Friday, January 30, 2009

New River closed

We left the anchorage at 9:30 after making sure that Cliff and Henri would be waiting for us at the Lauderdale marina fuel dock.
As soon as we turned the corner, Cliff told me that the marina would charge $75 even if I purchased fuel to have people come off or on the boat. So we decided to meet up the river, just before the 3rd Avenue bridge.
As we came up the river, we were told that the river was closed by the Coast Guard and the Sheriff. So we tied up at the city dock there, and
Cliff and Henri came aboard. The story was that a convict had escaped from the jail and they were looking for it in the river.
We waited until 12:30, after what it was decided that we had definitely missed the tide and that it would be better to try again tomorrow. Henri and Cliff left, and at 1:00 p.m. I heard on the radio that they had reopened the river. No regret, since today is quite windy and tomorrow will be a much better day to do it.
I will spend the rest of the day peace and quiet, tidying up the boat and taking care of admin stuff.
Tomorrow will be another day . . .
And as always, there are more pictures in the Papy Jovial photo album.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bridges, bridges and more bridges . . . . .

We left the anchorage wednesday morning, ready to tackles the challenges of going under an untold number of bridges.
Actually, this was seven between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach and twenty more to get to Fort Lauderdale.
At first, we went past the North Fort Pierce bridge and stopped at the fuel dock to top up the tank, as it is the least expensive fuel we will ever south of here.
And then, we went on with the bridges. At first, nice surprise, the first two bridges which were supposed to be bascule bridges were in fact fixed bridges, and for the look of it, had been so for already some time.
And later on, the book I have on the waterway proved to be a lot out of date. At least, when it came to which one was restricted and which one was not, and when they were supposed to be open, all that had to be updated in the book.
On Wednesday night, we managed to pass West Palm Beach, and three bridges after that and drop the hook on the side of the Waterway at MM 1025.
We left on Thursday around 7:35, and spent most of the day in the company of a Nordhaven trawler (probably a 41) named "Chapter III" from Solomons, MD.
We arrived at Lake Sylvia at 2:30 p.m. and dropped the hook there for the night. Gary will get off tomorrow at the Lauderdale marina and Cliff and possibly Henri will help me get to Terri's dock up the New River.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Head on

There is a long way to go from Titusville to Fort Pierce. But I know that Gary has a commitment in Cocoa Beach at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, and the only way to meet that commitment is to be in Fort Lauderdale Thursday night, which means Palm Beach on Wednesday night, with means Fort Pierce on Tuesday night.
So, I got up around 6:00, set up everything including coffee for breakfast, and we were able to leave the marina by 7:00 a.m.
Almost the whole day I was hopeful that we would make Fort Pierce, but that was not counting on the wind and the tide. This is a general rule that if you are in a hurry, the wind and the tide will be against you. And this is what happened, with the wind from the SE at 10 to 15 and the tide (which is not supposed even to exist) against us at about 0.5 knots.
At first, I felt that I was going to make the bridge, even if it meant doing it in the night. But when the sun came down at 6:00 p.m., we were only 4 miles from the bridge and had an opportunity to anchor on the side of the ICW in 7 feet of water, and I chose to take it rather than risk whatever.
This was probably the longest day, so far, with something that 72 nautical miles under the belt and I was happy to relax, enjoy drinks and dinner, and call it a day.
The bridge is for tomorrow.

