Screwed In Style

Friday December 7, 2012

Ever since we got to St. Augustine and found out that we’d be here for more than a few days, everyone we’ve encountered has told us that we need to make it out for First Friday Art Walk.  After looking this up a little more we found out that it is held the first Friday of every month, rain or shine.  There are tons of member galleries throughout historic St. Augustine and they open their doors from 5-9 pm for people to parade through and check out local artist while enjoying refreshments set out by the galleries.

We’re not huge art enthusiasts, we don’t dissect it or try to figure out what the artist is trying to say, but we do like to look at things even if it’s just to see if they’re aesthetically pleasing to our eye.  Especially if it’s free.  Wanting to somewhat look the part of avid art goers though we ironed clothes, I straightened my hair, and we looked like we could actually pass for people that lived in the area and did this all the time, or at least not like we just climbed down a ten rung ladder into dirt and rocks and walked there.  Since we still must have made the sun mad in some way that we don’t even know, it was a dark and cloudy walk with a light mist falling down, distorting vision through my glasses and curling my hair back to it’s previous state.  If only we had arrived by car we may have looked a little classier than we did by the time we got there.

Beginning at a recommended gallery on King Street I wiped down my glasses and tried to slick down the frizz in my hair as women walked around in dresses and men in blazers.  It was still early though and we realized they may have been employed at the gallery, or the artist, because soon other people started to wander in wearing jeans and sneakers.  After checking out some paintings that we really did like and me hinting to Matt that $50 was actually very cheap for an original (small) painting and we could find room for it on Serendipity somewhere, we moved through other rooms where we also both fell in love with sets of painted cabinets, tables, and chairs.  Staring at them even I couldn’t propose a decent location for them on the boat and we agreed they’d have to wait for the beach house we’ll never have.  At that same time though the refreshments came out and with a glass of wine in my hand I was at least able to pretend in my mind that one day we’ll have a charming cottage on Lake Michigan in which to display all these beautiful things.  Oh well, you have to give a little to get a little, and we chose a life of travel instead.

Ending up having to chug the rest of my red wine since I normally and was sipping on it so slowly, we moved on to the next location, more of a touristy stop of gifts than a gallery, but they did still have a few works of art there.  On the front windowsill there were candles you could light (after purchasing them and bringing them home) that would give you whatever was labeled on the front.  Being the jokesters that we are I held up one set to Matt that was labeled ‘Happy Marriage’.

“What do you think about these?”, I asked.

“I think we’re going to need a lot more than a set of candles”, he replied.

“We could pair it with these”, I responded and held up another set of candles labeled ‘Miracle’.

That actually did get a good laugh out of him as he shook his head at me.  Maybe I should buy that set anyway and ask for a miracle for the boat.  Like the survey was wrong and she’s actually in perfect condition.  Or that little gnomes will come fix her while we’re sleeping.  It could happen.  Especially if I’m lighting candles for a miracle.

Continuing down King Street we’d just walk into any gallery that was open and quickly learned that they were not all the same.  One that was connected to a fancy hotel did only have people in blazers and dresses sashaying around and reflecting things like “Well honey, I just bought a piece by this artist, I don’t know if we need another one for the same room”.  But we really enjoyed the art in that gallery so we stayed for a little bit and marveled at a few of the intricate sculptures on display.  This gallery did not have it’s prices on display with the art but the next one did and we were blown away by the prices.  Small items started in the $1,200 range with things going upwards of $40,000.  Standing near the back of the gallery there as an employee walking around assisting people with any questions they had.  She smiled politely at the couple next to us and asked of there was anything she could help with.  After they replied no, I kid you not, she stepped toward us smiling, about to ask us the same question, looked us up and down, and quickly spun on her heels and walked away.  We weren’t going to buy anything of course, it was African design and not our taste, but at least be polite and ask!!  Showing her we weren’t as uncouth as she thought I whipped out my $18 lipgloss the next time she passed and smirked when she asked a coworker where the term ‘Bohemian’ came from.  I could have answered that.  Possibly only because we just watched Sherlock Holmes and there was a reference to it in there, but still.

Our night was ended with a stumble upon a gallery down a cobblestone street that had live music by a group playing Spanish Guitar (so beautiful!) and a wander through the courtyards of the Lightner Museum where rows and strands of lights gave a perfect ambiance and a fairy tale castle setting.  From the fountain out front to the tall palms and coy pond in the interior courtyard it felt like we were transported to another country and another time.  Finally pulling ourselves away we began our way back while texting Rode Trip who are still in St. Mary’s GA and told them what they were missing, hoping they’d get moving and join us soon.  They told us about their time stuck in Georgia and a big night out for them was $0.50 wing night.  I think they summed up our situation when they said, “Well, at least you guys are screwed in style”, referring to how the town we’re stranded in has so much more to offer than theirs.  I definitely can not object to that.

I do not like that forecast.

Restocked & Recharged

Thursday December 6, 2012

48 hours after the survey and we still have not heard anything on when an adjuster is coming out to inspect Serendipity so we can get the ball rolling with repairs.  Sitting in a boat yard doesn’t leave you with a whole lot to do, so it was nice when Ryan and Tasha stopped by the other night to check on the damage, check on us, and pull out a couple of bottles of red wine from their backpack.  It also left me with the opportunity to get one of the cutest photos ever.

Tasha & Georgie

Today we took advantage of one of the little perks here at the marine center and that is their his and hers Huffy bicycles.  While staying at the municipal marina we were never able to get past a little stretch of the main road housing the West Marine and a pet supply store, so that’s when we had used my grandparents to get us to Target and a few places further down the road.  Armed with one speed of pedal power though we made it to Target, Home Depot, Publix, and even made a run for the border for lunch.

Now our fridge and cabinets are overstocked with food and we’ve even let ourselves splurge on store brand soda since we’ve pretty much given up on our home-rigged soda machine that can’t seem to keep carbonation inside of a bottle.  To drink something that fizzes and pops in your mouth again?  Well, it’s heaven.  Our trip to Home Depot was fruitless since we couldn’t find a propane hose in the size we needed to connect our grill to the propane tank.  We’re trying to get ourselves away from using the little green bottles before we leave the county since hopefully there will be so many fish on the line that we’ll be grilling almost every night and it would be much much easier to only have one system to worry about propane through.  When we walked into Target I was almost caught in material overload again and had to keep myself in check.  It was hard though, with all their cute holiday clothes on display, sequins shinning in the light.  There were high heeled shoes, pretty little pieces of jewelry, and clutches I could just imagine swinging around on a night out on the town.  But then I remembered we have nowhere to go and Christmas will probably be spent on the boat in shorts and flip flops.  It should have been in the Bahamas, but I’m sure a nice dinner in the cockpit while on the hard will suffice.

One very important thing we did leave with though, as silly as it sounds, was an extension cord.  I can’t remember if I mentioned that when we were back in Michigan and cleaning out the boat to make room for all our necessary cruising items we ditched our shore power cord since it was large and bulky and we’d be making all our own power from solar and with the engine when necessary.  Besides, shore power cords can only be used when you’re connected to shore, docked at a marina,  and that never happens with us.  So over the side of the boat it went.  (On to ground, because we were still on the hard, and then next to the trash can for anyone that wanted to have it)  Well now that we’re sitting here in the sunshine state we seem to have scared the sun away and our batteries are really hurting.  So with this extension cord we can connect it to a power strip and run things like our laptops, the tv, charge our phone, ect.  Now the only things our batteries need to worry about are the fridge and the lights.  But with the bright glow of a tv in front of your face, we’ve been able to cut back use on those as well.

