Sunday, March 30, 2008


Sometimes, being solo sucks. Tonight is one of those times. I went to a restaurant not far from the marina, "Cape Fear Restaurant" and had a very good meal with excellent service. However, nobody to share with . . .
The weather is still unfriendly with rain and strong wind.
Fortunately, I have Ezio and Stephanie a phone call away whenever I need a boost for my morale.
I still hope that I will be able to make Morehead City by Tuesday morning and carry on in the waterway. However, I am worried that I might fall asleep while out there and get into some kind of trouble. Depending on how I feel and how the weather looks, I might spend the night in Wrightsville beach, leave Tuesday morning at daybreak and spend the night Tuesday to Wednesday at anchor in Morehead City. Ezio showed me 2 anchorages that I like a lot better than the ones south of the fixed bridge.

Jumping across

A quick drive to Miami to pick up brother "Green Eggs" (Sam Johns) and we were back in St Augustine early on the 26th. Since I know I have to be somewhere where Sam can get back to Miami before the 29th, so that he can go on with his canoe trip with David, we left St Augustine at 4:15 p.m. on the 26th.
Cleared the bridge of Lions at 4:30 and were under sails outside by 5:30.
At first, ideal weather and we were able to sail almost all night with no engine, full main sail and full genoa.
Alas ! In the morning, the wind started to weaken and we had to hoist the iron sail.
As we approached cape Fear, the wind got a lot stronger and by the time we were inside, it was around 25 to 30 knots. Since I am still very much unfamiliar with the way the boat handles, I was kind of stressed at the prospect of going into the marina with such windy conditions.
Fortunately the marina let us dock at the fuel dock, wich is a very long dock running East-West and the wind was gently pushing us towards the dock as we got in.
We were tied up by 15:52, which made this 300 miles crossing quite a brisk one.
On Saturday morning, having had a car the day before from Enterprise, I filled up the tank and drove Sam to the Wilmington airport.
Now, it is going to be a solo trip and I have to wait for better weather conditions as I do not want to take any chances on this boat. I will probably go to Wrightsville Beach on Monday afternoon, jump outside and run overnight to Morehead city, and keep going into the ICW until I reach an anchorage around MM 100.

Monday, March 24, 2008

On in the ditch

It is almost becoming routine now. After Fort Pierce, we went to a lovely well protected anchorage south of the Fort Pierce inlet. I ran aground coming in as the channel is very narrow and my chart showed shoaling on the north side, but we got free easily and went on. This is a real good place to anchor with any kind of wind.
Next night, we spent in a marina called Telemar at Dragon Point, not far from where Gary lives. We had the visit of Roland and Justin and had dinner with them in a restaurant.
After leaving, we were passed by Orza and we made an appointment to get together in New Smyrna beach where we rafted up in a channel north of the fixed bridge. Good anchorage, very well sheltered, and a true brotherho
od evening, with maybe a little too much to drink.
After a quiet night, we wen
t on and docked into the municipal marina in St Augustine. Very good marina, a little pricey, but excellent service.
On Easter Sunday, we had the visit of Niki and Richard, friends of Gary, and had lunch with them at the A1A restaurant, across the street. All day, I was feeling lousy and I spent the afternoon in my bunk. Don't know what is wrong with me. Hope this will pass soon. I made a reservation for a car for tomorrow so that I can do the oil change, replace the plates that were broken outside Fort Lauderdale, and get the boat ready to go for the 27th morning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The real shake down

