It's been awhile since we last posted - we sat at anchor about 9 days in Beaufort, S.C. trying to fix things and waiting out the wind and cold and rain. Our good friends Gordon and Deb, who just moved to Beaufort about two weeks before we got there, were kind enough to escort us around town to grocery stores, West Marines, hardware stores, auto parts stores - as well as giving us a tour of their new town and inviting us to a very nice dinner.
I'll give you a run down on all the things that broke or went wrong during our trip:
- Weems Creek, Annapolis - engine overheated. Problem seemed to disappear on its own.
- Weems Creek, Annapolis - snagged a huge chain with our anchor. Lots of difficulty pulling it up but managed.
- Computer hard drive crashed. Tried to fix it or replace it and retreive the information off of it. Very little retrieved - had some back ups, but lost a lot of recent stuff. Cost of hard drive and new Windows almost as much as a new computer - so we bought a new computer. Bad move. It's a 64-bit computer. The GPS wouldn't connect to it because of the driver. So we can't run our chartplotter program. The printer wouldn't connect because of the driver. So we couldn't print. Several of our programs wouldn't run. We thought - no problem - we'll get on-line and download new drivers. Nope. Drivers not available. We were especially concerned about the chartplotter program and contacted Garmin (the maker of our GPS) to try to get a new 64bit compatible driver. After several weeks, they finally admitted that there was no driver available and they weren't working on it.
- Solomon's Island, MD Engine overheated. Several times. Changed coolant and problem went away.
- Norfolk, VA - TV stopped working. Thought the TV had crapped out - but it turned out that it was probably just the impedance matching transformer on the antenna. Purchased a replacement - but haven't installed it yet because I need help climbing the mast cause Suzi isn't strong enough to crank my excessive bulk up there.
- Charleston, S.C. - while changing oil, noticed that a wire had broken off of the alternator. While fixing it, noticed that the bolt that holds the alternator to the engine was broken. Had to stay at the marina for two extra days (at about $80.00 a day). Had to take a cab across town and back to the only store we could find that sold the grade 8 bolts of the size we needed. (cab drive $30.00) Cost of bolt(s) 16.95 - they only sold them in packages of 12. Total price for the bolt needed: $206.95. Then discovered that the adjusting bolt was also broken. Fortunately we had a replacement for that.
- Left the marina - engine overheated. Sat at anchor trying to figure out the problem - thought it was the thermostat - changed that and left - got through the Wappoo Creek Bridge and the engine over heated again. Fussed with it and nursed it along until we got to Beaufort. After e-mails and phone calls, we traced the problem to the pressure cap. Miracle Mike sent us a new one. Installed it. No luck.
- At Beaufort, at anchor, the refrigerator stopped working. We had a very big dinner that evening, using up all the food so it wouldn't spoil. Gordon had a set of gauges which he said he didn't need anymore and gave them to us. Tried to find out what readings we were supposed to get on the gauges and it seemingly is a hit or miss procedure. Several times the temperature would drop into the 20's and then turn right back around a head back to ambient.
- Then the alarm sender for the engine oil pressure started screaming and wouldn't shut off - though the gauge said the pressure was alright. Disconnected the damned thing.
- Decided to do something about the chartplotter program. Went to Best Buy and bought yet another computer - really cheap, really tiny and it runs on Windows XP. Wired it up to the GPS, loaded the software and drivers and it worked. (We insisted at Best Buy that we would not buy it if we had to pay the 15% restocking fee if it didn't work - and the floor manager signed the receipt to that effect.)
- So, without actually getting anything fixed, and after a grocery shopping trip that Suzi stocked up on foodstuff that did not need refrigeration (read: canned food) we left Beaufort.
- After one night away from Beaufort (just far enough that we couldn't return the computer), the chartplotter crapped out. The GPS wouldn't talk to the computer. And worse, the GPS antenna went intermittently out - (Can't find satellite signal is all it would tell us.)
I'm not a superstitious person - I think it's bad luck to be superstitious - but I highly suspect that there is something about South Carolina. Where else could you go to spend over two hundred dollars for a bolt?
Enough of the RANT - ON WITH THE SHOW!
Our anchorage at Bull Creek greeted us with yet another glorious sunset.
Late the next morning we were greeted by another mermaid. You're probably thinking that we're making this stuff up. But I think that photographic evidence is evidence enough. There are areas in Georgia, near some of the inlets where the water can be quite clear. These areas are areas where you have the best chance of spotting a mermaid. You have to have your camera ready - they will disappear in an instant. You'll never see a mermaid from a motorboat - too noisy and they hear you coming. Sailing is your best bet.
There are many bridges that we have gone under many more times than we have gone over. This is one of them.
You can't afford this boat. The owners of this boat will probably never see a mermaid. They could probably afford to buy one though.
