Monday, October 16, 2017

Great to be Back Aboard. October11-16, 2017

First, we need to thank all our family and friends for making time to see us during our 3 months  in Michigan.  And a special thanks to all SpartanNash associates and Board members for welcoming Tom back and making our stay in Michigan memorable.   Sorry we did not get to see all of you...we were both really busy and could not find time for all.
We had some real memorable experiences in our trip "home" to Michigan.  It started with picking up a rental car with Michigan plates in SC!  Then when Tom got to work and was reviewing orientation materials it was noted that the three "example" schedules for flex time were Julie, Tom and Sarah! This trip back to Michigan was meant to be!
Work was like I never left it in certain ways.  But in others, a completely new experiences.  It was an honor to be able to support the solid team at SpartanNash for a short period of time again.  I wish everyone the best!
And Julie stepped right back into spin and yoga classes with her old friends too!
Family wise it was wonderful to be "home".
A quick stop at North Shore Marina.

We celebrated mom's 94th birthday at a cottage we rented on the Muskegon Lake channel,

enjoyed "Supper Club" with our friends on the deck at the cottage.

We were so happy to have all of our children present for the wedding of our son Jordan and new daughter in law Eliza.  Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Van Hall!!

We saw all our siblings, here we are with Julie's siblings at a new restaurant on the NW side of GR.

Julie organized photos and memorabilia from our storage locker, and sent boxes to each of our kids
One altercation with a deer running into the side of Julie's first rental car,

We generally enjoyed living downtown GR again and especially the wonderful summer weather in Michigan from early July till early October. 

We even participated in the 7th annual bridge walk over the bridges of Grand Rapids on Labor Day.  A great walk!  And of course the 9th annual ArtPrize was happening downtown as well.  One of the artist venues in front of a rising full moon.

And we biked around Muskegon on a nice September day with friends
A great place to be for a short vacation from cruising.  The view from our condo balcony.

River House condo on the left.  Our home for three months.

It was great to walk along the river almost every day.  Here we are on the last weekend in town in front of the condo building.

It was so great to see family, friends and former work associates.  Several Sundays were spent with Mom.

But we did retire for a reason as well....
Tom's last day at SpartanNash was Friday Oct 6.  So after repacking things to go back into our 5'x10' storage closet,

and packing the SUV for the return trip, we hit the road for Hilton Head on Tuesday the 10th .  It was a nice two day trip back and our boat neighbors welcomed us back.  Well at least their boat did!

The only Irma damage was a broken vent cover where a spring line "caught" the edge and snapped it off as the boat was moving around in the wind and high water.  A new vent cover is on order and it is just a cosmetic fix.   The contracted help did a great job in maintaining the boat systems and the bright work refinishing was phenomenal.  Check out the quality of this varnish on the bright work!  I think I will be hanging up my brush, I can't compete with this!

When we arrived on Wednesday afternoon our friends Carole and DeVere (Job Site) were already in the marina and invited us over for a cocktail to welcome us home.  And on Thursday we had dinner with them and Teri and Mike who live in the Windmill Harbor community. A "thank you" shout out to Teri and Mike who watched over our boat while we were gone.  This even included a text that Irma was on the way and our boat needed attention.  We had already contracted with Captain Mike to prepare her for Irma and they were happy to hear that.  It was a busy hurricane season thus far!

The dinner was at a small out of the way restaurant, Hogs Head.  Very good!
Friday we picked up Carole and DeVere and dined at the famous Hudson's. Great seafood and a good little band on the deck/pier. Carole was watching closely as the sign below said to do...Molly would not fare well against these.

We bid them farewell and safe travels as they left on Saturday morning for Michigan until early December.  We hope to rendezvous with them in early December to cross the Okeechobee as we both have reservations on Florida's west coast for a period of time.  We of course will all rendezvous with Brigitte and Scott (Putz'n Around) to plan another Bahamas cruise! Looking forward to our Bahamas group reunion too.

Sunday we launched the dinghy and took a 20 mile round trip ride to Daufeskie Island (SW of Hilton Head Island), rented a golf cart and rode around the island.
Lots of historic sites and craft shops and watering holes (so we mostly rode the golf cart). It was also interesting that a huge development went south and only a few of the nice cottage style homes are occupied.  A huge clubhouse, abandoned golf course, etc.  Too bad, it looked like a great development site. Abandoned club house.
And entrance gate.

We are heading on a car trip to NC for a few days to visit Looper friends in a couple cities.  More later, thanks for following our blog.

General Statistics from last few months.

Days cruising    0  yes zero!  Not part of the "plan"....
Diesel fuel gallons consumed      0
Bridges and locks    0
Car trips to Michigan to visit Mom   1   priceless
Miles on rental car       2500+
Days we kept rental car  50+ days
Days in Vero Beach timeshare    27
Moves to different rooms during this stay    5
Bed bug sniffing dog (mutt) room check    1  (all rooms were checked)
Percentage of timeshare guests who smoked, seemingly  50%+  (at least it was outside)
Walks along the beach    Many with new turtle nest sightings many days...very cool
Weeks in a row at same church     4   ...a new two year record
Repairs to boat    Too many....but it is a boat.

