This has been one of those days where you know you’re going to have to do something intimidating, so you can do something you’ve been planning for, but you may hear something that is downright depressing.
First I have to pilot Escape Velocity about several hundred yards up the San Sebastian River. Tight but no big deal, except that this very narrow river changes direction in what seems like every couple of hours. The gusty winds have not abated and when I say current, I’m talking 6 kts. It reminds me of the inlet at the Matanzas Fort.
Next I have to make a 90 degree turn into the haul out bay. I was able to spin EV in what I thought was a timely fashion only to see that the wind and current had pushed me past the narrow slot used by St Augustine Marine Center. Ok skipper, now what? I was able to keep EV rotating until I was pointing up into the current and wind and slowly we made our way into the slot at an angle, monohull style. Didn’t even touch, nothing but air! A power wash and an inspection of the rudders confirmed our decision to replace the bearings was a good one.
The costs are always creeping up. I guess you could say it’s mission creep. When you put as much into a new home as we have, you want it right and you want it right, right now.
Jack’s rig for the bikes has worked very well so far. We think we’ll need a few more lines on the bikes when we head out into the ocean just to completely eliminate any movement, and yes, they will eventually rust regardless of what protective products we spray or gob on, but oh, how wonderful it is to have them! I don’t know how bikeless cruisers cope, and when these rust away we’ll replace them. I’m sure deploying, storing and maintaining them will be a pain, but luckily bike maintenance is something Jack has always enjoyed.
Yesterday we rode to a Marshall’s store for a bit of clothes shopping. I’ve discovered that 100% cotton clothing isn’t the most comfortable thing to wear when you’re underway in steamy Florida. All week I felt clammy and my cotton shorts and T-shirts hung damp and heavy, especially on the days when we had rain squalls. Jack, on the other hand was wearing quick-drying nylon shorts and Dri-Fit t-shirts, much better choices, and while I’ve got plenty of clothes, I’m going to replace some of the cotton with miracle fibers. But apparently not at Marshall’s in St. Augustine. I found two Dri-Fit T-shirts but no shorts. That will have to wait until we find an outdoor clothing store.
Today we rode to the grocery store. We were reluctant to buy too much because we have to haul it back to the boat on the bikes, but we could have loaded up a lot more. The one-piece bags with integrated panniers we used for our bike touring hold a lot of stuff, although I anticipate a challenge when it’s time to stock up on paper towels and toilet paper. When we got back we watched this pretty little wooden Tahiti ketch get splashed. The owner is on his way to Iceland. That sounds good to me!
The boatyard ordered the parts for our rudder repair but they’re not sure when they’ll be here. If we weren’t living aboard they’d pull the boat out of the water and let it sit in the yard until they had everything they need to replace the bearings and seals, but since this is our home they’re leaving us at the dock until they’re ready to go. That’s because life in the water is much more comfortable than in the yard. For one thing, our air conditioning is water cooled, so it won’t work once we’re out of the water. And our sinks and showers drain directly out of the boat so we’ll have to use the boatyard showers while we’re there. We’re looking forward to getting the repairs done, but not to life aboard while it happens.
Meanwhile we’re at the end of a very long dock with no one living aboard near us so it’s quite peaceful. Once in a while some working boats go by but for the most part it’s been lovely — no rain and only occasional periods of gusty winds.
When I woke up this morning and went out to check the fenders and docklines I found this guy taking advantage of our bowline to fish from.
There’s a farmers market today in the park across the street from the boatyard. What a treat to have corn and tomatoes and cucumbers and peaches!
Marce at the market in St. Augustine, FL
Along with the produce and baked good vendors there was a man who made guitar-like instruments from cigar boxes.
The cigar boxes are beautiful, and the workmanship is impressive.
There was also a didgeridoo maker. Both these instrument makers provided an interesting soundtrack for the market.
Jack had the obligatory pulled pork sandwich.
And I’m excited to have a pile of fresh produce to cook with for the next couple of days.
Three exhausted crews woke up this morning on the Matanzas River. A light rain was falling and the tidal race was about to change again. An Aussie sloop, the only crew to actually see Ft Matanzas, got her anchor up first and as they slid by he said,” hell of a night.” Two tow-headed kids poked their heads out of the companionway hatch to wave. That’s the way it is. A shared experience brings us all closer.
