Monday, December 29, 2014

Crossing is done!

Monday, December 29 - Well, we are happy to say we have crossed the Gulf and are in Clearwater, FL this evening.

We left Carrabelle, FL, C-Quarters Marina at 1 PM on Saturday, December 27 and were docking our boat at the Clearwater Harbor Marina by 10:35 AM on Sunday, December 28.

It wasn't without issues...wallering around in sloshy waves for about 6 or 7 hours...but the majority of the trip was smooth.  It wasn't a scary ride, just a very uncomfortable ride.  And it seemed the water was being pushed from a couple of directions.  Trouble was...I obviously hadn't taken enough motion sickness medication and turned green.  Wayne ended up doing the majority of the piloting by necessity.  He ended up staying awake the whole 21+ hours.  I napped a couple of times on the bench near the upstairs helm, finally "recovering" about half way through the trip.

We had to negotiate several boat passings during the trip, which was interesting.  And we enjoyed the company of our "buddies" on Vivens Aqua.

We are glad to have it behind us since the longer in the winter we waited, the fewer windows for crossing we would have.  Now we know we will be moored at Marina Jack's in Sarasota by January 1.

Tomorrow we start the two day trip down to Sarasota, stopping in the evening at an anchorage off the Tampa Bay.  I'll be back to the blog when we return in mid-January.  Meanwhile, have a safe and happy New Years celebration and see you in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Greetings from St. Andrews Marina, Panama City, FL

Tuesday, December 23-

This webcam snapshot shows us alongside the transient dock.  We're about midway in the picture and in the lower half...with lights on in the salon.

We traveled yesterday from Joe's Bayou across the Chocktawhatchee Bay.  It was a little "rolly" for about an hour, but turned into a descent travel day, in spite of the occasional shower.  The weather looks stormy today...and lousy through Christmas Day.  We're hoping Friday might bring an opportunity to move on.

Meanwhile, a photo journey over the past couple of days traveling.

Flurries in the Gulf???  No, just the white Gulf sands...

A look at the weather yesterday morning as we left the Destin area.

Later in the day yesterday when we saw clearing in the distance.

Entering the straight section between Chocktawhatchee Bay and West Bay.

Cutest!! Dolphin playing alongside the boat as we entered the West Bay just outside Panama City...

Historic St. Andrews street scene.

The sailboat, Irish Mist, just down the dock from us.  They won 1st prize in the Parade of Lights here in Panama City a couple of weekends ago.  Last night they took a spin around the bay with lights ablaze and Christmas carols singing out.  They're going to do the same on Christmas Eve.  It's a beautifully done light job!

And...a few "mood shots" from last night in the marina.  We're right across from some commercial fishing vessels.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Video of the generator being removed

I've posted the video to YouTube.  Mark is on the back deck and Gary is operating the forklift.

Bye, bye Pensacola

Sunday, December 21 -

At 10:30 Friday morning we got off the boat so Mark and the guys who help him at the marina could get the boat in position for removing the generator.  It hasn't rained in Pensacola for a long, long time.  That morning it poured..but only for a little while.  It ended up staying cloudy but dry until late in the day, allowing the forklift portion of the installation to be handled without everyone getting soaked.

We made a video of the forklift procedure removing the generator and I hope to have it posted on YouTube soon.  What was amazing to me about the whole thing is that the boat was floating out in the haul-out bay.  It was held in position by people standing on each side dock holding lines attached to the bow and the stern.  Thankfully the winds were mild, because anything more could have made for some dicey times.  The team that worked with Mark has had a lot of experience working together doing just this very operation.  It was like watching a conductor at work to see Mark guiding the process.  Bottom line:  not a mark was made on the boat.  Not a drop of oil or fuel.  Nada.

Here's the forklift set up and ready to go.  Gary would take the driver's seat soon.

Wayne, checking out the new generator as it sat in the dry storage area.

Wayne peeking in the boat window when Mark and the crew were getting the old generator ready to be lifted out.

And, finally, two happy boat owners when the old generator had successfully been removed.

At 3:30 Friday afternoon they announced the new generator had been bolted down and the crew left leaving Mark to complete the install.  Mark said it would go quickly from this point on.

