Cruising the East Coast and the Abacos in our Camano Troll
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
We made some cell phone calls to try to track down spark plugs for our sick outboard as we went from Georgia to Florida and past Fernandina. They claim that the shrimp business really started there. They also have two big paper plants which belch rather aromatic smoke which the locals call "the smell of money." We have never stopped there and hope to in the future. Apparently the old town has a great deal of charm, largely because Flagler's railroad completely bypassed it.
We finally raised someone at Amelia Island Yacht Basin who said he would track them down one way or another. When he asked for my name so he could call back, he immediately said, "I'll bet you own a Camano Troll!" It turns out we had been in communication with Tom and Gerrie Clare two years before when we were heading south and they were finishing up the Great Loop on a sister ship. We ended up waving to each other as we passed going in opposite directions just south of St Augustine. (See our December 2007 blog.)
Tom now works part-time at the marina where he has a slip for the boat. He found the spark plugs for us at the local NAPA, offered us a discounted slip for the night at the marina next to his boat, took us shopping, took us home to his wife for a gourmet dinner and good conversation, and sent us back to the boat with some delicious home-made frozen lasagna. It was a delightful day and evening and we thank them both for putting up with us boat orphans.
We waited for a while the next morning since we had a pea soup fog worthy of Maine in July. We felt our way down the ICW for a while, but it cleared by the time we got to the busy St. Johns River junction.
We pushed on through to Saint Augustine, one of our favorite cities but one of our least favorite anchorages because of strong currents and opposing winds.
We paid our $10 to park the dinghy at the Municipal Marina and made like tourists both on foot and on the Trolley Tour. Saint Augustine purports to be the oldest continuous European settlement in America and is really quite beautiful with a very strong Spanish history, as well as French and English and, of course, American.
One of the streets is canopied by "live oaks" which are hundreds of years old. The trolley also took us over to the beach and the lighthouse. We didn't walk up to the top of the lighthouse, but we did watch some surfers at the fishing pier for a while.
Back at the anchorage, we discovered that Summertime from our home port and one of our clubs had dropped her hook nearby. We left fairly early the next morning and looked back at the progress being made on the multi-year reconstruction of the historic Bridge of Lions.
The Art of the Slow Pass
When you are in a sailboat or a slow powerboat, one of the most unnerving sights is to see a large sportsfisherman coming in either direction at full speed, pulling a HUGE wake. If he continues his course and speed he will, at the very least, create great discomfort aboard the slower boat and, at worst, create some real damage and personal injury with his wake.
ICW etiquette demands that the slower boat slow down even further so that the faster boat can slow down enough to throw a much smaller wake but still get by without taking all day. If the faster boat is passing from astern, the slower boat moves in behind it as quickly as possible after the "slow pass" and both resume their normal speeds. If they are passing in opposite directions, both slow so that they are throwing smaller wakes and they angle across each other's wake and resume speed. If the faster boat does NOT slow down after the slow boat has significantly reduced her speed, MAJOR problems can occur since the slower boat has reduced its ability to steer at idle speed and can be left to wallow helplessly in the swells left by the jerk who, rumor has it, compensates for deficiencies in his own manhood with a heavy-handed throttle. Sometimes the slow pass is preceded by a radio call on VHF Channel 16 or horn signals, but usually eye contact or a wave and an obvious speed change is sufficient.
[END OF LESSON FOR TODAY.]
After Saint Augustine, we passed Fort Matanzas, the scene of the final annihilation of the last 300 Frenchmen in that part of Florida by the victorious Spaniards. The fort was built later and never saw action, but supposedly discouraged invasions through the Matanzas Inlet.
We spent the night at anchor in Rockhouse Creek, just inside the Ponce de Leon inlet north of New Smyrna. It's a fun dinghy ride out to the inlet past all the shoals. We had passed an old friend from home aboard Nomad who has been doing this trip every year for something like 24 years. They anchored near us for two nights.
Florida is constantly building new canals into which they can put their yachts and new land from the sand dredged up from the ICW channels onto which they can put their mega-mansions and condos. It seems like one big Disneyland for wealthy adults at times.
Along the cut canals are more modest homes, some with very creative boat houses at the ends of their short docks. Elsewhere, there are true "house" boats beside the channel.
The route south took us through the Haulover Canal and past NASA's huge assembly building across from Titusville. We missed a shuttle launch by about a week.
We passed friends of my brother's in Peace who we had seen in Abaco two years ago and who said they were heading there again this year. About six ominous looking go-fast boats from US Customs and Immigration were involved in some kind of simulation as we were going by. Note the masks or whatever they are wearing.
Even the pros have problems. This was a pushboat and large barge with large concrete beams aboard which apparently ran aground in the ICW at close to high tide.
There are all kinds of islands along the dredged portions of the ICW which were made from the dredging spoils. Over the years, they have been seeded by wind and tides and birds and have become their own complete ecosystems.
