Onward’s Cruise Journal 2011
Cruise from Rhode Island to Bahamas

Updated: 27 Nov 11

November 2011

1 Nov 11; Tuesday; River Dunes

  • Onward and Ceili decided to spend a second day at River Dunes to relax and do some shopping in town. Spring Moon left early in the morning to head for Beaufort where they planned to wait for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream and head S to the Abacos.

2 Nov 11; Wednesday; River Dunes to Beaufort NC
  • We got a leisurely start this morning and headed S on the short jaunt to Beaufort. We made the 1300 opening of the bridge and then were able to find space to anchor at the edge of the channel. Since it was close to the current change, we decided to stay aboard until the boats were settled.
  • I tried to reach Spring Moon on VHF and Dick and Corky on their cell phones but was not able to get through.

3 Nov 11; Thursday; Beaufort to Mile Hammock Bay
  • We were underway at 0715. As we departed the anchorage and headed S, I heard someone call Spring Moon on the VHF so I called them. They had departed the anchorage behind Onward and had turned the opposite way to head out the inlet to start their crossing to the Abacos.I emailed Spring Moon the weather report that warned of the need to get S of the Low quickly but they were probably out of range.
  • There were only 2 boats in Mile Hammock Bay when Onward and Ceili arrived so it was easy to get a good spot to anchor. Before long the anchorage filled up with a gaggle of boats. The outboard started and then conked out and I could not start it. It was a nice quiet night so I rowed over to Ceili for drinks and dinner.

4 Nov 11; Friday; Mile Hammock Bay to Carolina Beach
  • A rain squall came through just before dawn. Several boats dragged anchor and got fouled up with other boats. The equal was quickly over allowing Onward and Ceili to head out in front of the gaggle.
  • The next three opening bridges on this section are a pain because of their limited opening schedules compounded by the vagaries of the currents. Since there were a number of newbies in the gaggle behind us, we had to put up with impatient captains moving their boats forward into the congested area before the bridges - in spite of Securite messages I broadcast about the congestion. Some people just don't get it.
  • We were able to make the crucial opening on the hour of the Surf City .bridge so we would be able to make the Wrightsville Beach Bridge at 1200 instead of waiting an hour to 1300. Somehow none of the gaggle got grounded while milling around.
  • We had begun to hear mention on VHF of an offshore gale forming. As we went through the Wrightsville Beach Bridge, I checked the weather radar and it was clear ahead. We decided to push on for the Carolina Beach anchorage because it would make the next segment to Myrtle Beach shorter, and the anchorage would be less crowded. Right after making this decision and passing the S entrance to the anchorage, the sky to the N began to be ominously dark black. Soon thunderstorm cells began developing out of nothing as the low just off shore became stationary and began to deepen. Halfway to Carolina Beach a hard-driving rainstorm hit with > 20 kt N winds. I was concerned for Bill who has no bimini or enclosure. But he is a hardy New England sailor and seems to revel in these conditions - obviously a much better man than I!
  • We got into the Carolina Beach anchorage and found it open so we were quickly settled.
  • I checked the updated weather report which had become much worse. I called Spring Moon's sat phone and left a voice mail warning of the weather and told them to call me for updates.
  • The rain eventually ended and the N wind began to build. About 2000, some particularly strong gusts >35 kts suddenly had Onward's anchor dragging in the soppy bottom mud in spite of 120' of scope. I started the engine and was able to drag it forward of its original location and reset it.
  • The conditions were too severe for me to let out more scope in the dark as I had been having problems with the chain feeding on-and off the windlass since I removed the stud that used to hold the rotation lock. Apparently the rotation lock also served to funnel the chain on and off the gypsy. I spent the night catnapping at the navstation watching the A70 chart plotter and the windspeed. The bottom in this area is very soupy mud and gusts > 35 kts again caused the anchor to drag back a few feet.

5 Nov 11; Saturday; Carolina Beach
  • The morning was clear and sunny and the winds were still in the mid 20's. I built a nylon chain guide to solve the problem that had not allowed me to pick up the anchor, reset it, and let out more scope under the heavy finds last night. With this in place I was again able to remotely work the windlass. I picked up the anchor and again moved it to the N and reset it; this time with 190' of scope.
  • The wind continued at the same level throughout the day. The added 70' of scope made a huge difference in the behavior of the boat.
  • While all this was going on I kept wondering what conditions my friends on Spring Moon were facing offshore. I hoped they had turned around and gone back to Beaufort before it got this bad.

