Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stiltsville

Biscayne Bay
25 40.36 N 080 09.83 N

Ah what a pleasure that sail was.  When winds blow from the West here that makes an offshore breeze.  The winds can do what they will but the waves never build up.  In addition, we hug the beach coming south in this area to avoid north flowing currents.  They say if you get close enough to the beach so that the depth is 30 feet, you avoid most of the current.  Sometimes that's so close that it feels like one could step off the boat into the surf.

Anyhow, the wind direction and velocity were ideal.  We glided southward at 6-7 knots, with no rocking of the boat for many hours.   Around 3 AM the wind stopped and we had to motor.  Still, it was a fine passage.  26 hours from Vero Beach Marina to anchor down here in Biscayne Bay.

We had planned to go to Dinner Key, but as we got close our enthusiasm waned.  We woulld like peace, quiet and an nap.  Out here, near the famous Stiltsville, we will have a fine view of the sunset, a fine view of the Miami skyline at night, and lots of peace and quiet.   We could have gone in to No Name Harbor nearby, but then we would miss the views.  Winds will be <10 tonight, we do not need shelter.

You have probably seen pictures of Stiltsville many times.  It's pretty famous.  Perhaps you've seen it on CSI Miami's film clips.

Tomorrow's plan; who knows?



Stiltsville: "Crawfish" Eddie Walker built a shack on stilts above the water in 1933, toward the end of the prohibition era, allegedly to facilitate gambling, which was legal at one mile offshore. Crawfish Eddie sold bait and beer from his shack and was known for a dish he called chilau, a crawfish chowder made with crawfish he caught under his shack. Thomas Grady and Leo Edward, two of Eddie's fishing buddies, built their own shack in 1937. Shipwrecking and channel dredging brought many people to the area and more shacks were constructed, some by boating and fishing clubs. Local newspapers called the area "the shacks" and "shack colony".

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Escaped From Vero

ICW

I bet you thought we would get stuck in "velcro" beach for a few more months.  Well it is never easy to leave, but we did it.   We're motoring toward Fort Pierce right now.  After a final weather check, if everything goes right we'll go out to sea from Fort Pierce and head south.

Today looks like the beginning of a wonderful 5 day long window to sail South.  Not East to the Bahamas but rather South to the Keys.    We could probably be in Marathon in 36 hours, but we're in no hurry.  We would like to explore Conconut Grove and Biscayne Bay south of Miami.  Other cruisers speak well of the Dinner Key area.

I would also like to consider going to Marathon on the Bay side.   There's a lot more to see and more stops to make on the bay side of the keys.   In the past we've heard that it was too shallow and we were afraid of running aground.  The feedback from others is mixed.  Some day we can do it drawing 5 to 5.5 feet, others say no.   I'd appreciate some email and advice from others who have done it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I shoudn't be blogging this but ...

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

This post is very technical. It isn't about sailboat cruising, but it might be revealing about me. If that doesn't suit you, stop reading now.

For as long as I remember, I think about certain things while trying to go to sleep. It is analogous to counting sheep, except that my tastes lead me to think about scientific puzzles. For the past two decades, one of my favorites has been trying to visualize what happens on a molecular scale when a giant star collapses in a type II supernova. Go ahead an laugh; it's true.

Anyhow, recently I greatly surprised myself by actually figuring out something about the physics. I discovered something. Let me be clear. I'm sure that my discovery is nothing new or remarkable to the the scientists who study such things. It might even be written in their elementary textbooks. However, it was not written in anything I ever read. The discovery was new to me.

What is it? I'll try to explain as briefly as possible.

Dust clouds collapse on themselves because of gravity. The cores are compresses. Compressing increases the pressure and temperature (P & T). At some point, P*T reaches the critical point for nuclear fusion. Hydrogen nuclei fuse to make Helium and energy is released. The process is exothermic, i.e. it releases energy. The energy released opposes further collapse and a semi-stable equilibrium is reaches. In other words, a star is born.

When all the H is consumed, collapse restarts. P*T increases until Helium fusion begins in the innermost core. This happens again and again, until the star looks like an onion, with layers of heavier elements at the center. See the picture.



