The light of dawn had yet to brighten the day when we slipped our lines free and drifted away from the dock. A day of rain and strong winds had been forecast but, when we awoke, it was to hear nary a sound of wind in the rigging or rain pattering on our decks. Time to go.
It had taken some work to get ourselves to this position though. We departed Ontario on Dec 12th and arrived at the marina on the 14th. There we found a ladder and climbed under the shade cloth enveloping our vessel. The decks were filthy as usual. Murray undid the padlock and I ventured below. Mould! Oh well, it was not unusual. The summer had been very wet and many boats had the same problem. The next day, the boat was moved into the work yard where the real work could commence.
As I cleaned belowdecks, Murray worked outside. He had discovered that our prop was seized. Calling on me to read the manual and hold the tiny bits, he carefully took the MaxProp apart, re-greased it and then put it back together. Other than congealed grease, he found no obvious problem with the prop but it seemed to move freely once again. Then it was time to check the thru-hulls. Last year, he had found some softness in the backing plates and feared that much work might be needed. Inspection showed the problem to be confined to just one thru-hull and easily dealt with.
We completed the work that needed to be done on land and took the opportunity to launch a day earlier than planned – on Dec 22nd. On the 23rd, we started the engine and motored to Reynolds where we would finish the jobs that could be done in the water. The Rialta took us on a Christmas adventure, first to Stuart, FL, to visit with George and Nancy Marvin where we had changed our engine last winter. They shared their Christmas celebration with us and it was a wonderful time. From there, we headed north of The Villages to meet up with some former sailors and great friends, Pete and Lani Tufts. Both couples must have thought we needed feeding as they gifted us with boxes of homemade cookies! Yumm!
All fun aside, there was still work to be done. Shopping trips depleted our bank account and filled the lockers with food and wine for the winter. Many gallons of fuel were carried aboard. Some repair work needed to be done on the dodger. All of these jobs were carried out in 85F with 80-95% humidity! The temperatures broke records for 7 days in a row. At bedtime, you almost had to peal your clothes off as they damply stuck to your skin. A late evening shower in the cockpit was the luxury looked forward to each day.
The list was getting shorter but a list of work or needed items never really disappears. It was time to start checking the weather reports. A cold front was coming and might carry us quickly down the ICW if we can position ourselves to use the wind. The timing of the front seemed to vary depending on whose report you read/listened to. So, when we awoke to find light winds on New Years Day, we took the opportunity to head out.
Today, we are sitting at anchor near Ft Matanzas, listening to the rain on the deck. It may stop by noon and allow us to continue south. But, if not, we will head south again tomorrow. The temperatures have definitely dropped – to a high of 59F. But the strong winds have yet to appear. Modified reports indicate perhaps tomorrow but definitely by Wed. Maybe.
It is good to be underway again. Some problems have shown up – a leak in the fresh water system that is challenging Murray. This time in the waterway is the perfect time to find these problems and to resolve them before heading to the islands.
We have some parts meeting us at George & Nancy’s place in Stuart – the repaired Ham radio, some glues and adapters. Plans are to stop there briefly, re-stock, do laundry, visit and then head on. Ready for the islands once again.
From 1997, through every winter, to 2016. Is this the last cruise? One never knows when that decision will be taken from you. For now, we will take it one day, one week, one month and one cruise at a time.
Hugs and love,
Heather & Murray Rand
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