Home for the Holidays

Our time in St. Augustine has come to an end. North Carolina is calling us home for the holidays. After two weeks at River’s Edge Marina, FNR is back on a ball in St. Augustine’s Municipal Marina’s mooring field. It took me two passes to grab the ball this time. PLUS…I got a line through the pennant and I cleated the line off without smashing my fingers. Proud moment, but short-lived.

Short-lived because I am a little worried about leaving FNR alone on a mooring ball for a month. It’s strangely reminiscent of how it felt to send the kids to kindergarten or to their first sleepover or to a week of summer camp or off to college or another one of those “firsts”. Oh, well…you know what they say. Once a mother, always a mother.

Anyway…we spend the last few days fussing over FNR. She’s clean. Her water tanks are full. Her holding tank is empty and deodorized. Her batteries are being charged by a small solar panel just in case she needs the bilge pump. I even bought two of those renewable dehumidifiers hoping to to keep her dry, at least dry enough to win the mildew war. I am optimistic. Steve is not.

St. Augustine was a good stop. We survived me being tied to a mooring ball on two separate occasions and we experienced several other “cruiser” firsts.

Going to the grocery store

When you’re on a mooring ball, grocery shopping consists of a dinghy ride to the dinghy dock, a bus ride to and an Uber ride from Walmart, and a grocery-laden dinghy ride back to FNR.

Can I get some help with these groceries please?

Staying informed

Want to know where to go to have fun? Tune into the daily St. Augustine Cruiser Net on VHF channel 72.

Chicken Wings and Beer with St Augustine Cruiser Net
Chicken Wings and Beer with St Augustine Cruiser Net
There Be Pirates with St Augustine Cruisers Net
There Be Pirates with St Augustine Cruisers Net. A fun way to learn about St. Augustine’s history!

Measuring your mast

That 28-volt right angle Milwaukee drill sure is coming in handy.

Made it!
Yes, that is Steve at the top of the mast, and yes, he was glad to get down!

Using high level mathematics

Yep, just heel FNR a mere 20° and her 51’2” mast should clear that pesky 49’ fixed railroad bridge on Lake Okeechobee. BTW, if there are any mathematicians out there willing to check the Captain’s math, the First Mate will be forever grateful.

St. Augustine Nights of Lights

The city and its boats all-a-glitter!

Lightner Museum

Regatta of Lights1

Regatta of Light2

I even found a yoga studio and experienced another first – doing Sun Salutations to Josh Groban singing “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. If that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, nothing will.

Yoga Studio

I can’t imagine not being home for the holidays. But this year? This year feels a little different. Maybe it’s because home won’t be home.

Take care, FNR! See you in 2016!!
Take care, FNR! See you in 2016!!

Slowly Slowing Down

A week of warm and dry at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville makes me happy; ergo, Steve is happy. We take long walks. Enjoy visiting with my aunt, uncle and cousin. Take advantage of their generous offer to let us use their car for a few days. Watch our dockmates get in the Christmas spirit.

Decorated Boat
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I do a little shopping at the nearby Roosevelt Mall. We even decide to tackle a boat project that’s been on my list for quite some time.

FNR has three batteries – two house batteries and one cranking battery. When we anchor out, it’s up to the house batteries to illuminate the cabin, make FNR visible to other boats, keep our food cold, charge our electronics, run a fan or two because sometimes I get really hot (think: hot flash).  Sometimes, we even watch our 12-volt television if we can pick up a local channel on our over-the-air antenna or find an XFINITY hotspot to stream from. (Thanks, Young Son, for sharing your log in.)

Those house batteries need to keep all of those things running for 8 to 10 hours but they don’t. Our new refrigerator needs 11 volts to cycle on and after 8 to 10 hours, it doesn’t get 11 volts of DC power. The refrigerator part of the box stays cold enough but there is some thawing in the freezer compartment. I don’t like that.

Get on any Cruiser’s forum and you’ll find various strong, and often conflicting, opinions about how to power a boat when not on shore power. Wind, solar, inverters, generators. All of those options have pluses and minuses but for reasons you don’t care about, none of them are right for us at this time. We decide to add a third battery to the house bank.

We go to West Marine to see what our options are even though we know that they are going to be way too proud of their batteries for our pocketbook. We end up purchasing a 12 volt 27 series deep cycle marine battery from Advance Auto. There’s not enough room under the settee where the other two batteries are to put a third battery so we mount it on the corner of the starboard settee. When we reupholstered the salon cushions, we re-worked the layout of the starboard cushions, leaving a corner exposed. We had planned to use that space for some sort of shelving / storage unit. Turns out, a 12 volt 27 series deep cycle marine battery fits in that space perfectly!!

The new battery is quickly and easily installed. In fact, it is installed so quickly and so easily that I can’t believe Steve listened to me complain about my freezer stuff thawing as long as he did.

Still, the question remains. Will that additional battery keep things running the way they should? We are about to find out. It is 63 miles to St. Augustine. That’s too far to travel in a day. Anchored out in Pine Island, we run the generator for a couple of hours before going to bed to get as much charge on the batteries as possible.

Pine Island Anchorage
Pine Island anchorage. Peaceful, even with our generator running.

I get up the next morning and hear the refrigerator running. Ahhh….such a sweet sound!!

We are staying in St. Augustine’s mooring field for a week. This is our first time on a mooring ball. It takes me three tries to pick it up. I need one pass just to study on that ball. The second pass, I realize there is no way I can actually grab the pennant. It’s too far under the water. The third pass, I grab the buoy attached to the pennant, twist the boat hook around the line a couple of times and pull it up on deck. Exhilarated, exhausted and somewhat embarrassed since there are a lot of boats in this mooring field with nothing better to do than watch other boaters try to pick up their mooring ball, I let Steve secure FNR to the ball. Side note: Gotta give the Captain a shout out. Steve positioned FNR perfectly on all three passes. It wasn’t him. It was all me.

FNR on mooring ball
FNR – second boat from the left – hanging out in the mooring field.

We’re in the north field and it’s a little rough. The dinghy ride into town is bumpy and wet. But St. Augustine is gorgeous. It is warm. It is dry. And with persistent, elevated onshore winds in the foreseeable forecast, we remind ourselves that it is okay to go slow and decide to take a break from traveling in not so nice weather until after the first of the year.

We spend two nights over Thanksgiving with my aunt, uncle and cousin in Jacksonville.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

JSYK…freezer stuff is still frozen when we return. What a difference an extra battery makes!

Being on a ball is not awful and I’ll do it again, but being on a ball for 5 nights is enough, at least for me to start with. We get a slip at River’s Edge Marina.

St. Augustine is very cruiser friendly. There are lots of things to do and see and we are going to take the time to do and see them.  Yes, it really is okay to go slow because time flies, and this adventure will be over before we know it. Gandhi is right. There is no sense in increasing its speed.