Since we had a wedding to go to, we took off from Annapolis and headed down the Chesapeake Bay. Not to far the first night because of some big blow predicted. We ducked into a little place called Solomons Island. On the way to the river there was a picket fence (or so it looked liked) out in the middle of the waterway. A mile of water on one side, and miles of water on the other, and here is this dilapidated fence looking structure just sticking up out of the water. I later found out it was some sort of fish trap, but sticking this thing out in the middle of a large navigable body of water doesn’t seem like a good idea. I’m very glad we came through in daylight.
Checking the weather the next day it looked like there was a window we could get around Cape Hatteras without any hair-raising, so we ended up not stopping in Hampton like we had planned and headed back out into the Atlantic for our two-day trip to Wrightsville Beach. After all we had a wedding to go to. The trip was uneventful which is a good thing. Although we did motor mostly the whole way, which is a bad thing.
As we came back into cell reception approaching Masonboro inlet, we checked messages only to find out Anna’s grandmother had had a severe stroke and was not expected to recover. This meant Anna needed to fly to AZ to be with family, and Kylan and I are alone on the boat (not counting the dogs). One blessing was that we had caught up to our friend from St Martin, Yoham. I know we were in Wrightsville Beach which we really liked on the way north, however it’s now late October and with the cold spell passing through the temperatures are dropping down to mid to low thirties. This plays havoc on our bodies with no heater on the boat. Not to mention, we don’t have much in the way of cold weather gear any more. Kylan and I decided to continue on south in search of warmer climates, and after all we had a wedding to go to.
On a cold Sunday morning Kylan and I pulled anchor and set off towards St Mary’s GA, which is as far south as we could go before our Nov 1stnorth of FL insurance restriction. That little 300 mile journey turned out to be a very special trip because of all the wild life spotted. There was pod after pod of dolphins, which are always fun. Dolphins are great even at night where they will stir up the bio-luminescence as they streak through the water. Kylan caught many fish. There were a gazillion jelly fish. Our favorite were the little finch sized birds that showed up. Here we are, 30 miles from the closest land and these tiny little birds came by one or two at a time, and I’m guessing exhausted, landed on Stray Catz. A couple only stayed a few hours, but two stayed overnight.
One of which was quite entertaining as he chased moths and various other bugs around the boat. He became quite friendly and was not afraid of Kylan and I, or the dogs.
The dogs were curious at first, but soon lost interest. While in St Mary’s we enjoyed the many Halloween decorations around town.
The trip from St Mary’s to Ft Lauderdale was much more exciting, but not in a good way. The trip was made both in the inter coastal waterway (ICW) and at sea because of weather and sea height. The first part, St Marys to St Augustine was done in the ICW. At the first fixed (non draw bridge) bridge we came to the fun was already starting. I called via the radio a sail boat in front of me and asked him to read the tide boards to me. These boards tell the clearance from the water to the bottom of the bridge. It was a good thing, because there were no boards on the north side of the bridge, so I would have had no idea whether the clearance was sufficient for Stray Catz 65′ mast. It’s impossible to just look up the mast and judge the height. Stray Catz barely made it. This was the first of four bridges on this trip that the flexible VHF antennae would scrape the bottom of the bridge.
Leaving St Augustine the next morning we went to sea in hopes to pull into Palm Beach in about 40 hours ahead of another blow. But alas it wasn’t meant to be. At about 3am (why does it always happen at night?) just off Cape Canaveral, a reefing connection point on the boom snapped off and the sail was coming loose. In the strong winds and moderate seas, Kylan and I were able to semi secure the sail and continue on our way. Limping just a little. But because of the approaching weather and the now damaged boom, I changed course to come in at Ft Pierce. At about noon, approaching the inlet, I fired up the starboard engine only to discover no cooling water coming out the exhaust. This meant coming through the inlet with just one engine and the sails or motoring around in the moderate seas while I tried to fix the problem. We went on in. After all we had a wedding to go to.
With the engine fixed, we decided to try the ICW again, only to discover the next bridge was to short for us. Not wanting to go back out into the worsening Atlantic, we were preparing to stay put in Ft Pierce for a few days, but after some advice from a local, we decided to have another look at the bridge when the tide was at its lowest, and sure enough, with again some scraping on the underside of the bridge Stray Catz made it through and we were on our way again.
Nothing else exciting till we got to North Palm beach the next day. The wind was howling out of the east, Lake Worth was pretty choppy and the next thing you know, the starboard engine died. We found an anchoring spot just north of the bridge, which worked out pretty good, because through the binoculars we could see that the tide was to high to make it under the bridge. That gave me time to change the fuel filter and have some lunch. Two hours later we were on our way again.
We found a nice little place to anchor that night and some time the next day we arrived at Stray Catz home for the next month and half while we took off to TN in a car. After all we had a wedding to go to.