The Route South

Friday, April 28, 2006

THE MORNING STAR CHRONICLES #3

Friday April 28, 2006

Hit the road in the rental car and headed back to Jacksonville Beach. We got in about 9 PM and found MORNING STAR waiting patiently at her dock. Someone had unplugged the power cord so the refrigerator was off. Fortunately it must not have been off long because the freezer was still cold. Our trick for monitoring the freezer when we are away is to place a penny on top of an ice cube in the tray. If we come back and the penny is still on top of the ice we know everything was OK. If the penny is frozen in the ice we know that the fridge was off, the ice melted and then the power came back on and refroze the ice tray. Fortunately the penny was still on top of the cube.

Saturday April 29,2006

We made a run to West Marine and Publix before giving up our rental car this morning. We got away from the dock a bit before 11AM. By early afternoon we were passing by Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach. At 3:30 PM we were crossing St. Mary’s Inlet and into Georgia. Will we need to get our passports stamped when we go ashore? We left the ICW and headed up the St. Mary’s River to the village of the same name. We anchored for about fifteen minutes but the wind was strong and the current was HUGE so we pulled out and headed elsewhere. It’s too bad because St. Mary’s has a great reputation as a stopover. Oh well, maybe in the fall. Instead we went across the Sound to Cumberland Island. The anchor was down by 6 PM with about a dozen other boats in the anchorage between Sea Camp and Greyfield. We saw several wild horses on the way into the anchorage.
44/573
The Ranger's dock at Sea Camp - Cumberland Island

Sunday April 30, 2006

Had a lazy morning. Watched fishing shows on ESPN…had breakfast. Launched the dingy and went ashore to Sea Camp at Cumberland Island National Seashore where we had a nice chat with Ranger Debbie before walking across the island to the Atlantic Ocean beach. We brought our lunch so we stopped for a picnic part way across. The island is beautiful. It is almost completely natural and will remain so since it is administered by the National Park system. The island was owned almost entirely by the Thomas Carnegie family and was deeded to the Park Service instead of selling out to developers. Thomas Carnegie was Andrew Carnegie’s rich brother so the developers didn’t have anything to offer the family that they didn’t already have and more. I’m sure that there were some pretty great tax incentives but because of their gift the island will be preserved for all of us to enjoy. There are a few private tracts remaining but they will all revert to the Park Service eventually. Imagine Hilton Head without golf courses, condos and houses.
Boardwalk to the beach - Cumberland Island
Path through the woods - Cumberland Island
Old oak tree - Cumberland Island
Wood nymph - Cumberland Island

We took the dingy down to the Dungeness dock and toured around. Dungeness was the Thomas Carnegie cottage (read “mansion”). It was built in the 1800’s. Carnegie’s widow did several interesting things there. First, when each of her children reached 21 she gave them a parcel of land (ocean to bay-maybe 3 or 4,000 acres) on the island, and if they wanted, built them a house (read “mansion”. Greyfield Inn is one of those. You may remember hearing about Greyfield …it’s where JFK, jr. was married.) She somehow structured the gifts such that the land would remain intact and as you already know it was gifted to the NPS. Second, she also willed that upon her death all her horses would be turned out wild. There were already wild horses on the island, left over from the Spanish, so her Morgans and thorobreads certainly refreshed the gene pool. The horses still roam wild, between 145 &180 strong. Dungeness was burned down (arson) in 1952 so all that remains are ruins. Kind reminded me of looking at castles in Scotland. By the way, Jane, Sharie and Annie, the herds are completely unmanaged. The only thing they NPS does is to count them every three years or so. Sounds like they could give a lesson to the BLM out west.
Ruins at Dungeness - Cumberland Island
Dungeness - Cumberland Island
Wild horses at Dungeness - Cumberland Island

About 4 PM we pulled up the anchor and moved north to the Brickhill River. On the way we passed by the Kings Bay Submarine Base (sorry, no pictures). Spooky! Saw two boats doing security patrol, one with a 50 cal. machine gun mounted on the bow. The base is right on the edge of the ICW and we could see one sub flying British colors (stopped for some gas and a sandwich?) and another, which we assume to be US. At least that was all we could see. There are multiple large “hangers” built out over the water. Who knows what goes on inside there?