Fog Story

Sometimes, it feels like Papy Jovial were not happy about going South, and she does whatever she can to slow me down, even if she has to call some dubious allies to the rescue.
So, when I woke up in this cement plant hole, I could see that I could not see anything. The fog was so dense and thick that the visibility was at tne very best 200 feet.
I was a little hesitant at first, especially since I was confused about setting the radar properly, not having used it a lot in the past few months.
But I felt, what the heck, I am not going to spend the day in this hole. so let's go. From the center of the waterway, I could not see either side of it and I had to rely entirely on the instruments. I did not feel very comfortable, so I sent very slow, at something like 3 knots, and I felt that I would not get anywhere during the whole day.
After an hour, the fog was still as thick as ever, so I stopped very closed to a pier which said "do not tie up" and I took the time to set up the radar properly. This being done, I felt I could increase my speed to 4 knots. As i was getting closer to the L.B.Knox bridge, I started to talk to the bridge tender (a nice lady) and kept her informed on my ETA to the bridge. And she kept telling me, as soon as I see you, I will open. Trouble was, the visibility was still under 200 feet, and there was no way she could see me until I was practically touching the bridge. Anyway, eventually I got to the bridge at extremely slow speed and I was able to go through without having to dance in front of it.
Shortly after that, I had to use my horn for a Nordhaven 47 going the other way but on my starboard side. Again, no further problem and I could continue.
At around 10:45, this so called Florida sunshine managed to get through the fog and the visibiity improved dramatically. That is until I reached Daytona Beach, when the got came back with a vengeance, but not as bad as it was this morning. This time, it was more like a cloud had fallen to the ground. And it followed me all the way to New Smyrna Beach, where I missed the bridge by minutes and I had to wait for 20 minutes for the next opening.
I was not sure that I was going to be able to do Titusville, so I called Gary Johnson, who called the marina there, and eventually I decided that I was going to meet Gary there.
I arrived at the marina at 6:00 p.m. and tied up with Gary waiting for me.
He took me to Cape Canaveral where we had drinks and dinner, and we went back to Titusville and Gary decided to take his bag and come with me.
This was the end of a very long day, and I did not even realise that I crashed.
Fog, fog, . . . . . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Having arrived very early in the morning at the Palm Cove Marina, it gave me time to clean up myself and the boat before Thom and Sarah would arrive to pay us a visit.
I must admit that knowing how much good care they have taken of Precept, I feel almost guilty whenever something bad happens to Papy Jovial born Precept, like the damage to the hull that we suffered while tied up at the old Pungo Ferry marina on the first night of the voyage.
Anyway, Thom and Sarah arrived around 11:00 a.m. and I was able to draw on his knowledge and experience to get good advice to complete my preparation.
We then went for lunch at a Barbecue restaurant, and I enjoyed every minute of it and the conversation with Thom.
In the afternoon, it was nap time to catch up with the sleep deficit of the last leg.
In the evening, Sam and I went to the restaurant next to the marina, and we had an excellent dinner, although a little pricey. But the quality of the food was worth it.
Since I am not able to guarantee that we would be in Fort Lauderdale by Jan 28, Sam decided to go back home leaving in Jacksonville, as he has an important appointment to keep in Colorado.
I left the Palm Cove marina at 8:20 a.m., a little bit apprehensive to see how I would get back into the solo mode.
Everything went smoothly, much more than I anticipated. By 12:30, I passed the Bridge of Lions in St Augustine, and I decided to go as far as I could go rather than anchor at the MM 782.
A quick call to Sarah confirmed that the anchorage at MM 809 was a good one and I decided to make it.
I got to the anchorage at 5:15 p.m., with plenty of time to take care of everything, cook a nice dinner (steak and beans) and have an early night to have an early departure and make Titusville tomorrow.
The weather is as quiet as it can be, with almost no wind. And the temperature, at 68 F won't require me to start the genset.
All in all, a very good day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shaking down

