Happy New Year!
I awoke to a brisk 48 degrees inside of Cat Maudy. Soxy was glued to me under the covers and it was obvious that we had not yet reached “the south”.
Today would be a full day of motoring on the ICW, with many 65′ fixed bridges to navigate under. Rumor has it, that the water levels are up. In addition, the state of Florida has “adjusted” some of the bridge water markers to reflect the low hanging LIGHT instead of the fixed bridge height. Thus, you wouldn’t know if the marker was for the fixed bridge…or the low hanging light.
Cat Maudy needs 63’8″ to navigate under the bridges and clear the mast. I dusted off my digital Stanley “measure stick” and began practicing to hit distances 60+ feet above me. We need an accurate read on the bridges to assess if there was sufficient height for clearance.
The first fixed bridge of the day — we came upon nearly at high tide. Pat navigated slowly under the bridge allowing me to do my belly-flop on the bow, and press the “measure” button on Stanley until I could get a read. Luck was in our favor! I got 2 reads on the bridge — both at 62′. Add approximately 4 feet for the bow above the water line — and this gives us 66′ clearance. 2 full feet of glorious room to spare. It was a good start to our day — and we easily cruised under this bridge.
The 2nd bridge we came to — was at lower tide — should be easy to get under eh? Same routine, Captain Pat inched us up to the bridge – and my first read shows 60′. AIIIIIII! My second read – confirms 60′ feet of clearance. Add this to our 4′ from the bow line….and we’ve only got a few INCHES to clear. OMG.
Our travel mates Rick & Linda on MakeItSo – decided to give it a try. I cringed as I watched their mast BARELY clear. This would be painful. With a huge leap of faith, and cheers from the fishermen along the banks near the bridge….Cat Maudy – with only inches to spare…made it under this bridge. My body began to ache from the stress. Hopefully the remaining 7 fixed bridges we would navigate under….would not be this painful.
At this point, MakeItSo takes the lead under the fixed bridges – and we calibrated the remaining bridges based on the clearance that MakeItSo achieved. One bridge was marked as 63 feet — tho actually it had more like 66 feet of clearance. Another was marked at 64 feet….and by now Pat and I were complete basket cases of nerves.
There must be A LOT of car traffic in Daytona FL. Bridges are constructed everywhere.– connecting the mainland to the barrier island. In approximately 5 miles, we encountered 6 fixed bridges. Most of the bridges were excruciating close encounters. My thoughts are focused on getting south of Daytona — so that we would be done with fixed bridges on our travels to Cape Canaveral. Just one more bridge to go.
But wait! We’re being chased by the boat Sheriff! And, this is not just the “Sheriff”….it’s the POO police! Yep, they boarded our boat – to inspect our toilets….to make sure that “bad stuff” did not escape into the waterways. The POO police dropped bright yellow dye into the toilet…and then flushed away. In true Cat Maudy always-in-need-of-repairs form, …the toilet with the fresh dye overflowed all over INSIDE of our boat — spilling the dye everywhere. Oops. Minor detail. I forgot to tell the Sheriff that head doesn’t work.
So, you’re wondering “what about the other working head?” YES, of course we are compliant with POO rules! No yellow dye escaped into the water. By now, Soxy was meowing wildly. Who was this sheriff intruder? If he wants to inspect POO — Soxy has a lovely litter box to demo. Just please keep the dye away thank you. We said goodbye to the friendly poo police in Daytona…..there would be no fining Cat Maudy today. Just another toilet to fix.
Gradually, the currents in the ICW began working against us, and our motoring speeds slowed. We would not make it to our destination at Titusville FL. Instead, we would anchor at Mosquito Lagoon for the night – and enjoy temperatures in the upper 50’s.
Here’s what I learned from our fishing friends:
– you can keep 15 sheepshead per person per day. That’s a lotto fish!
– the bait is an itsy bitsy crab thing
– chum by scraping off the barnacles near a dock or bridge piling
– then add some broken up mussels to add to the chum flavor
– put your hook down…and start reelin‘ em in!
The H&S fishing team caught 24 fish that day….just 6 short of their daily limit for 2 people. And, not only did they donate 2 of these fish to us….but took the time to show us how to fillet them! Thanks Shawn & Holland….our fresh sheepshead fish dinner was truly divine!
Christmas Eve at the Pizzeria and Christmas day at the Columbia Restaurant in historic St. Augustine – with CAT mates Rick & Linda (MakeItSo), Larry & Karen (Chateau sur la Mer), Shelly and Lynn (Anythings Pawsible).
Christmas nite? Listened to live jazz cuban music, shared more yachtie yachta stories about places we’ve been, cheap marinas, expensive marinas, the desire to travel to cuba, and yes indeedie – that darn salsa dancing is harder than you think! Soon we’ll be departing our separate ways, with new cruising destinations…and surely to meet up again.
5:30AM, on December, 22, (the day after solstice, and the second shortest daylight hour day), a convoy of 3 catamarans departed the Charleston Harbor in SC. The temperatures were a balmy 45 degrees, and light winds. After waiting dockside for 6 weeks due to a series of excuses such as: work, inertia, flu, boat repairs, convoy coordination, cold weather, too windy weather and more — the conditions were finally “perfect” – from my standpoint. Lite winds…cold, but not freezing…and 3 catamarans ready to go.
