the next day! Yay! But also a little worrying since that would still be within our potential second shot recovery period. Luckily I didn’t suffer too much overnight, though David did have a tough time. In the morning, we woke up, pulled anchor and headed to a nearby marina where the mechanic had found us space where he could come aboard and check things out.

Unfortunately, he had issues with the software on his laptop that prevented him from being able to update the engine software, but we did determine what new parts would need to be ordered.

Since the slip we were in was due to be occupied later that day, we had to leave and had back to re-anchor for the night and await news for when new parts could be delivered and they could fix their software issues.

A day later, the parts had arrived and we found a slip at a different marina that had availability for an overnight stay. The mechanic came aboard, updated the software on both engines, installed the new parts on the starboard motor and in theory we were all set. By the time that he had finished, it was a bit late for a trial run, and we were blocked in from both sides in the marina. We decided we’d wake up early the next day and do a quick sea trial (with the mechanic on board) to confirm the fix. If we were good to go, we’d continue on our way north.

Luckily the next day we did a trial and everything seemed good, so we continued onwards!

Delicious and HUGE oysters at a steakhouse somewhere along the way!

On our way south, we had stopped at a small town called Swansboro, and were charmed by it’s feel, despite everything being closed due to Covid and the fact that we’d arrived at sunset and left early the next morning. We resolved to spend longer on the next time through, so we had made a 2 night reservation there. As we pulled into the dock on Saturday afternoon, there were a ton of day-boaters hanging out who helped us with our lines and welcomed us to the town. Southern friendliness at its best! We headed to a spot just by the marina for a local beer and cider and where treated to some live music from a band playing just below us!

This week, David had quarterly planning meetings making his schedule hard to plan around, so we’ve been doing lots of short hops early in the morning and parking for long days of meetings (for the both of us!). After Swansboro we stopped at Beaufort where we revisited the rooftop bar and Oriental where we previously stayed and then today we arrived at RE Mayo Seafood.

So far we are a couple of weeks behind our trip last year (so my Facebook memories tell me), and we’re enjoying seeing a few more towns along the way now that things are more open. We are so looking forward to next week when we will consider ourselves fully vaccinated!

Posted on Categories Trip Log1 Comment on Quite a Lot of Places

All of Georgia and Charleston

Someone sent us a photo of Highwind underway!

After buying all the available O-rings within a 10 mile radius from our marina (only slightly joking), David was able to find one that fit, and with much effort was able to get everything back together! With the oil leak fixed, we were finally ready to head out of St. Augustine. Our last stop in Florida was Fernandina. Despite this being quite a popular spot for loopers, we have yet to actually see the town. We dropped anchor and since it was both a weekday and we didn’t even slightly trust our repairs, we didn’t leave the boat!

However, I did enjoy a lovely sunset from the cockpit and a quiet evening with my kindle.

Since David had Friday off, and the weather was good, we decided to run outside the ICW for a stretch. We wanted to do do some anchoring, and also get to Charleston, and unfortunately most of Georgia waters in the ICW fall into a no-anchoring zone (silly laws that were intended to reduce the number of derelict boats on anchor but make it impossible for boaters like us to stay one night anywhere). The weather and conditions were about as good as you could hope for, and while I discovered that working in David’s office with only a very high window while underway makes me a bit queasy there were no other incidents.

Next up, we made a reservation at Isle of Hope Marina, the marina just south of Savannah. Since we spent several days in Savannah, moored right in the historical district, on our way South we decided we didn’t care too much about visiting the city this time around. At this point, we are only partially vaccinated and in the downtown area the restaurants were crowded, with limited options for outdoor dining – most on the street right by passers by. We pulled in to the marina right behind another looper boat and had a good conversation with the couple aboard. I blew her mind by running off to pick up my grocery delivery that I had placed while we were underway!

More sunsets! From our anchorage outside of Charleston

Next up, we were headed to Charleston where we had made a reservation for the latter half of the week. Unfortunately the marina could not accommodate us to arrive early, but we decided to take advantage of the weekend weather and do another hop outside the ICW. These two hops outside the ICW meant we basically blew past Georgia in a weekend :). There are plenty of anchorages around Charleston, so we planned to hang out on anchor for a couple of days until we could fit in the marina.

While underway, our high water alarm on the port side kept going off. Since we purchased the boat, there had always been a fair amount of water in the port engine bay, so we knew we had an issue somewhere that we’d eventually need to debug. I went downstairs to run the bilge and this time took a look in the engine bay. To my great dismay, I saw a LOT of water spewing in from the spot where the propeller shaft goes through the hull to the propellor outside the hull. David went downstairs to take a look while I took the helm and he confirmed that we definitely had an issue with our prop shaft seal. Luckily our bilge pump was easily able to keep up with the water and David had spotted that we did have a spare seal around the shaft.

