29 November 2012

Knot Yet doing what she was designed for.

When the guys at Ocean Yachts put in all those hours back in 2000 building our boat, I am sure they never envisioned it finding its way to the Great Lakes and being used as a pleasure craft.  These boats are built with one purpose in mind and that is to fish.  Sure, they are nicely appointed and you can spend some time on them, but they are built to fish.

Not us, we are built to cruise.  Move 30 miles or so, sit down and relax for a few days, then pick up and go when the weather is nice.  So, why buy a sportfish?  Well, I love the layout and I love the seaworthiness.

My friends in Florida love to fish and it kills them that I own such a hardcore machine and it never sees a line.  So, I wasn't in Florida a week and the boys were skipping work to go fishing.

We meet at the boat at 7am.  I have exactly no saltwater fishing gear on board (yet).  So, we grab a couple carts and ferry all of James' rods, reels, lures and coolers down to the boat.  I have said that we didn't buy her to fish, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't dying to fish her.  Fun!!!

Just like any fishing, we fished for hours, we covered miles and nothing.  Then suddenly a knockoff... nothing.  But, I guess there is hope.  It wasn't long and we have a double of... bonita.  Apparently, the non-tasty relative of the tuna.  They look just like them, but nobody eats them.  We keep a both for bait.  Next action, we have three rods go off at once.  This is fun!  The cockpit is full of action and I am all smiles.  Bonita again.  Oh well, back they go.  At least we are catching something.  But, enough with the bonitas.  They were in 150' of water, so we make our way out to 250'

We barely made it to 250' and off goes one our rods.  James gets a great fight out of a beautiful mahi mahi.  A nice bull, probably 15 to 20 lbs.   A few jumps and right up to the boat, then a quick turn and gone.  We get the lines reset and make plans to circle back through that spot again.  The whole time Macara has been saying that one of the lines in pulling too hard, but nobody is listening to her.  Including me.  We make our turn and she says it again, but this time I could see the fish back there.  Macara get down there, that is your fish!

Moment's later all three rods go off!  Unfortunately, we only landed 2 of them.

We put in a full day.  We fished from Stuart down past Jupiter to Juno Beach and back.  We boated 3 dolphin and played with at least 2 more.  Overall, a great day.  And I must say, boy are they tasty!

Yes Uncle Dee, the Brooks' family is pulling away in the 2012 Fishing Derby.

Fishing: by Macara

We got up early at 6:00am to go fishing.  The train made us late.  We are going all day.  We caught bonita and mahi mahi!  When I caught my mahi mahi it was exciting and hard!  In total we got 8.  Five bonita and 3 mahi mahi.  We returned late at 8:15pm.

28 November 2012

Phase 1 complete

One step at a time and before you know it, you are there.

2163nm from Wiarton, ON and you are in Stuart, FL.  61 times we slept in a new location.  Now, it's time to relax and enjoy some nice weather for a change.

The weather has not been great lately.  I have said it before and I will say it again, "go where the winds blow you".  There is no sense making this tough.  Well, there has been a nasty north wind blowing since we left Hilton Head, SC.  That was two weeks ago!  It is not that complicated, when the wind is from the north, head south.  Lucky for us, that was where we were headed anyway.

St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Cocoa Village, Vero Beach and finally Stuart.

The plan was to fish our way down the Florida coast.  Two problems with that plan.  We haven't got our Florida fishing licenses yet and the seas have been rolling anywhere for 7' to 11'.  The one problem just requires a taxi ride to a Walmart.  The other?  No sense making this tough.  Inside we go.

For those that aren't familiar, there have been three walled cities in North America.  St. Augustine, FL, Charleston, SC and Quebec City, QC.  St. Augustine lays claim to the title of, the oldest continuously settled, European settled, city in the continental United States.  There are a few conditions to that statement.  Just the same, it is fair to say, they have got some history.

So, how does the Brooks' family enjoy St. Augustine?  On Day 1 we clean the boat and get our hair cut, followed by a very nice diner.  And Day 2?  Well, the weather was a total downer.  We jumped in a taxi and hit the local tackle shop.  The taxi driver gave use a small guided tour on the way.  We had no luck getting our fishing licenses, but we had a good chat about tackle and fishing techniques.  A trolley ride around the city would have been nice, but we went to the Alligator Farm instead.  What can I say, the Alligator Farm was fun.

