Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Boats before the mast

Today was climb the mast day.  I started the day on GypsySails.  Here is a shot of them coming up the St. Johns River the other day.  We were both at the St. Mary's Thanksgiving dinner and came down together on the outside.  For whatever reason the radar has decided not to work so I when up the mizzen mast and did some testing.  We finally decided that we needed to bring the radar head down for repair so I went up a second time and disconnected it.

The next step was to go up the mast of Reboot and start the process of installing the new radar head.  While I was up doing that I got this shot of Ginger and GypsySails.

Of course every project of this type needs to have people on the dock watching and offering advice.  This project was no different.

One last picture.  I am working about 1/3 of the way to the top of the mast.  Here is the view of Naval Air Station Jacksonville from there.  I promise some shots from the top of the mast when I do the wind instruments next week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

St. Mary's Thanksgiving

Once a year cruisers gather in the St. Mary's River (Georgia) for a Thanksgiving feast.  (They also do this in other places, but I wasn't in any of them!)  This year there were 90 boats in the anchorage on Thanksgiving morning.  The Riverview Hotel (c 1916) closes for the day and opens all its spaces for the Thanksgiving dinner.  And what a dinner!  Members of the town (I was corrected - this event is put on by a group of people that live in St. Mary's, not any official body) provide the turkey, ham, paper goods, drinks, and utensils.  The cruisers provide the "Fixin's."  And oh what fixings.  From salad to main course to desert there was more variety then I have ever seen in my life.  And enough food to feed not only all of the cruisers and towns people but the entire Kings Bay Submarine Base!  After the big meal we adjourned to the local park for dancing under the stars.  Of course supper was left-overs from the Thanksgiving dinner.  What a great event.

I left St. Mary's Friday morning and went "outside" to the St. John's River and back to Jacksonville Landing.  I am traveling in the company of GypsySails, friends I met in Norfolk.  We arrived at the Landing to find that tonight is there Christmas Tree lighting ceremony complete with fireworks in the river.  Fortunately we had already docked so we were not stuck out in the river doing circles until after the display.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

83 Cruising Boats

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. At the oyster roast tonight a total of 83 cruising boats were represented here for the St. Mary's Thanksgiving dinner. We all retired a bit early so that we can be prepared to both enjoy and help out on Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St. Mary's Thanksgiving preparation

Last night I arrived at the St. Mary's River on the Georgia - Florida border. Many cruisers can not cross the line into Florida until after December 1st without paying an extra premium on their insurance. They have gathered here is St. Mary's waiting for the clock. Since the end of November is also Thanksgiving the people of St. Mary's, starting in 2001, have hosted the visiting cruisers for Thanksgiving dinner. The town provides the place, hams and turkeys; the cruisers provide the "fixens." This morning there are 27 boats. The expectation is that number will grow to over 100 by Thursday. This is my first big cruiser "Gam" and I am looking forward to the experience. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next couple of days is rain. Since everyone travels by dinghy this will put a damper (pun intended) on the festvities for the next couple of days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Current Position

At 6:41 PM on 11/20/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°19.46' 081°39.71'W heading 143T at 0.0.
Anchored in the St. Mary's River for the Thanksgiving festivities