We were about 8 miles offshore and all of the nearby inlets were pretty sketchy, so we had to make a call on what to do — risk an inlet or keep going to Charleston. After checking with some more experienced boaters on the risks of running on a dying shaft seal, we decided to maintain our plan to reach Charleston, and try to replace the seal when we arrived. If needed, we’d be in a populated area to arrange for further intervention if required.

After we dropped anchor, David prepared to make the swap. This was a little risky, being after 5pm, and afloat, but he felt that he had it in hand after watching a youtube video on the process. The swap went smoothly and after a quick test of running the prop forwards and reverse while still on anchor, it looked like there was no further leaking! Huzzah!

Everything seemed to hold for our quick run to the marina where we set up shop for the rest of the week. We both had extremely busy meeting days through the rest of the week and basically didn’t emerge from the boat until Friday evening when we headed into town on our scooters for dinner.

On Saturday we did a scooter ride around town, had a delicious brunch, hit a distillery for a tasting (oops, purchased some vodka and gin) and then settled in to a brewery to play some cards. It was a lovely day!

This game is Hanabi, where you don’t get to look at the cards in your hand. People who have played this game before will understand David’s pain at my current hand.

Though we tried to extend our stay for another couple of days, unfortunately the marina was already booked, so we headed out as we originally planned on Sunday to a familiar anchorage, Butler Island, just at the southern end of the Waccamaw River.

Sunset selfie at Butler

The last couple of weeks have been marked by a lot of very busy working days, a focus on progressing northward, much coordination around vaccinations (I’ll tell that story in the next post!) and ongoing boat projects/fixing issues; hence the decided lack of photos in this post! We’ve mostly completed the large projects at this point, so I’m very much looking forward to getting back to “normal” as much as is possible when you live on a a boat!

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on All of Georgia and Charleston

Leaving Cocoa, New Smyrna Beach and St. Augustine

On the … road? again

We finally wrapped up most of our projects, and got to see a launch (ish), so we decided it was a good time to set out northwards for our second attempt at the loop.

We had everything stowed away and were ready to set out for New Smyrna, where I hoped to actually get some time at the beach! There was a bit of wind as we were heading out of the dock, and as I untied the last line and hopped aboard, I saw that the other side of our swim platform was currently destroying the piling behind us. I quickly sprinted over to push us off. However, I neglected to fully pull the stern line aboard, and unfortunately as we were backing out of the slip, it fell into the water and promptly got entangled around our prop. Luckily David felt the vibration, right around the time I said something along the lines of “oh no, it’s really bad” and he stopped applying throttle to that propeller. Unfortunately, we discovered that a catamaran does not go straight when it only has one prop working. Nor does it turn in that direction. After a panicked 15 mins of drifting around the marina, we finally managed to get ourselves tied up to the outside of the breakwater near the entrance of the marina. After calling and leaving messages with about 10 divers in the area, we finally got a call back from someone who was available to free the prop later that day. He arrived, suited up, and in about 5 minutes had freed the line. This is totally my fault, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson about line handling in the new boat!

Though delayed, we were able to leave later that afternoon and headed towards New Smyrna. We have decided that we can never return to Cocoa Village Marina, what with all the delays getting there, the constant stream of packages “filling up” (except not really) their mail room, and then the leaving disaster, we think that they must hate us!

We arrived at New Smyrna right before sunset, and since this was our first night on anchor with the new setup, we decided we didn’t want to leave the boat. We also looked at the weather and the next day was set to be pretty strong winds, so we decided to see if we could arrive at our next stop, Palm Coast, a day early, rather than stay in New Smyrna. So, no beach for Hannah :(.

Since our plans changed and we now had a Sunday to spend at Palm Coast, I did a little bit of hunting and discovered a local waterfront winery not too far from the marina. It turned out to be an 8.5 mile distance, but we decided to give the Scooters a true run for their range. (If they died on the way home, it wouldn’t be that far to walk or grab an uber). We decided to limit our speed and loaded up the chargers in the hopes that we could plug in at the winery. It was a lovely ride along the water front. Unfortunately the winery didn’t have any outdoor outlets, and wouldn’t let us charge inside (despite it being empty!), so we put them into “limited” mode, which sets the max speed to ~9mph, and puttered our way back. We knew there was a brewery near the marina and since our return trip took so long, we decided to stop for dinner (both down to 1 bar of battery!).

The next morning, we woke up to a louder-than-usual humming noise coming from upstairs, which turned out to be the air conditioning compressor for the master bedroom stuck on and coming close to freezing itself (down to 39 degrees), so chalk another thing up on the broken list. I’m getting pretty sure that we’re going to replace everything on this boat before we get much further north, at this rate.