 

 

I Got 99 Problems But A Bilge Ain’t One

Tuesday December 4, 2012

Yes, I have been saving that title for quite awhile now.  (It’s in reference to a Jay-Z song) No, I did not want it to be used in a case like this.  In my head it was to be used for something along the lines of It’s raining today and we won’t be able to lay out on this tropical beach we just arrived to.  Not for I crashed my boat coming into an inlet and now this is going to cost us a lot of time and money.  Let me see if there are any other ones that need to be scratched out before they bring impending doom to us or our boat.  Hmmm.    Rock You Like A Hurricane. Gone.  Under The Sea.  Could have been used for snorkeling but now it’s too risky.  Sunny With A Chance of Rainbows.  Wait, no.  That one needs to stay.  Now don’t think I’m superstitious enough to believe that a pending blog title caused our little accident.  That’s silly.  No, it was the cat’s fault.  Notice how this happened just after we got her?  Pretty sure she’s bad luck.  (Just kidding Georgie, mommy and daddy love you)

Now where was I?  Ah yes, the ill-fated results of our haul out and survey.  Things were looking hopeful this morning.  We’d had four days to get over the initial shock of the accident happening and after being talked up by many many people we started to believe what they told us.  It’s going to be fine.  Boats are strong, people are usually the wink link.  I’ve done much worse to my boat and the damage wasn’t that bad.  It will probably just be a few small scratches.  You’ll be back in the water before you know it.  We wanted to believe all this.  We needed to believe.  So when we woke up first thing in the morning and there was not a cloud in the sky and it was already warm enough to ditch the jacket, our minds were in the ‘perfect day’ sort of frame.  Sea Tow was ready to bring us over to a large slip and then the lift would pull us out of the water, we’d be washed down, and then set on blocks to have a proper survey done.   Easy peasy.

Things were going along smoothly and we were still optimistic until the hull was completely out of the water and the keel was exposed.  All along the seam was a long crack and on the fin were scrapes and scratches.  I won’t pretend like I know all things boats or the make-up of them because I don’t, but even I could tell at this point that it wasn’t good.  And the fact that Matt was off to the side shaking his head repeating  “This isn’t good, this isn’t good” just confirmed it for me.  The bottom was given a quick wash and then we were brought over and set on some jack-stands set of to the side for us where a ladder was strapped on to get on and off the deck.

Taking a closer look at the outside we started to see other things wrong besides just the scrapes and cracks.  The rudder, although it still had it’s full range of motion, was cracked at the top, scraped on the bottom, and overall looked to be crooked.  The prop was not doing well either.  Besides the fact that it had our genoa line wrapped around it so tight that it now almost looked like a permanent part of the boat and needed to be cut off with a very sharp knife, the strut was twisted and chipping away from the faring compound that was holding it to the hull.    There were a few other things we could tell were wrong, but not knowing how to correctly put them in a paragraph I’ll just include them in a list in a minute instead.  (Just remember when I write this that I may get a few things wrong.  Luckily there is a person on this boat who actually and correctly does know all the issues, that person is just not me)

Getting to the inside of the boat with the surveyor we had emptied our garage (aft cabin) with all it’s contents out on the deck so all the parts of the engine and the stern would be accessible.  More accurately I’m told, things like the motor mount and stern tube.  Moving through the cabin we pulled out drawers to give access to the tabbing  (the part that connects the bulkheads with the hull) and where the bolts are that would remove the keel. Lastly the bilge, mast step, and remaining fiberglass tabbing was checked.  Throughout the survey we’d get sound effects like “Oh, that’s bad!”.   Or that sound where you suck in your breath because you just saw something you’d rather not have seen.  Then they were concluded with “Wow, you guys really took a pounding”.  Did we tell you about how spaghetti we had sitting under the floor boards burst out of it’s package because we hit so hard?  Yes, we really did take a pounding.  But there was also good news to come out of our surveyor’s mouth as well.  “Wow, the damage should be a lot worse than it is.  There are so many things on here that should be broken but look to be fine.  You have a well built and sturdy boat.  You’re very lucky.”

Lucky as we can be I guess.  Had we just decided to turn around and follow another boat into the inlet or continue down the coast and skip St. Augustine we wouldn’t be in this mess at all, but hindsight is 20/20.  So it looks like we will not in fact be out of here in a few hours or even a few days.  Serendipity is going to require a lot of work.  Enough, it looks like, to even get insurance involved because there is no way we can fix it with what’s in our pocket and still continue the trip.  We contacted them today and hopefully and adjuster will be sent out soon because until then there will be no check cut to the boat yard and work can not start.  And even if work does start right away we’re looking at a two to four week stay here.

  As promised, here is a list of things to be fixed, taken right from Matt’s text to his mom, so you know it’s correct:

To be fixed by the yard:

  • Transmission needs to be sent out and inspected
  • Rudder bushings are gone
  • Rudder shaft is bent
  • Drive shaft is bent
  • Strut is twisted
  • Motor mounts are shot
  • Lots of tabbing is broken
Other issues because of the grounding:
  • Anchor was lost and will need to be replaced
  • Dodger window was broken and will need to be replaced (and after all my hard work on it!)
  • Microwave took a nasty spill and will need to be replaced (yes, we are from the Hot Pocket generation, leave us alone)
  • Chalk on the starboard bow was broken
So there you have it.  We’ll know more once we have the report from the survey and I can give a breakdown of the actual work to be done to Serendipity.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but hey, at least the bilge is still working!

The line that’s causing all this trouble.

She’s up and out!

Starboard side hull and keel.

Port side hull and keel.

Chips on the rudder.

Cutting the genoa line off the prop.

Same City, Different Address

Monday December 3, 2012

Yesterday we had my grandparents out to visit and could not have asked for a more beautiful day here in St. Augustine.  The sun was out and it was even warm enough for me to wear shorts.  Shorts!!  I haven’t done that since…..Manhattan.  With their visit we were able to spend the day relaxing and forget all about our pending boat problems.  There was only window shopping down cobblestone streets, lunch on an outside patio, and even ended the day with a nice ice cream treat.  We may have also used them to cart us around while we ran the errands that were too hard to do on foot, but hey, what are grandparents for?  There was also an invite extended to stay with them should we need to while repairs are being done on Serendipity, they only live three and a half hours away, but we’re both hoping it won’t come down to that.  Just a day or two (or an hour) out of the water and we’ll be good to go again.

Waking up to clouds and rain today we weren’t worried about missing out on sightseeing the town again since our ever awesome Tow Boat US Captain, Justin, was swinging by to pick us up and deposit us at the St. Augustine Marine Center.  Coming in on Thursday night not under our own power we figured Matt would jump in the water at some point to cut loose the line that was wrapped around the prop and make it so we could move ourselves again, but since we’re now Tow Boat US members and our membership entitles us to free tows we decided to take advantage of that and save Matt the dive into the water.  I wonder if that was wise though, it probably would have forced him to finally get our snorkel gear that we still haven’t bought yet.  Still high on the list of priorities?  I think it counts.

When Justin arrived he was fully prepared for the rain sporting his foul weather gear while I foolishly thought my thin jacket would do the job.  Getting my glasses fogged and covered in rain drops I started cleating the lines Justin threw me until I realized I’d have to undo the line for the mooring to get the tow line underneath it.  This led to a game of tug of war between myself and the mooring line and since it was becoming such a close battle I let Matt tie on the rest of the lines from Justine while I slowly inched my way up to the ball where we were tied on.  I felt like I was winning the battle until it was time to untie ourselves from the mooring and cold and tired I handed the line to Matt while I took refuge under the bimini.  Floating off into the bay Justin put a call into the draw bridge and for once I was happy to not have a care in the world of when it opened because it was neither of us trying to fight the current to keep our boat in place.

