Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pics 12-31-13

Think Shoal Draft if you want to do this people!

More wrecks and abandoned boats everywhere.

More McMansions

Before we left, our good friend the fisherman, Ralph, left this bottle of champaigne on our boat one afternoon. We have been saving it for a special day, and this day the 1000th mile and last day of 2013 seemed the one. Thanks Ralph!


Thinking the anchorage off Cape Canaveral would be okay for the night was a tad optimistic.  Unforecast north west winds ramped up to 20+, rolling the waters and leaving the crew of Kintala short on sleep and long on desire to get further south.  Joining the ICW yet again put the wind off our stern quarter.  The head sail was unfurled to join the Wester-Beast in picking up the traces.  SOG edged up to the high 6s, then over 7.  A following sea rocked us gently as Kintala shook off her motorboat blues and danced, sailboat like, after the sunshine

The last day of 2013 was, by far, the best day we have had on the ICW.  It was so good that upon reaching Melbourne, our original destination for the day, we did a quick Time over Distance verses Sunset and then pressed on.  Just 15 minutes before 'ol Sol dipped below the horizon to bid adieu to the old year, Kintala picked up the last open mooring ball in Vero Beach.  We wore jackets, hats, and gloves for most of the day buy now hatches and ports are open and we can sit in shirt sleeves and comfort.

Happy New Year everyone, Kintala is SOUTH!

1000 miles and 10 weeks

Oak Harbor Marina,  Pasadena, MD
Magothy Beach Anchorage, MD

Back Creek Anchorage Annapolis, MD
Spring Cove Anchorage, MD
Culvert Marina MD
Fishing Bay Anchorage VA
Hospital Point Anchorage, Norfolk, VA
Centerville Waterway Marina, VA
Broad Creek Anchorage NC
Styron Creek Anchorage NC
Oriental Harbor Marina NC
Beaufort Anchorage NC
Mile Hammock Anchorage NC
Wrightsville Beach Anchorage NC
Shallotte Inlet Anchorage NC
Barefoot Marina SC
Oxbow Near Enterprise Landing Anchorage SC
Butler Island Anchorage SC
South Santee River Anchorage SC
Dewees Creek AnchorageSC
Charleston SC Anchorage
Charleston Harbor Marina SC
Fernandina Beach Anchorage FL
Ft. George River Anchorage FL
St. Augustine Mooring FL
Palm Coast Marina FL
Daytona Beach Anchorage FL
New Smyrna Beach Anchorage FL
Addison Point Anchorage FL
Vero Beach Mooring FL

Map 12-31-13 Addison Point to Vero Beach

Monday, December 30, 2013

Map 12-30-13 New Smyrna Beach to Addison Point

Manatees and Maniacs

We started out from the New Smyrna Beach anchorage this morning for what looked like a long, straight course down the ICW of Florida with only one bridge to contend with, the Haulover Canal Bascule Bridge. Now, keep in mind that you use cruising guides for a reason. They help with the behind-the-scenes information about places, the kind of info you get from sharing a beer with another cruiser at the barstool next to you. The kind that would be hard-earned otherwise. Somehow, despite having three cruising guides, we turned the corner into the Haulover Canal completely oblivious to the scene that would unfold. It was a narrow canal (140ft to be exact), of which we could only be in the middle third due to our draft. As we turned the corner into the canal we were greeted by a vista bespeckled with small fishing boats, all of them right where we needed to be, all of them completely oblivious to our presence, our draft, or our predicament. They were seriously not even looking up. We drew down the throttle to a crawl and proceeded to basically push them out of the way.

In the middle of the canal is a bascule bridge that only opens on request, and is manned by a rather cranky bridge tender who got just a tad rude with me. As we approached the bridge, a fishing boat with three burly guys in it towing a kayak pulled right into the channel in front of us and proceeded down the channel at a snail's pace, forcing us to follow and to delay the bridge opening to the absolute joy of the tender. It was so much fun that they continued right down the middle of the channel the whole way to the bay at the end and beyond. After a half mile or so, they hauled the kayak up onto the boat and took off at about the 25mph manatee zone speed limit. We bid them a hearty goodbye.