Our goal was the Vero Beach City Marina where we are rafted with some other boats on a mooring, will use the free shuttle bus to go shopping, and share a Thanksgiving potluck dinner with over 100 other boaters from the moorings and docks -- the great majority being "snowbirds" like us on their way further south for the winter.
The information in this column does not change. New entries will appear to the left.
We started this blog in August 2006 when we were getting ready for our first winter heading south in our new powerboat, named "Sesame". The newest entries are first and the oldest are last. General information is in this column.
Most of the photographs are high definition. You can click on any one of them to see the photograph full size. If you want to steal one, click on it. When you get the full-size one, right click and "Save as" whatever you want. I would only ask that you give proper credit if you use them for anything other that your personal delight and delectation.
The Admiral and the Captain
Enjoying a Meal Ashore in Abaco
Powerboating on the East Coast
We are Judy and Allen Ames from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Our boats have all been called "Sesame" (Ameses spelled inside out?). The dinghy, of course, is named "Open".
After 60+ years of sailing, the last 25 aboard a Nonsuch 26 and a Nonsuch 30, we went to the "dark side" and bought a slightly used 28 foot trawler, called variously, a Camano Troll, a Camano 28, or a Camano 31 (see below). This blog starts with our first motor boat trip down the East Coast from Connecticut to Key West and back during the winter of 2006-2007. (We had done a similar trip on our Nonsuch 30 a couple of years before. That trip is pretty well documented in our WebShots albums -- http://community.webshots.com/user/allen_ames) It then picks up with our third trip which took us across the Gulf Stream to Abaco on New Year's Eve 2007.
Like most blogs, the most recent entry is on top and you have to scroll down to get previous entries. You can also click on a specific date at the bottom of this column.
We welcome comments or questions. Just hit the word "Comments" at the end of any entry or email us at: Sesame130@comcast.net. You can send the blog to anyone else by clicking on the envelope with an arrow at the end of each entry.
Sesame, Camano Troll #130
Doing 13 knots
The Camano Troll is a "semi-displacement" trawler, 28 feet long on deck and 31 feet overall if you measure the swim platform and anchor roller. She has a 200 horse Volvo turbo-diesel which can push her up to about 13 knots when we're in a hurry and don't care that we're getting less than a mile per gallon. Normally, we cruise at 7-8 knots which is far more relaxing and gets us close to four nautical miles per gallon. We love the 360-degree view from the main cabin and inside steering station and it's even nicer on the flybridge in good weather.
We have most of the amenities: Hot and cold running water, refrigeration and freezer, 3 burner propane stove with oven, shower and enclosed head, and plenty of room for two people. We have replaced the large dining table (which made it possible to convert the dinette into a double bunk) with a smaller one, but have a 5' x 7' pop-up tent and blow-up queen size mattress that fits perfectly on the flybridge for occasional guests (our penthouse!). The bridge also has plenty of room for a couple of lounge chairs.
We have three AGM batteries on the "house" side of our 12-volt system. To keep the small chest freezer, refrigerator, and various toys going, we usually run the engine for a couple of hours a day when we are at anchor or moored in order to keep the batteries charged We also have a 110 volt belt-driven generator which runs off the main engine to power the microwave, airconditioner (and reverse-cycle heater), etc. Smaller 110 appliances, a TV, computers, and rechargers run off a small inverter. A 7.5 amp solar panel helps keep the house batteries up in sunny weather giving a little more TV and freezer time before we have to start up the engine. Of course, all of the 110 system works when the boat is plugged into dock power too.
We communicate by Verizon cell phone and get our internet through a Verizon air card or WiFi wherever and whenever service is available. (Verizon is not our favorite vendor, but it has the best coverage all the way down the East Coast.) We have external marine antennas for both the air card and WiFi. Where we don't have cell service (Bahamas, some of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Maine) but can get WiFi, we use Skype.
The boat was built in British Columbia but the factory has recently been sold and they say they will begin building in Washington state. See the links below for more pictures and specs of the boat.
Our title is a leftover from an old English teacher's fondness for alliteration rather than a true description of the contents. Actually, we plan very carefully to avoid having it become a saga, or even an adventure! We refuse to have a real schedule or dated itinerary for fear that we would be tempted to venture out in poor conditions. If we want to meet someone along the way, we give them the choice of when or where, not both. The only exceptions are when we are relatively certain that we can reach a destination easily and safely at least a week before a specific date. Even then, we make it clear that all "plans" are subject to change or cancellation.
Traditionally, there are two kinds of cruisers: those who are happy in slower boats (sailboats and slow trawlers) focus on the voyage, while those with fast boats are all about the destination. We definitely belong to the former group.
Our goal is to do virtually nothing, and do it well!
Or, to invoke the greatest all-time boating cliche, as Kenneth Graham's Rat says in The Wind in the Willows: Believe me, . . . . there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing . . . . about in boats -- or with boats. . . . . In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.