Friday, April 24, 2015

February/March

As soon as the press conference in Daytona Beach had taken place, I flew north to visit my new grandson again and Carter remained with the Arc to replace the repaired motor controller when it came in. The Arc was ready to go when I got back a few days later but unfortunately, immediately  I then received news that my other daughter in law had suffered a heart attack and they were in desperate need of assistance so I left Carter at the Arc again to drive to Tennessee and tend to family matters.

I was going to be gone for several weeks so this was really putting a dent in our schedule so while I was gone Carter decided to single-hand the Arc back up to St. Augustine where we left off cruising with the solar electric and and thn brought the Arc back south to Merritt Island totally on solar where I joined him to continue heading south. 

On March 19th, we departed Banana River Marina heading to Fort Myers where we will cross our wake from last season as we we headed south to the Keys.  Woo Hoo!  We are very excited to finally complete our goal to transit the entire Intercoastal Waterway of Florida propelled by nothing but sunshine!

During the next couple days we anchored at South Patrick Shores, behind a spoils island at Grant, Sabastian Inlet, Vero Beach, at the jetty of the Harbor Branch Foundation in Ft. Pierce, Jenson Beach, a water filtering facility in the Okeechobee Waterway and then a neat little hurricane hole 3 miles short of the Port Mayaca Lock.

March 29th,  we crossed Lake Okeechobee with no problem.  The lake was rough and we had a stiff headwind and chop against us for the first half of the day but the sun was shining bright which gave us the juice to power through. We cruised all day from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm when we dropped anchor at Clewiston.  The next morning we decided to check out Roland Martins Fish Camp and went there for breakfast.  Nothing fancy for sure, but pretty good food.

We continued on with LaBelle as our next destination.

Scenes from this leg of the journey.


There was a sailboat regatta getting ready to start as we passed through
the Indian River in Melbourne.
 

The spoils island at Grant

The dolphins were tagging along at Sabastian Inlet


Sitting on the stern enjoying a beautiful sunset while waiting for the chicken to cook.


Playing around with the camera.


Certainly not ideal weather for solar cruising but fortunately we were able to complete 5 miles on the batteries before being forced to stop early.


The sky didn't look much better the next morning but we forged on to Jenson Beach. 

The next couple pictures show how we must maneuver the Arc to compensate when fighting either strong current or winds.  Even though we look like we are heading toward the port side, we actually are moving straight ahead.  It must be a little disconcerting for approaching boats who might think we are heading toward them!  We were in just such a situation as we were approaching this bridge.












Our anchorage at Branch Harbor Foundation


Some young crewers on the St. Lucie River


A beautiful sunset along the Okeechobee Waterway



Some derelict boats along the way have been here for years.


The bridge tender opening the bridge as we hurried through because a train was on it's way. 



Heavy rains were predicted so we ducked into this neat hurricane hidey hole the Captain found using satellite imagery (Google maps).

The skies looked bad and it did rain on us but not too bad.



The wind pushed us up against the side but it was not a problem.



I'm rockin' the tie dye and flames this day!  LOL


The guillotine bridge just before the Port Mayaca Lock.



We departed to cross Lake Okeechobee just as soon as the batteries were charged.


Heading into the lock....


and departing the lock.


It was a choppy ride and Radar stayed in his tee pee for most of this crossing.


Day markers have many uses.....



The landscape as you begin to enter Clewiston.


We arrived in Clewiston as sunset.  It was a good passage.












Sunday, April 12, 2015

February 1/5 - Guano, Tolomato, Mantanzes Estuary & Research Center

We departed Jacksonville Beach at 8:00 am heading south with the current.  The water was smooth but the sky held intermittent clouds.  We entered the Guano, Tolomato, Mantanzes Estuary or GTME and cruised until the wind picked up forcing us to drop anchor at 4:00 pm.



This was a beautiful stretch of the ICW and I clicked the camera all day long!

February 2nd - We departed at 10:00 am and cruised for approximately 30 minutes but the sun was so intermittent the Captain decided to stop and charge the batteries.  With the lead topped off, we restarted again at noon continuing with a strong current in our favor, strong headwind against us, and the solar panels collecting 3000 watts despite the cloudy, rainy conditions.  At about 6:00 pm we stopped at the GTM Research Center.  We signed up to attend their annual symposium in about a week so we wanted to scope out the anchorage options.