Miles travelled:  Month: 422 / Trip to Date: 8465
Travel days:   6/ 182
Engine hours: 48 / 961
Locks:   0/ 47
Bridges opened:   2 /68
Days on hook or free wall:   0 / 77
Gallons of diesel:  380 / 6893

July through Sept
No cruising but what a wonderful period to visit family and friends!
Oh, and work wasn't so bad either with the warm welcome I received.
Miles on rental car:  8,010
Rental cars damaged: 1     (Wayward deer running into side of car)
Weddings attended:   2
Friends and family visited:  Too many to count!  It was great seeing you all but not enough time to see everyone!
Looper friends visited in Michigan: 8  (Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland)
Michigan weather enjoyed:  Priceless, it cannot be beat in Summer!

But it is great to be back aboard!!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Georgia to South Carolina and a "vacation" from cruising. June 28 to July 5, 2017

Last day of cruising...for a while.  More on this later in the post.
Leaving Jekyll Island on June 28 we set out for Kilkenny Marina (about 70 miles) and the Marker 107 Restaurant next door. Not much of a marina, but a great restaurant next door!  About 2 miles off the ICW.

We had a great fresh seafood meal and planned to leave Thursday morning at 8 AM, slack tide (the currents rip at 2+MPH through Kilkenny Creek) and a time that would put us at Hell Gate, a notoriously shallow section of the ICW after the tide started to rise.  The plan worked well.

Running through Georgia can have some huge biting flies.  Today was no exception so the lower air conditioned and comfortable helm station was the choice for this helmsman.  Nice and cool ("feels like" temperatures were in the high 90's outside), dry and no biting flies.  That is one of the things we really like about our boat, good options for piloting based on weather.  And the windshield wipers going through the sounds for wiping salt spray and the occasional rain showers were great too.

We arrived at our destination marina in South Carolina and got settled.
Here are photos of the lock we came through to get into the marina.  It is only 19 feet wide and we are 16 feet so with the cross winds it was a bit of a challenge, but we have been in tighter spaces.  Julie is a great coach on the headsets to direct me.  The team works.

And here is the marina on the other side.  Very protected and being behind the lock negates any tide in the marina.  Very nice facility.
Fortunately we did not have to use too many of the steps on the flowchart below to dock here.  But it is so true!  Anyone who docks a large vessel will get this.....

A photo from one of our walks around the beautiful community.  Well protected basin here.

The South Carolina Yacht Club is in the background.  A unique motor vehicle traffic "slow" sign.

The view of an approaching daily thunderstorm.

We do have a temporary change in lifestyle to share with you. This was our last cruising day for a while..... Why?
"Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité.  Please switch to channel 6-8 for a broadcast of Sum Escape cruising status. Over."  
"Family, friends and followers, family, friends and followers, this is Sum Escape on 6-8.  Well, sometimes a curve ball comes from nowhere and things change.  God has a plan for all of us and one never knows until it is presented.
In our case, with a late start to northern cruising due to extended repair time,  Eliza and Jordan's wedding in early September in Michigan, my former employer needing some temporary help and spending some time with Mom this summer, we have decided on a bit of a change of pace.
I will be taking the Interim Executive VP/CFO role at SpartanNash Company in early July.
We have accepted the temporary employment, put the boat into a safe harbor in South Carolina, entered maintenance contracts for care taking of Sum Escape, had engine and genset oil changed, topped off / stabilized fuel in boat and dinghy, investigated having to modify our insurance coverage as "absentee owners", picked up a rental car and we spent a week packing up most of our belongings and driving to Michigan to rejoin the city life soon. We hope to see many of you in Grand Rapids soon.
More to come as we plan to resume cruising in a few months.  Over.  Sum Escape, standby 16."

And so here we are carting our belongings to the SUV for the trip to Grand Rapids...
And here we come!

....  blog to be continued when we resume cruising.....

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A week at Jekyll Island. And a bit of Captain's pride lost.... June 20-28

So on Monday morning, the technician showed up as planned to change the transmission oil.  All went well and we got underway to Daytona Beach before 11 AM.  We arrived at Halifax Marina and fueled up and picked up the spare part DeVere had left for us.  He had borrowed the spare part from us in the Bahamas and due to our delay and inability to catch up with them, he left the replacement in the care of the marina. We do miss you both Carole and DeVere!  Safe travels to you.  A great stop given our shortened travel day.
On Tuesday morning we left at 6:30 AM to make Jacksonville Beach where we could walk 1-1/2 miles (each way) to a Publix to stock up on some fresh fruits and veggies.
Ok, I am sure you may have heard the old saying "it is not if you go aground, it is when."  Hmm, can't happen to us right?  Wrong.  It happened at roughly marker Red 36 on the Tolomato River.  OK, I was not on the magenta line, but the 3 foot shoal/sand/mud  bar was much further to the SE than charted. The blue dot on the lower third of this screen shot shows where we were aground.