These folks fish for a living. There are worse things you could do. Not much room for advancement though.
There is the end of somebody's dream. He had even more problems than we did. I feel bad for him - but in a perverse way, it makes me feel better.
They call coastal parts of South Carolina and Georgia the "Low country." This is what very much of it looks like. With tidal ranges of 7 or 8 feet, the only thing that changes in the view for many miles is the height of the grasses along the edges of the canals - some of which are very shallow and you need to pick your way through to avoid running aground.
We spotted this along the waterway. I want one of you to learn this piece on the piano and let me know what it sounds like. Pick your own key. Looks like B sharp with a demented ninth to me.
We took a side trip down (or up - it varies) the Frederica River. The last time through here we saw about a dozen alligators - some of them quite large. But we were out of film so we got no pix. So we have a digital camera now but we saw no alligators - they're probably in hiding cause it's November and it's cold - at least for them. Someday I might do some research and find out where they go - do they hide in the mud? If so, how do they breath? Naw, I probably won't take the trouble, but if any of you knows or wants to do the research - let us know. My curiosity isn't killing me. But it itches a little. And Suzi tells me I shouldn't scratch where it itches - at least not in public.
This heron was just standing there along the river. On one leg. (Why do they do that?) So real loud, I said, "YAWP." in a high falsetto. It startled him and he flapped his wings and almost fell over. But he managed not to get his other leg wet. So it must be kind of important for them.
This is Fort Frederica. I don't think I understand military stuff. First off it looks really short and, you know, kind of small. And second, it's on the end of a river that goes beside a bigger river. So it seems to me that the enemy could just ignore it and go around. But there were some major battles here - Spanish vs English or something. If I had been a General in those days, you'd have a lot more ancestors - let me tell you.
This is the very famous, top secret Navy Submarine base King's Bay. So don't look at it. Just look at the sky above it. The navy keeps that there so nobody will notice the top secret Submarine Base. Notice the cloud with the brush cut? It's in basic training. They still do that. Nobody knows why.
This is a top secret Navy Submarine Degaussing station. Can you say degaussing? If you don't know what it means, you'll have to look it up. It's secret, you know.
Because of the 7 or eight foot tides in Georgia, the currents are incredibly strong, as witness this photo. They don't even need a boat. They tie up at slack tide and wait. And then they can ski for about six hours. We don't see this too often though. You need a lot of stamina. If you fall you wash out to sea and get eaten by a shark. Or on an incoming tide, you could wash inland and be eaten by an alligator. Unless they're hibernating.
As we dropped anchor at Cumberland Island - the last barrier island before Florida - we saw one of the wild horses along the shore. There are many, many wild horses on Cumberland.
Walking around Cumberland Island, a designated National Preserve, you see palmettos and Live Oak with Spanish moss hanging. These trees are very very old and as you will see, have had no formal training as other trees have had. They bend and grow in myriad (fun word - always wanted to work that into a blog) ways. More on that later.
There were many toadstools -mmmmm. What made me nervous was that, since this Island was once home to a bunch of Irishmen, that we would see a leprechaun and then I would have to convince you that leprechauns exist. And I'm having enough trouble dispelling the mermaid myth. The are too real! No, not leprechauns - Mermaids! Haven't you been paying attention? Maybe they have leprechauns in South Carolina and they were what was causing all of our boat problems. More research. Any volunteers?
More toad stools. No, wait, toadstools. Toad stools would be, like, amphibian poop.
Palmettos. I can think of nothing funny about Palmettos.
More toadstools. Sorry, you've heard all of my toadstool jokes. Not very good - but you've got to say something under these pictures or you people just scroll right through like you're on a mission or something. You gotta stop and smell the toadstools.
Remember, I told you that these trees had no formal training on how to grow straight? This one, though by comparison to some of the one's you'll see a little later are pikers - damn near conservative, compared to the willie nillie radical, liberal hippie trees that grow which ever way they like with a blatant disregard for all conformity.
These are probably a little left of center.
Suzi wasn't scared of no liberal, non-conformist, bend the rules trees. She marched along. We calculated later that we walked over 15 miles. We're resting today. We're old you know. And calloused.
Now this guy, this guy has not only no concern for the rules - he flaunts it.
I put this one up twice just to see if you were paying attention or just flipping through to see if I had written anything that was funny. Did you notice? These things can tell a lot about a person.
This is an armadillo. They are not mythical creatures either. If you were from Texas you would know that. Of course, I think Texas is mythical. And I've been there.
Once you get out of the forest, you get to the dunes. This is the Howya dune.
There are trees and stuff and behind them is the Dune Wellthankya.
Am I trying too hard?
This is another wild horse. He has no name, so I named him Myrtle. We struck up a conversation - but it was kind of one sided. I told him from this angle he looked like a horse's ass. I thought he might at least take some offense and hold up his end of the conversation - but he just went back to eating. So I got bored and kind of drifted away.
