We are just about three weeks into cruising! While I’ve kept up the Facebook page (usually updated daily if you’re interested), I’m just now getting around to updating the blog with our progress. I am sort of cheating, though, because I’m using my journal entries. This is actually a good thing since just writing my entry tonight required going back and looking to see where we have been in the past week. Whether that reflects an exciting lifestyle or my mental capacity, I can’t say…
So in chronological order, here are our past few weeks:
May 30, 2016
Today was our first official day as cruisers. Arguably, we’ve been liveaboards since last week, but we left the dock in Melbourne this afternoon and started our trek north. We are anchored tonight just north of 528 in Cocoa.
We began the day with a big Waffle House breakfast followed by some final errands thanks to still having the use of my parents’ car. We left the Waterline Marina about 1 pm, but stopped shortly after to grab fuel and (YES!) ice cream. It was extremely hot today, like sweat dripping off my face after just a few minutes of working on anything outside…or inside for that matter. Sometimes it is cooler outside and sometimes the opposite holds true. Currently, I would rather be sitting outside typing this, but I feel like there may be bugs to avoid out there.
Some highlights from today…
- Just leaving the dock felt good! When we hit the river and felt a little current, it was a relief to finally be on our way.
- Did I mention the ice cream??? That was a super awesome surprise treat at the fuel stop.
- We saw lots of dolphins as we left the channel to find our anchorage. The funny thing is that generally Madi couldn’t care less about seeing dolphins…strange kid!
- We were able to anchor easily – definitely a relief when things work out the way you expect!
May 31, 2016
The best part of today (EASILY) was taking a cold shower tonight. I have been so hot and sweaty and dirty feeling and the lack of showers for the past 3 days were not helping matters. I didn’t even attempt to brush Madi’s crazy hair this morning – it just went in a ponytail as did mine. It might be worthwhile to sort out how to work the flash water heater, but honestly, the water felt refreshing and I’m not sure I would’ve made it warmer had I been able to do so. Seriously, post-shower, I’m feeling glorious.
In other news, anchoring was super tough tonight in New Smyrna Beach. We have so far had a pretty easy time dropping anchor, but tonight was full of tight spots, shallow water, anchor chain malfunctions, and just weirdness. We ultimately backtracked to the other side of the bridge, which was a little cringe worthy for me because I feel like it takes us so long to get places, I hate to turn around. It really was a silly reaction, though, considering it was only a couple minutes.
Once we finally got the boat settled, we all loaded up into the dinghy on a puppy pit stop run and an ice cream hunt for us. (Both were successful endeavors.) I did experience “dinghy butt” for the first time…assuming my understanding of that condition is accurate. Essentially, it involved a lot of water, the back of my shorts, and the resulting wet backside look while walking around the little downtown. Ah well, the shower afterwards was all the better for it, right?
I’m working on effective ways to manage cooking and dishes. I’m so paranoid on water (hence the shower delay) that I keep trying to find ways to minimize water usage while washing dishes. If I had unlimited wifi, I would totally be watching You Tube videos on dishwashing instruction. Food was good today, though. I stuck a pan of bacon in as soon as I got up, so we had that with Cream of Wheat for breakfast (side note – does that really require capitalization?? Hmmm…). I then prepped chicken salad, which made for a later easy lunch. Dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce, with which I reserved half the cooked ground beef for a Mexican meal tomorrow night. I’m getting there! 😉
June 1, 2016
We had a more leisurely pace today and really didn’t go that far. We are anchored tonight on the north side of Daytona Beach, which was thankfully an easy task. Leaving New Smyrna this morning at low tide, we could see several places where we would have been sitting on sand had we anchored in them. We did have the “pleasure” of being briefly aground this afternoon. The main and the jib were up and though we were slowly moving, it felt good to actually be sailing…until Chris realized we were nearing a bridge that we had to call to open. The channel was narrow as we tried to turn around in order to take the sails down and start the engine. So, very quickly we were out of the channel and “parked”. Then, to make things more interesting, the engines wouldn’t start. Within a few tense minutes, Chris dropped the anchor (so that we wouldn’t hit anything if we slid off the sandbar we were stuck on and he got the sails down. He then tinkered with the engines and they started up (woo hoo!). Pulling the anchor off and moving on was pretty quick after that.
