Monday, May 04, 2015

Green Cove Springs

Green Cove Springs, Floida

What a nice place this is! Many other cruisers knew about Green Cove Springs long ago, but it is new to Libby and me.

The lounge and facilities at Reynolds Park Marina are the best I've ever seen.  Holland Marine, who will haul and paint Tarwathie for me is reputed to be a top notch business.  However, we are avoiding Green Cove Springs Marina on the advice of Dave & Pam (long time blog readers).

The river naer here is great for day sailing.  The surrounding area is very nice.  The only caveat is that you need a car to enjoy thonse surroundings.

We are scheduled to be hauled out Wednesday morning.  Until then, Libby and I are preparing to leave Tarwathie for the summer.  That feels very strange.

Historically, this place was a navy base.  The extrmely long and solid docks were designed for the largest of US Navy ships.

Unfortunately, there is a 45 foot bridge only 1/2 mile from here that prevents us from going further on the Saint Johns River.  We understand from our friends Jeff and Wendy that the upstream region would be a pleasure to cruise.

By the way, this is the only river I can remember that flows North.  It has totally fouled my internal compass.  I pride myself with having a very strong sense of place and direction, but it is messed up here.

By the way, another curiosity of this place is a gigantic space shuttle external fuel tanked parked nearby. It is a unique sight. It's probably for sale if you need one.

Friday, May 01, 2015


Jacksonville, FL

We are in downtown Jaxonville.   Since Tarwathie is tied up at the JAX public dock, I thought that might make a good blog post on a subject that I've never touched before.

Libby and I are big fans of Skipper Bob cruising guides.  (We don't like The Waterway Guide; we owned one but gave it away.) Our favorite words in Skipper Bob are FREE DOCK.  (Probably the favorite of most others too.)

Below is a list of all the FREE DOCKs that I can think of, arranged North to South.  I do not list many "dock and dine" docks, nor docks that enforece "No Overnight".    Here's a chance for some fun.  I suspect that my list includes less than half the actual number on the USA East Coast.  Blog readers who know of others are invited to post comments to this post.

  • ME, NH, MA, RI, CT (can't think of any.)
  • Vermont: Vergennes city docks.  On Otter creek at the base of Vergennes Falls.  This is our favorite.  You can't find a prettier scene.   Free 15A power, free water.
  • NYS Canal System.   90% of the locks and 50% of the non-lock facilities offer free docks for 48 hours.  I'll mention below our favorites.
  • Whitehall, NY  on the wall above the lock.  Free showers.  Free 30A power (on again, off again).  
  • Lock 11, idyllic green and serenity
  • Lock 9, idyllic green and serenity
  • Mechanicville, on the wall downtown, free 30A power & water & showers.
  • Waterford,  30A power ($10) free water & showers.  Loaner shopping carts and nearby supermarkets.
Erie Canal
  • Lock 7, idyllic green and serenity. Free 15A 120V power,
  • Lock 11, Amsterdam, Free 15A 120V power. urban, noisy.
  • Lock 15, Canajoharie, Free 30A power & water.  Neraby Arkel Museum!
  • Lock 16, Fort Plain, green & nice.
  • Lock 17, Little Falls, landing in the canal above the lock, good to take a walking tour of the historic town.
  • Floating Dock, General Schuyler Mansion.  Tie up for an hour and tour this revolutionary era mansion.
  • Lock 20, Marcy,  Free 15A power & water.  Pavilion beside the dock has concerts Thurday nights.
  • Rome NY, urban, noisy, but close to Fort Stanwix
  • Sylvan Beach,  next to and amusement park, nearby restaurants.  Avoid weekends!!!!
  • Lock 23, green & quiet.
  • Palmyra Public docks.  Go there to see the Mormon Pagent, outstanding experience.  Also tour the museums downtown.
  • Newark canal wall.  Free 30A, water, showers, nearby clock museum and Wegmans and ice cream stand.  Great place!
  • Medina canal wall.  Visit the great RR museum.
Hudson River & South
  • Athens Public dock.  Says "no overnight" but not enforced.
  • Mariners restaurant docks, Poughkeepsie.  Not pretty, very very noisy train, but the only place to stop or anchor in nearly 50 miles.  Another dock and dine across the river that we have not tried yet.
  • Cambridge, MD public dock.  Sailing the Choptank is nice.  No facilities here, but nice.
  • Porstmouth, VA basins.  Two basins downtown.
  • Elizabeth Docks, on the DSC side of the Deep Creek Lock.  Nearby Food Lion, and Auto Parts stores. Visit with Robert the lock tender.  He has great stories.
  • NC Welcome Center, Dismal Swamp Canal.  One of our favorites.  Water, no power, WiFi.
  • Elizabeth City Public Docks,  Famous for the Rose Buddies hospitality and wine & cheese parties.  Water, no power, nearby showers $5.  All kinds of stores.
  • Oriental Public Docks,  A favorite for everyone.  No facilities.
  • New Bern, Union Point Park.  No facilities.  Says "no overnight" but not enforced.  Downtown New Bern is a jewel.
  • Provision Company, Southport, NC.  I think these docks are no longer available.
  • Sisters Creek.  Brand new.  Just 200 yards north of Sisters Creek Bridge, 300 feet of excellent docks.  No facilities.
  • Jacksonville Landing, where we are tonight.   No facilities. 
  • New Symrna Beach, floating docks and piling lined walls.  No facilities.  Nearby charming downtown.
  • Cocoa FL, Public Dock.  Says "three hours only" don't know if that is enforced.
  • Okeechobee Waterway: Labelle City Docks.  Brand new.  Free 30A power & water.  Close to Log Cabin BBQ - yummy.
Readers, please comment with descriptions of your favorites. I'll edit them into the list above.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We Have Wheels. Good or Bad?

