Picturesque St. Augustine

Monday January 7, 2012

We have gone back to sitting around the boat the past few days, but the good news is, we got word from our insurance company on Thursday that they are going to proceed with the claim and would be sending a check right out.  Over the weekend we did a few small jobs on the boat that we could, removing a few things that we had the ability to do ourselves and save on the labor.  Things such as remove the rudder, max prop, shaft and strut.  It was all done pretty quickly and easily, so there’s not much to report on it.  Real work should be starting later in the week though, and then I can start reporting on Serendipity’s recovery. So until then, here is a gallery of photos of the beautiful city we’ve been stuck in for the past five weeks.

You, Me and Manatee

Friday January 4, 2013

Ever since we shipwrecked our sorry little butts here in St. Augustine we have been in touch with one of the locals, Chris, who heard our distress call on the radio and through the magic of Google our website right away online and has been giving us helpful hints on the town and even dropped by a few weeks ago to introduce himself and drop of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies we’ve ever had. Through his helpful hints on the best places to visit in town and help us in any way we could need, he also hinted that he’d like to take us to a natural spring just outside of town to see manatees that would gather there in the winter, if we had the time and the want to do something like that.  Not only was it a very generous offer on his part, but perfectly timed since from the moment we arrived in St. Augustine we’ve had our eyes out for them in the water since they are supposed to frequent the area. So an offer to be taken to a place where we knew they’d be seen was enough to get me as excited as if we were going to Disney World.* After the holidays had passed and schedules were slowing down we set a date and planned to make the drive to Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, about a 90 minute drive from St. Augustine.

 Picking us up from the marine center in the late morning we spent the drive over catching up on how the holidays went and the new potential of progress on Serendipity. As we were getting close to the springs, Chris had another treat up his sleeve, he wanted to treat us to lunch at a local BBQ place that was supposed to be a great southern experience. He warned that it may be a little bit of a hole in the wall, but from our past experiences, those usually tend to be the best. Being the neurotic person that I sometimes am, I had already viewed the online menu before we ever set foot in the place, already sure of what I was going to order. Maybe it was because I had skipped breakfast in my rush to get out the companion way in the morning, but suddenly everything was looking good and I was back to square one. Luckily Chris was there to save me as he mentioned that between Matt and I, someone needed to get the steak and rib combo. Strangely having had a conversation on the ride down about how much I was craving a nice, juicy, medium-rare steak, I immediately volunteered myself for the meal while promising to give little pieces to Matt.

When the food came out I was faced with two choices of meat, a perfectly baked sweet potato, coleslaw and garlic bread. Usually enough food to last me for three meals but I didn’t hesitate one second to dig right in. True to his claims of it being an extraordinary barbeque experience, the food did not disappoint and most conversation halted while we all savored what was on our plates. Eating much more than I should have I eventually began forcing pieces of steak and ribs onto Matt’s plate before I could fall into a food coma and never leave the table. He was only too happy to pick up my slack before falling victim to overeating as well and swearing off any more food for the rest of the day. Not before getting a 32 oz Coke to-go for the road though. That boy and his pop. I fear if I ever get between him and his addiction.

Rolling ourselves back into the van we made the short drive the rest of the way to Blue Springs, getting more excited with each mile that passed. The day was cool and overcast, and even as we stepped out into the parking lot there was a light mist that settled on our faces, but nothing could bring down our excitement as we walked toward the boardwalk  with views of the water. Stopping just before the overlook on the spring run we began to read the plaque on the area being a habitat for the manatees in the winter months. Still being close enough to the water to see it from where we were standing, Chris nonchalantly goes, “Oh, I see one right there”. Granted he has been here before so the occurrence wasn’t as new for him, but it was enough to stop both our eyes from scrolling the rest of the way down the plaque and dart to the water’s edge.

Since Chris had sent a link to our Facebook page of the area that I scanned before coming, I knew they tried to keep a daily count of the manatees in the spring, which was hovering just over 100, but Matt had come expecting to really seek them out so he was dumbfounded when we got to the wooden deck perched over the water and there were herds of them in the sprawled out below us. Knowing they’d be easy to spot I was just as thrilled to see them and we turned into those six year olds on a field trip to the zoo, feet bouncing on the ground as I looked below. The sight really was breathtaking though, and not what either of us had been expecting to see. The water was emerald green in color and crystal clear. Looking down there were easily twenty manatees below us, some just hovering in one spot, and others slowly made their way through the water. We stood over one as it moved about directly below us, very interested in the pole that housed the camera for live internet feed.

