Friday, February 24, 2017

Twiddling our Thumbs in Titusville

The forecast leaving St Augustine called for rain. And then rain. Followed by rain. Our reasoning for leaving with such a horrendous forecast was, well, if you are going to sit inside your boat doing nothing, you might as well be driving down the ICW and making progress south. We certainly weren't going out in the ocean. The winds were going to be 25 - 35 knots in every direction.

So, on Wednesday morning at 6:36 am (the default time that my phone alarm is set for), we woke up and prepared for a wet departure. Much to our surprise, the 'sunrise' came in between showers and Junie was able to drop our mooring lines without getting drenched. In fact, the high winds that we were expecting just were not there. Looking at the weather radar, it appeared that we were in the 'eye' of a large low pressure system with only 3 - 5 knot breezes instead of the predicted strong winds. We will definitely take that.

Our plan for the day was to make it to Daytona and anchor just below the first set of twin bridges. Again, thinking we were in for northeast winds of over 30 knots, it seemed like a good spot. And, there is a park between the two bridges where we could take Tilly. The trip was uneventful. Eventually, it rained. Poured down rain. It made me feel very good about having re-treated our canvas with water repellent just prior to leaving Charleston. We were cozy and dry under the full enclosure and, not too surprisingly since it is the middle of winter, mostly alone as we traveled down the waterway. The wind was consistently mild and from the south - not the predicted northeast.

We passed some beautiful spots. The area around Matanzas Inlet was serene and quiet in between the rain showers. We saw several pods of dolphins starting immediately after dropping our mooring and continuing throughout the day. Tilly just loves that. Some of them were, literally, right next to the cockpit as we motored along.

Daytona twin bridges off our stern.
Just before the weather turned snarky.
We arrived at Daytona fairly early and, with our luck still holding out, the rain let up long enough to drop the anchor. Unfortunately, the wind was rising (still from the south) and it was against the current moving through the anchorage. SeaClearly was having a hard time settling on the anchor. We spent 20 minutes waiting and jostling ourselves around until we could get properly set. Quickly, the weather had deteriorated to the point that we would not be able to drop the dinghy to take Tilly into the park. She was not happy. We kicked back, made dinner and got ready for early bed. We set the anchor alarm on Drag Queen pretty tight since were were anchored stern-to the bridge.

Before midnight, the anchor alarm was screaming! Very few things make me fly out of bed like an anchor alarm going off. Turns out that the northeast winds had finally showed up and spun us 180 degrees and stretched us to the other extreme of our anchor chain - 200 feet from where we started and enough to trigger the alarm. We were still holding just fine (kudos to our Rocna anchor) but it took me a while to be convinced and go back to bed.

Next morning, we were up and out as soon as it was light. Fast forward through a quiet trip along the ICW to the George Mussen Memorial Bridge. It is a bascule bridge (which means that it needs to open for something as tall as SeaClearly) that opens on a schedule. When I called on the radio, the bridge tender said, "I'm opening in 3 minutes if you can get up here captain." We sped up, got there right on time and I dropped the shifter into reverse to hold position while the bridge opened. We heard a weird thunking, sucking sound. Probably not good. When we motored up again to pass through the now-open bridge, SeaClearly was shaking like a - OK, this is an old saying from some good old boys in my past - shaking like a dog passing peach pits. We stumbled through the bridge and then drifted to a stop downstream to find out what happened.

I shifted from forward to reverse several times. Junie kept us in the channel while I went down and checked the engine for anything obvious. We drifted in neutral for a bit and then I hit reverse lightly and SeaClearly coughed up a chunk of sticks that floated out behind us. Apparently we had sucked them into the prop when we reversed to stop for the bridge. The shudder went away immediately and we were on our way.

Our next adventure for the day came just north of Titusville going under another bridge which I thought I needed to call for an opening but, as we approached, it appeared that it was opening - or closing - no, wait - neither. Half of the bridge was open. Hmm. A call to the tender confirmed that, indeed, only half the bridge was open and it was stuck that way. We had a 40 ft horizontal clearance with an angled bridge section hanging over it. Our choice if we wanted to squeeze through. Imagine driving a UHaul truck under a railroad crossing with the gate 2/3 of the way up and you will get the picture. I wish I could have had that picture of us going through to see how close it was - I think. Junie wouldn't look.

My little Martin BackPacker guitar
got me into the boaters lounge jam.




We arrived at Titusville Municipal Marina mid-afternoon and, after considering the weather forecast and the lack of potential offshore travel, we signed up for a slip for a week. We backed SeaClearly into B81 and settled in for a stay.  Last night after showers, we stumbled on some guitar players (and one dobro player) in the boaters lounge so I went back to the boat and got my Martin BackPacker guitar and joined in for a while. That was fun.










Tilly slurping up the disgusting water
from the bucket at the dog park.




The AC is on to dry out the boat. There is a dog park right next door. This morning we did laundry, engine oil and transmission fluid changes, flushed the watermaker to keep it fresh (in expectation of actually using it), ran the fuel polisher  and cleaned up the boat. The weather from Chris Parker, our weather guy, is not promising. We may not get a chance to cross to the Bahamas for weeks. We will keep working our way south in hopes of catching a window to cross. In the mean time, life is good.

The park is immediately adjacent to the marina. Nice!
SeaClearly - waiting.

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