We decided to up anchor. It didn’t look very good and I knew after Escape Velocity’s performance the anchor gear would be a mess. It was.
Ah…to tie up to a sturdy dock with AC, water, and a sound night’s sleep. After docking at St. Augustine Marine Center we found our new city water pressure regulator spouting water like the fountain at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh. The problem is that the boat has its own water pressure system which squirted our tank water out of the same fixture, so we were without water while at a dock with virtually limitless water.
After talking to West Marine, which is where I bought the thing, I realized that I had one hour to off-load my bicycle, which we had never done before, grab the part and ride to the store on the other side of the San Sebastian River. I made it and we have running water, out of the spigots.
On the way back to the marina I saw this familiar scene.
Yes that’s a very intense rain and wind cell and that is going to be someone else’s sleepless night. It’s not my problem. Not tonight.
For the first month of boat ownership we lived at a dock. It was just like living in a house, with city water and unlimited electricity and air conditioning and neighbors. Not to mention a car. We were busy with moving aboard and organizing ourselves but I really think we were waiting for the moment when we felt ready to cast off and head out. I should have remembered what my mom always said: you never feel ready. She said this about having a baby, buying a house, moving, whatever. And it’s true. At some point you just have to go and be confident that things will fall into place. Or not.
Last Friday we ran out of excuses and left the dock and after a week of cruising up the coast I can confirm: we’re ready. This first week has been everything I’ve imagined all these years. I’m deliriously happy living on a boat — this boat — and everyone who knows me knows that nothing makes me happier than being somewhere I’ve never been. This may just be Florida so far but it’s our first time on the ICW and as boaters know, the view from the water gives you a whole new perspective on any place you visit.
We’ve had weather challenges, and Jack is grappling with how EV behaves in wind and currents. His familiarity with deep-keeled monohulls is not translating well to a multihull, but he’s climbing the learning curve rapidly and not once in the past few days did my confidence on his boat handling wane one little bit.
Our anchoring teamwork has been great. Jack works the foredeck with me at the helm and the only issues we’ve had are related to the windlass jamming. We watch with envy as boats around us push the button and the anchor comes up, no muss no fuss. With us, it’s 10 feet and jam, 10 feet and jam. We’ll have to figure that out and fix it.
Our engines have performed flawlessly. The refrigerator and freezer are great. I love the galley but not the oven and that’s another thing on the list to check out and fix if necessary. In all of this rain we’ve only discovered one leaky place and that’s in one of the heads, so it’s not critical and it’ll be easy to fix. If you’ve been on a small boat in weather you know that a dry boat is worth its weight in gold. We got a dry one.
The big news, and I say this with the caveat that we have not yet been out to sea, is that I have not been seasick. Not once. Not even queasy. It’s a miracle, I tell you. Even in bouncy wakes and windy anchorages I’ve been belowdecks cooking or doing all the putzy things you do all day on a boat. I attribute it so far to the lack of roll.
Boats move in three different axes, pitch, the see-sawing up and down motion; yaw, slewing side to side; and roll, where first one side of the boat leans toward the water, then the other. It’s this rolling motion that sets my stomach on edge and a catamaran doesn’t roll because there are two hulls in the water a distance apart. Yippee for me, and I hope I’m still good in the ocean where the motion is different from these inland protected waters.
We still have things to work on. We can’t seem to hook up to dock water without breaking the regulator–an expensive habit. We’re frustrated with the amount of clutter and no place to put things. The chartplotter had some hiccups that concern us. We’re unhappy with the lack of visibility from the main saloon on hot days when we have to cover the windows to keep out the sun. All of these things and more will be addressed in due time. But all in all we’re delighted with our new home and eager to set out for parts unknown.
The coming week will be nasty when EV gets hauled out of the water for rudder repairs. There’s nothing sadder than a boat out of water, nothing dirtier than a boatyard, and nothing more uncomfortable than having to climb up a ladder to your home. Izzy in particular will be looking for new places to hole up while there are workmen aboard. But it’ll all be worth it to have healthy rudders and no water in the bilge.
Meanwhile we’re going to enjoy St. Augustine, one of America’s truly delightful towns.