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, NAS Jax

I have been remarkably productive the last few days.  This said by the man (the family in Trevor and Spencer’s opinion) that has made procrastination an art form.)
Yesterday I did my laundry and realized what a difference water quality makes.  The Jacksonville water must be very soft.  My clothing has not been this soft and smell this good in a long time.
But more to the point I finally got the radar display/chart plotter mounted at the helm and hooked up.  I will no longer need to run down inside the cabin to look at the chart plotter and then run back up to the helm to steer.  It would have been really nice to have when I was navigating some of the more shallow parts of the Intracostal.  I also removed the flaky AM/FM radio and replaced it with a new radio.  I now have more music choices that I know what to do with: XM Satellite (which also and more importantly provides my real time weather data), AM/FM and IPOD.  At the moment I am listening to Sinatra.  It takes me back to great steaks and cold Grey Goose at Mo’s.  Apparently I have a dedicated channel for Jimmy Buffett (Margarita of course.)  It looks like I will luck out and there will only be one Christmas channel.  I never listen to FM after Thanksgiving; every station is playing Christmas songs.  To make if more complicated the channels seem to change over time.  For example tonight there are all sorts of news channels (e.g. CNN, Fox, CNBC) that I have never seen in the channel guide before.  And just to keep me up with Nigel I can listen to the BBC World service!  There is even a POTUS channel.  It is obviously a political channel but I don’t know who is behind it.  And finally, for Ace, the Metropolitan Opera channel.  Reboot has it all.
I still need to get the radar head attached both to the mast and the electronics before I venture too far.  My friends on GypsySails had to stand off the St. Mary’s River this morning for several hours until the fog cleared.  That of course is the proper procedure but I would not like to have to do that without know who else was around me also standing off.

I was surprised to find that I could mount the AIS, GPS, and XM/Weather antennas inside Reboot.  This has made for a much cleaner implementation with no apparent loss of function.  I have subsequently had a conversation with the manufacturer of my AIS unit who has told me that the AIS GPS antenna can also be mounted inside.  Reboot now has four fixed mount GPS antennas and three handhelds.  I am reminded that the first GPS I purchased (but fortunately did not pay for, it was a project for my employer of the time) cost $1200.  Now a GPS chipset with WAAS is about $3.95 and a USB hockey puck GPS with the latest technology costs under $50.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shuttle Launch

I got to see the shuttle.  It took about 30 seconds to get high enough to see from Jacksonville.  We did get to see the solid fuel rockets drop off and the second stage take over before it disappeared from sight.  Cool!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jacksonville Landing and Global Warming

I moved Reboot to Jacksonville Landing, Jacksonville’s answer to the Milwaukee Ale House.  It is set in the heart of the downtown area with river walks on both sides of the St. Johns River. The city provides free dockage for up to 72 hours but no services.  The “Landing” is a retail complex with restaurants, clubs, stores and a central outdoor court.  On the weekends there is free music in the courtyard.  It is also event driven, tonight the local animal shelter was having a fund raising effort.  Everyone (except me of course) brought one or more dogs down to the festivities.  The dogs remarkably were well controlled.

This morning I took the runners loop, a 1.9 mile trip.  From the Landing one travels across the main street bridge, walks up the east side of the river, comes back across the high rise bridge and back to the landing.  I got a decent workout and some pretty pictures.  The past couple of days it has finally become the Florida of my expectations, sunny, clear and hot.  It was great to be outside.

What does any of this have to do with Global Warming?  As I understand it man’s contribution to global warming comes from exhaling and burning fossil fuels.  Why do we burn fossil fuels?  In large part to create electricity.  And what do we do with the electricity we create?  Why we light up our cities with beautiful decorative lights.  If we were serious about global warming we would not light up our bridges, fountains, etc. just to make them look pretty.  For that matter why waste electricity to pump water up in the air, it just falls down again. (“Gravity, more than a good idea, it’s a law!”)  Anyway, I am glad that the crisis has not reached the proportions where we have to turn out the pretty lights.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First Times - November 9, 2009

The wind is calm.  The waves, all 6” of them, flow past Reboot quietly.  The anchor rode hangs down from the bow.  It is dusk, and everything is quiet.  Quiet is strange.  Sailboats are always making noises.  The slap of the waves against the hull; The sound of the wind thru the rigging; Pumps, refrigerator, radios, there always seems to be some noise.  It is so quiet that I can hear the propane flowing out of the stove as it heats water for my dinner.


Why is this remarkable?  For the last 48 hours I have been stressed out waiting to see if Hurricane Ida would chose to take all of my possessions.  I have been checking the weather, conversing with other sailors, getting Reboot ready for strong winds and high seas.


