Monday, November 26, 2012

Catching up !

Finally, I get some time to catch up. Not that there is much to say about this ICW that I have sailed so many  times. But there are the friends that you meet along the way and this  is what makes it so special.
In Georgetown, it was Monday and the Big Tuna was closed. So we went to the only place on the water that was open and had a very decent dinner there before going back to the  boat and some heat.
Next day, we left relatively early (6:45) heading for Charleston with only one bridge to go through (the  Ben Sawyer Bridge) and some very  shallow water before the  bridge, I did not miss the  opportunity to touch ground and even to get stuck for a little while.
In Charleston, we could not get to the Municipal  marina and we went to Patriots Point to a place called "Charleston Harbour Marina", with as usual a fair amount of  current in the marina, and a cold and rainy day.
The next day, we were lucky enough  that the  rain never materialized and we were able to go downtown, have lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (I could not resist the Shrimps and Grits), take a motorized tour, have some hot chocolate and pecan pie and take the shuttle back to the marina.
The problem when you are in Charleston is that unless you are willing to go outside, you have to wait for the Whapoo bridge to open at 09:00 (it starts being restricted at 06:00 which is too early). So we did, with torrential rain and very cold northerly wind. Having such a late start ruled out Beaufort, SC and the only marina I could find was Dataw Island, almost 5 miles off the ICW. We got there at 4:00 p.m. and although we had promises that we were going to be helped with the lines, everybody had gone home and after two failed attemps to tie up at the face dock with wind and current taking us away from the  dock, we had to settled for a slip where we were stuck until 11:00 a.m. the next morning. I did try to leave early and found myself resting against two piles across one of the empty slips (no damage fortunately) waiting for the  tide to turn around. That marina has a very interesting restaurant with an unusual menu.
Again, having left so late ruled out Savannah and we went to a marina named Skull Creek. OK marina, also with a lot of tide and you have to time your departure just right. We were very lucky and were able to leave at 7:40 which got us at the Isle of Hope marina at 12:45 on Saturday, in time to join the party organized by the brothers of Savannah.
Patrick had graciously lent us his car which enabled us to go to Albert's home in time for a very pleasant reunion of brothers, with Albert and Alise, Mike and  Karen, Tony and Jill, Joe and Maureen, Rigel and Ariel. Unfortunately Patrick and Wren could not join as they had to take care of Erin who had bronchitis.
Next day, we did shopping, lunch  and walk on the river front and had dinner with Patrick before preparing to leave next morning.
Our next stop was Kilkenny Marina, only 2 miles off the ICW. It is an old fishing camp, but had all the amenities that we wanted short of Internet. Good fuel price and quiet night as there is no passing boat to cause any wake.
Next was Hidden Harbor, also off the ICW and better equipped with modern docks. But of course what mattered is that Stew and Diana were there to welcome us and we had a very pleasant evening aboard Papy Jovial with meat balls prepared by Karen, Excellent meal in excellent company. Diana is having excruciating back pain (I am very familiar with that) and I hope  she will be able to take care of that soon.
We then took a mooring at Fernandina Harbor as it would have been too much of a long day to try and make it all the way to Jacksonville, which we did the next day, tying up at Palm Cove marina on Thanksgiving day, with 25 mph wind, Thom there to help with the lines and the  marina closed. Early afternoon, Thom was there to pick us up and take us to his home where Sarah had prepared a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner. Lots and lots of excellent food, so much that of course we could not eat it all and we ended up with more than enough to feed us the following day. Thom has lost more than 30 pounds, on doctor's orders and looked to be in great shape and so was Sarah. We had a lot of catching up to do and the afternoon went too quickly.
Then Marineland Marina, nice stop in a quasi desert, and New Smyrna Beach with an excellent lunch place called the Dolphin View, on the waterway and a show in the main street, Canal Street, where we took a casual walk before returning to the  boat.
We finally arrived at Harbortown Marina, close to Cocoa Beach and we will spend again some quality time with Gary.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy times out of esight

After leaving Dowry Creek, we sailed directly to Casper marina in Swansboro where Blue Moon, with Preston and Sherry, had arrived about one hour before us. This gave us the opportunity to spend a very nice evening together. It also gave me the opportunity to convince them to make a stop in Wrightsville Beach and spend time with Thom and Barbara.
The next day, we had to negociate together 4 bridges (Onslow, Surf city, Figure eight and Wrightville Beach) and we tied up at Dockside after clearing the last bridge at 4 p.m. on Friday November 9. Thom was already there to greet us with all kinds of goodies and by the time Barbara joined us, we were already drinking and munching aboard Blue Moon. We then moved on to Thom and Barbara house for a very pleasant and nice dinner prepared by the lady of the house.
Saturday, Preston and Sherry had to move on as they have to be at a specific time in Jacksonville and fly from there.
Karen and I stayed at Dockside, and after we fixed the connection on the antenna of my GPS (or rather after Thom fixed it) we went for a late breakfast at an omelet place. Very good breakfast. Then Thom graciously let us use his car so that we could fill up one of our propane tanks, do some shopping at Harris Teeter and put all that in the boat. We joined then again at their house and had another of those wonderful dinner, wonderful because of the company, because of the food (excellent steaks grilled outside by Thom) and the wine. And Barbara was all excited as Notre Dame was playing that night (against Boston college) and they won by a wide margin.
At 6:45 next morning, they were both at Dockside to see us off with fresh bagels and cream cheese.
Lots of quality time with excellent friends.
We then sailed on to an anonymous marina, named Cricket Cove marina, with minimum service (electricity, water, trash, and if you did not mind walking a long way, showers facilities). But comfortable and affordable, and we then moved on to Georgetown that we reached today.
We will spend the evening at the "Big Tuna", crash in early, and leave for Charleston where we intend to stay two nights.

