Tuesday, May 27, 2014

End of Season 2013-2014

Time to get back to work:

After a nice visit in Stuart we decided this was a good spot for a break in our little Cruise Aid for a Sustainable Florida. We have traveled over a 1000 miles on nothing but Sunshine so far and Stuart marks the beginning of the Okeechobee Waterway. To complete the transit of the entire Florida ICW we still have to cover the distance from here to Jacksonville and also across Lake 'O' to Fort Myers. Since we need to get to work for a while, this would be a good spot to stop for the season. Although we had hoped to make it to the Georgia line this time, it wasn't meant to be and Cape Canaveral is just a two days hard ride north and we have a great place to leave the Arc there for the summer.

The weather was predicted to be partly cloudy but we figured we would go one more day all solar to get out of Stuart.  Since the Channel 12 News lady made such a big deal out of how we had traveled so far without burning any fuel we figured it would be better to get out of town before we kicked in the diesel so we could bolt north and back to work.

We hit the tides just right getting past the St. Lucie inlet without incident and were cruising nicely on electric when we decided to make a pass by St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant and do a photo op for ReThink Energy Florida with the power plant in the background. On the way we saw something strange just outside the channel. Carter pulled closer and got out the binoculars for a better view. "What in the ....?, it looks like a turtle's butt sticking out of the water." Carter and Radar jumped into the Whaler to investigate.

Sure enough, a very unfortunate sea turtle got his fin caught up an abandoned crab pot. It was floating with the crab pot hanging under it just below the surface of the water. This was definitely a hazard to navigation and we figured maybe the Fish and Wildlife Commission might keep some kind of statistics on such things so Carter hoisted the turtle and attached crap pot into the whaler. We  figured he'd just drop it in the dumpster at the next state park after reporting it to FWC.

We called the FWC and it turned out they were VERY INTERESTED in our dead turtle and were insistent that we rendezvous with a state biologist so they could get the smelly beast.

We still hadn't done our little photo op for Rethink yet but now there was a dead sea turtle in the Whaler.  Here's the conversation:

Carter:  Ok, we're in a good position.  Go ahead and get in the Whaler with your camera and I'll get the Arc in a good position in front of the plant.

Diane:  Um, I don't think so.  That was a good plan up until the part when you loaded a stinking, dead, sea turtle snagged on a crab pot into the dink!

Carter:  Ya, I figured you were going to say that.  I guess I'll get into the Whaler with your camera while you get the Arc into a good position.

Diane:  OK!!  :)

After a quick trip back to the boat so I could show Carter how to turn the camera on, then a few shots as I drove the Arc, it was time to get up to Fort Pierce where we said we'd meet the state biologist in a few hours.  It was time to fire up old Big Ben, (our diesel), to get there in a hurry. Since it hadn't run in about 4 months we had a little trouble getting the fuel injectors primed but after a few minutes in the engine room with some hollering at me to "TRY IT NOW!", VARROOOMMM, Big Ben fired right up and off we were on our way.

The young state biologist lady was tickled pink to have this big old dead sea turtle to dissect and Radar was glad that the sea monster was outa his dingy. He was at the stern barking his fool head off at it and we finally had to lock him up down below.

That night we anchored just north of Fort Pierce and the next day it was howling 30 mph out of the North and threatening rain. Even with old Big Ben chugging away we barely made 4 mph and it took another day and a half to get to Cocoa. 

We continued on to our home port to settle the Archimedes in for the summer.

We rented a car and drove to Tallahassee to retrieve our vehicles, then spent a couple days packing them up in preparation for our return to Tennessee for the summer.

We couldn't have asked for a better spot for offloading the boat!

Before leaving, we scheduled a couple days for one final cruise out to Port Canaveral with Carter's daughter and her family. It was a great all electric cruise and we had a fun time watching the cruise ships take off.

One final "incident" with the bottom on our way back.  The Arc seemed a little sluggish and we just didn't seem to be going as fast as we should have been for the Amps we were getting. So Carter got out the mask and snorkel for an inspection under the water and found a mess of sea weed wrapped up in the prop.

A couple more visits from curious boaters wanting to know more about the big solar boat!

One last meal served on the "veranda" while out at anchor.

Back to the marina to settle the Arc into the slip for the summer and we were off with our caravan.

 Tennessee Bound and back to work!

Once again Carter laments, "Too bad we can't recharge our bank account with those solar panels like we do our battery bank. Life would be a lot easier that way." 

