The weird sound was getting louder and now was almost a screech. Just 2 miles behind us was the dock at Reynolds where we had worked so hard on the boat for 2 weeks. Would we need to return? Could we return?

All of these thoughts ran through my head as Murray eliminated the possible culprits. It sounded like a bearing. Maybe the fan belt housing or the transmission or the new cutlass bearing we had installed while on the hard. He removed the fan belt but the sound persisted. Not that bearing. OK, he then checked the transmission…. it was cool to the touch. Next he rotated the shaft by hand, but it seemed to spin freely. Not the cutlass bearing then. Back he went to the transmission again, to check the fluid level. There was NO FLUID! Yikes, where did it go? He quickly filled the reservoir and felt beneath the transmission, looking for leaks. After a few minutes he checked the fluid level again and found that it was holding. Now, time for the test. We put the transmission in gear and it went easily, without any trace of the screech. Slowly the revs were increased and the boat chugged on down the river towards Jacksonville.

What had happened? There are two possible explanations. The first is that after draining the transmission fluid in the spring, Murray neglected to refill the reservoir. The other possibility is that in re-filling the reservoir, he missed the small funnel and poured the fluid into the bilge. Neither option is great but mistakes happen and we were lucky this time.

But, it was a sunny Sunday and we were headed down the St John River with other adventures ahead of us. The weather was still cool with very light winds. That night we anchored near Blount Island, just a few miles from the junction with the ICW. Shortly after dawn on Monday we motored into the ICW and headed south. In St Augustine, radio contact was made with friends anchored there ( Dave & Kathy on Dyad ). The Bridge of Lions was still under construction but opened on it’s usual schedule. As the Matanzas Inlet area came closer, radio calls from boats aground were heard. “TowBoatUS, TowBoatUS”. It was almost a full moon tonight and the low tide was extremely low. But, our plan was to stop early, anchor at Fort Matanzas and catch the high tide at first light. As we approached, three boats were aground. Murray remembered an alternate route into the anchorage and we slowly made our way into the deep water and dropped the hook. I had roasted a turkey breast as we motored along, so we had turkey, squash, potatoes, stuffing and gravy for our dinner. What a feast!

With the dawn, the tide was high and there was no difficulty piloting through the buoys. It was another quiet day with few boats out and about. Our planned anchorage was reached much too early to stop, so on we pressed. I took the helm as Murray worked to finish installing the new lifelines ( photos and report to be posted later on the website ). The dolphins swam along beside us and the pelicans and osprey fished from the air. A lovely quiet afternoon. By 4:30 we found a small spot just off of the ICW in Mosquito Lagoon, just in time to enjoy the sunset with a drink in hand.

Today, we were up at first light again. Strong winds are forecast and we wanted to be securely anchored. By 0930, we were anchor down at Titusville where we will spend a few days, visit with friends ashore ( Don Wilson on Next Exit ) and pick up some odds and ends from the ongoing shopping list. Mostly we will be waiting for the wind to switch around and blow from the north to let us more easily sail on further south.

Future plans? Vero Beach is a day and a half south and some generator parts are supposed to be waiting at the marina for our arrival. There we will re-stock, repair whatever has broken and start to watch the weather for an opening to cross to the islands. When that might happen is anybody’s guess. Until then, we will just be glad to be back on the water and in the warm.

Hugs to all,
Heather & Murray