Stuart to Beaufort

According to Wikipedia, “a logbook (a ship’s logs or simply log) is a record of important events in the management, operation, and navigation of a ship. It is essential to traditional navigation, and must be filled in at least daily.” We don’t have a traditional ship’s log and if we did, it definitely wouldn’t be filled in on a daily basis.

So how do we know when to change the oil or how long a tank of water lasts or how far we’ve traveled?  Why Google calendar and Excel, of course.  Scheduled maintenance tasks go on the shared Google calendar. Everything else goes on a spreadsheet.

Man, I love a good spreadsheet. There’s the Monthly Expenses spreadsheet, the Water Utilization spreadsheet, the Passwords spreadsheet…in case I forget my Active Captain login.  But my favorite spreadsheet is the Travel Log.

As the trip planner, I use this spreadsheet A LOT and when we’re underway, I use it multiple times a day. I’ve posted a small section of the log below and as you can see, it’s pretty straightforward but there’s A LOT that goes into maintaining this spreadsheet.

Travel Log.jpg

You literally have to go with the flow when traveling the ICW. Tides, currents, weather, bridges, skinny water, winding rivers all dictate how fast and how far you go in a day. That’s why we start each day with a 40 mile, a 50 mile and a 60 mile travel plan. When planning, I mostly use the Waterway Guide and Active Captain to check distances and marina prices. Underway, I open either the iSailor app or the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net app to track our progress. Once I know where we are, I figure out how many more statue miles we have to go. That number and our current speed gets plugged into the spreadsheet, and VOILA! We have an ETA…at least for that point in time.

And that’s why I use this spreadsheet A LOT when we’re underway. We may be barreling down one stretch of water at 7 knots but after rounding a point, we’re crawling along at 4 knots. At 7 knots, we can cover 40 miles in 5 hours.  At 4 knots, it’ll be closer to 9.

Since leaving Stuart, we’ve taken advantage of a good weather window travelling 10 out of 12 days. We’ve covered an average of 47.9 miles a day and have been on the water an average of 7 hours and 15 minutes a day. Man, I love a good spreadsheet!

But, I’m loving these last 12 days on the waterway even more. It’s not too hot during the day, not too cold at night. There’s been more sun than rain. The water’s been calm. Bugs aren’t out in full force yet. The sunrises are refreshing. The sunsets are relaxing. And to top it all off, Sunday was our one year anniversary of living aboard FNR. It’s been quite a year…one that I couldn’t schedule with Google calendar or graph in Excel.

Having spent most my life planning for how things “should” be and then being disappointed when they weren’t, I think I may finally get it. There’s no room for time frames or expectations on a boat. Life is good but it’s awesome and rarely disappointing when you just let it happen.

I’ve complied the pictures taken on this leg of the trip into a slide show.  If you have time, click here to take a look.



Go North, FNR. Go North!

Yes, the weather could have been more pleasant, but overall, our time in Stuart has been really enjoyable. We’ve made lots of new friends and reconnected with old ones. We’ve taken a couple of daycations. Family and friends have visited. But mostly, we’ve settled into a routine. Our days are predictable. We get up in the morning and then next thing we know, it’s time to go to bed. My brother-in-law says that’s how you know you’re doing retirement “right”. I will even admit to getting a little better at doing nothing. And, as luck would have it, I have about 850 miles in which I can get even better. That’s right! It’s time to head north.

There’s lots to do to get ready. We each have a list.

Marci Steve
Clean FNR Get FNR’s bottom cleaned
Plan meals Check batteries
Provision Crank diesel and generators
Laundry Fill gas, diesel, and propane tanks
Fill water tanks Mount dinghy engine on stern rail
Defrost freezer Find a place to park the truck
Update travel log Study charts
Set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than Steve’s so you have time to dilly dally before you leave Don’t get up when Marci’s alarm goes off. She needs those extra 15 minutes so she won’t feel rushed.
Don’t dilly dally when Steve says it’s time to go because it will only annoy him Don’t rush Marci when you’re ready to go because it will only annoy her

Ah, yes. Even when you’re retired, some things – like making lists and annoying one another – never change. But some things do…dramatically.

