Cruising from Satellite Beach Florida to Savannah Georgia & We Missed the Rocket Launch…#49

We had arrived in Satellite Beach, Florida in mid-April after our week or so in the Keys and our trip north in the ICW.  We were planning on staying at Satellite Beach area for a while and just settle in a bit before we thought about going north again. We were able to just enjoy our time and not do too much. Our friends, Chris and Gina loaned us a vehicle to be able to go to store & Patrick Air force base to hit the Exchange and Commissary. We were also able to take a couple drives around the area but really kept ourselves isolated as much as we could. We did a few dinners with our friends at their home and Dan was excited to help Chris work on his Corvette project, where he is putting an Electronic Twin Turbo LS motor into a Stingray from the frame up. We also worked on tuning his LS powered boat.  We really enjoyed our time with Chris and Gina and were so glad to spend the extra time in this city. 

I started a daily walk along the neighborhood close by and enjoyed it tremendously. I got so many cool pictures along the way. I loved these “snake Cactus” and got a close up of this beautiful Heron along our dock. indian-banana waterwaysI also took my Kayak out a couple time on Indian River, I was hoping I would see dolphins which frequent the area every day. I did see them, but I couldn’t get close enough for good pictures.

“This area has two rivers that collide into the ICW (Intracoastal Waterways). The Indian river starts up in the Ponce de Leon area and flows down towards Satellite Beach where the Banana river runs into the Indian river and continues down the ICW. The Banana River isn’t considered part of the ICW only part of the lagoon system and has an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean by Port Canaveral”

The Marina we were at was a bit south of this map image.

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We stayed busy with projects of course, we did many puzzles, books, netflix’s & went fishing and caught nothing worth keeping, but it was fun. Dan got to power wash the dinghy of all the sea barnacles and such, being that we left the dinghy in the water so we could use it. I had to do the same thing on my Kayak that I left in the water. This is the joy of sea water vs fresh. We had planned to stay for 1 month but extended our stay when we heard that the Spacex rocket launch was planned for 5/27. Dan had reviewed the bays near Cape Canaveral, and we knew how close we could get to the launch.

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On Tuesday 5/26 we left the marina and headed out to our rocket watching anchorage spot. It was extremely close, and we were excited. But on Wednesday the weather was not looking good and a thunderstorm was heading in. As you know the launch was scrubbed due to weather issues. We then had to make a decision as to stay at anchor until Saturday or Sunday and hope it doesn’t get scrubbed again. I was concerned because the weather did not look any better for the weekend, I really didn’t want to wait 3-4 more days and it gets postponed again. So, the decision was made to move on to St. Augustine. We had waited and postponed our travels north by 2+ weeks and I was ready to leave. 

We headed out along the Intracoastal waterways to Ponce de Leon Inlet and anchored out for 1 night. (map of our locations at end of blog) This was just a stop and rest point so we didn’t have to cruise all night long. img_7227We got hit with a pretty good storm that evening and just watched with amazement as the winds, rain and dark clouds hit us. We took off again the next morning for St Augustine City Marina. We traveled via the Intracoastal Waterways and it is an interesting navigation endeavor. Some areas are really shallow 6-8 feet or less and narrow. Some are wide open with a few extra feet but required to stay inside the navigable channel to be safe. The depth is very shallow outside the narrow channel which requires us to stay alert the whole time. It is also can be very windy and lots of marsh lands, bridges & little alcoves along the way.  You do stay safe from the sea conditions while traveling the ICW and that is one bonus, plus the view is much better too! 

img_7253We arrived in St. Augustine docks and were pleased that the city was within steps of the marina. We arrived late afternoon and planned to stay two nights. We walked around the town that night and found a nice place for a snack & drink, Prohibition Kitchen. It was a two-level cute pub grub type place. Service and food were excellent. We had Brussel sprouts grilled with some awesome sauce and a beautiful shrimp cocktail with huge shrimp. It was incredibly good. Found the local visitor center and bought tickets for the next day on a historic “On-Off Trolley”. If you haven’t done one if these it is AWESOME. We used the “Old Town Trolley Tours” company and were very happy with the knowledge, locations they stopped and the quickness between rides (approx. 15 mins). We did one in Washington DC years ago and enjoyed it then and this was very similar. I just love old history and we both enjoyed our time listening to the drivers explain the city.