6 Nov 11; Sunday; Carolina Beach to Myrtle Beach
  • The shift from daylight savings time to standard time took place during the night. It was nice to not worry about which way things went because the iPhone and iPad and my MacBook handled it all nicely. Of course this started a good natured banter with Bill over the ensuing days about whether an time reference I made was "new time" or "old time".
  • After a very welcomed quiet night, we weighed anchor at 0630. The transit along the coast was easy with no problem with shoaling in the Shallote and Lockwood Folly inlets. There was no trace left of the Sunset Beach pontoon bridge that was always a troublesome spot.
  • We put into Grande Dunes Marina at 1530. We found this to be a great facility, easy to get into and dock along their perimeter transient floating dock. The marina manager, Matt, was glad to have us and was very accommodating. Linda's sister, a retired Army NG Colonel, came by for drinks and then to take us out for dinner. It was a great time.

7 Nov 11; Monday; Myrtle Beach
  • We decided to stay an extra day at the marina to recover from our stay at Carolina Beach. Linda and I went food shopping at the Lowes Foods store across the street. Wow, neat store, lots of choices. Got good Malbec wine at a great price, found Stella Atois and While Ale in cans and stocked up. The marina manager schlepped us there and back in their courtesy van.
  • We capped off the day with a nice dinner at the Marina Inn with Linda's sister.

8 Nov 11; Tuesday; Myrtle Beach to Georgetowbn
  • We departed the marina at 0630 and headed down the Wacamaw. This is one of my favorite stretches of the ICW as the river winds through a cyprus forrest that crowds it on both sides. I find it a magical experience.
  • We put into Georgetown and anchored about 1400. I hitched a ride with Bill and Linda and we went in to explore the town. This included a stop at Big Tuna's for a beer on the sunny deck. After returning to the boats, Bill and I collected Onward's jerrycans and took them in to get Ceili some diesel so we could get an early start in the morning. The refueling done, we we ready for a delicious dinner of chicken and rice prepared by Linda.
9 Nov 11; Wednesday; Georgetown to Charleston
  • We were off at 0615 to make it to the Ben Sawyer Bridge before it went into its 1600-1800 restricted period.
  • Bill asked me if I'd heard from my friends aboard Spring Moon and I said I had not. Later he called back to say that Linda had just found a news bulletin that Spring Moon had been abandoned at sea about noon on Sunday 550 nm SW of Bermuda and that the three crew had been rescued by a cable ship, Ocean.
  • When I heard this my heart sank. I called Laurie whom I'd met at River Dunes to see if she had heard anything from her friend Tim. She confirmed that Spring Moon had been abandoned but the crew were all safe but for minor injuries: Dick injured his hand; Corky reinsured his ribs; and Tim injured his knee. They ware due to be disembarked in Bermuda later today.
  • Spring Moon's engine was hot working. It had broached two or more times. Corky had gone overboard but was pulled back aboard by Dick and Tim. The vessel was taking on water. All this led to them initiating the EPRB. The cable ship had rerouted to pick them up. Sometime in this process Spring Moon was dismasted.
  • What a startling eye-opener to have friends involved in one of those incidents you read about.
  • When we got to the Ben Sawyer Bridge, it was about an hour after low tide. We had delayed an hour to get about of foot of tide and we needed it because the channel has shoaled badly at marker 117A. Onward found 7' just R of the centerline. The Catalina 42 Thate Wata I'd been chatting with on the trip from Georgetown has a 7' draft and they touched a bit at this spot.
  • We put into the Charleston City Marina at 1600. By the time we checked in it was cocktail hour. As I enjoyed my Onward Toddy in the cockpit, I got to talk with another sailor, Tim from Maine. Bill and Linda called it an early night and I decided to cook angle hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and some french-style green beans. Tim happened by just as I was finishing so I invited him for dinner. He contributed some cooked shrimp which we added to the pot. Delish! I had a very interesting evening as Tim told me of his adventures as a trapper in Maine. Then he went on to tell me of how he had built a successful small cell phone company that was sold to Verizon. A very interesting guy!

