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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

South to Saint Augustine

It was only about a five mile detour off the ICW and all reports indicated that the channel was well marked and deep enough. What those reports did not Say was that with every mile we traveled we moved a decade or so into the past and a hundred miles or more into the wilderness. Finally, we were closing in on our destination. By the time we got there, it was easy to imagine we were with three of our buddies on a boating adventure in the hinterlands of Georgia. And even easier for us to imagine we could hear music – banjo music. You know what kind I mean.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen as we headed to our fuel stop we felt we were in the backwoods of Georgia on the set of the movie Deliverance. Twang, twang, twang, twang.

We should have known something was amiss when we saw the name of the place – the Two-Way Fish Camp.  I don’t know about you, but I have never seen fish going two ways at once, nor have I seen a One-Way Fish Camp. Why you would name something “two-way” fish camp I could not understand. But we were there neither for the “cool” name of the place, nor for the banjo music. We were there because  of the price of the fuel. We needed about 300 gallons. In the past we had gone to the nearby Brunswick Landing Marina because they had excellent fuel prices. This year, though, they were charging $3.309/gallon. Two-Way Fish Camp, was charging only $2.69. That is about 60 cents difference; times 300 gallons is 180 bucks. 
This is a cast iron Cajun Classic purchased at that gourmet shop 
at Two-Way Fish Camp

From the moment we got there we could see it was going to be an experience. We had to find the fuel dock, then kind of slide the boat in sideways. It was then that the real fun began.  We started pumping fuel, then the automatic shut-off would engage and we would have to start again. Again. And Again. It was then that the dock hand wandered over and told us that we would have to use the slowest setting on the nozzle. Dave stood at the pump, which was about 200’ away, and would call out every 25 gallons. Eventually Ann joined him because she didn’t have anything else to do. She measured the flow and we found we were pumping 25 gallons every 9 ½ minutes. Remember we needed 300 gallons. It took 114 minutes, or nearly 2 hours, to pump the (&^$# fuel. During that time, Ann and Joan had an opportunity to visit the gift shop twice (actually, the gift shop was surprisingly well-stocked and … well, I’ll let Ann tell you about her major find).

Eventually we did get all the fuel in the tanks and were able to pay and depart.

Again, however, I got ahead of myself. Before the Two-Way Fish Camp adventure, we anchored for one night at New Teakettle Creek. The Creek is just about an hour or so from the Little Mud River and has nothing to do with teakettles. If the timing works, I like anchoring there, so we can control exactly when we reach the Little Mud – as far as I am concerned the scariest part of the ICW. I think we were at Higher, High water when we traveled the creek this year and saw nothing less than about 8’. It was after the Little Mud River that we took the Two-Way Fish Camp exit.

After fueling we finished the day’s trip by docking at Jekyll Island. Jekyll is one of our favorite spots on the Waterway. There is only one problem with Jekyll in November. It can be chilly cold. The day we arrived it was actually pretty nice, so we figured we had shown up at just the right time. The second day it was a bit colder, the third day it was downright cold and the day we left it was almost freezing (literally) However, we did bring sweatshirts, jackets, earmuffs (Ann), and other cold weather paraphernalia so we were prepared.

One of the "Cottages" at Jekyll.
Jekyll Island was, in the early part of the last century, a playground for the rich and famous. Some of the richest people in the country wintered at Jekyll from January through March. In fact, it has been said (by our tour guide for one) that during dinner at the Jekyll Island Club nearly 1/6 of the world’s wealth was represented in the dining room at Jekyll. Members of the Club and their families enjoyed activities such as biking, hunting, horseback riding, and tennis, and frequented the north beaches. Some of the wealthiest members built their own "cottages," mansion-sized residences that are mostly still standing in the 21st century. Even the wealthy suffered during the Great Depression, however, and the club had financial difficulties. When the United States entered WWII Washington ordered the island evacuated for security purposes, ending the era of the Jekyll Island Club. After the war in 1947, the State of Georgia bought the island.  

In the time we were there, we bicycled a LOT, toured the historic district, and visited two of the “cottages.” (Interestingly, because members were expected to dine together in the main Dining Room, there were neither kitchens nor dining rooms in the cottages). We also visited the sea turtle hospital, did some shopping (both at the grocery store and the little “mall” they have on the island, found a Starbucks, walked on the beach, and ate at one of the fancier places on the island.

The Dinghy Saga

From Jekyll the plan was to go to Cumberland Island. Although there are some homes on the island, most of the Island is a natural habitat for all kinds of animals and several kinds of plants. With that, a little history, several great beaches, a very nice anchorage, and a whole lot of peace and quiet, Cumberland is another one of our favorite spots on the Waterway.

