Monday, January 17, 2011

3rd Year: Charleston & Jacksonville Nov 2010 - Jan 2011

November 18, 2010  Charleston, SC
Our luck ran out.  Remember my comments  about how difficult the Charleston Marinas are to enter or depart unless one is underway during slack tide?  Some pay no attention to the warnings; some are ignorant altogether; some think their skill sets are great  and some just 'lose it' when underway and the going gets tough.

Early in the morning, hearing a bow thruster cycle on/off/on/on/on,  Andy & I hopped off the couch, coffee cups in hand, to watch the potential show.  Any boat with bow thruster blasting within these finger piers in a full bore current with wind blowing at a good clip has got to be exciting to watch.
OMG -- the 46' Nordhaven “More Water” owned by Richard Spooner in front of us had decided to depart , backing into the waterway between the finger piers just off us.  Moving slowly backward, the current caught him, overpowering his bow thruster and moving the entire boat sideways, crashing him into two docked sailboats.  Now frantically trying to get out of there, the guy gave it full throttle forward.  Unfortunately, all he managed to do was slam harder into the two sailboats AGAIN this time really ripping into them.  Bow pointed into the space along the T dock he'd just departed from,  and right in front of us, he aimed for the dock, T boning it, bouncing somewhat off and now slamming into us at our bow and anchor and starboard side.

By now, Andy & I were on the deck, still dressed in our PJs watching the show and dodging when the Nordhaven loomed over us at the bow.  Our 80 lb. Rocnar anchor caught on the Nordhaven's port side window, I think scratching all the way across and hooking into the lip of the window.  I don't know how much damage that caused.  He finally got himself unhooked from our anchor, got his boat turned around and took off.

All of us along the docks assumed he was getting into the harbor to stand off or tie along the outside dock where manuvering would be easier & that he would come back to discuss the accident and damages.  No such thing!  That Nordhaven TOOK OFF as fast as it would go outta Charleston!!  I took off for the dock master office while Andy & others were on VHF to the Coast Guard.  Long story short, the guy did finally call the Marina leaving his phone # and telling the dock master to have the boaters send him pictures of any damage and he'd deal with it.  Yeah.  He said he had a schedule to keep.  Arrogant bugger.   A boater and a dock hand took off in a dink after the Nordhaven and finally, after 3 miles of chasing, got the guy to stop and allow them to take a cell phone picture of his insurance policy which they promptly shared with all who had damage.

I was the first to call it in to the insurance company, Travelers,  and they were super.  They had a surveyor out to all 3 boats SAME DAY.  The marine police caught up to us the next day for our story.  Very professionally handled, except for the Nordhaven owner who apparently didn't want to 'man up'.  I suspect he'll see quite an increase next year on his premium, especially after so many complained to his insurance company about his behavior.

We all are aware any one of us could find ourselves in a bad situation like he did, but his behavior left a lot to be desired.  He can't be ticketed for anything per the police as he did CALL in to the marina and 'owe' up....  Try that crap in an automobile!  It's called leaving the scene of an accident.

By the way, the damage was in the 10's of thousands of dollars to the sailboats; steering, rudder destroyed; mast bent in half; mizen busted and on and on.  Us, lucky.  Anchor shackle might be compromised so will be replaced and the paint touched up.  If you recall, we just spent $800++ repairing in the same place.  We were hit last year by a boat departing Beaufort, NC next to us who hit us.  We thought no damage, but later the anchor/bow area pulled away; we had trouble with the shackle which we replaced and some other stuff.  I won't sign the insurance check from his company until we've had time to use the anchor a few times -- which won't really be til we head for FL in January....

Thanksgiving Week       Saturday, November 20 thru Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving at the Beach

Off the boat, driving to Clearwater, FL, our former hometown where I've rented a 3 bedroom condo  for a week's stay at the beach.  We had a wonderful time with my 88 year old Mom along with Leslie & Stacey in the condo.   Lindsay & Walker and the two kids, Pickett age 2 and baby Makenna, age 6 months spent lots of time with us and Pickett had a sleep over at least twice.  Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner in the condo was pretty easy with all the helping hands and especially since Walker fried the turkey at his house before coming over!  We also had fun catching up with lots of the Larrison relatives in town and the younger set of the Larrison little kids swimming in the condo pool and playing in the sand.

December 2010
We decided to stay another month here at Ashley Marina as we've not nearly gotten a 'grandkid fix'. 
RobertE & Riley

Riley, our drama queen

Basketball games, school plays, Christmas activities and decorating the tree keep us busy with Robert E and Riley, as do their sleep overs on the boat so we can keep playing long and hard.

