Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Friday, December 21, 2012

To Fernandina and Beyond (17 Nov - 21 Dec)

You will probably remember that in my last entry I was complaining when the temperature was 41 degrees in Deltaville, VA. In Charleston, it got up to 70 degrees occasionally. Once in a while, though, it got downright chilly. So what do you do when you are on a boat and cold? You head south of course. We are now in east central Florida enjoying the sunshine. But how did we get here? Well, that is the story I’ll cover here.

I am not going to say much about our time in Charleston. For me it consisted of the following: Traveling to and from northern VA so I could see my various doctors. In case you are interested, it is 518 miles and two McDonalds stops between Charleston and Woodbridge, VA. If you think that’s bad (and it is), remember my foot is in a cast; that means Ann had to do all the driving. Of course she had the benefit of my wonderful company, but 518 miles is a long way, wonderful company or not. When not traveling back and forth, I spent a lot of time on the boat (we had cable … on the boat … Yes!) in part because our slip was so far from the parking lot. Walking over ½ mile on crutches is not a pleasant experience so I ended up as something of a stay-on-boat cruiser. Ann had a chance to go a few places with our friend Sharon from Finally Fun. I know they went shopping a couple of times (I saw the credit card receipts) and to at least one Christmas concert.  Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the third thing I did was to enjoy the company of our friends Sharon and Andy. Well Ann, Sharon Andy and I enjoyed cocktails on more than one occasion and dinner on a few. Yes, hobbling ½ mile on crutches is a pain in the %$^*, but if it ends in a good dinner in a wonderful Charleston restaurant … well, maybe I can stand the pain (he says with a pretend grimace on his face).

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “enough about Charleston, how did you get to West Palm?” Good question! The reason it is a good question is because – well, what can I say, therein lies the story!

Because of doctor’s appointments, we had already made our plane reservations to leave West Palm Beach Florida on 23 December. Using my patented backward planning technique, that meant we had to be in West Palm by the 22nd. If we went on the ICW it would have been 551 miles, which at 70 miles per day (about a 9-hour day for us), would have taken nearly 8 days.  That meant we would have had to leave Charleston one day after returning from a different doctor’s appointment. (See how these appointments get in the way of living?) Anyway, I had recently read about a couple in a power boat like ours who went outside for 72 straight hours – and I knew that long distance sail boaters do it all the time. Suddenly it occurred to me (duh!) that, while I was not willing to try 72 hours, I was certainly willing to go for 24; which would save us almost three days. We talked about our evolving plan with our friends Sharon and Andy – who were also headed south and who, having been to Grenada and back, had much more experience that we did on traveling at night. They agreed to go with us as our “Buddy Boat.”
Our Buddy Boat, Finally Fun, between a red buoy
and a major container ship.

Okay we were set. We got the boat ready for ocean running (basically we strapped down anything that could move) and checked the weather every day for the week leading up to our departure. The weather looked good; for the whole week 5-10 knot winds were forecast and 2-3 foot waves. As we drew closer to our departure day, the forecast changed, but only slightly. On Sunday night (the night we would be at sea), the winds were scheduled to change direction and the seas were forecast to be 3-4 feet. We could definitely handle all of this, so at 0800 on Sunday the 16th, off we went. We were in the lead with Finally Fun about ¼ of a mile behind us.

The MOL Premium -- about 200 yards away.
It would get even closer
Our start wasn’t that auspicious. As we were heading out of the Charleston Inlet, a ginormous container ship fell in right behind us and indicated that he was going to pass. We squeezed over to the side of the channel as far as we could without running aground and held our breaths. Well, let me tell you, when one of these ships pass you and is moving at maybe 15 knots, and you are only about 100 yards away, you definitely get rocked by its wake.  We heard a lot of clattering in the galley and were expecting the worst, but it turns out that only Ann’s knives had fallen on the floor. Whew! Every time we go out to sea we learn something new. This time is was to secure the knives better.

The rest of the day was uneventful. The winds were fairly calm, the seas were only 2-3 feet – as forecast – and we had a very smooth ride. Then came the night.

