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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Traveling Outside (7 - 13 May 2014)

Leading off our description of events was our 300+ mile trip from North Palm Beach to Cumberland Island, GA. We then started the grind up the ICW, stopping at Fort Frederica National Monument and Savannah, GA where we had to stop for battery issues. Here we sit, hopefully on our way Wednesday but at the whimsy of repair people (again). I know. For some of you that is an adequate description but others want more detail. Okay, since we are waiting here for repair people – and have nothing better to do – more detail it is.

Sunrise at Sea -- an original photograph by Ann Brown
Our jump outside from Palm Beach to Cumberland Island Georgia is the longest trip we have taken in the ocean. We filled up with fuel, left our marina about 10:00 AM and sailed into the open ocean. Most of the way up the coast we stayed within sight of land – no more than 10 – 15 miles out – though occasionally we did go out a little further. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The waves were predicted to be about two feet and … drum roll, please … they were. Once in a while we might have seen a three-footer but for the most part they were exactly as forecast. The wind was a pleasant 10 knots and was behind us, creating following seas. In short, we could not have asked the mighty Atlantic Ocean for a better day to cruise.

The only downside to the trip was the need to stay up 30 hours straight. You know, when I was younger I used to do it all the time. Sometimes I would pull an all-nighter prior to taking a test; sometimes I would travel all night; and sometimes (in a previous life) I would take part in military operations all night. When I did so, I was usually ready and rarin’ to go the following day. Anymore? Not so much.  When traveling on the boat, one of us is always awake and while Ann is certainly willing to take her turn, it seems I can’t really go to sleep while we are underway. So, on my watch I am up all the time and on her watch I am most of the time. It is true that I lay down while Ann is at the helm, and I may doze a little, but sleep? Nope, not gonna happen.

Some of the wild horses at Cumberland Island

Anyway, we made it all the way to Cumberland Island, Georgia. There, we picked a place to anchor and spent the night. For those of you who don’t know, Cumberland Island is the southernmost of Georgia’s barrier islands, part of the national park system and is part of the National Seashore. What does that mean? Anyone … anyone … Yes! They have a stamp for Ann’s “Passport to your National parks.” So, of course, we had to lower the dinghy and head to shore. They also have, as might be expected at a National Seashore, a beautiful beach that is chock-full of seashells. They have big ones, small ones and some in between. For those of us who are becoming “shellers” it is truly a remarkable find. In addition, Cumberland Island has wild horses! I don’t know exactly how many there are, but they seem to be all over the island – or at least their dung is. Also, the Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene – who was, according to some, second only to George Washington in military ability among American Revolutionary War generals– used to own most of Cumberland Island.
And finally, in one little known footnote to history,

Lighthorse Harry Lee's original gravesite on
Cumberland Island
"In 1818, an ill Gen. "Lighthorse" Harry Lee, a Revolutionary War hero and old friend of Catherine Greene (Nathaniel’s widow)  was returning from the West Indies when he asked to be taken to Cumberland Island. Catherine Greene had a mansion there named Dungeness. After a month of illness, he died on March 25 and was buried on the island. His son, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, had a tombstone placed over the grave and visited his father's final resting place several times. In 1913, at the request of the Virginia General Assembly, the body of Harry Lee was reinterred at Lexington, Virginia, to lie beside his famous son, but his gravestone was left on Cumberland Island."
After Cumberland we headed up to Brunswick, Georgia, where they have what is notionally the lowest priced fuel on the ICW. After filling up, we headed up to Fort Frederica. We visited the fort last year (and Ann already had her stamp), so this year we just planned on anchoring for a night and moving on. It was at Frederica, though, that we discovered that one or both of our huge house batteries (about 200# each) were going bad quickly.

Our house batteries are lead acid (which means you should check the fluid level periodically) and are located in our cramped generator room (which means you CANNOT check the fluid levels). The bottom line is that the batteries went bad and would not hold a charge. So, we needed to stop at a marina just outside Savannah to have the batteries replaced. To have the batteries replaced with the kind I wanted would have taken several days, so we decided to get some “cheapies” to get us through to Deltaville. Lord, I hope they last.
We arrived in Savannah on Saturday and, since no one worked on Sunday, we decided to take a taxi downtown and take a trolley tour of the city. Savannah is the oldest city in the state of Georgia and the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War, Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It has become a tourist center because it has maintained a historic area consisting of 22 squares, those that we saw were well maintained and very attractive. There are all sorts of colonial era houses, the headquarters for the Paula Dean Empire (while Paula Dean may have lost some corporate sponsors, she did not lose any support from her fellow Savannah-ians), and the setting for the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (I haven’t read the book, but MAN, what a cool title).
In addition, we linked up with Bill and Jeanie from the sailboat Nemo. We met them during our first trip to the Abacos while we were both staying at the Jib Room in Marsh Harbor. Ann and Jeanie have stayed in touch primarily via Facebook and the blogs that both of us keep. Jeanie and I have been fellow sufferers as she broke her ankle in several places at about the same time that I was trying to recover from my Achilles problem. We ate dinner at a place called Tubbies that wasn’t too bad. But mostly we enjoyed the company.