It was a pretty cruise up the windy trail to the Research Center.






February 3rd - We started out early the next morning heading for Vilano Beach where there is a Publix accessible by boat.  Vilano Beach has a very nice public dock that we were able to tie the Arc to and went shopping after which we continued on down the ICW to anchor just south of St. Augustine at sunset.  The next day we hooked up to a City of St. Augustine mooring ball in order to do laundry, empty the holding tank and fill the water tanks.  We then headed north to the GTM Estuary Research Center in anticipation of the annual symposium on Friday.

The symposium was informational and we met some interesting folks.  During this time the Alltrax DCX 500 controller mysteriously stopped working.  After trouble shooting and several discussions with the dealer, the controller was in the mail for repair and return.  We would like to thank EV Drives for their excellent customer service.  They had our system back on line in record time!  In the meanwhile we were forced to rely on "Big Ben" our 51 year old diesel who, so far, has never failed to start up and push the Arc with gusto. Carter often remarks that he is more impressed with that old diesel than the new solar electric drive he put together but the two systems compliment each other well. Although it's nice to have the extra power and get the extra mile an hour with Big Ben, we really don't like running the old machine too much so it is reserved for emergencies. Having a press conference a hundred miles away in 4 days and a broken electric motor controller qualified so we bought 30 gallons of fuel and busted it down to Daytona.

February 9th - We weighed anchor heading south to Daytona Beach for the next ReThink Energy press conference to be held at Captain Daddys on February 14th.  














Saturday, March 28, 2015

January 29/30 - Fernandina Beach - Tiger Island

On our way to the Florida/Georgia state line, (the first time), we spotted a perfect beach to strand the Arc on at high tide to do some painting and bottom maintenance.  We arrived before sunset and anchored out until the tide was just right. The Captain was up quite a bit of the night getting the boat in position so we would be left standing on the twin keels in just the right spot when the tide rolled out.  The next morning at low tide, we set to work immediately to take advantage of every bit of the 3-4 hours we had until the tide rolled back in.  It was quite a sight to see!

 



Carter is painting the last section of the starboard rubrail with the tide lapping
                                   at his feet. We still had another 1/2 hour on the port side.




We sanded, wiped down with acetone, and painted the freeboard all in one session.
Looks so good!

Day 2 - Second coat of paint

The Captain decided that he wanted to move the boat up the beach by a couple of  boat lengths to be on a little harder ground the next day so that afternoon/evening he maneuvered the boat into the new position. But somewhere in the process the dinghy got loose and  decided to drift off on it's own shortly after we got settled on the bottom!  Carter noticed it immediately and since the Arc was hard aground and wasn't moving, Carter jumped into his wet suit and onto the surfboard to rescue our wayward dinghy before it got caught up in the main current.  Since we were right beside the inlet at the FL/GA state line, it was heading out to sea.  But due to quick action, this catastrophe was diverted.




On to the task of the second coat of paint




Good view of the twin keels.


Good time to inspect the zincs, rudder, prop and scrape off a few barnacles.
  All is well under the waterline.





The work was done so we explored Tiger Island while we waited for our departure time.








We departed Tiger Island on the 4:00 pm high tide cruising down to Amelia Island where we enjoyed a nice dinner out at the Amelia Island Yacht Club.  The next morning we weighed anchor and cruised out with the early morning tide (7:05 am) heading south toward St. Augustine.  

We cruised a total of 30 miles this day and arrived at Jacksonville Beach at sunset.  Along this stretch is where we had an experience we have never had before.   We were attempting to cross under the McCormic bridge heading into a pretty strong current. We were working our way through nicely, moving slowly but surely in the strong current but when we were almost out the other side we came to an abrupt stop. We were at full throttle and weren't moving an inch. This in itself was particularly unusual, we were just in a current that was moving faster than we could go, but what happened next was the strange part. As Carter eased off the throttle to back out of the bridge channel we came to a complete stop in the middle of the bridge. The motor was off and we weren't moving backwards any more.  We were caught in some kind of vortex!  Carter had to put the Arc in reverse to back out, even thought the current was rushing past us. It was bizaar!  into reverse and we backed our way out from under the bridge.  The whole episode was a bit nerve racking so we found a place to drop the anchor and called it a day.