When fusion of Si into Fe ceases, the cycle ends (because Fe fusion does not release more energy). What happen then is that the center of the star collapses. The product is a remnant neutron star (or a black hole) in the center plus a massive supernova explosion casting off all the outer layers. The mysterious part, and the subject my my nocturnal musings for decades is that the collapse and explosion happens so fast. Indeed it happens in 0.2 seconds. That sounds far too fast to be believable. How can that be?

Here is what I abruptly realized after two drowsy decades. During collapse, P*T becomes so extremely high, that the heavy nuclei get smashed and split up. Instead of nuclear fusion, we have nuclear fission. For those nuclei, all the energy released by the many cycles of fusion must be put back!!! Instead of exothermic, the process is endothermic i.e. it absorbs energy! Instead of resisting further collapse, it accelerates it. Ah so.

That's not all. P*T is still so high that free electrons begin fusing with protons. The product is a neutron and some neutrinos. Neutrinos are reluctant to interact with matter so they fly away out of the core at the speed of light. It takes only microseconds for the neutrinos to exit the core, carrying energy away with them. In terms of the remaining  core material, that process is also endothermic. It causes the speed of core collapse to redouble!  Ah so.

There you have it. Instead of core collapse being mitigated and slowed by negative feedback, it is exacerbated and accelerated by positive feedback. That is why it happens so unbelievably fast.  Ah so. That was my "discovery".  It startled me and made me sit up in bed.,

Thank you for your interest. I hope my explanation was entertaining and understandable. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in Vero

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

Thanksgiving is perhaps the USA's best holiday. It is the best day of the year to be with family. It is the one day of the year that we most regret being on the boat instead of with our family. Oh well, that doesn't mean we must be depressed and not have fun.

The weather here in Vero was splendid today. Perfect temperatures, blue sky and lots of sun. In the morning I went to the beach and waded barefoot in the surf for a while. It felt great.

This afternoon was the time for the annual cruiser's Thanksgiving pot luck dinner. Libby worked through the morning to help set it up, then she returned to the boat and cooked a turkey in the pressure cooker. I think it was our first attempt at that. It worked well. The turkey came out moist and flavorful.

A few years ago the pot luck dinner was a near disaster. That was because the food ran out before the line of hungry people had been fed their first serving. I think everybody remembers that, and they won't let that happen again. Today there was lots of food. Those who wished were able to get second plate fulls. It was a great success. Many thans to Deb and Bob who organized it.

I took some pictures. The slideshow is here.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bucket List Item

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

On board Tarwathie, we're engaged in preparations for the huge pot luck Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.   Meanwhile, I came across the following outstanding bit of film from NASA.

My bucket list? I'm living it out right now. However, I always had one dream that will never be fulfilled.  I dreamed of being in low earth orbit and spending a day just looking out the window at the earth below.  To buy that privilege, I would spend all my wordly assets and forfeit the rest of my life.  Alas, I'll never have the opportunity.  The film below however, just whets my appetite.  Click on it to watch the video, then click on the full-screen icon.



Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pleasure Doing Business With You

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

My Droid has been getting old and ready to retire.  The on/off button failed, then the volume up/down buttons, then the touch screen started going crazy.   I have the $2/month insurance so I could get a reconditioned Droid for a $50 deductible.  However, reconditioned is not new -- the next phone might not be much better than what I have and I might have needed yet another reconditioned one in a few months.   I decided to spend $100 for a new phone rather than $50 for a reconditioned Droid.

I got a new Pantech phone from the Verizon store at the mall.  I must say that Verizon is not dumb.  Their price for service is sky high.  Their service is good, but everyone loves to complain about the phone company.  However, when your 2 year contract is up and you're free to stay a Verizon customer or not, then they treat you like royalty.  They sold me a new phone for $99.  It is like the Droid but only half the weight (no keyboard) and with a brighter screen that easier to use in sunlight.  It is also faster and has a later release of Android software with many refined features.   

Best of all, they let me retain my $30/month unlimited data plan. That's $20-$40 dollars per month cheaper than data plans offered to new customers.

So far, all my old apps work, including the easytether app I use to slave my laptop to the phone.  There are Verizon tethering and mobile wifi hotpot apps included, but I'm highly suspicious of those.  I think they will charge me $20/month extra if I try to use those apps.  Indeed, I'm suspicious and resentful of all Verizon pre-installed apps.  I don't trust them, and they won't let me uninstall them.

