We renew our acquaintance with an old friend
We decided to practice what we preach and waited a wet and windy week for a gigantic low pressure system to vacate the Florida Gulf Coast. The drive across Aligator Alley early this morning was pleasantly uneventful, and we arrived at the Krogen 48 ‘Marie Louise II’, ex ‘Midnight Sun’ in St Petersburg mid day.
ML II is a Krogen 48 that we were involved with for over six years when she was brand new in 2002. We delivered her back and forth from New Hampshire to Florida and a trip to Maine with the original owners. For some unknown reason we continue with a warm friendship with these lovely people. Tomorrow we’ll provision and do some basic prep work, with an early start on Sunday morning to be on our way back to New Hampshire for the present owners. Hopefully this will result in another years long friendship. PS; The weather is now perfect for beginning our next ‘Excellent Adventure.’
While Wendy emptied the shelves at Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s with a final pit stop at Publix, I toiled in the engine room and made sure “All the dogs were barking.” We changed out an old plastic hose with a reinforced rubber hose that feeds cooling water to the stuffing box, (not a five minute job), replaced the air cleaner in the Walker Air Sep, tightened every hose clamp within reach, and ran and checked all systems, of which there are a bunch. Old home week on a great boat with a lot of miles and memories. It was evident that the current owners have invested much time and energy in bringing her back up to ‘yacht condition’. Hopefully we’ll make our escape early tomorrow morning. St Petersburg is a lovely city, but we have 1725 miles to go before we sleep.
A good 12 hour run today overall, although it got a bit snotty the last four hours before we could turn into the Boca Grand channel. We’re tied snugly to the dock at Boca Grand marina. It’s a good thing they don’t know we’re ‘boat trash.’ This is definitely high roller country with prices to match. We are dining aboard tonight after checking the menus and prices on Yelp at the various local bistros. Entering the OWW tomorrow, Okeechobee Waterway for those of you new to the neighborhood. Dockage and anchorage is a tad sketchy along this 150 Mile stretch. Hard to plan ahead as the marinas are few and far between, and many deigned not return phone inquiries as to space available. “Tis what it Tis,” and we press onward tomorrow.
Day 4 and 5:
If canal cruising is your thing, then the Okeechobee is for you. We tied up two nights ago night at the Moorehaven city dock. At $1.00 per foot including power it’s a bargain.
An early start the next day was nullified by transiting locks and a railroad bridge under repair making a long day longer.
Tied up last night at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, a first rate facility with prices to match. Northbound this morning at last, there’s a large area of disturbed weather coming to Florida and the Gulf in a few more days. It’s time to vacate the premises and be on our way.
Last night was spent peacefully at anchor. The night before we were at the dock in Stuart. We stand on the side of Steve McQueen, who once said, “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth!” Yesterday we ran 100nm, a 14 hour day at the helm. We share one hour watches throughout the day when doing the ICW ‘inside,’ ‘outside’ routine. If the trip is to be run offshore, ‘outside,’ we take a third crew person and run 24/7. A lot of couples cruisers run 24 hour legs offshore, then spend 24 hours tied up or at anchor, trying to regain their sense of humor. Fatigue plays a huge part in bad decisions and screwups. We try to avoid fatigue, as there are plenty of chances for screwups available even when well rested.
We’re privileged to be able to deliver million dollar boats for some very nice folks who put their trust in us, and maintaining that trust is a full time job.
Well, it went something like this, after we’d upped anchor, and were underway a few hours, “If we go outside at Ponce Inlet, we could make St Augustine. “It’s another 12 hour day, but what the hell, let’s go for it!” It was a fantastic day offshore, and well worth another long day at the helm. Marie Louise has a durable John Deere engine and a world class active fin stabilization system, so even when the ocean decides to get ‘Nautical,’ we’re good to go. Tomorrow will be a short day. We’ll stop in Jacksonville and replenish the fruits and veggie locker, and do a few domestic chores to keep a happy ship and a happy crew.
An early stop at Palm Cove Marina in Jacksonville Beach let us attend to some provisioning and boat chores yesterday. The photo is of the air conditioning sea strainer. It was packed with moss and tiny barnacles. South Floridas warm water promotes this kind of growth in a very short time. We once found a good sized fish in a sea strainer, it had gotten in as a minnow and grew and grew. Another example of blind ambition leading to an unscheduled end. We’re offshore again today as we speak. The stinky pulp mill stacks of Fernandina 5 miles off our port beam. Today’s exact destination unknown, until we select a spot to anchor for the night somewhere up a creek in Georgia’s lonely marshlands. Meanwhile, Sub Tropical Storm Alberto is festering away near the Gulf of Mexico, we’ll have to see how that will affect our excellent adventures in the next few days.
