Queen’s Harbour to St. Simons Island

Tuesday, March 20, 2018:

We were visited on the dock by David, the harbor master. He’s an English dude that professed to full knowledge of our vessel and our intended next stop at the Jacksonville City free dock at Sisters Creek.  He was gracious enough offering us the use of their dock for another night since there was a big storm approaching.  David advised us against going to Sisters Creek as the dock there is always packed with sailboats that don’t leave ignoring the 72 hour maximum tie-up.  We took it all in with a shaker of salt and then called the AGLCA harbor host for Jacksonville, Browne Altman.  Browne said he was about to drive right by the Sisters Creek dock and would call us back with info about what space might be available.  Soon enough, he called back to report that only one sailboat was at the dock.  So we untied from Queen’s Harbour at 0930 and spun around in the narrow basin to head out their channel.  The weather appeared to be holding off for a few hours and Sisters Creek was only four miles including crossing the St. John’s River.  As we exited the channel back to the ICW, I spotted Nellie Mae chugging along just ahead of us.  We found out over the radio that they are headed to Amelia Island.  As we approached the St. John’s, green buoy #7 appeared to be out of place.  It was way over to the west side.  Nellie Mae was ahead and kept it to starboard, but radioed me and advised that it may have been displaced.  Keeping an eye on the depth sounder, I kept my heading as if that was the case.  I had no issue and plenty of water under keel.  I’m sure we will encounter more situations like this and staying alert is imperative as soon we will be cruising in unfamiliar waters.  At 1005 we docked at Sisters Creek with help from Loopers, Kurt and Barbara Jean Walter (In His Time).  We were the fourth boat to dock and met Captain Rodger & Lorrie Swink (Reality) and Dale and Debbie Montgomery from the sailboat Prosperity. I spent the rest of the day catching up on the blog and had technical difficulties moving pictures from our phones to the computer.  Later, two other sailboats came in to dock and we met Peter and Kathy from Gentle Presence and Stefan and Jojo from Gibraltar in their 22 ton sailing vessel, Radiant Spirit.

They were most interesting to talk to during spirited docktails aboard In His Time. We enjoyed hearing about their Atlantic crossing and they loved learning about our American culture and expressions.  We turned in around Looper Midnight (9:00 PM), but with the wind howling, the dock lines groaning and the water drumming on the hull, sleep was fitful until I remembered to use my earplugs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018:

We stayed in bed well after 8:00 am. The wind is continuing to blow and there are whitecaps in the creek from 30 to 35 mph gusts.

Due to the forecast of continuing high winds, we elect to stay put for another night and then move on up to a mooring ball at Fernandina tomorrow.  Reading the AGLCA forum this morning, Jane noted that a member boat, Hearken, was just beginning their loop today from Jacksonville.  I saw them passing our dock and tried to radio with the handheld, but me thinks the captain was too busy trying to maintain steerage in the high winds.  It reminded me of our first day on Charlotte Harbor.  I wanted to cheer them on and welcome them to looping and let them know that we understand that when you’re ready to go, you go.  The rest of the day was route planning and readjusting fenders to accommodate the winds that were pushing us onto the dock.  The wind got to a point where I tied the burgee up to keep from losing another.  Evening time was spent with the same group this time on Reality. Staying here, we relished in getting to know our co-loopers and the sailboaters.


Thursday, March 22, 2018:

We escaped the dock with help from Stefan and Jojo at 1005. The wind was pushing us into the dock, but once I got the stern moving to starboard and the portside bow away from the dock (thanks to Jojo’s fending), all was well.  We turned left coming out of the creek and encountered a few boats occasionally, but pretty much had the waterway to ourselves poking along on a crystal clear day.  The forecast was for a moderate chop on the inland waterways, but the ICW was no problem.  There was a bit of NW winds when we traversed Nassau Sound to make the sharp left at marker 46 to continue up the waterway.  As we approached the A1A Bridge we noticed that the railroad bridge on the other side was closing.


No biggie, we get to see another train.  After the freight train was gone the railroad bridge began to open.  As I’m maneuvering in between the bridge fenders, I notice that there is a go-fast day cruiser coming up beside on my port.  We look over and he motions that there’s three others with him and he barrels on under the bridge moving ahead with too much speed and way too much wake.  Then the boats two and three (Livin’ the Dream) follow right up and pass us while we’re trying to negotiate the bridge and they’re rocking us violently while accelerating and the wakes bounce off the fenders.  I’m too busy to call them on channel 16 and too stunned to think about photographing these SOB’s.  Finally after I’m through the bridge without hitting anything, boat four (Indie), calls on the radio and asked for a starboard pass.  We tell him to come on ahead and give us a slow pass and I cut speed for him to come on by.  After he got by, I radioed him and thanked him for the slow pass and asked if he wouldn’t mind giving his friends a lesson in boating safety and etiquette.  I was about in channel rage, but outwardly remained composed.  It was the worst part of the day, so it’s a pretty good day.