Although I had seen a few years ago (half a life ago, now that I come to think of it), for anyone who has not seen a manatee or does not know much about them, here is a brief history. What we were standing over watching were West Indie Manatees, or the Florida Manatee to be more specific. These are mammals with front flippers and no hind limbs. Adults are approximately 9-11 feet long and weigh from 450-1,300 lbs. They are sometimes called sea cows, and the name fits pretty aptly. They are large grazers of the sea that move at a slow pace without much agenda. One thing none of us knew was their large geographic range, with the West Indies species ranging all through the Caribbean and even over to the east coast of Central America. Should we finally spot them in the wild we may be seeing them for quite awhile on our journeys.

In addition to the many manatees in front of us were huge schools of fish swimming through the water. My initial thought was, ‘I wish we had brought the fishing poles, these things look like a sure catch‘, but of course it was a no fishing zone so we settled for watching them pass by as we tried to guess the species. Using any basic knowledge we had, and eavesdropping on other’s conversations, we gathered a few names of what we thought was treading below us. Turning my back to the water for the first time I was smack dab in front of a very large and colorful sign that listed photos of the most common fish in these waters and what they were. Quickly we were able to go back to pointing them out in the water and calling them out by name. An added bonus is other people who hadn’t yet seen the sign but eavesdropping on our conversation actually thought we were much more knowledgeable than we actually were. Score one for appearances.

 Making our way up the run we continuously got closer to the spring, but also lost sight of the manatees the closer we got. Once upon the spring there was no vegetation and only a few gar fish. The spring itself looked like a gash in the water just a few shades darker than the water around it. There was a large branch resting across the top of it and you couldn’t see very far down, but from images on posters in the area the spring was a popular diving area that went down close to 150 ft and ran at an angle ending 130 ft to the side of the entrance. Not that I’ve ever even been diving before, but it looked a little narrow in some areas and probably would have made me a little claustrophobic, but I have a few friends that probably would have enjoyed it. The area is open to swimming in general in the summer months which looks fun, take a quick dive down and come right back to the surface. Another fun fact about the spring is that it pushes out over a million gallons of water a day. That’s incredible!

Going back to where we had originally started and where 98% of the manatees were gathered. We watched them float around for a little longer before heading to other viewing areas closer to the river, and supposedly where alligators could be seen at times. Yet another thing on the list of animals we have not managed to see yet on this trip. Keeping our eyes peeled in the much darker waters of the river there were no beady eyes hovering at the surface. Just as we looked the other direction there was a thrashing in the water that was quite violent and more than a splash. It was most likely a manatee having a little fun in the river, but none of us saw, and we can’t quite be sure. So to satisfy my imagination and happiness I’ll pretend that it was an alligator wrestling something, other than a manatee, in hopes for a late afternoon snack. What we were able to get visual confirmation on though was a bald eagle resting in a tree top, the second one we’ve seen in Florida now thanks to Chris’ help (who knew there was one that hangs around near the boat yard?) With chances of an actual alligator sighting growing slimmer we headed back to the park grounds.

Just before leaving we took a quick tour of the Thursby house, a plantation built in the mid 1850’s from the first people to settle at the springs. Only the first of three floors was open for viewing and while most rooms were empty of furnishings but housed photos and information of the homes history. Based on other homes of the era that we had toured on our travels south this one seemed to have much larger room, hallways, and even higher doors than what we had been used to seeing. Something comperable to if it were just built in the past 20 years. I think I smell some remodeling? After having covered every inch this park had to offer us we climbed back in the van for the drive home, tired but completely fulfilled. It was such a special and thoughtful trip, and we’re so lucky to have met Chris take us under his wing and share experiences we’d never be able to have on our own. It sounds like it’s going to be the first of many though, so stay tuned as we may actually have other adventures coming up while we’re stuck on the hard.

*He also gave us tickets to Disney World since he gets them for volunteering there.  How nice is this guy?!

