Monday, September 28, 2009

Fernandina Beach Revisited

Sunday, September 20 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Yawn! After a fantastic week with Stacy's family, we're both trying to recover from the red-eye flight. Neither of us slept on the flight home, so we're pretty useless for the rest of the weekend. Wanting to take advantage of the rental car, we do some heavy provisioning on Sunday morning. We're supposed to get the car back to Enterprise by noon; since Publix is next door to the Enterprise office, Rene figures it's a good time to make sure there's a key drop. No problem, right? Wrong! There's no key drop, and the office is closed on Sunday. Okay, maybe there's an Enterprise drop off at the Fernandina Beach airport. Rene calls the local number and gets transferred to an endless loop. Next he calls the national number and is told that he can either return the car to the Jacksonville airport or pay for another day and return it to the Fernandina Beach office on Monday. Wait a second - we paid a one-way drop-off fee NOT to drop it in Jacksonville. Why didn't someone tell us we couldn't drop the car off on Sunday? The agent basically tells Rene that it isn't Enterprise's problem, and hangs up on him. Rene is ready to park the car in front of the office and tape the keys to the door, and damn the consequences. On the way back to the marina, Stacy calls the national number again and hopes to get a more reasonable agent. We're basically told the same thing, but at least this agent takes the time to check with a supervisor and tells us that we can return the car to Fernandina Monday morning, explain the situation, and it'll be up to the local branch manager to waive the second day rental fee due to the misunderstanding. Rene is there when they open at 7:30 Monday morning, and they do, in fact, waive the fee. Whew - one headache resolved. (Gotta love it - the local office tells us that we could've taken the car to an Enterprise branch in a local hotel; the national office was just clueless.)

Monday we begin feeling human again, and join LA & Susan for dinner aboard Genesis. Susan makes an amazing veal dish, and Rene brings a couple of bottles of good wine. We have a terrific evening - we're really going to miss them when they leave! We reciprocate with dinner on Pipe Muh Bligh on Wednesday night. LA & Susan have decided to leave Fernandina on Thursday morning, so this will be our last visit for awhile. We also learn that Susan's birthday is on Thursday - more reason to celebrate!

Wednesday also turns out to be one of those strange days that deserves a special mention in the blog. First we decide that it's "World Wildlife Day" or something. We start the morning with a dolphin fly-by, something that we rarely see in Fernandina. Later in the day, we see three manatees munching on growth at the dinghy dock. They don't seem too afraid of us, and stay on the surface for quite a few seconds before going back underwater. Back on the boat that afternoon, Rene sees a big sea turtle at the surface. That's definitely a first for us on the ICW! We also get a reminder of how small the cruising community really is: that afternoon, we see a familiar catamaran come in and moor on the buoy in front of us. It's Chris & Robin on Toucan Dream, the couple who used to live at our old marina! We last saw them in Beaufort, SC, back in early August. They're heading south after spending a month in Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately we have bad timing - our dinner goes late and they're leaving early in the morning, so we don't get a chance to visit with them this time. They're going home to Port St. Lucie, so hopefully we'll get to stop by to see them on our way to Ft. Lauderdale.

Thursday morning Chris & Robin are already gone when we get up, but we have a chance to wave to Susan & LA as they leave for Cumberland. We don't have a chance to get lonely, as we have three new visitors arrive in Fernandina around lunchtime. Matt is an old friend and co-worker of Rene's, and he and his wife and son are visiting from Atlanta. We were supposed to meet up with them in Jacksonville this weekend, but random occurrences kept us all here. First, our navigation instruments still haven't arrived, so we can't take the boat to Jacksonville. Second, Matt's sister, who lives in Jacksonville and was the primary reason for choosing that meeting spot, was kept out of town on business. Now there's no reason for Matt and his family to go to Jax, so we all decide to meet up in Fernandina instead. It works out really well, as they get a hotel near the beach and we get to spend more time visiting and relaxing with them. We have dinner in town with them on Thursday, and the rest of the weekend is spent poolside at their hotel. The hotel has just opened, and in addition to the pool and hot tub, it has a great BBQ area and putting green - perfect for Matt's 4-year-old son. They stay in Fernandina Beach through Sunday. We have a great visit with them, and plan to get together again next year when we pass through Georgia.