We arrived to moor on buoy number 9 in Fernandina Harbor at 1310. Even though we had to wait about 20 minutes on the RR bridge, we still covered the 23 miles in less than 3 ½ hours.  I got the dinghy ready to go and we packed our shower gear for land based showers.  After checking in and getting cleaned up we putted back out to drop off our things and then came right back to the dinghy dock and walked up to the Palace Saloon for a much needed adult beverage.  The Palace is Florida’s Oldest Bar and was the perfect spot to set free the tension that the four boats from Hilton Head caused.


Then we walked around a bit and did some window shopping and settled into Café Karibo for an early dinner on the patio until we decided that it was too cold and moved inside.  We had eaten here a couple of times before on previous trips and they did not disappoint.  Great food.  We eased on back out to the boat well before sundown and hung out on the fly bridge reading.


Friday, March 23, 2018:

We cranked up at 1045 and eased over to Port Consolidated Fuels just north of the marina.  I put Jane in the engine room to watch the sight glass and let me know just before the starboard tank was full.  This keeps our fuel from sloshing up and out the vent tube.  That took 87 ½ gallons, so we also put 87 ½ in the port tank.  This is the first time we have refueled and having covered over 520 miles, I’m delighted with our consumption.  The friendly attendant, Bob informed us that the cost was only $2.80 per gallon and we wouldn’t be subject to Florida Sales Tax if we completed the form that we were leaving the state.  We bid Bob a fond farewell and good to our word, crossed the Florida-Georgia line less than 45 minutes later.  As we cruised up between Cumberland Island and the ICW, we  spotted 3 USCG high speed chase boats headed out the St. Mary’s Inlet.  The first two had what appeared to be 50 caliber machine guns on the bow with a gunner at the ready.


We arrived and set anchor in about 13 feet of water with only 125 feet of rode at the Cumberland Island anchorage just west of the Sea Camp Dock. Again we ran onto  our friends on the Gentle Presence.  We dinghied into the dock and and checked in with the ranger on duty.  We are welcomed to the Cumberland Island National Seashore without cost showing our National Park Senior Passes.  These things have already proven to be a great purchase.  We had thought about bringing the folding bikes on the dinghy, but figured that would be too much trouble and opted to walk.  The ranger let us know that a sub would be coming in soon and I realized that’s why the chase boats went out.  During our walk down the River Trail to the Dungeness Ruins we spotted the submarine coming in flanked by two war ships and being escorted by a sundry of smaller attack boats for additional security.


During our hike, we encountered the wild horses by the Dungeness Ruins. Dungeness was built in the late 1800’s by Thomas Carnegie.  They really did it up right.  They had lots of recreational buildings and even a heated pool.  We also visited the original grave of General Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee III.  He died here in 1818, but the remains were later removed to Virginia.

We crossed the sizable dunes and walked back up the beach without anyone else around and made it back to our dinghy around 4:45. We used the grill for the first time for cooking potatoes and grilled eggplant.  Jane outdid herself in the little boat galley whipping up a gourmet dinner including sautéed asparagus.

Kings Bay Submarine Base is across the water from our anchorage and at sundown, I could hear them play colors.

Saturday, March 24, 2018:

We slept in a little but up at 0800 and could clearly hear the National Anthem coming from the Navy Base prompting me to stand at attention and salute, knowing the flag was being raised.DSC_0786 - Copy

It was a perfectly clear day with flat water and we pulled anchor at 1020 delighting in the lack of mud. We had the waterway mostly to ourselves and a southerly wind so we went right across St. Andrews Sound and avoiding the extra time of the meandering Floyd Creek.

As we exited Jekyll Creek into the Brunswick River I could see the top of a cargo ship coming into harbor. As Patriot neared, I kept well clear of the channel in ample water to avoid this behemoth.

We docked at Morningstar Marina at Golden Isles at 1500 with assistance from Chic Candler. We negated any issues with the current since high tide was at 1514.  After checking in for three nights, we cleaned up the boat and Jane did three loads of laundry and by then it was time for the showers.  We were excited to be hosting our old friend, Kathy Swift and her new husband, Craig Hall aboard for libations.  They arrived at 6:00 and after our time on board, we were chauferred by Craig to the island for a drink at their local watering hole, Marsh Point, and then on to Travici Restaurant which is managed by Craig’s brother, Galen.  That’s right. This guy’s name is Galen Hall.  If you’re not an SEC football fan, it might not mean anything to you, but apparently, he has used this to win a few bar bets and may have received hotel room without charge.   We got the primo table and great service.  Craig had caught a bunch of Red Fish that afternoon, so that’s what we had.  Fried for appetizer grilled over pasta for entrée.  It was simply fantastic.  We caught an Uber back to the boat.