10 Nov 11; Thursday; Charleston
  • I spent the morning catching up on my journal then went off with the Daley's to do some shopping at West Marine and the Harris-Teeter next door. That done, we were off to the city center for lunch, a walk about and some shopping.
  • I acted on the advice Tina Burke gave me in Maine during our 2008 cruise and took advantage of my stroll through the local shops to look for presents for my family. Linda related how she and Bill had made it a tradition to buy their daughters Christmas tree ornaments each year and how they now remember these occasions. With that kernel, I decided to start a similar tradition with Elena and selected a neat animal ornament for the first addition.
  • We returned to the boats in time for cocktail hour. Tim invited me aboard Mistie, his Shannon 39, and we had a nice evening talking.
  • I returned to Onward and found an email from Dick Tudan's wife, Valerie, telling me the crew of Spring Moon were OK and that they had been done in by the size of the waves they encountered. She also thanked me for the attempt to get a weather warning to them.

11 Nov 11; Friday; Charleston to Beaufort
  • We departed the marina at 0830 to make the 0900 opening of the Wapoo bridge - only to see it open at 0830! I had forgotten that today was a federal holiday, Veterans Day, and that eliminated the restricted opening. Ah well. We made it through the bridge at 0905 - the bridge tender was a bit tardy. This stretch of the ICW that uses the rivers SW of Charleston is very beautiful: winding watercourse through marshes with huge beautiful homes punctuating the banks. Neat!
  • We hit the Ashapoo-Coosaw canal at dead low tide. There has been a lot of shoaling in the W segment. I took it easy and had to plow through a couple of inches of soft sediment once about midway though. As I approached the exit, I was congratulating myself for having gotten though when Onward hit a <5' shoal! Since the sediment in this area is so soft and oozy, I decided to chance powering though. This worked and Onward was soon free.;
  • The Ladies Island Bridge announced it would not be opening from 1600- 1800. Now I had just downloaded the later USCG Notice to Mariners for this area and read the note about the bridge. It clearly said the restrictions would not hold on a federal holiday. But the bridge tender and the local USCG office (he checked after I called him) apparently don't read their own notices.
  • We decided to anchor for the night about 2 nm N of the bridge where there was good water well off the ICW channel. It had been sunny but chilly all day and as the sun went down I started to feel the cold. I don't know how Linda and Bill do it in an open cockpit -- hardy people, I guess. As soon as the anchor was set, I went below to make a hot dinner: onions, peppers, zucchini sautéed in olive oil; long grain wild and brown rice; lean pork chops pan fried. Oh, and a glass a Malbec - my new favorite wine. Delish!

12 Nov 11; Saturday; Beaufort to Savannah
  • We weighed anchor at 0645 in the predawn light. It was quite beautiful as the pink of the still-hidden shone through the clouds of light fog on the river. The Ladies Island Bridge opened on demand and we were off S. It was another beautiful sunny day but the temperature which had been near freezing during the night was slow to rise. Bill pointed out my reptilian behavior as he noted that I became more active as the sun warmed up my sunroom.
  • Fields Cut between the Wright and Savannah Rivers has continued to shoal. I talked to a tug captain and he told me to favor the green side on the E and the red side on the W and "there was plenty of water": We got there at about mid-tide but falling; this gave about 3' above MLW. On the W end, I had marked a shoal that I found last year - but I'd neglected to record the safe side to transit. I followed the center of the channel on the chart and ran into the shoal area - the good news was there was sufficient tide so that I never saw less than 7'. Next time I'll take the tug captain's advice and hug the R side at the entrance.
  • We put into the Isle of Hope Marina for a couple of nights. We took advantage of their loner car to do a bit of shopping at Walmart. We then had dinner at Jalapeño's which gave me an over due fix for Mexican food.