On another note, we finally have some good news about our navigation instruments! We receive the first set of instruments back from Raymarine on Thursday afternoon (9/24), two full months after our lightning strike. Everything but the chartplotter, GPS, and downstairs graphics module has had to be repaired. Rene installs the first set, including putting the wind instrument back at the top of our 63' mast, and finally sees a message other than "Sea Talk Failed". Yippee! We receive the rest of the equipment (chartplotter & GPS) on Tuesday (9/29), and motor to St. Mary's inlet on Wednesday for a sea-trial to calibrate the nav instruments. What a laugh! Sea-trial step 1: make two circles in your boat. Each circle should take at least 2 minutes to complete, and the boat should not be going more than 2 knots. Okay...shouldn't be too difficult, right? Well, after two tries and about eight counter-clockwise circles with no success, Rene calls Raymarine. MUST go in clockwise circles for the system to work. (If only the guidebook said so...) Okay, let's try clockwise circles. Wait a second, we have two massive ships coming our way. They're the military escort ships that usually accompany nuclear subs into Kings Bay Naval Base! Does this mean that we'll finally see a sub up close and personal? Yeah! Uh-oh, we've been doing doughnuts in the inlet for two hours now. We probably look a little bit suspicious, and the Coast Guard understandably doesn't have a sense of humor when it comes to protecting the subs. No problem - we'll stay out of the way and will listen to VHF16. If anyone comes to question us, we'll be perfectly honest. Okay, here they come...the ships are coming into the channel and pass right next to us. And...NO SUB. :-( They must've taken one out this morning, and the ships are returning to the base. We've heard that they accompany the sub about 60 miles out before they come back, so the sub probably left early this morning. Not fair! Between our northbound and southbound trips, we've spent about 10 days off Cumberland Island (across from Kings Bay) and still haven't seen a sub. Oh, well...we know they really do come through here. Our friends, LA & Susan, got some amazing pictures last weekend. (Guys - we hope you don't mind us sharing one of your Facebook two are terrific photographers!)

Anyway, as the navy ships round the bend towards the base, we go back to making our two clockwise circle, two circles, three...four...and still NOTHING. Rene calls Raymarine back for more direction. After being connected with a "calibration expert", he's told the compass thingy isn't talking to the brain thingy. "Check the wiring." Ah-ha...a loose wire! Rene puts it back in place (hey, a compass heading - cool!), and we try for two more clockwise, 2-knot, 2-minute circles. Woo hoo - success! On to sea-trial step 2: give yourself plenty of open sea to maneuver - at least 100m wide and 500m long - to let autopilot run a few zig-zags. Okay, we're out of the channel, careful to miss a rock sticking out of the water that isn't on our charts. We set the autopilot to "learn", and the boat starts tacking left to right, left to right. It goes through 18 different tests (getting awfully close to a channel marker), before we get those magic words, "LRN PASS". Hot damn - we have calibrated instruments again!! Maybe we'll get out of Fernandina tomorrow after all.

After a last provisioning bike run to Publix, we enjoy a final Fernandina Beach dinner. LA & Susan recommended a place called "29 South" before they left, and we found the menu online. Yummy! 29 South calls itself a "farm to table" restaurant, meaning everything is organic - either grown in their own garden out back or bought from nearby farms. Rene has their Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chop, which is served with macaroni gratin with blackberry ginger preserves. Incredible! Stacy has the catch of the day, which is coconut-encrusted grouper on risotto-style couscous. Also fantastic. Thursday morning, we finally let ourselves loose from the mooring ball to leave Fernandina. The 28-mile trip takes about 7 hours, and we anchor a few miles north of Jacksonville Beach. We should arrive in St. Augustine tomorrow (Friday), and will likely spend the weekend there. From there, we'll head down the ICW, stopping in Stacy's old college town of Daytona Beach, followed by 30-40 mile day-sails with a few stops until we reach Ft. Lauderdale. We expect to get to FLL by the end of the month, and hope for a good weather window in early November so we can cross to the Bahamas. Along the way, we plan to see friends Sue and Ted (from Tarpon Springs, FL) for a Disney weekend, hope to visit Chris & Robin in Port St. Lucie, and will see Tracy again in Ft. Lauderdale. Depending on when LA & Susan head south, we may even get to hook up with them again before we make the crossing. 'Til next time!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seattle, Washington

Thursday, September 10 - Saturday, September 19
It's time for a family fix! We're off to Seattle to visit Stacy's family. We get to spend 8 days with them on dry land, and we're planning to make the most of it. Granted, it isn't quite as easy to travel these days as it used to be...