 

 

Pleased To Meet Yu

Thursday December 27, 2012

Just before the holidays we had a comment on our website that said something along the lines of ‘Just found your website through your surveyor, we happen to be in the boat yard right next to yours, we’d love to meet up sometime‘.  We love meeting new people, we’ve done it plenty of times through the website, and didn’t think anything of it when we set up the date.  The couple that contacted us are Frank and Yu, and are outfitting their Hans Christian 41, Moitessier, living on the hard in St. Augustine until they are ready to leave.  Yu has been working at one of the hotels in town to save up the kitty and Frank works on the boat with hopes they’ll be tossing off bow lines in late 2013.   Setting a date to meet up for just after Christmas they let us know they have a car at their disposal they said they’d swing over and get us where we’d then run into town to grab a drink.

Giving directions for the 1/4 mile drive next door (no, really, we are that close to each other) they picked us up after dinner where we then told them since they were the locals we were at the mercy of wherever they wanted to take us.  Jumping into the car we did introductions and they almost apologized for sending an invite to meet us over the internet.  ‘We didn’t know if you guys would be weirded out, some people you’ve never met send you and e-mail and want to get together.‘.  We also then found out that they’ve spent all of their time getting their boat ready so they haven’t been out cruising yet to find out that’s how you meet half your friends.  People you’ve never seen in your life that stumble upon you and since you have this huge common link you don’t think twice about a chance to get together and share experiences and revel in the fact that there are other people out there who are just as crazy as you are.  So were we weirded out?  Not at all.  It’s how I met one of my current best friends that I now talk to every day.

Taking the car to the center of town and actually being able to grab a parking spot because of Yu’s access due to work, we headed out on St. George St, a cobblestone road shut down to traffic and is filled with bars and restaurants.  They did have a certain place in mind to take us, but after getting lost in conversation and having passed it without realizing we just kept moving on to the White Lion, the place I had mentioned a few posts ago for having $1 tall boys on Monday nights.  A few days late, or early, for that special but after finding a table in the corner as well as some relatively cheap beers on the menu.  It’s always nice going out with another couple that understand your budget because they’re on it too, and you can share in the experience of looking for the best deal.

Before drinks could even come out we were deep in conversation about boats, mostly into all the work that has been put into Moitessier.  Having spied on them through their blog (as everyone with a blog will do) we had already seen many of the projects that had been undertaken, and the beautiful woodwork Frank had a hand in.  I still couldn’t get over a propane tank he had made from scratch and tried to think of an excuse of why Serendipity might need something similar just so we could have something that stunning on our boat.  Trading all kinds of stories we found out about their wedding in Barcelona, their time spent living in New York City, and Yu’s previous career as a fashion designer.  Upon hearing that I couldn’t pay attention to anything else boat and my mind wandered to cute outfits that could be made if I could wrangle up some fabric.

We must have been having great conversation though because before I knew it we had gone through two drinks at the bar and were making plans to go back to Moitessier for a look-see and a night cap.  Feeling bad about finishing the alcohol of people we just met there was a quick stop at the gas station where Matt and I grabbed a six pack and some mini frosted doughnuts before we all went back to the boat yard.  Climbing up the ladder to the deck it just felt like normal as opposed to stepping off a dock or taking a dinghy over.  We got the quick tour of the boat, which felt twice the size of Serendipity.  For the first round of drinks we all gathered in conversation about how we came into sailing and first boats we owned.  Sitting at their settee (which is probably the size of our whole salon) we were able to look around and see the hard work they’ve put into their boat and how stunning it looked.  Although they got a great deal on it and are putting in the work to make up for it, they are going to (and already do) have an amazing boat when they’re finished.

While the boys talked more boat, Yu and and I got lost in our bottle of wine and conversations of Theology.  In my head I was sounding witty and astute, but going onto the second bottle of wine I wouldn’t be surprised if I was W. Bushing my way through the conversation, making up words and ideas that only made sense in my head.  The conversation between us must have been very fatiguing since we were both ravenous and Yu needed to heat up some pasta for us to snack on while we went back to our conversation.  By the time the last sip of wine was taken from the second bottle we opened my eyes were drooping and all of us were ready for bed.  Giving hugs and saying good-bye Matt and I climbed down the ladder and Frank drove us back to our yard.  Looking at the clock as we passed through the gate we realized it was four in the morning.  Hopefully all that wine wasn’t making me miss signs to get the eff off their boat because it was getting to late, but I think all of us were having such a good time that none of us realized how late it had gotten.  But if we can find new friends that we get so lost in time with our first night out, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other and it’s going to make our time here much more tolerable.