Our plan now is to work hard this summer, recharge our money bank, make a few improvements on the Arc in Merritt Island when we get back, and then start next Fall at the Florida/George state line to complete our solar powered transit of the entire Florida ICW by traveling the last leg from Jacksonville to Fort Myers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Month of Workshops - March 2 - 22nd

March 2, 2014

We left Oleta State Park after an enjoyable overnight visit.  We pulled in here and dropped anchor pretty early this day for a couple of reasons.  First  it was Sunday and the boat traffic was seriously congested, compounded by 2nd) we were getting ready to pass Haulover Inlet during peak tidal flow and for this inlet in particular, that is bad timing.  It is best to pass inlets at slack tide and preferably without all the crazy weekend boaters.  So we  pulled off the ICW momentarily while checking the charts and found by going around the island directly to our west, we could slip easily into the Oleta State Park for the night hoping that Monday morning would find the boat traffic to be less congested and we could time the our passage to proper tide.  We were fortunate to find a good spot to drop anchor among all the weekenders, we fired up the grill for dinner and launched the kayak for paddling. It was a nice evening.

Moving north our next stop was John U. Lloyd State Park for a workshop scheduled for the 8th. There was a nice park right on the beach within walking distance and we had a nice day at the beach after the workshop.

Continuing on north, we next cruised into Lettuce Lake in Boynton Beach where our next workshop was scheduled for the 15th at Boynton Beach Harbor Marina.  We proceeded north again on Sunday the 16th stopping in West Palm Beach where the town was preparing for their annual Boat Show.

We were preparing to leave West Palm Beach when an actuator malfunctioned and Carter had to install a replacement before moving on.

We were almost to the St. Lucie Inlet and as I stated before, we have learned to pass inlets at slack tide and use the current to our advantage.  Since we arrived a couple hours early we decided to pull off at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve and State Park as they have a nice dock.  Although our Lowrance chart plotter clearly showed 5' of water all around the dock, it failed us again! About 100' short of the dock we ran aground.  Since the tide was going out rapidly at that point, we were quickly stuck on the hard sandy bottom and forced to stay in this spot until the tide rolled back in that evening at 9:00 pm.  We made use of the time by getting in the Whaler to take soundings of the area to be prepared to move into a spot for the night.  By 9:30 that night we were safely anchored close, but not too close to the ICW for an early morning departure past the inlet into Manatee Pocket where Carter found a prop shop to fix the prop on the whaler which had been damaged on an oyster bed a few days earlier.  We went up a little canal and while I stayed with Radar and the Whaler, Carter took a mile long hike to the prop shop where the guy fixed it on the spot. With 30 minutes to kill and a Super Walmart right next door, he was also able to get some important provisioning done, TP, batteries, and a quart of oil for Honda.

We got back just in time to make the tides at Stuart Inlet to continue up the St. Lucie River and a scheduled press conference with Rethink Energy Florida the next day. We even had a space at the city dock  at Stuart City Hall where we got to tie up to shore overnight for the second time in 5 months.

That was a very nice nice dock but with a northerly exposure, and unfortunately the winds whipping from the northeast had us bucking against the dock all night long. But the next day right after the press conference was actually over an Kim Ross was taking me to the grocery store for a few provisions we needed, CBS Channel 12 News showed up and Carter was on his own for the media relations. But they did a super nice story on the Archimedes that we were very happy with!


That evening we moved over to Sunrise Marina just around the corner for one more workshop scheduled for the 22nd.

Just as a side note, we were tied to docks more in the past month than we have on this entire trip.  We normally drop the hook in anchorages or behind a spoils island just off the ICW.

It's time for this season to come to an end because as Captain Carter likes to say, "the Arc may run on nothing but sunshine but our finances do not".  It's time to go back to work in Tennessee and refill the coffers so we can return this fall for the final leg of the Little Cruise Aid for a Sustainable Florida.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taking Pictures of People Taking Pictures of Us

It became evident to us from the very beginning that the Archimedes draws people's attention.  I'd like to dedicate this post to all those folks who stop what they are doing to get a quick picture of the Arc as we cruise past.  I took all of these pictures yesterday in a period of two hours of our passage from Oleta River State Park in North Miami to Dania Beach. It should be noted that this is probably only about 1/3rd of the people we "SAW" taking a picture. It's hard to catch the shot of them taking the picture and I missed way more than I got.

We get just as many or more "thumbs up" as we do people taking pictures!  It seems people get excited about a big solar boat. Check this out!

This picture was an accidental 2 for 1 shot!  I had no idea the lady on the balcony was even there!  I was taking a picture of the couple on the side of the waterway.

We see people come out onto their balcony to take a picture all the time. Sometimes they run back inside and come back with a couple more people and their camera.

Many folks passing by the waterway see us and stop  to take a photo.

My camera just missed catching this lady with her camera in position.

This man stopped his car to get out and get a shot!

I am lucky to catch anyone taking pictures from a moving boat.  But I did pretty good with this one.