Living in a house (or even on a boat in a marina), you don't typically have to think about whether your home will still be there when you return. Will it still be in the same place you left it? Or will a storm have come up and blown it off its foundation? As a full-time cruiser, if you want to leave the boat to visit family and friends, you have three options: 1) keep the boat in a marina tied to a dock/slip; 2) anchor the boat; or 3) keep the boat on a mooring ball in a mooring field. The marina option is the most secure option, but it's also the most expensive. For a boat Pipe's size, we're looking at an average of $100 per day, and we wouldn't even be on the boat to enjoy the marina's amenities! Option 2 - anchoring - is a great way to save money (i.e. it's free), but we're not ready to leave the boat anchored for an extended period of time without being around to check on it. We've had a few experiences with a dragging anchor, and we'd rather not risk the boat not being there when we get back. Option 3 - a mooring ball - is a great compromise; it's cheap and secure, but there aren't a lot of mooring fields available in the southeastern US. Enter Fernandina's a nice town with a city-run mooring field, and it's fairly close to a major airport. Perfect!

Next up, we need to figure out how to get to the airport. We don't have a car, and biking the 27 miles to Jacksonville airport with luggage is out of the question. How about a taxi? Nope, we have to get the cats to the kennel before we leave. Okay, a rental car...just as long as we're willing to pay a drop-off fee for the one-way rental ($35 each way) plus insurance coverage ($10-20 per day). Oh,'s not like we get a rental car often. So...transportation to the airport, check.

What else? Kitty care! Since we don't live in Fernandina, we aren't familiar with the local kennels. Thank goodness for the internet! Stacy finds a few vets and kennels within 10 miles of Fernandina Beach, and we get lucky with one. "Kozy Kennels" has kitty condos that will allow Tux and Tawny to stay in a 3-story space together. The people seem like real animal lovers, and the kitty condos have glass fronts that let their occupants look out onto the fish tank and resident birds. So...kitty arrangements, check. Oops, wait a do we get the cats from the boat to shore? Into the cat carriers they go, and Tux and Tawny get to experience their first ride in the dinghy. They aren't thrilled, but they handle it much better than expected. Fortunately we pick up our rental car the day before our flight, so we can drop the kids off at the kennel that afternoon and have plenty of time with our last-minute boat preparations. We even have time to get together with friends and boat neighbors, LA & Susan. They're talking about leaving Fernandina Beach before we get back, so this may be our last visit for awhile.

Thursday morning we load our luggage into the dinghy, move the kayaks and man-overboard pole into the cabin, and lock everything up. Nothing is left topside - even the wheel has been removed and locked in the lazarette. As we dinghy to shore, we're both struck by how strange it feels to be leaving the boat. This is the first time we've spent any real time off the boat in over six months, and we're like nervous parents leaving their baby overnight with a sitter for the first time! We're sure everything will be fine, and the trip to the airport goes off without a hitch. We take a commuter to Houston and use our last President's Club pass to enjoy our 3-hour layover in comfort; we finally land in Seattle by 6pm local time. Let the "vacation" begin!

The next week is filled with family dinners, visits with old friends, and a side trip to the mountains. We stay with Stacy's grandpa, but see her mom and step-dad every day. Mom has just retired (congrats!), so she and Ken are in the process of renting their house and heading to sunnier weather for the winter. The house is getting low on furniture and cooking utensils, so Papa's place makes for a much easier gathering spot! Saturday we meet up with Stacy's aunt, uncle, and 10-year-old cousin, Matt, for pizza at one of the family hangouts, Pegasus on Alki. Matt's such a great kid, not to mention an outstanding student and baseball/soccer player. It's great to see him and his parents, and we hope to see them again before we leave. Sunday we have dinner with Stacy's friend, Andie, and her kids. Stacy and Andie have known each other since they were 2 years old, and we try to get together every time we're in Seattle. Our visits are always too short, but at least we have a chance to catch up.