13 Nov 11; Sunday; Savannah
  • This morning we took a cab into Savannah and took a walking tour. We got a good first-hand experience of many of Savannah's beautiful park squares. Our guide was a fount of expertise on the history of formation and architecture of the city. It was a beautiful day if a bit on the cool side so I managed to continuously find a place in the sun to stand and bask in the sun. Looking at the design, I think that the country would be a better place we had if like Savannah small park squares on a grid pattern spread throughout our cities.
  • After a nice health lunch at the River House we went on to the Ship Museum located in a beautifully restored mansion built by the Savannah shipping magnate whose steamship Savannah was the first steam powered vessel to cross an ocean, the Atlantic.
  • There I came across an amazing story that I'd never heard: the yacht America that started the America's Cup Race series, stayed in England after the race it won around the Isle of Wight, was bought by southern sympathizers, armed, renamed and sent to run the shipping blockade during the start of the Civil War. She was scuttled in FL by the South and then raised and sent to do blockade patrols by the North! Wow…
  • We did a bit more shopping at Walmart as is has been so cool this trip that I needed to get another pair of jeans and long-sleeved shirt.

14 Nov 11; Monday; Savannah to Darien River
  • We departed the marina at 0730 to make the opening of the Skidaway Narrows Bridge. A new fixed bridge is well under construction to be open in 2013.
  • At the infamous Hell Gate, we arrived with a good tide and made it through without incident. While navigating one of the narrow and windy sections of the ICW, we encountered the cruise ship Independence - of course at the narrowest turn. It is amazing - but good - to see a commercial vessel on this section of the ICW as maybe it will lead to some badly needed dredging.
  • We were hoping to make it as far as Lanier Island where I planned to stop to visit with Jim and Leslie Hamrick whom I met on my 2009-2010 cruise in the Bahamas. Unfortunately the currents slowed us down and by the time we got to the Little Mud River, it was low tide which makes this section of the ICW impassable. We anchored nearby in the Darien River for the night.
  • Linda and Bill invited me over for dinner - rice, beans, and chorizo sausage - Delish!
  • It was an extremely quiet night. I woke about 0200 to check on things and I spotted a large tug boat that was heading S move slowly by the river we were anchored in. A surprise to see another commercial vessel in this area.

15 Nov 11; Tuesday; Darien River to Amelia River; Oyster Bay Yacht Club
  • We awoke to dense fog and had to wait until 0800 for it to burn off. While raising the anchor, the windlass began slipping on the take-up. I had to bring in the last 20' by hand. Hard work. With this failure, anchoring tonight was not a good idea so I began to make other plans.
  • We had plenty of water to get through the Little Mud River, about 7', and needed all of it! I had to tell Jim and Leslie that I needed to press on to the Fernandina Beach area to sort out the windlass problem so would have to postpone our reunion until the Spring..
  • I contacted fellow Corinthian Wally Savory who lives in the Amelia Island area and he arranged for me to put into the Oyster Bay Yacht Club where he is a member. The entrance to the marina on Lanceford Creek is interesting because the charts show the mouth of the river is closed by a 4' bar - yet there was 11'. But then I found a 6' bump in mid-channel where there was supposed to be 30'! Go figure.
  • Wally and Sally Buck met us at the pier and once we were tied up they whisked us off to Wally's home where we had a fine time over drinks and a wonderful dinner. I really needed those drinks to regain my equanimity after the two trying incidents of the morning. Ah, the cruising life is hard. But we few, we hardy few, persevere!