After a work day at Palm Coast, we headed out for a morning cruise to St Augustine, which is our boat’s official “home” port. (We have registered this boat in Florida and had to choose a city). This is our third time here, and we know we like the town, so we planned to stay through the weekend, so we could further visit. The first time we were here, it was the first day of the Covid lockdowns, and the second time we stayed only for weekdays and didn’t get to do anything.

We found a craft-distillery a block away from our Marina that’s open for late-night cocktails and has a cute patio and live music, so we were able to go out for drinks one night. After the sun sets, it gets a little colder here, and we’ve both become Floridian snowflakes, pulling out our puffy jackets and hats when it’s in the high fifties! On Friday night, we re-visited a favourite restaurant (Preserved) and had a lovely dinner in their garden (with a heater pointed at my chair!).

For the weekend, we booked a walking tour of the city, which was very informative. We returned to the boat and David wanted to do work on a few projects (of course!) that were still remaining. The alternator on our port engine had not been working, so he tried to do a replacement. We had a lot of trouble trying to take apart the old one, to transplant the pulley to the new one, so David jury-rigged the new one up on a single belt for now, in case we were able to leave in time. Unfortunately, after putting the new alternator on, it still wasn’t working, which devolved into an hour of debugging the engine wiring harness to eventually find and repair the true problem.

After all that fun, he also looked further into the source of an oil leak that we have on that engine as well. The one hour of project turned into several hours as the oil leak turned out to be worse than expected, and we realized that Sunday would be easter with potentially even fewer shops open than normal for finding everything we’d need to continue with the projects. Since we’d intended to leave on Sunday and now were sitting with an unusable engine on Saturday night, we called the marina and extended our stay one more night.

The next day, we went on a scooter around town to Home Depot and West Marine, and bought basically every o-ring kit we could find for the oil leak issue and a big impact driver for the alternator project. I made David stop at BBQ for lunch on the way back, which then required rolling us the rest of the way home.

Returning back to the boat, David was able to immediately get the alternator pulley swapped out using his new toy! However, none of the o-rings helped with the leaking issue, unfortunately. The leak was pretty bad at this point, so we didn’t trust going anywhere without losing a ton of oil, so we’re not going anywhere until we can get this fixed. David placed several overnight orders for other parts, and we resolved to call the nearest Yanmar dealership on Monday morning.

On the bright side of things, we’ve been selling older parts one by one that we’ve been replacing with our new projects. Living on a boat, it’s been an adventure getting some of the larger items to the post office. The scooters have been taking it like a champ, though. And the yoga studio (skylounge) is finally emptying out, bit by bit.

Someone in Chile apparently wants to upgrade to a Raymarine E120 AND pay international shipping!

This morning (Monday), we extended our stay in the marina again, and David was able to scooter to the Yanmar dealer, who amazingly had the part in-stock. Unfortunately, the o-ring doesn’t even slightly fit in the groove, so David ended up taking apart the entire area of the engine to get better access, and in doing so sheared the head off of a valve-bolt. So, we aren’t going anywhere right now. We made the cutoff for ordering next day parts by 2 minutes, and with luck, tomorrow afternoon we’ll get the new valve bolt and fix that problem. Later on, David thinks maybe with the better access he made another o ring fit properly, and maybe the oil leak will be fixed, but we can’t run the engine until we get the new fitting, so we won’t know until tomorrow…

In the mean time, we are trying to enjoy our extra few unplanned days in St Augustine, and we hope to be on the move again on Wednesday!

Posted on Categories Trip LogLeave a comment on Leaving Cocoa, New Smyrna Beach and St. Augustine

Finally, a Launch!

About a year ago, we posted a story about our first attempt to watch a rocket launch (Titusville and New Smyrna: Poor Social Distancing and Rockets). This involved taking the boat out from the Titusville marina, anchoring, waiting, and hearing “Abort” right after 0 was reached. Unfortunately, we left Titusville to head north the next day, so we did not end up seeing that mission when it actually launched a few days later.

We may not have mentioned this, but we had another near miss as we were working our way south late last year. As we were getting closer to Titusville, we were keeping an eye on the whether or not there would be a launch. Unfortunately, when we were still over 50 miles away, we discovered that there was indeed one scheduled, but we would be unable to get south to see it since it was on a Friday night. We were bummed since we just missed it by a day as we’d be heading to Titusville on Saturday! Since we didn’t have any specific plans on Saturday, we had a lazy morning and started our journey. As we were under way, about 30 miles from Titusville, we hear something on Channel 16 from the Coast Guard about a launch. A little Googling and we discovered that the Friday night launch had been aborted and the new window was around noon on Saturday!! We did actually see the streak in the sky as the rocket launched right in front of us, but we felt a bit stupid since we would have been able to see it from up close if we had realized it had been rescheduled and gotten up earlier to make it to the viewing spot in time!

