Monday, 15 January 2018

ICW - Intracoastal Waterway

One of the main reasons Simon and Kim wanted to go down the ICW and we started at Palm Beach was that their boat draws to much water to go down it any quicker. This was supposed to be the deepest part of the waterway but we later found out that this is not the case. 
The ICW was a really chilled motor until we wanted to moor at the Two George’s restaurant for something to eat. We had spoke to them and they said we could moor there over night as long, as we eat their restaurant, but when we arrived there was no space at the dock. This was not a problem as we would just eat on board the boat and keep motoring down through the ICW until we find an area where we could anchor for the night.

It was such a beautiful part of the world and looking at all the homes as we passed by was an eye opener. Some of these homes were just amazing and the money they must have cost was silly, but if these people want to spend their money this way then what’s it got to do with me. Some of the homes had little putting greens on their front lawn, others had false rocks that looked like a water fall but they were a slid that went into their swimming pools. Now that would be cool even if the novelty wore off. Some looked like they were built for a film set and other just had no taste what’s so ever. Every house we saw was different and they were the topic of conversation all the way to Fort Lauderdale.

While steaming down the ICW its supposed to be a “NO WAKE ZONE”, which means no waves, but this was ignored by 80 percent of the boats which was really annoying as they had no consideration for any other vessels on the ICW and if your music was not blasting out the worst music in the world then you were not cool enough to be in a boat…… I must be getting old……

While we were motoring down (slowly) we came to a crossroads where another river meets ours and the tide was ripping through. Michael was ahead of us and he was keeping an eye on the depth as we draw a lot more water than he did, when suddenly, we hit the bottom. It was not a hard hit but more a soft one which means it was just mud and nothing hard like rocks. A man from the ICW came along side the boat and told us we would have the wait a few minutes as it was spot on low water and told us there was a bank of mud in this area due to the tides. Sure, enough we were off in a few minutes and we headed further south again.

We looked at the charts and we found what looked like an area that was deep enough to anchor for the night but how wrong we were. We were not even in the area when we hit the bottom again. This time it was a bit harder and we were stuck. Simon raised the sail to get a bit of weight on one side of the boat while he came astern and it worked a trick too. We were off and again we headed south looking for somewhere to anchor. We eventually found a place to anchor and after we were all secure for the night we grabbed something to eat, then hit the hay.

What an eventful day we had and tomorrow we would be in Fort Lauderdale.

We all woke up fresh and ready to go and the houses just seemed to get bigger and better the closer to got to downtown Fort Lauderdale. After a few hours we had arrived and moored up into this beautiful area.

Next Time in Fort Lauderdale, our stay had some major ups and downs. Watch this space.



Friday, 5 January 2018

Palm Beach

After a great time in Cape Canaveral we left and headed south toward Palm Beach. The sun was out, the sea was calm and it was much better weather than we have had on previous sails. We even put the main sail up but that was a mistake as the wind just dropped so much we were only doing 2 knots with the wind on our bow, which is a really bad thing.
Never mind we dropped the sails and started the engine and we were back up to 6 knots which was much better. As we motored south the sunset was outstanding and it was a total pleasure to be out on the water even though we weren't sailing.

After a great nights sailing we arrived in Palm Beach and I was gob smacked by all the very expensive yachts around. These boats are something out of a movie and must cost millions. I think most of them are a status symbol for most people and hardly get used at all.

After mooring up we washed the boat down and went for a little look around. Sienna, who is Simon and Kim's daughter was invited to a photo shoot at a BBQ later that day. They were doing a broucher and she was perfect for it, and they even offered us some burgers as payment. We gratefully excepted the offer for some free food and it was really good to. They even gave a voucher for $25 each to spend in the shop as another thank you. This was starting to become a brilliant stop and the mooring was not cheap, but at this rate it was nearly going to be free. In the end it only cost $25 for the mooring for the night. Now that's a bargain for Palm Beach I can tell you.

