welcome to our blog!

This blog tells the story of our 22-month sailing journey from Oakland, California, to Bristol, Rhode Island, aboard our beloved Bristol 32 sailboat, Ute. Please feel free to browse through the archives (partway down the sidebar to your left) to see pics and read stories of our adventures in North America and Central America . (Sorry the first 3 months of the trip are missing - they vanished somewhere in an internet cafe in Mexico - but all you're missing is CA, Baja and Western Mex).

If you're trying to track us down now that we're landlubbers, try us at uteatlarge at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Friday, June 22, 2007

"America's Oldest City"

...I find it amusing that St. Augustine, Florida is called that, when really they mean "oldest continously occupied European settlement". My history is a little rusty but I think there were a couple humans here in North America before the Spaniards. No matter, it looks like a charming little town - we just pulled in - and the row of waterfront businesses does look decidedly quaint and, yes, European. And accordingly overpriced. Of course, coming from South Florida, anything that is not a turquoise-and-peach strip mall looks quaint and very blueblood. There's a cool fort right next to the anchorage that will be explored by us just as soon as we can get the dinghy blown up......it's been awhile - maybe six months or so? - since we got to explore a Spanish fort.

Our trip here from Melbourne was blissfully uneventful...we have been motoring up the Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW, doing about 40-50 miles a day (that's 8 to 10 hours of motoring at normal Ute speeds, and no I'm not joking). It is terrifically novel for us to do all of our moving around in the daytime, to not be seasick, and to see changing scenery - instead of hour after hour of blue water to the horizon - as we go along. It's delightful and feels so easy after all of our offshore miles. The ICW is so pretty down here - like a big river dotted with islands and sandbars and flanked by stately river homes - but even better because it is saltwater, so we are accompanied in our journey by dolphins, manatees, jellyfish, even a shark at one point! We’ve seen dozens of herons, wood storks, anhingas, and egrets. The prettiest stretch so far was the Merritt Island Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, where we passed one wild island after another, almost near enough to reach out and touch the stout palms, swamp oaks, and beach scrub that looked downright prehistoric. We pass under about half a dozen bridges each day, and about two thirds of them are low enough to the water so as to necessitate the bridge being raised or swung just to let lil' old Ute through. Hope it doesn't go to her head!

We experienced a standard ICW rite of passage yesterday when we ran aground. Well, I ran her aground, to be fair. Sure does stop you quick to run into a mud bank. Luckily, a powerboat was passing by just then and offered to pull us off. They ended up pulling us off by our stern, and they yanked us off so fast that we were probably going 15 knots backwards. Leave it to us to achieve our highest speed of the entire trip while traveling in reverse....I'm not sure what to conclude about that....

Our week in Melbourne was both so enjoyable and so productive that we were sad to leave. After some serious work and a few thousand bucks the good ship Ute is up to snuff again, with a few lingering casualties but ready to hit the road again, mostly. A big Thank You is in order to the great neighbors at Eau Gallie Yacht Basin, one of the country's last decent marina communities. Thanks Derek, Karen, Don, and everybody else - you were a fantastic help! We are waiting for our new radar and repaired autopilot, without which we are forced to travel the ICW instead of going offshore. As you may have gleaned from the previous paragraphs, going the ICW way is not a hardship, really, aside from high diesel prices these days. We both love not being seasick - we're so much more productive, so that when it's not our watch we actually want to do something like read, write, or work on the boat, instead of just trying to not feel gross. There will probably be some residual bugs to work out on board, but we're at the point where we have to get out there and sail to figure out what they are. The wind generator is irretrievably dead, but we can live without that for the next couple months - we'll just have to run the engine to charge the batteries (especially when we indulge in using power-guzzling appliances, like this laptop!). A new charge regulator brought our solar panels back online. Many of our lights and instruments got replaced and rewired, including the lights on the mast whose bulbs had become molten in the strike and melted into lumps of silica! We have a brand new VHF antenna atop the mast – the old one, a 3 foot whip antenna, was completely vaporized by the lightning – and a brand new VHF radio. Oh, and a new auxiliary fuel pump, and new stereo, and……jeez, we reworked, repaired and reinstalled so much stuff I can’t even remember it all. Suffice to say, it was a time-critical makeover worthy of a reality show.

Thanks much to all of our friends and family out there who have offered help - you are wonderful and we appreciate it. It feels good to be underway again, and we couldn't have done it without you!

P.S. scroll down two posts to see pics and a post from our time in Miami, and yes, Allen is going to post his lightning-recovery tales VERY soon. really.

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