Here We Come, Cuba - Visit # 2
2008 - November 9, 11:00 - Once we had started along the waterway towards Beaufort, with Its About Time and La Coquette, we realized that the wind was not going to cooperate and that we would have to anchor in Beaufort Inlet for Sunday night to avoid wind on the nose for several hours. We found a new and protected anchorage from the SW winds just off the channel.
The next morning we took off and had good sailing up until we passed Frying Pan Shoals - then things started to deteriorate. La Coquette had left before us and went into Charleston. IAT and Pioneer elected to continue on towards Fernandina Beach, Florida
Judy at the helm leaving Beaufort NC
Sailing peacefully into the night, before the weather goes bad
True to form, we never got any pictures of the bad weather and big waves because we are either curled up in the cockpit under sleeping bags, asleep in the salon behind our lee cloth or busy adjusting sails and just holding on! The temperature was into the 40's so we not only had sleeping bags for warmth but also three layers of clothing - and we were still cold! The porpoises were jumping all around the boat when the seas were at their worst so at least we had some entertainment to keep our minds off the terrible conditions. When we reached the latitude of Hilton Head, SC our weather guru advised us to take shelter as squalls and high winds were coming our way. We needed no further encouragement to head into Port Royal Sound and anchor in Cowen Creek. During the night we had lost sight of Its About Time, but after connecting on the SSB we managed to meet up with them as we beat our way up the channel into Port Royal Sound. Later in the day we were joined by Judi and Mark on "Echo".
Sally (Its About Time) and Judi (Echo) enjoy Happy Hour while anchored at Distant Creek
Pot Luck dinner on IAT as we wait out the weather
We stayed one night in Cowen Creek and the next day met some kayakers who lived nearby and offered to let us use their beach hot shower. But shortly after their visit a power boat pulled up to our group and invited us to anchor further up the creek in front of their homes on Distant Island. They said we would be far more protected from the weather that was headed our way - and they were right! We ended up there for two more days before we could finish our trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Leaving Distant Creek
Its About Time under sail to Fernandina
November 16, 11:00 - Finally our window arrived and we headed south. The wind was good but we had to sail close-hauled and near shore to avoid the rough seas further out. It was only about 20 hours to Fernandina and a fairly comfortable sail. Overnight we managed to catch our first flying fish of the season. Now, the size is somewhat distorted but we were pleased none the less!
Captain Ron and his "killer fish"
In Fernandina we took mooring balls across from the city marina. Of the three nights we spent there, the warmest nighttime temperature was 36 deg. F. It was very hard to get up in the mornings! To top it off, the low Florida temperatures were blamed on a cold air mass coming down from Canada - for which of course we were immediately assigned blame! We did our usual 4-mile hike to Wal-Mart and a Chinese buffet, as well as visiting the local coffee shop for java and Internet.
Birds nestled on the city pier at Fernandina trying to get warm in the sun
A well named boat, we thought!
Those US bumper stickers are always a treat!
A cold dinghy ride back to Pioneer past "Precious Cargo" at the Fernandina dock
Tribute to the Shrimp Boats of Fernandina
November 20, 05:00 - After three days on mooring balls, we got our opportunity to head south once more. This time it was to Cape Canaveral Inlet - a first for us entering the channel and negotiating the lock, bridges and barge canal. We made excellent time and were able to finally drop anchor at Cocoa Beach, on the waterway.
Judy dressed for warmth on the trip to Cape Canaveral
Pioneer at Cape Canaveral Inlet
Cruise ship at Port Canaveral
Pioneer in the Canaveral lock
Lockmaster's perch (pelican included) at Canaveral
From Cocoa Beach, we made a fast day-trip to Vero Beach. The winds were at about 15 knots and on the beam so we used our genoa the entire way, averaging 6.5 knots. La Coquette came in behind us and Its About Time arrived the following day at Vero. Last year at this time in Vero, moored with the same two boats, Ron had his major slip when negotiating his way from La Coquette to Pioneer. This year he prepared well for the trip between boats and in the process produced some hearty chuckles.
Ron carefully navigates his way onto La Coquette, ready for anything!
