Thursday, 22 November 2012

No 39 Vero Beach, Florida

Hi from Clare,                              Wednesday 21st November 2012
We spent few days in St Augustine catching up with local residents Pete and Kourtney on 'Norna'. St Augustine has an Old Town and a Colonial Spanish Quarter dating back to 1740 and a well preserved fort Castillo De San Marcos which was built in 1672. The night we arrived we met Pete and Kourtney and walked around the fort and through the old town before settling in a bar for a few drinks, a chat and enjoying some local live music.
For the duration of our stay, the weather was overcast, windy and wet. Pete drove us around and showed us the sights through steamy car windows, took us food shopping and looked after us very well. We visited 'Norna' on the hard where Pete was redecking the aft cabin and repairing the copper sheathing. 'Norna" is in the same yard as 'Tactical Directions', an Aussie cat that we have cruised with last season. Tony returned to 'TD' today to prepare for the coming season.
A bit of 3M 5200 and hey presto, new boots & resplicing the anchor rope to the new anchor chain
We bought a new anchor chain and with the benefit of local knowledge we traded in our old chain for a dollar a foot. What a pleasant surprise as we considered the chain to be of no value. But the second hand dealer assured us that the chain had another life. Andrew said "yes, but not on my boat".
We stayed on one of the marina's sixty mooring balls. It was a pretty wild experience for at times we had strong current and wind coming from different directions. All the boats were charging around on their mooring balls. Taking the dinghy ashore was not for the faint hearted either. How embarrassing would it be to be run over by a boat on a mooring ball? Anyhow once ashore the reward was the use of the marina's laundry and bathrooms; lovely facilities and plenty of hot water.
We went out for dinner the final night with Pete and Kourtney to say goodbye and thanks. It was just a bit disappointing that the rain stopped us from seeing St Augustine at its best.

We are now at Vero Beach after traveling down the ICW for three days. This week the weather has been rough at sea. Many of our cruising friends are stuck up north still waiting for an opportunity to come south; and freezing to death in the process. Fortunately for us we are far enough south that we can use the ICW. It is frighteningly shallow in places and at times very boring motoring along a narrow channel but we are grateful to be moving south and seeing sunshine. As the weather got warmer we noticed that just about every house along the ICW has a huge fly screen construction attached. One place had the entire property under cover; we guess the bugs must be bad on the water.
Insect screens abound
Vero Beach is in Florida and although the weather in windy we are enjoying glorious sunshine. We are on a City Marina mooring ball alongside good friends Prue and Bert on 'Exuberant'. We had drinks together when we arrived on Monday and last night there were nine of us on Exuberant for a very enjoyable evening.
Rafted with Exuberant and Clare and Prue on Exuberant

It's a short dinghy ride ashore, we have access to laundry and showers and a free bus to town where there is terrific every day shopping (Supermarket & West Marine). Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the cruisers have a pot luck lunch. CLOD (Cruisers living on dirt) supplies the turkeys and hams and the cruisers bring everything else. It will be interesting to share in an American Thanksgiving. It should be a good roll up as there are thirty boats on mooring balls plus others in the marina. The boats are mostly American and Canadian. We are the only ones with funny accents.

We will probably leave here on Friday or Saturday and head for Fort Pierce on our way to Fort Lauderdale. We have enough time to do some sightseeing along the way. We will head for the Bahamas before our Visas run out on 12th December.

Love Candy xx

At 1:56 AM17/11/2012 (utc) our position was 29°00.94'N 080°54.76'W

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

No 38 Cumberland Is

Hi from Clare, Monday 12th November, 2012

We left the small township of Oriental last Wednesday and motored 20 miles along the ICW to Beaufort. Thursday morning we exited the ICW (IcyW) at Beaufort and took to sea to travel south and into warmer weather as fast as possible.

All importand Dinghy dock & Live Oak forest and a tourist

Our first day was a lively sail with a 15-20 knots breeze just forward of the beam. We sailed 170 miles in 24 hours which is a new daily record for Eye Candy. Andrew keeps reminding me she is only a piece of fibreglass but to my mind Eye Candy has taken on a personality and she was happy to be out as sea and running as fast as she could to get away from the cold. On the second night the wind dropped out and we motored on a flat smooth sea in lake like conditions. The moon was only a slither but the night was well lit as millions of stars which caused star beams on the dark shiny water; what a treat to see! The following morning the wind increased and we had a perfect sail with a polled out jib and 10 knots of warm breeze on our stern. By this time we had found the sun and so off came all the heavy clothes and out came the T-shits, hurray and halleluiah baby.