The ride was a fairly short one, just over a mile down the Matanzas River and then up a little side creek where we were parallel parked between a couple of catamarans.  The first order of business was to get ourselves checked in and luckily the rain had stopped while we blindly wandered the yard through huge  puddles to find the office.  The yard was huge and there were a variety of buildings and boats sheds and so many boats on the hard with work being done to them.  Spotting what happened to be the back of the office building we snuck in and aimlessly wandered through the halls and to the reception desk where we were helped immediately and with a smile.  Filling out some necessary paperwork we were directed to the service manager that I had been speaking to on the phone Friday and we got to relive our sob story once more as we went over what happened and what we thought the damage might be.  Then with a promise to be hauled out first thing the next morning we were left with the rest of the day to spend at a boat yard.

And what do boatyards have to offer?  HOT SHOWERS!!  Which felt so good on a cold rainy day like this.    And the best part is we don’t even have to dinghy over to them.  We can just step off our boat to hard ground and be on our way.  Pretty nice perk.  After the showers once we were clean and changed into dry clothes the sun made it’s way out again and we took a late afternoon stroll through the yard to check out all the other hundreds of boats sitting there as well.  Hopefully this will only be home for a few days, but we may as well start spying on the neighbors.

Now if only we had that kind of power.

At least some people know how to dress for foul weather.

Sorry kitty, you’ll never wear the pants in this family.

Should the world flood on December 21st, at least we will have this.

Nights Of Lights

Saturday December 1, 2012

I apologize, this is going to be a very short post as I only have about three minutes left on my battery and we need to order a new charger for my computer.  May be a few days before you hear anything.  Oh the joys.

The first Saturday in December in St. Augustine is celebrated with The British Night Watch, a tradition that commemorates the British Period of the city of St. Augustine.  This period lasted from 1763 to 1783.  The city used to be secured every night by guards marching by lantern to lock their gates, and  on holidays and special occasions the night watch was made into a festive event.  The population of St. Augustine would participate and carry a candle or lantern in the parade.  This tradition has now been brought back to the city every December.  (information taken from http://coastalcompanion.com/florida/st-augustine/british-night-watch/)

Taking place after dark when the city is illuminated we joined in the event ourselves,  standing in the town square to listen to the proclamation given back in 1763 given by  speakers dressed in full British uniform, wig and all.  They listed the rules and ordinances and a curfew that thankfully isn’t in place any more.  Once that was finished the parade began with a drum line filing down the street, all in period costumes, along with townspeople also in period costume following behind them with their candles lit.  Once they had passed anyone from the 21st century could join in.  Only finding out about the whole thing in the morning we weren’t sure exactly what was going on but we lit our 3 oz French Vanilla candle, the only thing we had on hand on short notice, and fell into line with everyone else.

Catching it on the opposite end of the square it had started on we were near the back of the line and tried to follow behind anyone holding a candle as it wound through narrow cobblestone streets filled with many shops and onlookers.  Missing the locking of the gates as we took a short cut to catch us back up to the front we also soon became distracted by all the little shops and never made it back to the square.  What we did happen to find though is Burrito Works Taco Shop which had a Gene Simmons guitar player out front decorated in Christmas lights out front and murals and graffiti on the inside.  We left our mark there as well and if you do a little scouring you can even find where Tasha and I feverishly carved our names into a table before we left.

Playing The Waiting Game

Friday November 30, 2012

At least this time we get to wait out the doom and gloom in warm weather.

(Photo taken during Hurricane Sandy)

When we woke up the morning the sun was shining and as I looked out at the storybook  landscape on the waterfront it was easy to pretend that we had come in under our own power last night and would spend a wonderful day sightseeing before pushing off again in the morning.  Reality is rarely the same as daydreams though and we were forced to face the fact that our stay would now be all about Serendipity, checking her damage, and seeing what needs to be done to get her moving again.  Getting on the phone first thing in the morning we began calling boat yards as soon as they opened.  Both Justin from Tow Boat US and the guy working the office at the Municipal Marina suggested one marine center and we called in before their morning coffee was even brewed.  A very helpful woman answered the phone and as I gave a rundown on the situation she sympathized with me but let me know their first opening would be Monday night or Tuesday morning.  Wanting to get hauled out that day if possible I let her know we’d need to check our options and get back in touch with her.  Calls went out to two more marinas where one couldn’t get us in until Monday and the other one that could get us in today would only be able to give us an hour in the sling.

Between the calls out to marinas Matt had taken a call in from the surveyor we wanted to hire who explained he would need 2-3 hours to thoroughly check everything.  Playing phone tag with all three marinas I’d constantly call back to see if they had their own surveyors, could we do our own work, and most importantly, rates.  After scribbling so much information onto a page of my notebook that I could barely remember which information matched which location we settled on going with the marine center we had called first.  Although we’d be bringing in our own surveyor they would perform a haul, wash, block, and launch all for under $300.  Plus we could do our own work there which might save us big bucks from having to hire out.  We have insurance if necessary, but if we don’t have to mess with a claim we’re not going to.  Now all that’s left to do is wait until Monday when Tow Boat Us will bring us over there (with our new membership we may as well take advantage of the free tows).

So here we sit in one of the most beautiful towns you could imagine, and we hear on the radio it is world famous for their Nights of Lights.  From what we saw coming in last night we have to figure that’s true.  Another thing this town has to offer is the Sailor’s Exchange which is a marine consignment store and the main reason I was able to talk Matt into a visit here.  Now I’m starting to wish this town hadn’t been so enticing to make us want to visit, but that’s neither here nor there.  Heading out on foot we walked past historic churches, hotels and museums until we crossed a small river and into the business district.  Finding the sailor’s exchange I let Matt wander around and shop to his heart’s content while I rested in a cushy chair near all the books and magazines.

Flipping through the articles of far off places and angelic beaches I hoped these images would reinforce my wanderlust and why we’re out here doing this.  It still must be too soon because all I could see were chances for damage and destruction at every corner.  Maybe no decisions should be made for 48-72 hours.  It was particularly horrifying when I came across an article on how important it is to have a rested crew because bad decisions can be made when one’s mind is clouded by lack of sleep or rest.  It continued to tell a story of how a crew of four was so intent to get into a harbor after multiple days out at sea that instead of waiting for morning for a clear passage into the harbor they went in at night and misread an airport tower for a navigational light, crashing their boat into the sharp rocks that lined the shore.  One person was washed off to their death and although the others made it off the boat was a wreck.  My heart began racing again as I thought That could have been me!!.  Then I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion That wasn’t me!.  In fact, after what we just went through I’m sure we’ve decreased our odds of future accidents because if there’s ever a question that we would have  previously answered Well maybe….  the answer will now definitely be no.  (most likely it will be no)  It also had me thinking that things could have been so much worse and I should be very fortunate for what we still have.

The only thing we left Sailor’s Exchange with that day were zincs, and fittings to convert our grill to run from our propane tanks.  Don’t want to spend too much money until we find out what the damage is.  And after being a little more rested we’ve had time to inspect the interior of Serendipity more thoroughly to find that some tabbing has come undone as well as other dings and dents to the teak.  While looking at the area under the settee near the bilge we did find that a few packages of our spaghetti that had been sitting in plastic bags from the store had hit hard enough to pop open and spew raw strands of pasta through the whole area.  Now it’s impossible to ignore that fact that she really did take a beating.

It could have been worse, right?