We anchored for the night with one other boat off Plum Orchard Plantation, another of the Carnegie cottages (read “mansion”).
10/583

Monday May 1, 2006

Pulled the anchor up shortly after breakfast and headed north. By 11 AM we were in the washing machine that was St. Andrews Sound. By lunchtime we had passed by Jekyll Island and were crossing St. Simon’s Sound. As we entered Jekyll Sound we passed the tug, “Sara Kaitlin”, pulling a dredge, a barge and a bunch of dredge pipe, probably stretched for almost ½ mile. It takes four small pushboats (mini-tugs) to keep all this mess lined up going around a corner. We went toward the north end of St. Simon’s, left the ICW and went up the Frederica River, anchoring off Ft. Frederica by 2 PM. Dingied ashore and looked at the ruins of the fort and the archaeology site. Very interesting. The log shows “Horseflies”, an entry which will be repeated for the next week and a half.
34/617

Sara Kaitlin towing dredge gear

Fredrica River anchorage.

Tuesday May 2, 2006

Pulled the anchor up at 8:15 Am and cruised north up the Frederica River. We rejoined the ICW where we turned back south and headed to Golden Isles Marina, on St. Simon’s. We met Ron & Elaine Coker, Master Pools friends from Atlanta. They rent a condo at St. Simon’s for the month of May every year. We planned this day almost three months ago. They came by and picked us up. We went to lunch, toured the island and went back to MORNING STAR for a drink before going to dinner. A very pleasant day and a break from our normal routine.
18/635

Wednesday May 3, 2006

Today we gotta’ pay the piper! We have been lollygagging around, playing tourist since we got back to the boat in Jax Beach. Now we have to make some miles. We were away from the dock by 7 AM and pushed hard all day. Altamaha Sound, Doboy Sound, Sapelo Sound, St. Catherine Sound, Bear River, Florida Passage, the extremely shallow Hell’s Gate, and up the Burntside River. We passed Isle of Hope marina, which was full, as was the anchorage so we continued up the Skidaway River to a wide spot near the confluence of the Skidaway and Washington rivers. A twelve hour, 89 mile day and we are beat. Today stopped being fun about 4 Pm but we really needed to put the miles under the keel.
89/724

Thursday May 4, 2006

We have the anchor up and are under way by 7:15 AM. We cross the Savannah River by 8:45 AM. Welcome to South Carolina. Gotta’ get our passports stamped again. The city of Savannah is up the river and not on the ICW. Most cruisers who want to visit that city will stop at Isle of Hope or Thunderbolt and take a bus. Not in the cards for us this trip. We touched the bottom at Ramshorn Creek but only for a second. We passed Dauphuskie Island, crossed Calibouge Sound and there on the right was the candy stripped lighthouse that is the trademark of Hilton Head Island. We traveled up Port Royal Sound and entered the Beaufort River, passing by the sight of so much misery for so many Marines, Parris Island. We were docked at Beaufort (pronounced Bew-fort) City Marina by 2 PM. Walked around the town for an hour or so and were mighty disappointed. The pretty little park we remembered at the end of the town docks was being reconstructed and enlarged so we were tied up next to a construction site. The little town is becoming “tourist-fied”…there was even a small cruise ship anchored our, ferrying passengers ashore. Had a lousy dinner at “Kathleen’s”. If you ever visit Beaufort be sure to pass “Kathleens” by. Cindy described it as underwhelming. At least there aren’t a bunch of tee shirt shops…yet.
50/774

Friday May 5, 2006

Cinco de Mayo!

Underway before 7:30 AM, headed north up the ICW. Traveling up rivers with strange names - Coosaw, Ashepoo, Edisto (where we passed “Sara Kaitlin again)”, Stono and finally Wapoo Creek and into Charleston. We have reserved a slip at the Charleston City Marina. We are tied up before 5 PM along what they refer to as the “megadock”. The damn thing has to be a half-mile long and we are two boats from the end. You don’t just stroll down the dock to go ashore without some advance planning. If you forget anything it takes the better part of the day to go back! Charleston Marina has a courtesy van which will shuttle you into town so we hopped the 7 PM van and went into the City Market area for dinner. The wind was really blowing this afternoon and it continued into the evening. We had a good dinner at “The Noisy Oyster” which was recommended by our van driver. It started raining before we finished dinner and it was worth the $5 cab fare back to the marina. A good day on the water and a good end to week three.
67/841

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Part Deaux

OK. We are going to try something different. It took forever to e-mail the last installment. I think the culprit was the pictures. So here goes.