Six hours later... he turned the boat back over to us, still not quite finished.  He said there were just a lot of things he had to do to customize the fit.  At one point Wayne went down to tell him not to worry about trying to get the install done in time for us to leave.  We wanted him to take all the time he needed.  We'd go to a hotel that evening and wait until tomorrow.  But...Mark kept going until he just needed to quit.  Mark, Wayne, Lucy, and I were exhausted.

Wayne and I had set up camp in the marina office area where the laundry room and restrooms are located.  We pulled a couple of chairs from the bathroom/shower area, got our dog from her crate on the boat, a.k.a., "doggie prison," ordered takeout from the Oar House, and passed away the time from about 5:30 until Mark came in to tell us he was quitting for the night.

There was a bulletin board in front of us and we pretty much memorized the notices on there by the time we left.  There were a lot of warnings and guidelines for dealing with the red lionfish, a predator fish that is threatening other species in the area.  Apparently they are very one memo encouraged consumers to request red lionfish when at local restaurants.  *Note to self*

This is a photo of the red lionfish one diver caught in one afternoon off a local wreck.  He said there were about 500 more down there.

The next morning Mark was back at work by 9:30 and spent three hours finishing the installation and then giving Wayne detailed information about the use and care of the unit.  Given the delays in shipment, Phasor obviously was very concerned about customer satisfaction (for us, yes, and especially for Mark).   Not only did they wave the shipping charges, but we received a unit with a higher output, 8 kw instead of 6.5 kw, and an industrial rating, meaning it is has the capability to run non-stop.

We can't say enough about Mark Hyma.  We count ourselves lucky to have found him...and doubly lucky to have had him take on our project.  He has an innate sense of what to do technically and the aptitude to absorb and recall volumes of information.  Mark has a working relationship with Bahia Mar Marina. He takes care of their equipment and in exchange he can use the marina's staff and resources at no cost.  For us that meant that the marina's part in Friday's experience (including the forklift and staff) was covered by Mark.  When you see the video, you will know that this whole team, Mark and the marina staff, is first rate!

We spent Saturday afternoon cleaning up the boat and a bit more laundry.  We ordered pizza from Papa Johns...and watched the local boat parade!

 Our last night in Pensacola....

This morning we left Pensacola and traveled to an anchorage called Joe's Bayou near Destin, FL.  We've finished supper and are watching the couple of TV channels we can acquire with our antenna ;-).  Tomorrow we plan to go on to Panama City, weather permitting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Update from Pensacola

December 17, 2014 - Yesterday Wayne texted Mark, our generator guy, asking if he'd heard anything about a shipping confirmation from the manufacturer, Phasor.  Mark hadn't.  Later in the day, Mark forwarded to us a message Phasor had just sent to Mark.  Phasor was very apologetic for having missed not one, but two shipping dates.  They were going to try to ship it out yesterday evening...but "certainly" by today, which should mean a Friday delivery.  (Thank goodness we've at least escaped that mishap with the Fedex truck this week where hundreds of packages spilt on the roadway.  Anyway, the generator will be delivered by truck since it weighs 300 lbs.) Speaking of shipping, Phasor isn't going to charge for shipping forty minute  because of the there's that to be thankful for.

Mark says he can install the generator when it gets here Friday.  We'll probably run it all night just to burn off the "new," and leave for Ft. Walton Beach on Saturday.  It will likely take us 3 or 4 days to get within striking distance of the crossing.  In looking at the weather forecasts, the Gulf goes into a tizzy next Tuesday evening through Wednesday.  It's a pretty good bet we'll be munching on seafood this Christmas in of our favorite towns down here.

So, that's the state of affairs on Journey.  With a couple of extra days to hang around we decided to take a bus up to the mall and have lunch today.  Of course, we topped it off with a trip to the TCBY...