Ron emerges from his dungeon!
Cruisers Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition at Vero Beach. La Coquette and Its About Time left us in charge of their boats while they headed off to their respective families for Thanksgiving, so we attended the potluck dinner for the cruisers. It was great to see old friends once more and to make new ones. The meal was amazing and the gathering afterwards, with some homemade music, was fun as well.
Thanksgiving dinner line at Vero- make way for the hungry cruisers!
Tilt even has their plates on a "____"
Carl (Diva) waits in line for his (and her) turkey - don't those look like M. Mouse ears?
Judy fills her plate while Debbie (Diva) and Pat and Allan (Nauti-Nauti) are ready to dive in for seconds!
Carl and Debbie (Diva) take a break to digest their dinner at an impromptu jam session
Old friends, Ed and Dee on Sea Fox X with Barry and Susan on Night Hawk enjoy a drink before dinner
Our boat buddies have now returned and we have made several trips into town to provision and enjoy Chinese food, pizza and ice cream - all things that within a few weeks will be mere memories. It appears that La Coquette and Its About Time will have a crossing opportunity to The Bahamas come Thursday or Friday. We will continue southward to Miami and into The Keys, heading for Marathon. Our destination is still Cuba and beyond.
Our friends on Its About Time and La Coquette have left and as of this morning are halfway down the Exuma chain in the Bahamas at Warderick Wells. We are sure that they are having a great time, it is a wonderful anchorage with lots of island exploring possibilities. We chose to stay here at Vero Beach, Florida for several more days so that we could replace some of our navigation lights on the mast - the original ones were starting to show their age. It is important to have bright lights when sailing at night especially in high traffic areas.
We also replaced a part in our radar dome so now our radar is working just fine. Judy has been hauled up the mast twice already and will go up twice more before we leave here for Miami. We wanted to make sure that everything was working fine before we headed off to Cuba because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get many things repaired there.
Staying here the extra days has also given us the opportunity to meet some old boating friends and make some new friends. Vero Beach is a popular spot for boaters to provision, get items/parts shipped in, and get repairs done, if needed.
As of today, Pioneer has a new anchor/tri-light and a new VHF antenna on the top of her mast. That's it for our boat preps for Cuba. Everything works well for now, but you all know the age old Eileen Quinn expression "If it ain't broke, don't use it!" All boats require maintenance and experience breakdowns of every kind, from time to time. That's how you get to really know your boat! Also, it is so much better for a boat if you use it, rather than stick it on the hard for many months/years or leave it in its slip for 9/10ths of the year. Boats like to be used!
Judy has been a bad girl and must remain in seclusion for at least 90 minutes!
Vero Beach to Varadero, Cuba
Finally an opportunity came along to get out of Vero and head straight to Rodriguez Key - a comfortable day sail past Miami. We tossed off the mooring ball at first light and had a pleasant motor sail to Miami and Rodriguez.
Free, free, free at last! - ain't no "velcro" on us!
Sunset en route to Miami
Goodbye Miami! - easy come, easy go!
At Rodriguez we anchored, for the first time, behind the island as opposed to in front of it. There was just a little more protection behind from the ENE winds. The next morning we talked to Chris the weather guru and he said that Friday would be a good day to cross the Gulf Stream - it was now Thursday! Big surprise for us as we thought we would get stuck in Marathon for a week or more. On the way to Marathon we were treated by the company of several playful porpoises as we sailed down the Hawke Channel inside the reef.
Porpoises playing with Pioneer - oops - just missed that one!
School time - how to play with a sailboat 101
On arrival in Boot Key Harbor, we fueled up and picked a tight spot to anchor between two permanent resident boats. They had two anchors out, we had one - but the wind stayed steady from the ENE so we had no swing problems. Our favourite anchoring spot was now all mooring balls so no anchoring there!
Boot Key Harbor - low rent district!
Escape from Marathon - get me outta here!
The next day, we left Marathon at noon heading for Varadero. Our crossing was extremely pleasant, although we did have to motor sail to make it to Varadero the following morning.
Crossing the Gulf Stream
An idyllic journey across "The Stream"- finally!
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