16 Nov 11; Wednesday; Oyster Bay Yacht Club
  • I started the day by disassembling the windlass to diagnose the problem. I traced it down to inside the gearbox where there were three possible causes: failure of the key that ties the shaft into the horizontal gear, failure of the teeth in the horizontal gear, failure of teeth in the worm gear shaft coming from the motor. The first cause is unlikely and if it is one of the other two the possibility of repair is dim as Maxwell has discontinued this model. In any case, after almost 8 years of good service, I did not want to have a unit that I could not rely on given how dependent I am on its operation to do what I do.
  • I looked around for a replacement. The C470 owners group had several reports where the 1200 model had been replaced by the new 1500 model. I also contacted Maher Elmasri who I remember having done this on Batuta, his C470. He called me back and told me what to expect. It turns out his new Hylas 56 has been in Ft. Lauderdale since October and he was at the airport enroute to see it for the first time! Batuta is now for sale. I will really miss him as part of the C470 group - he always had great technical insights to share. But we will maintain our sailing friendship having spent good times tonether in Maine and Block Island.
  • I ordered the new windlass from Defender and arranged to have it shipped overnight; expensive but necessary. I then prepared the windlass for removal but put off working in the cramped compartment it shares with the washer-drier until tomorrow.
  • Wally came by and showed us his "little green boat" a small lobster boat style cruisers for puttering about the local ICW. A neat toy! We then went out for lunch and a walking tour of downtown Fernandina Beach. Then we were off to visit Fort Clinch a Florida historical state park. There we got to walk the grounds and ramparts of the fort built to dominate the St. Marys River inlet in1847. It successfully deterred foes because it never fired a shot in anger. I really enjoyed this as I have passed the fort many times as I transited this inlet. It was nice to see it close up and learn about it. A park guide with a masters degree in military history regaled and dressed as an Army sergeant of the period regaled us with the history and design of the fort. Running into someone like him on a tour is always a treat.
  • On return to the boats, I made it a quiet night planning for a lot of tasks that need to be completed tomorrow.

17 Nov 11; Thursday; OBYC
  • This morning I finished the job of removing the old windlass and preparing to mount the new windlass. Of course, since Onward is a sail boat, no job is physically easy. To remove the windlass, I had to move the washer-dryer out of its compartment and find some way to prop it up in the shower so I could work behind it. While doing this, I discovered that one of the water supply hoses had become loose and had been leaking. This was the source of a slow but persistent water leak I had been trying to find for the last month. Somehow the motion of the boat had caused the shutoff valves to become slightly cracked open allowing water to get to the loose hose-end fitting. The water had been leaking all this time down the back of the machine and now the electric motor shaft was frozen. It looks like the unit has a date with the dumpster the next time I have the opportunity.
  • One of the 4 mounting bolts for the windlass was so close to the forward watertight bulkhead that it was extremely difficult to get the nut off working in the confined space. But, with surprisingly little blood loss, I managed to get the old unit out. A postmortem determined that the worm gear had stripped its teeth. Looks like the mate didn't clean and lube the friction clutch cones frequently enough.
  • I cleaned up the forward compartment. Then I went on deck and removed all the chain from the locker and replaced it as I removed all the twists. I collected the twists at the anchor end and then used the swivel connection to the anchor to spin them off.
  • As I was washing down the deck, I noticed a diver about to work on a boat in the marina and asked him to take a look at Onward's bow. He found a small cosmetic gouge at the bow just below the waterline and a larger 6" to 8" diameter gouge on the centerline about 6' to 8' back. Based on that information I will have to have Onward hauled and this damage checked out.
  • I quit work early and showered and then climbed into bed for a nap. Walley and Sally picked me up at 1715 and we headed off to Jacksonville for a symphony concert. We started off with a great dinner at the Omni Hotel located across the street from the beautiful concert hall. The program was very enjoyable: Mozart's Overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio and Jupiter Symphony and then Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky with the full chorus. Simply wonderful and impressive. The concert hall is beautiful and has a promenade overlooking the river. What a neat experience.
  • On the way back to OBYC to deposit me, we stopped at Wally's home and found my new windlass!

18 Nov 11; Friday; OBYC
  • Windlass Day! I spent the morning preparing for and then installing the new windlass. One of the primary tasks was to carve out a bit of the bulkhead to make it possible to put a nut on the stud and tighten in with a socket wrench. Bill Daley came over to provide an essential pair of additional hands during the final installation. Once it was all assembled, I turned on the power and Voila, it worked!
  • The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to put the boat back together again. After a shower and a short nap, I joined Linda and Bill to have dinner at the Oyster Bay Marina clubhouse. The dining room is beautiful and the chef is great. I had a Mahi served with grits and a Mediterranean garnish while Bill and Linda had ribs that had been slow cooked so the meat just came off the bone.
  • The club manager came over to say hello and told us that OBYC welcomes guests and asked us to tell our friends. No problem! A beautiful facility, beautiful area, great people.

