Savannah to Florida: November 29 - December 22, 2006

After a hectic final week in Savannah visiting with daughter Danielle and grandkids Krissy and Abigail, having dinners with lots of friends, and finishing many projects, we untied Tusen Takk II's lines at Delegal Creek Marina and headed south.  We anchored off of St. Catherine's Island where we were joined by Phyllis & Tom Davenport of Cocoon.  Chuck grilled steaks aboard TT II for the four of us, in celebration of Barb's double-nickel birthday.  The next day we both stopped at the Jekyll Harbor Marina.  There we enjoyed another evening with Tom and Phyllis, first having dinner at SeaJay's and then watching their new DVD of the Eagle's "Farewell Tour Number 1", recorded in Australia.  The next day Tom and Phyllis elected to stay for another day, in order to see the historic homes of Jekyll, but we headed to Cumberland, where we intended on dinghying in and visiting our favorite Georgia barrier island.  Alas, the weather was chilly and wet, and so we remained ensconced in our comfy vessel after anchoring.  We did see a large herd of "wild" horses on the south shore as we approached, however.   Later we had a relaxed evening, renting and watching Robert Altman's last movie:   "A Prairie Home Companion" on our DirectTV connection.  We are going to miss DirectTV when we are in the Caribbean.

Saturday (12/2) Tom and Phyllis caught up with us, and we gave them the bargain tour of Cumberland Island.  Saw lotsa wild turkeys, a number of armadillos, a few wild horses and some deer, and of course the impressive Carnegie ruins.  Split off from Cocoon the next day -- they wanted to hang in the area until Monday in order to purchase fuel at Florida Petroleum on Amelia Island, and we wanted to get on down to St. Augustine.  We anchored in the crowded anchorage north of the Bridge of Lions and were amazed to discover that the old bridge is about gone (except for the towers) and the new temporary bridge is now in place.  As Florida is now our official home state and nearby Clay County is our official home county, St. Augustine is the appropriate location for us to register our dinghy and register to vote.  So early 12/4 we dinghied in and Barb rode her bike while Chuck ran the nearly-four-mile distance to the county offices.  When we returned to the boat we discovered that the ever-increasing winds were causing some of the sailboats (with enormous amounts of scope) in the anchorage, including the vessel immediately adjacent to us, to dance over an alarmingly large area, .  After needing to start the engine and do emergency maneuvers twice (while still anchored) in order to avoid being hit by the nearest careening vessel, we pulled anchor and left St. Augustine.  Went only four miles and anchored again, since by this time we had to be thinking about suitable anchorages, and all were either very close or too far to reach that day.  

Cocoon passed us the next morning before we were even awake -- they sometimes depart as early as 5:30 AM -- and we spent all day trying to catch up.  Anchorages in this neck of the woods are few and far between, so we were happy to round a bend and find Cocoon in a spot near Smyrna Beach that without their recommendation we never would have thought to use.  Spent a peaceful night, and in a small moment of triumph, left the anchorage the next morning a few seconds before Cocoon.

A launch of the Space Shuttle was scheduled for Thursday, December 7, and so we next stopped at Titusville, where we anchored just north of the bridge and just south of the approach to the Titusville Marina.   Barb's friend Monica, who Barb has known since grade school, joined us on Wednesday for the Thursday launch.  Cocoon and Bodacious were also there, and we all bumped into one another at the local West Marine store, where Barb and I had stopped in to pick up yet another piece of equipment for our trip through the Caribbean:  a nifty 15 gpm Baja fuel filter.   The weather on Thursday was lousy, with low clouds and relatively high winds, but the Kennedy Space Center said there was a thirty percent chance of a launch by the time the ten-minute launch window arrived post nine o'clock.  The north-easterly winds were strong enough that Cocoon decided to abandon the vigil and head on down the ditch, and Bodacious decided to tuck in south of the Addison Point Bridge a little further south.   That turned out to be such a good idea that they later hailed us and suggested we do the same.   By that time the sun had nearly set, but we pulled anchor and hustled on down, catching the last possible bridge opening at Addison.  Anticipation ran high, but with only five minutes to go before lift-off, the launch was scrubbed.  We watched the auto traffic leave the Kennedy Center via the causeway for hours and hours, and decided to seize the opportunity to try night-time photography with our digital camera.   Turned out "normal" setting created hopeless squiggles due to the motion of the boat, but the "sports" setting did just fine.   (See pics below.)

The weather for Friday was so unpromising that NASA decided not to even try that night.   Saturday looked pretty iffy too, but the decision was to try again then.   Bodacious had travel commitments, and so they departed the anchorage Friday morning and headed for Stuart.   Monica decided not to gamble either, and so we took her back to her car at Titusville and with her help with transportation visited Publix where we purchased approximately ten thousand dollars worth of groceries and then cruised back down to Addison Point.