Speaking of my foot … yes, you guessed it. While the doctors thought they took care of the infection last year, some of the darn commie germs apparently managed to hide from both the knife and the antibiotics. They have attacked again and I have an open wound on my Achilles. So, this summer is not going to be as pleasant as we had hoped, but I’ll get through it, I suppose.

ANN’S NOTES: I am BAAAAACK…sorry I missed the last posting of the blog but I was swamped with my ‘to do’ list before traveling all night. I had to make a dinner that could be reheated quickly plus get all the charts in order. Also cleaning and laundry had to be done. I know it is semi-crazy to clean before a long trip but I feel so much better knowing that everything is clean and in place. By the way…we had meat loaf and mac and cheese…good meal to eat while in the Atlantic. I am sure that Columbus had this meal all the time.
The cruise over night was really good, I do stay up with Michael but usually I am in the salon reading or doing lat/long reading so we can keep track of where we are on the paper chart. Michael said he would work on trying to go to sleep but I doubt very much he will be able to pull that off. The counter to staying up all day and night is to plan on staying put for 24 hours to rest and re-set our body clock.

I have been busy doing all sorts of phone calls for Michael and his heel. In North Palm beach we had to get approval from our insurance for his MRI. The Northern region and the Southern region did not seem to understand that we live on a boat and that they had to talk to each other to get approval. Add the MRI office, the front desk, the manager and the head of billing and insurance and all that adds up to many, many, phone  calls. Geez… I am glad I have the patience of Job.

We now need to make arrangements with the doctor at Walter Reed and his scheduler. So far so good..no date set but approval for surgery is done.  All we have to do is get up to VA/MD. This little side trip to Savannah was not on the agenda …but it is what it is. I have always said that when you live on a boat…one never has plans…one has intentions.

I had a very nice Mother’s Day…we took the trolley tour and then met Bill and Jeanie for dinner. The conversation was excellent and just seeing them was a treat. I hope to see them again later this summer. I have been enjoying all the history there is in part of the South. It makes it fun to see how so many events are all connected to different people and the area they explored and lived in. Gotta  love Goggle and Wikipedia.

I am also back in the land of dolphins and other ICW wildlife…so here goes…

Tuesday 6 May
·         4 very large sea turtles in the Atlantic
·         6 single dolphins
·         Flying fish all over the place

Wednesday 7 May
·         Large pod of dolphins 10 or more chasing fish in the shallows
·         7 single dolphins
·         Cannon ball jellyfish all over the place

Thursday 8 May
·         Wild horses
·         Flock of 8 vultures, eating a dead fish…FYI…on land they hop sideways to get around???
·         Sea shore birds
·         Lizards
Lots of dead Cannon ball jellyfish washed up on the beach…just did not make that out going tide…darn…I bet they hate that when it happens…good thing they don’t have a brain

Friday 9 May
·         6 dolphins
·         1 pod of 3 dolphins
·         1 pod of 5 dolphins
·         1 Turtle

Sat 10 May
·         Cows…YES…cows grazing on an island…they actually have an island named Cattle Pen island…that was not the one we saw…just thought you would like to know that tid-bit.
·         Marsh birds
·         5 single dolphins
·         4 pods of 2
·         1 pod of 4
·         1 pod of 5
·         1 pod of 6
·         A very large Osprey nest on Red marker #60 with babies in the nest
·         AND … Those nasty damn biting swamp flies…I thank Dave and Joan for the battery operated fly swatter. I am getting very skilled…I can now get two or three zapped at a time. I really dislike those flies.

That about wraps it up for me…we will keep you posted on future events …mostly Michael surgery and boat upgrades and repairs.

Thanks for following us…

Traveling Soul…OUT

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bahamas to North Palm (21 Mar - 6 May)

On 21 March we decided it was time. The weather for crossing the Gulf Stream looked like it was going to be pretty good for at least a week and the weather from Nassau to Bimini – for us that’s about two days – looked good as well. Besides, we had been in the Bahamas for nearly five months. It was time in more ways than one. So, at 9AM on the 21st we put 300 gallons of fuel in Traveling Soul and took off.