The only good thing about that canal is that we caught sight of our first manatee this trip. Can't say as I can vouch for his choice of cruising grounds, and I didn't get any pictures since I was busy pinballing fishing skiffs, but he was the coolest thing I've seen in awhile. Tim didn't get to see him since he was engrossed with the boat steering, but he got to see one at the anchorage this evening so all is well.

The ICW in Florida is a truly strange  place. Earlier in the day we saw this "boat"(??) and I went to the youtube channel and watched their little video. They are purportedly on a mission to save the Florida ecosystem. Uh huh...very strange indeed.

For all it's weirdness today, the afternoon sky turned blue and the temps soared all the way to a balmy 69°. We still had our jackets and hats on but it was good to be warm for a change. We have a couple more days to Vero Beach where we will be visiting with friends from Boulder and then on to Ft. Pierce for more visiting. They tell me that Vero is the warm/cold line in Florida and that it has earned a nickname of "Velcro" Beach as a result. I am looking forward to finding out.

This fisherman was over a 1/2  mile from shore. He walked out to this spot to fish which was 50 ft from the side of Kintala

Accidental Enlightenment

Accidental Enlightenment

Kintala's batteries are not playing well together. They should, both AGM, both new, both installed at the same time, both fully charged to start. But left together overnight and, come morning, their voltage readings are down around 12, sometimes a little less. It turns out, if we send them to (electrically) separate rooms for the night, come morning the AUX is at 12.8 while the MAIN, which has carried the boat load the whole night by itself, is still showing 12.25 or a little more. Not a fix, but a way to keep going for now. The only thing is remembering to bring both batteries back online before waking up the Wester-Beast and starting the day's run.

Today I got out of my morning routine and forgot to switch the batteries.

A couple of hours later the Wester-Beast, after days of running smoothly, started the RPM surge thing again. (Remember, they have been really short days. That will be important in a minute.) We tried opening up the filler cap again but it made no difference. We looked around the engine compartment, nothing leaking. It truly sounded like the engine was actually taking on a load, like it was trying to push the boat up hill or something. But that can't be, right? Boats on the ICW don't have any hills to climb, the RPM surge was surely a fuel problem of some sort. But for some reason the Beast's complaints reminded me that the batteries were configured wrong. We flipped off the DC master, put both batteries on line, and brought everything back up.

The Beast instantly settled into a easy lope that lasted the rest of the day. Excuse me?

The suspicion now is that the high tech voltage regulator that controls the high output alternator driven by the Wester-Beast to charge the batteries gets glitched when the batteries (or battery as it were today) hits a full charge and is supposed to go into a “float” mode. That takes several hours, the same amount of time it takes for the RPM surge to show. Give the regulator an electrical smack by changing the battery load and all is well (like slapping the side of the old TV cleared up the picture).

I haven't reached full enlightenment yet; but the accident of leaving the batteries mis-configured this morning seems to have shed some light. A glitched alternator regulator probably doesn't explain why the batteries are bickering, but we are onto something here … at least I think we are.

Tonight we are anchored within sight of NASA's vehicle assembly building. It isn't much of an anchorage but should be okay for tonight. And being this close to Cape Canaveral is just cool.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Playing Chicken

For now the miles we make are determined by the tide and my prejudice to be set and secure well before the sun goes down. Some day I will be one of those grizzled old salts who ghosts into an anchorage during the wee hours of the dark, drops a hook without much ado, and disappears below. But right now my un-salty ways add up to Kintala doing pretty short hops. It is a good compromise for us. Waiting into the rising tide meant the shoaling clogging up the channel near the Ponce de Leon inlet passed under the keel with more than a foot to spare. It also meant getting out of the Daytona anchorage without holding my breath. I like not holding my breath waiting to run aground.

