Watching from afar.

We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.

We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.

When you can’t be there in person…

And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.

CBC 2020.

‘Tis the season of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count! I met up with Doray and a team of birders at Reimer Ranch yesterday. We hiked all day and saw so many birds. The first half of the day was cold, but by 4:30pm I had shed 3 layers. The former ranch, now a park, overlooks the Pedernales River. It’s a beautiful place to spend the day.

Pretty hill country cold-weather view

The next patient in the loft.

Julie and Ryan recently acquired a new-to-them sailboat. It’s an older Catalina 25. It needs some work, so we are helping them get things fixed up. Clever Monte got the outboard motor working. Now he is helping Ryan repair the electrics on-board. Julie brought over the sails, which need some mending. Their mainsail will be my next sail project. It’s in pretty good shape, except where sun damage caused some tears and deterioration where the previous owner left parts of the sail exposed.

Blustery day.

As Lake Travis’ level continues to drop, the water in the cove where Cupholder spent the last year is getting too low and the dock it is tied to will soon be aground. So yesterday, Monte and I took a drive upriver and sailed Cupholder back down to our marina, soon to be hauled out and parked at home.

It was a very windy day. A front had just passed through, so the winds were out of the north, which is what we hoped for to make for an easier sail 25 miles down river. Northerly is good, however, it was blowing 15-30 knots, with some gusts in the 40-knot range. So, it was a nice, but exciting, sail. The scenery that far up the river is always pretty, and the autumn color is finally showing up.

After a 6-hour sail, we arrived safely at the marina right before sunset. Kurt met us and helped us tie up in the strong winds. Another mission accomplished on the lake.

My internet BFFs.

At the beginning of the year, even prior to COVID being a thing, I set a modest goal to get myself in better shape. I started up a daily yoga practice with Yoga with Adriene sessions on YouTube, a suggestion from Lori that I followed up on, and it quickly became something I look forward to every day. I was a complete newbie to yoga, and I found Adriene’s yoga for beginners videos were great and eased me into it. She also has many 30-day playlists of daily yoga sessions that make it easy to keep you interested for a month at a time.

After about 4 months with Adriene, I started mixing in some other yoga sessions with Yoga with Kassandra, also on YouTube. I found they were less chatty, especially Kassandra’s “minimal prompts” videos. Adriene spends time in each video emphasizing how to properly align your arms, legs, hips, back, etc. to avoid injury. I found Kassandra’s sessions a bit more challenging, which I was looking for, and she has some sessions longer than 30 minutes, which I enjoy rotating in. After about 3 months of doing Kassandra’s more challenging videos, I found that I had hurt my right wrist and left elbow. Sure enough, I was not using proper alignment and must have put too much weight in the wrong places too many times. Shame on me. I should have listened to Adriene.

That left me at the end of August not able to do the yoga poses that put all my weight on my wrists and elbows. So I searched out some other workouts to keep me moving. And… I found Heather! Heather Robertson recorded a free 12-week workout series of YouTube videos at the beginning of the year that mix in high intensity interval training, cardio, and tabata (I had to look that up). There are 5 sessions per week, each 30-40 minutes long. They are challenging (for me), but very doable. You really don’t need much more room than what a yoga mat takes up, so the workouts are great for small spaces.

My space.

I am excited to say that I just completed the entire series! It took me a couple weeks longer than 12 weeks, as I took some time off while aboard Trident. But, even so, I did complete a number of workouts on the boat in the 4 weeks that I was away from home. Lori and I took turns working out in the salon on the boat while the other person did boat chores.

After 3 months of doing Heather, I think I’ll start her 12-week workout plan all over again. My wrist and elbow that I had injured both feel strong and pain-free now, so I plan to mix in some yoga again, with both Adriene and Kassandra.

I also began walking most days, mixing in a little bit of running.