St. Augustine: The Cutest Little Town You Could Almost Shipwreck Your Boat In

Thursday November 29, 2012

With plans to get to the Bahamas ASAP, we almost made the three day journey outside straight from Cumberland Island to Lake Worth just so we’d be able to stock up the boat and leave as soon as the next weather window came.  We knew that St. Augustine, which was a 50 mile jump from channel to channel, was supposed to be a very pretty and historic town complete with another boat exchange shop, so I was able to talk Matt into a one day stay there before booking it to Lake Worth.  Basing our trips on daylight now, as we always have to do, we figured if we left with the sun in the morning we should have just enough time to get inside the inlet before it went down.  Plus the weather was calling for 15 knots from the north with only three foot waves or less, so it would be a nice downwind sail, perfect for Georgie’s first time out on the water.  Getting the anchor up thirty minutes before the sun rose, we fought a pretty nasty current going out the St. Mary’s Inlet which had us moving forward at a measly two knots, but as soon as we were free of the breakers and pointed south our speed shot back up and under headsail alone we were able to average 6-7 knots.  The sun was shinning and it was a beautiful day.  My mind was filled with thoughts of a hot shower and spaghetti dinner that night, and as we crossed into the Sunshine State my spirit lifted with the promise of soon to be warm weather and crystal clear seas.

Even though the waves were low it was not a flat ride, and since we’re not positive Georgie is 100% sure not to jump off the deck even in calm weather, we’ve already discussed that she’ll always be stowed away below while traveling.  Having left our new kitty under the warm covers of bed that morning we constantly went down to check on her to see how she was handling the rocking motion of the boat.  Each time we’d find her bundled under loads of blankets, either unaware that we were moving or so deep in sleep that she didn’t care.  Since she wasn’t getting sick or freaking out I was considering this initial voyage with her a success.  When we were only ten miles out from the St. Augustine Inlet we called the Municipal Marina and made reservations that night for a mooring ball, and with over an hour of sunlight left,  I was thinking that we’d just quickly ease ourselves in through the inlet and be relaxing inside the cabin thirty minutes after.

Our charts of the inlet only showed one green buoy, which was strange since the past few inlets we’d gone in and out of have buoys going out for miles, red and green placed together each mile along the way. Something else strange on the chart was that it didn’t show the depth anywhere in or near the channel.  Having Matt take a look he pulled out our resources and found that constant dredging and shifts are always changing the channel, so that’s why it’s not marked on charts, and entering it should be done visually by relying on the buoys in the water and using local knowledge.  Keeping my eye peeled for the green buoy listed on the chart (even though I wasn’t supposed to follow it anymore) I did not see it, but did catch sight of a red one off our port bow.  Changing course to take the red buoy on the port side, we finally spied a green next to it, Green 1 & Red 2, so I passed between them with no sight of other buoys in front of us towards the inlet.  Following the straight line that we had made between the initial buoys I began to get a little apprehensive when I still couldn’t see any others buoys and the depth began to fall from 25 ft to 15, so I hailed Tow Boat US over the VHF for verbal instructions on how to navigate the channel.

Coming back on the radio and being very helpful, he kept telling me that Red 4 was missing and I needed to find Red buoy 6 and hug it…but I still could not see anything in front of me.   Matt had even gone on the deck with binoculars without seeing any of the markers.  The sun was setting right in front of our eyes, reflecting off the water and blinding us to anything ahead, and breaking waves surrounded us on each side.  Both of us were getting very nervous and were about to about and turn around when we saw a red buoy ahead just off to starboard.  Hooray!!, we were on the right track after all!  Making a beeline for this new marker I still didn’t understand why the depths were not going up if we were supposedly getting closer to or in the channel.  Then, in the few seconds it took for my heart to jump into my throat when I realized something about this wasn’t right, there was a sudden and hard thud as the depth-sounder abruptly went from 13 ft to 4.  We had just hit bottom, and we hit it HARD.  And this wasn’t a drifting forward from deep to shallow water, it was a quick drop on to it.

Quickly throwing the engine into reverse and throttling hard we could not even move before the next wall of water picked us up and threw us down on the hard bottom again.  The stern swung to the side and now instead of running down with the waves, they were approaching us on our beam (bad news!).  It was only a few seconds from breaker to breaker and the next one that came did not lift us up but instead crashed on our side sending hundreds of gallons of water over our deck and into our cockpit.  It was here that the severity of the situation became real, as this is how boats are lost everyday at sea.  We had both been holding on tightly knowing that initial wave was coming and before the next one reached us we both had our life jackets on and were tethered in.  Matt took a hold of the wheel to point us into the waves and I jumped on the VHF to send out a distress call to the guy on Tow Boat US  I had been talking to on 18, and yelled out that we’d run aground and needed immediate assistance.  I let him know we were stuck in breaking waves and required him to come as soon as possible.

Still at the wheel, Matt was doing his best to move us forward and into deeper water.  The waves coming at Serendipity were eight foot breakers and they were completely having their way with us.  Every 10 seconds we’d be lifted up sixteen feet and then slammed down hard onto our keel.  It was like an earthquake inside the boat, and with each slam the whole boat would shake and shudder inside and out.  I was only used to running into soft sand but this felt like we were pounding down on cement.  My mind kept racing with what was happening.  Would we be able to make it out of this any moment basically unscathed?  Would we make it out, but with lots of damage? Or worst of all, Are we going to have to abandon ship and leave Serendipity behind?  Somehow in this I never feared at all for our safety.  Maybe it was because we had on our life jackets and were only a few hundred feet from shore, but I was never worried that we wouldn’t make it out.  Continually slamming up and down though without any sign that Serendipity was about to miraculously make it out, Matt gave me instructions to hit the Distress Signal on our VHF which sent out an alert to all boats in the area, and then after that he instructed me to put out a Mayday call to the Coast Guard.

Still trusting that Serendipity would get this through us I was calm and collected as I talked to the Coast Guard and explained what the situation was.  We had run aground in the inlet and there were breaking waves coming over us.  They took information as to: how many people were on board; did we have any medical conditions; were we taking on any water.  “Two, no, no.”  While responding I was still bracing myself at the navigation station below, knees giving out underneath me from the force of each slam down onto the hard ground.  I had to wonder if they could hear it on their end as well, the sickening crash and shudder from the drop of each wave.  The  TV sitting on a swinging mount in the cabin had been wildly swinging back and forth this whole time, slamming into v-berth door and leaving indents.  I flinched with each hit, knowing it would leave permanent damage to the door, and then getting disgusted with myself for worrying about something so trivial at a time like this.  We were in danger and I was disturbed with the physical appearance of the boat.

While speaking with the Coast Guard I heard the engine shudder to a stop, but hadn’t even realized we weren’t crashing down on the keel any more.  We had drifted out of the breakers and into deeper water between the channel’s shoal and shore which in itself was good news, but in all the chaos, the sliding genoa car that holds the line for our jib lines had broken loose and wrapped around our prop leaving us dead in the water.  There was a strong current and smaller breaking waves still pushing us toward shore, and due to Matt’s quick thinking he dropped our anchor, a Rocna 25 Kg, which stuck immediately, kept us into place, and allowed us to face bow into the waves.  This was very important because not only would we have drifted to shore and shallow water again, but the breaking waves would have also likely turned us on our side and rolled the boat over if we were not able to keep ourselves facing into them (Typically, you only need breaking waves half the width of your boat to roll it over… these were larger  than the 5’6″ our boat would need).  If we didn’t have that Rocna, and it didn’t hold right away like it did, we would not have even had a chance to save our boat while waiting for help to come.  Getting back on the VHF with the Coast Guard I informed them our engine was not working due to a wrapped line around the prop and we were now adrift in deeper water.  With the wind coming from right where we needed to go, sailing out wasn’t an option.