As I write this, FNR is motoring down the St. Lucie River toward the ICW.  We have a 40, a 50, and a 60 mile travel plan. The ICW is so winding that it’s almost impossible to know where you’ll end up at the end of the day. You may start out going with the tide but before long you make a turn and you’re going against it. We’ll know by mid-afternoon if we’re going to make 40, 50 or 60 miles. And then, we’ll stop.

We will not travel hard. We will not travel fast. We’re just going to travel. Leisurely. Mindfully. Intentionally. If there’s something we want to see, we are going to see it. If we get tired, we are going to rest. If we find someplace we like, we are going to stay for a while. We are going back to North Carolina one 40, one 50, and one 60 mile travel plan at a time. Yes, these waters are charted but our journey is not.  Here’s hoping we can enjoy it!

Sunset Bay Marina
Sunset Bay Marina…another view


Sunset Bay’s Mooring Field can accommodate 60 boats
Mooring Field on a dreary day
The Clubhouse and Dinghy Dock
And I thought two dogs were two too many to bring aboard.  These folks have FOUR!!
Downtown Stuart
These little guys are everywhere!
Do you mind if I join you for breakfast?
Guess where this was taken? 🙂


Key Largo
My little sister, my brother-in-law, Steve and me on Stuart Beach


I drag our visitors to yoga…




Steve takes them for a sail!!




Weather Always Wins

“The sun did not shine.  It was too wet to play.  So we sat in the house.  All that cold, cold, wet day.”

Dr. Seuss gets credit for the quote.  A strong El Nino gets the blame for below normal temps, lots and lots of rain and way too many storms.  NOAA says that “given that the previous eight winters in Florida experienced storminess much below normal (with no strong-to-violent tornadoes), the likely transition to a very active season may come as a surprise to those who are unaware.”  Thanks, NOAA, for ruining the surprise.

We started this adventure fairly well prepared and definitely aware enough to know we’d be dealing with the occasional surprise.

I mean really.  We took a cracked Electro Scan in stride.  We incorporated removing jellyfish from our raw-water intake strainer into our daily routine.  We appreciated the exercise we got when the dinghy engine died and we had to row it back to the boat…not once, not twice, but three times.  We didn’t flinch at the three flawless refrigeration installs.  There was no mutiny on the bounty when a huge wave crashed over the bow and soaked our bed.  We didn’t let a freshwater leak get the better of us.  Mildew?  That’s what bleach is for.  We’ve flinched but we haven’t faltered even in the face of a huge-honking, life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Be that as it may, saltier sailors than me readily admit that Weather always wins.  We’ve been pummeled with front after front since September.  We put up the good fight determined to find warm, happy and dry but Weather is the reigning champion.

Defeated?  Hardly.

Aware?   Keenly.

Done?  Of course not.  FNR is simply staying put.  No more toddling down the ICW dodging fronts and waiting on weather windows.  No more looking for warm, happy and dry.  We’re happy and kind of warm and mostly dry.  We’ve found our Zen in Stuart.  FNR may not be going further south, but we are.

We spend a couple of days exploring the Everglades and the Keys and then take back US 1 through Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.  Steve sees his crystal clear water.  We hike a lot, hoping to see an alligator or two but the most wildlife we encounter are a few birds, a swarm of mosquitoes and a camel on the side of the road at some sketch wild animal rehab center.  Still, it was fun and don’t tell FNR, but it was good to get off the boat.

I read today that El Nino is strengthening and likely to last into spring.  I imagine that means we’ll be dodging fronts and waiting on weather windows as we begin our 850 plus mile journey back to North Carolina next month.  But I remember what a really smart cat once said.  “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.”  Yes, Weather always wins, but that doesn’t mean that losing can’t be an adventure.