Entering the last few weeks of the year, I’m extremely happy that I have realized my goal from the beginning of the year. I’m in better shape than I have been in a very long time. I feel stronger and more flexible. It’s not easy for me to keep it up, but I hope I do. It’s really all up to me. I am incredibly grateful to the YouTube ladies that inspire me and help me keep moving – certainly a bright spot in the otherwise dull year that is 2020. Thanks Adriene, Kassandra, and Heather!!!

Last pie.

One of my favorite restaurants, Brick Oven, closed today. They gave their customers a heads up a couple of months ago. It wasn’t for COVID-induced lack of business, rather the anchor grocery store in their location is expanding to take over all the attached businesses. We are in mourning, but enjoying a final Tuscan Truffle pizza. Best evah.

Please, please, please, Brick Oven, find a new location to re-open in. I’ll be the first one in line.

Home for Thanksgiving!

After 29 days, 1300 miles by plane, 920 miles by boat, and 1100 miles by car, traveling through 10 states, I’m back home again. Thanks, Lori, for another adventure. Thanks, Monte, for being the shore-person watching out for us as we made our way down the east coast. Thanks, Tony, for joining us for our off-shore legs. And thanks, Michelle, for the warm welcome to your hometown.

It’s good to be home.

Not wasting any time, Monte and I whipped up a nice Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and Julie joined us to celebrate the day and our blessings.

St. Augustine sights.

St. Augustine, Florida, was the end of the boat portion of this trip. I didn’t get much time to explore the city, but what I saw was enchanting. I hope to make it back again someday.

Final state.

We pulled out of Brunswick, Georgia, on Saturday morning, heading down the ICW for our last 2-day leg to our destination, St. Augustine, Florida. So many birds, so little time.

American White Pelicans

Cumberland Island is situated right along the ICW, it is an undisturbed island and a lovely spot, with wild horses roaming about.

Cumberland, Island, Georgia.

We motored past Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia, a place my family almost moved to when I was in high school, but my dad’s assignment ended up being in Madrid, instead. We anchored in a lovely spot right off the ICW after about 35 nm.

A sub docked at the naval base.

The next day was uneventful, other than a rainstorm that we went through right before arriving at the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine for the 2pm opening.

Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine, Florida.

It was GREAT to pull into the slip and tie up. Michelle greeted us with bubbly to celebrate our arrival.

Cheers! Oops, that prosecco disappeared fast!

Our journey of over 920 miles is completed. Now I just need to get home to Austin by Thanksgiving!

Finally offshore!

After Carolina Beach, Lori and I stopped in Southport, North Carolina at a marina on the Cape Fear River for one night. We used Lori & Mike’s folding bikes to go into downtown. It was t-shirt and shorts weather again!

We grabbed nibblies at the bar, watched a little football to keep up on our fantasy football team scores, and then headed back to the boat.

Cheers!

The next day, Tony joined us, and we left North Carolina, heading south in the Atlantic Ocean bound for Charleston, South Carolina. That is an overnight sail, so we took turns at the helm overnight; in the cockpit for 4 hours, sleeping 2 hours, repeat.

Navigational goodies to steer by when you can’t see anything on a moonless night.

The sail to Charleston was great! We were able to sail with main and jib up all the way, pretty much on the same tack, in a straight line to Charleston ship channel entrance. It was, however, brutally cold. You take what you can get.

A view of Charleston waterfront along the Ashley River

We stayed at anchor overnight in the Ashley River, across from the Battery in Charleston. Then, in order to keep moving, we opted to go south on the ICW. We enjoyed a beautiful night at anchor in the Ashepoo River.