Monday morning we head to Mt. St. Helens with Stacy's mom. St. Helens erupted on the morning of May 18, 1980, killing 57 people in the process. The blast flattened 230 square miles of forest and blew ash over 60,000 feet into the air. The ash cloud could be seen from over a hundred miles away, and anyone living in Washington state at the time can still tell you where they were and what they were doing that day. The volcano was active as recently as 2004, but has quieted down in the past few years. Three visitors centers have been built near the mountain, detailing the eruption, its victims, and the return of plants and animal life that has occurred over the past 29 years. None of us has ever been to St. Helens - either before the blast or after - and we've been looking forward to our visit. Wouldn't you know...we've been so lucky to have beautiful sunny weather for the past few days, but the clouds have found us on our drive to the summit. We get to the Johnston Ridge Visitor's Center around 1:30pm, just in time for the 15-minute movie detailing the eruption. It's a dramatic presentation, opening with the last words of geologist and St. Helens victim, David Johnston, at the moment of the eruption, and ending with the raising of the curtain to reveal the crater at eye-level just 5 miles away. It's an impressive sight, and would be even more so were it not for the clouds covering the top of the mountain! Sigh... We wander through the center, reading survivor accounts and details of the blast, and head outside to follow the "eruption trail" that winds along the edge of the ridge facing the crater. Much of the landscape is still barren from the blast, and dead trees can still be seen on distant hillsides, flattened like toothpicks in the direction of the blast. As much as we cajole and threaten, Mother Nature won't listen to us, and we never do get to see the full crater through the cloud cover. We still have a great time, and make a few more photo stops en route to our hotel late that afternoon. The hotel is built on the edge of Silver Lake, 45 miles from the summit of Mt. St. Helens. We can feed the ducks from our balcony, and can even see the mountain (and yes, the clouds have thinned since we left the summit...grrr).

The next morning, we wake to a beautiful blue sky. We're going back to the summit! We make the 45 mile drive through the winding mountain road, passing the replanted forests on either side. The Weyerhaeuser Company owns much of the land leading up to the mountain, and signs tell us the types of trees and years planted of each section of forest. Back at Johnston Ridge, we walk up the trail below the visitors center for a good vantage point. The clouds have remained light, and we're finally able to get a close-up view of the crater. There's no snow on the mountain this time of year, so you can really see where the north face just blew away. It's an awe-inspiring sight, and we're really glad to have made the trip.

Wednesday we're back in Seattle. We've heard rave reviews from the family about a new waterfront restaurant in Tacoma, and make a date with Grandpa, Mom, and Ken for lunch at CI Shenanigans and a visit to the Museum of Glass. CI Shenanigans has fresh seafood dishes and incredible views of Puget Sound. (If you have a chance to go there, try to sit in Marcus's section.) The Museum of Glass has become famous, thanks in part to Tacoma-native, Dale Chihuly. (If you've been to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, you've probably seen his glass artwork on the lobby's ceiling.) The "Bridge of Glass" is a 500' overpass that connects the art, history, and glass museums, and includes both a wall and a ceiling filled with Chihuly pieces.

Thursday we have a semi-rest day at Grandpa's, and Rene makes his "world-famous" lasagna. It's the last chance for the entire family to get together before we go back to Florida, and we're thrilled that Sue, Don, and Matt can join us on a school night! We already know that we won't be able to be with either of our families over the holidays, so getting to spend this time together means even more to us. We're still trying to convince the family to come visit us, either in the Bahamas or on the East Coast next spring or summer. We'll see!

Friday night we take the red-eye flight back to Florida (via Houston). We arrive in Jacksonville around 11:30am, and are eager to pick up the kitties and get back to the boat. They're definitely a little freaked out, but seem happy to be back on the boat with us. The boat is fine when we get back, and we're happy to see that LA & Susan haven't left while we've been away. We'll get to spend a bit more time with them before we both head to our next destinations!

Pictures for this Blog chapter:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the Road Again...Heading South, Part II

Wednesday, September 2 - Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Greetings, friends and family! This is our last blog before we fly to Seattle to see Stacy's family. We can't wait to get there! The kitties are staying in a "suite" at Kozy Kennels, and we'll leave the boat moored in Fernandina Beach. It's supposed to be a good hurricane hole, but we'll still keep our fingers and toes crossed that no storms pop up while we're away. As for the past the end of our last post, we were getting ready to raise anchor to go the last 10 miles from St. Simon's Island to Brunswick, GA...

