After a good night’s sleep at Great Sale Cay, we shoved off again bright and early for Green Turtle Cay where we planned to check in with immigration and customs. After getting our obligatory “rip roaring argument stemming from not putting the sails up in a long time so we’re rusty* (*Trademark)” fight out of the way, we had the sails raised and motorsailed the 57 nautical miles to Green Turtle. It would have been nice to turn the engine off, but we wanted to have the anchor down before dark. Now that we know how casual the check-in process is, next time we’ll sail as far as we can and simply arrive in Green Turtle on day three. Continue reading “Our introduction to the Abacos.”
We spent several days in the very large north anchorage in Lake Worth stocking up on last minute parts at West Marine and groceries at Publix. While it was a bit of a scramble to get across the beached dinghies, the anchorage was convenient with Publix only a block away and West Marine a few minutes beyond that. We even were able to pick up some items for our friends on S/V Lone Star. They have been in the Bahamas since early December and are running low on chocolate in particular. This constitutes a crisis on their boat and ours! With a small package of Dove costing $10.00 in the Bahamas, we were more than happy to pick up extra chocolate for them, to be hand delivered at some point down the road.
All the while we were keeping an eye on Sunday’s forecast which appeared to have great potential for a Gulf Stream crossing. The Gulf Stream runs in a northerly direction so conventional wisdom says not to be in it when there is wind from the north. The wind against current stacks up the waves, and depending on the wind strength the resulting ride can be anywhere from very uncomfortable to deadly. In the winter the crossing windows can be few and far between due to the fronts that regularly drop down from the north. We had been looking at Sunday for several days, and we figured if the forecast changed we would simply continue to head farther south towards Miami and the Keys, and leave from there.
Below are the numbers for January, including what we spent. We really slowed down on the boat this month, spending the entire time in Florida.
The cash outflow was, frankly, painful. However, we knew that it was going to be a very high-cost month. After debating over the course of a few months, we made the decision to switch from our hank-on jib to a roller furler. One of the reasons we debated it for so long is because we were knew just how expensive it was going to be to make the switch. It represents just over 50% of what we spent this month. We also spent a lot of money preparing for the trip to the Bahamas by stocking up on groceries and extra boat maintenance parts. Finally, we rented a car and took a trip to the west coast of Florida to visit family and friends which was an atypical expense.
We are consoling ourselves with the knowledge that our time in the Bahamas should be extremely low cost, helping to bring the monthly average down to something that is actually sustainable. With a deep breath, here we go:
Vero Beach has a reputation for being extraordinarily convenient for cruisers. It’s the kind of place where cruisers come to stay for a day or two and end up spending the rest of the season. A not-insubstantial number of cruisers end up swallowing the anchor here and moving to Vero permanently, with the CLOD’s – Cruisers Living on Dirt – organizing a Cruisers Potluck Thanksgiving every year. You can see why it gets the nickname “Velcro Beach.” With this kind of build up, we were excited to finally pull in and see for ourselves what it was all about.
One of the reasons we’ve been in Vero Beach for so long is that we decided to switch back to a roller furler. Yes, I finally agreed to give up my beloved hank-on jib.
Little Bristol came with a furler and so did Pegu Club, but a few years ago we decided to remove it and switch back to a hank-on jib. We tend to be a bit old-school and liked the simplicity of a hank-on with the added bonus of better pointing ability into the wind. It was great while we were sailing on weekends and vacations.
However, what we discovered while cruising over the past almost-five months was that the hank-on jib wasn’t really working for us any more. Jeff did NOT like me going up to the foredeck when conditions were sporty, and the jib bag was taking up valuable foredeck space making anchoring more of a hassle than it needed to be.
After leaving St. Augustine, our next planned multi-day stop was Vero Beach. We left early on December 29th, anchoring in a place known as the Cement Factory and at Callilisa Creek the next night.
On New Year’s Eve we were motored down Mosquito Lagoon and then the Indian River. Although the forecast had called for 10-15 knots, we were instead getting a steady 20-25 knots, right on the nose. The water was rather choppy and the channel was narrow with depths of about 2 feet right outside.
Because there are never any engine issues in calm conditions with plenty of room all around (it’s always in rough water, or when you’re going through a narrow cut with rocks on either side, or trying to dock), at that moment the RPM’s on the engine dropped, almost to the point of stalling. Almost as quickly as it had dropped, it went back up again. A few minutes later, it dropped again, but not quite as severely as the first time. Once our heart rate returned to semi-normal, we decided to siphon our remaining diesel from the jerry jug into the tank on the off chance the choppy water was interrupting the diesel flow from the tank. Continue reading “It takes a village to change a fuel filter.”
We reluctantly left Cumberland Island after a short visit due to the incoming weather, but it was the right choice. We tied up at the free dock on Sister’s Creek near Jacksonville and spent the next three nights hunkered down while the wind blew and the rain poured. We picked this particular spot based on the forecasted wind direction, and it did not disappoint. We were rather protected by Florida standards, and after the system passed we were ready to move on to St. Augustine.
St. Augustine was the first place we’ve been where some cruisers spend the entire winter. We knew that wouldn’t happen to us because we’d prefer a bit more warmth, but we were still looking forward to staying for a bit and exploring, so we made a reservation for five nights on a mooring at the municipal marina. We had such a nice time that we extended our stay for two more nights!
Below are the numbers for December, including what we spent. This month we made it to Florida, starting the month near Georgetown, SC and ending in Cocoa, FL.
The cash outflow was significantly better and much closer to what we’d like to be spending. We already know that January will be another very high expense month, but that’s a story for another post.
Here we go:
Sunday dawned cold and cloudy with temperatures in the low 50’s. Knowing that Monday was going to be sunny and mid-60’s, our plan was to leave our mooring in Beaufort, head down the ICW for a few miles and anchor for the rest of the day. This would keep us from having to pay another $20 for the mooring just because we were feeling wimpy from the cold weather. Of course once we got started we figured we might as well keep going. We motored for another 20 statute miles before anchoring in Skull Creek and warming up down below with some hot chocolate.
The next day we moved on to the Herb River, which is where we had planned to anchor while we visited Savannah. We had read that marinas in Savannah itself were very expensive ($3+/foot) and the river carried a lot of debris from the strong currents. People looking to spend a bit less either anchor in the Herb River or stay at a marina in Thunderbolt or the Isle of Hope. We were already planning to spend a few nights at the Isle of Hope Marina so we could visit my Uncle Ken and Aunt Sharon, so we decided to anchor for free for a few nights first.
The anchorage was only a 20 minute dinghy ride to Thunderbolt Marine where we paid $5 to leave the dinghy for the day. From there it was a short walk to a bus that would take us into Savannah. We had been looking forward to seeing Savannah for a while, and it was a lovely sunny day with temperatures in the mid-60’s. Continue reading “Georgia: Savannah and Cumberland Island”
Our next planned multi-day stop after leaving Georgetown, SC was Beaufort (pronounced “Byoo-fert”, unlike the one in North Carolina which is pronounced “Bo-fert”). We hopped down the South Carolina coast, stopping in anchorages each night and sometimes for more than one night for – what else? – weather delays.
By now we were seeing dolphins every day which is so much fun! I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of it. We also saw our first alligator! I saw what appeared to be a log in the water and pointed it out to Jeff, and then we realized that it was swimming. Wow! Unfortunately it happened too quickly to get a picture but maybe I’ll get another chance in Florida. Continue reading “A new addition to our “Could we live here?” list: Beaufort, SC”