When we last talked, MORNING STAR had just arrived in Stuart for the Krogen Owners Rendezvous. What a great party Krogen put on. They had Columbia Polar fleece jackets for everybody, complete with the Krogen logo embroidered on the front. There was a dinner Friday night, semi potluck (everybody brought hors d’hourves or desert) and Krogen provided pasta. Oh yea, they also footed the bill for the open bar…no small expense. On Saturday there was complimentary coffee and bagels/Danish/muffins, followed by a couple of informative talks. After lunch, most of the owners opened their boats for a “Krogen Crawl”. This is where everybody gets to show off what they have done to make their boat special. Some really great ideas. Saturday night was a catered barbecue, live band and, of course, another open bar…all at Krogen’s expense. The party went on for hours. Sunday Am was coffee, etc. and then most of the boats started getting ready to leave. And that’s where we pick up.
Krogens all in a row

Sunday April 16, 2006

We left Stuart Cay Marina with a bang…literally. As we departed I fired a cannon salute. For those of you who don’t know about it, I received a brass cannon from the Master Pools Guild as a gift at the conclusion of my term as president. It fires 10 gauge black powder blank shotgun shells and it roars. Great fun!

At 11:25 AM we turned north on the ICW – new territory for us. At noon we were abeam Ocean Breeze Park, where Cindy’s grandparents used to winter many years ago. Boy I’d have liked to have seen Florida back then. We made it to Vero Beach by 4:05 PM and took a mooring. Actually, at Vero you are required to share so we tied up along side another trawler, the Medrick, from Maine. We were a bit hesitant about this process but our mooring-mates couldn’t have been greater. Frank and Ginny were retired teachers who spend the summers at their home in Maine and the winters in Florida or the Bahamas aboard the boat. That’s what I want to do when I grow up. Cindy asked Frank what he taught and learned that he was a college professor. When she asked what subject he taught he replied “physics”. There was a silence followed by Frank’s comment, “Ayah, that usually stops the conversation cold”! We had a great chat with them until dinner. Turns out that they were friends of former Manatee owners, who in turn sold their boat to friends of ours, Tim & Sue Poston.
40/324

Monday April 17, 2006

We took the dingy into the marina dock and took a short walk around. Their facility is great. Vero Beach could give lessons to other cities on how to run a marina. Ginny says that Vero Beach has been nicknamed Velcro Beach by many of the cruisers because they come to town and stick. There is a great library and the City has a bus that takes cruisers to the grocery store and other establishments. Today we need to put some miles behind us so we were away by 8:45 AM. We had an uneventful day and were anchored at Cocoa Beach by 4:00 PM.
55/379

Tuesday April 18, 2006

Once again, we needed to put some miles under the keel. We have to be in Jacksonville by Saturday and want to spend a day in St. Augustine, so we had the anchor up by 7:30 AM and were under way. By quarter after nine we passed under the NASA Causeway Bridge, reminding us that we were in Space program territory. We could see the HUGE Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in the distance. Even from this far away the building is immense. Eventually passed through New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet and had our anchor down between the two bridges at Daytona by 5:00 PM. Lots of “No Wake” and “Manatee” zones today, which really slow us down.
67/446
Ft. Matanzas - Its haunted!

Wednesday April 19, 2006

We are on a mission. Our air conditioner gave up the ghost in Stuart and although we don’t need it now, we very well may need it when we get to the marshland of Georgia and South Carolina. Certainly we will need it in the Chesapeake. We called the dock master at Jacksonville and he referred a guy who we called on the phone. Our plan was to meet him in Jax and have him inspect the A/C. My fear is that it is dead and will need to be replaced…not in the budget but probably way past due since the unit on board is original to the boat, 1988 vintage. When I mentioned that we were planning to stop in St. Augustine he offered to come to the boat there. Turns out that his business is located about a mile from the St. Augustine City Marina. So our anchor is up at 7:20 AM and we are steaming for St. Augustine. We arrived shortly after 2:00 PM, took on about 200 gallons of diesel fuel, tied up in our slip and called Clay, the A/C guy. True to his word, one of his guys came walking down the dock about an hour later. As I feared, he pronounced the unit DOA. The good news is that he could have a new one on Friday and install it the same afternoon. Looks like we will be tourists for an extra day.
52/498


Saturday April 22, 2006

We are sick of being tourists! We did the trolley tour and saw the sights. Reminded us a lot of home. The buildings are different but the crowds and tee shirt shops are all the same. We had a really mediocre meal one night at a Mexican restaurant and a good dinner with John and Pam from Compass Rose (KK42). But mainly we waited for the A/C guy. Fortunately the weather has been quite pleasant so we didn’t suffer from the heat. Friday we toured the old Ponce de Leon Hotel, which is now the home of Flagler College. A truly fascinating place.
Lightner Museum - St. Augustine City Hall