Saint Augustine, FL

Well, we did it.  We took the plunge.  Yesterday, we went out and bought a car. A Toyota Camry, very nice.  Fanciest car we've ever owned. We have 60,000 miles left on the warranty!  We also test drove a Prius.  The Prius is very nice, and I love the idea of getting 50+ mpg, but it can't hold a candle to the Camry in terms of comfort and luxury.  I guess we arrived at the age where a luxurious car can't be resisted.

We did it for a specific reason.  I hurt my back, and I don't feel up to the 5000 mile round trip voyage up to Lake Champlain on Tarwathie.  Therefore, we'll leave Tarwathie on the hard in Green Cove Springs, and drive north this summer.   

But we also plan to keep this car indefinitely, so it represents a significant life-style change.   Libby and I both have serioius trepidations.   I could say that we now have one foot in the grave, but that sounds morbid and it overstates the reality.  It is more accurate to say that, it feels that we now have one-foot in the CLOD domain (Cruisers Living On Dirt).   But we love our cruising life so much, that being a CLOD and being half dead sound the same to us.

  • We can take side trips and extend our range (same reason for having an outboard on the dinghy.)  
  • We can hopefully attract more family visitors in the winter if we can offer to pick them up at the airport.
  • The last time we owned a car (2012-13), in only six months our physical conditioning went to hell.  That is despite our efforts to use the car less and walk more.  Once again, I plan to resist that trend, but success is not guaranteed. 
  • Our 4 months spent on our annual north/south migration were our favorite parts of the year.
  • There is another temptation to use the car as a garage to aquire and store more stuff.   Owning less stuff is one of the primary benefits of cruising.   Now we have one very big "thing" to be responsible for (the car), and we must avoid having more.
  • We'll have to learn a way to handle getting both the car and the boat from Green Cove to Marathon next fall.  Other cruisers do that regularly, but we are novices on that part.

So, please don't leave messages of congratulations or condolences as comments to this blog.  We're not sure which applies.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


South Daytona, Florida
29 05.50 N 080 56.97 W

We spent last night at the public floating dock in New Smyrna Beach.  Libby likes that spot because it is close to the farmer's market.   Last night we had special entertainment.   Several hundred senior prom couples came to the waterfront to take pictures.  Lots of very beautiful women and very handsome men.

Immediately upon departing this morning, we had to go under the George Manson drawbridge.  That reminded me of a bloggable topic.

Nearly all captains have the instinct to never stop directly under an open drawbridge.  That bridge is like the sword of Damocles. It could close at any second.  Typically, boats accelerate and bunch up as they go under a bridge to minimize the opening time.

Once in Saint Augustine, we were heading north.  The sailboat in front of us wanted to anchor on the north side of the bridge, but he couldn't see the anchorage from the south side of the bridge.  What did he do?  He stopped dead directly under the bridge to look around.  I was behind him going fast.  There was not enough room to go around him.  All I could do was emergency stop.  No time to even reach for the horn or yell.   DON'T STOP UNDER A BRIDGE EVER.

When should you shout DON'T GO?  When backing out of a slip or coming out from a blind side passage into the path of passing traffic.

A third safety tip is the one I believe is most often violated.  LOOK BEHIND YOU.   That man going under the bridge did not think to look behind before stopping.   Big sport fishing boats that leave huge wakes, do not look behind them to see the havoc that their wakes cause.   Of course you are supposed to look where you are going, but there is a secondary responsibility to look behind also.  In cars or trucks, we have mirrors that allow us to glance behind in just a fraction of a second.  On boats, rear view mirrors are not common.  You must turn your head and body to look back.   Regardless of difficulty, DO IT!

Libby and I must stand up 100% of the time when under way (and not out at sea).  We stand to see over the dinghy.  That makes it easier for us to spin 360 degrees to look all around.  We do so every time we are about to change course or speed, plus once per minute  otherwise.  

Drawbridges require maximum alertness and situational awareness.  There are often squarely currents that move you from side to side.  Traffic might appear unexpectedly from the left or right before or after the bridge.   Other boats may do unexpected things, and the bridge tender may decide to close the bridge. If you approach the opening from any direction other than 90 degrees, your vulnerability to currents and surprises is increased. When passing under a drawbridge with traffic in front and behind us, I spin 360 degrees nonstop, alert and ready to take evasive action.  Because I am nervous, I usually do it at high speed to get through as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Morfarfar's Privilege

Vero Beach, Florida
27 37.70 N 080 22.24

Morfarfar's Privilege.   It is the privilege of grandparents to brag and show off pictures of their offspring.  This jewel shows our granddaughter Sara, and Sara's daughter Anna.  Aren't they both just too  beautiful for words?

By the way, I like the Swedish system better than the English one.  Instead of great grandfather in English, I am mor-far-far in Swedish, i.e. mother's father's farther.  That is more specific, logical, and rhythmic.  The only trouble is that most Swedes don't really say that, they say gammal morfar,which translates to the old granddad.  I don't like that version at all. :-)