If I’m Lying, I’m Mayan

Friday December 21, 2012

Although the yard has now shut down until after the new year (not a big deal for us since the insurance company still hasn’t approved our claim yet), they decided to shut down with a celebration. A little cook-out with grilling and drinks that we had just found out about the day before the party, to be held for employees and anyone like us that’s stuck in the yard for the holidays. The party started and noon and went until ‘question mark’, usually once the beer runs out, so we used the morning to run errands since once we get settled in the afternoon it’s hard to force ourselves to do anything. We got back just as the tables were getting set up and waiting on the boat for a few minutes until we could be a few minutes fashionably late we made our way over to the masses. The grill was fired up but the first round of burgers and dogs had already been passed around so we found the beer cooler in the back and made some conversation with a few of the employees that have been helping us along since we’ve been here.

 When the next round of food was ready we filled our plates and placed ourselves along the long picnic table between other cruisers in the yard. One of the women sitting next to us we had just met a few minutes earlier as we had scouted out the beer cooler together and then for a bottle opener as both her and I seem to have taste for beers without twist off caps. Sitting at the table we also had the chance to meet her husband who I’m pretty sure is actually Jeff Bridges since he looked and sounded exactly like him, but was just going as another alias to try and lead a life out of the spotlight. (I’m onto you ‘Marshall’, aka ‘The Dude’) As we told them the sob story of how and why we were stuck in the boat yard in the first place they countered it with an even worse story of how their catamaran ended up on some nasty rocks where it stayed for a few days until multiple towing attempts were able to get it off. Their boat survived and after a year of extensive repairs to the hull they were back on their way again. I can’t remember if that was before or after they were de-masted off the coast of North Carolina, but it seems they have worse luck than we do and each time they just pick up the pieces and keep moving on.

One other thing we learned from them was how easy it is to become stuck in a boat yard for long periods of time. Any boater knows that you can expect most projects to take at least three times as long as you originally expect them to. Things never go as smoothly as you wish them to in your mind, they’re more labor intensive than you think, you don’t have the parts you need, and usually one project breeds at least two new ones. We’re hoping that because professionals will be doing the work on Serendipity that we won’t run into some of those issues, but on the flip side, The Dude warned us that when someone else is working on your boat you’re on their schedule. And you may not always be at the top of their list. No one here at the marine center has made us feel yet that this would be the case with us, but let’s just hope that once work starts we get a speedy recovery.

The party was a big hit and while there we gorged ourselves on more hamburgers, hot dogs, oyster, pie and beer than we’d normally eat in a few days. True to my prediction, people started disbanding as soon as the cooler began to empty, and true to our holiday traditions, just like thanksgiving, we closed the place down and continued to sit around with drinks in our hands as the mess around us was cleaned up. This time we did help some things get into the trash though, so I don’t feel quite as bad as last time. Then standing in the hot Florida sun (nicest day we’ve had here so far) we continued our conversation with our new friends until our beers were empty and we parted ways. Getting anything else productive done for the rest of the afternoon was not going to happen so I got online to tell my friends Merry Christmas and I love them (‘Cause if you can’t say it at Christmas, when can you, eh?’) before passing out for a spectacular afternoon nap.

Waking up the next morning I found that the world did not end, but I’m pretty sure hell had frozen over. It had gone from sunny and mid 70’s the day before to overcast and 50. One of the things we had made sure to pick up the day before while out and about was getting a small space heater for the boat. We currently had a camping heater that runs off those little green cans of propane, but a can only lasted a few hours and it could become very expensive keeping ourselves warm over the winter while constantly having to refill them. So instead our new heater plugs in to any AC outlet and has been doing a fantastic job of heating up the boat.

And what does one do on the day the world is supposed to end? Well, if you didn’t know, there’s supposed to be a time that goes along with the date, 11:11 am, so when that came and went I tried to think in terms of time zones, but it wasn’t looking likely that I was going to perish in two hours either. So I sat at my ‘desk’ with cat on lap and tried to get some work done. Coffee was made to stave off the cold, but it was obvious that we weren’t going to be going into the cold that day, just another day hanging around Serendipity in the boat yard. ‘Summer vacation’ continues and each day we keep wishing we’ll get to the point when school will start again. Or that summer vacation will be bathing suit and beach weather and it would be easier to force ourselves outside. Maybe warm weather would also force us to be more productive on the boat as it always seems easier to pick up a project when the sun is shinning and a nice breeze is blowing through the hatch. It looks like we’ll have plenty of time though, to find out what will force us out of our lazy lifestyle and give Serendip all the care and work that she needs. Or we can continue to sit around and wait for the zombie apocalypse to bring us down since the Mayans apparently got it wrong.