The day in Charleston at the MegaDock (just to go to the bathroom provides for your daily powerwalk) was quiet and we were grateful to be alongside with the heater on, watching the thermometer go down to the low twenties.
Thursday morning, I woke up to a georgeous day and we left at 7:20 with a following tide, blue sky and a light breeze from the West. I took a short cut to exit the inlet, south of the jetties but close to shore and we took our course for Jacksonville, with less than 180 miles to go. I was so optimitisc, that I even called the marina in Jacksonville and gave then an ETA of early afternoon on Friday.
We had mainsail and genoa up, and I set up the windvane monitor for the first time. For the first try, I put up the larger vane, but I think it would only work properly in very light wind. However, it worked fine and we settled for a wonderful sail down to Florida.
That did not last long. Late morning the wind veered to SW, on our nose, and the seas were becoming quite choppy, as is oftern the case on the East Coast. So I hoisted up the Yanmar sail, but it did not work very long. Soon, it became to revv up and down, and finally gave up. Having been through that before on the way down from Jacksonville to Miami last year, I knew immediately that I would have to drain the racor container, change the paper filter and blow the line back into the tank.
In the meantime, my crew became sick as a dog, consequence of a medication that he is taking and an overdose of potatoe chips.
So, I put up the sails again, put Monitor to work, and settled for the night, unwilling to go into the engine room, while sailing at night and with a sick crew. Obviously we had to tack. Usually they say that tacking means twice the distance and three times the misery. In the case of Papy Jovial, it would be thrice the distance and four times the misery. But at least, we were making progress.
Early morning, with my poor sick crew able to stay on deck, I took a nap before getting to work. Around 10:00 a.m., going through ups and down as my plan did not work on the first attempt.
My plan was to disconnect the fuel line, and using the oil change hand pump, push the liquid back into the tank using kerosene that I keep to maintain the winches. Alas, I had forgotten that Mike, to make my life easier, had installed a valve right onto the housing of the racor, and I had a hell of a time unplugging the line and making a tight connection with the hose to the hand pump. Anyway, eventually, I was able to solve the problem and restart the engine without even having to bleed it.
We continued under sail however until again the wind not only came back to SW but also dropped in strength to less than 7 knots, which is far from enough for Papy Jovial.
So, we started motoring again, adjusting the speed so as to catch the incoming tide at the entrance of the St Johns river. I did not slow down enough and we got inside the jetties at around 4:00 a.m. and had to dance in there until daylight at 7:00 a.m.
The final stretch was easy enough and we tied in at the fuel dock at 8:30 a.m.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow on the palm trees

McClellanville is a very quiet place to stay. After a good night sleep, we woke up with rain, a gentle breeze and a thermometer stuck at 40.
we left at around 8:30 a.m. knowing that we only had 34 nm to go as we had planned to stop in Charleston for the night and then go outside and head for Jacksonville.
Well, the best plans are those that allow for changes.
The day turned out to be one of the most miserable ones so far. Although the temperature was not all that cold, we felt chilled to the bones and did not know how to keep ourselves warm enough to stay in the cockpit.
We finally arrived at the Charleston Municipal marina, luckily with a slack tide and less than 10 knots of wind on the nose, so coming alongside was very easy.
After tidying up the boat, starting the heater, and going through the after arrival routine, we decided to go out for dinner and try the Bubba Gum restaurant, in South Market Street.
As we were waiting for a taxi cab at the entrance of the marina, snow flurries started to fall over the palm trees . . . .
We thought we were going South !

Monday, January 19, 2009

A quiet day at the office

Apart from the dense fog early this morning, this has been a very quiet day. We left the Bucksport marina after the fog had dissipated around 8:00 a.m. headed for McClellanville less than 50 nm away.
At first, the weather was really nice. Blue sky, no wind and temperature in the low 50s. A the day progressed, clouds came in and the wind went up a little bit from the SW, but it never became uncomfortable.
We arrived in McClellanville quite early, around 3:15 p.m.. This is the first time that I stop here and I do not regret it. There is a floating dock and it is a very quiet and well protected place. Not much life though as all there is in this little town are shrimp boats. No shops, no restaurants, no bars. But we only need a quiet place for the night, we have everything we need on the boat.
Tomorrow, the weather calls for snow showers and chilly temperatures, so the plan is to go only as far as Charleston, spend the night there and then go out on Wednesday as the weather is supposed to be almost perfect for a sail down to Jacksonville.
Having a quiet evening in McClellanville, I posted a very few pictures on the photo album for Papy Jovial.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Underwater sailing

Another great day at the office. When we left at 7:00 a.m., planning to get to Bucksport marina by the end of the day, the weather was kind of manageable. Around of 10 knots of wind on the nose, threatening skies, acceptable temperature.
Within the first hour the first scare was the loss of the navigation screen in the cockpit.
It turned out that the PS2 port used by the mouse and the keyboard was mulfunctionning (probably nothing but I had no time to trouble shoot). I reconnected everything on USB ports after disconnecting the WiFi adaptor that I am not using anyway, and things went back to normal for that particular issue.
Going through the Lockwood Folly and Shalotte inlets, we touched three times, as we
expected, but since we did not slow down, we merely ploughed through without problems.
Then it was the Sunset Beach ponton bridge and with it a continuous rain that would go on
getting heavier and heavier as the day went on.
The temperature remained in the high forties throughout, but that wetness made it very
uncomfortable and we were quite happy to tie up at the Bucksport marina at around 4:10 p.m.
Having the heater back on made life a lot more enjoyable. Dinner was ckicken stewed with
garlic, onions and tomatoes and rice pilaf.
We have been told that the office of the marina will not open until 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, so
the plan is to go to McClellanville and tie up there.
We will further check the weather there and decide if we go out of stay in the ditch. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Life in the Freezer