We had a pretty good run today. Out at the St John’s river Florida and in at St Simons Georgia. 92 NM in nice conditions. However, this being a boat, the air conditioning decided to take a vacation. Now we know that doesn’t sound serious to most folks, but at this time of year the large biting flies are out for our blood. Without screening, they will have their way with us. So as we motor along, they plastered on all windows wanting in, and us held captive inside sweating. For some reason they depart at sundown and return an hour or two after sunrise. We power on, with thousands of small viscous hitchhiking vampires awaiting their chance.
Another short day today. We stopped in Thunderbolt Ga after contacting Jesse from Edge HVAC this Sunday morning. He was recommended by our friend Ken Youngchild of Thunderbolt Marine. Jesse arrived at 1400 and had the A/C up and running by 1500, this accomplished on a major three day holiday weekend. It pays to have friends in low places. Thanks Ken! Thanks Jesse! The rain and squally weather from Alberto finally caught up with us. Every great boating day is not necessarily a sunny day.
Here we are anchored for the night on Toogoodoo Creek in beautiful South Carolina.
The best part of today was discovering that the dreaded shallows of the Coosaw Cut had just been dredged. We transited around two hours after low tide and found 12 to 15 Ft. However a dredge was partially blocking the southern entrance as we approached. Tried calling on the VHF on channel 13 and 16 with no response, and as we slowly passed by discovered that we’re skidding through soft mud in front of the dredge. No harm done, but it would have been nice to speak to the dredge. The weather was overcast, but no rain. All in all, a good 77 NM run without incident.
We left early this morning from Harborwalk Marina in Georgetown, SC, a nice place with excellent staff, by the way. We stopped at Grand Dunes Marina to refuel which took over two hours, and you guessed it, buy fresh groceries at the Lowes Market across the street. The dock master Lynn, and her daughter made us feel right at home, and are friendly and helpful beyond the call of duty. We later discovered some issues in the engine room and took care of them. Where does the time go?
An early exit from Grand Dunes in Myrtle Beach netted us over 80 NM today to fetch up at Harbor Village. Tomorrow we hope to push past Beaufort, NC and be anchored or tied up another 80 or 90 miles along. Today we passed the ‘half way’ point of this delivery. Sometimes this is accompanied by the mid trip blues. So far, the blues have been kept at bay, due in part to the amount of concentration necessary in keeping ‘Marie Louise’ off the shallow and ever changing bottom. Twenty Years ago we sailed the ICW with a 7′ draft. Today if we tried that, we’d become temporary real estate. There are at least six areas now that with a 4 1/2 to 5′ draft you must ‘play’ the tides to get through safely.
We’re anchored in splendid solitude tonight in Campbell Creek, NC, another 100 NM toward our objective. Our before dawn departure netted us a fantastic sunrise, then after an hour or two the auto pilot went on a temporary leave of absence. “Drat, shucks and Dog gone!” we exclaimed in mutual dismay and disappointment. Once we got out on to the wide Neuse River we had a chance to do some troubleshooting. Swatting the same blood thirsty flies I climbed down in to the lazz and found the culprit. An overheated and stuck ‘open’ 12v solenoid which was repaired by a sharp rap with the handle of a screwdriver. We called a tech in Chesapeake, VA and will meet him on Monday morning and replace the ‘sticky’ solenoid.
Somehow we managed to endure the seemingly endless Alligator Pungo Cut today with patience and Zen like calm. A narrow channel and 20 miles of Kudzu and stumps close on either side. It feels like being sprung from a dark green dungeon when at last you find your way out. The mighty Albermarle Sound gave us a pass today, with light southerly breezes. We’ve been thrashed there numerous times. Anchored tonight south of Coinjock, NC, we decided to give their gigantic prime rib a miss. Not a difficult decision for us. Tomorrow we’ll stop early at Atlantic Yacht Basin and go in search of a new solenoid for the auto pilot. We’ve just completed 1060 NM with only 665 to go. Onwards!
Today we escaped from the ICW. We swept by Mile 0 in Norfolk and motored happily onto the beautiful blue green Chesapeake. After the technician from Ayers Electronics found a bad power connection, then set up and calibrated the auto pilot we were good to go. So, go we did. We made the noon opening of the Great Bridge Bridge and locked on through the Great Bridge Lock. We’re anchored this evening on Chisman Creek off the Poquoson River. Quiet and Secure. Wendy is simmering a Beef Bourgogne fo our dinner this evening, I just saw her pour in a half bottle of red wine, “Oh boy, oh boy!”