This is part of my sea shell collection. I keep it on beaches all over the world. You may have seen it.
This is a shell from a horse shoe crab. It's about ten or twelve inches across. I'll be damned if I'm going to measure stuff, too. I think I do enough just taking the photos and telling you stupid stuff.
This is more of my sea shell collection. Notice how carefully I lay them out for your viewing pleasure.
I wasn't quite so careful with these - so you'll just have to use your imagination. See those little holes in the sand? I think birds put them there. Or possibly they're miniature volcanoes. I hate looking things up.
These are some of my free range pet birds. Pelicans. That's John in the front. I'm not sure who the next two are, but the fourth one is one of my favorites. But I forget his name.
I can read bird's minds. This one was thinking, "Steal the sandwich in a bag, or mess with someone's flip flops"?
"Shit, someone is watching. I'll just mosey on and look innocent. Probably couldn't get the stupid sandwich bag open anyway. But I'll bet I would have gotten a lot of laughs tromping around in those flip flops."
I felt really bad about all these poor handicapped one legged birds. They were probably war-vet birds, totally forgotten by their fellow country-birds.
Some could still fly a little. They didn't go very high. It's hard to land on just one leg.
And this one almost made me cry. He could just hop a little on that one leg. When he tried to use his pecker, he would just keel over. Sad. So sad. It's a harsh, cruel world.
I kind of had to laugh at this one. This poor guy had no idea that there was a bird flying over about ready to cut loose a bomb-load. I would have warned him but I was too far away. Telephoto lens, you know. Heh, heh. heh.
Isn't there some religious thing about footprints in the sand? Probably didn't involve birds - but I didn't want to take any chances. Not with the luck I've been having.
Now this is a whole horseshoe crab. They are very ancient animals. Their blood is actually blue. This is true. You can look it up yourself.
This is the common Wastrel. Similar specimens may be found along warmer beaches throughout the world. There are usually empty brown glass containers nearby.
Last time we were here this same attractive young lady was sitting here. And four years later, here she still is.
That's Frederick (he doesn't like to be called Fred) and Balshazoy; more of my free range pet Pelicans.
Now we're getting into some of the really radical trees. No rules here, thank you very much.
"If I want to grow right back into the ground, well, I sure as hell will grow right back into the ground. You can take conformity and just cram it."
How can you run a forest like this?
Wanna buy a palmetto?
Yep, you guessed it - another picture.
Sometimes, trees make me just laugh out loud! This is not photoshopped.
This, I think, is a buffalo tree.
This blog needs a little direction. And this is where we were heading next. The paths are a lot longer than when we were here last.
This is the famous ruins of the Carnegie Estate - which burned mysteriously in 1959. Poachers were suspected - but, personally, I think it was the leprechauns.
It must have been a grand estate. Carnegie only lived a year or so after it was finished. But his wife survived and had lots of fun parties. I was never invited. I was only a kid. But I was still a bit miffed. And I knew this leprechaun...
Just when you least expect it, an armadillo walks up and lets you take his picture. Armadillos are real. Mermaids are real. Leprechauns are not real. They're only under suspicion.
A real fixer upper.
And another fixer upper - the whole neighborhood is going to hell.
But it has real possibilities. Even though it burned down in 1959, it still has a nicer back yard than yours. With a fountain and it's own picturesque cloud. Rich people can afford stuff us regular people can't.
I sure hope you read all this stuff, cause it took me all day to write it.
These are specially built stairs that only go up. There's another set that only goes down.
Suzi just stood there looking at the pergola - so I got mad and took her picture. I can't stay mad at Suzi for long though.
I think this plant starred in The Little Shop of Horrors.
And speaking of horrors - this is a tree which wrapped itself around a palm tree. And both of them still alive.
Same tree(s). I think it's love. Unnatural love. Perverted love. But love, just the same.
There should be something witty to say here - but I can't think of anything - so don't read this, just look at the picture and move on.
Where's Tarzan when you need him?
Suzi's not afraid of any stinkin' primeval forest. She's going to find Tarzan and have him do something about all those vines. Goodbye Suzi. Don't get lost.
Some trees are more human than others.
Back on the boat - exhausted after our 15 mile hike, we're treated to yet another glorious sunset. We may be over quota.
I mean, seriously, some sunsets are just showing off.
Suzi noticed something unusual - the clouds mirrored the horizon. Kind of unusual.
And now we're back into sitting on the boat for a few days. Jimmy and Cherry have invited us to their Water Buffalo Farm in Live Oak, Fl. Suzi made arrangements for a marina to leave the boat and a rental car to travel the 100 miles inland. So next stop Live Oak and then St. Augustine. Or vice versa. Suzi navigates. I just steer.