Just a reminder, if you wanted to follow Papy Jovial real time, go to "", login as "brisegalets_1" with "papyjovial41" as password.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The first few day after repairs

These first days of the trip, I am finding out too many minor failures that could have developed into major ones.
In Coinjock, I found the pedestal of the steering wheel wobbling. Looking into it, I found that none of the bolts that secure the compass housing to the pedestal were tight, one of them being half way  out.  I managed to tighten them up and so far, it looks OK.
The leak in the fresh water system, after we replaced the pump, the faucet in both bathroom, the fittings on the water heater, is still there. The pump comes on every now and then, but not often enough to worry me, so we have not yet measured the time between each burst of the pump. Feels like more than an hour.
Then, here in River Dunes, all of a sudden, my GPS stopped working, not finding any satellite. I found that the GPS end of the new antenna installed in Norfolk had popped out of the unit. It did not look like the parts of the termination connection had been soldered together, but I am too ignorant to say for sure that it should have been soldered. I will have a technician check that once in Wrightsville Beach.
And then, I lost my WiFi. It turned out that the wifi system in Coinjock is very invasive to the point of changing the IP address of the Wireless Bridge part of the antenna and I could no longer communicate with it. It is one of those systems where after you think you have connected successfully with the hot spot, you then have to follow an 8 steps procedure to login the provider system. In the process, apparently, the system reconfigure the system on the boat. Fortunately, this system comes from IslandTimePC, and Bob Stewart who owns and manages the company is almost always available, very knowledgeable and helpful. Although I had a very weak connection in Dowry Creek marina, I was able to download two files on my netbook  that he sent me and helped me solve the problem. As always with electonic issues, lots of time to trouble shoot the damn thing.
And then, there was the Noreaster that disappeared early and never really threatened us. We had decided to hunker down in River Dunes marina (very nice and inexpensive) and spend the Wednesday there. Which we did. However, Wednesday was cold but not as windy as forecast and we could probably have gone. We will use the time to sort out those many things that remain unchecked on the to-do list when you cast off the lines.
The marina charges $1/foot for the night plus $5 for the 30 amp electricity. We had dinner at the club house for $15 per person which is very reasonable. This is a new marina, which you could not see on the charts but is mentionned on the Waterway Guide. You access it through a narrow channel opening opposite Red #4 in the Broad Creek. Very well protected, new docks with electricity, water and WiFi. Extremely nice facilities, showers and laundry. It is in the middle of nowhere, with no 7/11 or MacDo in sight, but it is comfortable enough that you don't need those. And they have a courtesy car.

By the way, if you want to follow Papy Jovial in real time, go to "", enter with "brisegalets_1" as user name and "papyjovial41" as password.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Under Way

Finally the new voyage has started. We left Portsmouth Boating Center in the morning yesterday on November 3 with my riding buddy Mike aboard. This first day to Coinjock was quite uneventful, with all bridges opening as we arrived and no time wasted. We left at 7:32 and arrived at 15:32, in the cold but no rain. Mike's son was there to drive his dad back to Norfolk and we had dinner at the Coinjock Marina restaurant and Karen finally was able to enjoy the famous Prime Rib (16 ounces however, not 32).
Next morning, having enjoyed the one hour extra (fall back one hour to kill the Saving Time hour), we left for not Columbia but Alligator Marina river. Both Karen and I are very cold and we want to make sure that as long as the thermometer remains depressed, we spend night where we can plug in. Being in Alligator River marina gives us a chance to make Dowry Creek marina tomorrow.
For the last few days, my lower back had been bothering me quite a bit, but since yesterday it has gone to excruciating pain and I have to rely on Karen for a lot of the daily chores that I should share.
The leak on the freshwater system is still there having replaced all faucets and all suspicious clamps. We cannot find any moist point anywhere, on what of the system is visible, but still the pump comes on every now and then. We have not measured the new interval yet and hopefully it will remain over one hour.
I have lost the ability to talk to my Wifi Bridge and antenna but I cannot understand what. I will have to call Bob Stewart as soon as I regain phone service and try to trouble shoot that. Meanwhile, I have to use my netbook, which is quite useful.
I have just left, but I already miss my Norfolk brothers. I think of them and I already look forward to getting back to Norfolk around May 2015.