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We rested a bit before dinner. We had so many recommendations from friends for good places to eat but ended up at a local restaurant 2 block from the marina at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill. It had good ratings on-line and it was close by and it did not disappoint. It was fabulous! 

Up early the next day to head off to Jacksonville Fl. We had made friends with some locals through a Facebook group for those that have Hatteras Yachts. We went in a bit further, 25 nm, than we would have on our own and stayed at Lamb’s Yacht Center & Marina. We had tons of fun with Bill and Patty. We each showed off our boats. 

Dan helped Bill a bit with some projects, we did a couple dinners out, went to the Navy Base nearby and we got to visit their boxers… what a joy! That is one thing Dan and I miss a lot is animals in our lives! We had a 5 day stay and have new friends too! 

We got up extra early when we left Lambs Marina in Jacksonville, we had aways to go, 75 nautical miles to Brunswick GA. We picked this location for a couple reasons. We needed a halfway point between Jacksonville and Savannah and Dan found a place to buy his 5-gallon buckets of Chevron Delo 100 40w oil, to keep the big Detroit Diesel happy, and they were going to bring it to the boat. So, that saved us a problem with how to get it picked up and hauled. So we went in to Brunswick Landing Marina. We stayed 1 night, oil was waiting for us when we arrived, and we walked to a local restaurant for dinner. On our way “in and out” towards Brunswick at St. Simons Island Sound we got to see the 656 foot “Golden Ray” cargo ship that flipped over in September of 2019. It was holding 4,200 cars and the effort to get her out of the water has been an undertaken ever sense. The ship was eventually declared a total loss and is now being cut up in place and scrapped. Here is more detail on the whole event and salvage work. Golden Ray Wiki

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Below is a map of our trip along the coastline and ICW. 

Our trip continues North as we head towards Norfolk/DC area. We will be stopping in Savannah Georgia next. I’m excited because my friend Ashley gave me a book that I read a year or so ago called “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt” If you haven’t read it, you should. It will make you want to go to Savannah and see all the interesting places. 

Looking forward to our adventures in Savannah and South & North Carolina… 

Take Care! 

2 Years Living Aboard our Boat, What a Dream Come True….#48

This month, June is the 2 year mark for us being underway from our home at Columbia River Yacht Club in Portland Oregon. cropped-img_2364-2.jpgWhen we started this adventure, we thought that this 2 year mark we would be close to being done….but that isn’t the case. Our plans have adjusted multiple times, as they should when things happen. But we are so happy they did because we would not have experienced some places that we were not planning on going.

This first disruption of our plans was the overhaul in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  Shipyard at Opequimar. It took many more weeks than we anticipated. They did a great job but the length of time made us change our plans. We decided to head north up to the Sea of Cortez  for the summer. And what a great time we had! We would go back for sure and maybe someday we will do that. It was one of the best times we had.

img_6046One of the other best times/places, that was unexpected, was when we hit the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean Sea side of Panama. This was definitely in our plans but we were totally surprised by the level of friendliness from the native Guna Indians. We were blessed to have them share parts of their lives with us and we will never forget this memory. Also the beauty of the land and the hardship these people live every day to just survive is amazing. We were blessed to be able to experience it.

Now we had many small change in plans and we really only plan out the next stop just before leaving the current one. But the Sea of Cortez was a major change to our plans. One of the other major changes to the plan was just recently when the Covid 19 hit the world. We were in Jamaica  and we planned on going to Turks and Caicos and had family coming to join us. Well, of course that didn’t happen and we decided to undertake the longest run we had ever done, 4 days, alone with no crew. We made it safely to Florida and were glad to be in the US during these trying times.

We are frequently asked by people we meet about the roughest weather or worst storms. Of course you will all remember our cruise from Costa Rica to Panama, Our most TERRORIZING Cruise ever. We tell this story often to people we meet along the way, with wide eyes watching us as we point to the top of the fly bridge where the sea water attacked me in the middle of the night. This was a life changing event for me as a sailor and I truly respect the sea as it has its own agenda.

Of course, we are always doing repairs on the boat, well, I guess I should say Dan is always doing repairs. At least the repairs are being done in exotic locations, right?  Because repairs are so much of our energy, to keep moving and be safe I asked Dan what his most concerning repair was and why. This repair issue was the overheating of our main generator. It actually had two issues, but we did not know that at the time.

