Quickie Snubber Line

Quickie Makeshift Snubber Line

Our main, number 1, anchor is equipped with 100 ft of 5/16 BBB chain.  Really good and really heavy, especially for our sized boat.

When setting the anchor, best practice is to pay out 4-7 lengths of your anchoring line to stay put.... but when you are in 3 feet of water, even 7 lengths results in only 21 feet.  No big deal other than with 100 ft of chain, that means we have all chain between us and our anchor making for a very jarring experience when the boat moves around.

So what does one do? You add a snubber line.

The first night of anchoring we made one that would suffice.  We simply tied some line between a link of chain and the cleat.  When the boat jerked around (due to current, wakes, or winds), all the jarring was removed as it was absorbed by the line. If the line were to break, we still had the chain itself connected to the boat.

Those 2 marks on the chain (yellow and white), indicate 40 feet of chain.


Vero Beach Farmers Market

Val, KJ, and Dy exploring the Vero Beach Farmers Market
During out stay in Vero Beach, we were fortunate enough to visit their out door farmers market.  The gathering of local produce and shops was quaint, and we were able to secure some good fresh fruits and vegetables at very reasonable prices.  One of the more interesting ones is the Bananamango. We've never had one and we sure look forward to trying it!

Under the eye of security
While visiting one of the vendors, we found we were under the scrutiny of a heavy, their security guy.  See the menacing looking dude in the white hat? He is on Mango theft watch. No, really ... he was the booth security.

About $10 later, we had a great assortment of stuff.


Provisioning via Miata

Totally full!
With Val's dad visiting, we had access to a vehicle! Score! Time to make a run and load up.  Funny thing was, Val's dad drives a Miata!

At Sam's Club
In another stoke of luck, Sam's Club happened to be having their "try us out" membership drive going on.  (note: After the hassle we went through with whomever was the person in charge of the check out lines, we don't plan on being members.  What an asshole.  Anyway, we sure did load up!)

Miata Trunk Loaded Up
We also swung by a Walmart to get a few other things Sam's Club didn't have.

Can't See Out The Back
And we were on our way! Setting up for our jump to the Bahamas, we had read and heard that certain things are hard to get over there. Once we run out of this stuff, we will be eating local!


PawPaw Visits!

KJ Doing a CandyBall at PawPaws Hotel

The past 2 days we've had some special visitors .... Val's Dad, Charlie, and his friend Barbara.  They were on their way down to West Palm Beach and were able to stop by for a couple of days and visit us in Vero Beach.

As is tradition, Pawpaw brought in treats and presents for the girls.

Pawpaw is a master at Barbie dresses
The big hit was the Barbie clothes and the Barbie movie.

The girls ended up spending almost all of Saturday with Pawpaw and Barbara while Val and I borrowed Pawpaw's car for a provisioning trip.

Barbara holds Dy while Dy looks anxiously on
as KJ prepares for her next CandyBall
We were so happy they could stop off and see us. The girls had an absolute blast and have been asking about when they will see Pawpaw and Barbara again.


Vero Beach Buses

KJ and Dy on the city bus
After a day of fun in the sun, plus walking more than 3 miles, what does one do in a new city without a car? Ride the FREE public bus!

Vero Beach has a wonderful bus system for folks to move about the area, and it is FREE. Yes, really free ... like cost nothing.  There is a donation box for those wanting to put money in (I did give a buck), but nothing is expected.

Known as the "Go Line", the Go Line Bus System has 14 routes throughout the county.  They run from 8am until 5pm, Monday through Friday, and reduced hours on Saturday.  Oh, they are free! (I love free).

KJ, Dy, and I headed out at 10AM to see where the bus went.  KJ brought along her field notebook to take notes of our finds.  We found a Publix, West Marine, a number of restaurants, and more.  The driver of the bus was a fantastic helpful guy who himself had lived aboard a boat at one point.  He and his wife docked at Vero Beach and decided they liked it so much they became residents.  We can't blame them. (Vero Beach is known as Velcro Beach because many folks get "stuck" here).

After riding the bus its entire loop, we got back to relay the findings to Val.  For lunch we all hopped back onto the bus and hit the local mall.  A fancy lunch at Chic-Fil-a was in store for us.

On the way back, Dy had an "accident" (read between the lines for a 3 year old being potty trained and wearing big girl panties).  Fortunately the very next stop of the bus we were on was WalMart, so we decided to hop off and not subject the rest of the passengers to Dy's freshly created aroma.  After a quick change, we did some light shopping and then got back on the bus to get back to the boat for a nap.