We had to wait after nine to leave as there is restriction on the bridges in the New River. So, we left around 9:20, but by the time we got to the railroad bridge, it was just coming down. So we tied up on an old dock to wait. We then made the 11:00 opening of the 17th street bridge.
And we went out. And hell broke loose. With a very strong ESE wind and the tide going out, the cut was very very rough and all kinds of stuff flew through the boat. That's when I realised that my plates do break when they hit the floor.
We flew all the way to West Palm Beach, at almost more than 8 knots average, with the gulf stream almost all the way, but it was kind of uncomfortable and Gary was very happy that we decided to come in and stay inside for the next day.
We spend the night in an anchorage totally open to the south, and the night was noisy and unsteady. I did not sleep well as I have not yet built confidence in the anchor.
Anyway, it withstood well and we were able to leave the anchorage around 8:20 the next morning, staying in the waterway, with a southerly wind of 24 to 28, sometimes 30 knots.
One bridge got me stressed at indiantown, with a strong wind and tide pushing towards the bridge.
Eventually, we made this one and the other and went into a nice, well protected anchorage into Fort Pierce, before getting to the inlet.
Tomorrow looks like another windy day and we will stay in the ditch and try and go into the souther tip of Merritt island.

A huge first step

Given the fact that at low tide Papy Jovial is hard agroung by almost 10 inches, I decided to move the boat the day before the departure and take a slip at Cooley's landing. This was a 1.3 miles journey with a shameful ending as I made a complete mess of the manoeuver. However, we got safely in, and once we had finished with connecting everything, Mike, a friend of Gary, came to meet us at the boat. Since he was riding his motorcycle, it was decided that we would walk to the Irish Bar where we would connect with him.
Unfortunately we went to the wrong bar, and by the time we had realised our mistake and gone to the other Irish bar, he had already left. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a good beer and the atmosphere of St Patrick's day in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Then, it was back to the boat and ready to leave the next morning.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Papy Jovial" goes to sea for the first time

Having been properly renamed, Papy Jovial is now ready to go.
We left Bubbles dock on Tuesday morning,  anticipating a nice sail back to Fort Lauderdale, having the peace of mind of freshly polished fuel.
This was without taking into account those damn crab pots. One of them got unnoticed and managed to get his rope around the propeller.
Reversing the engine cleared it some, but not all of it. However, we were able to continue, spent the night anchored under Rodriguez Island, the following night anchored off Biscayne, arriving in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday around lunch time, having been subjected once again to a nasty storm off Hollywood.
However, we were able to sail from Key Biscayne to Hollywood with 14 knots of wind on the beam and Papy Jovial was flying at nearly 8 knots (8.1 on the boat speedometer but it probably needs calibration).
After we got through the 17th street bridge, we stopped for fuel and lunch at the 15th street Fisheries, before proceeding up the New River.
The tide was not with us and we spent the night across the river from River Bend marina, waiting from the high tide on Friday morning.
Finally on Friday we tied up at Teri's dock, happy to close that first chapter of Papy Jovial life on a good note.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Precept" she was, "Papy Jovial" she is

The main reason to be at the back of Joe Hamrick's house was the President's Day Week End Zaf. However, with so many brothers present, and the event taking place only three weeks after I purchased the boat, having a "denaming" and "renameing" ceremony there was a must.
Having removed the name from the transom, the sail cover and a few other places, the old name was written on a label using soluble ink. Then, while proper incantation were said to Neptune and rhum Barbancou
rt be
ing sprayed into the sea, the label was dipped into the sea until the name would disappear. This was done, with great expertise by Sherry, as first sook of the Chesapeake bay table.
Then, the name was afixed on the transom by Steve Herb
 and David Sowers. When that was done
, we could proceed with the renaming ceremony, which involved spraying again rhum Barbancourt in the sea while giving incntation to Neptune, and squirting rhum into the winds while giving incantation to the Gods of the North, East, South and West winds.
The rhum was then shared with the sponsor (Sherry), the skipper (myself), my mate (Gary) and all our guests.
This was a memorable day, and I am sure that Neptune will now make sure "Papy Jovial" is taken good care of by mother nature.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Welcome to South Florida

