Monday, December 21, 2009

Are We There Yet????

So our last post was over a week ago, out on the foredeck, in the sun, enjoying another remote and beautiful anchorage in North Florida.

Then it hit!


Trying to maintain 50 miles per day is pretty difficult when you can't leave an anchorage until 1100hrs because you can't see 100m. Our push South was slowing to a crawl. We arrived in Daytona Beach after a late start, stopped to get gas, then had a look over at the oceanfront condos. Fog!!!! The ICW disappeared into the stuff, so we had no choice but to drop the hook and end the day after only moving 21 miles.

As you will see in later pics, Mitchell decided not to get his hair cut. That means Mark gets to continue to live vicariously through his son's full head of hair (Ahhh, I can just barely remember the days when I had hair....).

So we gave into the fact we weren't going any further that day and found ways to stay entertained.

We got an early start the next day, the winds shifted out of the North. The upside is that fog would no longer be a problem. The downside is that it got grey, cold and wet! We had a couple of blustery days, passing by Cape Canaveral with about a 25kt tailwind.

For schoolwork, we had the kids do a little science study project. They were given a number of questions relating to Manatees and dolphins and had to give a presentation at the end of the day. So while we scooted along , they did their research on the internet and put together a presentation.

Along the way we met Chris, Jane and Ava on the 74' three-masted schooner "Liberte"

Chris and Jane had her built a few years ago and run day charters out of Annapolis. We all wound up in Vero Beach, Florida and got together for an evening (on their boat, just a "little" more roomy than "Charlotte-Ann). Ava was in dire need of some "kid time" and all 3 kids had a blast just acting like, well, kids!

Anyone that has travelled the ICW would take one look at Liberte and think, "That, on the ICW??". Drawing 7' and with a mast height that "most of the time" gets under bridges, getting this boat south on the inside and still having 3 masts at the end of the day is a real challenge and testament to the skill of the crew. In fact the day we met up in Vero Beach, Chris has driven the boat BACKWARDS under the bridge at Cocoa Beach (he was running with the wind and current and could maintain better steerage this way).He found they were 2" too tall to go under the bridge and as a result lost a masthead light!

Here you will notice Liberte listing to port. Chris and Jane were told that due to the recent winds, they might have a difficult time getting under the next bridge. No problem!! That's why they carry 30 large plastic garbage cans with them. Placing them all on the port side of the main deck, and starting to fill at 0400hrs, by 0800hrs they had enough of a list to lower their mast height by almost 2 feet!!

So we did the last of our provisioning in Vero Beach, as well as an afternoon off the boat. Lisa and Delaney went to see the movie "New Moon", while Mitchell and I went to see "Avatar 3D".

Yesterday we left Vero Beach and had a short 21 miles run to an old favourite of our's, Peck Lake. Here we met up with our old friends from our first trip, Terry, Kim, Brynne (and Syndee the dog) on "Clarity". Brynne flew in for 3 weeks from the U of G, so we are hoping to "buddy Boat" over to the Bahamas.

The winds were cool and from the Northwest which was actually a pretty good direction since the dunes offered protection on the beach. We had a fun afternoon of building sandcastles and shell hunting.
Mitchell spent about 3 hours fighting with a coconut, but after a little help from Terry he finally got the husk off and down to the nut.

Terry made a pasta dinner for us, so we all got together on Clarity for a great meal and discussions over the weather and if we were going to get to the Bahamas before Christmas. After checking the forecast this morning, we decided the conditions were not right for us to cross. Maybe with a bigger boat, or even if we had more experience, but we decided that as much as we would have loved to have made the crossing tonight, attempting it based on such a marginal forecast wouldn't be a good move.

Terry was still debating (they have done the crossing numerous times and have a boat that is a bit better suited to offshore work than our Gemini), but after checking the most recent forecast decided that even for him, the forecast wasn't favourable.

So it now looks as if we will be staying in Palm Beach until Thursday or Friday. The winds are forecasted to shift around to the South at the end of the week, so we have our fingers crossed that we will be crossing either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Until then, we'll just hang-out where we are. Thankfully tomorrow should be the last of the cooler temps, with things getting back up to the mid - high 20C's.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Goodbye Georgia, Hello Newfoundland (we mean Florida!!)

Well , thanks to Gary at Shoreline Marine, Yamaha Parts Department and UPS, "Charlotte-Ann" is once again was a twin-engined catamaran!! With both engines up and running we were able to enjoy our final night at Jekyll Harbour Marina.Despite the cool temps ,everyone gathered up by the pool for a potluck dinner. This was a great way for Lisa and the kids to say goodbye to all the friends they have made over the past 5 weeks. Frank and Lynne, Randy and Diana, Angie, the Shlumps and the crew of Gromit, as well as a few other transcient boaters, all braved the cool temps for food, drinks and a fire.
Frank made some of the best fresh cut fries any of us have ever eaten!! Not bad for a stink-potter, just hurry up and buy that Lagoon!!!

I am happy to report that, despite some strange looks from the locals, I have managed to stick to my plan of not wearing long pants until I have to fly back to Newfoundland in February.

Saturday morning saw us leave Jekyll Island under cold, grey skies. The best part was the warm send-off we got from all the other boaters. Here we have Delaney and Mitchell surrounded by a bunch of other "Boat Kids" (and Charlie) . All these kids are currently living aboard, representing Toronto (Gromit), Colorado (Amazing Grace 2), and California (Las Sirenas).