Daytona Beach, might have been a lot more fun had we got there 20 years quicker.  That and it is not even Spring Break.

Next stop, Cocoa Village.  The Space Coast.  And, more crappy weather.  Rough even in the marina.  The winds here topped 30knots.  We only saw a little more than 40knots from Hurricane Sandy.  We weighed our options and a trip to Kennedy Space Centre lost out to our urge to get further south and find some nicer weather.  We spent two nights in Cocoa Village because of the weather and then foolishly put out on Thursday, American Thanksgiving.  We weren't the only ones, there were plenty of Snow Birds out on the water.  The problem was, there wasn't any marina staff back on shore.  There aren't a whole lot of anchorages around this area.  We had planned on picking up a mooring ball in Vero Beach.  Unfortunately, we had heard on the radio that they were already full and starting to raft up.  We didn't envision too many happy faces seeing a Sportfish with outriggers begging to tie up.  So, we started to look at other options.  When we finally chased down the dockmaster (fully immersed in Thanksgiving Festivities) for the Loggerhead Marina at Vero Beach, we were right at their entrance.    He told us to grab whatever we could and we would square up in the morning.  Hard to starboard!

Loggerhead Marina at Vero Beach, now here is a place I could settle down for a while.  Beautiful amenities and full of great people.  A lot of Canadians.  At least 5 on our dock alone.  Without even thinking, one night turned into two.  And soon, they are asking us why we are leaving?  If we had stayed one more night, I am not sure we would have never left.  Thanks so much to the Prime Time V and Jennica Ann for your hospitality and we look forward to meeting up again in the Bahamas.

Finally, off to Stuart, our projected Florida base.  Mercifully, the breeze has settled.  At long last, shorts from morning until night.

Moments out of Vero Beach, Kerri makes an off the cuff comment to the effect of we are still seeing lots of dolphins, but they are not as playful as up north.  Almost on cue, we had 3 dolphins on either side.  The younger ones seem more playful and we had one on either side.  Ask anyone who has tried, dorsal fins and blowholes are easy to get, but to capture a full breach is a treat.  On rare occasions, after riding our wake for a short while, we have had them leave our wake then suddenly resurface with a full flip.  I have yet to capture that.

So, what makes Phase 1 complete?  We have just signed a one month lease at a marina in Stuart, FL.  I have a cousin in Jupiter, FL.  She treats us royally and because of that, we keep coming back.  We now have a vehicle and we will be provisioning all month long.  Bahamas in the new year.

14 November 2012

We are in Florida now

No blog posts for a while means that we have been having fun, traveling, or doing chores.  Tonight is miserable, so it is time to get caught up.

Since leaving Georgetown, SC we grabbed an anchorage in Whiteside Creek.  A pretty little spot in the marshes just north of Charleston.  We awoke to all sorts of sea birds around us.  There were Egrets, Pelicans and Great Blue Herons all around us.
Whiteside Creek gave us an easy run into Charleston, SC.  Time for some tourist fun.  We took advantage of the marina shuttle and caught a ride into the 'slave market' district.  Charleston is full of history, so we decided we needed a guided tour.  What better way to tour a city than horse drawn wagon.
A full hour tour around Charleston with stories of hurricanes, British settlement, civil war and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Charleston definitely was a key city is the shaping of this nation.  We also learned that the 'slave market' was not where the slaves were sold, even though that definitely happened in Charleston, it was an open air market were livestock was butchered on premise.  This lead to a rather powerful odour, as such the slaves were often the ones sent to do the provisioning for their owners.  Thus, the slave market.

Still wearing too much denim and fleece for our liking we decided to push still further south. The forecast was favourable for an outside (ocean) run, so after a couple days in Charleston we decided to push on.  Five in the morning we were off the dock and slowly pushing out to sea, dodging a couple of cargo vessels along the way.  Next stop the Savannah River and Hilton Head, SC.  It was such a nice day out on the ocean that I really wanted to push on, but the next inlets that I was comfortable with were all a good distance away, so we arrived in Hilton Head early mid-afternoon.  I guess I hadn't promoted Hilton Head very heavily, not 100% sure that it would be a stop for us.  Kerri was very impressed and was off shopping in no time.  Macara and I spent the afternoon in beautiful little playground.