Sunday, March 25, 2018:

Found on the deck first thing in the am: the Florida Times Union newspaper and two blueberry muffins all wrapped up in a plastic bag.  This is a very nice and unexpected lagniappe indeed.  Jane made grits and then we headed out on our bikes the 2.5 miles to St. Simons Community Church.  It was a large church and we both enjoyed the service.  Then it was on to the Harris Teeter Grocery Store where we got some needed items and ate lunch from their hot bar at a table out front.  When we got back on the bikes the wind started to blow and the temperature dropped.  There’s a storm acomin’ and who’s gonna grab Toto?  We pedaled back as fast as we could and made it to the boat before getting soaked.

Craig picked us up at 6:00 for dinner at their house and it was a fun time getting to know him better and catching up with Kathy.  We celebrated our second month on America’s Great Loop.


Monday, March 26, 2018

With the wind whipping and the temperature dropped to 55 with pelting rain, we’re happy to just stay aboard at the dock. We route planned, Jane finished all our laundry and I worked on this blog.  We had left the aft curtain off the fly bridge enclosure and the north wind had blown the rain in and soaked most of it.  The wind took my hat while I was trying to dry things up.  Jane made a big pot of yummy soup and we’re looking forward to better weather tomorrow.  The Intra Coastal Waterway through the Georgia coast meanders mazelike through the of marsh of the low country.  It’s best to only travel on days with the fairest weather and a rising tide avoiding shoals and bars.

St. Augustine to Queens Harbour


Friday, March 9, 2018:

It was a beautiful sunny morning, but a chilly 44 degrees. We flipped on the heater and after breakfast I finished up the last blog post.  I never realized how much work writing is.  Late in the afternoon we got all spiffed up for the Marshall Tucker concert.  Our first plan was to walk to the St. Augustine Amphitheater, but then Jane thought she’d get too windblown so we opted for an Uber.  Since we were all ready to go and it was still early, we quaffed a vino on the flybridge and over the course of about 15 minutes watched the Uber price jump from $6.00 to $23.00.  Oops!  I guess we failed to recognize that all the Uber drivers would be busy just before the concert.  Just another 20 minutes for Roberto to show up and few dollars more we arrived just before the 5:30 start time.  We grabbed a pretty good mushroom vegi sandwich from a food truck (converted Air Stream Trailer appropriately named The Bullet).  I must say though that the tater tots were perfectly crispy and well-seasoned.


The amphitheater seats just over 5,000 and the concessions offer all manner of adult beverages.  Jane had done a great job getting us awesome seats on the third row and we sat down as the Outlaws were beginning their second song.  They totally rocked the house.  They were followed by Marshall Tucker Band who is one of our favorites, and then Charlie Daniels.  At 81 he can still work that fiddle and put on a great show.  Travis Tritt was batting clean-up and of course, he put on a hell of a show.  I was feeling pretty good about catching a guitar pick from one of the Outlaws until the guy in the front row got a tambourine from the Marshall Tucker band, but also Charlie Daniels’ fiddle bow!  The entire concert was over at 10:30 which I’m sure is a condition of noise enforcement on the venue.  Gainesville has toyed with the idea of building an amphitheater and if they can make it anywhere near as nice as this one, they should do it.  Getting great acts like St. A does consistently is key to the success.


We walked all the way back after the concert and while it was not necessary and may not have even been advisable, we paid a visit to the Tradewinds before retreating to the vessel. For those of you unfamiliar with Tradewinds, when you leave your hair and clothes smell very smoky but the bands are always rocking and the drinks are good. The town is filling up with bikers since it is Bike Week in Daytona and half of them were at the Tradewinds that night.


Saturday, March 10, 2018:

Our friends, Jeff and Beth Siegel, drove over from Gainesville to see the boat and visit for a while. We all walked a circuitous route to the Floridian Restaurant following Jane and her not-so-smart phone.  By the time we got there, we all had a great appetites and the food was awesome again.  Meredith was also due to arrive with our grandsons to stay the night.  She called during lunch and they had gone on out to the beach and promptly got her car stuck on the beach.   AAA failed to show up with the proper truck, but a nice deputy helped dig her out.  Later, on the boat, we all enjoyed the champagne that the Siegels had brought to toast our adventure.


Since there is a great old Putt Putt course right at the marina, we took the kids to play Putt-Putt.

It was quite competitive but Riley was sick so we returned to the boat and had some leftovers.