It's really great seeing how quickly the kids bond , the excitement they show when they hear other kids are arriving. Must have something to do with their parents dragging them away from "normal life", sticking them on a boat and constantly moving them around. Geez, that doesn't sound very good, but really, they all seem to love the "Crusing Life". And if they don't, well, that's why deep bilges were designed ;-).

So about 7 hours after leaving Georgia we arrived in sunny Florida!!!!!

Actually, we arrived to rain, 11 degrees Celcius and the aroma of a pulp mill!! Not exactly postcard Florida. Add to that the fact you can drive to Florida from Port Colborne in about 24 hours. We were just arriving after leaving home at the end of June!!!!

We tucked into a small creek, set the anchor, had a nice dinner and watched "A Christmas Story" (You''ll shoot your eye out!!!).

Today we woke to thick fog, but the wind had shifted to the southwest to temps had risen about 15C. It slowly burned off, and by 09oohrs we were underway.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times you pass an inlet, it is possible to travel 8 hours continuously going against the current!! We are shooting for 50- mile days, but only managed 40. The trade-off was a warm and sunny day, capped off with a picturesque anchorage.

So things are going great. We are all having a terrific time, meeting great people and treasuring our time together as a family.
We don't want to jinx ourselves, but with a little luck we will be in position by next weekend to cross to the Bahamas.

Take care,
The Crew of "Why does the port bilge keep filling with freshwater!?!?!?"
M, L, D and M

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Still in Georgia!!!!

Just a short entry here. I got back to Lisa and the kids last Friday. Our plan was to get going on Tuesday, but unfortunately one of our engines had different plans!!
Yesterday we pulled the engine off and sent it to a local Yamaha dealer. Looks as if we need a new ignition coil, a warranty issue, so we are here for a couple more days.
Today we took the time to put up our solar-powered Christmas Lights. We'd show you how they look at night, but not long after we hung them, the skies clouded over and we had rain and 38kts of wind. It will be clearer and cooler tomorrow, so hopefully they will get a good charge.

So apart from troubleshooting the engine, loading up on groceries, trips to West Marine and getting a few other boat projects done, we are just hanging out and waiting to get our engine back so we can start moving south again.

Fingers crossed we get going on Friday, hopefully in Palm Beach by the end of next week, waiting for a weather window to get across to the Bahamas!!


Mark, Lisa, Delaney and Mitchell

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Loving Jekyll Island (but missing daddy)!!!!

The kids and I are having a great time on Jekyll Island. The weather has been amazing, and we have met alot of wonderfull people. I'm not going to spend a lot of time writing in this blog, just thought I would share some photo's with you.
Entertaining is a big part of cruising, but when you come on Charlotte Ann 'you have to do the cooking'. (Thank you Phillip, Sasha, Chantelle and Corwin for showing us Jekyll Island).
Movie nights are a great way to end the day. Here is the three of us doing our preparations (Delaney doing the dishes, Mitchell setting up the movie, Mommy enjoying a drink!!!).
Quite often we would meet up with the Shlump's after lessons to do some exploring. Here we set out to find some shells (found our first whole Sand Dollar). Mitchell decided he would try to dig up an old Shrimp Boat that caught on fire and was beached back in 1995 (app.). Our only mistake on this adventure was not keeping our eye on the tide. We had to return via the forest as the beach was underwater. Mitchell didn't think we would make it, so when we got back he 'kissed the ground'!!!
One of the best parts about Jekyll Island Marina is enjoying a Sundowner, while seeing the most amazing sunsets ever! Here Diana (and Randy) are entertaining us.
Sometimes we need to get chores done....
But are able to enjoy a nice swim and hottub afterwards!!!!
Another day after lessons... kids enjoying the Ocean beach (just a bike ride away from the Marina).
Some of you may remember Mark and I being 'baby sat' on our last trip (on Connemara II) by the Ferencze's (Terry, Kim and Brynne). We met up with them eleven years ago when we were leaving Lake Ontario and pretty much sailed with them until North Carolina. We used to joke that our mom's paid them to make sure Mark and I were safe. Well, we have kept in touch all these years (they have had a few more trips south since then) and are now hoping to meet up with them when we leave Jekyll Island. They are currently in Florida getting their boat ready and should be heading to the Bahama's around the same time as us. They were able to take a break in their boat prepartions to come visit the kids and I on Jekyll Island. We had some lunch and then took a stroll to the beach.
Here Terry was riding Mitchell's bike...
Here Mitchell is saying "Give me my bike back!!!"
The kid's have spent a few craft sessions with Diana. Here they are working on a 'Thankfull Tree' for the US Thanks Giving.
And yet another day after lessons enjoying 'Driftwood Beach'.
OK Uncle Ron... this one is for you!!!!
Sometimes our school lessons are interrupted...
We have not only made human friends, but have become very close to Charlie the dog (although it is said that he is part human).
And here are his lovely owners... Lynne and Frank (Paco)
We were really excited to have a visit from Jodi, Steven, Beverley-Ann and Jacob (from Olverson's). We spent some time and the Sea Turtle Center, having a lovely dinner and exploring Driftwood Beach. They also joined us for Thanks Giving dinner at the marina.
Delaney and I also got to have our photo taken with this guy....
Our time at Jekyll is coming to an end, as Daddy flys home tomorrow and although we are sad to leave such a beautifull place we are excited to get to the Bahama's.