Saturday, the weather just got better and better.  We felt optimistic about the launch, and we were not disappointed.  Spectacular sight from our vantage point.   A note about the pictures.   The published pictures on the web and in the newspapers all show a streak of light arching through the sky.  No fair!  On a shifting boat, we couldn't use a tripod to take the requisite time exposures, and so our humble pictures show the way the shuttle actually looked at any given time, instead of the artsy-fartsy images you've seen elsewhere.  So there.

On 12/11 we rafted with two other vessels on a mooring ball at the Vero Beach Municipal Marina.  We tied up to the Krogen 42 Dixie IV.  There were at least two other Krogens in the mooring field as well: Cocoon and Eldridge C.  Also ran into friendly acquaintances from our time last winter in the Exumas:  Arne and Beverly. 

We left early the next morning in order to get to Stuart, where Kadey-Krogen Yacht Sales was serving as our mailing destination for stuff we had ordered on the way down.  Stuff?   Yah, stuff like stainless steel hand rails and spices for cheese balls (ordered from some women's cooperative in North Dakota, no less), an additional 110 volt continuous-duty ventilation fan for the engine room (mounted to blow hot air out on the port side, supplementing the existing fan pulling cool air in on the starboard side), and a replacement for a sick SSB modem.  Also took delivery of a spare propeller and a pair of flopper-stoppers, the latter to be used when at anchor in bays that would otherwise be too rolly.  The decision to purchase the flopper-stoppers was made at the last minute, after an extremely interesting conversation in Stuart with Dennis of Sea Fox, a 58' Krogen.   Sea Fox has traveled extensively, including the route we propose to take, and Dennis was a fountain of practical advice and encouragement, since he downplayed the dangers of piracy and/or thievery, and explained such things as how to deal with the inevitable "boat boys" that dinghy out to one's boat and offer (sometimes persistently) their services.   We will no doubt have more to say about these (and other) things once we have our own experiences.

 Bill and Staci of Tapestry were also in Stuart, and we enjoyed socializing with them.  Bill played chauffeur in their rental car one afternoon, taking us to West Marine and Home Depot for yet more essential stuff, including spare lines for towing the dinghy, a tiller extension for the dinghy, materials to facilitate securing under the stateroom bed the spare anchor, 10' of triplex wire for wiring the new engine room fan, and materials to adapt the square output vent of the blower to the 4" diameter hose that will deliver the outflowing air to the port vent on the side of the cabin.  

After several full days of laboring at projects, we completed the following tasks:  put PropSpeed on the spare propeller, emptied the space under the bed and installed brackets and cushioning so that two dive tanks could be stored upright, installed and painted a peg to secure the propeller under the bed, secured propeller on same, installed clasps on pantry/closet doors, installed a sliding bolt to keep the garbage compactor from opening in rough seas, installed the engine room outflow fan, replaced the plate on the upper deck upon which the dinghy outboard rests -- the old one was too small for the new configuration created by the new dinghy -- and installed handrails on the fashion plates.   Earlier, I had installed hooks to secure the refrigerator doors in rough weather, and we include below a picture of those since they had not been mentioned earlier, and since they fit into the topic of "how to get ready for cruising offshore".  

We also assembled and deployed the new flopper stoppers, and after several days concluded that they were just too small to be of much help, and so we packed them up and shipped them back to California.   Too bad.  (Footnote:  the company that manufactures them has gone out of business, and so the only model still in stock was a 4-vane affair measuring 18" by 19".   If they find a new manufacturer, my advice to anyone reading this would be to get the 6-vane model.)

Jack and Jo of Bodacious re-appeared in Stuart after having spent a few days at early celebration of the holidays with family, and we enjoyed getting caught up with them.  

We left Stuart on 12/21, and now find ourselves as this is written in the Lake Worth anchorage.  We are still undecided as to whether we will cross from here or go on down to Ft. Lauderdale and cross from there.  This will be decided by the weather, of course.  Stay tuned.

Continuous blower to keep batteries cool

Barb's good friend Monica visiting for Space Shuttle launch

Headlights leaving Kenneday Space Center after the Thursday launch was scrubbed

Tail lights leaving space center

Beginning of launch on Saturday

Vero Beach moorings

Barb working on website

Chuck installing handrails to help in boarding the boat

Putting PropSpeed on the new spare prop

Intake fan in engine room

Chuck trying to figure out how to install new outflow engine room cooling fan

Hole where fan needs to be installed to take hot air out of ER

It's installed!

Locks on cupboard

Lock on fridge

Peg under bed to hold spare propeller (and keep it from sliding around)

Flopper stopper that was too small