So, the best part of today was probably just getting back in the channel and moving on! Close second was taking the dinghy over to Caribbean Jack’s for dinner. Blackened grouper and a strawberry daiquiri – yes, PLEASE. After we got back to the boat, I also took the dinghy back out with the dogs to give them one last pit stop for the night. (They are not yet willing to use the fake grass pad…we will all be “relieved” when they do!) That was my first time solo on the dinghy and though I am sort of reluctant to take a whole lot of initiative on boat stuff outside of my comfort zone, being comfortable driving the dinghy will be very important in the long run, so that was an important step.
June 3, 2016
We have been moored in St. Augustine for the past two nights at the municipal marina. This was a great choice – perfect location for wandering the historic area and having the marina service (i.e., dinghy dock, bathrooms/showers, A/C laundry room) are nice. This morning, we all (except for Achilles) took a dip in the water, which felt fantastic. The water here is bluer and clearer, thanks I’m sure to the proximity to the inlet and ocean. There is a significant current here, so more boat movement and sound. When swimming, we had Madi tied on to the boat plus a grab line for us – the water is moving!
We met up with people tonight that I found on one of the Facebook cruisers groups I follow. Abby and family have much more experience cruising than we do and were a nice resource. They head out offshore to make a passage north tomorrow – I’m jealous as they’ll cover a lot more ground quickly than we will, but I know we’re not ready to do that. They have two kids, including Lily, their five-year-old daughter. Madi was very happy to have someone her age to hang out with! We also met friends of theirs, a local family that we hit it off with too. It was a fun night!
Tomorrow, we’ll likely head up to somewhere near Jacksonville and by Monday, most likely will be in Georgia.
June 4, 2016
As planned, we came up to the north side of Jacksonville tonight and are docked at a free public dock at Three Sisters Creek. We had a pleasant trip up with sails up, wind, and movement, woo hoo! Lots of interesting riverfront houses along the way made the trip more interesting. When we arrived at the dock, we were very lucky to have a guy come off of his boat and grab lines for us. There was a whole lot of current and wind and it wouldn’t have been easy for Chris and I alone. It turns out the guy is in the Navy, so he and Chris ended up chatting for a while this evening. We later had another visitor – a guy who just offers assistance to cruisers passing through. Other than the timing of his visit (just as I was finishing up cooking dinner), it was cool to have friendly people around. We also bought some bug stuff from him, so hopefully if we encounter another coven of evil insects, this will ward them off. Poor Madi is finally recovering from a whole bunch of bites from our first few days out. She was also stung by a couple of bees yesterday and then somehow cut her foot tonight – rough life! She did have lots of fun tonight, though, making up a whole pirate themed party including a game called, “Bloody” where she and Chris fought and I was supposed to try to intervene and stop it. It was named as such because she said, “there was supposed to be fighting, not talking.” She had so much fun – lots of laughing!
There is a tropical weather system possibly heading along our path, so that may make movement over the next couple days more interesting. This wouldn’t be a terrible place to be stuck waiting it out, but I don’t think the storm will be here for another 48 hours, so we’ll likely keep heading north for now. Fernandina Beach is supposed to be a good stop and it is next on our path.
June 7, 2016
We did make it to Fernandina Beach as planned and are still here at a mooring. The weather system became Tropical Storm Colin and was forecast to come right through here. We watched and discussed, ultimately deciding to secure the boat, board the dogs, and stay at a Hampton Inn across the street from the marina. In the end, this area really got nothing from the storm and we enjoyed a night with A/C and convenient hot showers (and baths – our tally was 5 showers and 2 baths in the short time we were there). So today, we lounged at the hotel until the 11 am check out and then walked over to the kennel to pick up the dogs. Weather was HOT and we neglected sunscreen, so while Madi seems spared, Chris and I both have sunburns now.