Sunday, March 11, 2018:

With our clocks sprung forward (for the last time, I hope), Jane whipped up a breakfast of grits and garbanzo flour and veggie omelets. It was surprisingly good.  Riley was feeling better after a good night’s sleep, so we all walked over to the fort.

The Spanish soldiers fired the cannons while we were there.  It was quite exciting and we had a hard time convincing Riley that the noise would be tolerable with hands on the ears.  He hates loud sounds so it was scary for him but he did fine.  After we left the fort we took the kids over to the big playground and that happened to be right next to where the Scottish games were in progress.  We enjoyed watching them toss the 100 pound pole.  Jane and Meredith especially enjoyed the very muscular men in their kilts.  Not short enough according to them.

Soon, it was lunch time, and back we went to the Floridian.  The food was wonderful as usual, but there was one grumpy six year-old at our table.  After lunching leisurely, Meredith took Jane on a grocery run.  We bid goodbye to Meredith and the kids for what seems like a long time coming and then we cleaned up the boat and Jane did laundry in the marina.  On her way to the laundry, Jane got to talking to another Looper who was speaking with a guy that Jane thought looked familiar.  Turns out it was Lloyd Clarke who owns the store where we buy our running shoes.  He accepted an invitation to join us on the boat for happy hour.

Monday, March 12, 2018:

Jane got up very early (4:30 am!) and I slept in while the rain poured down. We just hung out on board most of the day, while I did some genealogy research and fixed the loose hot water handle on the aft head sink.  We walked over to the Ace Hardware and found a couple of items.  Talked to Scott on the phone and found out he was giving the talk at the YL Capernaum Club that night in Nashville.  After walking all over and fixing a few things, the wind outside had picked up to 20-25mph, and so a big pasta dinner on the boat was cozy and yummy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018:

We woke up to almost freezing weather and had to turn on the heater for a while. We are getting used to reading the Gainesville Sun newspaper online and always like to read the AGLCA and MTOA forums to keep up to date on the latest news.  Bill and Martha Kloeppel arrived with a bag full of fresh vegetables from Hastings.  A perfect boat-warming gift! We found out we needed to move to a new slip at the marina since we had been there so long and they are short on dockage with access to electricity.  So Billy and Martha had a short boat ride from slip 42 to slip 33. We were thankful for slack tide and no wind. Tommy and Diana arrived about 12:30 and we all visited for a while before sauntering over to the Blue Hen in Lincolnville for lunch.

Great local restaurant with vegan options so we were all happy with the food.  Wine was enjoyed and naps were needed after our company departed.  Oh, the afternoon naps certainly are lovely. Just before sundown, the 200’ cruise ship, American Star, came to dock at the fuel dock for the night.   Quite the commotion watching them dock that monster ship with the monkey fists to get the lines ashore – I even helped!

The ship made the 68ft Nordhaven that had moved in to our previous slip look small.  Apparently, they had cruised all the way from the Marshall Islands.  That’s a different kind of cruising.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018:

Another cold morning. We’re tired of this and refuse to move further north until it warms up.  Without shore power to run our heater, we justified sleeping in late.  I didn’t totally waste the day and cleaned the bilge and then wire brushed the generator pan and motor mounts.  Then I turned my attention on the main engine mounts and the transmission.  Having the right brass brushes for the drill and dremel really made a tough job fun.  It looks like a new engine room now.  Even Jane was impressed and she was most helpful handing me tools and towels.


We enjoyed getting to know Mary and Tim when they joined us for docktails. They are doing the Loop on their 25 foot red tug, Nellie Mae.


They are from South Dakota and had to trailer their tug 600 miles to get it in the river system to begin their loop in Illinois.  That’s perseverance.

Thursday, March 15, 2018:

This morning we ran the generator to get some heat since the inside of our boat is the same temp as the outside, which was 42, but then decided to get in a run before breakfast. We went over the Bridge of Lions and around the neighborhoods on Anastasia Island.  Walked through the Conch House Marina and holy cow, the damage.  Sad to see. Later we biked out to US 1 for shopping and then joined Tim and Mary at Ann O’Malley’s for trivia night.  He is great at trivia, and we almost won but blew it on the final question ranking the popularity of dogs according to the AKC.  Who knew Beagles and Dachshunds were more popular than Shitzus? Not us.

Friday, March 16, 2018:

We rode our bikes about 4 miles to the Manatee Café for breakfast and then on the return trip, stopped by O’Reilly Auto Parts for some primer and paint for the generator. The path we chose through the neighborhoods west of US1 was picturesque and we rode home a different way near the water. I got the pan and mounts all taped and painted and again Jane was impressed.

