The Search For Bright Waters

Sunday, January 30, 2011

We made it to Florida!

Thursday we spotted Florida in all its sunny glory!  The wind and rain disappeared and the sun came blazing out to greet us.

Factory or awesome water park?

We anchored outside the Fernandina Beach Marina, mile marker 716, and quickly dinghyed to shore.  We were greeted by this big birds who act like they own the dock.  It was their feeding time and a local fisherman through them scraps, yum!

We strolled around the warm town and we astonished at all the people and cars everywhere.  We were back in civilization.  No more cold!

We grabbed dinner at the Green Turtle Tavern (not the real one) and even splurged on some fudge, mmmm.

We headed back to our boat and checked the internet, full bars from our anchorage!  So that night turned into cockpit internet cafe.

Friday we wanted to visit the town again but it was really windy and the waves deterred us.  We decided just to relax and spend the day in bed.

Saturday we awoke to a beautiful warm day, maybe 60!  We were supposed to head out that day but we had an extra day to kill so we decided not to leave yet.  Now that the weather is so nice we can drag our feet a little and just enjoy relaxing :)

We even opened up our cockpit hatch for the first time this trip and ripped down some of the bubble wrap insulation.  It felt good having a cool breeze run into the v-berth.

Later that day Christine was outside and saw a Trimaran coming into port.  We had been keeping an eye out for another blogging cruising couple that we knew were close to us, Hans and Laura aboard Knotty Cat.  And sure enough it was them so we started waving and yelling toward them.  Laura hailed us on the VHF and asked if something was wrong and we just nope this is Bright Eyes saying hello!  They were very excited to hear it was us and invited us over that evening.

It was a fun evening getting to talk to another couple experiencing the same things as us.  Not only cruising but almost our exact time and route.  They have a very friendly pit bull on board named Wilbur who must have smelled our cats cuz he couldn't stop hugging us.  After a great evening there we headed to shore for dinner.

Hans and Laura, and Wilbur, aboard Knotty Cat can be found here:

For dinner we googled McDonalds and found there was one about 2.5 miles away so we started walking.  We really should have brought our bikes but it was nice out so the walk wouldn't kill us.  However once we got to the shopping center we found a Chinese Buffet!  I guess we worked up quite the appetite during the walk cuz the next thing we know we have a ton of snow crab legs piled onto our plates.  Owell maybe McDonalds at the next city.

One of our many weaknesses

Next up: Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona, and Melbourne!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Repairs and Georgia


We forgot to mention on the way to Georgetown, SC we got boarded by the Coast Guard.  They were just doing a routine safety check and we didn’t even stop.  They hopped on and we easily passed.  Before they came on I told them we just had a safety check done and had the Coast Guard sticker on the side of the vessel.  I guess they were bored cuz they still wanted to do their own check.  We were kinda hoping the Coast Guard sticker showing we had already passed a safety check would keep the Coast Guard off of us but owell.

Also we have not been so lucky to avoid repairs during this trip we just haven’t been reporting them so much and we apologize.  Here’s our list

Handheld VHF battery charger lost = Purchased a new one

Driveshaft bolts came out = We were spinning on one driveshaft bolt at one point but now have them all tightened back up and replaced the one bent bolt. We plan to replace the other three as well.
Stuffing Box came undone = We bought new packing and repacked the stuffing box.  No more water flowing in!

Loose engine mounting bolts = Tightened

Laptop dropped in water = Bought a new one. Ouch!

Dinghy Davits bent sideways from supporting the dinghy (and me) while we were on our side = We straightened up the davits but they still aim off to an angle.   We will be cautious with them.
Transducer not working = We didn’t have depth since the big tilt, Saturday, Sunday or Monday but Monday night we figured out it just needed to be filled up with mineral oil again since being on our side must have drained it.  It works perfect again.

Solar Panels not charging = We have been being real cheap with our electricity because the monitor showed we only had 50%.  We called the Solar Controller company, Sunforce, and turns out the solar panels were charging our batteries fully but our battery monitor wasn’t properly configured.  After confirming that our batteries were full with a volt meter and being able to run the microwave, we configured the monitor to show 100%.  So really our solar panels are doing great in team with the alternator.  We have seen between 2 and 5 amps on the solar controller.

Turns out I didn't read the battery monitor directions (i'm not surprised) and I never set up the monitor properly to know how large our battery bank was and when it was full. I thought it just knew.  So it shows full  now and we have solar power coming in!

And other minor fixes.

To be Fixed:
On board VHF still to be installed

Starboard fairlead broke off while trying to get towed off the shoal.

Cockpit grill propane valve broke off during a bad docking, needs to be replaced.

SPOT:  We also added a SPOT link on the sidebar that shows where we are daily.  This should help follow us when no internet is available.

Saturday we were floating again and back on our way.  We made it a short day and anchored in the South Edison River near Fenwick Island, SC, mile marker 509.  We worked on some repairs and relaxed some.
Sunday we had another short day and pulled up to the Beaufort, SC town day dock.  We got showers for $1, yes it was cheap enough for me to par take in.  We spent the day walking around the very scenic and historic town.  We settled at the local coffee shop to get our internet fix and then went back to the boat to find an anchorage.  The town dock is only for use during the day and the marina lady said you get a large fine for trying to stay the night.