19 Nov 11; Saturday; OBYC to Pine Island
  • About 0200 the wind finally died down. From Chris Parker I learned that a disturbance that could turn into a tropical low NW of the Bahamas has been sucking all the air from the High over us and hence the wind speeds have been higher than forecast.
  • I wanted to wait for the tide to get high enough for Onward not to worry about that bump found on the way in so we decided to depart after 1000. I spent the morning trying to organize the interior by stowing tools etc used in the windlass repair. I also decided to try something new: I spray painted about a 10" section of chain at each 10' mark along the length. I use visual cues - plastic cable ties - as flags to help me count out from the helm the length of chain being set or retrieved. We'll see how this works.
  • Sally and Wally came down to say goodbye.
  • At 1015 we departed. The strong NW wind that had pushed us away from the pier was replaced first by calm and then at 0930 by a 10 kt+ NE wind pushing us against the T-head. We decided the best way out of the narrow channel was to back up. Ceili successfully completed the maneuver and then Onward was able to follow. The route out was easy with plenty of depth; I avoided the bump by sticking closer to the NW side at the mouth of Lanceford River.
  • It was good to be moving S again. The early partly cloudy day turned into an overcast day with light rain falling in late afternoon. The passages under the fixed bridges on this segment of the ICW were all good with at least 65' except for the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge which had only ~ 64'.
  • We anchored at the night at Pine Island. This brought back a lot of memories from the first time I did this in December 2007. There the Jubilees (Eheler family) stumbled on me and that started a wonderful cruise together to the Bahamas for the rest of the winter.
  • I made shepherds pie for dinner and was joined by the Ceilies who approved. A quiet night followed.

20 Nov 11; Sunday; Pine Island to St. Augustine
  • We weighed anchor at 0730 and headed S to St. Augustine. Along the way we learned they were running the St. Augustine Marathon today and the Bridge of Lions would not be opening before 1200. Yesterday I called to reserved 2 moorings on the N / fort side of the bridge. When we arrived at 1000, our designated moorings were still occupied. A few boats waiting for the bridge to open asked if they could pick up an empty mooring - but I reminded the marina Ceili and Onward were still in need. We got the two open moorings - great.
  • After a welcome shower I picked up Bill and Linda and headed in to town. The moorings were $21/day - not bad when they charge you $10 just to land your dinghy! This is the first time I've used a mooring here because they recently expanded the field.
  • We had a nice walk through the old town and a good lunch to go along with it.

21 Nov 11; Monday; St Augustine
  • In late morning Bill and Linda picked me up and we went into town to tour Castel San Marco - a really neat structure. Linda had been telling me that she had worked for the US Park Service once and had been disappointed in not getting a ranger hat. So, at the museum store, I bought her a "Junior Ranger" hat to fulfill her dream ;)
  • We had another nice lunch, walked about more, and did some shopping. I managed to find the postoffice to get some gifts mailed off.

22 Nov 11; Tuesday; St Augustine to New Smyrna
  • We departed the moorings at 0645 to get an early bridge opening. For awhile it looked like we might make it all the way to Cocoa but then some adverse currents slowed us down. I pushed as far S as possible to give us the option of possibly getting to Vero Beach by mid-day tomorrow so we could participate in the cruisers Thanksgiving potluck.
  • We got as far as New Smyrna and decided to anchor at a couple of spots that looked OK on the charts. There was a strong S wind running against a strong current. In the first location, we couldn't find a way across the sandbar on the E side of the channel to get to the pool we intended to anchor in. In the second place it was too cramped to stay because of the way the boats moved forward on the anchor. In the third, I found a 6' bump in an area that I'd checked and previously found ~10'. This had by now become the most difficult anchoring spot I've ever had to deal with. Bill called the town marina and got us a couple of slips. As I went in I was expecting the slip to be at the end of the faraway but then found it was immediately in front of me. The "landing" was ugly but without any bumps.
  • The marina office told us of Maloney's Oyster Bar that served good food, beer, and provided live Irish music - so we were off for dinner. I had a delicious combo "steam roast" with oysters, clams, fish in a stew with great fresh bread. Delish.

23 Nov 11; Wednesday; New Smyrna to Cocoa
  • We were off at 0730 for an uneventful passage S. Along the way we decided it was too hard to try to get to Vero Beach so we would stop in Cocoa for Thanksgiving. We anchored off the city park and then went into town for a walk and a draft at the Dog and Bone pub. Along the way we enquired about restaurants that would be open for dinner on Thanksgiving. At one, a very nice waiter showed us around and extolled the menu so we made reservations. Back aboard Onward I made spaghetti and meatballs for our dinner.