Closest thing to a real alligator we’ve seen


Mangrove forest


Say whaatt??


Not sure what I think about this…
Yes, that’s a zebra back there.
What are YOU looking at??


I think I’ve been here before


A stranger enjoying the sunshine while he can. I know how he feels.

My Captain is Handier than Your Captain

Yes, most captains are handy. They’re either handy or they’re rich because most cruisers can’t afford to not DIY.

Still, I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. Steve is the handiest man I know. Engine maintenance? Check. Electrical issue? Check. Plumbing? Check. Refrigeration? Check. Carpentry work? Check.

Living with a handy man sure comes in handy and I take Steve’s handiness for granted. If something needs to be done, I just assume Steve will do it. Most times, I’m right but I have learned that if Steve puts off a project, then 1) he’s studying on it or 2) it’s going to be aggravating or 3) both.

“Both” is why Steve put off a project I added to his Honey-Do list back in July.

At one point in time, FNR had a diesel generator on board. When we bought her, the generator was gone but whoever removed it, left the controls in the bulkhead. I wanted the controls removed, because 1) they didn’t control anything anymore and 2) they were unsightly and 3) they were attached to a tangled mess of wires in the cockpit locker that were always in the way.

Those contols gotta go!

It took Steve almost all day to run down all the wires in the cockpit locker and snip the ones that weren’t needed anymore but it took him 6 months to get around to finally patching the holes left in the bulkhead.

And, I thought the controls were unsightly…

Admittedly, Steve attempted to patch the holes a few times but couldn’t find a piece of teak plywood at a reasonable price. After studying on a couple of other approaches, he finally decided to go with teak veneer applied to a very thin piece of plywood.

With his poster board pattern in hand, Steve goes to work. Cutting and sanding plywood with one of those multi-function oscillating tools appears to be aggravating so I go to yoga. By the time I get back, Steve is ready to cut out holes for the electrical outlet and the propane control switch.

M: Want some help with that?

S: Well, unless you want to cut the holes, I am not sure you can help.

M: I don’t want to cut the holes. I want to hold the vacuum while you cut so you don’t get sawdust everywhere.

S (rolling his eyes): Okay. Great. That will be very helpful.

How’s that for some clean hole cutting?

Once the holes are cut, Steve uses contact cement to attach the teak veneer to the plywood and then glues the plywood to the bulkhead with construction adhesive.

Generator controls removed? Check.

What generator controls??

Yes, most captains are handy. I think mine just happens to be the handiest!!


Sunshine State? What do you mean I can’t anchor there?

We’ve been in Stuart for 10 days. Love the town. The weather? Not so much.

Since we’ve been here, the average high temperature has been 67°.  That’s 7° colder than it’s supposed to be in January. It’s been windy. Two tornadoes have touched down in neighboring towns. We’ve had more than 5” of rain in 10 days with localized flooding. It seems that Florida has forgotten that it’s nicknamed the Sunshine State because there’s been way more clouds than sunshine.

The locals are not in love with this weather either. They can’t apologize enough and are quick to assure us that this is not normal. This is supposed to be the dry season. February will be better. They promise.

I like that about Floridians. They are happy we’re here. They want us to have a good time. They want us to come back. They want us to love Florida as much as they do.

That’s why I don’t understand why the Florida legislature is considering a bill that will ban overnight anchoring in several areas popular with cruising boaters. I’m not politically savvy. I can’t even pretend to understand the political game that is being played here, and I can’t imagine what will happen if the bill passes. Still, I have to wonder how many Floridians are even aware of this bill because I get the impression that Florida needs and enjoys Cruisers as much as Cruisers need and enjoy Florida.


Some Good Days

We arrive at St. Augustine’s Municipal Marina in time to catch the 10 AM water taxi out to the mooring field. At first glance, FNR looks no worse for the wear after 3 ½ weeks on a mooring ball. Not so upon closer inspection. We lost the mildew wars.