It was a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon when we arrived in Hilton Head and the harbour-front area was packed.  When you fly a Canadian flag as proudly as we do, it often means conversation with other Canadians.  Before the boat was washed down, we had talked with people from Sauble Beach, Parry Sound and Hanover, all short driving distances from our hometown or home port back in Ontario.  It is a small world.

One good day at sea gave us the desire to try it again.  The forecast was similar, but the day did not turn out the same.  We left Hilton Head on a falling tide and the breeze was ever so slightly more on shore.  I excused the chop at the inlet as being due to these conditions.  A boat much larger than us did not and turned around.  We pushed south hoping to see better conditions, but we did not.  Soon, my crew were expressing their displeasure.  Being only about 10nm from the inlet I offered to turn around, 15 seconds of that proved not to be the answer.  South it was going to be.  But, now was the time for me to pull out my insurance plan.  While we have been treating our sportfish like a trawler, we do have the horsepower  to fix a lot of weather problems.  Today would be one of those days.  A short while after putting the boat up on plane, there was a lot less grumbling aboard my boat.  

Next stop... St. Simon's Island.  To tell you the truth, I never really saw the island at all.  Knot Yet was due for some maintenance.  Oil changes and fuel filter changes.  Sad, but true, that turned into a two day affair when you need to take a trip into town, in the middle of it all, when you find out you don't have anymore generator oil filters onboard.  I have got filters now, 8 of them.

A couple evenings on the dock in St. Simons introduced us to some interesting people and we were offered some good travel advice.  So, the next morning when we all left, we took a slightly different route off the ICW down a creek that brought us more alongside Cumberland Island.  As much as I like the ports along the east coast, I am really enjoying the wild life and scenery in between. The ever present dolphins at just about every inlet off the ocean and all the new birds, the different trees and on Cumberland Island, wild horses.  A sighting of wild horses surely would be a treat.

Here are some shots of the gulls that followed us from St. Simon Island south.

Our advice was to turn off the ICW and travel down the Brickhill River through the marshes and closer to Cumberland Island.  We would be sure to see horses that way.  Day 1... nothing.  We anchored as we were told and planned to dinghy to shore and find a path across the island to the seaside beaches.  The bugs were insane!  And within no time the weather started to worsen, maybe tomorrow.  

The view from our anchorage.  The following morning would have these trees littered with Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills and Egrets.  The light just never did any of the images justice.
Be sure to view this at full resolution
The Brickhill River is not much more than most of the creeks that we have anchored in.  The difference here is there is a 10' tide.  And I am glad I set up on low tide so that I could see all that was around me, it sure looks different a high tide.  At low tide, you are definitely down inside the banks of the river.  At high tide, the water spreads everywhere creating a big marsh making it harder to know where you should be.  Ten feet of tide creates a heck of current as it rises and falls.  Rather than force my anchor to reset every 6 hours, I set an anchor for each direction.  Add to this about 20knots of wind and you do not sleep that deeply, wondering if you're ground tackle is going to hold you for the night.

More wind and rain and our plans for exploring Cumberland Island had to be cancelled.  Regrettably, we pulled anchor and gave up on our idea of finding wild horses on the beaches.  Then a little good luck came our way.  Shortly after making way, 3 horses made their way down to the river to feed.

We are now in Fernandina Beach, FL.  Our plan was to pick up a mooring ball and move on again tomorrow.  The weather outside right now sucks!  We took a slip instead.  

The cool thing is that we are now in Florida.  We plan to spend the next month and a half in Florida.  That's worthy of a fishing license.  While picking up supplies in St. Simon I did manage to make a little side trip to a tackle shop.  Not exactly the right tools for the job, but I brought along a couple of salmon rods and they are now loaded with fresh line and I picked up a couple lures.  Soon I will be blue water fishing.  Here fishy, fishy, fishy.  Sushi anyone?

