Friday, June 12, 2009

More Boat Issues...I Guess Bad Luck Does Come in Threes!

A couple days ago we spent a relatively uneventful night anchored right off the ICW in Daytona Beach - other than the very tight anchorage which caused us to re-anchor three times so we didn't play footsie with September Song in the middle of the night and the thunderstorms that had us swinging 360 degrees on our anchor.... After that it calmed down a little and we had an amazing sunset!!

The next morning we set off bright and early for St. Augustine which should have been a pleasant, easy 50 mile run...and it was for the most part!

The trip up the ICW was really very pretty - we ran up the Halifax River and then through Palm Coast where our cruising friends Dan and Carol on Lucky Stars hail from and then up the Matanzas River and Creek. We saw some amazing wildlife in addition to the ever present dolphins (who I can never get enough of!!!) - white and blue herons, ibis, brown and white pelicans, osprey, a few hawks, and we even saw an amazing pink bird - it was flying so it wasn't a flamingo but I have no idea what it was!! Other than a few butthead sportsfishing boats and Sea Rays that waked us, we had a lovely cruise. And then we hit the outskirts of St. Augustine....which by the way is an absolutely beautiful city both by water and on land!!!
Blue Heron
Blue Heron
Pelican Party on the Sandbar
Ibis in the Tree

White Herons
White Heron
White Heron

Dolphin Watching Us
Dolphin Playing in Our Wake

The Bank of the ICW
Creek off ICW
Creek off ICW

We started to feel a slight vibration in our starboard engine so Doug went down to take a look at it but couldn't tell exactly what was going on - figuring that we were almost at our marina and could look at it then, we shouldered on. If you've never boated in or around St. Augustine, let me just tell you that the current just rips!!! We headed through the Bridge of Lions which is under construction and basically took the bridge sideways with the current - that was interesting - NOT!
St. Augustine
Bridge of Lions
But I could have lived with that...Next we headed over to our marina where we watched September Song almost swept into the bank with the current as they entered the marina entrance (once past a certain point the current is blocked but until that point, it sure looked like a doozy!!) Then it was our turn to head in - as we started to get swept by the current, we heard a loud bang and then the next thing we knew we had no starboard engine - it just died!!! Did I mention it was right as we were heading into the marina entrance which is a very narrow channel in the middle of the raging current??? OK - as we watched the boat swing 90 degrees of its own accord and head towards the shore, things weren't looking too good...but Doug was able to flip the boat another 90 degrees using our one engine and the bow thruster to head back out to the harbor. As we were in the middle of our nautical gymnastics, the marina called us to see if we were OK because they could see us and weren't sure what we were doing....just having fun I told them...what did they think we were doing????

Anyways we got back out into the harbor without hitting anything or going aground (which was no small feat I must say!!!!) and the marina sent out a little workboat to help us - now what is a 12 foot workboat with a 25 hp motor supposed to do with a 66,000 ton boat??? But the guy from the marina quickly realized that too and we called TowBoat US. They were 40 minutes away so we maneuvered our way out of the main channel and dropped our anchor to wait. Nothing else we could do...Of course while we were anchored, in roared, yup you guessed it, a sportfishing boat and came within 5 yards of us and waked us - huge!!! Gotta love 'em... TowBoat US finally arrived to help us get into the marina and as we started into the channel, the very same fishing boat was coming out of the marina channel and he stops mid-channel!! I swear I can't make this up - he sees us being towed in a very narrow channel and keeps coming at us - there's not room for two boats especially when one of us is being towed sideways!!! He didn't respond to the tow boat's radio call so I finally got on our hailer and told him to move his butt NOW!!!! Unbelievable!! Anyways, just then our bow thruster which we had been using to help maneuver gave out (it was just exhausted!) so we had to call the marina's work boat to come out fast to help turn us around - did I mention we were in the current again?? Finally we worked our way into the dock where it was really nice to see the friendly faces of Stephanie and Bob there to help us get the boat tied up. YIKES - what an afternoon!!!

Once we were secure we had a couple coldies - and then a few more over on September Song - they even broke out the good beer for us Heineken!!! We talked to the guys at the boat yard and luckily they didn't think it was a going to be a huge deal to fix - I'll believe it when it's over! They had to order a couple parts and would start work as soon as the parts came in (which is supposed to be today so here's hoping!!) After that there was nothing to do but go explore and have a nice dinner to try and relax a little. We borrowed the marina's courtesy car (how kewl is that??) and drove over to the St Augustine beach - not much happening there so we headed back into the old part of the city where we parked and walked around to scope out a funky place to eat. We wound up at the Acapulco, a fairly authentic Mexican joint with great salsa, drinks and food!
Dinner at the Acapulco
Despite searching high and low for an ice cream place that was still open that night for desert, we were skunked. Better luck tomorrow...

The next day we spent the morning working with the boat yard to figure out how to fix the engine and then we rented a car with September Song and went to visit our "homes"!!! All our mail gets sent to 411 Walnut Street c/o St Brendan's Isle and we are registered FL voters!!! - so we headed over to Green Cove Springs to pick up mail and see our condos (really just mail boxes but heh condos sounds better)!!
Doug and Tammy's Condo!!
Ours is on the seventh floor while Big Boat Bob's is on the 9th (of course!) After that we meandered back stopping at farm stands and marine stores along the way. For a late happy hour we came back to the restaurant at the marina where we had free drink coupons (YEAH!) and had a great early supper while listening to some pretty decent live music.
Dinner at the Kingfisher
The drinks left something to be desired (except for my key lime pie martini - the first martini I've had since we left last August - I know, can you believe it!!!) so we retired to the flybridge of Gypsies where we had real drinks and listened to our musician friend from Key West, Scott Kirby, via ipod until well after the sun had set!!!
Bob and Stephanie on Gypsies in the Palace

Today has been a work day - Doug in the engine room and me around the boat doing laundry and going grocery shopping while we still had the car - it is so weird to be in a "real grocery store" after spending so much time in the Bahamas where what you could purchase usually depended on what had come in by mail boat that week (if the mail boat had actually arrived!) The selection is nice to have again but I sure loved the Bahamian vibe and the friendliness of the Bahamian people - I miss that - LOTS!!! The guys are supposed to be here shortly to fix the engine so keep your fingers crossed and we'll keep you posted!!

PS - Puss and Boots continue to do great - they love it now that we are traveling on the Ditch - it's usually nice and calm so they can take long naps while we are underway!! We haven't told them yet that assuming the work gets done on the boat today (the workmen are over an hour late which is not a good sign...), we are hoping to head outside tomorrow to fish on the way up to Fernandina.....
Bootsie sleeps in the pilothouse
Puss demands treats!

Click here to see a Google map of our location in St. Augustine

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