 Not having anything to keep him preoccupied now, Matt let his nerves start to get the best of him as he stumbled down the stairs, still assured in his mind that we were going to lose the boat and have to be evacuated.  Between short breaths he tore through the aft cabin pulling out our backpack and stuffed Georgie inside of it.  Going into our hanging locker in the head he grabbed our dry bag and started throwing in our laptops, important papers, passports, and anything else small and of value.  These were all smart things to do, but the look in his eyes was terrified as if to say ‘We’re not going to make it‘.  Calming him down the best I could I assured him that the three of us would make it out of this and that’s what was important.  Even if the boat was lost we’d still have each other.  Even though the chance of losing the boat was not what he wanted to hear this seemed to work a little and his breathing slowed down as he started to gain control again but I could tell his mind was still full of what ifs?.

 Not knowing who/when/if anyone was still coming to rescue us since the Coast Guard Station was all the way up in Jacksonville, I was relieved to hear the voice of Tow Boat US come back on the radio and say he was moments away.  By now the sun had already set and pale pinks and blues were painting the coast of the Atlantic.  When I looked over to see the bright flashing lights of Tow Boat US my heart lifted as I could now see help was on the way.  Our Rocna was still holding us steady in ten feet of water, which is enough for our keel to clear the bottom, but now in the heavy breaking waves of the beach’s surf line, we figured that with this assistance we may still save our home.  Communicating through VHF he said he was going to trail a line with a bridle at the end and when it drifted close enough to it, Matt who was at the bow with a boat hook, would grab it and attach it to our cleats up front.  Once that was done we’d pull up the anchor and be on our way.  It sounded so effortless and I began to let myself relax in just the slightest.  We were going to be out of here in just a few minutes and leave this nightmare behind.

As the tow boat made it’s first pass we kept our eyes on the water for the yellow bridle that was to be our savior, but it was nowhere in sight.  When he called back on the VHF I replied that it hadn’t come by yet, but then I spotted it.  100 feet off our starboard side and not drifting any closer to us.  Calling this information back to him he said he’d make another pass.  Swinging around once more his boat passed a few hundred feet in front of us and as soon as he was even with our bow he shot back out into the deeper water.  Once more we watched the bridle pass this time 50 feet to our starboard side with no indication it would come any closer.  I didn’t get why he couldn’t pass any nearer to us or why he wouldn’t continue past our bow before heading back out as in my mind that would seem to put the lines within reach.  Then it occurred to me that he couldn’t do either of those because those large breakers we were stuck in, and by coming closer, he would be putting himself and his boat in danger which would be a lose/lose situation for everyone.  The optimism of getting pulled off was diminishing and for the first time I let myself get scared.  It was getting dark out, the tow boat couldn’t successfully get to us, and we might lose everything after all.  A lump formed in my throat as I tried to hold back tears.  All the confidence and repose was draining out of me and I was moments away from breaking down.

Just at the moment I was about to succumb to the fears building up inside of me, there was another voice on the radio.  Local search and rescue had been listening to the distress call and our interaction with the tow boat on how he was unable to get the line close enough to reach.  They were sending out one of their jet skis that could grab the line from the tow boat and bring it directly to us.  We were thrilled to hear this, but the waiting began again.  Matt was still stationed at the bow and I was in the cockpit.  Both of us would have to brace ourselves as the waves that were starting to grow again would throw our side up before coming back down.  We were now at a 50-60 degree angle to the waves and although they weren’t sending water in the cockpit it was a very uncomfortable ride.  As the sky turned the color of a blueberry I looked back to shore to see a Coast Guard search and rescue truck stationed on the beach 300 feet away with lights flashing, reflecting off the sand and water.  The waves built a higher, and as I’d start to get small rushes of water over the gunnel and into the cockpit, my heart began to beat faster.  I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to take this.

As my mind started to go into the darkest places of what might become of us we got a call on the radio that search and rescue had us in their sights.  Looking over our port side we saw their bright flashing lights and hopes lifted again.  Coming up to our boat to check on our physical (and probably mental) well being, they advised that instead of bringing the bridle to us they’d instead have us cleat off our own line that they would bring over to the tow line.  Knowing that time was a factor I started grabbing lines from the cockpit floor and unknowingly began to start handing out our reef line thinking it wasn’t attached to anything.  Having come back to the cockpit to feed the line to search and rescue, Matt caught my mistake and dove into the back lazarette for our double braided drogue line and handed it to me to untie.  Although it had been tied and stowed properly, it became a mess as it fell onto the cockpit floor while trying to get all 200 feet ready to hand out.  Using all my strength I heaved and pulled at the now wet line trying to work out kinks and knots.  When we had 3/4 of it  straight Matt took the line to the bow to cleat off and search and rescue made a pass to pick up the other end.  After two attempts the line was secured by them and they made their way back to Tow Boat US who was sitting safely off in the distance.

Keeping in contact through the VHF we discussed the next steps with Tow Boat US.  Once he had the lines secured, he would notify us when we were to take our anchor up, and once we were free, we’d call back to him and he’d tighten the line and begin the tow.  Everything went smoothly on his part and after working our windlass hard to pull ourselves to the anchor and get the Rocna up, which had dug itself in pretty deep, I was given the signal by Matt which I excitedly relayed on the radio and the towing process started.  Being walked through step by step from the tow boat I had the wheel cranked hard to starboard to get us facing the tow boat, and once we were pointed at the stern, I was told to keep it there.  We were now in pitch black and all I had to go by were the yellow and while lights shinning on the top of his boat.  Letting my eyes sneak to the chart several times I kept an eye on the depth, fearful of being pulled back into the shoals we had passed through earlier.  The tow boat captain was knowledgeable of the area though and brought us far to the south of the breakers before rounding to head back into the channel.  Every time we were about to make a turn he’d call it back to me on the radio and pass through very slowly so I’d constantly be able to position myself behind him.

Before I knew it we were through the channel and into the Matanzas Bay.  I let out a huge sigh and my tense body was finally able to relax.  We had made it through this.  Looking up into the town of St. Augustine the waterfront was covered in Christmas lights and it looked like something out of a fairy tale.  Letting myself get distracted by something other than the boat I took a few minutes to appreciate all the beauty around us.  As I sat there admiring the lights I heard movement in the water next to our stern and puffs of air escaping the blowholes of a pod of dolphins that came to surface next to us.  I couldn’t see them but they stayed there for a few minutes, as if they were surveying the situation and making sure we were ok.  Unhooking the tow lines our guide boat came up beside us to ‘hip tow’ us the rest of the way to the mooring ball we had made a reservation on for the night.  Secured in we began the paperwork and got the chance to chat with the guy who saved Serendipity.  Captain Justin Daily is the one who heard our initial questions about navigating the inlet and had already been on his way out to help guide us in before our distress call went out.  Through the whole ordeal he was calm, confident, polite and made it very easy to put our minds to rest of the whole situation.  Back at the mooring ball he was insistent on making sure we were alright and worked with us to make the bill as manageable as possible since we were not yet Tow Boat US members.  We could not have asked for a better person to help us out that night.