Fa la la la la

Wednesday December 19, 2012

Sitting inside the cabin in the early afternoon, just like we’ve been spending most of our days lately, there was a knock on the side of the hull and I sprung up to the cockpit. Peeking over the side a loud yell of “Friends!!” escaped by mouth, because standing on the ground were Brian, Stephanie, Scott, and Kim. This was not unexpected as we had been planning on their visit for some time now, but it didn’t make seeing them any less exciting. Not even bothering to put on shoes I bound down the ladder landing on the rocks in my bare feet and attacking my friends with bear hugs, one by one. After nearly four weeks we were reunited with our boat buddies, although just for the day since they were visiting in a rental car before Brian and Stephanie drove it up to Pennsylvania for the holidays. By the time I was done squeezing the air out of everyone Matt had made his way down the ladder as well and began showing off the damage while Stephanie and I, both worn out on boat issues, sat back and caught up on every day life and how we were dealing with sitting in one place. While everyone was checking out the hull they must have thought everything was being held on by a piece of thread because seeing it in person they kept commenting “Oh, that doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would be”.

 Inviting them on the boat we showed some of the damage to the woodwork and where the tabbing had cracked. Then it was time to hear what was holding them back as well, and each couple told the horror stories they were having with their engines and all the work that was going into getting them fixed. All the trials, errors, and lessons learned from taking on the projects themselves. Sitting in the salon with a drink in our hands and enjoying some incredible mint and chocolate chip cookies Kim had made we went through every detail of what we had been up to for the past few weeks until it was like we had never left each other’s sides. Everyone was also able to fawn over Georgie (or Peaches as Brain likes to call her), and Kim, who was very jealous of Tasha’s photo op with Georgie sprawled on her lap, was able to get her own. While the night was still young though and our stomachs were starting to growl we packed all six of us into the compact car in search of a good yet reasonably priced meal. Since Kim and Scott had been here before they recommended a Bohemian type cafe offering things from pizza to gyros to tacos. I tried my hardest to talk the guy behind the counter into giving me the Thursday night happy hour special of a taco plate and a beer but was unfortunately turned down, although very politely, since it was neither Thursday nor happy hour.

When we finished eating we decided to leave the car in the parking lot and walk into town since there is rarely a place to park unless you’re visiting a certain establishment, and only while you’re there. It was weird being swept back to a life where you even had to think of such things as parking since now we tend to forget that things like that are even necessary. Having been just outside of the ‘Nights of Lights’ I waited for Stephanie’s face to light up as soon as she saw them coming up to the Lightner Museum, and boy did they. The way the lights are set up here really is like something out of a fairy tale. There’s not too many to make it gaudy or overdone, but just placed perfectly on every arch or wrapped around each palm tree. It’s easy to see why they’ve made National Geographic’s Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights, in the world!

Wanting to share the beauty of the courtyard inside the Lightner Museum I began to lead the pack up the pathway where we became blocked by one of the trolley tours that had stopped right in front of us, blocking our path forward. Everyone on the trolley was in good spirits, yelling out ‘Merry Christmas!’ to anyone passing by, and they were also wearing what looked to be 3-D glasses. Stephanie, being a pro on anything fun, explained they enhance things like Christmas lights, changing the bulbs into shapes of things like stars and snowflakes. Overhearing us, a guy on the trolley pulled of his pair to hand around to the group of us as we each held them up to our eyes and went ‘ooh and aah’ as all the lights turned to snowflakes. Why weren’t we going on this tour?! It looked amazing, plus everyone riding was in such good spirits that it didn’t take us long to start yelling ‘Merry Christmas!’ back to anyone that smiled at us. Once the trolley left and we had given the glasses back I was really excited to go show the courtyard now, only to find the gates locked. Peering behind the cast iron bars, Kim and I did our best to describe the beauty to Stephanie, the coy pond in the center with the stone bridge that crossed. Luckily this will not be their only visit down though and the next time they come we might find the gates open, or at least a way to scale them.