It was a great day all around.


Vero Beach, Florida

KJ, Dy, and Val enjoying Vero Beach, FL
First full day in Vero Beach.  The family decided that we needed some good beach time.  We walked from Vero Beach City Marina to Vero Beach (about 1.25 miles away) carrying all the tools of the beach trade (pails, shovels, sunscreen, and a towel).

Dy picking out Vero Beaches finest shells
KJ the master sand castle creator
Interestingly, Dy didn't want to get in the water.  She only wanted to play in the sand. KJ, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get in the water so she and I did go in and enjoy the surf.

The immediate area around the beach feels like it is geared more towards retirees than families, although there are lots of families here.  Many of the shops close down at 5, and a number of the food places are only open on certain days at certain times.  We found lots of neat little shops and confectioneries.  I'm sure we will try one or two!

Right off the beach is a nice park area with showers.  We just had to try out the playground here too.

KJ made a new friend
Great and tiring day.  Tomorrow we will explore the bus system.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 7 : BUZZZZZZING Ice Cream Leg Complete

Choices, Choices, Choices

Leg 2, Day 7
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Ice Cream! Leg 2 Complete

Today is testing day … will the buzzer sound or not?  With last nights strong winds, I ended up letting out 80 feet of chain, so today's anchor removal was more of a work out than usual. We had anchored in 6.5 feet of water.

As we took off, we held our breath and waited. No Sounds!  I enjoyed the morning coffee while Val got out KJ and Dy's school books.  30 minutes into reading a story about Nan's Cat that sat on the mat, BUZZ!!! The horrendous, hideous, grotesque, vulgar sounding ominous tone of death started again. The glances to one another were thrown and Val got back on the phone, this time to a Honda dealership.

While they talked, I decided “F-It”, and rather than dropping the RPM, if I'm going to hear the damn thing, I'm going to throttle up and get us to Vero Beach Marina sooner rather than later.  It was 25 miles away.

I pushed the throttle up to 4500 RPM, we hit 6.5 knots, and we buzzed for 3 hours straight! I envisioned all sorts of wonderful punishments I would have for the buzzer.

During our travels to Vero Beach, we did have some good winds along the way that came across the beam, so we put up the main sail and got an additional 0.5 knots.  It was nice to be sailing some, even if it was motor sailing.

As we approached Vero Beach Marina we encountered the largest percentage of rude powerboaters we had since starting the journey down the ICW.  These guys would blast past and create enormous wakes for us.  I will also note that nearly all of them fit the profile of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, except they weren't funny … just assholes.

Docking was a bit tricky as the winds were blowing pretty good.  We had heard over the radio that there was a chance of thunderstorms, so the winds were probably at the head of that system.  I slowly walked the boat in, and the dock line handler from the marina told me that I had done better than most (extra $1 tip for that comment!) and that they've had a few folks hit really hard today.

Docked safely now, our first order of business was Ice Cream! Thank you Virtual Crew Members!
Dy enjoying chocolate chip

KJ enjoying "Superman" flavored ice cream

We will be here about a week; Val's dad will be coming out for a few days.

While we are in Vero Beach, Val will be replacing the main engine's thermostat. (one possible cause of the buzzer with no lights is that there is a very small piece of trash in the thermostat... just enough to trigger the buzzer but not the light …. this is what the mechanic and the Honda dealership shared).

Time to relax and explore Vero Beach.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 6 : Damn Buzzer!

Val begins to take things apart

Leg 2, Day 6
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Damn Buzzer!

Anchor up and we were on our way nice and quite like. They day started like all others, but then “Buzz!” The damn engine buzzer went off again. We hadn't heard it since the very first day.

Val and I looked at each other, and we both looked for the pee. Yep, engine was peeing like it was supposed to. Maybe it was some glitch.

20 minutes goes by... “Buzz! Buzz!” Ugh. Then no more buzz.

Closer we got to a bridge, “Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!” UGH! POS! I became really worried the engine was about to die as we were going under a bridge, and the wind was right on our nose. Oh, what I wouldn't give to get back to those uneventful days.

Holding our breathes and praying to the Honda engine gods, our eyes opened wide and nothing came out of our mouths. We passed through the bridge with the horrendous Buzz sound but the engine kept going. Once we were clear of the bridge, Val and I went into diagnostic mode.