I have to download my apps fresh, but so far the ones I paid money for before are smart enough to download for free this time.   

Total time in the store to choose and activate the new phone -- 20 minutes.  All that adds up to a pleasant customer experience.  Like I said, Verizon is not dumb.  They focus their efforts where it really counts.

Now it is Libby who has the biggest task of getting accustomed to the new phone.  It does not say DROID when I get a new email.   Does anyone know how to download that sound for a non-Droid brand Android phone?

 I could have switched to an iphone for the same money.  No thanks, I rebel at giving Apple monopoly power over what I can and can't do with my device.


UPDATE:  The Pantech had problems with the charge/recharge.  I looked up the problem online.  It seems that numerous users had the same problems. I went back to Verizon and exchanged it for a Samsung Droid.   That cost a bit more but it is a higher quality phone.  So now I still have Droid, but from a different manufacturer.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Street View: Date Palm Road

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W


The neighborhood behind the Vero marina and the beach is especially nice.  The houses are modest in size and highly varied.  The gardens and yards are exquisite and varied.  The dominant trees, life oaks, make it shady and beautiful.   


During the week the neighborhood is deserted, but around supper time, all the lights are on and the houses are filled with people.  That tells me that the residents are working people.  The homes are not second or third vacation homes for the super rich.


Some of the houses and grounds are meticulously maintained, as if the Mexican gardener is there every day.  Other houses and grounds look almost abandoned,  Once again, variety.


There seems to be an invisible line between Vero and Melbourne, only 15 miles north.   South of the line is subtropical.   All sorts of tropical plants grow here that can't survive colder climates.  Along the waterways, 100% of the shore lines are overgrown with mangroves.  North of Vero, mangroves become increasingly rare until Matanzas.  Matanzas seems to be the northernmost extent of mangroves in Florida, and only the red mangrove species grows there.  Anyhow, the tropical climate in Vero makes the plant life especially beautiful.


The other day I walked up Date Palm Road.  It runs from the Vero marina and the ICW on one end, to the Atlantic Ocean on the other end.   Then I walked back on Euginia Road.  Along the way I snapped almost every house -- Google Street View style.   The slide show here shows the best shots.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OMG

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

What have we wrought?   Cheryl called Libby to say that she brought some of her baskets to a gift shop where Cheryl sell her home made soaps.  The gift store sold out the baskets in no time and asked for more -- all they could get.   Poor Libby, it drove her into a frenzy.

Since last summer, Libby has been basketing full speed to keep up with our social life.  You see, those baskets make perfect house gifts when we are invited to dinner.   But now with this store thing the demand doubled and redoubled.

Don't get me wrong, she still loves doing it.   It hasn't become a burden yet.  But the pace recently has been frenzied.

Below is the next batch we'll be sending to that store.  I really love how unique each basket is.  No two alike.  Libby says that she just starts and that the basket tells her how it wants to look.   She's also getting better at ending -- that is finishing the last row so smoothly that it's hard to tell where it ends.

I think that after sending this batch off, she'll slow down for a while.




Now below is something completely different.  That basket was a gift to Libby from her friend Mary Ann.  It is about the size and shape of Libby's baskets, but this one is made of multi-color telephone wire from Africa.  She loves it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rookies

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W


Vero Beach is a great place to meet cruisers of all kinds.   A large fraction of East Coast cruisers are heading directly for the Bahamas.   Few go to Marathon, but almost all of them stop in Vero.   Of course we meet veteran cruisers here, but I notice that every year there is a larger proportion of rookies than veterans.  The total population of cruisers does not seem to be cruising.  Therefore, many of these rookies must give up after the first season. What can we conclude from that?


The cruising life is not agreeable to everyone.   The freedom of movement and the simplification of life style veteran cruisers find to be the greatest appeal.   To others however, they experience it seen as estrangement from family and friends, and deprivation of the accustomed comforts of modern life.  We do after all, live most of our lives in a 10x15 foot area for two people smaller than a typical jail cell for one person.  What can we say about that?  To each their own.


It must also be true that many of these rookie cruisers have no intention of making it a life style.  They are on a once-in-a-lifetime extended vacation.   Some of them must be fulfilling a major bucket list item.  Good for them I say.  They are out there doing it rather than staying at home wishing they were doing something different.   