We've made it! It rained the entire time we were crossing the sound, and we were bundled up in ponchos and windbreakers trying to keep the drops coming through the bimini out of our eyes. (Note to's time to re-ScotchGuard the canvas.) Once we turned up the East River towards Brunswick, it finally began to taper off. We've probably already said this, but we really love the Brunswick Landing Marina! The people are incredibly friendly, there's a great "captain's lounge" with a book exchange and cable TV, and the laundry is free. But the best thing about the marina - especially on a lousy weather day like today - is that it isn't prone to strong winds or currents. Even though it was blowing 15-20kts in the sound, it's pretty calm once we get near the marina; it makes maneuvering the boat stern-to into the slip so much easier (not to mention the extra wide slips)! As for amenities, the marina is a quick walk from the city's historic downtown, and the grocery store is a 2-mile bike ride away. We've decided to stay here for two days since the weather is supposed to be lousy all day today; we really need to get to the grocery store and do a few outside boat projects, and the rain is supposed to stop by tomorrow. Tonight we're going back to Cargo Portside for dinner. For those of you who haven't read our original Brunswick blog from June or July, this is a fantastic restaurant. They have a fairly young chef who loves to experiment with different flavors and combinations, and it's really tough trying to pick just one dish from the menu. Tonight we'll likely pick an old favorite; Stacy's already called "dibs" on their Pork Cubano (Rene had it last time), but it may also be time to try their signature dish, lobster mac n cheese.

We've also been trying to clear out the freezer before we leave for Seattle, so we've been forcing ourselves to cook more. This is pretty easy when we're at anchor in remote spots, but it gets a little more challenging when we go back to a city with a restaurant that we love! Case in point, Brunswick. Cargo Portside is an outstanding restaurant for a "special" meal, and it's a no-brainer that we'll go there when we're in Brunswick. However, Brunswick is also home to one of our top 5 pizza parlors (Arte's on the main drag; get the quattro stagioni). Knowing we won't be through here again for at least 8 months, how to we not take advantage and go to our favorite haunts?! In this case, we'll justify it by promising not to eat out again until the night before we fly to Seattle. After dropping off the cats at the kennel, packing our suitcases, and prepping the boat for any potential problems while we're gone, we'll probably be more than ready for a good Irish beer and cottage pie at O'Kane's!

As it happens, we can't eat at Cargo Portside without trying one of their phenomenal appetizers. They've changed the menu in the past week or so, so the ahi duo is gone; however, they've got another appi dish that reminds us of Mi Luna in Houston: the "tomato rustica" is a tomato, goat cheese, & herb fondue served with grilled bruschetta. It's a perfect appetizer to our main courses, the Pork Cubano and the Lobster Macaroni & Cheese. If you haven't read our earlier Brunswick post...first of all, you MUST have dinner at Cargo Portside! Reservations are recommended, but you can usually get a table unless it's a weekend. Second, try the Pork Cubano! It's a gorgeous pork chop dusted with Cuban spices, and served on sweet potato mash with a poblano & pumpkin relish. Another signature dish is their Lobster Mac & Cheese; it's been a "daily" chalkboard special for years, and they finally added it to their full-time menu earlier this month. Pictured above, it includes a full lobster tail and is served with seashell pasta, applewood smoked bacon, sauteed spinach, and plum tomatoes in a gourmet cheese sauce (gouda, parmesan, cheddar, etc.).

The next day, we try to overcome our full tummies with a bike ride to Winn Dixie. After a mini-provisioning run, we backflush the a/c drains, clean the boat, clean the carpets, get a pump-out, fill the water tanks, and do the laundry. It sounds like a lot, but it's not often that we stay at a marina, and we need to take advantage of it when we're here! We also meet a couple from Kemah, Doug & Pat. They're heading to the Bahamas this winter as well, so hopefully we'll see them there!

