Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Days Offshore in Video

Three long offshore hops:

1. Cumberland Island, Georgia to St. Simons Sound (Brunswick), Georgia

2. Brunswick - Port Royal Sound (Hilton Head), South Carolina
      a) Rougher weather in the beginning
      b) Calmer weather as the day progressed

3. Hilton Head - Charleston, South Carolina

4. Dylan's traveling position (photo)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Dinghy Lesson

I'll get right to the lesson. If you're near your dinghy and you don't have a pocket knife tucked away somewhere inside, stop reading this and go put a knife onboard now.

We have unlimited Tow Boat US membership. It costs $149 per year (minus MTOA discounts!) and insures me on whatever boat I'm on for full towing expenses. You gotta know that any blog entry that starts off talking about knives and Tow Boat US is going to be a good one...

So we pulled into Fernandina and there were no moorings available. We anchored instead on the Amelia River in a beautiful spot - beautiful as long as you didn't see the paper mills which are incredibly ugly. Still, it was one of the nicest nights at anchor yet. In the morning a municipal mooring freed up so we grabbed it - we thought we'd take the dogs into town, do some shopping, and just walk around. On our way to town, Dylan decided to make his move and dive in after a sea bird swimming near the dinghy. Unfortunately for Dylan, he was leashed into the dinghy. So he's flailing around the water, Dyna is trying to jump in after him, and we're moving forward. It was a wonderful time.

The dogs walked all around town and it was time to head back so we piled into the dinghy once again and headed back to the boat. As we approached the boat, I put the dinghy into reverse to slow our motion toward the mother ship. As soon as I did this, the engine stalled. Karen reached out for the boat but was about 2 inches too short. With 7 foot tides, there's good current in the harbor and it was now taking us for a lovely ride down the Amelia River. No amount of rowing could counteract the current - we were only able to steer the boat toward the far weeds. The engine would start but as soon as it went into gear it stalled.

We drifted for about 20 minutes and grounded on the far uninhabited side of the river. Tilting the engine to keep it from digging into the sand revealed the problem - we had wrapped our own stern line around the prop. What a bone-headed thing to do.

We always have communications capabilities onboard - even on the dinghy. So we called the marina and asked if someone could come and help. They promised to send out their boat immediately. It was about 45 minutes later when we realized that no one was coming.

We tried to cut the line with things we had onboard but nothing would do it. I guess in a real emergency we could have used a flare to burn through the line carefully but we weren't at that point yet.

Although the dogs loved the idea of being surrounded by the tall weeds on the river's edge, it was getting a bit annoying. I pulled out my iPhone, looked up Tow Boat US, and called. Within 5 minutes they were there and handed me the biggest knife I've ever seen. One slice cut the line and allowed it to be unwrapped. They pulled us out from the weeds, the engine started, and went into gear just perfectly.  All was well.

The towing and rescue service total came to $165. My bill - $0. For once, my Tow Boat US membership paid for itself. This was the first time I've ever called them.

So the lesson here is to keep a knife onboard. I put a nice combination pocket knife in a sealed baggy and placed it under the seat. While I was at it, I threw in some hose clamps in case a fuel line ever breaks.

Of course, there's another lesson here too. Call the Pro's if you need help. Anything less is just a waste of 45 minutes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


There are four boating organizations that we belong to. BoatUS because I'm pretty sure it's a federal law that if you own a boat you must be a member. They also have great towing service which we just used for the first time but that's for another blog entry. DeFever Cruisers because we own a DeFever and it's nice to know other boaters with your boat. Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) because their members have the widest breadth of cruising experience throughout the world. And Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA) because they embrace the trawler cruising/liveaboard lifestyle best.

If you own a trawler and are not a member of MTOA click here, now and join. Not only will you meet some great cruisers and make some wonderful friends, you will become part of a family that will be there when you need them. There are many reasons to join including savings on your boat insurance, one free night's dockage each year at Olverson's, and access to yacht clubs. They have port captains at major ports of call that will help you with a car, local knowledge, just about anything you need. And then there are the rendezvous and the pins. The coveted pins.

Last week we attended the MTOA Southern Rendezvous in St. Augustine, FL. It was three days of seminars (several which we gave so you know how good they are), good food, dancing, boat visiting, and the final awards dinner where members received their pins. Green pins for working on a committee, red pins for speaking, and so on. Trust me, don't you dare try to steal a member's pin, walking the plank is the only fitting punishment. So we each added two pins to our collection giving us each a total of four. There are members who have enough pins to set off the metal detector from the airport parking lot. We hope to have enough years of boating ahead of us to do the same some day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We're Pedaling as Fast as We Can!

Over a week ago we promised you video of Dyna and Dylan's fabulous evening with their buddy Duke in Vero Beach (Jim is Duke's person and he was there too). The week here in St. Augustine attending the MTOA Southern Rendezvous has been fun and busy. As we plow through the email, comments, updates, and other items that have been on the back burner, I pause to fulfill that promise. We'll fill you in on what else has been happening as soon as our feet catch up with the pedals...


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Velcro Beach

In the cruising community Vero Beach has the nickname Velcro Beach because it's so hard to leave. There are lots of reasons for that and having been here many times we know it's true. There's the great free shuttle bus that will pick you up at the marina and take you to the grocery store, hardware store, restaurants, you name it. There's a fun Saturday night potluck, a beach within walking distance, as well as the shops and restaurants along the beach. The mooring field and dinghy docks are well done and the cruisers here are very friendly.

Of course, for us the dog park is a major draw. On Saturday there was a 14 week old yellow lab puppy there who ran underneath Dyna when some of the big dogs began picking on him. I guess her mama vibes are still felt by puppies.

We were out every night - Friday dinner at the Lobster Shanty with Bill on Spray, Saturday dinner at Gene and Kathy's, Sunday night a cruisers' Easter Potluck dinner on Bonnie and Ray's Compass Rose (Bonnie played the part of the Easter Bonnie, I mean, Bunny), Monday drinks with George and Mary on Summer Slopes, and Tuesday night the grand finale, beach and pool swimming followed by dinner with Duke and his person Jim. We'll upload some great swimming video when we get a faster connection.

So this stop we only stayed five days, not because we were ready to go, but because we have obligations up the road. We know we'll be back - it's not just Velcro Beach, it could also be called Boomerang Beach.