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.