Saturday, March 17, 2018:

Jane woke me up at 4:30 am and was adamant about wanting us to bike over to Vilano (in the dark) and run the Vilano Bridge 5K Run. I don’t need to bike 4 or 5 miles just to run.  Nor do I need to pay $35 to get some exercise, but alas, I chose correctly and decided that it’s better for me to be grumpy for a little while than for Jane to get pissy all day.   Riding over the bridge and seeing the sunrise was super.  We met our friends Ed and Lesley Myers waiting for the race to start and enjoyed our requisite post-race beers with them after.

Later after naptime, we hosted Ed & Lesley and their friends, Paul and Joyce aboard for docktails at 4:00. Then we all went back to their condo in South Ponte Vedra for dinner.  They have a penthouse on the intracoastal side which yields a great sunset which I failed to capture here.


We put the Gator vs Texas Tech NCAA tournament game on but by halftime Jane and I Ubered back to the marina.  I watched the end of the game in the boaters lounge by myself.  We lost by three.  Oh well, wait’ll next year.  Jane’s fitbit recorded more than 25,000 steps today so she was satisfied with the amount of exercise and let me go to sleep at an appropriate time.

Sunday, March 18, 2018:

I installed the new ventilation cover on the generator. It is like a metal belt that wraps the flywheel and was an ordeal, but I got it slipped through correctly with a good bit of pushing, pulling, tapping and cussing.  It was a beautiful sunny day and Captain Josh Metcalf came over and gave us lots of great advice and encouragement.  It’s great to talk to someone who knows all about boats and whom you can trust. I ran the generator for over an hour to get the batteries all charged up.  We got a pump out of the holding tank and I refilled the water tanks so we’d be ready to leave tomorrow.  Then we gave Sabbatical a complete bath before getting our own showers.  We’re all cleaned up but worried about the approaching storm tomorrow.  Leaving St. Augustine may have to be delayed, but we’ll decide that in the morning.

Monday, March 19, 2018:

The storm blew through early, so we backed out of the slip at 1015. There were four other boats that needed the Bridge of Lions raised.  Three coming south with the tide were first and then we followed the sailing vessel Meanderer after they cleared the bridge.  Once past the bridge Meanderer called us to come on and pass when ready.  When we got even, he called on the radio to ask about Sabbatical and was very complimentary about her lines and good looks.  As we neared Vilano, I called my real estate partner, Todd Rainsberger, to see if he might be at their house on the waterway.  He was and came out to wish us well and watch us pass as we chugged on north under the Vilano Bridge.  I miss working with Todd but I think he understands why we are doing this now.  It was fun to be in St. Augustine but after two and half weeks it sure feels good to get some water passing under the hull.  We had a beautiful cruise up the waterway and passing the airport we were entertained by a bi-plane doing touch and goes.  Being Monday, we encountered very few boats and enjoyed the balmy, partly cloudy day.  Near the end of our run to Queen’s Harbour, a larger faster boat, El Capitain, came up from behind and radioed to give a gentle slow pass.  It really is nice when other boaters are so kind.  Jane pointed out that he is also going to Queens Harbour.  I had to doubt that, but she claims to have a sixth sense about these things.  Sure enough, right before we got there, I heard him radio for a lock-through.  How does she know?  It’s spooky.

The lock operator on duty is my friend from Howey Academy, Harry James. Harry arranged for us to stay the night at the floating dock outside the lock.  It was a nice accommodation with electric in the protected harbor.  After Harry was done locking through El Capitain he came down to the floater to take our lines and help get us tied.  We were all secured by 1515 and Harry’s relief showed up, and he suggested that he take us out to Publix.  We did a major resupply and got back to the boat just before the rain came back.  Soon after that, Borden (another old Howey friend) and Sue Hawkins arrived for boatdrinks on the flybridge while the rain pelted the canvas.


Once it let up, we all went off to Parsons for dinner.  The food, service and company were all perfect.


Harry mentioned that we’re in for more rough weather tomorrow and suggested that we might want to just hang tight at Queen’s Harbour, but we’ll check it out in the morning.

A lot of the other boaters we have met have highly encouraged us to get auto-pilot, so it would be a good idea to install one.


St. Augustine

DSC_0637Friday, March 2, 2018:

Jane took a long walk after breakfast while I worked on the last blog post. She explored downtown and enjoyed seeing Travis’s former house on Mulvey.  We had fond memories of painting and moving him in to that 3rd floor fire hazard for his senior year at Flagler College in 2009.  It was really a cute spot and great location.  Meredith and grandson Evan arrived in the mid afternoon and then went off to pick up her friend, Staci and family, flying in on a private plane.  Must be nice to be married to a pilot.  Jane and I walked over the Bridge of Lions and decided to check out Marker 8 motel and marina.  This was the old Anchorage and it has been totally redone.  We got info on docking there and walked back just as the sun set.