It must also be true that the terrible economy has a major effect.  Libby and I had no idea how lucky we were to get rid of our house and cars and other possessions in 2005, before the bad economy.  In today's markets it might be nearly impossible for people to extract themselves from the constraints of property ownership and the employment treadmill.   For those people we can do nothing more than express sympathy.  It would be very frustrating to have the will and the means to cruise, yet to be unable to escape another life style.


A final possibility is that some of these rookies are following my advice.   Very often we meet people who would like to cruise, but who are not confident that both husband and wife will like it.   I advise them to try it for one winter season.  The 80-20 rule should apply.  After one season, 80% of the trial cruisers will know better if they want more.  The ones who do, can try again for a full year.   After that there should only be 4% still undecided.  We've been told, that the magic number seems to be two years.  After two years of cruising, just about everyone is decided -- they either like it or they don't.


Did I talk about financial exploitation of these rookies by the magazines, and by the sellers of marine equipment?  I'll save that for another day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Work Ethic

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W


It's hard to maintain a work ethic down here.  


Yesterday I intended to realign the engine.  However, it was such a spelendid day weather wise, that I talked Libb6y into going to the beach instead.  We spent a couple of hours walking barefoot in the sand up to our ankles in water.  The water was warm.  It would have been good for swimming but the high surf red flags were still out.  Anyhow, it was a great day.  The beach here at Vero is really nice.


Today I resolved to do the alignment.   However, first thing in the morning I had to run the engine to charge the batteries.   Then the engine block was hot.  I had to wait 3 hours for it to cool.  I worked on the job for two hours.  I felt a lack of confidence that I was doing it right.   Around noon, an opressively hot sun swung around just enough to make it very hot in the cockpit.  I knocked off for the day.   Later that afternoon I ran into Tom.  Tom said that he's alighed several engines and would be glad to help.   That is after he's had a few days to get settled after arriving in Vero.  I guess the job won't get done for a few daya more.


On the other hand, we're retired.  We have no schedule. We are not up on the hard in a dusty boat yard.  Why should we follow a work ethic?  



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Force 10 Funk

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

I spent most of the day doing a galley stove rebuild.  I'm not happy.   Here's the story.


We have a 19 year old Force 10 galley stove.  It uses propane.   It has two burners and an oven.   Recently, the oven fails to warm up.  I decided it was time to fix it with a new thermostat.   Since buying Tarwathie, we've had a back with a "cruising kit" of spare parts for the stove.  We never had occasion to use it before.   The idea of a cruising kit is to have the parts to do any necessary repair from anywhere in the world where replacement parts can not be ordered.

I remove the stove, then I took it apart.  Lots of dirt accumulates in the inaccessible places over 20 years, so I had lots of cleaning to do.  Both the stove parts and the spaces behind beside and under the stove got a good cleaning.   Then I set out to fix it.

I figured that since the stove was so old, that I would do a complete rebuild and install nearly all the parts in the "cruising kit".  I soon found that I was thwarted.  With three burners on the stove, there were three of each burner-related part, except the spark plugs.  All three of our plugs had failed and I wanted to replace them.   Then I discovered that the kit did not include the oven thermostat that was my primary objective.  

The stove has three burners, each with a thermostat.  However the left burner, right burner, and oven burner come with copper tube tails of short, medium and long lengths.  I found that the cruising kit had three thermostats; two shorts and one medium, but no long one.  OH NO!

I called Force 10 in Canada.  The original Force 10 company was bought out by another company in 2006.  I talked to a nice young woman and explained the problem.  She found the part numbers for a spark plug and an oven thermostat and offered to send them, but she planned to charge me.  I protested.  The reason why I needed them was because of a defective cruising kit bought from them.   She asked about dates.   The stove was a 1992 model and the cruising kit was bought in 1997.

She said that the kit was too old to honor any sort of warranty on it.   I countered, "But the whole purpose of a cruising kit is to put it on the shelf against the possibility that it may be needed some day."  "True," she said, "But you can't call up 15 years later and say that it is missing parts."  I had to admit that 15 years was a long time, so I gave up and paid her money.

Now as an afterthought, I think I gave up too easily.   It might be reasonable for a customer to inspect a kit to see if it contains all required items.   However, for this customer to detect that it had the wrong length thermostat he would have had to take the stove apart and try to actually install the spare part.  That's above and beyond.  Force 10 should have honored my request for a free replacement.