What is the point of going south, chasing the thermometer. What we found is that the further south you get, the colder it is.
We left this morning from Harbour Village Marina with the thermometer in the twenties but no ice on deck as the night had been very dry.
With that kind of cold, my brains tend to either be confused or work very very slow. The marina was at MM 267.3 and I figured that the Figure Eight bridge being on MM 278.3, we only had 1 mile to go to make the 7:30 opening, and that all we had to do was to leave around 7:10, which we did. Well, we made the bridge, but at 8:30.
Then the Wrightsville bridge stands on MM 283.1 and only opens on the top of the hour. So we had to manage to sail at about 3 knots to make the 10:00 a.m. opening. This with a nice northerly bitterly cold breeze blowing down our necks.
The rest of the day was likewise; Dave, Sam and I trying to fight off the cold either by staying inside in front of the space heater, or add as many layers of clothing as possible for those who stayed outside.However, nothing we did was much defense against the bone-deep chill.The Fear river got again its name right, with tide against the wind, to the point of driving the autopilot crazy. We finally tied up at the Southport Marina, happy to get power, heat and be able to hunker down inside. We're expecting temperatures in the teens tonight but the heater is working wonderfully. We had a nice dinner out at the Cape Fear Restaurant to celebrate. Hopefully, the temperature is supposed to improve tomorrow afternoon and enable us to get going on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, Dave, who is the only guy still working for a living, has to get back to his office and we will drive him tomorrow morning to the Wilmington airport.
Tomorrow will be a very short entry about staying warm and sleeping.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Timing, the essence of life

We left Morehead City at 7:05, totally unaware that the Marines from Camp Lejeune had decided that day to do live firing across the waterway.
Fortunately, David heard by chance over the radio that the area would be cleared for passage at no later than 11:35.
We had adjusted the speed to avoid having to wait and we got to the first observation tower at around 11:43, so 8 minutes later than the optimum time.
Then we had to worry about the Onslow Beach bridge (the slowest bridge on the Waterway according to the tender) which opens on the hour and the half hour. Again, we adjusted the speed and got through almost in time, although we had to dance in front of the bridge with Andiamo (Andiamo 35 from Vancouver, Canada recently bought brand new from Annapolis at the boat show in October).
Then it was racing towards the Surf City bridge which opens only on the hour. We did not want to have to wait almost an hour, so we revved up the engine to 3100 rpm (and almost 200 degrees on the temperature guage) and we arrived at the bridge in theory 43 seconds late, but in fact had to wait one minute for the bridge to open.
The tide pushing up, we got to Harbour Village Marina within 45 minutes of passing the bridge. Andiamo came in just minutes behind us.
I was looking forward to an early night. Alas, the acting dock master told us that his wife had gone to work with the key to the office so we couldn't officially check in until 9:30 p.m. However, the extra wait allowed for an extra cup of wine after a dinner of yellow fin tuna. And so to bed and tomorrow morning we will shoot for the 7:00 a.m. opening of the Figure Eight Bridge bound for Southport in what are expected to be air temps in the low 20's.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ice Skating

As we were getting up, half an hour later than usual since we were not in a hurry, I found out that the deck was covered with ice and I had to dance on it rather carefully so that I would not break a leg inadvertently. My able bodied, if somewhat frost bittten crew slipped and slid to their duties raising anchor rather carefully and got under way under a nice blue sky and rising sun, but in subfreezing temperatures at 7:40.
Before we were about to move, the genset stopped working without any warning, sounding like an engine starving for fuel. This small incident did not succeed in affecting my mood since I knew that we were going to spend the night with power and heat.As we turned the corner into the Neuse river, we were even able to raise the mainsail and set up the genoa, and even shut off the engine for a little less than an hour.
This very nice hour however ended up in calm air and we went back to the Yanmar sail to get into the Adams creek and onto Morehead City yacht basin marina.
We got in without a hitch, tied up, did the water topping up, the fuel topping up, went to the super market to replenish out provisions and settled down for another nice dinner and a warm night.
Tomorrow, we know, will be another ditch day with the wind turning southwest, in our nose. A little disappointing, but c'est la vie!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A very wet day