It was a little chilly, so we finally used up 3 cans of the soup that we had aboard and played Jenga. Thanks to Garrett Bell for the games.  When a wake hits the boat, it’s all just part of the game.


Saturday, March 3, 2018:

Meredith was staying at the Hampton Inn out at the beach, but came and took Jane to Publix at Vilano for provisions. Not the best Publix but they do carry wine.  Jason showed up in the late morning and on board we watched the Gators whip Kentucky on TV via our HD Mohu antenna.  (When it works, it’s great.)  Watching the TV with the horizon waving (it was really rough in the bay with lots of wind and current) in the background  caused a slight motion sickness for Jason so instead of sleeping on the boat with us that night as planned, he spent the night with his friend, Steve,  who lives on the golf course at St Johns. Jason drove us over to the Hampton Inn to hang with Meredith et al around the pool at the Hampton Inn.


There were some college students on spring break there that needed some counseling on life so I regaled them with some yarns and advice.


Evan and Kenzie played Jenga with GJ and walked on the beach to show her the hole they dug that was heading to China.


After catching a ride back to the marina, we walked over to the Floridian Restaurant (Southern comfort food) for dinner.  We ate at the bar upstairs and it was incredible.  I got Tofu and Grits.  Might not sound right to you, but I loved it.

Sunday, March 4, 2018:

More grits. Yes, we like grits. And then off to Memorial Presbyterian for service at 1100.  It is a beautiful old church and the final resting place of Henry Flagler.


After church we met Jason, Meredith, and Evan along with Staci’s family for lunch at the Conch House. Then we all came back over to the boat.  Evan loved showing off “his” boat to Kenzie.

After a short nap we hosted Mike and Carol Oyenarte along with Lyla and Whit Springfield for docktails.  They brought beautiful platters of appetizers!  Who needed dinner after all that?  We all had a great time!


Monday, March 5, 2018:

I changed Big Red’s oil and filter. The previous owner, Tim O’Neill, set up a handy tube connected to the oil pan drain plug hole to which I could attach the pick-up tube from the changing pump.  It is then an easy and clean process to pump the old oil into the saved jugs from the previous change and then get them to the used oil bin on shore for proper disposal.


Then I replaced the pencil zinc and replenished the batteries with distilled water.  It requires some real engine room yoga to get the batteries serviced.  Afterwards, we rode our bikes to Target to pick up a few things.  We called our grandson, Jake, to wish him a happy 16th birthday.   We failed to send the requisite $5 bill in a card, but I bet he’s gonna love having Jane’s old Yukon instead.  A safe car for a teenager and it’s neat it previously belonged to his great granddaddy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018:

Enterprise picked us up and we took a rental car to Gainesville for a quick trip. We both got our hair did, took our dog to the vet and I was able get by the hospital to visit Annette who is like a second mother to me.  Got takeout from Grill Fresh which is located in the old Everyday Gourmet next to Café Gardens. Wonder if any business will ever make it there. Oh well. I also got a chance to stop by the office and see some of my old real estate cohorts.  It was good to hear that I look “rested and relaxed”.  I didn’t imagine that I would actually miss working, but I really do miss the team interaction with Tracy, Todd, Beau and Dean.  After picking up some stuff at the house, we hustled on back to St. A and greeted Scoot and Debbie Gallagher along with Chip and Mary Ann Williams aboard for drinks before walking over to O.C. Whites for dinner.  It was a great visit with fun friends.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018:

Got up early to return the rental car.   Met other mariners here that were also returning their car so Enterprise could return both of us to the marina with one trip.  Jane did laundry in the morning and then our old boating buddies, Larry and Linda Awbrey, arrived.  It was fun showing them around the boat.   We hung out on the boat for a while and then sauntered over to A1A Ale House for lunch.

After the Awbreys left it was nap time for us.  Sometimes, one just feels tired without having really done much.  For dinner, Jane created another masterpiece salad from our Tuesday lunch leftovers.  We enjoyed reading in the evening and I finished Dan Brown’s Origin.  That was tough to put down.  Unlike this blog, it’s a real page-flipper.

Thursday, March 8, 2018:

Cold again this morning and we turned on the heater for a while. We spent a couple of hours planning possible stops between here and Norfolk.  My brother, Mike, and his wife Cam drove over to meet us for lunch and brought along their daughter, Kelly .  We met up at O.C. Whites and dined upstairs in cozy warmth.  Mike brought us a loaf of his home-baked sourdough bread.  It was great to see them, but I neglected to take any pictures.  Where is my brain?  After they left we decided to walk over to Castillo de San Marcos.  Construction began on the fort in 1672 and today it looks very much like it would have when completed in 1756.  The Castillo is a National Monument so we could use our National Parks Senior Pass for free admission.  I always enjoy visiting the old fort and (avoiding the tour groups of school kids) and we took our time to read all the historical placards.