After returning to the boat, we started working on putting everything back that was stowed/tied up/removed. Reference earlier mentioned heat combined with a closed-up boat. Ugh. I was fairly lucky because I grabbed up our sheets and dirty clothes and went to shore to take care of laundry.
Meanwhile, Chris is trying to figure out why our batteries are draining quickly and reflecting values of what we’re using that are constantly jumping around. Plus, the generator won’t charge the batteries for some reason and now the engines won’t start because the batteries are too low (which ironically the engines running would charge the batteries…sigh).
So now I have clean sheets, but I’m hot and frustrated and don’t feel like making the beds. It is also 8 pm and because our propane was off for the storm, I haven’t cooked dinner yet. And my stupid Bachelorette show is on in 2 minutes and I can’t get the TV antenna to work. Might be time for a drink…
June 17, 2016
Eek, I didn’t mean to not write for 10 days! Okay, so let’s see from there, we did a quick trip up to Cumberland Island and anchored for the night. That was pretty cool because it was just about ½ mile walk on a nice trail over the other side of the island where we all (dogs included) went for a swim in the ocean. (Side note – Chris is across from me and I keep having to ask him, “And then where did we go???” and now he’s not entirely sure either and I’m too lazy to go check the log book)
Okay, I checked Facebook and see that Turner’s Creek near Savannah was the next stop. Yay, out of Florida! That was a big anchor hassle – we had plenty of daylight and I was pumped because we had a plan to go to the Publix right next to the dinghy dock and restock groceries and get dinner out too. Though we ultimately did get to do those things, a couple hours was taken up by trying to find a decent anchorage. We did ultimately find a good spot, but it all made for a late night. On the dinghy ride back to the boat, we were stopped by a police boat for not having a light aboard…that was our first ride at night, so lesson learned there. (I actually think we meant to grab a light on our way out and forgot.)
The next day, we continued on to our first Beaufort (the second one is on the itinerary for next week – this one was in South Carolina while the one ahead of us in North Carolina). That was a nice stop – cute town and Madi got in two playground visits, including one with kids from another boat family we met. Anchoring was gloriously easy too.
The following night, we anchored in Little Edisto, about midway between Beaufort and our current location, Charleston. We’ve been here now since the 14th and have had a lovely visit. We are docked for once and the shore power is great, though the wifi is almost useless. We are at the Charleston Maritime Center, which puts us right downtown. Between easy walking distance and free trollies, this is a great location. We even have a grocery store nearby – we’ve actually been there almost every day that we’ve been here including to rent a couple Redbox movies (woo hoo, no data required!).
Two different marine mechanics came by for the engines and after tomorrow, we’ll have put in around $1500 to replace parts (or as my dad said, a boat unit and a half: “BOAT” is Bring Out Another Thousand). Good news is those pesky engine lights shouldn’t come in and we don’t have to worry that inexperience may mean ignoring or causing major engine issues. The repairs have kept us in Charleston longer than anticipated, but we’ve had a good time – visits to the children’s museum, library, restaurants, some shopping and even the movie theater today. We also tried Uber to get us around for today’s movie trip and it worked really well – great price, easy process, and no scary drivers/cars.
Probably the highlight (if not today’s lunch at PF Chang’s and seeing Finding Dory, which was delightful, by the way) was that a huge storm rolled in as we returned to the boat. That part doesn’t sound great given that we ran around securing stuff in 35 mph winds and everything in the cockpit is now soaked. However, the upside is that the temperature dropped down and has stayed in the 70s for the whole evening and it is FANTASTIC. The heat has been my nemesis and I find myself much happier when not covered in sweat. The whole weekend is supposed to be more pleasant, so on that note, we’re planning to get some projects knocked out tomorrow to clean/organize the boat to make it more comfortable.
We plan to leave Charleston Sunday morning and are working on plans for beyond then. We will likely stop for a few days in Beaufort, NC and are considering spending July 4 in Norfolk. Also, Dani is supposed to fly in and spend a week aboard, so we’re sorting out the logistics of that – very exciting!