Continuing down the street we were shown a statue down an alley way by Kim that has an interesting back story from the last time they were here, and pressed our faces up against the shop windows on cobblestone roads. Carrying on we did more window shopping, looking at stain glassed masterpieces and popped into an art gallery with some beautiful pieces of work that could regrettably not be photographed. (And regrettably they got that message to me too late) Next door at A1A Aleworks I pointed out the microbrews to Brian and we agreed that we’d have to stop in for a round the next time around. Across the street, Stephanie and I lost everyone else as we wandered around a soap shop, picking up scented candles and soaps while admiring all the displays.  Back on the street we ambled down historic St. George Street while moving about aimlessly through other shops including a chocolate shop and a magic store where we were treated to a ten minute magic show demonstrating all the tricks available for purchase.  There were a few that we were almost tempted to buy, the flaming wallet at the top of the list.  I mean, who wouldn’t love to be standing at the Starbucks counter and when you open your wallet to pay the bill it bursts into flames?  With a candid camera type show the wallet would pay for itself…and keep itself stuffed.

Progressing on we stopped for a quick disco party under some strobing green and red lights on an open patio.  We found French Fry Heaven and perused happy hours and daily specials at restaurants.  Showing them the $4.99 beer and hand rolled cigar combo that was popular at a few shops we were unable to convince them of it at this point, but maybe ‘next time’.  At one point Stephanie exclaimed, “This town is amazing!! I’m having the best time ever, and I haven’t even been drinking!!”. So we’re pretty sure it won’t be hard to lure them back for maybe even a full week once Rode Trip is up and running again.

By the time we were ready to head back to Serendipity we were so high on the presence of each other, the beauty of the town, and the cheer of everyone around us that we could not contain our own excitement or Christmas spirit. There were not as many trolleys running now, but each time one did we would yell out at the top of our lungs, a chorus of mismatched “Merry Christmas’” between the six of us. By the time we got back to the side street that housed the rental car I think a few of the drivers began to recognize us and probably thought we were drunk or just harassing customers. As one trolly pulled on to King Street we belted our normal chorus, but no one on board responded or even looked at us. It’s like their conductor got on the speaker just as he spotted us and told everyone to ignore the group of crazies off to their left. Treating us like a group of Tyrannosaurus Rex’s he must have advised, “If you don’t move…they won’t see you”. We weren’t going to let the tourists dropping energy levels ruin the rest of our night though as we hung out in the parking lot testing out Brian’s new pole spear before climbing back up Serendipity for a night cap.

Being the amazing friends that they are, Kim brought rum for us to drink, and Brain and Stephanie had made their own ginger beer. With Dark & Stormies in hand we spent the next few hours relishing in each other’s company for as long as it could last. For a short period we weren’t three boats that weren’t stalled from traveling, we were our old gang, laughing and socializing, and looking up more crazy videos on Youtube. (Really Scott and Kim, you hadn’t heard about Double Rainbow?) When it was time for everyone to leave I had the instinct to stow away in the trunk, following them along and letting the good times continue. But all good things must come to and end and the high we’d all been feeling through the day suddenly plummeted as we realized the fun was over. But in the morning that low will be replaced by the excitement and anticipation that we’ll get to do it all over again someday soon.

 

 

 

The Wheels On The Bike Go ‘Round and Rest, Round and Rest’

Thursday December 13, 2012

There has been a small miracle on Serendipity today.  Nine days after getting hauled out of the water and contacting our insurance company, they have finally sent someone over to look at the boat.  Nine days that we have been sitting here twiddling our thumbs because no work can be started, even the things we’d like to do ourselves, until insurance surveys the damage and approves the claim.  Hallelujah, the process of repair may finally be able to start.  We weren’t sure if someone from the actual insurance company would be coming out or if they’d hire someone in the area instead.  In the end they sent out a local surveyor to check out the damage and write up a report. The surveyor our insurance company decided to send out happens to be a guy that we almost went with in the first place when we hauled out.  And since insurance is paying for the person they send out themselves (right?) there would have already been a report done by this guy I’m thinking we would have been reimbursed and could have saved ourselves the money for our survey had we gone with him, but hindsight is….you know what?  I think I’ve had enough hindsight lately.  Moving on.