After a little happy hour back aboard Sabbatical we thought we should check out Captain John’s favorite restaurant in St. Augustine, so we set off on our bikes bundled up against the cold bound for Hurricane Patty’s.  It was less than a fifteen minute ride from the marina and we gobbled up some good grub.  Hurricane Patty’s is a casual island-inspired, waterfront seafood spot on the San Sebastian River.  We were happy with a booth inside since it was so cold and getting dark by the time we arrived.  Those headlamps certainly came in handy for the ride back in the dark, especially after enjoying some wine.  No BUI this visit.


Cocoa to St. Augustine

Friday, February 23, 2018:

There was a light shower as I filled the water tanks in the early morning. It was hardly enough to get us wet.  I was glad to see the water beading up on the part of the teak bow rail that I repaired yesterday.  The wind was inconsequential and the forecast was for Southeast winds of 10-15 knots and the Intracoastal a moderate chop.  We departed the dock at Cocoa Village Marina at 0915 without assistance or incident.  As we cruised north soon the Rocket Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral came into view.   I knew it was miles away and it was in view for hours.

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The cruise of the day was easy and as the day wore on, the clouds continued to dissipate as it turned into a beautiful day. Apparently, in this area, fishermen think it is a good idea to fish between the fenders of bridges.  That’s not a recommended practice, but I always practice courtesy and caution, slowing to not rock them too much.

Eventually the channel turned east toward the Haulover Canal. As we entered the canal it became apparent that many manatees were harboring there.  I have never seen so many at one time.  They seemed to be having a great time playing with each other and just lulling around.

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Approaching New Smyrna Beach, I happened to glance down on the starboard side and see a school of rays also moving north. There may have been 50 or more of them seeming to swim in unison.  I couldn’t grab the camera quick enough though, but we did catch these two choppers about to refuel in flight.


We made it to the NSB City Marina at 1535 and had a very easy slip assignment straight ahead and downwind on the floating dock.

DSC_0564  Pelican Rookery Island at NSB

We showered and rested up before hosting Rick and Deedy Crossland for docktails and then walked with them to dinner at Yellow Dog Eats. They will begin the Loop from Ponce Inlet April 1st.

Saturday, February 24, 2018:

I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Around mid-morning one of my old Howey Academy classmates, Jim Simpson showed up on the dock.  He lives in Pennsylvania, but has a condo in NSB, so it made sense to meet up here.  The three of us knocked around the art show and farmer’s market just across from the marina.   We hadn’t seen Jim since 1985 so there was a good bit of catching up and trying to remember old times at school.  Later he returned to the condo and Jane and I caught up on nap time.   Jim’s wife Georgia was flying into Sanford around 6:00, so on their way back from the airport they picked us up and we all went to their 8th floor condo at Minorca on the north end of the island.  We brought salad and Jane’s infamous 7 layer dip, so we all enjoyed the evening with dinner and some wine may have been involved.  It was wonderful reconnecting with my old friend.


Sunday, February 25, 2018:

We left the dock of NSB Marina at 0956 and stayed in the ICW to avoid the shoaling around the NSB inlet. The tide was pushing against our headway and soon enough I knew that we would not arrive as early as I wanted.  Our destination was only about 15 miles and we completed the run up to Daytona docking at the Halifax River Yacht Club at 1215.  I had made repeated calls by phone and radio to the HRYC (all to no avail), to make sure they would have a temporary tie up for us.  Finally, once we pulled into their basin, I saw a spot on the dock and just pulled in like it was there just for us.  Turns out the dock master had fallen in the water a few days prior and his cell phone and handheld marine radio were both out of service.  He was fine with the spot we took, and directed us to the Tiki Hut to meet my Uncle, Gator Bert Reames, his wife, Julie, and their son Roosevelt along with my sister, Susie, and her boyfriend, Jay.  It was a leisurely lunch and we all enjoyed the food, fresh air and the company.  Regrettably, I neglected to get any pictures of our group.

After lunch we pulled out of the HRYC at 1400 and motored up to just south of the L.B. Knox Bridge and set anchor next to Highbridge Park and North Peninsula State Park. I have no idea why it is called Highbridge Park since the L.B. Knox draw bridge has a vertical clearance of only 15 feet.  As the sun set, the few fishermen left in their boats and we were all alone anchored just about 2/10 of a mile south of the bridge.  I rigged up my new shower for the stern deck and just after dark we slipped out on deck au naturale to get cleaned up.  Jane was ok with this since it was dark and was sure the bridge tender couldn’t see us.  Of course, afterward I did let her know that any bridge tender worth his salt would have night vision binoculars.  We slept well and the anchor alarm never sounded.  I was a little concerned about the possibility of swinging into shallow water since we were so close to the east shore of the waterway.