These two came over specifically to take the picture and stopped us to ask questions.
Do you have an electric motor?

This couple was waiting for the draw bridge to open when they spotted us.

We see this a lot too.  
Again, it's hard to catch them in the act of taking pictures!

This lady was on a water taxi. We often see multiple flashes from  ferry boats and I'm going catch that one day soon, I've decided to make hobby out of taking pictures of people taking pictures of us.

The Keys and Miami - Camera Dump

Pictures from the Keys and Miami.

Mallory Park in Key West has activities every evening at Sunset with lots of street performers and vendors.

Even performances from pigs!

This was right beside us at our anchorage beside Fleming Key. I thought to myself "this family has it all together!"  As it turns out this float belonged to one of the many party boats that you pay to get out on the water for fun!


We saw as many as 3 cruise ships in the harbor at one time.

The water in the Keys is absolutely the most beautiful and clearest water I have ever seen.  This picture shows sea grass 5' below the boat.  AMAZING! 


The Coast Guard stands at guard to the entrance of the harbor at Key West and sail boats abound as we departed via Hawks Channel in the Atlantic Ocean.

This is a military satellite that obviously has a protective cover.  It looks like an egg hatching.

This picture shows the never ending line of people waiting their turn to have their picture made at the southern most point of the United States.  We decided not to wait in line and I was disappointed not to have my picture taken here but...we did get a picture of the bouy as we were leaving Key West ... but from the ocean side!  It works for me.

This was a house on an island out in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Key West.

Boaters must watch for crab pots so as not to get the lines tangled in the prop and/or rudder.  That could be disastrous.

 Saw this guy at Big Pine Key. Ouch!  Low tide.

Leaving Big Pine Key

I love this picture.  I think I could spend a couple of days here in Big Pine Key.

This happens to us a lot!  We have to be one of the most photographed boats out on the ICW!

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon

Sunset at Marathon

A picnic table set up at the end of a man made jetty out from a home at Grassy Key.

Just around the corner from this nice picnic setup we found this poor pelican!  This is the danger of not properly disposing of fishing line.  

While anchored in Dolphin Cove, I was below in the salon when all of a sudden I heard something hitting the side of the boat under the water!  What on earth???  I ran upstairs and saw hundreds of fish attacking the the boat!

It turns out that certain kinds of fish like to hang out in the shadow of your boat which entices Amber Jacks (we think) to come for a feast!  It was a wild experience.

Sunset at Long Bight Key

Don't you hate it when this happens?
 Spotted this scene as we were arriving at Islamarada.
What a mess when the owner returns!

 Beautiful Lorilei Yacht Club

Home of the Nautilimo!

As we were leaving Islamarada, we saw this ultralight racing some jet skis.  You can't see the jet skis but, they're there.

Upon arriving at John Pennakamp State Park we met up with the Spirit of John Pennakamp  heading out with a boat load of folks to view the coral reefs through the glass bottom of the boat.

Birds find a spot to rest just outside the channel into the park.

The water is still clear as evidenced by this sponge approximately 6' under the water.


On our way to the grocery store we ran across this house.
Mmmmm  A dream house for sure.

The red flag is the USMC flag.
Semper Fi!

Next along this mangrove canal we came up on the KOA campground in Key Largo!

Park your trailer just behind these tiki huts and launch your boat and enjoy this wonderland of water sports.

KOA pincic area

Picture post card pretty.

Yet another example of the pure water quality in the Keys.  In the picture below you can see the grass on the bottom of this mangrove canal along side a reflection of the mangroves above.  How cool is that?

 Can you distinguish the reflection in the water from the trees itself?

This is where I met Rocky Raccoon.  He was just as surprised to me as I was him.

Somewhere between Islamarada and Key Largo we ran across these toilet seats.  We would have liked to have met up with some locals to inquire as to the history.  I'm sure it would have been an interesting story.

Enough said!

And now for Miami...

We passed under the bridge after crossing Biscayne Bay...

and immediately turned right to get to the anchorage at Marine Stadium.  Carter actually attended a concert back in the early 70's here.  There was a floating stage and boats would raft up together in the harbor while landlubbers filled the stadium.  That place needs to be brought back to life.

This is a busy harbor/anchorage.

The Miami Sea Plane school used the entrance for take off and landing practice.

 Folks practiced their boating skills.

And kids learned the art of crewing.

Yes...some of my photos are a little crooked but keep in mind that I take pictures from a moving, rocking, rolling ship.  I'm lucky to get anything in focus...much less straight.

Ha!  A Pirate Ship!  
It seems that every large city has one!
This is the last picture I took the night before leaving and I think it turned out the be the best night shot I was able to get during the entire 2 weeks were in Miami.