As I said, that was the plan. We had known the outboard wasn’t operating perfectly, but before we left, I took the dinghy into the water, started it up several times, and putted around a little. Although it ran kind of roughly, everything worked. In Cumberland, the outboard didn’t even start up. I worked on it for about an hour trying to figure out what was wrong. I knew it was the fuel system, and was afraid it was the carburetor – the one thing I won’t dare to try and fix. As we later learned 90% of all outboard failures are carburetor problems. So, it looked like we would not be able to see anything at Cumberland. We had kind of planned on visiting the Kingsley Plantation next, but you also need a dinghy for that, so we missed Kingsley too. Although we could manage St. Augustine without a dinghy, it would be much better with one. So, we had to get the dinghy fixed. And thus our saga beganb.

Statistically, I’ll bet that as many boats break on Mondays as on Thursdays. It ought to be somewhere around 1/7 of all breaks, right? Not in our universe. Our boats usually break late on Thursday. We then get to a marina the following day and generally make a BUNCH of phone calls (most of which will not be neither answered nor returned – it is, after all late on Friday afternoon; in this case the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving week.) Then we worry over the weekend whether we will be able to fond someone and start calling again on Monday morning hoping against hope that someone will be available to fix your boat in the next day or two.  On Friday afternoon, Ann made about four phone calls, but no one was around. On Monday  morning, she made another seven to various repair facilities and mechanics. A couple of people answered, but, as one lady responded, “It was pretty slow until a week ago. Now we are full and can’t get to you for another week.” Gee, thanks. Of those who did answered or call back, we got basically the same response. We were in the process of coming up with Plan Q when we got a return call from Jim.

Now Jim was a bit of a bombast. He told us when he arrived, “THAT FUEL TANK IS A PIECE OF JUNK. ALL THOSE WEST MARINE AND WALMART FUEL TANKS ARE JUNK. ABSOLUTE JUNK.” When I asked him where we could get a new one that would be better, he ‘lowed as how no one but West Marine made them anymore, so he would just have to tell us how to treat our “PIECE OF JUNK.” Whereupon he gave us his take on fuel tank management.
·       Keep the fuel tank covered
·       Always loosen the cap when you are using it
·       Put on a fuel-water separator
·       Crank up the outboard frequently

Now, I know some of you have been using outboards and dinghies for a long time and wonder why Jim has these rules. To be honest, I don’t know. However, we asked him to make a fuel-water separator, we made our own cover and we loosen the cap when we are using the dinghy.

At any rate, about 3 hours after his initial visit Jim was back with all the pieces of the outboard that he had taken with him, put it all together and … it worked like a charm. I tried it out again later that afternoon and one more time the following day. It all seemed to work. But wait, there’s more. For that, however, you are just going to have to wait while I write something that reminds me why we actually like cruising.

This Osprey spent over an hour enjoying his Fish-giving meal.
While waiting for the dinghy to be repaired, we stayed at Camachee Cove Marina. Now, several of our friends have told us how nice the marina is and, to be honest, it is. It is in a housing development but has at least three boater’s facilities spread over the property. Each of the facilities has a head, shower, laundry, television and a book exchange – and everything was always clean. However, for us there were two “firsts.” Although the marina had a courtesy car, you had to show proof of insurance before you could borrow it. Now since we have been cruising (about seven years), we have been in a hundred marinas, maybe more. Some require you to sign papers saying you have insurance, some take your word for it, but we have never been to a marina that requires proof of auto insurance before they would lend you a courtesy car. We chose not to avail ourselves of that particular “courtesy.”  Oh, but wait. There’s more.

This is the first time we have ever been in a slip within a marina and been asked to move after we had maneuvered into the slip, connected our water hoses and our electrical cables. Now you had to have been there. Our assigned slip was alongside a long straight dock. When we were initially maneuvering into our slip, the wind was blowing us off the dock. I have mentioned many times before that when the wind catches our boat from the side, we are as likely to go where the wind wants us to go as where the captain wants us to go. Well, the wind was only blowing about 10-15 kts, so it wasn’t terrible, but the dockhand helping us was a small, slim college kid who really didn’t know how to put a 55,000 pound boat into a slip – even with a captain as brilliant and as adept as me at the helm. It took about 30 minutes, but we eventually got there. We connected all the hoses, lines and cables and Ann started taking a shower. Then the kid comes up and says he put us in the wrong slip and we needed to move back one. I pointed out that, no, we didn’t need to move back one, He needed to move us back – and I would help. In the event, of course, although he (and a buddy) did most of the heavy lifting, we moved under the direction of Ann and me (with some help from Dave and Joan). Now Camachee Cove may be a fine marina, but it ain’t getting five stars from me.