My only other experience with the new Force 10 was a couple of years ago.  I wanted to order new cast iron burner tops.  They corrode.  I called Force 10.  They said, "Sorry those things are out of stock and obsolete.  We can't supply one."    I checked some of the cruisers forums on the Internet and found that lots of Force 10 customers had that complaint.  They were angry that the only option Force 10 offered was to buy a whole new stove for thousands of dollars.   Then I checked the West Marine catalog.  They are selling new Force 10 stoves with identical tops.  Then I looked in my cabin.  I also have a Force 10 cabin heater.   I tried to move the burner top from that to the stove.  It fit perfectly.   Force 10 was lying when they said there were no more of those burner tops to be had.

Now, when the parts I ordered come, I'll have to spend another day to take the stove apart once more to install them.

Humph.  Indignation.  :-(

On a completely different subject, I rode my bike to the beach today.   Look what I found when I got there.



Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Fame

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

I mentioned that our daughter Jenny and her friend Christian ares working on a project to transform a public library into a single family home.   Well, her blog here attracted attention from the Burlington Vermont newspaper, Seven Days.  See the article and photo of Jenny & Christian here.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Libby's Secret Revealed

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W


Oh boy, isn't that a titillating blog title?  Well, I heard that Chuck Norris is a superman because he knows Victoria's Secret.  Why can't I do the same with Libby's secret.  Here goes.


One of Libby's favorite things to do is to row in the dinghy late at night at times when everything is still and calm.  Vero is the perfect place to do that.   We are in a sheltered harbor and nearby are numerous channels that lead off into isolated places in the mangroves where you see no evidence of mankind.   She can row silently, or just coast or just stop rowing, sit and enjoy the peaceful quiet.


This week has been a great time to do it.  We have a waxing moon about 3/4 full.  When there are no clouds around it is very bright, and things leave stark shadows.   It has also been very still at night, and the surface of the water becomes like a reflecting pool.   Leave late enough and the insects aren't agressive.  Get away from the houses and the roads and the only sound you'll hear at night is the woosh-woosh of the dolphins breathing.  


Another strange factor has contributed.  Ever since the daylight savings time Sunday morning, Libby and I have both been waking up extra early.  Not one hour earlier, but at 0345.  Two nights in a row we woke at that time and had no interest in going back to sleep.   We got up.  I played on the computer and Libby went off for a solitary row.   Great times.    Why are we waking up then?  It's hard to be certain.  I think it may be because the nights are so much warmer here in Vero.  It is the temperature signal that causes us to wake.  For the past two mornings it was 72 degrees at 4 AM.  



Monday, November 07, 2011

Glad To Be Inside

Vero Beach
27.39.56 N 080 22.27 W

It was old home week as we arrived here at Vero yesterday.   We got to say hello to very many cruising friends, plus permanent resident friends.   It was a bit amazing.  It is not so amazing why we feel at home in places like Vero and Marathon -- we have so many wonderful friends there.  Home is where the heart is.   Libby and I carry our home with us, but it stops in places where our heartstrings have other attachments.

Not everyone was here.  Charles and his dog Snoopy are missing.  We thought they would be here forever, but I was told that they moved on to the Chesapeake Bay.  Contragulations Charles for escaping.

Two of the friends are Andrew and Vanessa from the good ship Tally Ho.   We were surprised to see them.  Usually, they stop in Vero only briefly before hopping over the Gulf Stream to The Bahamas.  Right now they are very frustrated because there has been no window in two weeks, and the forecast calls for at least one more week of northerly winds and mountainous seas.   Yesterday, the seas offshore were 11-14 feet and that is before reaching the Gulf Stream.  High seas and strong northerly winds would make the Gulf Stream a very bad place to be this week.  Its frustrating for those who want to cross but comforting for those of us just glad to be here in a sheltered harbor.

Just to illustrate the winter weather in the North Atlantic Ocean right now, I included the three pictures below from passageweather.com   They show atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, wave height in meters, and Gulf Stream flow.  Florida is just on the western fringe of the bad weather out there.  However if you combine that with the Gulf Stream flow (the 4th picture) it makes for a very nasty combination -- hardly Perfect Storm stuff but nasty nevertheless.



