Category Archives: 2009 Adventures

ICW, Mosquito Lagoon to Titusville

It’s hard to describe the tranquility at Mosquito Lagoon. With winter temperatures in the 50’s — there were no mosquitoes here! This area is a vast body of shallow water, in between the barrier island and the mainland in central Florida. Utterly peaceful, quiet and undisturbed views abound.
There is no shortage of dolphins, pelicans – and an underwater world that I can only “guess” at beneath the surface. Manatees? We’ve seen plenty of signs about the manatees – but have yet to see any.
By 7:30AM, Cat Maudy & MakeItSo brought up anchors…and began travels south on the ICW. Today’s destination would be Titusville FL (for us), and Cocoa Beach (for MakeItSo). If we weren’t so stressed about the fixed bridges (3 in Cocoa Beach) – we would be joining our travel mates for New Year’s Eve celebration in Cocoa. But alas, we would end 2009 at Titusville – and see what this town has to offer.
The marina staff located us on the “Party Dock” (the E Dock). Pilings are decorated in Christmas paper, and boats are glowing in Christmas lights. It appears that happy hour has already started (well before noon!) – and the folks are super friendly. I hope the party dock won’t be too disappointed when I become drowsy around 8PM.

Pat and I immediately took off to explore the “town”. Titusville is quaint, small – and offers a coffee and gourmet chocolate shop (which also serves lunch)– so I can’t imagine what else is necessary here? Lunch menu includes vegetarian foods. Life is VERY good.
Later that day – we ventured into the closest supermarket – called the “SAVE A-LOT”. The prices are UNHEARD of. It’s as if I hopped a ride to the past (30 years ago). Pasta….30 cents a box. Bread….89 cents. Cat food….cans the size for dogs…and 4 for a dollar. There will be much time spent at the SAVE A LOT as we provision up for the next 30 days!
Apparently the manatees hover in the marina where we are docked. Unfortunately, 2 days before our arrival…they left…and headed south. I think the manatees have the right idea. Temperatures in the next few days will be in the 30’s at night. C’mon Florida — give a girl a little heat OK?

Happy New Year!

ICW, bridge drama and the poo police

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.

Heat seeking sailors…

37 degrees in St. Augustine FL? I had to look twice at the thermometer just to be sure. It couldn’t possibly be 37 degrees — after all, we are in FLORIDA! But, we are still too far NORTH. And, as much as St. Augustine is a very cool place to hang….it’s just not cool at these temperatures.

After multiple conversations with our travel mates Rick and Linda on catamaran MakeItSo, we abandoned the notion to sail offshore in these temperatures. It looks like we’ll be staying in St. Augustine til after New Years. But wait…after checking the weather for Jan 1….it is forecasted to be even COLDER than today. Time for a new plan….

The dreaded ICW is now the option of choice. Instead of waiting 4-5 days for the next blast of northerly winds, in 2 1/2 days, we could be in Cocoa Beach…further south….with more heat. This would make it far more palitable when sailing offshore when that next northerly wind window appears. The plan? Day 1 would be a very short hop. 14 miles on the ICW – til we reach our anchorage near the Matanzas Inlet. Day 2 plan….somewhere south of Daytona Beach….and New Years Eve – in Cocoa Beach. Let the warming begin.

Cat Maudy gets her "steering on"!

The port side rudder was LOCKED into place. It would not turn – making steering Cat Maudy a challenge. So when we paid a visit to the St. Augustine Marine Center – (who were short on staff due to the December holidays) – we weren’t sure what to expect. Would Cat Maudy need to wait a week to get hauled out for rudder repairs? Could the rudder be repaired with Cat Maudy in the water by the skeleton staff?

To our amazement, the moment we arrived at dock – we were greeted by a team of repair specialists — who immediately determined that (a) they could repair the rudder without removing Cat Maudy from the water and (b) they would assign Ronnie to work on it right away. Talk about SERVICE!!!

Ronnie and Pat wrestled the rudder off the boat….and wheeled it to the Shop for repairs. The rudder was lifted, so that the shaft could rest on a vice grip….while the bearings and rudder could be dismantled. The end result? The shaft was not bent….the bearings were fine….but the aluminum shaft had corroded around the bearing….causing it to expand and exert pressure on the bearing…and locking up the ability to turn the rudder. Sheezz….a lot of details. I need to go for some exercise.
By 4PM (6 hours after we arrived)…the shaft had been cleansed of corrosive pixie dust, barrier goo applied to prevent further corrosion, the rudder assembly restored and returned back onto the boat. Cat Maudy has steering again!!!! Many thanks to the staff at the St. Augustine Marine Center. You guys rock!

The Sheepshead are biting!

Our new found fishermen buddies Holland and Shawn found some of the best fishing grounds inside of the St. Augustine Inlet, and only a few yards away from Cat Maudy. Naturally I cheered like a wild woman when Holland caught his first Sheepshead fish (the fish that have human like teeth). Sssshhhhhh. Cheering for a fisherman would be “incorrect”. No need to attract OTHER fisherman to this hotspot – so I promised to keep the commotion down when the next fish was caught.

Time to buy my Florida fishing license. I imagined fresh catch for dinner every night. Perhaps, I wouldn’t know what to do if I were to catch a fish….wouldn’t know how to kill it….and surely wouldn’t know how to fillet it. But those are details that can be dealt with another day.

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-time in St. Augustine FL

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).

The jammin’ and Christmas sounds of St. Augustine made for a festive atmosphere as we took a break from thinking about boat repairs and how to pay for them!

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.

There is a HUGE freighter directly in front of me!!!

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.

32 hours later, we arrived at St. Augustine, FL and successfully avoided mating Right whales, and becoming bowsprits on incoming freighters at the St. Simon Inlet. Even with starlit nighttime skies, and radar hinting that a “blip” might be important, you just can’t see a thing in the dark. Including inbound freighters at the St. Simon inlet.

At the end? 3 catamarans…intact, Boat repair list…expanding. 6 crew members….exhausted. And more cruising stories to tell. It was time to make plans to celebrate Christmas, in St. Augustine.

Cruisers become "family" for a day

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!

A tour of Charleston…

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:

  1. Grasses at low tide
  2. Lake drain…more low tide
  3. Very big and very dead Marlin
  4. Bobbing for pumpkins
  5. Paddy rides the fold-up bike