After our BBQ we set off into town to see all the Christmas lights and we were not disappointed at all as it was lovely. After a night on the tiles we went back to the yachts for a good nights rest. The next day we were leaving at 11am and one of the main seasons we were at Palm Beach was that Simon wanted to go down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is 3000 mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico running from Boston to Massachusetts. The reason we did not go down this way to start with is that the yacht draws to much water and we would have never got very far but at this end we were ok.

After spending our $25 each we headed off down the ICW.

Next stop Fort Lauderdale.....



Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Cape Canaveral

We left St Augustine about 11am and sailed all day and all through the night and arrived in Cape Canaveral about 11am. It was still cold but this time we had not driving rain which made the over night passage a lot more enjoyable.
When we arrived at the marina, both boats were moored beside each other and after we were happy they were tied properly we washed all the salt of the boats. Whilst doing this the weather improved vastly and off came the thick coat and woolly hat and about time too.

After all the jobs were done we had a snooze for a couple of hours and then we went out for something to eat. Michael had been to this area before so he knew the perfect place to eat and it was really nice too. On our way out to we saw a Osprey sitting on the mast of the boat and it was just staring at us. I have never been so close to this stunning bird too.

After a good nights sleep we got up early and caught a taxi to Kennedy Space Centre. I was really looking forward to seeing this place as I had heard so many good things about it and I can tell you it lived up to everything I thought it was going to.
It was a bit expensive to get in but after seeing other places in America it does not surprise me at all. I was in America many years ago and it was cheaper than the UK but I can tell you the UK is much cheaper then this country now. Never mind I was not going to let that disappoint my day.

Once through the entrance you come across a picture of John F Kennedy with his famous words from his speech. "For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest but by a banner of freedom and peace"

I was so impressed with this place and all the stories about every little thing that went on. They do their best to thank everyone from the tea lady to the astronaut's and when you see the size of one of the rocks you can't help but be impressed and gob smacked at the same time, but I think the space shuttle "Atlantis" was the icing on the cake for me. To be told how it was built and how long it took them to do it was out of this world and to think it did so many missions too was just amazing.

For me this place is a must for everyone and if you ever get a chance to go then do it, as its worth every penny.

After a great day and a good nights sleep we left a little bit later in the day as we did not want to be at our next destination until it was day light so we departed about 3pm which gave me enough time to get some washing done and get a nice hot shower.

Next stop...... Palm Beach..

Friday, 15 December 2017

St Augustine

After a good night’s sleep, we awoke about 5.30am and start the generator and engine so it could tick over nicely before we headed out into the Atlantic once again. The rain was still pelting down, and the wind was still there but we needed to get down the coast in daylight. We steamed out into the Atlantic and the wind had changed direction which was good, and we had no following sea’s, and it was a lot calmer too. It was still freezing cold and the wind was coming straight from the west and we had its broad side on. We were flying at some stages and reached about 30 knots and averaged 8 knots the whole day.

We eventually arrived about 2pm into St Augustine which is the oldest city in America. We had to wait about half an hour for the bridge to be opened before we could get our mooring ball, but this was not a problem as the sun started to shine and we could see an old fort which would be nice to visit. After mooring the boat, we jumped into the dingy and headed over to the marina to pay for our stay and show our documents. After that we tied the dingy to the dock we walked into the city, and I have to say it was a beautiful city too. It was full of charm with its old buildings and cobble streets and it had a fantastic feel about the place.  We could not believe how busy it was and after asking someone what was going on we found out it was the Christmas Boat Carnival. The place was buzzing, and we had to wait over an hour just to get a table for something to eat but I can tell you it was worth it.

The next day we had a look around the city and made our way to the old fort. I’m used to Bamburgh Castle or Dunstanburgh Castle and they are both big, but I have to say for America and what history it has I was very impressed with it and the staff were amazing too. They even fired a real cannon without the cannonball of course but it gave you a real feel hard it was back in the day. 

The bridge opened every half an hour for all the boats passing through.

Dingy Dock. Loads of sailing folk moored their dingy's here but you can see the docks were empty at the other side as it was damaged during the hurricane.

Jam packed streets 

  Old buildings every where and some where made out of compressed seashells. 

The bridge across into the fort

They slept in here on straw beds

Inside the fort

The guys were just about to set of the cannon. It was really load too. 

After a lovely stop, we headed out once again and sailed down the coast towards Cape Canaveral.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Here we go....

The day had finally arrived, and we only had a few jobs to do before we set sail. We topped up the boat with fresh water, did the final checks on the engines etc and paid our dues to the marina. All Kim, Simon and Sienna had to do was to say goodbye to their friends and while they were doing that I went to help another sailor who was solo sailing and needed a little bit of help to get off the dock, so he could get some fuel.

I jumped onboard the boat with him and we headed towards the fuelling dock. After filling up I gave him a push off and off he went. I have to take my hat off to this guy, as he is 70 years of age and still sailing on his own and loving every minute too. Got to love him for that.

After he set off, I ran back to Simon’s boat and jumped onboard. His friends let the ropes go and after a few tears we waved goodbye.

We motored out of the marina, down the Charleston channel and out into the Atlantic where we set our sail for the first time and then Simon turned off the engine. All I can say is that it is a weird feeling knowing that the wind is moving along on total silence. All I could hear was the waves and the wind, but we were motoring at 7 knots and it was free…. Yes free…  No fuel being used just us and the sea ahead with solar panels powering the batteries all we would have to do is sit back and enjoy.

Well if you know the sea at all, then you will know that this is not the case. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped, and the seas turned rough. I had gone from shorts and flip flops to woolly hat, gloves and winter clothes. Oh boy, it was freezing out here. It was like being at home again but this time I was going to sail through the night too. Talk about being thrown into the deep end and it was so cold that Simon decided not to do 3 hours on watch and 3 hours off, but 2 on and 2 off. It made total sense as we were both frozen to the bone during our 2 hours on deck and we were glad to get out of the wind and the cold. What made things worse was the driving rain that decided to join us I the middle of the night. It was bad enough the with the wind and the cold but rain hitting you so hard it hurts is not nice at all. We had winds gusting 30 knots, the seas were about 2 meters and in the dark of the night all you could see was the whites of the waves breaking in the moon light. At times I was glad it was pitch black as I could not see the size of the seas.

After sailing for 23 hours we eventually arrived in Amelia Island. It was a beautiful island, so we decided to get a little bit sleep and then have a look around the island about 3pm. We were at anchor on an anchor ball provided by the marina for 20 dollars a day which was really good value and then we launched our dingy to go and pick up Michael from his boat. Michael was the guy who I helped fill up with fuel and he decided to sail with us down the coast.

After paying the marina for our stay we went to the pub for a stiff one. I have never had a drink for 5 years now, but I pushed the boat out and had a shandy. Yes, I know it’s not really a drink. We had hardly left the pub when Michael got a call from the marina saying his boat had come off the mooring. We rushed back to the dingy, started it up and sped across to his yacht. Lucky for Michael’s sake a couple from another yacht managed to grab a hold of his boat and tie it against theirs without any damage done either boat. The luck of the Irish was on his side this evening. We started his engine and headed back to another mooring buoy where we put two ropes around the mooring buoy just in case one broke and the other was there for back up. After everything was tied up good and tight we made our way back into town for something to eat.

Michael was a little shocked and who can blame him after that. Its his home and when we arrived at the restaurant he entitled to another stiff one. After a lovely meal we arrived back at the yachts for an early night as we were leaving at 6am the next day as we were heading to St Augustine and we wanted to be there for day light as the mooring buoy was in a shallow area and it’s better to do that during the day than night.



Thursday, 7 December 2017

Nearly ready to sail.

We have been working really hard over the last few days getting the boat ready to sail and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
The boat is polished, the hull is cleaned, anchor winch switch is fixed and lots of little jobs being done now before we set sail into the ocean.
Its all hands on deck as the start line gets closer. Sienna has now finished school but she had her 1st day of home schooling on the boat on Monday which I think really well.
Simon and Kim are getting the final things put into place before we leave and hopefully everything goes smoothly while we sail.

Here is a few pictures of the jobs we have been doing and hopefully this will be the last as we enjoy the sailing adventure.