Flagler College - St. Augustine
Flagler College - Ornate Dome
Clay’s guys showed up at 1:30 PM as promised with the new A.C. Things NEVER are easy on a boat and what should have been a slide-the-old-one-out-slide-the-new-one-in project wound up taking them until 8:00 PM. Would you believe it that we closed the boat up and tested the A/C and it started raining at 8:15 PM? So now we gotta’ get on down the road. We were away from the City Marina before 8:00 Am and headed north up the ICW. As we approached Jax a dredge was working in a very narrow, very shallow section of the channel. We squeezed by and could feel the keel oozing through the mud. But we made it without incident and were tied up at Beach Marine by 12:40 PM. We cleaned the boat and ourselves just in time for Cindy’s cousins, the Scotts to arrive for drinks and dinner ashore. Tomorrow we leave MORNING STAR and hop in our rental car for a week back in Clearwater. And that’s all I know!
31/529

Saturday, April 8, 2006

“It’s The Gospel From The Coast”

In my line of work I get to see a lot more than most.
Write ‘em down and pass ‘em around,
It’s the gospel from the coast.
Reflections not just replays,
Takin’ time to escape the maze,
Lookin’ for better days.
“Floridays”
  Jimmy Buffett

So with apologies to Jimmy, we begin the chronicle of our trip to the Chesapeake Bay, hopefully more than just a log of daily events. Some reflections, as well as replays.
Saturday, April 8, 2006

 6:30 AM So much for my dream of a light and variable breeze so we could run down the Gulf of Mexico with the GPS talking to the autopilot Cindy and Randy sitting idly, reading and watching out for boats. Instead it is blowing out of the South at 10-15 and forecast to go higher. A quick engine check – oil, coolant, tension on the alternator belts and we start up the engine. We are out of the slip before 7 AM and head south down the Intracoastal Waterway (usually called the ICW).
 By way of explanation, the ICW is a mostly inside passage running from the Norfolk, VA to the southern tip of Florida, then turning up the Gulf Coast to Tarpon Springs. There is a break where travelers have to cross out into the open Gulf to the Florida Panhandle, returning to the ICW somewhere near St. Marks. It then continues on through Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, where it plays out around Brownsville. We intend to travel south down the coast where we will turn east at Ft, Myers and go up the Caloosahatchee River to Lake Okeechobee. On the other side of the Lake we pick up the St. Lucie canal which will deliver us to the East coast of Florida at Stuart. From there we head north up the ICW to Maryland, specifically Solomon’s Island, where we have a slip reserved until the fall.
 As we pass by Elaine & Bob’s house we wave and blow a quick salute on the boat horn. Their son Chip runs out and waves back, followed by his Elaine. Unfortunately, Bob is quite ill and Chip is here to visit his dad.

 By 1 PM we are passing the Sunshine Skyway, crossing Tampa Bay. The wind has built to a steady 15 kts. The Bay is surprisingly good to us. So many times we have gotten thumped good and proper crossing Tampa Bay. The wind and tide conspire to form a short steep chop that will almost bring the boat to a complete stop. Last year on the way to the Keys we had one of those situations and the spray was flying over the top of the pilothouse. The windshield looked like it was being sprayed with a fire hose. No such misfortune this year. A comparatively smooth trip across with the autopilot doing the hard work. We watched a couple of ships on the radar and before we knew it we were on the other side of the Bay and making our way toward Sarasota. Since it was early we pressed on to Venice, where we tied up to the free dock at Higel Park by 5 PM. At about 6 PM, Chip Wedan’s sister, Judy, called to tell us that her dad passed away this afternoon. Bob was a friend of the family for many years and we are going to miss him.

Higel Park - Venice, FL
83/83 (The first number represents the statute miles traveled today. The second is the cumulative total)

Sunday, April 9, 2006

 Slept in and loafed through breakfast this morning. We have an easy day today; only 30 miles. We are away shortly before 10 AM heading for Boca Grande and beyond. We pass BG by 1:45 PM and continue on to Cayo Costa, where we anchored in Pelican Bay, around the “hook”. There is a front forecast and we will be snug there.
 We put the dingy in the water and putted into the manatee cove where we saw at least half a dozen in residence. About 7:30 PM we were eating dinner in the cockpit when the wind suddenly shifted to the NE and piped up to about 20 kts. It blew all night long. 30/113

Monday, April 10, 2006

 Up ,coffeed, breakfasted, engine checked and anchor up by 9:40 AM. The wind hasn’t let up a bit but at least it is going our way. We chug south through Pine Island Sound, passing between the very private Useppa Island and the very public Cabbage Key. By lunchtime we have passed Captiva and Sanibel Islands. We anchor in Glover Bight shortly after 1:30 PM and relax for the rest of the afternoon. The wind hasn’t let up a bit but the anchorage is well protected.