24 Nov 11; Thursday; Cocoa
  • I spent the morning trying to catch up on cores. We then went into town where I first collected the bag with some galley gadgets I'd forgotten last evening. Then we were off to Cafe Margoux for dinner. The wait staff was wonderful and we had a nice time just interacting with them. The owner came over to thank us for joining them. I took the opportunity to lodge a complaint: their menu looked so great that it was making it traumatic for me to select a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. The owner assuaged my angst by telling me I could just come back another time ;). The dinner was great and the sunlit courtyard where we were dining was graced by a tinkling fountain. Neat!
  • I went aboard Ceili for a post-dinner drink and some conversation while we enjoyed the sunshine of late afternoon. Bill showed me his Canon 10x30 image stabilized binoculars. I was very impressed with the clarity of the optics and the performance of the image stabilization system. I had been considering buying a pair of Canon 12 x 36 IS binocs but had not done so until I got to try a pair. I really liked the size and light weight of the 10 x 30 and they are adequate to my needs.
  • I got to touch base with my family once back aboard Onward - then I crashed.

25 Nov 11; Friday; Cocoa to Vero Beach
  • Anchors aweigh at 0700. The sun was late coming out from behind the clouds and the wind was blowing >30 kts apparent. The Wabasso bridge had only a bit over 64' clearance. Other than that the journey down the Indian River was peaceful. I continue to be impressed with the array of beautiful homes that line the E shore in this area.
  • Along the way, I ordered a pair of the Canon 10 x 30 IS binocs from Amazon.
  • After the damage to Onward's hull first occurred, I'd asked for help from Ingred & Ron Libitsky and John MacDougal, two C470 owners in the Stuart area. They had given me a list of yards in the Ft. Pierce to Stuart area where I should;d be able to get the job done. So today I called the various yards to talk about costs and schedules for the repair. While I had not yet dived on the hull to see the extent of the damage myself, I thought it best to plans for the fact that it was not just a minor gelcoat / bottom paint scratch. I called Hinkley's yard in Stuart which I expected to be good but expensive but they were booked up for next week. I then contacted Cracker Boy Yacht Yard in Ft. Pierce which is a do-it-yourself-yard that would allow me to bring in an outside contractor or they could suggest a good local fiberglass repair person. They had openings next week so I told them I would visit them on Monday.
  • At the Vero Beach City Marina, Onward was vectored to mooring 33 that already had one boat on it. As I approached to raft up, I discovered that there was no one on the boat to help me. Then the wind gusts caused the boat to dance away. Meanwhile I had to avoid the day marker near the mooring while trying to corral the boat. Twice wind gusts pushed it toward Onward or Onward toward it at a bad angle and I had to do some fancy backing and thrusting to avoid an ugly situation - skills I wasn't aware I had. In a quite moment I was able to get my mid-ship line on the other boat. I then went forward to get a bow line on and, of course, the wind started moving us apart. I managed to grab the other boat and outlast the wind until I got a line aboard. A woman watching from the boat next to us gave me some encouragement as she watched the dance. About this time the owner of the other boat showed up and helped me run a line to the mooring. Next it was time to land Ceili alongside Onward - a job that went better than I though it would with the wind gusts. When both boats were secured, i called over to my new "friend" to say the show was over. She responded by holding up a score card giving me 61/2! Gotta get one of those! Next it was time for a drink!
  • Dinner was aboard Ceili: delicious lean pork chops and rice. I completed their initiation into cursing by introducing them to Farkle. It worked out in its usual weird way: I lead throughout until Linda hit a hot streak and went over 10000; then I got hot and topped her; then Bill coming from way behind built off my score with a hot throw and won!