We dinghyed back into town and found a sports bar to watch the Steelers beat the Jets.  Christine is a Steelers fan and was very excited.  Now we have to make sure we can watch the Superbowl.

Monday we arrived in Georgia!  We went through Thunderbolt, Georgia, best city name yet.  We now see dolphins on an almost constant basis!  We thought about going to Savannah but it was 8 miles out of the way and our chart book didn’t show it, plus our depth sounder wasn’t working so we just anchored in the Wilmington River at mile marker 585.  While picking out an anchorage we finally figured out how to read the tides and currents charts available on out Garmin.  It’s about time we learned that! 

Tuesday was a wet day.  It rained all day sometimes very hard.  Visibility got bad but never too bad to stop.  We anchored in Crescent River, mile marker 643.  Now that we realize that our batteries are full and staying charged we can use a lil more electricity.  Christine made coffee in the morning and we played Family Game Night 3 on our PS3 at night.  We even were able to watch the weather on our tv!

This boat didn't make it

Wednesday joined our top three worst days (the other two are day 3 on the Chesapeake and the day after the snowstorm).  The winds were about 20 mph with even larger gusts.  This made it very cold since everything was wet the day before.  The small rivers weren’t bad but crossing the Sounds was rough.  The waves were about 3-4 feet, not as bad as that wavy day on the Chesapeake, but still enough to toss our boat around.  One wave even crashed into our cockpit while I was at helm and soaked my pants.  Then we would turn into the waves and they crashed onto our deck and sprayed the dodger.  We eventually made it into Jekyll Creek which wasn’t east because of the jetties at the entrance.  Rocks and waves make a scary entry.  We anchored after the Jekyll Island Bridge at mile marker 685. 

Garmin told us to keep this red to our left, bad Garmin!

Then the charts and Garmin told us to go inside another red marker and it looked safe but was not.  We ran aground pretty good and then a boat behind us joined us aground.  I got on their dinghy and we did some recon depth sounding with a string and weight.  As soon we found where the shoal was and were able to get off and on our way.  Luckily the tide was rising this time!

This cloud has a weary face just like we did

Just before Florida is a Nuclear Submarine landing zone.  Awesome!

Today (Thursday the 27th) we left GA and made it to Florida!  Georgia was our least favorite state and now we know why people skip it.  We are currently anchored at Fernandina Beach, FL!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

High and Dry

We left Friday morning expecting another uneventful day.

Some bridge ruins.

The Charleston Bridge


And then as we left Elliots Cut we decided to take a left off of the ICW to a marina for some much needed fuel.  We could see the marina across the river and a boat anchored in between so I just headed over to it talking about how much fuel we needed.  I tend to keep the Garmin zoomed out so I can see upcoming turns and markers, well this time I was zoomed out to far to read the depths.  When I zoomed back in I saw that we were in 1 foot of water.  I said to Christine, "this thing must be wrong cuz it says we are in 1 foot of water"  and then BOOM!

Our boat ran aground and lurched forward.  I turned right and spun the boat around and tried to get off the shoal but we hit it too hard and were stuck.  It's ok we'll just call tow boat.

Tow boat got there about an hour later and during that time the tide dropped about a foot.  We were now stuck and tilted sideways.  The tow boat, Captain Woody, tried his best to get us off and even broke off one of our fair leads but we were stuck and he said there was nothing he could do.  A lil panic sunk in, huh? What does that mean?

It was noon and he told us he would be back around 6 when the tide was back up and that there was a good chance we would be "high and dry".  Christines face turned to terror.  High and dry means we will be sitting on land.

Captain Woody sounded relaxed and and told us to clean the bottom of our boat and check our zincs and left.  The boat was quickly tilting more and more sideways so we had to run down below and move everything to one side. This was happening whether we liked it or not.  We called our boating mentor Eric and he assured us we would be fine and that he does it on purpose sometimes and alot of people do it to clean the bottoms of their boat.  Erics words calmed Christine down and we were now able to relax and watch in amazement as the boat sat down on its side.

We attempted to dinghy out our anchor per Erics advice but the current was too strong and all I got was pictures.  Soon we could see the ground and eventually we could hop right off the boat onto the newly formed island under our boat.

It was almost impossible to walk inside the cabin without getting sick so we stayed outside and ran around and enjoyed an unexpected day at the beach!

The island forming

I ended up just walking the anchor out and throwing it into deeper water.  This will keep us from moving onto the shoal further when the tide comes back up.

Bright Eyes Island

We dug out that river behind our keel to help when we want to leave

A unique sunset

Bye Bye private island

Tho tow boat came back around 7:30 when the tide was up.  We had straightened up by then and after a few tries we were floating again.  We tossed the anchor and called it a night.

At first we were mad and scared about what we had gotten ourselves into, but in the end we are glad it happened and it was a very fun experience!