None of the engine indicator lights were on. Unlike day 1 when we could see the engine temperature light come on (because of the lack of cooling), all we got today was a buzz sound. With the engine still running, I back down the RPMs from 3500 to 2500 while we opened up the manuals to find out what would cause the buzz. Nothing of value in the SELOC manual. We decided to call 1 of our life lines.

On the phone to my sister I went. Her prowess as a master Googligriphier is legendary. She did some searching using Google and the most common culprit of the problem was water in the gas. That could certainly be it.

We kept plugging along, and I toyed with the throttle. Amazingly, if I kept the engine at below 2000 RPM, no buzz, I go above it BUZZZZ! (and it is a heinous vomit inducing buzz).

Ariel plodded along at a speed of 2.8 knots … about 3.25 MPH! Stress levels were high as we didn't know for sure if something was going wrong with the engine. We decided we would cut the day short and anchor up after cover about 27 miles. This would give mechanic Val some time to work on the problem while the sun is up.

After anchoring up, Val made reservations for us at the Vero Beach City Marina.... we should reach there tomorrow. Worst case, we spend the night there and find a mechanic. Best case, we fix our problem ourselves still go to the marina and enjoy a nice shower.

Val then called Dennis, the guy whom worked on Ariel while we were in Savannh. This guy was fantastic, and talked Val through what he thought the issues could be. He zeroed in to water in the system too. The guy is hundreds of miles away and not on the clock, yet he helped us. Thank you so much Dennis!!

After talking with Dennis, Val when into her mechanic mode and took out the water separator and the fuel filter.
Is there water in there?

New fuel filter going in
Once the pieces were replaced, we started it all up. It ran, but we didn't run it over 2000 RPM. That we will do tomorrow morning.

It was a full day indeed. So much to learn!

Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 5 : Shuttles and Parks

KJ and Dy enjoying Cocoa Beach Village Splashground

Leg 2, Day 5
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Shuttles and Parks

Up early today, and I totally suck at steering the boat in the dark. Ariel must have looked like a whirling dervish as I tried to get us out of our anchor spot on onto the ICW. Zigzag and back again … back and forth. Eventually I just handed the steering over to Val whom did a splendid job of getting us on the ICW, in the dark, and keeping us in the channel. Go Val!

As dawn broke, it didn't take long for us to learn why Mosquito Lagoon is named Mosquito Lagoon. We had these blood sucker passengers!!! All of us had a number of bites. Ugh. Dabs of hydrocortizone to keep the itching to a minimum.

Bastard Blood Sucking Mosquitoes
There were a number of small channels to contend with today, and KJ helped keep watch as we went down them.
KJ helping keep eyes on the narrow canal
We also found more folks camping along the river backs. They must have a lot of Deet or something to keep the bugs off.
Folks camping along narrow canals
We also saw our first island full of "in the wild" natural Florida pink flamingos. (PLEASE NOTE: a person reading this diary shared that these are not Pink Flamingos, but Roseate Spoonbill birds. Thanks James S!)

Island Full Of Pink Flamingos
One of the highlights was getting close to Cape Canaveral where the Space Shuttle is launched. From our reading, the shuttle was supposed to be on the launch pad for a launch next week, but we were never close enough to see it. We did glimpse the Shuttle assembly building though, with its huge NASA logo. 

Space Shuttle Assembly Building
Since we couldn't get a good view of the space shuttle, we decided to push on towards Cocoa beach. We ended up anchoring in Cocoa beach tavern area, right by the bridge, near 2 city parks. Besides the 2 jackholes whom kept racing their jetskis through the anchored boats, this was a fantastic anchorage.

Once anchored up, KJ, Dy, and I deployed Flounder (our tender) and I rowed us all to shore. We were happy to find not 1 but 2 playgrounds … plus a splashground!

Dy Running Out of the Splashground
Tug Playground Equipment
After the girls played for a few hours, I took them over to a pizza lunch at some “Irish” place. The pizza sucked, but the service was fantastic and the girls, well, they just loved eating lunch out.
Pizza break after hard play
Time to row all the way back to Ariel.... alas, the damn current wasn't in my favor. It was definitely a work out.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 4 : Hot Air Balloons

Hot Air Balloons Being Filled for lift off

Leg 2, Day 4
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Hot Air Balloons

Today we began our journey down the Indian River... this is the water way in Florida that is pretty famous for Oranges and such. There was a lot of traffic out and about, and it was beautiful. Lots of families on the water way enjoying the Saturday. We saw a number of folks camped along the river banks.
Families enjoying the river

Nothing like an afternoon on a pontoon

Good way to spend the day

There was 1 scheduled opening bridge today, and we saw lots of sailboats coming through. From the radio traffic, they boats appeared to be a part of some regatta.