26 Nov 11; Saturday; Vero Beach
  • Time to get the process of provisioning and boat systems checkout underway! One of the first items of the day was to pick up a rental car at Enterprise. As I walked in, the manager who has checked me in for the last 4 years walked in the back door dressed in shorts. It turned out he'd been promoted to a regional manager in Miami and had just come back to visit. He "celebrated" our chance reunion by checking me in yet again.
  • I spent most of the day updating the inventory of all the food and beverages aboard Onward. This included the always joyful experience of defrosting the freezer. It started out just peachy when I dropped a bottle of Pickapepper Sauce into the locker as I was inventorying the spices - what a mess. It was also interesting to observe foods bought "before" and "after" my cardio "experience". While I know I carry a lot of food aboard, I was surprised to find out just how much! I actually need to do much less provisioning than in the past. That said, we'll see if I manage to stifle my Italian genes and minimize shopping.
  • We celebrated the end of our first day at Vero by taking the dinghy over to the Riverside Cave, a waterside restaurant S of the bridge, where I had an excellent blackened grouper dinner.

27 Nov 11; Sunday; Vero Beach
  • As soon as the sun was up enough for it to be warm, I darned my wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel and made a dive to look at the damage to the bow. There were a couple of small gouges at the bow above the waterline. Then about six feet back from the bow on the centerline there was a patch about 12" in diameter where the outer few layers of fiberglass had been shaved back. The exposed hull looked fine. Having located the exact station of the damage with Bill's help, I then got out of my swim gear and then checked the inside of the hull at that location. The outside damage was at a station where the interior of the hull could be seen by opening the access port to the bow thruster and then using a mirror and my LED spotlight. The interior looked normal with no evidence of trauma. In any case, the damage called for a haul out in a yard and a professional fiberglass contractor to do the repair work. So I would go check out the yard in Ft. Pierce and then try to find a fiberglass repairer on Monday.
  • Today was the start of the great provisioning effort. We did a Sam's Club run and managed to fill up the trunk and half the backseat. Some folks do this by bus but I can't see how i would ever do it without a car to do the schlepping. Of course the real fun is ferrying all the stuff out to the boats by dinghy. We used both dinghies and this made it quicker. Then comes the unpacking and storage challenge. Oh joy.

28 Nov 11; Monday; Vero Beach
  • I had a restless night as my mind mulled over how to get the repairs made to Onwards hull. I got up early and sent an email off to Warren Pandy and Gerry Douglas at Catalina asking for suggestions on the repair and requesting information on the hull fiberglass layup. At about 0830 I was able to get Warren Pandy on the phone. He had received my email and was in the process of preparing the layup schedule to send to me. We talked about the damage and repair. He told me that Bill Reed, the contractor who does Catalina's warrantee work was now back at his home near the plant and might be available. What a fantastic piece of luck as I know Bill and his expertise. I immediately called Bill and arranged for him to drive over to the E coast and do the repair once I found a yard to do the haul. Warren also sent me the layup drawing.
  • Linda, Bill and I set off S to Ft. Pierce to do some shopping and to allow me to check out Cracker Boy Boat Yard. I found the yard to be well organized with plenty of space for boats to be hauled for do-it-your-self work. I made arrangements to haul Onward at 1300 on Wednesday and then made arrangements with Bill Reed to meet me there and do the work.
  • We did a lot of heavy shopping at West and then two liquor stores where will filled up on beer and boxed wines. I managed to find several boxes of malbec - my new favorite red wine. A revisit to Ted's liquor store in Ft. Pierce to get Goslings Black Seal rum enabled me to get a bunch more of the plastic netting bottle wraps that protect bottles and them quiet. I now have enough to cover all my wine and liquor bottles.

29 Nov 11; Tuesday; Vero Beach
  • Another shopping and sorting and storing day. My new image stabilized binocs arrived and I got to try em out. Neat! I am impressed about how well they work!

30 Nov 11; Wednesday;
  • Bill and I ran into town to get some filters and spares for our Yanmars. On return, Onward headed S to Ft. Pierce and its date with the yard. The transit was uneventful and at 1230 I maneuvered to back into the Cracker or Boy Boat Yard travel lift slip on Tracy Creek. There was a strong outflowing current that combined with the W wind to make backing in a real challenge. It took me 4 passes until I worked out how to play the current and wind. The 5th pass was a winner. Onward was soon out of the water. I passed up a power wash not to take off the ablative paint which was in good shape except for the waterline and the bottom of the keel.