Ah, such fun.

We will pull out right after the first of the year for Jacksonville Beach.  We'll spend about 3-4 weeks there visiting my Mom and sister and driving over to see Lindsay and the grandkids, Pickett & Makenna, in Clearwater from time to time.

Wednesday, January 12 through Monday, January 17, 2011
Charleston, SC to Jacksonville Beach, FL

The whirlwind two months at the dock at Ashley Marina in Charleston, SC, have ended.  Two months of land travel to and from FL to visit family and friends; celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas; too many dental and doctor appointments to count and way too much COLD weather no matter where we went!!  Ah but we love the city of Charleston with its historic buildings, the easy walk-about access to everything and especially the fact that Leslie and the kids are right here, two miles away downtown.

A lot of time was spent with friends and family while here which was wonderful!  Add to the mix new friends we made while at the dock and we certainly stayed too busy.  My cousin, Sally, and her family had just moved to Summerville, a nearby ‘suburb’ of Charleston so we were able to reconnect several times.  
My cousin, Sally Devers Humphries

RobertE, Riley, Sharon, Sally & Randy

Leslie, Sharon, Jimmy & Sally

A quick trip to Nichols, SC,  three hours away, reconnected me with another cousin, Jimmy, (Sally’s brother) & his wife, Sarah Anne.  How wonderful that was!  Sally & Jimmy are among the 23 FIRST cousins I have from my Mom’s side! 

 Returning from FL to the dock after granddaughter Makenna’s christening on Sunday, January 9, we found it just too cold and gray to pull out as planned.  With winds and temps in the low 20’s we preferred to hunker down, grab a book and rest up til Wednesday when the sun began to shine.

Look at Makenna's christening gown  and bonnet - hand made with beautiful lace and linen!  Her Grandmother Lucy made it.  An absolute treasure!
Sharon & Granddaughter Makenna

Sun shining but bitter cold, off we went early Wednesday morning, headed to Jacksonville Beach to spend a few weeks at Beach Marine, visiting with my Mom and sister, Anne, before pulling out for the Caribbean.  Brrrr, why every year for 3 years in a row do we hit this bitter cold while underway from Charleston.  Think we would learn to depart much sooner!!   Nah, the lure of the two grandkids in Charleston keeps us at the dock but this cold is awful.

Dressed in two pairs of wool socks, two wool hats; two pairs of gloves; fleece pants, turtleneck and a thick fleece shirt, PLUS my wool coat with hood pulled up, all tied down with a scarf, I braved the elements while Andy got the fly bridge ready.  The lines were hard to undo as they were looping nor putting these away!  The deck of our boat was coated with frost and ice at 8:00 AM so making my way forward was scary to say the least.  Clinging to the rail with one hand I’d finally manage to untie a line, then move on to the next one.

Anchoring off Beaufort, SC, that afternoon about 4:00 PM, after an uneventful, but COLD run down, we were glad to head into the saloon from the fly bridge.  Yes, we can pilot the boat from below, but don’t like to as we see much better from up top.  As long as there is sun shining thru the isenglass we stay somewhat warm but cold is still cold.

Thursday and Friday were uneventful cruising days, hunkered down on the fly bridge, wearing the same outfit every day.  I look like a roly poly person with all the stuff on and feel so constricted.   Another memory of why I don’t like the northern climates!!   We dropped anchor Thursday about 4:00  in Buckhead Creek (MM608.6) in GA, one of the numerous lovely anchorages along the way. The wind stopped blowing and the cold clear sky was beautiful.

Friday night found us at anchor in another of my favorite places, Ft. Frederica on the Frederica River (MM665.7).  On our way north this year in the early summer, I actually slept on the fly bridge, while anchored here,  listening to the dolphin feeding and blowing all around the boat.  This time I never even stuck my nose out it was so cold.

Ugh, pulling the anchor on Friday morning was tough, with ice coating everything.  I was very afraid I was going to slip and fall!  The forward water pump would not turn on (figure it or something was frozen) but luck was with us and the anchor chain came up clean.  The anchor, full of mud, was easy to dunk and clean.  While I struggled with a lot of that, Andy was on the fly bridge with my hairdryer, heating the ice off the isenglass windows so we could see out.  Amazing.