When all the paperwork was finished and the tow boat was gone we immediately had visitors from Hideaway who were at the mooring ball next to us and heard the whole thing go down on their radio.  Changing out of our soaking we clothes we jumped in their dinghy and after all of us checked in to the office we took advantage of the hot showers and walked across the street to get some food.  We relayed the whole story to them over drinks and a hot meal.  They assured us it probably wasn’t as bad as we anticipated and boats are much sturdier than we think they are.  Asking what our plans were next we could only tell them that we’d have to haul out to inspect the damage.  As far as what was after that, neither of us had a clue and agreed not to make any decisions that night.  If we had that night, we probably would have been two one-way tickets back to Michigan on our credit card.  It was a trying night and we were so thankful to have friends there waiting with open arms, give outside perspective, and remind us what we have to be thankful for.

In the end we made it out mostly in one piece.  We’re safe and although Serendipity will have permanent damage, hopefully it will be minor repairs that will have us back on our way in a matter of days.  She took a very bad pounding but through it all we never had any water coming in, steering was moving freely and besides some cosmetic issues to the interior plus all of our belongings scattered around her, she looks to be holding up pretty well.  Probably better than us at the moment.

Some very big thanks need to go out to all that got us and our home back to safety that night.  Thank you Justin Daily for coming to our rescue, before you even knew we needed you.  You braved breaking waves yourself and held our hand through the whole situation.  Your calmness and awareness let us know we were in good hands and and all of us (boat included) would be taken care of.  The community is lucky to have you around. Thank you to the local search and rescue team.  Without your assistance we may have never received the tow lines that pulled our boat to safety.  You were out to help us without a moments notice and without even being asked.  We appreciate it more than you know.  And lastly, thank you to Rocna Anchors.  Without your reliable anchor that we have trusted since the beginning of this trip, we surely would have lost our boat to the smashing waves of the inlet before rescue could make it out to us.  You make a remarkable product that all boaters would be wise to take advantage of.

If there was any lesson learned today, it’s to always follow your gut.  Both of us had a bad feeling about our entrance into the inlet but didn’t react in time to save ourselves a night full of heartache.  We should have circled back out right away and either re-evaluated the situation, waited for another boat to follow in, or just kept going down the coast until we found an inlet we were more comfortable with, even if that meant skipping St. Augustine all together.  So many people put themselves in bad situations and just get lucky that they come out of it fine.  ‘It won’t happen to me‘ is a common phrase in people’s minds and always floated through ours as well.  From now on I have a feeling we’ll be over-cautious in many situations and we’ll be living by the adage ‘Better safe than sorry’.  Because now we know what ‘sorry’ feels like and it isn’t very good.  In fact, ‘sorry’ downright sucks.  Taking a look around though the bright holiday decorations, historic buildings, and friendly people will all help us get through this.  I’ve only seen a little bit of it, but St. Augustine really does look like the cutest little town you could almost shipwreck your boat in.

He’s a map showing where it all went wrong.

 

After talking to local Fire & Rescue I was sent a clip of a sailboat that ran aground in the same exact spot we did, just one year earlier.  They were not as lucky, the keel of their boat fell off causing them to capsize and sending two people into the water, both of whom were rescued.  Click here if you’d like to see it.  The water conditions were the same for both them and us, but  we had clear skies and a pretty sunset.  A sunset that partially caused our demise, but it was pretty nontheless.

Georgiana On My Mind

Sunday November 25, 2012

Both Matt and I are totally animal people and when we lost our greyhound Mazzii (short for Maserati) back in April of 2011 due to cancer it was very hard for us to deal with. She was always on the boat with us every weekend and when she was gone it just felt so empty without her. There’s no way that she could ever be replaced in our hearts, but the need and want for a furry little companion was still there. We’ve heard and read from many other cruisers that cats make great boat pets because they are comfortable living in smaller spaces and since there’s no need for them to get off the boat they’re much easier to care for while traveling. Not that there aren’t just as many people out there with dogs, but a cat just seemed like a responsibility we could handle. Before leaving I bugged Matt incesently about getting one. When he asked what I wanted for my 30th birthday my response was always “A boat cat”. He’d confirm that yes, an animal companion would be nice to have and yes, a cat would require less work than a dog, but the fact that he grew up with dogs and had always been a dog person kept him hesitating, maybe later. Luckily for me, two boats in our buddy armada have cats and after hearing stories of how great they are to travel with and having these cuddly critters forced on him on multiple occassions he finally broke down and said we could look at getting one.

 Hearing from Anthyllide that there was an adoption center right in St. Mary’s where we were staying we walked out to the offices on Friday to inquire about looking at the cats. Finding the actual office was closed we had been told the husband of the shelter had his office right night door and after talking to him and giving our information he said his wife would be in contact with us. We stressed the fact that we were only in town visiting and wanted the cat before the next workweek began so it was a pleasant surprise when we heard from his wife, Terra, first thing the next morning. The shelter that housed the cats was a few miles from the waterfront and she scheduled an appointment for us to come out that afternoon. After being very surprised about hearing that we lived on a boat and this would be the cat’s home as well. I figured with this being such a big cruising community it would be common for her to hear this but maybe adopters fear this question and get their kitties while they still have a land based address. Either way she still agreed to let us come.

Neither of us had an idea of what to expect since back when we adopted Mazzii there was a whole process where they brought the dog to the house for a visit, and after certifying that we were capable pet owners there was a background check and a slew of paperwork. If you ‘passed’ the dog was brought back at a later date. Matt was thinking this would be similar and wanted to make the trip out to the shelter on foot. I kept thinking ‘What if they give us the cat today? How are we going to get her back on foot? (it was always going to be a girl) We don’t have any supplies back on the boat’. Teaming up with Kim we got a hold of a SUV for the afternoon and with six of us stuffed into it we drove off to hopefully be returning with a seventh member. Locating the place based solely on verbal directions from that morning we entered the gates and were greeted by a few dogs wandering the property. Sitting off to the side of the main house was another building and on the front railing an orange tabby was poking it’s head out of a cardboard box. We all swarmed to it and while the girls cuddled and cooed Matt was standing back probably thinking ‘Ahhh crap, we’re going to be leaving here with a cat’.

Shortly after, an assistant came by to lead us into the building and began asking questions on what we were looking for. We knew we wanted a female and a kitten young enough that it could easily adapt to life on a boat. Walking through the hallway there were stacks of beds and scratch pads all full of full grown cats looking for a little attention and love. We had found out from the husband the day before that this is a no kill shelter so they were currently housing 209 cats!! That is a lot of cats looking for love! We also had heard from him that there is a full time staff of three people that regularly take the cats out and play with them so it was nice to hear they weren’t shut away and ignored. Being led into the room of young cats it was so hard not to pick up every one and say “I’ll take this one, and this one, and this one”. Some were roaming free and others were in cages but the woman started opening all the doors to let them jump out and play. Matt had the idea that he wanted a white cat or one with white in it since he thought they were pretty, and sitting in a cage were two mixed color cats with white in them. Of the two one was male so he was out, but opening the door I scooped up the female to find her quickly jumping out of my arms and onto the counter. Picking her up a second time she did the same thing.