Sunday, November 06, 2011

Feels Like Homel

The Indian River
27 40.98 N 080 23.07 W

I just went on deck to relieve Libby.  When I got there, the scenery looked awfully familiar.  No mystery.  The power plant and the bridge at Vero Beach are visible 4-5 miles to our south.   Regular blog readers know that Vero and Marathon are are two major wintering holes in Florday.  We'll stay here several weeks, then move on to Marathon.

Well, this season's migration ended with a bang.  Yesterday afternoon a real gale kicked up.  I don't know the actual wind speed.  It must have been 30-40 knots.  It kicked up some pretty good waves on the ICW.  We were in good shape however, less than 2 miles after the wind came up we were able to turn left behind the southeastern side of the Melbourne Bridge.  There we had good shelter from the North and East.  Let it blow, we said, and it did.  All evening and into the night the wind raged, but we were fine.

So, let's sum up the Fall 2011 migration.

  • It began with the fear that we could be landlocked in Lake Champlain over the river.  That lasted about a week when we heard that the Champlain Canal would reopen after storms Irene and Lee.  When it did open, we traversed the canal and the Hudson River without difficulty.
  • We met Carpe Diem behind Liberty Island in New York Harbor.  I spent a day being a NYC tourist.  
  • Then we embarked on an unfortunate and unwise motoring passage to Newark, VA.   I say that because it turned out to be strain on our engine (and Carpe Diem's too).  We did it without a good plan B thinking of what we would do in case of engine failure.  We also did it racing a closure of the weather window.  I'm not proud of that decision.
  • We had a lovely time on the Dismal Swamp Canal, the Outer Banks, and the Neuse River.  We saw a lot of nice stuff, made new friends, and got to visit old friends and to visit family.  Great.
  • We discovered Carolina Beach State Park.  That will be a regular stop from now on.
  • We had a very nice, but slow passage from Little River, SC to Fernandina Beach, FL.  We suffered a broken engine mount at sea, but with sails plus a little jury rigging we got in OK.
  • We were overwhelmed with hospitality of friends in Fernandina and Daytona.  It's sure nice to have friends along the way.
  • We've had a mostly pleasant and uneventful ICW passage in Florida to here.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the bottom line is that we had a lot of fun.  We seem to have a lot of fun every year, even though each year is a bit different.  I guess that's why the cruising life is so great.  After all, having fun is the point; isn't it?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Indian River

The Indian River
28 20.81 N 080 42.85 W

I wrote several times before about how fond we are of Florida's Indian River.  It is a very safe, secure, pleasant and fun place for cruisers to hang out.  We got here yesterday in the late afternoon.  I was surprised at our fast progress.  We left Daytona late, at 1030, because we took time for a very pleasant breakfast with fellow cruisers Fergus and Carol.  However, a following wind and favorable tides more than made up for the late start.   By supper time we dropped the anchor near Titusville.

Our friend June challenged us to take advantage of the wind to make it all the way from Titusville to Vero Beach in just 7 hours.  I looked it up on the charts.  The distance is 65 nautical miles.  To do that we would have to average 9 knots of speed.  A 32 foot sailboat will do that about as readily as pigs grow wings.  Sorry June, we won't make it all the way there before sunset today.  We'll probably anchor for the night somewhere on the south side of a bridge and continue in the morning.

We did have thoughts of going to the Cocoa Beach Air Show today.  We're passing Cocoa as I write.  However it is a chilly grey day with lots of low clouds, making it a poor day for air shows.  Too bad.  In most cases we love air shows.

Has the dolphin population increased in Florida?  I doubt it, but it seems that way.  Both yesterday and today we have seen numerous large pods of dolphins in all directions.  About once per hour one of the pods decides to swim along beside us for a while.  I wish that we could have our granddaughters here with us.  They would be thrilled by the proximity of the dolphins.

By the way, Libby noted that we'll arrive in Vero 10 days earlier than last year.  Our north/south migrations hardly adhere to rigid schedules as you would expect.  Weather is a major variable in rates of progress.  The surprising thing is that despite the variability in overall migration schedule, our times at crossing the mid-point, Oriental North Carolina, are almost exactly the same fall after fall, spring after spring, year after year.   We don't plan it that way, it just happens.  It makes us feel kindred-ship with the geese, whose migrations are variable but  predictable.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Weather Induced Attitude

Daytona Beach, FL
29 14.12 N 081 01.44 W

Thursday was sunny, warm and calm.  We decided to stay put and to laze around Daytona Beach for anohther day.   We walked the streets, waded in the surf at the beach, and met Kerry for dinner.  Kerry is a high school class mate who lives near by.   Today, we're meeting Fergus and Carol for breakfast.  They are a couple we met at a Westsail rendezvous a couple of years ago.  It has been a lot of fun.