For us, the Chesapeake is like coming home. If we could abolish winter we’d live here forever. In addition to the times we pass through on deliveries, the Bay is our summer home aboard our own boat, and has been for the past 16 years. Last night’s sunset on Chisman Creek was worth the price of admission. Tonight we’re tied up at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons MD and a short walk away is Island Sushi, also worth the price of admission.
We did another 90 NM run today from Solomons to Chesapeake City on the C and D Canal. Our plan was to go further and anchor at Reedy Point on the Delaware River. To accomplish this we were under way at 0530. However, tomorrows timing of the current on the Delaware had other ideas. Better to stop here tonight and “Push” 2 hours of strong current in the morning, rather than motoring on tonight and then “Push” 4 hours of opposing current tomorrow. We hope to make Atlantic City tomorrow, then on to New York the following day.
The booming bass notes coming from the casino bar at the head of the dock are rattling our windows. Can’t call it music exactly, at risk of admitting that anything newer than the late seventies and eighties just doesn’t sound like music to us. We did 110 NM today, with a favorable current on the Delaware pulling us along at 10 to 11 knots most of the morning. The New Jersey coast was benign for a change, with similar wind and seas forecast for tomorrow. We caught up with the ‘Misty Pearl’ a Selene 43 we trained the new owners on last March. They are off on the first part of the Great Loop adventure. We joined them this evening with 6 other loopers.
What a day! Light southerly breezes and a strong northerly setting current that helped us along the entire 87 NM from Atlantic City to the warm and friendly Great Kills Yacht Club. The loopers we met last night were reluctant to do the run in one day and planned to stop in Manasquan, even after we cautioned them about the strong river currents and narrow opening rail road bridge. The perfect weather coaxed most of them to go the full distance outside. We helped a couple of them tie up and we’re as proud as they are. For some it was a first experience on the Atlantic. Big smiles all round the dock tonight. Tomorrow we’re off to Long Island Sound and the loopers head up the Hudson. It was fun sharing the day with them.
Who among us can resist taking photos of New York and the Statue of Liberty? Every time we enter or leave NY Harbor, travelling up the Hudson or taking the East River to Long Island Sound, it brings on feelings of pride in this great country we’re fortunate enough to be part of. After leaving the Great Kills Yacht Club we made our way to the Hudson with favorable current all the way to the East River, where it turned against us with a vengeance. Not our first time through Hell’s Gate, but it’s always best to catch the ride with following current. This time we made our way against it through tide rips and whirlpools, dodging oncoming shipping who were clever enough to be going the opposite direction. Once under the Throgs Neck Bridge, the current became our friend and we hitched on for a wonderful day on Long Island Sound, making 9 to 91/2 knots all the way to Cedar Island Marina in Clinton, CT.
Another fine day in New England. Long Island Sound and Buzzards Bay were on their very best behavior, if you were in a power boat that is. The glassy calm and zero wind was totally frustrating for all the sail boats we saw today. Brought back a lot of memories of our sailing days. Anchored tonight in Onset Harbor, in hope of a quiet night and another early departure. We should arrive close to our destination tomorrow evening, tie up at Wentworth by the Sea Marina, then catch the flood tide the next morning for the last 7 miles.
Away at first light again this morning. Mighty fine anchorage in Onset Harbor, and we slept like tigers. Careful planning or dumb luck, take your pick, found us rocketing through the Cape Cod Canal at 11 to 12 knots on our way to Portsmouth. Should have taken pictures, but they would have been blurred by the G forces and our fantastic forward velocity. On our exit from the canal like a pinched watermelon seed, we were ejected into Cape Cod Bay and on towards Cape Anne. Tonight we dine ashore at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel Restaurant. They’ll never guess that we’re boat trash by our rasty attitude and wrinkled attire. In the morning we do the last 7 miles to the owner’s slip upriver at Great Bay Marina.
Well, we’re here. The current on the Piscataqua River is absolutely awesome! We caught the turn to flood this morning and by the time we were approaching the dock at Great Bay Marina it was out of control. As we approached the dock with 4 knots of current on the bow, it suddenly reversed itself due to a weird back eddy. Suddenly, now feet from the dock, we were going with the flow rather than opposing it. Downright interesting, but luckily uneventful. We spent the day cleaning the interior and exterior of ‘Marie Louise’, and tomorrow morning will do the ships laundry and make everything ready for the owners return in two weeks. We were incredibly fortunate to be ahead of or behind any bad weather, and blessed by only one or two small mechanical and electrical problems thanks to the careful preparation and attention to detail by the current owners.
Total Distance: 1814 NM
Total Running Hours: 231
Average Speed: 7.8 Knots @ 2100 – 2150 RPM
Average Fuel Burn: 5 GPH