While I was trying a third time to grab her a few other kitties tried to come in and fill the space this one was leaving open by cuddling and purring and trying to get their faces, bodies, and tails anywhere our hands were moving. These super social cats were a little older than we were looking for but Kim was there to scoop one up give it a little love while we kept looking. In the smaller range (5-7 mo) was a litter of domestic black striped/tiger cats (?). One of the females (I can’t remember her name so I’ll call her Dylan) was also very interested in being pet. After playing with her for a few minutes on the counter I tried scooping her up as well to see how she liked being handled. I couldn’t keep her in my arms very long as at first chance she’d crawl up my shoulder and on my back. I was very fond of her though and as we paraded around to all the other cats in the complex she stayed attached to me the whole time. The other cats were cute but they were all either too big or too old, or even too young. 90% sure that I wanted Dylan I kept putting her on the table and picking her up to try and keep her in my arms, and each time she’d crawl up my shoulder. As we were getting to the point to make the decision, Dylan jumped off and scampered to another table. We went to search after her but she seems to have a twin in her litter and it made picking the right one difficult. With the help of the staff who know the cats much better, we found which one was Dylan and that her twin was Roxie. Thinking I had been carrying Roxie around the whole time though, the assistant raved about her personality, what a great cat she was….and while doing so was holding this cute little kitty in her arms without it trying to climb or run away. Split second decision between Dylan and Roxie I chose Roxie. The paperwork was filled out and even though they desperately tried to get us to adopt a second one as well (for no cost even) we had Roxie in a carrying case and ready to go.

Back in the car I looked at Matt and presumed “We’re not going to keep her name Roxie, are we?”. “Hmmmm,” he thought, “Probably not”. Not that Roxie was a bad name. We just have this thing where we like to name our pets. “What do you want to call her?” I probed, curious to see what he had in mind. “It’s your cat”, he retorted, “You pick a name”. So I went with a name that I had been saving for a child that he’d probably never agree to (Name or child? You’ll never know.) It’s something that’s fit for the Southern Belle of a kitty she is and specific to where we got her. Georgiana. Maserati, Georgiana…what kinds of yuppy names do we give our pets? But we’ll be calling her Georgie for short so any new cruisers that meet her along the way won’t know how stuck up we really are. Georgie took the car ride back very well and even accompanied us in to a quick trip into the pet store where we picked up food, bowls, a collar, toys, and treats. When we got her back to the boat she was eager to explore and even more eager to cuddle. She does this thing that we’ve started to call dive-bomb cuddling where she’ll lunge her head really hard at your hand or neck or face to cuddle with you. She constantly wants to be on your lap and will purr like crazy any time you’re touching her. She wants to be around you so much that if you pick her off your lap and set her to your side she’ll come back again and again and again. I had to do work on the computer with her on me because she just wouldn’t go anywhere else.

So far we are loving the new addition to our crew although Matt did have a small breakdown when he tried to fit all her new belongings (litter box, litter, food) into our already cramped living space. It all worked out though and the love we’ve already received back from Georgie totally outweighs any negatives of space. She always wants to spend time with us, gets excited for guests, and has the cutest little meeew while looking up at you with big saucepan eyes. If you’re ever in southern Georgia or northern Florida I highly recommend going to For The Love of Pets and adopting one of their animals. We’re already trying to talk Rode Trip into going back and getting one as they’re now the only boat in our little armada without a cuddly little feline that brings so much joy. You hear me Brian? Go back and get one. Now!!

Entering the grounds for the shelter.

Cats everywhere!!!

Sorry kitty, you’re just a little too old.

Georgie making herself right at home.

Couldn’t get rid of her if I tried.

 

Click on the monkey’s fist to read others bloggers on this topic.

The Monkey's Fist

 

Cruiser’s Thanksgiving

Thursday November 22, 2012

(Photo courtesy of Hideaway)

Let me set the stage for you on how our Thanksgiving morning began.  The sun was out once again and we had let ourselves sleep in until 8:00 where we allowed ourselves to lounge under the warm covers while checking messages on the phone.  Suddenly there was a rap on the hull to take us out of our early morning daydreaming.  Stumbling (literally) out of the v-berth I tried to find pants and jacket to put on while I wondered who on earth could be visiting us this early.  Was it the master of ceremonies for the night trying to get a head count or find out what dish we were bringing to pass?  Just as I was about falling on the floor trying to pull on my skinny jeans from the night before, the only thing accessible to me at the time since we had actually put away all of our laundry right away for once, I just got to the companionway as there was another rap.  Popping my head out there were two cruisers in a powerboat hanging on to our rail.  “How many people you have aboard” one of them asked, confirming the thought in my head that it must be about dinner.  “Two” I replied and as I said that he opened a cooler and pulled out two Dixie cups and set them on our gunnel.  “Two Bloody Mary’s.  Happy Thanksgiving” he nodded and drove off to the next boat.  Alcohol delivered to our boat for us?  Free oysters for dinner one night, and a Thanksgiving turkey the next night?  I could see why this town was so popular for cruisers around the holiday, they really know how to take care of their own.

Here’s a little history of Cruiser’s Thanksgiving and how it came to be, taken from All At Sea.  The tradition began 12 years ago when a small group of cruisers tucked into St. Marys to wait out a nor’easter over Thanksgiving. Local resident and avid sailor Charlie Jacobs knew how difficult it was to prepare even a small turkey breast aboard a boat, and he didn’t want the sailors to miss out on the holiday meal. He asked Riverview Hotel owners Jerry and Gailia Brandon if they would open their lounge for a cruisers’ potluck. With Jacobs cooking a turkey, other townspeople providing food and supplies, and the cruisers bringing the side dishes, a tradition was born. As word spread about the warm hospitality, the event began to grow to numbers no one ever imagined.  We ended up here after hearing about it from Anthyllide although we had originally planned to be much further south at the time.  Since it happened we were not in Florida yet (although St. Mary’s is right on the border and our boat may have been anchored in Florida water) we thought that good friends and a turkey dinner would not be a bad way to spend the day.

With clothes on and Bloody Mary in hand I went to work making my contribution for the day, cornbread muffins.  Not fancy, I know, but we were low on groceries and they go with the season.  In the next few hours I managed to get all my cooking done plus take a nice sink shower and get myself into a dress.  30 minutes before the early afternoon dinner was to begin all of us piled into our dinghies and made our way to shore.  On our way in we saw Hideaway pulling into the anchorage, making it just in time.  As the six of us (Serendipity, Rode Trip, Anthyllide) made our way into the restaurant we could see that most of the tables had been staked out, plastic plates, glasses, and bottles of wine already set out on all but one table in the main part of the restaurant.  Quickly throwing our own plates and glasses at that last table we tried to figure out how we’d sit the six of us at this little round table meant for a max of four people.  When we saw the one next to ours had only two place settings we pulled it together with ours now forcing these strangers to have dinner with us.  Although etiquette among cruisers is usually very relaxed we seemed to be seated near one uppity lady who seemed to be very disgusted by our rearranging of tables.  We didn’t pay any mind though and although I was at the other end of table surrounded by only people I knew, our forced joiners didn’t seem to mind either once they came back and found their new dinner companions.

Once the ok was given the group of 150 cruisers that gathered for dinner made a line around the buffet table.  With this many people trying to grab food at once we thought we’d be smart by waiting for ten minutes before getting in line but even that plan still put us in the line outside and wrapping around the block.  Maybe a dress was a little optimistic for this time of year in Georgia, it was still pretty cold out as I stood there with plate in hand waiting to get back inside.  While waiting though, Hideaway caught up with us and the four of them were able to jump in line right behind us.  Plates full of ham, turkey and a bunch of other delectable sides we went back to our crowded table and somehow managed to squeeze Tasha, Ryan, Grace, and Bill in with us as well.  Plates were on laps and the table was saved for glasses of Black Box wine and the Leinenkugel I had saved in our fridge for a special occasion.  Shutting down the dinner at four o’clock we stayed well past clean-up.  There were too many stories to be told and too much to catch up on that we could have stayed there all night.  When we finally got the hint to leave (Aka, they told us they were going to charge rent for us to stay any longer) we realized we were not ready to end the night and the party must go on.  What does this entail for a group of young cruisers on a major holiday when everything is shut down?  A boat crawl!