As we passed the New Symerna Beach area, we could see lots of hot air balloons being filled up. There was the usual Remax one, but then we saw a giant Godzilla looking one and also a large Sun one.

While heading down the ICW, we noticed a helicopter buzzing real low along the river coming towards us. As it came in close, KJ and I stood on the front of the boat and danced for it. As it swooped past, it had a logo on the side that read “www.BoatPix.com”.... Neat business for sure.

As we passed marker 55 on the ICW, a boat called Incognito called out “South bound sailing vessel passing 55 this is Incognito, we plan on passing you to Port.” As I reached for the microphone to respond, someone else responded! It was crazy. We listened to the 2 boats talk back and forth, and then I watched as Incognito did indeed pass us to port. Funny stuff. They had a wonderful conversation about how to pass, but it was us that Incognito really intended to talk to.

We saw lots of manatees today along the river too. They floated right on the surface and watched us as we passed.

Our anchorage today was in Mosquito Lagoon. The anchor point was out in the middle of the lagoon, far from any shore. However, it turned out to be fantastic as we all were able to jump in the water and swim around Ariel for hours. It was a fun filled day for sure. No bugs in the cabin yet, so we aren't sure why Mosquito Lagoon is named Mosquito Lagoon

From our current location, we can see the Space Shuttle assembly way off in the distance. That is tomorrows anchorage, Cape Canaveral!

Val and I plan on starting off early tomorrow to take advantage of the tides.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 3 : Private Beach

Small beach KJ, Dy, and I played on for a few hours

Leg 2, Day 3
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Private Beach Visit

3 Days in a row of no big issues! This could be a trend!!!

Today we made our way to Daytona beach. Our original anchorage for the night was quite crowded and didn't seem to offer as much as it appeared to on the map, from a “let's get out” perspective. We elected to continue south looking for another spot. We ended up in a great place about another mile down the ICW.

Dy, KJ, and I headed off on the dingy (rowing of course!) for a seemingly deserted little island that had lots of sand. The quarter mile row was easy and we played on the beach from 11 until 12:30. During that time, Val cleaned the boat and prepared lunch. By 1:15, we were eating grilled hamburgers and sitting on the front of the boat enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Daytona.
View 1 from Daytona anchorage

View 2 from Daytona anchorage

View 3 from Daytona anchorage

After lunch, it was family nap time and then the evening went into KJ and Dy schooling mode. After dinner, we sat outside and watched the sunset while a few dolphins played on the side of our boat. With the sun down, it was movie time and we watched a Star Trek movie, the Wrath of Khan. Ahh, it was good … and we were treated during the movie intermission to a wonderful fireworks display.

Another good day. We continue South tomorrow morning before all the Saturday Daytona beach boaters come out and blast up and down the ICW.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 2 : Timing Bridges Openings

Day break of second day on leg 2- Jacksonville to Vero Beach

Leg 2, Day 2
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Timing Bridge Openings

Another uneventful day! Dy didn't even pee in her panties! Wahoo!

The big challenge today was “timing” a bridge. There are many bridges along the ICW and a large number of them open up when you ask them to. Other bridges, however, only open up on a schedule. Today we hit our first scheduled bridge. The bridge only opens up on the hour and the half hour, except for during rush hour and lunch.

Using the advanced skills I picked up while earning my Physics degree in college, I computed the speed we would need to travel to arrive within 5 minutes of the bridge opening. I didn't want to arrive too soon and try to linger around in position waiting for an opening, my prowess to hold the boat in a position for a long period has much to be desired. Much to our surprise, we actually did get within 5 minutes of the opening time.

Next issue was the etiquette for such a bridge. Our we supposed to let the bridge tender know that we would be going through? We put on VHF Channel 9 (the bridge station) to listen in to see if others were doing any such thing. It was completely silent, although we could see boats queuing up on both sides. Okay, so nothing needs to be said. But how do the boats all know who goes first, whose next, etc.? We would find out very quickly.

Within 3 minutes of arriving at the bridge, we could see the arms that stop traffic from crossing the bridge come down. This is it, the moment of truth!