Trip planning, tides, currents, possible anchorages, weather, how much water remains on board, how much room is left in the holding tank, when will we need to go ashore again for milk and butter, (and rum) - these are part of our everyday conversations. We think about the actual time that the sun comes up and goes down, and the moon, and its phases. How often did that happen living on land? Living on the water requires paying attention to the things that make up your life. There is no coasting through by habit. This part of the life style surprised me a tad. Even though land is usually in sight getting to it is a bit of a to-do: find a spot in a marina or launch the dink, then find a spot to park the dink. And that is just the start to a shopping day.

This had all been more intense than I would have guessed, even after living 1/4 of our days on Nomad and then Kintala for six years at Carlyle. The trips around Long Island and to the Bahamas didn't clue me in either, most of what was going on went completely over my head. The rise in intensity and effort isn't earth shattering or anything, but it is enough to make it clearly different from living our land life. I know that soon this will be my new normal, that this level of awareness and planning will become new habits. (It is a transformation already well under way.) It makes me curious though, after years of living this way, what would it be like to go back to the old way?

Anyway, the short day yesterday got us away from the anchorage in Daytona (which we didn't care for) to one near New Smyrna Beech where we tucked in behind Chicken Island. Since we spent the day hiding from, you guessed it, yet another cold front, "Chicken Island" is a pretty good name.  With the decision made to stay put we indulged in a bit of obsessive / compulsive behavior and set to cleaning up the inside of the boat.  Attacking and killing mold colonies was the primary task, but oiling teak and polishing some dingy bright work was done as well.  Deb and I are a good match for this kind of thing.  We both regard a toothbrush as essential equipment when it comes to cleaning.  Can you imagine if one of us was a toothbrush type while the other wasn't?  It would only be hours before one or the other went stark raving mad and jumped overboard.  As it is though, we put on some tunes and spent a rainy day happily giving the inside of Kintala some much needed attention.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Map 12-27-13 Palm Coast to Daytona Beach

Dolphins and pelicans

Much as we prefer ocean sailing to ICW motoring, we are learning to use the ICW to our advantage. It turns out a winter passage in a small boat down the east coast of the US is not a trivial thing. That is still the North Atlantic out there and, as our friend John puts it in his new book, it is a serious ocean. Cold front after cold front has hammered over us in the past two months. Boats have been damaged off shore during passage and inland on the dock. When the nasties blow out of the north east this entire coast is one, long, lee shore. Picking the wrong weather window with a plan of staying close in to go inlet to inlet is a sure way to get taught a scary lesson. So far Kintala is undamaged and her crew unscathed. We have dipped into the jar of luck, but mostly we have been cautious, conservative, and tried hard to have every decision be the safest one we could find. It is working so far. I think we’ll stick to it.

The anchorage here in Daytona is reported as “4 Star”. Kintala is the only boat here and we just got rolled on our ear by a big power yacht busting down the ICW at full honk. I’m not sure we are going to like this place enough to spend more than one night here. I’d like to visit Daytona a little, but maybe Bike Week in March, northbound, would be better timing.

Pictures of Bike Week always include cute little things walking around nearly naked … that means it must be warm then, right? Tomorrow is supposed to be warm. If it works out that way we might use the day to try and chase the sunshine south a bit further. Florida It might be. Daytona it might be as well. But today was another watch cap and heavy coat day. A long, luxurious, hot shower after the hook was set in a cold drizzle was a treat. (You know you are getting to be a sailor when a “long hot shower” happens in about half the time it takes for Mick Jagger to sing his Sympathy for the Devil.) And though we are using the ICW as it should be used, it is still the ICW. About all we saw today was an endless line of really big houses. A lone dolphin did drop by, startling both of us by snorting “hello” just off the starboard cockpit without giving notice. (I think they do that on purpose, getting a giggle when the silly humans jump.) The water was too murky to see him coming, but he tagged along for a few minutes, keeping easy station with Kintala’s placid 6 knot pace. And there were pelicans as well.

Dolphins and pelicans … no day can be too bad a day when there are dolphins and pelicans about, and you are watching them from the cockpit of a sailboat.

No way to capture the whole back yard. It looked like the water feature at some zoo

I kid you not, custom matched lawn furniture and boat cover