Some of you know that Ann has turned into an “exercise walker.” She takes 2-4 mile walks whenever she can. At Camachee Cove that was helpful (since we didn’t borrow the courtesy car), as the Publix Grocery Store was about a mile-and-a-half or so away. She made at least two round trips to Publix and one, one-way trip (she ubered back with a cart full of groceries) to get the rest of the provisions we needed for Thanksgiving. While at the marina, we also ubered to the historical district for lunch at our favorite British Pub in the US – The Prince of Wales. There, they serve the best Fish and Chips I have ever had. Both Ann and I had been touting the place to Dave and Joan and we had made this trip specifically so we could have those luscious fish and chips. We arrived and … you guessed it ... the place was closed. That was okay, there is another restaurant nearby that we like, the Floridian. It was closed, too. Damn! What’s going on here? Eventually, we found a different British Pub and their fare was almost as good. Almost.

Usually I would stop here and wait to continue the blog when we arrived at the Saint Augustine mooring field. However, in the interests of continuing the saga of the dinghy, I must include one more section. Okay, we had placed a cover over the dinghy, had Jim put in a fuel-water separator and opened the gas cap. We had run the dinghy a few times between the boat and the dinghy dock and everything had worked out well. Then, after making a run to Starbucks (not ‘til next time will I discuss the Starbucks adventure), we got in the dinghy, started it and it promptly died. Another couple of tries and we saw that it was leaking gas – pretty badly. We identified the general area where the leak was, but of course we had no tools. I asked Ann to go to the dockmaster’s office and ask for a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

Now, all the time Ann was gone I was cursing Jim, the man who the day before was our dinghy’s savior. Today, he was Satan incarnate, a saboteur who couldn’t even connect two hoses to one another. Damn Jim, your connection was JUNK, just JUNK (sorry, but I had to say it). At least that was what I was thinking. Meanwhile, Ann found a very nice French Canadian sailboater named Jacques.  Jacques not only lent us all the tools we needed, but he helped fix the leak. I’m afraid I have to take back everything … well … almost everything … well … some of what I have said about the pending Canadian invasion of the Bahamas.

Next time we will write more about Thanksgiving and Saint Augustine.

Mike, laying down, Dave, in the dinghy, Joan, supervising
 and Jacques helping get the dinghy back in
running condition.
Ann’s Notes:  I was told by the main author of the blog that I had two main things to talk about…the refueling event and my phone skills.

There must be something about off-the-ICW marinas and the state of Georgia. In our first year of cruising we stumbled into Kilkenny Marina, you can go back to the first year of the blog and read all about that experience. Cue the banjo music and the one item they had in abundance in the marina store was a barrel full of fly swatters. Anyway, we got to experience another off-the-ICW-marinas, the name is Two Way Fish Camp, I know the name should have been our first clue. The fuel was cheaper than the usual stop in Brunswick, however we almost spent a good part of the morning just fueling. The marina office was a little general store, it had your regular, old alligator head bookends (no library is complete without those). There was local honey, pickled eggs and all sorts of vegetables that were pickled, okra, corn, beets … you get the picture. Believe me, I had PLENTY of time to shop, those pumps were so SLOW. I did find a treasure, among all those pickled items, though. It is the cutest “Cajun Classic,” it says so right on the lid. That little pot in a gourmet kitchen store would be around $75 to $100, I got it for $29.99. I love cooking in cast iron, I can use my induction cooktop , as a matter of fact, I used the little red pot that night and made a bona fide French casoulet .

As most of you know, I am the telephone person, both on land and water. I handle everything from doctors appointments to marina repairs. When our dinghy engine would not start, yes, we did our best to repair it ourselves .If  you have never seen the tiny engine parts inside a four stroke outboard motor and how easily those parts can be dropped , you will understand why we called for a mechanic. Of course most of our boat break downs happen on a Thursday or Friday, now add the Thanksgiving holiday to the mix and I really did spend several hours on the phone over a two day period. I have the ability to be just as pleasant for the first and the tenth call. My mom always said you would catch more flies with honey, than vinegar. To make a long story short, we moved to a closer marina to St. Augustine , thinking there would be a better chance and more repair people. We did find one, it took about ten phone calls. We now have a dinghy motor that runs, a new water fuel separator, we have the fuel tank covered with a canvas bag.

All is well on Traveling Soul…OUT  

1 comment:

  1. fish and chips in st. augustine: barley republic! https://www.barleyrepublic.com/