As soon as the bridge started going up, it was like a mad dash, all the boats on both sides raced towards the center. It was like at a pig farm when the farmer opens the piggy gate and all the pigs squish through, but in this case the piggies were coming from both sides!

I told everyone to hold on and I throttled up to barrel through just like everyone else. I did have the tide running in my favor, which allowed me to pick up some extra speed. By the grace of the bridge gods I interleaved other boats, some coming from the opposite direction, and we wove out way through! Wahoo!!

We were now passing an absolutely beautiful port town, St. Augstine. It looked like it had been lifted right out of Europe.

Continuing South down the ICW, we saw many beautiful homes. Some of the docks of the homes were spectacular in themselves. One dock, however, made us all laugh as the owner of the dock decided a toilet out in the open would be a good move.
Commode on a dock on the ICW
After what felt like a very long day (and it was, especially given the 8h40m of yesterday), we finally came up to the little creek we would be staying at for the night. On the creek is one of the Sea Ray plants (a boat manufacturer). We turned in to find another boat exactly in the spot we wanted to anchor in for the night. Oh well, first come first serve. We stayed in the creek but anchored a little bit closer to the entrance to the ICW than we had planned.

View from our anchorage out to the ICW
Today we boated for 7 hours and 30 minutes, covering about 40 miles. It helped that we rode the ebbs and flows of the tides.
See the Octopus and Alligator?
Ever stare up at the clouds and play the game of “Do you see?” We do that game a lot, but with tree stumps. Tonight we spotted an interesting tree stump duo along the banks, an Octopus and an Alligator leaving the creek.

Tomorrow we head to Daytona Beach!


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 1 : 1 Wrong Turn

Our neighbor for the night... we hope he keeps it down

Leg 2, Day 1
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : 1 Wrong Turn

Today was uneventful.... and that is great! Today was the easiest day of the journey thus far. Departing the marina was incredibly easy, and we were fortunate that Paul H came out and send us off. Thank you again Paul!!!

The challenges today included 1 wrong turn (which was quickly recognized and corrected before we ended up out of the ICW) and 1 tricky bridge. The bridge was tricky only because it was narrow and at the bend of a river making the currents very swift. As I motored the boat through, it felt “squirrelly” a few times.

Tonight we are anchoring up in a fantastic little area just off the ICW. There are 3 other boats sharing the anchorage with us, although they all chose to anchor closer to the ICW itself. We tucked in quite far taking advantage of our shallow draft. Our immediate neighbor was a bird. 

The only downfall of the day was that Dy peed in her big girl panties 3 times today. The first time in 5 days. It is probably due to us having spent the day motoring and away from the marina.

Total time going down the ICW today was 8 hours and 40 minutes. We cover 42.64 miles and burned about 8 gallons of gasoline.


Ortega Yacht Club Marina in Jacksonville, FL

Paul Howe (Dockmaster OYCM), Lady Bug, KJ, and Dy
The concluding point of Leg 1, Savannah GA to Jacksonville FL, was Ortega Yacht Club Marina (OYCM).  We found the marina though an ad in one of the guide books we used to help us get down the Intercoastal Waterway.

OYCM was one of a few different places Val called while we were at our last anchorage.  OYCM's Dockmaster, Paul Howe, was the most friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.

Our plan was to stay at OYCM only for a couple of days, to re-provision us and the boat.  However, after just a few days, we found out what a true gem this marina is and then we elected to go ahead and stay a week.  As the week came to an end, we fueled up, watered up, and got food aboard the boat for Leg 2.  The weather decided for us that we would stay another few days.  This put us into a date zone that Dy's birthday could be celebrated at Disney if we stayed just a few more! This put us at a total of 2 weeks!! And we enjoyed each day very very much.

We cannot thank Paul enough for all his great help.  He treated us so well, and made us feel a part of the marina.  His knowledge of the area, plus the areas we would be cruising very soon, we so appreciated. Paul is the man!

If you are looking to stay in the Jacksonville area for a few days, the OYCM has got our SailboatFamily seal of approval. We would most definitely come back and stay here.

