Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Always Something

Just like Rosanne Rosannadanna said.

With our clean boat bottom and new fuel filters on the two diesel engines, we traveled over 60 miles on Monday. All day long, Phil kept saying, "Something's going to break." But nothing broke on Monday. We found a nice anchorage Monday evening near a bridge at Daytona Beach and enjoyed another beautiful sunset and a quiet night.

Tuesday morning, we were up and ready for an early start, planning on another 60 miles. Phil started the engines. Both started, but a warning light came on at the port engine ignition, followed by an ear-piercing squeal, designed to make sure you didn't ignore the warning light.

The problem appeared to be a worn-out fan belt on the internal cooling system. My husband, who used to be a lawyer but is quickly becoming a diesel mechanic, had a replacement belt on hand and within a couple of hours had fixed the problem.

As Rosanne said, it's always something. So much for the early start.

We raised the anchor and decided on the spur of the moment to top off the fuel tanks at a marina across the channel. I'm proud to say I steered the boat gently along side the dock (Phil gave me a grade of eight out of 10 points). We pumped 24 gallons of diesel into the tank and filled our water tank as well.

My exit from the dock wasn't so successful. I made a sharp right turn to leave the dock and return to the channel, but about 50 feet into my turn, there was a dull thud and the boat came to a halt. We were aground.

I called the dockmaster, who had gone back to his office. He said, "Oh, did you hit that oyster bar?" I thought oyster bars were places you went for appetizers and drinks.

No amount of gunning the engines would move the boat, so the dockmaster and two burley helpers came down to assist. Phil got in the dinghy and took them a line. The three men pulled and pulled and finally we were free.

Our early start became a noon start. We headed south and began checking our charts and listening to the VHF. The Coast Guard was issuing a warning that a bridge a few miles south would be closed for repairs until 5:00 p.m.

It's always something.

We found an anchorage a couple of miles from the bridge and settled in for the wait. It was quiet and peaceful, with lots of dolphin and bird activity. Phil explored a nearby beach in the dinghy, while I updated our log and took a shower.

We got to the bridge for the 5:00 p.m. opening, along with three other sail boats, a large commercial fishing boat and a huge barge. We all lined up and, when the bridge opened, we went through one by one. We were fortunate to find an anchorage about a mile south of the bridge, just as the sun went down.

Another quiet night. We kept reminding ourselves that we're not on any schedule. That makes it so much easier when we are faced with delays. Our only goal is to get to where the butter melts. We are getting closer each day.

Today has been interesting scenery and beautiful weather. The morning was a bit windy, but it was a warm wind. The afternoon was perfect. We anchored about 3:00 p.m. at Titusville.

The Intracoastal Waterway has changed over the last few days from marshland to mangrove islands. We travel for miles through densely populated areas with beautiful homes, then we have a few miles of wilderness, then more homes, each with a jetty jutting far out into the waterway.

Waterfowl, dolphins and manatees are everywhere. As we motored this afternoon, we came upon a gathering of thousands of ducks, cormorants, pelicans, egrets and gulls. They were floating, flying and diving into the water, directly in the path of our boat. As we approached, I worried that they couldn't all get out of the way, but one by one they scattered as we approached, gathering again behind the boat. It reminded me of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."

We are having the time of our lives. We are learning things each day. Even the problems turn out to be learning experiences.

As Rosanne says, "It's always something." That's not really so bad.

*Note to my brother Allen: Yes, those red and white things hanging behind Phil in the picture might look like bikinis to you, but they are the lines (ropes) that raise the sails. Sorry.

**Note to Terry B. and Mike (who work with our son, Matt): If we can do this, you can do this. Glad you are reading our blog.

***The picture above is one of the bascule (draw) bridges, opening to let us through. When you approach a bascule bridge, you hail the bridge tender on the VHF and request an opening. The tender stops the traffic and raises the bridge, trying to time it so traffic is interrupted for the shortest amount of time. We heard a story of a bridge tender lowering the bridge before a sailboat made it all the way through, coming down on the mast and driving it through the bottom of the boat.

It's always something.


Earl & Barb said...

Hi Margaret & Phil,

I saw your blog address in the infamous Daily Journal!! My husband, Earl, and I are enjoying reading your blogs. This has always been a "dream" of ours to do what the two of you are experiencing.

Margaret, Earl says you are an excellent writer.

Keep up the great work!!

Barb Robison (Sanitation Billing Office)

cruser54 said...

Hi!I am married to Mark, son of Ruth Arvin Cruse. Ruth gets a real kick out of reading about your adventures and especially Phil's new found skills. All of us here wish we were there. Look forward to reading the next chapter of your fabulous adventure.