06 November 2012

It's chilly, let's keep moving south

Our last day waiting out all the weather associated with Hurricane Sandy was Kerri’s birthday.  Admittedly, with all our preoccupation with the hurricane, Kerri didn’t get her usual birthday treatment.  Having said that, Macara and I did our darndest to make it a special for her.
Birthday decorations
The following day we had another special day that needed dealing with, Halloween.  Unsure when we were going to get out of River Dunes Marina, we had already booked the courtesy vehicle for the evening.  But, we were told not to get our hopes to high for Trick or Treating in Oriental, NC.  Wednesday morning saw the winds settle to just 20 knots.  Winds low enough that plenty of boats started to depart.  Twenty knots of wind can still make for miserable conditions on the water.  Today we are gifted with a wind direction that is right on the nose.  Knot Yet cut right through the waves, it might as well been calm.  I love this boat!  A good seaworthy boat may be a pleasure all day long, but docking is still a chore with all that breeze and a tidal current.  It wasn’t pretty, but I got her in eventually.

Beaufort, NC was our Halloween destination.  Little did we know that Beaufort was so proud of their halloween festivities.  We were told over and over, go to Ann Street, you will be impressed.  And we were.  These people take Halloween seriously and they make it fun.
Macara the Pirate. 
Beaufort revellers
On the way to Beaufort, we had some visitors along the way.  Sometimes dragging a bit of wake is a good thing.  We had three dolphins sit on our our starboard stern for about 5 minutes.  You will not hear me say this very often, but they were too close for the lens that I had on.
Playing in our wake.
Wanna see my blow hole?

The weather is still a little chilly, so we keep pressing on.  Southport, NC, then anchor near Topsail Beach, NC before you know it we are south of Myrtle Beach, SC. 

On our way past Little River, NC we are treated to glimpse of their resident wild goats.
Little River wild goats
Finally, a nice day, so we take a break.  On a beautiful Sunday afternoon that almost hit 80ºF we found a spot that is popular with cruisers and locals alike.  Thoroughfare Creek, off the Waccamaw River.  We picked it for its depth and short distance off the ICW.  We had no idea how nice the beach would be be or it’s local history.  Sandy Island, which we are anchored next to, is home to a Gullah community.  In short, Gullah language and culture is a derivative of the West African slaves that were brought here to work the rice plantations.  Neat history, Google it and check it out for yourself.
Thoroughfare Creek
Once again it is raining... and cold!  Up ahead there is a 5 mile stretch that we need to traverse at high tide.  High tide is not until about noon right now.  Our best choice is to head to town, Georgetown, SC.  Groceries, beer, wifi, it is time to take care of somethings and replenish the cupboards.  It's a short trip, we are only on the water a couple hours.  

To all my sailing friends, you have been misrepresented once again.  In a nice wide section of the Waccamaw River, I was slowly overtaking a sail boat.  Before my wake reached the sail boat, I hail him and offer a slow pass.  Without so much as a thank you, he sharply points out that I am not flying my American 'courtesy flag'.  I took the easy way out and apologized and stated the lanyard had recently broke and that I had plans to repair that as soon as I got to port.  I know what flags I should be flying.  The words had no longer left my lips and I was steaming.  "What a jerk?"  "Who does he think he is?"  Yes, etiquette dictates that I fly a courtesy flag while flying my Canadian flag.  And, on of all days, it is the US election today.  Still, it is a little over the top for my liking.  I wouldn't dream of correcting somebody else over the radio, especially after courtesy had been extended my way.

And now for the great part of the story.  This is how Karma works, but rarely this fast.  The next boat to over take my new 'friend' is about a 70' Motor Yacht moving way to fast for the close confines of a bridge.  He smokes Mr. Flag Etiquette with about a 3.5ft wake.  Once again the radio is chiming with the proper etiquette for over taking sail boats, complete with a sarcastic "thanks for the wake."  It was all I could do to keep myself from cheering over the radio, but it sure made my day.  Sometimes good things happen to good people.  And sometimes, the opposite happens.

Finally, a couple of left over tourist shots from Ocracoke, NC.  You know, the ones that get forgotten in the other camera.
The second most famous pirate in Ocracoke, NC
The Ocracoke lighthouse.