Being that the overheating was in our main generator and it was old, we had a bit of concern and needed it fixed quickly. We were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at the time, which adds to the complexity if parts are needed. The first issue was a clogged and leaking heat exchanger. It was very troublesome because it was difficult to disassemble, being old & rusty and was hard to get it unfastened in a very tight location. Eventually he was successful, but the part had to be ordered from Cook Engines in the US and then have it shipped. Because it was heavy and expensive part, we paid bucks! Customs in foreign countries can hit you hard. The second issue was found a couple days later after the heat exchanger was replaced. We had a worn out and clogged exhaust mixing elbow. The sea water passage had become clogged, limiting the flow which causes more overheating. We had lost our main generator again. But this time we had friends coming down and they brought the part with them in their luggage and helped Dan fix the elbow. All of this was a major concern because this was our main generator wired to our inverter. We had to use our alternate generator which limited us to 50 amps max.

The winner of best pictures is a slam dunk on “Sunsets & Sunrises”. So many I may need to create a picture book with all these pictures to put on my coffee table, someday!

 

 

 

I was not sure how to put these two years into a overall blog when there was just so much to talk about, So I thought I would put the last 2 years into a list of data points.

  • 730 days/2 years living aboard Angelique
  • 8,386 nautical miles
  • 7 countries visited
  • Cruised past 6 countries without stopping
  • 12 Scuba/snorkels dives – not enough times, for sure!
  • 1 new dinghy
  • 1 haul out/overhaul
  • 5 times we used 2 anchors – bad holding & bad wind/wave direction
  • 3 times major direction change in plans
  • 2 marina power failures while gone off of the boat – not fun!
  • 18 airline tickets purchased, traveled away from boat
  • 1 pandemic
  • 2 intruders
  • 1 awesome supermoon
  • 100’s of amazing sunset/sunrise pictures
  • 40+ dolphin sightings
  • 1000+ hours fixing & maintaining stuff
  • 24 engine oil changes
  • 1 stolen phone
  • 3 Airbnb’s – during shipyard work
  • 50 different visits from our friends/family
  • 4 different visits from Ken and Cheryl – Our good friends
  • 6 different visits from our kids, Kylie, Chase & Mitch
  • 2 Hired hands – who were brothers
  • 2 Navy football games attended – different cities
  • 40+ motorcycle rides
  • 48 blog posts about our adventures
  • 75+ books read (hard, on-line & audio)
  • 100+ bicycle rides
  • 60+ Uber and taxi rides
  • 27 nights Angela spent on boat without Dan
  • So many new boating friends/acquaintances
  • 2 very grateful and blessed owners of Angelique

As we reflect back on the past 2 years living aboard our Motor Yacht, Angelique, we are amazed at how far we have traveled, IN OUR OWN BOAT! So many awesome memories we have and we are EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that I have been writing them all down in this blog. Also, incredibly grateful to our friends and family that have joined us and helped with moving the boat in those times we needed it. And of course, all the people we met along the way, which are now new friends with which we will hopefully keep in touch.

I hope that if this is something you are interested in doing, that you do it! Yes there are rough times, lots of maintenance and repairs. But what an adventure you will live and relive as you remember what you accomplished.

We hope you and your family are healthy and happy. Blessings to you from Dan and Angela on MV Angelique 

Cruising to Mexico? What to Expect and a Bit of Data You Should Know…#47

Sitting in quarantine on Angelique in Florida is no more fun than you sitting at home. We do similar things to keep ourselves busy and healthy. Writing for me is a blessing. It has become something I look forward to rather than dread. When I started blogging, I wasn’t sure what to write about and how to go about it. I just knew I wanted to keep track of what we were doing and share it.

I thought I would share about Mexico. I think it is our most favorite countries we have visited, to date. We have spent the most time there and came to love it.