So bright and early this morning we had another person on the boat checking out the damage with basically a repeat track of what we heard last week.  “You really took a pounding, should have been a lot worse, you have a boat that’s built incredibly well.”  There was nothing new discovered that the first guy didn’t catch, but because of the extent of interior damage in small and hard to reach places, our surveyor today wanted to come back later with his son who would double check everything and get some more photos.  Having spent the past two and a half days on the boat without getting off we figured we’d quickly jump on the bikes and get some errands done before they came back in the afternoon.

The big thing on the list was to get a battery charger since we have also not seen the sun in two and a half days, and even when we had, the batteries were less than 60%.  It’s not good to let them get under 50%, but last night they were at a measly 8%!  And that’s still with only running the lights and chill box off them.  Something needed to be done to get that number back up, and quickly.  Checking the forecast and seeing at least three more days full of clouds and rain we knew we had to fix this little problem.  Remembering my panting and sweat filled bike ride a few days earlier I had no intent of biking all the way up to Walmart again, but Matt promised me there was an auto shop as soon as we hit the main drag and they should carry what we need.  Getting pushed over just a little bit by the high winds on our way there we arrived and while I stood outside watching the bikes, Matt was back out in less than 90 seconds, empty handed.  Apparently they had what we were looking for, but at the cost of $50.

Hopping back on the bikes we continued up the street to an Auto Zone where again I stood outside and Matt was in and out in two minutes, empty handed again.

“$50 here too?”

“Yup”

“What was it the last time you bought one?”

“I’m pretty sure I got my last one for $15”

“And how long ago was that?”

“About 15 years”

If I could get anything for the price I did fifteen years ago, I’d be ecstatic, but he seems to think we can still find something near that price range so we kept trekking up the road.  Getting to Target we found the same exact thing.  Determined that we wouldn’t pay this huge mark-up that has happened in the past fifteen years, Matt was quick on his phone searching Amazon and any other stores within pedaling distance that might have it in stock.  Standing in the aisle while he scrolled I’d shout out names like “Sears” and “Walmart” while he jumped on their site and compared prices.  Thinking he may have actually found a cheaper one at Walmart my legs became weak at the thought of making our way all the way out there with the winds gusting like they were outside.  Anything to save a few dollars though.

Jumping back on the bikes we crossed the street and worked our way up the hills (mountains) to Walmart.  Both of us had thought we’d seen a Sears on our last trip out but couldn’t be sure due to heat stroke so when I spied it out of the corner of my eye I shouted ahead and we pulled off to the side to have a look-see inside.  Nada.  Back on the bikes we went but at least I was able to grab that moment to catch my breath.  Before I knew it we had Walmart in our sights and overall it didn’t seem like as bad of a ride as it had before.  Probably because of the five stops we made along the way.  Purchasing the 6 amp charger for a steal at $29 (it really wasn’t a steal, the $50 ones we had been looking at were 10 amp) we were back outside and ready to make the non stop journey home.

Only, in the fifteen minutes we were inside the winds had shifted so they were directly on our nose, blowing at us in 25 mph gusts.  I could barely move forward even on flat ground and my only saving grace were the few small hills we went down.  Sometimes we’d get the shelter of a close building or some very tall trees where I felt like I was actually going somewhere and then out of nowhere a full gust would blast me in the face and stop all progress.  Matt was close to a block ahead of me and without him in earshot I started slinging curses into the wind which didn’t help me go any faster but helped a lot with the frustration.  Getting stuck at a stop light I could barely see Matt in front of me anymore but did look behind to find out I had a tail of a fellow cycler that apparently had been right behind me for quite some time.  Poor guy probably thought I had tourettes, or I was just run of the mill insane and hijacked the bike from some poor unsuspecting girl.  He crossed the street right after.

A good ten minutes later, after he stopped to wait for me, I finally caught up to Matt although I could have walked the bike faster than I was peddling.  I wanted to give up, to walk it the rest of the way back, but he wouldn’t let me.  Pushing on at my snail’s pace he stayed behind me until we made the turn and got out of the full force of the wind.  I’m just glad he didn’t go all personal trainer on me and try to push me to go harder, he would have gotten smacked upside the head.  Good thing after almost thirteen years he knows me well enough not to try that.  In fact, the only time we ever worked out together he pushed me so hard that I cried (which I never do), and we both vowed never to work out together again.  It’s those alien genes of his, they never quit.  But neither did I and after three hours (round trip) we made it back to the boat and still before the surveyor came back.