Cruising into South GA toward FL on Friday, January 15, gave us a break in the weather with the sun shining and temps rising.  What a relief to shed some of the layers of clothing!  The south GA flatlands gave us trouble again with all the shoaling.  In spite of following the markers and reading the most recent updates on Active Captain, we managed to go aground -- as did the next 3 boats behind us, in spite of us giving them the info about the shoal.  It was ALL shoaled over.  On a rising tide, we floated off after a brief time, as did the other boats, one of which only had 3’ of draft  BAD place!  We hit yet another shoal just a few miles further down and had to get Boat US to pull us off this one.  Boat US said the area was now very bad as a storm had come thru, making some big sand pile shoals that no one knew about.  There is a hue and cry to have a couple of red nuns placed in these areas as so many are running aground.   No damage done (except to our pride), we made it to Jacksonville Beach at 5:00 PM, with plans to stay for 2 - 3 weeks.

Amazingly, only 3 days underway.  It generally takes us 5 days.  The cold motivated us to 'get there' and we obviously did not dink into any of the great little towns along the route!

At 8:00 PM that night, daughter Lindsay, husband Walker, and grandkids Pickett age 2 and baby Makenna, 7 months, arrived for the weekend.  Cold and rainy the entire time, we still managed to have a good time and also to catch up with Mom, their grandmother and great-grandmother.

The baby sleeps in a portable crib in the saloon as it is too big to fit anywhere else.  Like her brother at that age on the boat, she sleeps like a log with us all in the saloon eating, drinking, talking, laughing and watching TV.  Pickett slept on an air mattress on the floor in our stateroom and that worked....he is too small and it is a long long fall down from the boat beds, so the floor is much safer for him.

We are so vigilant, but these kids are quick!  The baby is now in the slither on her tummy stage and Pickett’s little fingers are lightening quick!  We keep the doors locked to each stateroom and the outer door as the kids could easily fall down the steep stairs into each of those cabins.  The vision of a tumble down those stairs keeps my hair standing straight up.  Ah, well.

The kids left on Monday afternoon about 4:00 and the boat became much too quiet.  However, these grandparents were worn out and tumbled into bed early.  God is smart to give young kids to young parents!  Phew!

January 17, 2011
It’s been a great month in Jacksonville Beach, docked at Beach Marina -- except for the cold and more cold, rainy, blowing weather that plagued us the entire time.  Only once were we able to wash (barely!) the boat off as it was way to cold to get wet!  We spent our days catching up with family and friends in the area, including former Novartis colleagues for me (Matt & Clint & their families); playing bridge and bingo at the local Senior Center with my Mom and in general, catching up with overdue paperwork, etc.

A highlight is that I’ve gotten back into playing bridge and little by little the ‘rules’ come back to me.  Those Seniors (of which I am pretty much one!) are very sharp players and I agreed to play ONLY if they needed me to make a 4th -- otherwise, I prefer to watch and peek at the various hands and figure out why what is being played.  Ah, now back on the water -- playing bridge is not something that has ever come up in conversations among boaters.  I guess I’ll lose my newly found skill sets yet again!

Pickett, Sharon & Makenna in St. Augustine
A round trip BACK to Charleston via auto to finish up some dental work and to grab one more day with RobertE and Riley and Leslie before we pull out was another highlight of the month in Jacksonville, as was Lindsay’s ‘girl trip’ by herself and the two grandchildren to visit us again on the boat for a weekend.  She & I, with Pickett & Makenna, took a little side trip to St. Augustine for the day, wandering the old streets and just chilling out....on one of the only sunny days we had!!  Pickett now calls me “Boat Grammie”, I guess to differentiate me from his other ‘Grammie” Lucy.  Funny.

Based on a recommendation from another boater, we joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary while here.  In a whirlwind of activity, Andy & I attended an Auxiliary meeting, meeting many members and getting answers to many of our questions.  We filled out reams of paperwork; studied and took a very long test regarding the USCG and its history and mission, etc.; got fingerprinted and are currently awaiting the security clearance.  After all, once approved, we will be part of US Homeland Security.  I was amazed at how organized the Auxiliary is and how much like the military it is.  I very much look forward to ‘paying it forward’ over time and hope that Andy & I can bring value to others learning to boat and to the Auxiliary.  
Hopefully, while in the Caribbean over the next couple of years we can take various classes and tests via the internet; gain some certificates and perhaps get involved in the Auxiliary while in US Virgin Islands.

The USCG Auxiliary flag

We’ll fly the USCG Auxiliary Flag from our bow as soon as we are cleared (the USCG also inspected our boat during this whirlwind time so we are eligible to fly their flag).  We are hopeful that by flying the Auxiliary flag that anyone in the Islands that has less than honorable intentions as they begin to board our boat will see the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary emblem and words and think again --- leaving us alone.