Rick and Linda’s catamaran MakeItSo won the prize for the most boat repairs in a 48 hour period (AIS, navigation lights and a brand new battery charger installed only 12 hours earlier, and countless reboots to see if anything would improve). Our boat, Cat Maudy took a very close second place award, with it’s ongoing rudder mal-alignment issue, and sails that require a crew of 5 to hoist. Larry and Karen’s boat Chateau sur la Mer, was short on diesel and running on fumes (without wind and the use of sails), but Karen skillfully cooked up bean soup to the rescue! Yes, the conditions were perfect for a 200 mile offshore overnight cruise!
Jane’s Boat logs:
12.22 8AM Conditions Calm & Lumpy – I can live with this
12.22 10AM MakeItSo hugs shoreline for Internet connection. I aim for MakeItSo.
12.22 11AM No seas at all – lovely!! Metabolism is in overdrive. Eating every 2 hours. Maybe this is nothing new?..I suppose I normally eat every 2 hours…12.22 1PM Pat wants to hoist the main. I need to workout more. Sail is too big. I insist on 1 reef – you never know when big winds suddenly appear.
12.22 2PM lite air – thank u jesus
12.22 3PM steering problems. I have to tether on the port pulpit…and dangle over the rudder to release the hydraulics. Joy! What’s with this POS rudder?
12.22 6PM last stitch of twilight. Visibility nil. Stars and moonlite. I hope our radar works. Soxy is not herself. I have to hold her a lot.
12.22 10PM Pat sleeps. I head the boat toward shore.
12.23 midnite Cat Maudy and MakeItSo share radar, navigation and AIS info. What a wonderful world
12.23 1AM What’s up with these freak’in rudders? I get to dangle over the port pulpit again. I hope Jaws isn’t waiting for me.
12.23 3AM Pat sleeps. La la la….all is good. HOLY SH*# there is a huge freighter directly in front of me!!!!!!!! Take evasive maneuvers. I’m wide awake now. Can’t wait for daylight
12.23 4AM A little breeze is appearing. Hope it stays little. Why is the air from the south? Soxy is not eating.
12.23 6AM daylite cannot come soon enuf. We’re getting winds from the East. It’s supposto be from the north. Wrong again!
12.23 8AM little itsy bitsy breeze is causing the seas to act up? Getting lumpy.
12.23 10AM Pat is diggin’ the breeze. Down to 1 engine, motor sailing at 7.5 knots. It’s actually OK. As long as it doesn’t get feisty.
12.23 1PM We approach St. Augustine inlet. I bring down the main. It’s a monster…takes forever allowing me to bounce around and try to hang on. Oh yeah, I get to dangle over the rudder again. We need steering to get thru the inlet.
12.23 2PM Soxy is no longer talking to us. I’m guessing motion sickness.
12.23 6PM Soxy is back to being our pal
Pat’s Boat Logs
12.22 10AM Karen makes bean soup for Larry. Suddenly, they are catching air! Head out further from shore.
12.22 12PM Busted No wind. 1 engine (starboard) to save fuel.
12.22 1PM Radio communication w/Larry down and back w/Rick. Hoisted Main. Waiting for wind
12.22 3PM steering problems persist. I recalibrate from the helm.
12.22 5PM Larry sleeps. Too much bean soup.
12.22 8PM Jane sleeps. I head Cat Maudy out away from shore.
12.23 1AM recalibrate the rudders every 2 hours now. Steering is bad.
12.23 3AM Jane wakes me up and is fussing about a freighter. Yep, she almost hits it.
12.23 5AM Jane makes me a grilled cheese ‘sammie. 5knots apparent from the east. Hope to unfurl the jib by dawn.
12.23 7AM Unfurl the jib – we are now motor sailing. Hoping for more wind.
12.23 2PM Wait 30 min for the Bridge of Lions to open. Our marina is on the other side of the bridge
12.23 3PM Secured at dock.
Northwest winds did not exist, and any winds were from the south. This provided the benefit of warmer weather, along with the accompanying concern that the forecasters got this one completely wrong. North west winds should clock to North…then North East….but southerly winds (albeit very light) should not have been in our weather window. And why were they clocking east? I could see the potential for big seas erupting. But, they didn’t. At least until after we arrived at St. Augustine.
As cruisers arrived at the Charleston Maritime Center – Dockmaster Bob generously volunteered to OPEN the KITCHEN doors and the adjacent conference room to cruisers for a Thanksgiving feast. Living on a boat, I have learned to cook with a single propane cooktop burner – which basically means I skip the cooking notion altogether and just make salads. Now, a REAL kitchen means microwave open, a real oven that you can fit more than a fistful of food, larger than human sized refridgeration and a sink with running hot water. Thanksgiving can’t come soon enough!
What began as a carefully choreographed meal plan for 8 – quickly morphed into a free-for-all mealplan to feed 28. Nobody knew what food choices were being selected for the pot-luck dinner – but with a full sized kitchen, and a bunch of hungry cruisers, it was destined to be a feast. The traditional turkey and ham, was supplimented by even more turkey…a pork tenderloin…Bob’s special Fish Stew – and an assortment of side dishes with enough food to feed a crew of 50!
There were no shortages of dessert – from apple pie, cherry pie, pecan pie, chocolate cake, cranberry pie and key lime pie to name a few. Bellies were full, waistlines expanding and the atmosphere was filled with delightful chatter, talk of next port destinations and of course, boat repairs! Thanksgiving in Charleston – cruiser style!
Busy with client work, sailing Cat Maudy out of Charleston is delayed – until after December 1. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t spend some time capturing local flavor. My Charleston tours are more like an exercise jaunt around the tip of the Charleston SC peninsula. Notable sights include: