Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weekend Report

Jacksonville Beach from 2 miles offshore.

Saturday was a typically sunshiny Floriday. We were underway about 45 minutes late, but it did not matter because the weather and the tides were with us. The water was flowing out to the ocean and we made good time to downtown.

The problem was the railroad bridge. It started lowering when we got within a quarter mile and when we arrived it was down. And. Locked. For two trains. We spun in circles for the next 40 minutes watching nothing happen.

When the bridge did open we were in a busy clot of ten boats trying for the same bit of liquid real estate. Soon enough, the little speed boats cleared away and we were heading for Mayport at eleven knots, two thousand RPM on both diesels.

The water was very bumpy at the Mayport Jetties and this was because the winds began to pickup from the East which happened to be the direction the tide was flowing. Classic wind against tide; the water will begin to make big rollers which may be uncomfortable. One minute you are looking DOWN and the next UP. Easy enough for the Barco to handle, we turned South as soon as we cleared the rocks and we were in very open water.

I alluded to the sailboat race a couple days ago, and sure enough by the afternoon we caught up to about six racers. We know the folks on "Bernoulli", but because they were far enough away we did not chat with them. I did get an email address from one of the competitors, so we will send along some photographs of them underway on the ocean.


Allan and his crew on Bernoulli

"Francisco", a Morgan 30


Allan, from "Bernoulli" is usually found at any and all sailing races. He brings along his loyal crew of three ladies and always have a good time, even if they don't win very often. Really nice  competitors.

I kept Barco away from the racers and had to use maximum zoom to get these pictures. Our course brought us a bit closer to the lead boat, but because they started waving and gesturing to me at 100 yards, I did not bother to take a picture and turned to the West, instead.

Being offshore, the air temperature was about ten degrees cooler than in the Intracoastal and there are no bugs. Also, since it is a big ocean, there is more room for maneuver and you don't get run over by sport fishers doing the speed of heat in tight quarters.
Soon enough, the three hours on the ocean were finished and we began the turn into the Inlet. At the St Augustine Inlet, there are NO CHARTS! The channel is a living and moving beast. Last week, a million dollar sport fisher was destroyed because they sped into the channel carelessly, striking a sandbar. Needless to say, I was hands on the throttle and wheel carefully watching the portable red and green buoys, threading our way through the surf at eleven knots.

About ten minutes later we were guided into berth 36 at the St Augustine Municipal Marina. We had a garbage bag full of water bottles and two soda's for our warm day on the water.

As we enjoyed sunset wine and beer, we decided to video the tour boats leaving the dock. Looked like fun!

Seemed like every small boat was overloaded with family and friends!

View from Municipal Marina to A1A Alehouse

Looking back

This sign was probably added in early 70's, next to A1A Alehouse

On King Street next to the Big Church is a great Greek Restaurant

My Gyro Platter
 For once, we decided to eat first rather than go to the Tradewinds. This made for a more sedate evening. WE bypassed the Tradewinds and went straight to the non-smoking American Legion Post 37 (My home post)

I love the old Florida look of this Santa Maria Restaurant. I have never visited because it looks like a tourist facility. Probably good food, but like Disney, I haven't bothered to go.

I find the birds to be fascinating. They have no problem doing their thing in front of us guests. The Marina staff dislikes cleaning up the white splotches of bird dung from the docks and boats. Cool birds, though.

Power boaters always leave crap on the dock. Doesn't bother the bird, though...

Bridge of Lions

Notice the Lion Statue on right. There are two lions guarding the entrance to this depression era bridge.

Some more info on the Bridge of Lions; The bridge was originally built in the thirties, and the bridge was scheduled for destruction and replacement by a 65 foot non-opening span. The public got together and voted out that project and decided to rebuild as a drawbridge with the original Lions.

Locals are funny about change, aren't they? Thing is, the bridge is really quite attractive.

Flagler College

Old house near Hypolita Street

We bypassed this island of fun and went straight to the Legion!

This is memorial for the First World War, the name "Pacetti" is one of the premier families in St Augustine, there is a "Pacetti Point" on the St Johns River.
We went by the Tolamato Cemetery, the last burial there was early in the last century. They had the gates locked but there were a line of military markers with Confederate Flags for the Veterans buried there with Civil War service. One of the names I noticed was "Ponce". Like the Pacetti's, the Ponce Family is a big part of St Augustine's history.

 I really like St Augustine, can you tell?

Legion Main Hall

Lively scene in the bar at the Legion. It is open to the public!

We had to buy these Red Neck Chalices at the Legion. $10.00 for two.

The POW/MIA table
For anyone who is not aware of the meaning of this table go here. It would be the reason for the season.

Bridge of Lions standstill

We awoke to another beautiful Sunday with clear heads and a need to walk around the town. We sook a few photos of some interesting homes and had an ice cream at one of the St George Street shops. Then we stopped by the Legion.

Ran into a colleague of the Spousal Unit on the dock, Sarah and Burt were on their small runabout a couple berths away. We invited them to have wine and cheese at sunset.

We. Had. Too. Much. Fun.

0630 I woke with a haddock flopping around in my head and we fired up the diesels and were underway about five minutes later heading North on the Intracoastal Waterway. Six hours after that, we were home.

The cats were angry with us, but they got over it. 

All in all it was a most excellent adventure! Back to the grindstone...

Friday, May 27, 2011

I just found this video

I sorta knew one of the Pilots (At least that was his story!)  in this Video of VF 121; His name to me was Captain Haslam (0-6) CAPT Haslam used to feed me prospects when I was a recruiter for the Navy, back in 1986. Nicest person you could ever know, he would give me names of teenagers from his neighborhood.

The Navy was good to him, and he wanted to pass it on.

"Launch 'em" is a classic from 1955, of course, none of this kind of hi-jinx would be allowed today. I hope you enjoy this film from the USS Hancock from 1955. I wish I could have been in that Navy... This film was a very hot training film, It certainly was more popular than the ever present short-arm inspection films. I saw a 16mm of this back in the early 80's.

By the way, We launch 'em at @ 0700, tomorrow morning!  Off to St Augustine!

P.S.; All the best, CAPT Haslam, wherever you are. You were one of the good ones!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Almost Memorial Day!

I have not had much to say, lately. The world keeps spinning it's way around the sun and nothing new really happens to all of us as we continue running the hamster wheel of life.

Last Saturday, we were the Armed Forces Day Regatta Race Committee boat and were treated to a warm afternoon of sailboat racing. Only problem was that my camera was UA (Unauthorized Absence) and there are no pics. Trust me, there were about fifteen boats of which five were spinnaker class, five non-spinnaker and five cruising boats.

The race was about four hours long and very warm, the sun must have been crushing to those without shade. We had shade and airconditioning, thanks to our nice 7.5 KW generator.

After the race, all of the competitors beat feet for home, so the race committee sat in the shade eating pulled pork and enjoying beverages and a fine Florida sunset.

This week we had our islander maintenance  dude, Nick, onboard Barco doing some needed work to the Barco. We now have a new Digital VHF in the flybridge, and our airconditioner in the forward berth is back to doing the cooling thing. It really is nice to have everything in operating order. Why, our teak is still varnished and shiny!

I'm thinking we can get underway around 0500 on Saturday and get to Mayport by 0730 and out the ocean soon afterwards.

 We can make the turn South and follow the beach to St Augustine, maybe a four hour run at 8 knots.

At the Sea Buoy we will turn to the West and carefully make our way into the St Augustine Inlet and from there have a choice between the City Marina or the Conch House which is South, down the Salt Run Cut.


Here is a close up of the two marinas. http://goo.gl/maps/PODK

The city marina is within a short walk to the Tradewinds and American Legion clubs and also the historic district. Conch House is across the river, but it is a really cool resort with dockside dining and other diversions.

These Chikee hut tables are sort of reminiscent of Seminole dwellings in the everglades, but instead of climbing a tree you get a proper stair-ladder to your table under the grass.

What fun! All this tropical/islander stylings just a few hours away via boat.

Would anybody like to join us? We have a forward bedroom and a sofa bed in the salon. All we need is to pack a change of clothing and bring an extra bottle or two of wine and we can be out on a nautical adventure!

Otherwise, the Spousal Unit and myself will have a very nice time off shore and of course in St Augustine.

Have a great day, where ever you find yourself!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wonderful time in the Florida sunshine

This is the season I really enjoy here in North Florida. The days are in the eighties and there is little humidity in the air. Every morning is a great joy to watch unfold with nary a cloud in sight.

The Barco is getting a new anchor/running light on the radar arch, a new VHF radio and some airconditioning work on the forward unit. Once this is done we should be ready for hot weather operations in the river and offshore.

Speaking of offshore, I am hoping to take a trip from Mayport to St Augustine, following the coast and watching the annual Memorial Day Regatta which the North Florida Cruising Club hosts so well.

Hmmm, with further review... At least I think that there is a race. Usually is. Whatever, I am going to enjoy some cool ocean breezes and maybe tow a lure to catch a fish. This boating thing is about the Barco crew and we are very self contained.

Not too much going on otherwise, we are following the Red Wings on tv and suffering the next morning from being up too late. Very exciting to watch a team on the verge of elimination fight back so valiantly and successfully, too. Tonight, the game should be very exciting and as the Spousal Unit says, "Detroit better bring their "A" game. SWWBO will be at TPC in Ponte Vedra today, so she gets to be actively around dem stick and ball folks.

Another thing about the season is watching the boat-bound snowbirds begin their trips back home. I envy the journey and wish I was heading Northward to cool weather and tree lined waterways.

Have a nice day, wherever you may be.

Brought to you by Iggy the Iguana.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sort of a great day!

Well. The news is out and I am happy the President did what a President should do. I won't even mention the name of that rectal maggot, but I hope the last thing it felt was FEAR!

Now would be a good time for the President and his people to pause and reflect on all the information, who and what and so forth. I find it interesting that there was an Army outfit across the street. This must mean that the Good people of Pakistan were kinda in cahoots, and all that.

What a wonderful turn of events! We can now cut off all aid (Billions!) to Pakistan and use it for other purposes. Perhaps we can consider how to bring all our troops home, including those in Europe and Asia, and maybe end the war?

There is still much work to be done and this little event won't change current events, but one can hope, right?

The weekend was very nice, we had our Barco Sin Vela out at noon Saturday, boating in the warm Florida sunshine. We traipsed on to the Naval Air Station and did the parade lap around the small barge that held the Base Chaplain and the Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

The parade included Jacksonville's Fire &  Rescue, Jacksonville Sheriff, Customs and Immigration, Coast Guard!, and the NAS Jax Station Rescue Boat.

We were right behind the important guests and I did pull our boat up within four feet of the dignitaries, but did it slowly as to not rock their boat. And we did receive a blessing, along with a spray of some type of liquid. I hope it works!

Film at eleven...