As we were having a very nice dinner with sirloin steaks and sauteed potatoes, together with
our regular Cabernet, we noticed a funny mechanical hissing noise that kept coming on at
irregular intervals. At first, I though it was the freezer. Then we suspected the water
heater. We looked in all the wrong places, without much success. After dinner and a concert
of sea shanties, we went to bed, but my mind could not rest. Around 3:00 a.m. I kind of
suspected that the noise was coming from the bilges. I got up to look at it, and indeed, it
was the float switch that had turned and got stuck over an electric cable in the on
position. Having my mind at peace, I was able to sleep until 6:00 a.m.We heaved the anchor aweigh at 7:20 a.m. and got into the Pungo/Alligator river canal for
what was going to be a very cold and wet day. It rained all day long and we were quite happy
to make it to the entrance into the Bay river at mile marker 160 with only 44 miles left
tomorrow for Morehead city. We have lost hope to be able to go outside tomorrow night and
make it to Wrightsville Beach.The other news of the day is that we now have a computer monitor in the cockpit that stays
on all the time and we don't have to go and touch the ball every five minutes. There goes
that job away.Being a Mac user, I am not used to right clicking. It's all there was to it. Right click the
desktop, go on properties, go on screen saver and choose a stupid number like 3000 minutes.Soooo.... at this point in time, there is nothing on the boat that does not work.And tomorrow might be sunny, and we might be able to have a look at the main sail in the
Neuse river. Life is looking up . . . .

The Captain's ball

By the time we had tied up at the Pungo Ferry bridge marina, we realized that the alternator was not working. I am such a good marine electrician that I had no idea in the world why this damn thing which had been working fine last time I sailed was out. Anyway, having no way to get help we went to sleep and went to bed after a nice fish and rice dinner washed down with Pinot noir.
In the morning, I had decided that we were not going to push it and that we were going to stop in Coinjock, only 18 miles aways, and get a marine electrician come and solve the problem.
We got to Coinjock around 10:00 a.m. and settled down for a quiet winter Sunday at the dock in a dead place with only a few duck hunters around.
Next thing that happened, we lost the A/C starboard circuit, which is the one I use for the music and to power the screen that I have in the cockpit for navigation.
Having little to do, I kept looking around in the engine room until I found out that there was a fuse between the alternator and the regulator that was blown. We replaced the fuse (which was for obscure reasons a 2 amps fuse) and put in place a 10 amps fuse after consulting with Thom Diekman (previous owner). Still apparently without any success.
Then, talking to Mike (Country Boy) apparently calling me from one of our "emergency parties", I learned that I had to wait for one minute after starting the engine before knowing if the alternator was charging. We put it off for after dinner and went for the Coinjock restaurant specialty with our neighbours, a couple of MD's from the UK.
Returning to the boat, we started the engine and waited for that one damn minute and realised that the alternator was working. I called Dave (Mike's partner) to give him the good news and we all went to bed.
We left Coinjock early in the morning, headed for the entrance to the Alligator/Pungo river canal, knowing that we did not have enough day light to make it through the canal.
At around 7:30 I called Ezio in the Bahamas to say hello and I montionned the A/C circuit problem, as a passing comment . He told me to look for a ground fault breaker which I did. I found one in the aft bathroom, reset it, and all was well.
The rest of the day was uneventful, although brother Green Eggs kep complaining that it was damn cold (almost 40 degrees), and we dropped the hook in front of the Tuckahoe point at the entrance of the Alligator/Pungo river canal.
A few "Martini Gin on the rocks", french way, kept us warm until dinner time.
The whole time we had the secondary monitor in the cockpit so that we had the navigation monitor up there. The problem was that the screen would go blank every 10 minutes.
I tried getting into the BIOS setup, then into the control panels, nothing would work so that we had to have one of us touch the trackball every now and then (at leat before 10 minutes were elapsed) so that the screen would stay on.
We are now thinking of looking for a female volunteer whose job would be to touch the captain's ball (it is my trackball) every 5 minutes so that we can navigate safely.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not a day in paradise