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DSC_0582  This guy seemed curious.

Monday, February 26, 2018:

We got up at sunrise, but stayed inside reading the Gainesville paper on line and having breakfast. We have changed from running the generator at anchor to make coffee to simply boiling water on the gas stove and then pouring it over the grounds in the coffee maker.  We cranked Big Red at 0900 and by 0910 we had the anchor up and all the mud washed off the anchor and chain with the handy shower head on the expanding hose.   I radioed on channel 9 to request opening the Knox Bridge.  The tender was jovial and asked if we were bankers since he thought we just rolled out of bed.  By 0915 we had cleared the bascule bridge and were heading on northward through the narrow ICW passing a great many grand waterfront estates.  We found out we could get a slip at Marineland Marina for only $1.25 per foot so felt like we couldn’t afford not to stay there.  Jane made contact by phone and we reserved the slip for three days.  A three day slip rental here also gets you two free passes to the dolphin show, so we were good.  It was a nice day for cruising, partly cloudy after a brief shower just before we pulled anchor.

DSC_0602  L.B. Knox Bridge

By 1145 we had docked at Marineland with the help of marina manager, Eric Ziecek (UF alum) in slip #42 just down the ramp by the office. The entire marina was rebuilt last year so all the facility is in primo shape.

DSC_0608  Marineland Marina Sunset

Just across the dock from us was an Albin 43 that looked to be of similar vintage as ours, so we went to say hello and compliment their boat.  You can meet the nicest people this way and we did.  The owners, Mike and Mercy Byrd, are living on board and have their Portuguese water dog, Ike.  Mike’s a Georgia Bull Dawg from Atlanta, but I couldn’t hold that against him.  After just a few minutes, they had offered us the use of their car.  Quickly, Jane was summoning her mental grocery list and we accepted for a run to Publix.  You can pack a lot more stuff into a Subaru than you can a backpack, so we wisely provisioned up, taking full advantage of the motor coach.   We had Mike and Mercy come over for docktails at 1800 and we all enjoyed it.  Even Ike made an appearance and like a true waterdog, had no problem making it up to our top deck.  Apparently dogs like hummus.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018:

A pretty lazy day. We went for a walk on the beach, Jane made dill potato salad and awesome grilled “cheese” sandwiches for lunch, and then we took a nap after reading.  Later, Jane made a really great vegi-pasta dish and we turned in early.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018:

We walked across the highway to see the dolphin show at Marineland. Marineland is the world’s first Oceanarium.  It’s not Sea World, but we both had come here as kids and it has a lot of history.   After that, Eric gave us a good pump out and I refilled the water tanks so we’d be ready for departure on Thursday.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018:

In the morning I scrubbed off our tannic stain from the bow with lemon juice. With some good help from Eric on the dock, we departed at 1003.  The forecast was showing SW winds of 9 to 17 knots and increasing after 1300.  Slack low tide for St. Augustine would be at 1407, so I was a little torn between arriving early to avoid higher winds or showing up at 1400 to avoid the current.  With the wind at our back we made the Crescent Beach Bridge by 1107.

DSC_0613  Matanzas Inlet from the ICW

DSC_0621  White Pelicans

Soon the tide was also helping move us along and at one point we hit 11 MPH!  That’s flying by trawler standards.  By 1215 we had docked into slip #42 (again) easing in bow first downwind and with the current.  Our dockhand, Mike provided excellent assistance.  The city-owned marina was torn up by the hurricane and they are in process of obtaining funding for a rebuild.  A large portion of the slips are in disarray and unusable.  We lucked out and got one with electric.

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Bridge of Lions                                                                  St. Augustine

Sabbatical was looking pretty awesome on the dock until the 75 foot Hatteras, “Corporate Approved” moored next to us.

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In comparison, she made our trawler look like a toy boat.  The owner and crew were very friendly and we shortly found out that he owns a marina (Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina) on the Hudson River in New Baltimore, NY.  Around happy hour, they invited us and another couple who were just walking the dock aboard for a tour and libations.  Very friendly guys!  His marina closes each winter so that’s his personal boating season.  When the river freezes over I guess there’s just not much boat traffic.  They reopen around the first of April.  “Corporate Approved” will leave in the morning and running in the ocean, they’ll arrive in Charleston tomorrow night.  That’s a different kind of boating.  We left them and went to Cellar 6 for a nice dinner of pasta.


This full moon is working the tides here in St. Augustine