We anticipated dealing with some issue on our return so the plan to take FNR 18 miles south to Marineland Marina is a good one. Steve cranks the diesel, drops me off at the dock and heads down the river. I hop in the truck, go buy cleaning supplies, and head down A1A.

We’re both a little nervous about Steve being on the boat by himself post-blood clot, but he promises to call me every hour with an update. His calls go something like this:

11:00: All’s well. Tides are in my favor so I’m making good time. The diesel’s smoking a little but it’s running okay. May be water in the fuel.

12:00: All’s well. Made a turn. Going against the tide now but still making pretty good time. The diesel is still smoking.

1:00: It’s foggy as h~~l out here. If the diesel is still smoking, I can’t see it because I can’t see s**t.

2:00: I ran aground. The fu^^^ng markers are in the wrong place. Talked a guy in a pontoon boat into pulling me off. It’s tough out here. I can’t see s**t.

3:00: I’m at Red 86. Just hailed the marina to let them know I’m almost there. The Dockmaster said he is standing at the end of the dock waving at me. Wanted to know if I could see him. I said h~~l no, I can’t see you. I can’t see s**t.

3:30: That was bad. That was real bad. I really needed to have a good day.

We spend an hour or so tackling the mildew and then drive down to Palm Coast for the night. Thanks to our BoatUS discount, we get a hotel room pretty cheap. Not the best room, but it’s better than sleeping with mildew.

We’re back on FNR first thing in the morning and she’s clean by early afternoon. Over lunch, we talk about what’s next. With a little over a week before we’re supposed to be in Stuart, we decide to take it easy for a couple of days. Whew! Bought myself some time to find cheap marinas between here and Stuart and to perfect my “I don’t want to anchor out” speech.

It’s no secret. I don’t love anchoring out, but I don’t hate it either. Anchoring out is free. That’s good. Anchoring out is usually peaceful and beautiful. That’s good. But getting emergency medical treatment when you’re anchored out is not something that happens quickly and post-blood clot that worries me. That’s bad.

With my list of cheap marinas in hand, I explain this to Steve. He gets it. The blood clot was bad. Losing the mildew war was bad. Getting to this marina was bad. Worrying while anchored out is bad. We really need some good days.

And, just like that, we get them.

Marineland to New Smyrna Beach City Marina (50.5 miles): A cool start and a little overcast but the water is calm and we’re practically all by ourselves on the waterway. Diesel’s not smoking. Marina is easily accessible. Docking is a piece of cake. Helpful and friendly staff. Cutest downtown ever. Clean bathrooms. Great Wi-Fi. $1.25/ft. plus $6 for electric.

New Smyrna Beach City Marina to Titusville Municipal Marina (31.8 miles): Another cool start to the day but the sun comes out and it gets so warm that we put the side curtains up. Marina is right off the ICW. Finger piers are short but Steve has no problem backing into the slip. Pleasant walk through downtown. Bathrooms and Wi-Fi meet our expectations. It’s a little bumpy early in the evening but by bedtime, it’s calm. $1.44/ft. with BoatUS discount plus $5 for electric.

Titusville Municipal Marina to Eau Gallie Yacht Basin in Melbourne (38.7 miles): The cockpit is nice and toasty. The Addison Point Bridge (27’ closed vertical clearance) only opens half way but it’s navigable. Getting into the Eau Gallie River is a little tricky but once in, the marina is easy to find. There’s a boat in our assigned slip, but several locals are on the dock to direct us to our new one. Quaint little downtown. Throwback marina. Rustic, but adequate facilities.  Well-protected from the two recent storm systems that ripped through central Florida. Friendly folks. Wi-Fi works as long as our antenna is pointed in the right direction. $1.00/ft. Electric included.

So that’s what a bridge looks like when it only opens halfway.