One thing was certain.  I could not stay at Mulberry Cove Marine, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.  I have been docked on the face dock, a location for transients and also the only place deep enough for Reboot.  With a 22 mile fetch the face dock is not a place to be with heavy winds from the South quadrant.  Boats are picked up and deposited on top of the dock by the storm surge.  I knew this to be true as I had met a couple in NOB Norfolk who had just gotten their boat back after 4 months in the yards.  It had been severely damaged right where I was docked.


One option was to move to another marina.  It would be an expensive and not necessarily a good solution.  None of the local marinas are particularly well protected.  In a slip one runs the risk of damage from the marina itself.  The second option, and the one I chose, was to anchor on the southeast side of the St John River.  I would be protected from the strongest winds by the trees on the bank, and from the waves by the short ½ mile fetch.  Of course I had to find a place that was deep enough so that the keel would not bottom out in high waves but close enough to shore to get some protection.  In addition, the wind was predicted to “clock”; starting in the Northeast, clocking to the Southeast and South, then the Southwest, and the back to the North. So the spot had to have some protection from at least three sides.   I located a suitable spot, left NAS Jax and headed across the river.


I have been sailing since my early teens.  I have been racing Reboot for years.  I have anchored out numerous times on my way down from Milwaukee.  But I have never before set out with everything I own in the world to anchor where there was a 30% probability of tropical storm force winds.  And I knew something else – I was going to be on the boat as I had no way of getting off once I set the anchor.  Getting the dinghy working has been well down the priorities of my “to do” list. 


Here I sit.  Ida is dissipating over land.  Reboot has bounced me around, strained on her anchor rode, heeled in the strong winds and stronger gusts.  More strong winds are forecast for tomorrow.  Yet I am much more relaxed.  Reboot and I have been there, done that before.  We have checked off the box at anchor, 30 – 35 gusts to 45.  We know we can do it again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Current Position

At 10:27 AM on 11/9/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°12.60'N 081°38.28'W heading 003T at 0.1
Anchored, riding out the winds from IDA

Current Position

At 10:27 AM on 11/9/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°12.60'N 081°38.28'W heading 003T at 0.1
Anchored, riding out the winds from IDA

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NAS Jacksonville

I have arrived at Naval Air Station Jacksonville FL. I expect to stay here for a few days. Hopefully I will get internet access and be able to upload some of the pictures I have taken on my trip.

Monday, November 2, 2009

2 November 2009 - Amelia River (FL? GA?)

I am anchored in the Amelia River on the Georgia - Florida border. For some cruisers this is a major line of demarcation. Their insurance coverage does not permit them to enter Florida until after hurricane season is over (December 1st) without paying an additional premium. I have been told that there is quite a gathering of cruisers in St. Mary's, Georgia for Thanksgiving. That is just about two miles from my current location.

I am headed for the Jacksonville, FL Naval Air Station about 30 miles from here. I was originally going to go direct from St. Catherine's Sound in Georgia but decided there was not point in staying up half the night to get to the St. John's River so I ducked in here. As I was looking for a place to drop the hook I found the local anchorage of choice - at least for the 10 to 15 other boats already anchored here. We will find out this morning how many are passing thru and how many are holding for insurance.

Not only are we not longer in daylight savings time but the days are getting noticeably shorter. Growing up in the North I associate short days with cold and snow and long days with warmth. Of course there is no such association; winter days are short because they are winter days. I am becoming more and more aware of how far I can go in a day if I want to anchor before dark as the daylight hours are fewer and fewer.

Hopefully in Jacksonville I will get internet again and be able to upload some pictures of my trip.

Don't forget that Guy Fawkes Day is Thursday - Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot! I still enjoying watching the movie "V." I am not sure how many times I have seen it but the message of overbearing government and apathetic populace still rings true.

I did pass thru the Northern Right Whale Critical Habitat last night but I guess the whales were being critical. I didn't see any. Bummer!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Current Position

At 9:34 PM on 11/1/2009 Reboot (and I) were at 30°40.44'N 081°28.02'W heading 119T at 0.1