“What should you expect when you travel on your boat to Mexico?”

img_7148-1First, getting into the country is different than traveling inside of the US.  We have to check in at customs & immigration. This requires us to go to the national office, sometimes close by and sometimes not. We also may be required to visit a bank, to pay the immigration office, occasionally they do not take cash. You would need to pay the bill at the bank and bring back a receipt. Then we would need to head to the Port Captain’s office to check into the local port. Sometimes these were not physically close and required a taxi or the marina’s office folks to cart us around. In some countries like Costa Rica & Panama we hired an agent to get us checked in/out. This was very valuable when we started reading the complications of moving from place to place in these two countries. Mexico is cheaper and simpler.

img_7147-1When we go to these offices we take all our critical documents needed to check in. Dan created a “Boat Book” with plastic sleeves for sliding in and out all the documents. This book holds all the vital paperwork needed to get in and show a customs/immigrations officers & Port Captain’s office. We are also often asked for copies of our documents and have a small printer we can use to make extra copies.

This book holds:

  • US Coast Guard National documentation
  • Liability insurance 
  • Import or cruising permit (TIP – Mexico)
  • Passports
  • Zarpe – Arrival and departure documents (we have saved them all)
  • Dispatcho or Arribo – Port Captain exit and entry documents
  • Homeland security decals
  • Radiotelephone license – FCC
  • EPRIB registration
  • Ownership of boat, bill of sale
  • registration for all vehicles (boat, dinghy, waverunner, motorcycle)
  • titles of all vehicles

Red fonts documents are required frequently, we carry the others in cases we need them.

Most countries also require you to purchase a travel/cruising permit for your boat to be in their waters. Mexico has a “TIP” Temporary Import Permit. Mexico’s TIP is a boat & owner specific permit that lasts 10 years. If you are buying a boat and you plan to take it to Mexico, make sure the previous owner has canceled their TIP, or it will cause you issues. You could possibly be sent back if you are not prepared. We entered in Ensenada and had worked with the local marina staff months and months before we entered. See, we had a TIP that was not canceled and the owner would not help, as he said it had already been canceled and it wasn’t. But the previous owner did give us the contact information in Ensenada of some folks that had helped him and we were able to get everything in-line before we arrived. We don’t recommend this approach, if at all possible, have the last owner cancel the TIP.

You need to remember that every time you move you are required to check “out and in”  of each next major port of arrival/departure. You will need to visit the Port Captain’s office to accomplish this. If you are staying in a marina, you can ask for assistance. You will get different level of assistance in each one. This seems really hard and complicated. But once you figure it out and have a process for it, it isn’t as hard as it seems. Well worth the time for the experience.

We also joined a boat rally and we highly recommend this, as it gives you new people to meet, a place to ask questions and you learn a lot by just being with people that have done it before. From the West coast there are two different rally’s, The Baja ha ha & the Cubar. Either one is fine.

Now you are ready visit Mexico and have some fun! See the sights etc. As you start to interact with the local community, remember you are the guest! Most importantly, be kind and courteous to these folks. They will be excited to see you and take your money, of course. Tourism is their livelihood. For the most part Mexico is very inexpensive, especially if you are living with the locals and not in resort. So, if the marina is in a resort area, take the time to travel to the local farmers market, shopping store and don’t buy from the expensive stores near the resort.

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Because you are living in Mexico and not just visiting for 1 or 2 weeks. You will be exposed to more of the ongoing daily culture. You have to go grocery shopping, buy stuff to work on repairs on your boat, etc. We enjoyed being more ingrained in the culture of Mexico. We got comfortable and knew our way around some of the towns really well. You will start to notice all the uniqueness of the country which you should embrace. Those that try and live a US life inside a foreign country will first, not experience the real country and second, be really disappointed.

“YOU have to have an Open Mind and accept that everything is different”

img_3599You “should not” expect to see the same type of cities, roads, houses, restaurants, grocery stores, laws, taxis, sidewalks, attitudes, approach, style of speaking etc, etc, etc. Mexicans are much more about relationship building. They want to have a nice greeting before they get into the topic in question. Americans, right to the point! Understanding this is critical to building relationship and getting what you need & want. They are different and you should try and understand the uniqueness of their culture. At the shipyard in Puerto Vallarta, we had OUTSTANDING quality of work, very affordable pricing due to using a personally recommended project manager,  who was a great communicator, super attentive, involving family members in their business. This was able to work because we accepted how they did business in a slow, relationship, family, and holiday considered way.