Different people make the jump from Nassau to Florida in different ways. Some leave from Nassau and don’t stop until they arrive at a destination in Florida; that can take them at least two and possibly more than three days. Others go from Nassau to Bimini in one day, then spend a second day crossing through the Gulf Stream to Florida. We are kind of lazy. We like going forty miles from Nassau to Chub Cay in one day, taking a second day to travel the hundred or so miles from Chub to Bimini, then cross the Straits to Florida on day three.

I was initially going to write about these three days separately, but so little happened – the seas were calm and the skies delightful – that I just don’t have that much to say. Suffice to say that while the days were a little long, the cruising was wonderful. The only interesting little tidbit was the push the Gulf Stream gave us. We left Bimini early because we thought it might take us 10+ hours to make it to West Palm Beach. We were wrong. The Gulf Stream gave us a push of two to three knots – we were at times moving at well over 12 knots -- putting us at the Lake Worth Inlet (just outside Palm Beach) at 2:30 PM on March 23rd. Finally, we were home.

We had arranged to berth in the Old Port Cove Marina. We arrived, checked in with US Customs, then checked on the arrangements we had made for the immediate repair work we needed to have done. The list wasn’t extensive, but it was important. I’ll offer just a few words on each.

·         Radar and electrical connections. Some of you may remember that while crossing over to the Bahamas last December our radar went out. Radar isn’t that important for us unless we are planning to travel in reduced visibility or outside in the ocean. Since we didn’t do either one in the Bahamas, we decided to wait until we got back to the State to have it fixed. Now that we are back, however, we are going to need it.  I was hoping that our problem was a simple loose wire or corroded connection, but alas, that would have been too good to be true. Apparently Garmin (the manufacturer of our radar) allows local technicians to check for bad connections, but any work on the radar itself has to be performed at the factory. They charge a flat $500 for fixing a radar, regardless of whether it is a little problem of a big one. Since we are in a bit of a hurry, to that we would have had to add about $150 express shipments both ways for a total of $800 – and even then it might not be back in time for us. The alternative was to spend $1100 and buy a new radar – which is what we did.

We also had some electrical problems. When Tim and family were here and we were at a marina, one of the outlets through which we connect the boat to shore power started smoking – literally. Now, we have several other connectors so we could live with it, but it was something we wanted to get fixed when we got back to Florida. To make a long story short, that problem is now fixed.

Overall, the Florida marine electronics industry made a little over two boat units on us, baby. That’s two big ones, two grand, 2000 smackers. I guess you get the picture.

·         The second problem we had was the washing machine. It went out a week or two before we started back. Most marinas have Laundromats to it wasn’t THAT big of a deal, but it was certainly inconvenient.  Luckily for us, our washing machine is an apartment-sized Whirlpool, so the repairman could fix it pretty easily. This only cost us about a quarter of a BU.


·         Third, we had to get the air conditioners fixed. Although there were a couple of nights in the Bahamas when it would have been nice to have had an air conditioner, we really didn’t need them. That was a good thing because shortly after we arrived in the Abacos last December we learned that three of our four systems were on the fritz. We had some of local experts over and they suggested that we just “gas and go,” meaning they add some Freon (actually R22, a very pricey substitute) and take off. Six hundred dollars later and we did – take off that is.


·         And finally, the heads. The master head, the one that Zimmerman’s Boatyard in Deltaville put in, has never worked correctly.  Marine Plumbing Services in the Palm Beach area (out favorite head repair people) believe they have fixed it for us. I sure hope so. Also, the Lectrascan we had put in a year ago is acting up; not so much that we expect Raritan to honor their warranty obligations, but enough so that we got out the paperwork to check on the time period (we still have a year to go).  We haven’t yet received the invoice on the heads.


·         The worst thing that happened, however, was that my Achilles tendon is acting up again. Actually, it is not the tendon itself, it seems to be the original surgical site. It has opened up again and appears to be infected. I had an MRI taken last Saturday and have sent the results to my surgeon at Walter Reed. We’ll just have to wait and see what he says. If it is important, I’ll let everyone know. Total cost – ZERO Boat Units. J

In addition, of course, we changed the oil today. We are getting better, it used to be a day-long chore for us. Now it only takes half-a-day. The rest of the time is spent scrubbing ourselves in the shower trying to wash off some of the oil.

Well, the Good Lord willin’ and the Creeks don’t rise (BTW - thanks, Allie, I think of you every time I use that expression!) tomorrow we are heading to sea. We are planning on spending about 30 hours on the high seas heading north. That will let us cover about 300 of the 1100 +/- miles we have to go to get to Deltaville where we plan on leaving the boat and making a trip out west. It will also allow us to miss some of those darn Florida bridges … that slow us down even more than the slow-as-puddin’ sailboats. (Sorry Sailboat Friends, I just had to say it!)

ANN’s NOTES: Sorry, Ann's busy getting ready for the trip tomorrow.
Traveling Soul .... Out!