Another sweep was done of Serendipity and we should be expecting a report tomorrow that will also go out to the insurance company.  Finally!  I would love to get the ball rolling on this because I don’t want to be forced North because we’re still here when hurricane season is coming.

There’s been just a little bit of rain lately.

‘I must find the best price!’

Can’t we just stuff the cracks on Serendipity full of this and call it good?

Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange

Wednesday December 12, 2012

One of the things stationed here in St. Augustine, and the reason Matt agreed to come here in the first place, is a little shop called the Sailor’s Exchange, kind of a consignment shop for everything boats.  Someone brings in an item they’d like to sell and it can be anything from winches to shackles to anchors  to books and magazines.  (By the way, we keep stopping in to see if anyone has brought in our anchor at which point we can buy it back, but no luck so far)  Once the item is brought in the shop decides if they want to buy it, settle on a price to give the seller, and then stock it on their shelf with a mark-up, but usually still cheaper than you could find the item elsewhere.  Plus it’s one stop shopping because you can find basically anything you’re looking for, but just like any consignment shop, you have to do a lot of looking first.  It’s a great place and we’ve already spent a decent amount of our time there.

Over the past few days I’ve been noticing something similar going on here at the boat yard that I like to call the ‘Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange’.  As far as restrooms tend to go anywhere you are, the women’s bathroom here at the yard is far superior to the men’s.  While their’s only has one urinal and one stall, we have one stall and a shower, plus a little table with a bowl of potpourri that’s littered with books and magazines for the taking.  If it wasn’t placed right next to a toilet without a lid, I think I’d have a few of those books on the boat right now.  But recently in addition to the bathroom reading available there have been…other things.  Things that people don’t want on their boat anymore and figured the women’s room was the best place to deposit them.

It’s a good idea in theory, kind of like a Goodwill with no money involved, but in the bathroom?  Right next to the toilet?  Those Correll dishes would be looking a lot better if I didn’t have to think of where I found them each time I was eating off them, no matter how many times they’ve been washed.  Some people were wiser and put things inside of bags which helped to protect them a little bit more, I guess, but made me curious enough to have a look through to see if there was anything I wanted bad enough that I would bleach it enough times to bring it back to the boat and store it there.  Let’s see some of the treasures available.

Plates, glasses, and athletic wear.  Thankfully we’re pretty stocked in the galley and the clothes were a little too big for me so those weren’t even a question.  Is it bad that I hesitated on the plates for a minute though?  I mean, they may be sitting right next to the toilet, but the design looks a little nautical, kind of like flags.  ‘I have a full galley……I have a full galley’.

A very essential pirate hat.  Just after we watched ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ no less, but let’s face it, it can’t compete with Captain Jack Sparrow’s hat.  I tried to think of any good reason to need this, and if we still had the opportunity to meet up with our friends Jackie and Ron in the Bahamas next month it would have been grabbed up in a second for all the fun we’d be able to have with it, but as it is, I had to leave it.

Hair clippers, Mardi Gras beads, and Preparation H wipes.  I don’t even know what to say about this bag.  I don’t know if I should avoid the owner at all costs or hunt them down for some crazy nights of partying that could leave me with some of the most interesting stories I’ll ever tell.

I just have one question on this.  What happened to the dog??!!


I’d like to say that I left the restroom that night with nothing in my hands but that would be a big fat lie. There may have been a few athletic shirts stuffed at the bottom of one bag that may be a little too big for me but the quality was so high that I couldn’t resist at least trying them out.  And if they don’t fit I’m sure I could always pawn them off onto someone else, like Stephanie.  No one walking down the street has to know she didn’t actually run the Boston Marathon.  There may have also been a few magazines in my possession when I left, but they had popped up within an hour of the last time I had gone in so I’m fairly certain they didn’t have a chance for nasty particles to float on top of them.

The Bathroom Sailor’s Exchange only lasted for a day before everything was cleaned out.  Either someone really cleaned up, or management wasn’t fond of this program and disposed of everything.  I hope not though because it’s things like treasure hunting in the bathroom that make our endless days in the yard a little more interesting.  Just think of the things we could collect while we’re here.

Anyone else have similar stories to share?  What’s the strangest thing you’ve found at an exchange or the strangest place the exchange was happening?  Leave a comment with your story.  I’d like to know more than just Jackie and Ron are reading.

Tasha & Georgie

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.