The grocery stores are different and not like the US, but if you are continuing to be open minded and trying new things, you will find new and interesting foods. Also the food expectations should also be open minded. You will not find perfect shaped or clean fruits and veggies. We also think everything needs to be refrigerated, which isn’t the case. Eggs are not washed and not refrigerated, meat out in the open & food carts are often scattered along the road sides.

img_7146Another way to enjoy the experience is to learn the language. Spanish isn’t that hard. Neither Dan or I knew any Spanish, but worked hard to learn what we could as we went along. Now, we certainly can’t hold conversations, but we learned how to ask questions, greeting, small words that helped us along the way. It helps with the locals valuing you and your visit, if at least try and speak some spanish. Of course you can take a class, use an app – Duolingo and practice as often as you can.

It is also really important to understand you can NOT get the boat parts in Mexico that you can expect to get in the US. BRING spare parts and/or have redundancies of items. Also any speciality lubes/oils etc. Carry them into Mexico on your boat. We cannot stress this enough. Bring spare starters, alternators, pumps, impellers, turbos, and lots of nuts bolts screws electrical connectors and plumbing parts, etc… Having something shipped not only takes a long time but crossing over the border, customs gets their cut. Sometimes 30-50% of the shipments retail cost.

img_2019For fun you might want to consider bringing kayaks, paddle boards, bicycles, snorkels gear, scuba gear, games and playing cards, & DVD movies. Also if you plan on anchoring out and visiting islands as we did up in the Sea of Cortez, you should consider a smaller lightweight dinghy that you can pull up on the sand. This is one mistake we made, ours is too heavy to haul up on a beach.

Internet & Phones add another complication.  You get internet at marinas, but it isn’t as fast as US and surely isn’t as reliable (staying up and working). If you go in remote areas you will get no service, internet or cell. It is very spotty as to where you will have service in areas like the Sea of Cortez. Phone service was an unexpected issue we experienced. You are thinking…. You won’t have this issue because your US phone plan says = “USA, Canada and Mexico”. We didn’t expect to have an issue either. BUT, just before 3 months time T-Mobile told us they would cancel our plan and numbers if we didn’t go back to the US before the 3 month time. Depending on which plan you have you are only allowed 3-6 months in Mexico until they cancel your plan. This is for Verizon, AT&T, & T-Mobile. We personally went in and asked while we were home trying to solve our problem. We ended up buying Mexican phone numbers that we could fill with data and make calls. BUT it was extremely hard to keep filling up and we really weren’t happy with the service. There are lots of folks that buy these type of plans that either live or travel to Mexico often and they do fine. It just wasn’t okay for us.  We asked some of our friends, Dean and Roxane what were they doing. They told us that they are on an AT&T plan with their adult kids, the more people the better. The plan that AT&T uses for large groups allows no more than 50% of the usage from Mexican travelers. So that is what we did, we have these awesome friends that let us join their AT&T plan and it is working out great!

img_3674Getting Cash is an interesting issue and I do recommend getting Mexican Pesos, you will need them. Yes you can use your Credit Card at restaurants, grocery stores, etc. but taking a taxi, tipping, farmers market, street vendors, a quick drink, you need cash. What I recommend is to use your debit card in a machine to get cash. Yes, you will be charged a fee and the conversion rate at the moment in time that you get the cash. But this is the easiest and best exchange rate. PLEASE use a debit machine attached to a local bank and be aware that there are thieves that can scan your card if you are not careful.  You need to pay attention to the fee and the conversion rate, which are both set by the owner of the machine. The fee is a one time transaction fee, so pull out as many Pesos as the machine will allow in one transaction. All machines we went to have an option for “english”. That was nice.

a4f10cbd-6ec7-40c8-a5d7-52d0d4e8b1a5Mexico is one of our most favorite places to visit/stay. We were in Mexico for a 1 year+ in many different areas. I’m sure we will be back. Dan and I feel Mexico is a very safe place to be. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, just like in the US. Pay attention and enjoy. I often went places by myself, either on a shuttle bus, taxi or Uber. (Available in the bigger cities). I only once felt a little uncomfortable. NOW there are cities where there is a bit of unrest, like Acapulco, so I would not act the same in this city and we were extremely careful there.

If you are open-minded to new adventures and new ways of living and don’t expect the same from Mexico as US, Canada or Europe. You will really enjoy yourself.

Adios Amigos

Watch for our NEXT Blog

…. SpaceX Rocket Launch in Florida (Hope it isn’t postponed)