Now I have seen black before, but I am not sure I have seen it THAT black. It was as black as a witch’s heart (see how literate I can be?) and you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. Of course, we had the radar running all night and ships at sea are supposed to have some lights on, but I must admit that the blackness made it a bit scary! It was helpful, however, to be able to look backwards and see Finally Fun and know that if a ship containing the “Pirates of the Caribbean” appeared, at least someone would be able to report on our fate.  A little later a sliver of a moon appeared, but it wasn’t much and didn’t provide much light.
Off into the sunset!

I kept the helm for most of the night, but about midnight I asked Ann if she would take over so I could get a little shuteye. She did a great job so I felt comfortable laying down and dozing in and out of consciousness for about two hours – enough to recharge my batteries. While I was been resting the seas had picked up to about 3-4 feet (again, as forecast) and the ride was a little bumpier, it wasn’t too bad and we have definitely been out in worse, but it was bumpier.
All was well until about 0500 when I felt the need for a catnap and asked Ann to take over for about a half hour. Man, that nap felt good! When I awoke we were approaching the entrance to St, Mary’s Inlet which is the inlet leading to Fernandina Beach. It had taken us about 22 hours, two hours less than we thought it would. (We had believed that Finally Fun wouldn’t be able to go much more than 8 knots (8.8 MPH). We must have had some following seas or something because she easily kept us with our 9+ knots – putting us at Fernandina two hours before planned. ) The problem now was that it was still dark. Now if we were old pros we would have said “damn the darkness, full speed ahead.” But having a little more sense than that, I called Finally Fun and told them I was going to turn around, retrace our route for a half hour or so, and wait until it was lighter.

We followed Finally Fun into the inlet at about 0715 and headed to the fuel dock. We had done it! We had completed our first night run. Although we were proud of ourselves we were a little beat. We weren’t finished, though. Andy and Sharon’s destination was Jacksonville Beach, about 30 miles down the ICW. So, we followed them the rest of the way, pulled into our slip at Beach Marine and crashed (not into the dock, but into our bed). A little while later we went out to eat with Andy and Sharon and wished them fair winds and following seas. They are staying in Jacksonville Beach for a while then are heading back to St. Pete, on the other side of the state. Meanwhile, we had to get going the next day as we were still on a tight schedule. We had to travel  80 miles on Tuesday.

Before I forget, let me tell you why we refueled at Fernandina Beach. Florida Consolidated Petroleum runs a fuel station there that sells diesel at almost $1 less than we paid in Charleston. Now that is a bargain! We took on as much as we could – we are now as close to our 700 gallon capacity as we have ever been.

On the three successive nights we anchored in Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach (where I rendered that salute to your dad, Fergie), and took a $12 mooring ball at Vero Beach. I know, I know, they all have “Beach” in them and sound really cool. But we were on a mission. We didn’t get ashore anywhere though we would have liked to. Ann, in particular, wanted to get into town while we were at Vero Beach. Remember the world’s best lobster rolls? She sure does!
Ann's frolicking dolphins. Maybe our best dolphin picture yet.
Although we spent most of our time plodding ahead, there was one bright spot along the way. I am sure Ann will talk about it below, but we saw lots and lots of dolphins. Moreover, we had several groups of dolphins frolicking in our wake.


We were going to stay one night in Vero Beach, then be on our way to Lake Park Harbor Marina. Well, the weather turned on us so we decided to wait one more day here at Vero. I have no doubt that we could have braved the “rough” ICW today and made it to Lake Park, but why should we? Tomorrow conditions are supposed to improve to “choppy” with a little less wind. I am going to try and get this into the ether today so I am not so pressed tomorrow. You will just have to trust me; I am sure we will make it the rest of the way.