 At 6 PM we take the dingy ashore to meet our friends Gloria and Norb for dinner. They live a few miles up the road and have agreed to drive down to pick us up. As always, we had a great time with them. When they delivered us back to our dingy we noticed some flashing lights out in the anchorage. As we got closer we saw the Coast Guard in one of their orange 25 footers cruising around our boat and a local towboat attached to the bow of MORNING STAR. As we got closer we realized that there were two CG standing in the cockpit. When we got there I asked politely what the hell was going on and why were they aboard my boat? Their reply….YOU DRAGGED ANCHOR!! Supposedly, the towboat operators found our boat floating about ¾ of a mile from the anchorage and towed it back in.

 This whole thing smells to me.

  • We have spent literally hundreds of nights at anchor and are very careful about how we anchor.
  • We had about 75ft of chain and a #35 Delta plow anchor set.
  • It held for almost 5 hours before we left for dinner.
  • What the tow operator was asking me to believe was that 45 minutes after we left for dinner, the boat had pulled its anchor and drifted ¾ of a mile!
Anyway, he was able to bill BoatUS for the tow…approx. $600. Hmmmm.

 We re-anchored the boat and sat around watching the radar and GPS for the next three hours. The boat didn’t move so we went to bed at 11:30PM. 28/141


Tuesday April 11, 2006

 After breakfast we pulled the dingy up in the davits and warmed up the engine.

 We pulled up the anchor at 9 AM and slowly made our way back to the ICW. By 11:10 AM we were tied in our slip at the Ft. Myers City Marina. We are leaving the boat here tonight while we rent a car and drive back to Clearwater to attend Bob Wedan’s funeral tomorrow.

13/154

Wednesday April 13, 2006

 Drove back to Ft. Myers after the funeral. Bob was a great guy and his kids all spoke at the service as well as some of his grandchildren. They all did a wonderful job. We are all going to miss Bob.

 When we returned to the boat we found a business card for an air conditioner repairman. Did I mention that we discovered that our air conditioner pooped out on Friday night, the eve of our departure? We phoned at least six different repair companies that were referred to us but nobody could get to us for at least two weeks. Anyway, we called this guy up and he stopped by 20 minutes later. The A/C was completely out of freon. He recharged it and couldn’t find an obvious leak. Hopefully that will be that. We’ll see.

Thursday April 14, 2006

 Up and at ’em early. We’ve got a lot of miles to cover today and also three locks to negotiate. We slipped quietly out of the marina at 6:55 AM, the first boats underway this morning. We arrived at the Franklin lock at 8:40 AM and twenty minutes later we were on the other side and under way again.
Rialto Harbor Marine - on the Okeechobee Waterway

 By 12:30 we passed La Belle, had lunch while under way and arrived at Ortona Lock. Here’s the problem…they make you wait your turn! It was 1:05 PM before we got through. The locking process is quite simple. When you get a green light, quite literally, from the lockmaster, you pull into the lock and go along side the wall at the prescribed location and wait for the rest of the boats to “assume the position”. The lock has lines hanging down for you to hold the boat into position while they close the gates on one side and slowly open the other side, filling the lock. Once the lock is full the gates open and the boats proceed out of the lock, under the direction of the lockmaster.
Locking Through

 3:00PM finds us at the lock at Moore Haven. We locked through with some folks who were friends of Tom & Becky, Krogen acquaintances from Maryland. Small world, this cruising community. By 5:10 PM we were tied up at Roland Martin’s Fish CampMarina. Those of you who watch ESPN on Saturday AM will recognize the name. He made his name bass fishing and owns a marina in Clewiston. It’s the only game in town.

70/224

Friday April 14, 2006

 Today we head to Stuart! Krogen Yachts sponsors a big party every year for their customers and everybody who owns one of their boats is invited. We timed our departure from Clearwater with this party in mind. We are up early because; a) we have 60 miles to do today, b) we want to get across Lake Okeechobee before the wind gets up, and c) there is one final lock to do. We are out of the marina at 6:45 AM, first out. As we head out into the lake we see a line of boats coming out of the marina. They all pass us in the lake. More about that later. We had a relatively easy trip across, running on autopilot while we drank coffee and ate breakfast. By 10:00 we were across the lake and into the St. Lucie canal. We arrived at the St. Lucie lock at 1:20 PM and there was a traffic jam. Many of the boats that passed us were waiting to get into the lock. We finally locked through at 2:50 PM…an hour and a half wait! We missed the first opportunity because the lock was full with eleven boats. We were one of seven boats on our transit. We finally arrived at Krogen’s marina, Stuart Cay Marina, at 4:00 PM. The party was under way. The first week of the trip is behind us.

Swing Bridge

60/284
Nice Lady
Krogen 39 waiting for the railroad bridge