Saturday, December 20, 2014

St. Augustine - December 3rd - 17th

We departed the marina on Merritt Island late in the afternoon of Dec 3rd and positioned ourselves at the NASA Causeway in south Titusville to witness the Orion launch the next morning.  The wind kicked up and a valve got stuck to delay the launch for a day.  We weighed anchor and moved up river to another good spot in Titusville by Parrish Park.  Success!  The rocket launched right as the launch window opened early in the morning.

After the launch we began our trek northward to Saint Augustine.  We encountered stiff northerly winds and strong currents for the entire passage.  It reminded me of our slog across the panhandle two seasons ago.  Why are we heading north in December you might wonder?  This season will be the last leg of our goal to transit the entire Florida ICW on nothing but sunshine.  We'll cross the FL/GA state line, then turn around and head south to Stuart, turn right to cross the Okeechobee Waterway ending up in Fort Myers.  

We arrived and dropped anchor in south Saint Augustine on the 9th.  The next day we moved to the City Marina to meet up with Kim Ross for our scheduled press conference with ReThink Energy Florida.  

We wound up on the front page of the local paper:

and another article from an alternative internet news outlet:
(Carter calls this one "the music video")

 Next we finished putting up the Christmas lights on the Arc to participate in the Regatta of Lights on Saturday night.  It was a lot of fun and we even got a swag bag and a big awards dinner at the Yacht Club after the parade. .

The day after the boat parade, we walked over to West Marine to pick up some needed items and got to see some of the beautiful old architecture here in Saint Augustine.  I am looking forward to being a tourist and experiencing the tour of lights!  I am definitely ready for some Christmas spirit!   

Pictures just don't do this sight justice.  This is the park in Old Town with lights outlining all the trees and a colorful Christmas tree in the center.

We also walked all over the old town of Saint Augustine including the fort.

It was a fun couple of days!

We were departing St. Augustine on the 17th when we noticed the El Galeon had arrived in town! Too cool.  We just had to get a picture of the Archimedes with that ship.

Excerpt from a flyer:

"El Galeon is a replica of a ship that traveled the coasts of Florida between the 16th and 18th centuries - transporting soldiers, colonists, goods, culture and ideas, and creating a centuries old bond between America and Europe.  The galleon was a large armed vessel used in transoceanic trade.  The vessel evolved in response to Spain's need for an ocean-crossing cargo ship capable of fending off pirates.  Pedro Menendez,founder of St. Augustine, along with Alvaro de Bazan, is credited with developing the galleon prototype.  The galleon was the mainstay of the Spanish Treasure Fleets that brought Spain great wealth and world power from the New World.

El Galeon is a 170 foot, 495 ton authentic wooden replica of a Spanish galleon.  It is owned and operated by the Nao Victoria Foundation of Seville, Spain.  Twenty-eight crew members are tasked with maneuvering more than 9,600 square feet of sail area in the same fashion as 16th century sailors.  Visitors on-board will explore the history and authentic interiors of a 16th century galleon while experiencing the detailed craftsmanship and grandeur of the vessel."

The Captain and I definitely want to take the tour of that ship on our way back down the east coast.

And a nice photograph of the end of our first day heading north toward Fernandina Beach.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Starting Up for Winter Season 2014-2015

The leaves had just begun to turn to their beautiful fall colors as we packed up to head south for the winter.  Our summer in Tennessee was great!  Well for me that is.  Carter worked his fool tail off while I enjoyed lots of great family time.

Our usual caravan!   This year Carter has decided to try out a different dinghy instead of the Boston Whaler.  We will be testing out Carter's latest invention using the the old dinghy Carter had set up for Ellen Peterson when she was alive. He has done extensive work to the old boat and we've named it "Spirit of Ellen Peterson" or Ellen for short.  This is the boat that inspired the idea solar propulsion for the Archimedes. .

One of Carter's project for the summer was to get his idea for "Ellen" as far along as possible and finish up once we get to Florida.

What is Carter's idea?  A flap tracker system, scaled down, of course.

Carter spent quite a bit of his very little free time working on this project in Tennessee.  He repaired the bottom and rub rail, painted it and he continues to detail it now that we are here in FL. 

It was raining when we arrived and it rained along with cold weather for quite a while. Obviously, the ramp to the boat had to be completed 

Carter decided to concentrate on indoor projects until the weather improved.  This included installing an additional water heater, a central A/C system (nice) and several upgrades to our power system wiring.   These projects kept him busy for quite a while.  But first he finished the hanging locker project we started back in the summer.

I really like the full length mirror for a door.

After clearing everything out of the mechanical room, Carter decided it was time to spruce this room up with some paint.   The shelf looks pretty good right?  Sorry I can't say the same for the salon and the stateroom ... where everything went in the meantime.

Unfortunately you have to make a mess to clean something up.  

Some piping for the new A/C unit needed to be done under the galley sink which is located next to the mechanical room so it got unloaded and a fresh coat of paint as well.

While Carter was working on of his projects, I put a fresh coat of paint on the chairs in the "veranda" and then headed back to Tennessee to finish a volunteer obligation.

For the new central A/C system Carter took one of those portable units that you usually run a hose out the window to operate. He bought it at a yard sale in Tennessee for $50 bucks, chopped it up with a Dremel tool, and reassemble it in the mechanical room with a new water cooled condenser coil. Carter admitted it was a little more work than he thought it would be but it cools the whole boat really well and it's nice to have that window unit out of the forward hatch that barely got the main salon cool.

Other projects:  loaded an additional battery bank, replaced 4 solar panels and replaced chain on the ground tackle.  After getting all this done, we washed the boat, Carter launched the Spirit of Ellen Peterson and we departed the marina on December 3rd.

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.