Starting out at Rode Trip we piled eight of us (we lost Scott & Kim) into the cabin for the first cocktail of the crawl and a tour for anyone that hadn’t been on it before.  Stories were recounted of good times we had on there and then it was time to move on to Serendipity.  Here a tour didn’t need to be given because the only people that hadn’t been on it yet were Bill and Grace, but with them having a Sabre 36 back in Port Washington there weren’t many differences to show.  What we did show was our defense system against any possible break-ins (we can lock ourselves down in there pretty well) and out came the arm knife where everyone took turns doing their best bad-ass impression of how they would take down a pirate with it.  (Don’t worry mom, it will never need to be used.  It was a gag gift from Matt’s old boss)  Lastly we ended at Hideaway where Kim & Scott joined us once again and I kept forcing the cats on Matt so he could see what great pets they are and how we should get one.  I think I may have talked him into going to a shelter this weekend to look at getting one.  There may have also been a bit of drinking as well but who wants to hear about that, right?

All in all it was an AMAZING Thanksgiving and I’m so glad we made the stop here to enjoy it.  We were surrounded by great friends and in a town that could not have nicer people in it.  We never did the tradition of going around the table to say what we were thankful for, but I think Tasha put it best when she said that because we’re living the lives we do, we’re nothing but thankful everyday and because we all so deeply feel it sometimes it just doesn’t need to be said out loud.

Early morning Bloody Marys.

Ready to feast.

The arm knife is out!

Kitty yearning is going around.

Awwww, Shucks!

Wednesday November 21, 2012

Having made a last minute decision on Monday night,we planned to, instead of waiting for the swing bridge on the ICW to open at 9:00 and take that route down to Port Royal where we’d jump out into the Atlantic, we’d instead leave with the tides at 5 am the next morning and just jump out from Charleston. Our next destination was St. Mary’s, GA which was 145 miles from channel to channel. There we’d be able to enjoy cruisers Thanksgiving and meet back up with Rode Trip. And if anyone was wondering where they are or why we haven’t mentioned them in any of our Charleston posts, they were supposed to meet us in Charleston and as we pulled in just after Anthyllide Friday morning neither of us had any clue what happened to Brian and Stephanie who were supposedly making a straight shot there from Beaufort, NC where they had left just a few hours before Anthyllide. Not hearing a word from them since Wednesday afternoon both of us boats that did make it there were worried that they were not in the anchorage and not responding to any text, e-mails or calls. Finally we heard from them Friday night that they had arrived to Charleston Harbor Thursday night but the fog in the area was so thick they could not tell where they were going and instead of chancing that they’d hit something they kept going on to Georgia and went in at Sapelo Sound. Although I thought it would never happen to me I was like a panicked mother all Friday thinking the worst had happened to them. Once we knew they were safe we had Anthyllide and Hideaway to fill in as buddy boats and still had a great time in town.

 Getting back to the present. Staying on schedule as we always do on travel days, the anchor was out of the water at 5 am and through the dark we rode out the currents and dodged large tankers until we were in the ocean. When the sun had come up behind the clouds and we traveled the necessary five miles out the channel until we were free of the jetty we turned the bow south where I successfully marked the St. Mary’s inlet. Overall the trip was less eventful than the past few ones which was a relief to me. Since batteries were low and we wanted to try our hand at working the water maker (which worked out great) we turned the engines on just after noon and ended up leaving them on the whole time since winds were dying to under ten knots and we were slowing to a crawl. Knowing that we’d make it to the inlet at sunrise if we were going six knots it wasn’t an issue to slow down, we’d still make it in during daylight, but the fact that we skipped laundry in Charleston for one last day of sightseeing put us in a little hurry since we did not want to show up to Thanksgiving dinner Thursday in clothes that had been worn for days on end and smelled like it too.

Keeping in touch with Anthyllide through the VHF because of our close proximity to each other we still ended up in sight of each other when the sun rose and went through the channel just in front of them with their aluminum hull and red sails making it look like we were being chased by something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. Dropping anchor as quick as possible I was thrown on the dink with our dirty laundry where all the cruisers that gather here had put together a shuttle to bring people in to town for such necessities as the laundromat or grocery store. Arriving back a few hours later with clothing that was now acceptable to wear around other people I found that Matt had fully cleaned the boat and we even had sheets now set back on the v-berth to sleep on. It had finally become warm enough that the condensation wasn’t as big of an issue and we could go back to sleeping in there instead of the settee like we’ve been doing for the past month. Did I also mention we found the sun in Georgia? Things are really starting to look up.

Not having time to enjoy the newly cleaned boat though I was quickly whisked off to shore again with Anthyllide and Rode Trip in tow. As part of the holiday festivities the hotel/restaurant that is putting on the dinner tomorrow was holding an oyster bar tonight. If you brought a side dish to pass you could participate in the festivities and even though we unfortunately did not have anything to bring we could take advantage of the drink specials at the bar. It was after all the biggest bar night of the year and who could pass up such an occasion with a legendary bartender ‘Cindy Deen The Porno Queen‘ (no, she was never actually in porn, still trying to figure out how she got that name) or now that she’s married, ‘Cindy Chubb, Queen of This Pub‘ serving up your drinks? Pulling together a few tables to seat the six of us we started taking advantage of the ‘buy one drink get a free refill’ special. We caught up with Rode Trip and listened to their stories of storms on the high seas with waves as high as their spreaders and how they managed to catch and clean a tuna along the way.

We hadn’t even been talking an hour when one of the gentleman putting on the event saw that we were sitting at an empty table with no food in front of us. Asking the guys if they’d like to learn how to steam oysters we all followed them out back to the patio where the action was going on. Sitting all the way in the back were bags and bags of raw oysters. Pulling them out they had to be set on a table to be hosed off and cleaned before going into a giant steamer and finally transferred to the oyster bar to be shucked and enjoyed. Matt and Brian got working with the hose while us ladies stood around with beers in hand watching. Having cleaned a full batch they went in the steamer and more oysters were placed on the table to be cleaned. A few more rounds of that and we figured we (they) had worked enough oysters to enjoy a few. Standing at the end of the table we waited for the next batch to be shoveled from the steamer into wire baskets attached to a plywood table. Only having one knife available since it was still a crowded area with oysters being picked up as soon as they were set down, we set Brain to work shucking and when he opened one he’d pass it around for the rest of us to eat.

I was able to eat one from the first batch and had it without and kind of lemon juice or cocktail sauce. It was a little chewy but overall not bad. Waiting for the next batch we were each able to get one more and this time I topped it with cocktail sauce. Waiting ten minutes for each of us to get an oyster though was becoming old so having a stroke of genius, Brian walked over to the table for us to start shucking them raw. Adding cocktail sauce again I thought these were even better and now we were able to enjoy an unending feast. Eating until our stomachs were full (surprisingly didn’t take that many) we started talking to other cruisers about their journeys and even met back up with Groovin who we enjoyed the roast with back on the Erie Canal. Ending the night we used Anthyllide as our tour guides for a late night walk through a cemetery with graves dating back to the past two centuries and then landing at a gazebo in a quaint little park on the riverfront. Talking until the low temperatures for the night started forcing us back to our dinghies it was exactly how the day before Thanksgiving is back home. Spend the day traveling so you can make it to Thanksgiving dinner but not before catching up with some of your best friends out at the bar. Some things never change.

Matt’s earning his dinner.

Giant steamer housing the oysters.

Thanks for letting me enjoy all your hard work Brian!

Shucking away.

(All photos courtesy of Rode Trip.  How could I forget my camera on a night like this?)