We had some really good days, but I’m not sure that’s what we really needed.  All we may have needed was time. Time to get used to being back on FNR. Time to settle into a routine. Time to get reacquainted with our adventure. Time to get our zen back.

We’re leaving for Stuart in the morning. It’s going to take us a couple of days to get there, but I’m not worried.  We have time.  And besides, it looks like there are several good anchorages between here and there.

Perfect Gifts

My mother went into labor during my 3rd birthday party and left to go to the hospital.  My sister was born later that day.  That’s one of those memorable experiences you never forget.

I’ve shared my birthday with my little sister for 51 years.  I hated not having a birthday all to myself for a long time but one day, I got over it.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Birthdays are kind of a big deal to me, because quite frankly, I like presents.  My sister and I don’t exchange birthday presents anymore.  We have what we need and don’t want for much. Even so, I still like getting presents but I like giving presents even more.  I especially enjoy surprising the recipient with an unexpected present.  My sister does, too.

Steve and I are staying in Oriental for the month of October before continuing our trip south.  Excited to participate in one of Susan’s yoga classes again, I am disappointed to learn that the studio is being remodeled and classes have been cancelled for the week.  Oh, well. That means next week’s class will be even more enjoyable.

Susan is at the desk checking folks in when I arrive.  Grinning from ear to ear, she hands me an envelope.  What in the world?  I open it.  A gift certificate for two classes from my sister!  Perfect!  A trifecta, in fact.

  1. Who doesn’t love free stuff?
  2. Susan enjoyed giving me my gift almost as much as I enjoyed getting it.
  3. My sister surprised me with an unexpected gift.

Once set up for class, I start looking around.  The lobby has been redone.  The studio is freshly painted.  There’s new artwork on the walls.  I take a closer look.  Why those are yoga mats hanging on the walls.  Each one beautifully and refreshingly painted.  How unique.  How peaceful.  How zen-like.

After class, I ask Susan about them.  A local artist painted them.  She gives me her card.

I contact Melanie.  Please will you paint a mat for my sister?  She’s the one who introduced me to yoga.  She just started working from home and I think she’d love to have one of your mats hanging in her home office.

Melanie wants to meet me to discuss my vision for the mat.  Vision?  I’m the least artistic person I know.  This should be interesting.

We meet at the local coffee shop. We talk about colors and textures. Are there any particular images I want on the mat?  Why, yes, I think so.  How about a lotus flower and the Om symbol?  We talk a little more and the next thing I know, I’ve commissioned my first artist. How cool is that?

I wasn’t able to give my sister her present until we came home for the holidays. Unexpected?  Yes.  Perfect?  You decide.  If you’re on FB, try hecking it out here.  I think she liked it.

Yoga Mat Art


The shortness of breath, SOB for short in the medical world, started the week of Thanksgiving. Steve’s had SOB before, several episodes over the last five or so years. A quick-paced walk or a steep flight of stairs and he’s huffing and puffing. Doctors have tried, but can’t figure out what’s causing it. Cardiac issue? Allergies? Asthma? COPD? Nope, nothing definitive. Strange and frustrating, yet the episodes always resolve after a few weeks so we aren’t too concerned. Still, we are home for the holidays so Steve calls to make an appointment with his doctor.

We arrive a few minutes early for his 9 AM appointment, expecting the visit to go quickly. We need to get back to Wake Forest. Steve has more drywall to hang and I have chili to make for the granddaughter’s first birthday party. Imagine our surprise when a blood pressure of 130/110 prompts his doctor to order a STAT CT of the chest to rule out a pulmonary embolism (think: do this test really quick because this guy might have a blood clot in his lung and there’s a 90% chance that he drops dead right here in front of us). I think the doctor is being overly cautious. I mean, really. This husband of mine hung drywall yesterday and drove here this morning from Wake Forest. He feels fine. He just gets short of breath. He’s had this before.