Friday we leave Brunswick Landing Marina at 8:30am to make high tide at Jekyll Island Marina and the nearby bridge. We need enough water to get through shoal-prone Jekyll Creek, but must also allow for enough outflow to get us under the bridge (65' vertical clearance). The bridge doesn't have a clearance gauge, so we hope for the best. We make good time under the Brunswick bridge and across the sound to the entrance to Jekyll Creek. There's plenty of water, and we never see less than 12' through Jekyll Creek. Although bridges without reader boards (i.e. water/clearance gauges) always make us nervous, we call the marina near Jekyll Island bridge and are told that we'll have plenty of room. We also see at least a foot of waterline at the base of the bridge, so here goes...and, we're clear! We head across St. Andrew Sound towards Cumberland Island; the wind and waves have kicked up, and we have a sick Tux (boy cat) for the first time in months. Sorry, sweetie! The waves slow our progress, but we finally get out of the open sound and tuck closer into Cumberland shore. We're fine for most of the trip, until we reach...(enter suspenseful music here)...marker 60A. Marker 60A sits at the intersection of Brickhill River and the ICW, and is one of those areas that's a mess no matter what you do. For starters, most charts actually put the magenta ICW line on the wrong side of the marker (if ever in doubt, follow the markers - NOT the chartplotter). There's supposed to be a marker 60 and 60A, but 60 has disappeared since the last time we came through. Our cruising guide recommends giving 60A a wide berth, but it doesn't quite spell out just how wide. We stay in the channel to go past 60A, but don't want to get too close to the Brickhill River entrance since we see shoaling at the corners (we're pretty close to low tide). We have plenty of water..15'...11'...then 5'! Full reverse! We get unstuck and call Tow Boat for some local knowledge. They don't answer, but we figure they're pretty busy since this is Friday afternoon on Labor Day weekend. We see a motor cruiser coming up behind us, and call him on the VHF. He's managed to get around us, and draws about 3.5'. He sees less than 6' (his depth gauge flashes below 6', but doesn't show the actual depth at that point); then it's 5', and then he's stuck as well. We try to get through again, trying a wider berth this time. We get stuck again, and try calling the Tow Boat hotline on the phone. We finally reach someone, just as Rene manages to free us. We finally decide to go further into the mouth of Brickhill River; even though we see shallows at the corners, the guidebook says this is a deep river. Holding our breath, we make a wide arc around 60A and into the river's entrance. Amazingly, we have 11' all the way, and the depth increases to 20' once we're past the marker. Woo hoo - we're through! We try to reach the motor cruiser on VHF, but he's off for the moment. We head down the ICW with a close eye on the depth gauge...fingers crossed, as our 3 sources (ICW guide, Skipper Bob, and USACE survey) all say that this is just about the last trouble spot before we arrive at our anchorage.

After a final shallow near the entrance to Kings Bay (marker 79 before the markers switch from ICW to Cumberland Sound's channel), we make it to our anchorage near Cumberland Island. It's a lot busier than the last time we were here, and we see more boats anchor as the weekend continues. Welcome to Labor Day weekend! :-) We also get as close to a nuclear sub as we'll likely get: Friday evening, we see two large ships head out to sea an hour before sunset. We've been told that these are "chaperone boats" that flank an incoming sub. Soon afterwards, we see a Coast Guard boat head out. We're pretty excited since we've been hoping to see a sub come through the channel since our first visit four months ago. Given the late time, we head below for dinner and keep an eye out the windows (along with an ear tuned to VHF16). We never hear or see signs of a sub, but we do hear a mechanical wining around 3am. After multiple (not to mention fruitless) trips topside, we finally give up on our sub hunting, assuming the sound is coming from a nearby cruiser's generator. The next morning, we see both chaperone boats back at port, and no sign (of course) of our sub buddy. Granted, we never hear our neighbor's generator, either! Most likely, the sound we heard was the sub's chaperone ships coming back into port (the subs themselves are built to operate in stealth mode, or so says Tom Clancy). Sadly, we never see our big fish, but we'll keep looking every time we pass through this area!

Monday we sail the whopping five miles to Fernandina Beach, FL (we LOVE these short trips!). As we motor into the anchorage towards our mooring ball, we see LA & Susan on Genesis anchored right outside the mooring field. Hooray...we have friends here! Rene wastes no time and goes to the top of the mast Monday afternoon to get the wind vane down to send to Raymarine. Stacy initially hoists him up with the help of the electric winch, but it gives out when Rene is about 2/3 up the mast. Time to use the old muscles! Between Rene's climbing and Stacy's manual winching, we get him up. The transducer is hard-wired to a cable that runs down the length of the mast...all 63' of that isn't going to Raymarine. Rene gets everything else out of the boat, and we're ready to ship it all back to the company after we pick up our rental car on Wednesday. Hopefully they'll be able to figure out once and for all what's wrong with the instruments...and we'll have them back by the time we're ready to leave Fernandina for Jacksonville on the 24th!

Tuesday evening, LA & Susan come over for happy hour and we have a chance to catch up on all the craziness of our cruising lifestyles since our last meeting in Marathon. They'll continue heading north, but we should meet up with them again this winter in the Bahamas. Can't wait! After happy hour, we head off to O'Kane's (our Irish pub) for a quick dinner and some US Open on TV. We're back on the boat by 10:30pm, where Rene manages to crash (sleep-wise) while Stacy works on the blog (hey, I promised to get this out before we leave for Seattle!). Wednesday, we're picking up a rental car, dropping the kitties off at their kennel/condo, and then going shopping to all of the places we can't reach without a car...the UPS store, Publix, Home Depot, Target and liquor store. Given that, dear friends and family, we'll call it a night. Our love and big hugs to all of you!