ANN’S NOTES:    It seems like a long time since I have made an entry in our blog and so much has been happening. I think Michael gave a rather good overview on what we have been doing. Yes we did spend many hours in the car driving back and forth from VA to SC. Glad that little, almost 13 year old Miata, still had some miles left in her… who knew? We also spent time in doctor’s offices, Michael as the patient and me learning advanced wound care. Thank heaven I am a CNA and not very squeamish. After working eight year in Hospice, I have seen wounds and that helped me deal with Michael is going thru.

We did have a good time in Charleston even if the boat was docked so far away. I must agree that it was a hike to the parking lot and it did make Michael feel rather boat bound. We were happy to see our friends Sharon and Andy. Sharon is such a good friend, we went to the commissary at the air force base and to the base exchange, and also made a run to Traders Joes. I did go to a concert in the Circular Church built in 1681. The concert was called “The Sound of Charleston” and was the history of Charleston through music and song. All the performers were local and were very talented. I enjoyed myself very much and only wish Michael could have been at my side.

Our first 24 hour trip in the Atlantic was exciting and a little unnerving. I had to learn to trust the auto pilot and radar. It really was pitch black outside, but the stars were beautiful. The sky was so clear and bright, it looked like a chart of the constellations you would buy in a book store. Now I want to learn more about the night sky. The universe is amazing, vast and oh so beautiful. I also learned that if you watch a radar screen a long time, the little bleeps inside the circle start to look like changing alien faces. Just saying … the lack of sleep can do weird things to your brain.

Now for the much anticipated Wildlife report…

Mon 13 Nov 2012
Bay River NC
Pod of 6
Tue 14 Nov 2012
Newport River NC
2 Pods of 2
1 Pod of 3
Morehead City Channel NC
1 Pod of 9
3 Single
Bogue Sound NC
1 Pod of 4
Queens Creek NC
1 Pod of 10
Wed 15 Nov 2012
ICW/ Wrightsville Beach NC
6 Single
Carolina Beach NC
1 Pod of 12 Played in our wake
Thurs 16 Nov 2012
N. Myrtle Beach SC
2 Single
Wacamaw River SC
Friday 17 Nov 2012
Murphy Island SC
1 Pod of 6
Awendaw Creek SC
1 Pod of 5
1 single
Bull Creek SC
Charleston Harbor SC
7  Singles
Friday 30 Nov 2012
Ashley Marina Charleston SC
8 Singles
Sun 9 Dec 2012
Ashley Marina Dock
1 Single followed me down the length of the dock … so exciting!
Friday 14 Dec 2012
Ashley Marina
5 Single
Sun 16 Dec 2012
Charleston Harbor SC
2 Pods of 2
2 Pods of 4
3 Single
Atlantic Ocean
2 Pods of 4
1 Pod of 5
1 Pod of 10
1 Pod of 15
1 Following our wake
Mon 17 Dec 2012
Fernandina Beach FL to Jacksonville FL /ICW
3 Pods of  2
2 Pods of 4
4 Singles
Tue 18 Dec 2012
Jacksonville FL to Daytona Beach FL/ ICW
5 Pods of 2
1 Pod of 3
2 Very Playful
8 Singles
1 Splashing in and out of our wake
Wed 19 Dec 2012
Daytona Beach to Cocoa Beach FL/ICW
1 Pod of 6 Playing in the wake
3 Pod of 2 Playing next to the boat
2 Pods  of 3
2 pods of 2
5 Singles
1 Very Playful
Thur 20 Dec 2012
Cocoa Beach FL to Vero Beach FL/ICW
2 Pods of 2
1 Pod of 3  Playing in our wake
1 Pod of 4
1 Pod of 3 ( one with a tattoo on his dorsal fin 92H)
Mom and baby playing in our wake
2 Pods of 2 Playing next to the boat
9 singles
2 singles Playing


As you can see I keep very busy counting, watching, admiring, and talking to dolphins. They really are wonderful to watch. When they play in our wake they are so close to to side of our boat you can see their eyes. If you talk to them, they will roll sideways as if listening to what you are saying. They are such a wonder to see in the wild. I feel a true connection to them.

I want to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year…

Thank you for following us…

Traveling Soul….OUT