I had an interesting experience on the bus yesterday when I went up to the mall to pick up glasses I'd ordered.  On the trip home, I pulled the "stop requested" cord as we approached the marina bus stop and started gathering my stuff.  When I next looked up, the bus was rounding the corner onto a bridge!  I called out to the bus driver and she stopped the bus...but said she couldn't let me out on the bridge.  The bridge didn't look very I ended up riding the bus until it turned around and came back my way.  Ah!  A tour of parts of Pensacola I hadn't seen yet!  ;-)

And...on Monday, before we returned our rental car, we ate at CJ's at the corner of Garden and Pace.  We count on TripAdvisor reviews a lot in new areas and CJ's got good reviews for breakfast.  It was good!  At the Enterprise office, while we were waiting for a ride back to the marina, I heard a man at the counter identify himself as owner of CJ's.  I went up and spoke to him, telling him we'd eaten there that morning.  He said he was actually the former owner and was now the owner of 5 Sisters Blues Cafe.  Well, we'd eaten there, too, a couple of weekends ago.  He asked if we were pleased with our meal and encouraged us to come back one night when they have live music.  Maybe next trip!!

That's all I have to share this evening, except this sunset photo with it's wavy layers of colorful clouds.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yep, we're still in Pensacola

Thursday, December 11 -  We moved the boat from Palafox Pier to Bahia Bar Marina Monday, December 1.  Nice  little marina with very few transients.  So far, we've had the washer and dryer to ourselves!  ;-)  This marina is further from downtown, but it's also a lot quieter.  Our only disturbances here come from the brown pelicans crashing into the water for their food.  This one just finished a snack and is off and running!

We've taken advantage of this layover to arrange delivery of some mail...and order some things from Amazon, etc. We're close to a bus stop and last week took off for the day to run errands via bus.  It was a day-long excursion since the buses only run once an hour.  Still, we got a lot done.  Wayne has been working on his to-do list.  Let's hope he doesn't get to the end!  Though, with every project removed another one or two seem to materialize...

There's a little park and beach nearby, Sanders Beach.  I've walked over there a couple of times.  We also walked to Joe Patti's restaurant (actually Joey Patti's) next to the seafood shop and lunched out a couple of days.  I've been to the Greek market again looking for produce.  Last weekend we rented another $10/day Enterprise special and caught up on groceries.  

Sunday we took the car to Pensacola Beach and had seafood nachos at Flounders.  We were entertained (well, Wayne would say "harassed") by a group of bagpipers in the restaurant.  I'll admit, it was a bit LOUD in the enclosed area.  When we finished lunch we realized the Christmas parade had just started...and we were a captive audience for the next 20-25 minutes.  Cute, actually.  Wish I'd had my phone with me for pics...but that's another story (We both got new phones last week.  I was "conditioning" the battery of my new Droid Turbo by running it down completely then recharging.  I left it on the boat that day in "recharging" phase.)

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous: 60's or 70's in the day, sunny.   This week brought in some cooler temps in the morning.  Still, it's very hospitable.  This is the weather we look forward to when cruising.  There's something about a sunny day on the water (no matter if the temperature is a bit cool) that lifts our spirits and brings up smiles from everyone we meet.

I've figured out a walking route from the marina through a local neighborhood.  This particular neighborhood is big on outside dogs and chain link fences...some of which don't look high enough to contain said dogs.  One block in particular is loaded with lunging barkers.  In looking for a work-around, I found a gem of a resource here, the Sanders Beach-Corine Jones Resource Center.  The Center is located right next to the bay and is beautifully designed with lots of windows and a boardwalk along the bay.

I went inside to see the facility and, on talking with the receptionist, found out that memberships are available for use of exercise facilities at a rate of $1/day.  Oh, and if you happen to be over 50...(ding, ding, ding...I think we have a winner!) the membership is free!  You don't even have to be a resident of the city.  They said, "just use it next time you pass through!"

So yesterday morning while Wayne was changing the oil I went up to the Center to register for a membership.  A Zumba class had started just before I got there, so I jumped in (literally) and experienced my first Zumba class.  I loved it, in spite of the sore muscles this morning.  ;-)

Yesterday afternoon, Mark, the generator expert, came by to begin disassembly of the old generator.  He finished up and will return when the new generator has arrived, hopefully late this week or early next.  We will then move to a different slip where they will lift the old generator out with a forklift and put in the new one.  There's a chance we could be in Sarasota for Christmas after all!

We have rented another weekend special from Enterprise to be picked up tomorrow morning.  Wayne and I both agree that if you need to "be somewhere" for a while, this marina is a nice place to be.  It's such a beautiful, peaceful view....  We woke to this view today.
(These sailors have been "warned"!)