After the sense of relief that came with being through with the trip up the New River then comes the realisation that River Bend Marina is not a marina but a boat yard that makes a few bucks on the side by offering dockage. Their security is stricter than that of the Navy base in Norfolk, and the facilities are almost non existent. I decided to leave and claim a refund on 2 days, since I had paid 3 days in advance, but the lady at the front desk would only give me back one day, saying that we arrived at 10:40 a.m. and the day started and ended at noon. I had to call the manager to get my two days back.
Then, with the help of Jules Harper, we moved to Frank's dock on Tuesday, since Henri's boat (Moving Up) was still at the workshop. I had someone come for the auto-pilot, which keeps quitting in heavy seas, but he said he did not have time to do anything. On Wednesday, we left for Miami where we were supposed to pick up David Sowers.
This was going to be again a sorry trip. As we were approaching the Miami Government Cut, the engine stopped and would not restart. We learned later on that it was dirt blocking the fuel line. I had to call TowBoat US and they towed us, first to the entrance of the Miami river, where he grounded us for a little while, then into the TowBoast US dock up the river.
There, after some tribulations, we managed to unblock the fuel line, change the fuel filters and be back to almost normal, all that at a cost of a little less than a thousand dollars.  In the meantime, David had joined us, and we were able to leave on Thursday morning towards Marathon, by way of the passage off No Name harbor.
We anchored off Rodriguez island and left again next morning for Marathon, where we arrived early afternoon. Glad to be finally there.
Now the fun can begin.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Off we go !

On Monday Feb 4th, I drove down to Coca Beach, home of Gary Johnson (The swedish navigator) who offered to help me take the boat down from Jacksonville to the Keys. He had asked if we could take a friend of his, which of course OK.
So on Wednesday, we left Melbourne with Gary and Dave and drove back to Jacksonville. My car chose to give me a scare just as we were about to get to Jacksonville (as we were getting on 295 South). I died altogether, but restarted immediately and did not acted up any more that day. We got to Jacksonville in time for a nice dinner at the SteakHouse near the Ortega Marina and settled in the boat.
Next morning, we left around 8:00 a.m. to make our way down the river before going out to sea. That first half hour outside was quite eventful.
First, the main halyard got wrapped up around the radar reflector, and I had no choice but go up there and clear it. Once back on deck, I realised that Dave was severely sea sick. Actually, he spent most of his time on board, with his head in the head.
Since we had problems with the alternator and the genset, we decided to stop in Cape Canaveral, which was quite a relief for Dave. We arrived of course too late to get a technician come to the boat, and since it was Friday, it looked like we might get stuck in there until Monday morning, at $100/day.
So, I decided to try my best and change the alternator belt and the impeller on the genset. On Saturday, Thom and Sarah drove down from Jacksonville (5 hours drive) to help me out. This is quite incredible and I don't think there are many owners out there who would do such a thing, after they have sold their boat.
Thanks to them, we were good to go, and we left on Sunday morning, leaving Dave to go back home and recover from his ordeal.
Monday morning, we got into Fort Lauderdale and went up the New River to stay at the River Bend marina. This was my first time up that river, and I found it quite a stressful experience. Wind and current were at my back and we had a lot of traffic going the other way, including a convoy of 4 big cats that took almost all the available space. We finally tied up into River Bend, having to back into a very tight space, and we were glad the day was over.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Moving in

Just arrived from France, I packed whatever I thought I might need for the first few weeks and drove down to Jacksonville and arrived there on the 24th of January in the afternoon.
I was very depressed the first night aboard. I felt that the only item I could fit in was my tooth brush as there was stuff in every compartment, drawer, cabinet that I opened.
Then later, I gradually started to learn the ropes with the wonderful help of Thom and Sarah. I also rented a storage space to off load the equipment that I am pretty sure I won't need and which is quite heavy,
I took off 160 feet of ch
ain, one Bruce anchor, the 9.9 Yamaha engine, the Village Tech watermaker, lots of spare parts, ropes, diving suit and belt, etc. . .
By the time I had done all that, I had gained more than 1 1/2 inches on the waterline, but the boat was now quite a bit by the stern. I moved as much weight as I could from aft to foreward and put the 160 pounds Caribe dinghy on the foredeck.
Until it was time to leave, I spent most of my time trying to find the right place for everything (this will take months) and also trying to learn the electronic part of it.