We had planned on moving today down to Rockhouse Creek and to explore the Ponce Inlet area by dinghy.  Then, we'd move on to Titusville and maybe take a mooring for a day or two.   But, the weather is changing.  Starting this afternoon, and extending for two days it will be very windy and cooler.  That weather induces a very different attitude.  Now our thoughts are on moving south ASAP, and hooking up to a mooring in Vero.   We'll have strong winds behind us all the way so the passage should be fast.

Is that the same kind of weather-induced attitude that makes the populations of cold climates so industrious while populations of tropical area so laid back?   Probably so.

In the 1960s, I spent most of a year in Daytona Beach.  I worked at General Electric's Apollo Support Department in Daytona.  They put me up in a hotel room overlooking the beach.  I learned a lot about Daytona, its nature, its tourists, and its people in that year.    I enjoyed seeing the motorcycle week, then Daytona 500 race week, then family vacation week, then college kids spring break week, one after the other.  We did clambakes on the beach, and I found a beached whale one morning.

Sadly, Daytona has changed for the worse.  The Beach is much narrower than it used to be.  Even at high tide, the beach in the 1960s was up to 100 yards wider than it is today.  It has suffered lots of erosion.   Also, the air up and down the beach appears hazy with pollution.  Also, some of the surf is a nasty yellow color suggesting unthinkably nasty stuff.  Even the city and its populace also seem less nice then in years past.  Too bad for the tourists who are forced to vacations where the hotels are located.  There are much nicer, more pristine beaches in Florida.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Matanzas Pictures

Daytona Beach, FL
29 14.12 N 081 01.44 W

Foliage First Construction

Part of our Libby Tree Hugging Series.  Wonderful live oaks, second only to Cumberland Island


The Fort


Matanzas means massacre.  Read the history here.

Some of the wonderful plants

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Carelessness

Matanzas Inlet
29 43.02 N 081 14.48 W

My excuse for doing stupid things is that I need material that entertains my blog readers.  Well yesterday I delivered.

We anchored in the Matanzas River with the idea of walking the beautiful nature trails and beaches.  We took the dinghy ashore to do that.  I tossed the dinghy anchor in because we would beach it on sand and I didn't want it to wash away on a rising tide.  When we got to the beach I judged that the tide was already past high.  Instead of anchoring the dinghy, I tied it off to a sign post.  Well, when we returned an hour later it was gone.  OH NO!!!

I can't believe I was so careless and that I did so when the dinghy anchor was only an arm's length away.   It's all for you blog readers ;)

However, good fortune was smiling on us that day.   It just happened that a uniformed park ranger was near by.  He was Andrew, manager of the Matanzas National Monument park.   I told him about the missing dinghy.  He went searching in his car, while Libby and I walked the shorelines searching.  We were all afraid with the falling tide that it would be sucked out to sea.  Nothing found.

Then Andrew theorized that it would drift in the strong wind.  He pointed to a place about 1.5 miles across the bay.  "Let's go in my truck and look there," he said.  When did so, and when we got there Andrew spotted our dinghy tied up to a private dock behind a house.   WOW!  We drove to the house and knocked.  Nobody home.  But the neighbor came out and said, "Yes.  The homeowner Dave saw it drifting past and tied it up."     So now we are reunited with our dinghy and very grateful.    If anybody says anything bad about Floridians, I'll remind them about Andrew and Dave.

By the way, the trails and beaches were beautiful.  I took lots of pictures.  I'll post some of them soon.

p.s. My daughter Jenny has her own blog now.  See it here.   It seems that Jenny and her friend Christian partnered and bought a library.  It was a branch of the Winooski Vermont Public Library that fell unused.   They bought it from the village and their project is to transform it into a single-family dwelling for resale.  We hope they earn a ton of money doing that.  Anyhow, Jenny's great idea was to document the library transformation process on a blog.  Cool.