Here is Red 36 in the distance as we are stuck on the bar.

We were just past low tide and I caught the edge of the bar.  We tried to back off but the tidal current pushed us sideways and we were being pushed further onto the bar.  Here I am referring to three separate charts noting we were not on the charted had grown.

So we dropped the anchor, killed the engines and genset and called TowBoatUS.  They told us it would be an hour for them to respond.  Shortly thereafter, we received a call form the tow boat and he said he was out on a training run and only 15 minutes from us.  We told him we were being pushed further on to the bar and were going to deploy a stern anchor as well.  He said, don't bother, I will be there shortly, my boat has twin diesels and we'll have you off the bar in a jiffy.  While he was enroute, I went below to the engine room to check sea strainers for sand and mud.  And yes, the starboard engine strainer was about 3/4 full of mud.  So here is again where an inverter is a good thing.  Having the AC power without having to run the genset allowed me to run the shop vac to pull the mud out of the strainer.  However, when I opened the sea cock, it was dry....clogged with mud, or perhaps we were just sitting on the bottom.
Then the tow boat showed up and we began to get hooked up for the tow.  He hooked to our stern and pulled gently so we would not damage rudders, etc. 

As he was pulling us off, I was raising the anchor.  Once out of the mud, I tried again to get water into the sea cock.  By opening and closing multiple times is started to trickle.  So I cracked open the top of the sea cock and then it filled with muddy water.  I trusted it would clear once we started the engine.  So that is what we did.  We put each engine into forward and reverse at idle to test for vibration, etc.  All good.  We turned the wheel lock to lock to feel for any binding or some different feel than normal.  All good.  So Julie handled the tow line and I put Sum Escape in gear to produce slack in the tow line and she cast it off.
We then followed the tow boat through the curving channel with Julie at the helm.  I went below to check strainers, vibration and rudder posts for integrity.  After I returned to the helm after my check of engine room and lazarette proved to all look good, we then ran the boat up to speed to test for vibration, etc.  None noted!  So a "soft grounding" is what we will term our experience.  Here they are leaving...note the clock, only a one hour delay.  Thanks Tow Boat US.

It is interesting to note that the unlimited towing policy we buy each year (about $150) covered the entire $1200 bill!  One of the things AGLCA forum members had suggested was to have the policy for "when you go aground, not if".  Worked for us...  Only my Captain's pride is hurt.
We made it to Jacksonville Beach, Beach Marine around 4:30.  Not what the website depicted.  This is what we thought we would see.  We would have been right by the pool...had it existed.

It turns out the website is an artists rendering of the future state with the marina lined with condos and a pool...none of which was there today.  It was expensive with nothing special and did not even have potable water on the docks, only at the fuel dock. I guess when the website said "Since 1948" we should have taken a hint.  But we were able to walk to Publix and get some great fruits and veggies.  So we planned a first light departure for Jekyll Island.
We got underway on Wed by 6:30 AM.  We had a nice run on the ICW to Jekyll, arriving around 1:30PM right at slack tide.  Nice as the currents are pretty stiff here.  Oh, and the new moon will be creating a ten foot tidal shift here on Saturday. We are not in Michigan any more...
Here is the dock at high tide.

Here is low.
This was only a seven foot range, the big 10 foot range was Saturday night.
Here we are rounding some more shoals (carefully) along the sand dunes lining the barrier islands along the Georgia shores.

The restaurant on site has been reopened, they are remodeling the rest rooms/showers and there are plenty of bike trails and a nice pool.  So we took advantage of their pay for 5 and get 7 days and signed up for a week.  And we gave the boat a much needed bath to get rid of all the salt. Here we ae safely tied up at Jekyll Island.

On Thursday night, we rode our bikes 4.5 miles each way to the Driftwood Bistro.  Very good food, and reasonably priced too.  Our friends John and Becky from St Simons Island had recommended it.  Thanks so much for the recommendation, we will be back.
We took early morning walks to beat the heat almost every day.  The heat index reaches the high 90's if not 100 degrees in mid afternoon.
Friday, we had a nice afternoon at the pool and were able to listen to the live music at the restaurant as well.
Saturday was a work around the boat day.  Julie organized and cleaned inside, I went into the engine room to clean up all the grime from all the work done.  Mechanics did a good job, but greasy hand prints, sand from shoes, scraps of cable ties, gasket material etc were left behind.  Cleaned up pretty well now.
Here are some pictures from this morning's walk.
Dropped off wedding invitation RSVP at post office
 Such nice old cottages...

We will leave here later morning on Wednesday (need to wait for some tidal help) and head north...
Note the small channel and sailboats sitting in the mud....we'll wait an hour or so.

Thanks for following our cruising blog.