Relicks of the past - wild horses and "Dungeness" Mansion

So now we are in the state of Georgia visiting Cumberland Island which is protected and preserved by the National Parks Service. In the late 1800s, the Guilded Age, the island was 90% owned by the Carnegie Family. Thomas and Lucy Carnegie built the mansion "Dungeness" and a number of other mansions on the island for their extended family. Yesterday we went ashore to explore the ruins and visit the museum. Clearly the Carnegie's had a very lavish lifestyle. Dungeness was a huge mansion with 200 servants in attendance. The museum shows photos of large functions on the veranda of "Dungeness" and boasts of extravagant parties and champagne flowing freely. There was also a photo of their 112 foot schooner tied alongside their wharf and in the early 1900s Lucy Carnegie was the first female to be admitted as a member of the NYYC - no wonder they wouldn't let us in! Oh well, back to reality we also enjoyed a welcomed walk through a beautiful live oak forest to the beach on the other side of the island. There are wild horses on the island and although one of our friends saw them galloping along the beach (which was quite a beautiful sight) we found only a small group looking rather forlorn.
The Ice House Museum

Today we are having a quiet day on the boat. Andrew is repairing our sea boots as the soft foam between the bottom of the boot and the sole has disintegrated. Just when we needed them the most they started to fall apart and left foam everywhere we walked. So we got rid of all the foam and Andrew ran masking tape around the sole and pumped sikkaflex into the gap. At the moment they are drying so I will let you know later if the idea works. I hope it does as the boots cost over $500 a pair, so we are not ready to let go of them yet.

We will probably leave tomorrow night when the wind and tides are right for exiting here and entering St Augustine some 50 miles south. We will spend a few days there and catch up with Pete and Kourtney on 'Norna'. St Augustine is their home town and they left us in the Bahamas last June and returned to land and work. They are looking forward to the seeing the mob as we all travel back down the coast past their home town.

love Candy xx

At 2:01 PM12/11/2012 (utc) our position was 30°45.77'N 081°28.36'W

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

No 37 Sandy and the ICW

Hi from Clare,                                                          Monday 5th November 2012

Hurricane Sandy wasn't a problem for us as it turned out apart from constant rain and a seven foot tide (4 foot surge). We couldn't hear the wind as we were tucked in behind high rise buildings and had all our halyards down. In fact the boat hardly moved and we slept peacefully each night. The biggest problem was condensation inside the boat. We had globules of water hanging from the ceiling and running off the windows. Our gas room heater kept us warm but it probably added to the problem as ventilation was difficult with the rain. So that was our first Hurricane experience, and we consider ourselves lucky. On Wednesday we put the boat back together again and unravelled our rope knitting which had kept Eye Candy secure throughout the "Frankenstorm".

The dock goes 4 ft. underwater and the flooded dinghy

Thursday we left Portsmouth and motored a short distance to Great Bridge where we spent the day shopping, refilling gas tanks and doing the laundry. Since Friday morning we have spent each day travelling south along the Intercostal Waterways (ICW) post haste in the hope of finding warmer weather. We have never been this cold on the boat before however it could be worse, we heard from our cruising buddies this morning in Washington DC and they have frost on their deck. The wind is bitter and we fully understand why a great number of local boats have clears enclosing the cockpit. When travelling we are rugged up with multiple layers of clothing. I even have my hot water bottle with me in the cockpit. The ICW is very shallow and the boats follow a dredged canal which is quite narrow. This means we can't use the auto pilot as the boat wanders enough to put us aground. Poor Andrew stands at the wheel in full blast of the freezing wind ensuring we stay on track. I give him a break from time to time but the margin for error is so small he really can't relax. So he returns to the helm and the cold wind causes his eyes to water and leaves salt stains on his cheeks - not on the brochure you might say, but then again who would be silly enough to print such a brochure?

Rugged up for the drive south and the ICW scenery

We are now anchored off the township of Oriental which is just north of Beaufort North Carolina. It is a small and friendly town. We needed to go to the hardware store which is situated a mile or so out of town. The owner of the marine shop in town lent us each a bicycle (one with a little cart attached) so we could peddle out and make our purchases. This is the first time in fifty odd years I have used a bicycle. The lady in the marine shop was a little concerned for our safety as she recently fell from a bike suffering 37 stitches to her leg. She suggested we use the back streets and came outside with us to ensure we knew how to operate the foot brakes. I was a bit wobbly at first but I got better as I went along. However the lady from the marine shop watched me peddle off down the side street and I don't think I did much to allay her fears for our safety as she yelled after me "you have to be on the right side of the road" - Oops!

Tuesday 6th November
Today is Election Day for the American people. We have been asking our American friends who they hope will win the Election. They haven't actually said who they hope will win and why but rather who they hope doesn't win and why. It was suggested we should attend The Bean coffee shop here this morning (where the cruisers hang out) as this morning should produce some lively political discussion. However the results won't be known until late today, so perhaps tomorrow morning will be more interesting.
We went out for dinner last night with Bob a solo sailor who we meet in Portsmouth. He came into the anchorage yesterday afternoon and as he gets fed up with eating alone we rugged up and went with him. It was a long walk to the restaurant in very chilly conditions. Tonight we are having Glenys and Neville on "Elba" over for dinner on Eye Candy; this sounds like a better plan.

We will leave here tomorrow and head 20 miles to Beaufort. From there we will check the weather and decide whether to venture out to sea or continue our journey south via the ICW.
I just checked the temperature outside. It is 11am and 9 degrees, a far cry from the 30 plus degrees we had in the Med.
Love Candy xx

At 7:13 PM7/11/2012 (utc) our position was 34°42.85'N 076°39.83'W

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