Here are the Pros:
  1. Paul
  2. The restrooms/showers were always clean and working
  3. 2 courtesy bikes
  4. Rates for marina were outstanding
  5. Walking distance to Publix, West Marine, Pier 17 (another marine store), a number of restaurants, and 2 playgrounds (one is 0.25 mile away, one is 1 mile away)
  6. Enterprise Car Rental really close (I walked over)
Here are the Cons:
  1. 4 hours off the Intercoastal waterway (at SailboatFamily speed anyway)
  2. No Gas/Diesel at the marina (you can easily dinghy, or walk, to another marina that has fuel)
Here are the Neutrals:
  1. Only 1 shower for men, only 1 shower for women
  2. Only 1 stall and 1 urinal for men, 2 stalls for women
  3. Only 1 washer, but 2 dryers


My Stick Is Too Big

While talking with Paul, the dockmaster of Ortega Yacht Club Maria (OYCM) and one really cool guy, he shared with us the boating possibility of going further inland towards Sanford, Florida .... a place not too far from Orlando (practically a suburb of Orlando).  The crystal clear water, manatees, sand, and more sure sounded good and perfect for us.  As we looked at the route, we saw one problem.... a fixed bridge.  This particular fixed bridge is at 45 feet.... exactly the height we are from the water line.  We spent a whole week discussing the options and talked with Richard and Debbie (others in the OYCM whom lived very close to the bridge at one point) to get their take.  We could wait for an extremely low tide, and sneak through.  We could always try to go through/under tipping the boat (in a catamaran, you really don't gain much doing this).  We could hope that the bridge is actually just a bit taller than listed.  We could have the mast taken down (not a trivial or cheap proposition).  In the end, we simply decided that we didn't want to take the risk of hitting our mast on the bridge.  That is one consequence of going with the sailboat that has a fixed mast.  The "free" wind energy has been traded off with the freedom to go where we want by boat.  Given that we've spent 98% of our time motoring thus far, it makes us wonder about the choice of sail.  We suspect that once we are traversing larger crossings, the sail choice will really make sense.  Also, it is hard to share the thrill of the sails being up, engine off, and being propelled silently.

Off to our next destination!


Big Kudos to Publix in Jacksonville, FL and Peter Muller

Being a boat centric nomadic family, our method of getting around in port is limited to our feet. At current capacity, we can comfortably cover 2 miles each way.  This restricts our shopping options to say the least.  So write that we were pleasantly surprised by the walkable Publix near Ortega Yacht Club Marina would be a massive understatement.

The Publix located at 4495 Roosevelt Blvd in Jacksonville, FL (904-388-0512) is the best grocery store we've ever been to.  The food selection is fantastic, the produce is fresh, the store is very clean, the staff is friendly, AND it is walkable for us.  They give the kids free cookies each time we show up and there is always free coffee on tap.

If you are in the area and need stuff, we cannot recommend this Publix enough. Hats off to you, Peter Muller, the  manager of the store.  You don't know us, but we really appreciated having your store nearby.


Captain Charlie

Captain Charlie Freeman, Dy, and KJ
While we prepared for this trip, there were a number of Internet forums that Val and I joined.  One that I became a member of is called "Living Aboard." The focus of the forum is living aboard your boat, from the perspective of those doing it, those whom had done it, and those whom want to do it.  This is the most positive, congenial forum I've ever been a member of.

Of the many seasoned water way veterans that tread the board, one guy in particular stands out as very funny.... Captain Charlie Freeman.  Charlie is a licensed USCG Master Captain whom will get your boat from point A to point B.  He has done all sorts of other commercial boating activities to include fishing. Charlie also happens to live in Jacksonville, FL and so I asked if he would stop by.

Captain Charlie came over, met the kids, and Val asked him a billion questions about going South.  His detailed, local "Been There Done That" knowledge is incredible.  We are very grateful for his time and obvious experience.

Captain Charlie's Prowess as a Grandpa came through
If we find ourselves in some weird predicament with our boat, there is zero doubt about whom we would call.

If you find you need someone to help you transfer your boat over a waterway, you really need to reach out to Captain Charlie.  His number is: 904-704-3627 ... and tell him the Sailboat Family said Hi!



Chamblin Bookmine in Jacksonville, FL
Still going through withdrawals from the great book purge, excitement coursed through my veins when a 5th person told me about Chamblin Bookmine book store.  Being bound to transportation by foot power only, ones options are quite limited.... and having Bookmine be within reach is a true treat.

Floor to ceiling and aisles and aisles of books! 
This place is FANTASTIC! So many good used books on every topic!

More books
 The Chamblin Bookmine website contains a partial catalog of books in their inventory and they will send them to you.

So many good juicy books
The bookstore warranted multiple visits of course.  I'm quite limited in what books I bring along, due to the carrying capacity of our boat, so judicious selection is key.

This is another place near Ortega Yacht Club Marina that is worth a visit.