I thought I had checked everything and that we were as ready as can be to go for the shake down cruise.
Well, having cast off at 7:30, we managed to sail for 1 mile before the high temperature alarm on the engine went off. We went back to the marina, to find out that the hose leading to the water heater from the heat exchanger had cracked and the heat exchanger was actually empty.
Don Johnson and Mike were there when we tied back on our slip and at 10:30, we sailed again.
We got as far as the Gilmerton bridge to find the railroad bridge down, waiting for trains to go through. This took another hour and my hope to make Coinjock rapidly vanished.
From bridge to bridge, we eventually got to the Great Bridge lock in time to be able to make the Pungo Ferry bridge before dark.
We tied up at the old Pungo Ferry marina at 4:45 p.m. and after taking care of the lines, we started the generator and found out that the batteries were almost empty. That means that the alternator, for some reason, did not do its job. Too early to diagnose the problem. We'll see that tomorrow and if need be, try and get it fixed in Jacksonville.
We ended the day with a nice dinner, courtesy of David, with fish (from the freezer, rice pilaf cooked by the skipper, and salad, washed down with a nice Pinot Noir).
I am hopeful that tomorrow, since we only have the Alligator River bridge to contend with, we will be able to reach the anchorage at the entrance of the Pungo/Alligator canal.
Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dans les starting blocs

Les jours se suivent et se ressemblent. Beaucoup de vent, de la pluie, et une foule de petits travaux maintenant que l'essentiel est fait.
La recherche de la fuite a l'etambrai continue. Mais il faudrait qu'il pleuve a nouveau pour voire si on a elimine une possibilite.
Autrement, un peu de rangement, un peu plus de provisions, le plein d'eau, et on est pret a partir Samedi matin. La meteo est bonne pour les trois premiers jours mais se deteriore au moment ou on en a le plus besoin.  Nous devrons sans doute rester dans le Waterway, ce qui coute trois jours. David aura sans doute besoin de nous quitter a Charleston.
Wait and see . . . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009

End of year 2008

Eventful year end,

Although I left Papy Jovial all by himself for most of those last two
monhs of 2008, a lot has been accomplished. Short of completing the
installation of the sat phone and the installation of the Active
Tracking transponder, once it arrives, Papy Jovial is ready to go for
the final shake down cruise in Florida and the Bahamas.
It all started with a quick round driving trip to Abercorn, Quebec, to
visit Patricia and her nice family, Alice, Remy and hubby Thierry. In
the meantime, I took advantage of the trip to take to them the TV and
haitian paintings that are too big anyway to fit in the boat.
On the way out, I stopped in Norwalk to visit brother Rascal and Theo,
As always, they gave me a warm and brotherly welcome. But I drove back
straight to Portsmouth, 13 hours of driving in rough conditions, fog
and drizzle.
As soon as I recovered from that very long ride in tough conditions,
it was time to close on the house,which took place on November 21st.
Then, it was pressure time to try and finish all the preparation
before flying off to France on December 3rd. There was still a little
bit left when I too off but Stew took care of that while I was away,
and when I returned on December 24th, only the electronic part was
still to be completed.
In France, the main goal was to visit the Paris boat show, which I did
on Dec 5 and 6, and to participate in the traditional Boat Show dinner
given by the french brothers. This allowed me to purchase the Navtex
box, the latest version of the MaxSea and the transponder from STW
(Advance Tracking).
Then it was on with my traditional tour, to visit family and friends
all around the country before flying off back to Portsmouth on Dec 23rd.
The holiday period was quiet, except for the traditional "Boxing Day
boucan" of our table, which is one of the funniest and most enjoyable
event all year.
Step by step, Papy Jovial is inching towards being finally ready for
departure on Jan 10th with David and Sam.
Starting on that day, I will be publishing the blog both in french and
in english.