Fast forward to 3 PM. Steve is admitted to the hospital with a 5.4 x 2.6 cm. pulmonary embolism (think: huge-honking big, about the size of a man’s thumb). He is started on IV heparin which is supposed to keep other clots from forming while his body works to break up the huge-honking big one in his lung. The doctors assure us that his prognosis is good. He’ll be in the hospital for 2 – 3 days and will have to be on blood thinners for 6 months. They tell us it’s going to take 6 – 8 weeks for the clot to dissolve and that he will have SOB until it does, but we can expect a full recovery. We resolve ourselves to the facts that there will be no drywall hung and no chili made today. We’re going to miss the first birthday party but the middle daughter is going to FaceTime us when the granddaughter eats her cake so, at least, we’ll get to see that.

Whaddaya mean G-Mommy and Pompey can’t come to my first birthday party?


We settle in. We’ve gotten good at biding time…until another doctor comes in.

The blood clot is not the only thing found on the CT scan. There’s a 1 cm. nodule of “uncertain chronicity” (meaning: they have no idea how long it’s been there) in the back of his right lung and since blood clots can be caused by a malignancy, a PET scan is ordered to rule out cancer. It will be after Christmas before we can get that done. The doctors tell us that they expect the PET scan to be negative; that it needs to be done for “completion”. That’s certainly encouraging but waiting a week to get the scan done and then waiting another week to get the results can be a little taxing in the best of circumstances. It’s particularly taxing when you live on a boat and your boat is on a mooring ball 500 miles away in St. Augustine and you see this on Facebook.

We get great news at Steve’s follow up appointment on Monday, January 4. The nodule is scar tissue, probably from a long-ago bout with pneumonia. We can go back to boat as long as Steve promises:

  1. To get his blood drawn once a month to monitor how well the blood thinner is working.
  2. To not engage in activities that put him at risk of injuries or falls that might cause bleeding.

Pinky promises made, we’re getting FNR the heck out of the St. Augustine mooring field and heading down to Marineland Marina just south of St. Augustine. There, we’ll get FNR ready to travel to Stuart, FL for a month or two stay.

Once in Stuart, our focus will shift from a BC (Before Clot) lifestyle to an AC (After Clot) lifestyle.


BC: We relied on alternate forms of transportation (bicycles, buses, Ubers, trolleys) to get to places that are too far to walk to. This works well if you don’t have to have your blood drawn once a month.

AC: We will have a vehicle with us going forward. We’ll leave our truck in St. Augustine and once we get settled in Stuart, we’ll rent a car and go pick it up. We’ll repeat that process as we head further south.


BC: All the rain we’ve had and the long days spent traveling limited the amount we exercised. Sitting in the cabin or at the helm all day restricts blow flow, which contributes to the formation of clots.

AC: We will have transportation so we’re joining a gym meaning we can and will exercise when it rains. Also, the First Mate will be taking the helm more often so the Captain can get up and move around every hour or so.


BC: We know how to eat healthy, but eating unhealthy is easier and tastes Oh. So. Good.

AC: Eating unhealthy results in excess weight and excess weight increases the risk of blood clots. Therefore, we are going to lose a few pounds by replacing our unhealthier eating habits with healthier ones.


BC: We tackled many a boat project without even thinking about excessive bleeding caused by an injury or fall.

AC: Steve will NOT be going up the mast anytime soon. Steve will NOT use a utility knife to sharpen a pencil or cut the foil off a wine bottle. Steve WILL buy a pair of those cut-resistant gloves and he WILL wear them.


BC: We traveled long and hard, hell-bent on finding warm, happy and dry.

AC: Steve’s SOB was life threatening, and we didn’t pay it much attention. Maybe we were too focused on finding warm, happy and dry. We fell off the present moment wagon big time. We can’t change that and there’s no sense in resolving to not fall off again because we will. All we can do is get back on that wagon and enjoy the ride, one moment at a time.

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.