The next day, we continued on the ICW, exiting out to the ocean in the afternoon at Port Royal Sound, bound for Brunswick, Georgia. It was not as cold as the other night, but this sail was an uncomfortable one. NNE winds, 15-20knots, gusting in the 30’s, almost directly behind us, with seas around 6′ which got bigger towards the morning. A bonus was a squall that hit about 3 AM, with rain and gusts up to 40knots. It was warmer, but it was 15 hours of pounding up and down waves. We couldn’t use the autopilot, with the stern being thrown with each wave, so we hand steered – or as I like to call it, wrestling the bear. Not to fear, though, we made it safely into port yesterday morning. As we entered St. Simon’s Sound at dawn, we went by the wreck of the MV Golden Ray, a massive car carrying cargo ship that heeled over and was run aground a year ago. Lori, Monte and I saw it last December when there to move Trident to Brunswick.

Work continues on the MV Golden Ray, laying on its side under the yellow saw that will cut it up in place.

With a not-improving weather forecast, Trident will be heading down the ICW into Florida today. We hope to be in St. Augustine, Florida, by sunset tomorrow night.

We’re almost there. Stay tuned!

Following Bob.

Our original plan, to leave the ICW and head offshore in Beaufort, was intended to avoid the challenges associated with the ICW south of there. These include transiting the dozens of ocean inlets that the ICW crosses south of Beaufort where significant shoaling always occurs, often changing the ICW channel depth, making it dangerously shallow, and passing under a number of bridges that are less than the required 65′ vertical clearance with tides than can vary from the mean water level by up to 4 feet. But, alas, the weather offshore has been unfavorable, so we continued on south.

There is a kind soul on the internet, Bob Sherer, who maintains a blog called Bob423 ICW Tracks and Routes where he provides tracks (collections of GPS points) that he has carefully taken and mapped out for maximum depths. The tracks are available for download as GPX files into chart plotting software, like the openCPN that I use on my laptop and the Garmin chart plotter that Lori has at Trident’s helm. Fortunately, Bob’s latest track is as recent as a week or two ago, so it contains safe tracks around hazards that even the Corps of Engineers haven’t moved the red and green buoys around yet. There have been reports of multiple boats running aground this week in those spots. Not wanting to be one of those boats, we have been following Bob’s track. It can be a little spooky when Bob’s green track goes outside the marked channel. But so far, so good.

Bob’s track in green, through the ICW at Snow’s Cut

The bridges are a challenge of their own, especially with the flooding in North Carolina rivers currently going on, and an especially high tide. We have had to wait for the water level to go down on some bridges before passing underneath, but even so, we have bent the springy VHF antenna at the top of the mast back as we passed under 2 of them. That’s a little too close for comfort.

Hopefully, we only have one more bridge and one more shallow spot, at Snow’s Cut, today. Then we will be at a marina in Southport tonight, and pick up Tony tomorrow and head offshore for a leg south tomorrow afternoon. We think there is a 24-hour window that will allow us to get to Charleston without weather drama. But we’ll see how that plays out.

Even with those challenges, it’s been a nice few days since Beaufort. It’s been sunny, with wind to put up a sail. We anchored one night, and were on a mooring ball last night. Very nice.

Sunset last night at Carolina Beach

Beaufort.

On the last leg of our planned ICW-portion of the trip, we enjoyed a day of sailing with jib and main up in stiff breezes, arriving in Beaufort, North Carolina, by 2:30 Monday (Day 6).

We intended to stay here 2 nights and then pick up our third crew member, and head offshore to for the second half of our trek to St. Augustine. However, there is a mess of bad weather arriving Thursday, so that has impacted our plans. Thankfully, we were able to extend our stay at this marina another night.

S/V Trident, tied up at our Beaufort marina.

It’s been nice to take long showers, walk around, bike into town, and do laundry after a week on the boat. It’s shorts and t-shirts weather here right now, which is a treat. Yesterday we did boat chores. Today, re-provisioning. Thursday, hunker. Friday, we’ll likely leave Beaufort and head south. Unfortunately the bad weather offshore persists, so we will need to spend a couple more days on the ICW. Perhaps to Southport, the next major inlet from the ocean. We’ll have to see what the weather looks like early next week.

Calm before the storms.