Now, heading back through the Space Coast on our way north, one of the reasons we chose Cocoa Village for our extended work-project stay was in the hopes that during our time here, we would be able to see a launch up close. The opportunity presented itself when a scheduled launch coincided when a friend of mine who works for Blue Origin would be in the area for a work trip. The launch was scheduled for 9pm and she had a rental car, so we drove to a spot very near the launch site, where we could see (through binoculars) the smoke around the rocket as it was being filled/prepared for launch. We laid out a picnic blanket and tuned in to the audio coverage of the launch. We hear the countdown, but this time we hear the “Abort” call with several minutes still to spare on the countdown. Disappointment!!

The launch was rescheduled for the next day, so we made plans to do the same, since Sara was still here that day. Unfortunately, during the day, the launch was delayed again and Sara headed back home to Seattle. The launch was delayed for several more days, and then finally happened at 3:30am, which we didn’t realize, so we missed it completely.

Then, David and I got a bit neglectful of checking the page (turns out I was looking at the wrong page), and we ended up missing an 8pm launch last week!

It seemed our luck was running out as this is our last week here, before we head north again. In the mean time, David had found a twitter feed that he could subscribe to for alerts about launches. Last night at 2:30am, just as he was about to go to bed, he got a notice that there would be a launch at 4:30am. He set his alarm and we woke up in time to sit on the bow and watch! We’re about 10ish miles away from the launch site here, so we didn’t have an up close view, but it was still pretty incredible, and a few minutes after the launch, we could hear the rumble. Since it was night, it was very peaceful, and the sound seemed to fill the bay. What a beautiful experience!!

Posted on Categories Planning1 Comment on Finally, a Launch!

Projecting in Cocoa Village

Highwind at Cocoa Village Marina

We moved across the ICW to the new Ft Pierce Marina (Causeway Cove) and settled in for the week of the work on the bow/anchor area. Other than working, some more unpacking, and receiving many packages, not much of note happened, other than it being the worst week of rain we’d seen in perhaps the last year…which of course made it difficult for the project (fiberglass work on the bow) to take place. We of course experienced a few days of delay, which meant that the folks at Cocoa Village Marina were getting a little annoyed at us at having filled up their mail room already, despite us not being there on our scheduled arrival date.

Hipster breakfast – according to David

The work was finally completed early Sunday afternoon and we were able to cast off and head north. We have planned to spend the next month in one place – Cocoa Village – in order to receive all the packages we need for completing the primary boat projects, and also waiting out the winter in the warmer southern weather before we attempt to Loop again.

So far, we have been at Cocoa for over a week now, and are going through the project checklist. David finished his office area with a temporary desk to which he has mounted his enormous monitor and installed new ceiling lights in the room. The new Garmin unit has been installed in the dash upstairs. I mounted our burgee poles on the bow. We have a temporary internet solution mounted (waiting for the new mast to arrive into which we’ll install the antennas). I installed some slide out drawers in the kitchen for accessing our alcohol and have completed various other internal organization projects. David replaced the blown speakers in the flybridge, installed the new radio unit, rewired all speakers to attach to the new unit and we installed a new sound cable from the TV to the radio unit so we can use the boat sound system for the TV (that was quite a difficult wire run and required most of the starboard stern corner wall and ceiling panels to be removed!!). We figured out a solution for storing the bikes. Phew!

Completed office

We also had a bit of a disastrous first dingy delivery – they were not anticipating us needing a water delivery and the nearest boat launch ramp was a mile away. It was raining and pretty windy, and one of their guys – with no jacket, or life jacket – had to drive the dingy over to the marina. He was not happy! David was on non-interruptible calls, and unfortunately he and I could not figure out how to get the boat onto mounts in the platform properly, despite me standing on the submerged platform, peering under the boat!. We tied it off to the end of the swimstep for David and I to figure out later, but as he was handing everything off to me, we noticed that the bilge pump was pumping water into the storage space under the seat…not good! After a few panicked phone calls to his Dad (family business), they decided that he needed to drive the boat back to the ramp and they would take it back to the shop for repairs. I loaned him some lines and a life-jacket and he went on his way! Over the weekend they were able to get everything fixed up and David handled a smooth delivery yesterday, so now we have a dingy!

On Saturday, after a long day of projects, we decided to head into town to the “Hofbrauhaus” (not its actual name) at the recommendation of some other Loopers. They had a large outdoor seating area and very loud club music was playing when we arrived. Shortly, a performer came out on to the stage and began playing polka music while a couple of people danced. He was actually pretty entertaining, even though the music was so loud we could barely hear each other talking and the food was amazing. We will probably go back there :).

We continue to receive a steady stream of packages and the boat is filled with tools and boxes. We hope to get quite a few projects done this weekend, so perhaps soon we’ll have a live-able space :).

Posted on Categories Trip Log4 Comments on Projecting in Cocoa Village