Monday, January 31, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automoblies Cont.

New advice to those trying out various modes of transportation. When calling for a taxi, be sure it's a taxi and not a shared ride. Clarify how many are in your party and call early.
I didn't do any of these - except I thought I was calling early enough but no.The car (Lincoln town car) finally arrived at the Oyster Shack to take us to the airport (after I called 3 times) with the driver, two paying passengers (we found out later) and very, very, very larger fellow co-worker ( think John Candy size in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles) in the front passengers seat. *I am not passing judgement, just stating her size because it meant no one else could squeeze in the middle of the front seat. "Ya all didn't tell us there would be more than one." We couldn't wait for another taxi as we would miss our plane. We threw our stuff in the trunk and pile in the back. I sat on Cap10 Tom's lap with my neck cranked sideways and head smashed against the roof the the town car. The fellow co-worker in the front passengers seat told painfully uninteresting and non-funny but tried to be funny stories. The first passenger, a teenage kid was dropped at his job at Winn Dixie. He didn't have the fare so we had to wait while he ran in and got the $ from the ATM. Our plane leaves soon. I am stressed inside but now have room to move. Second passenger is dropped at her job at Wendy's. Now we head to the airport but take the back roads supposedly because of traffic. I start to panic. I don' t know this route. It seems longer. Our plane will leave soon and it's the last one on this Sunday night. Seconds become minutes and the stories are even less interesting and so NOT funny. Oh god, where is my Greyhound bus when I need it. I might actually need it tomorrow if we don't get to the airport soon. Finally we reach the airport and then our cab driver and fellow co-worker pull a fast one by hemming and hawing on the cost for us - no meter on this fun filled shared ride. The other passengers each paid $5 each. I am trying to get out of the back so I can rush to the gate but my side is locked. Cap10 Tom shoves a $20 at them and we bolt out his side just making the deadline to get our boarding passes. If you are in Brunswick GA DO NOT use Affordable Cab! Call Island Cab. He is kewl, on time and plays Bob Marley tunes.

We love the Oyster Shack in Brunswick GA. Seafood, beer and fried corn, what's not to love. After our comfy bus ride on Greyhound, we walked the 1.3 miles to the Oyster Shack for some lunch and refreshments.

The sun was shining and the temp was 65 so we sat outside and enjoy a long lunch of our favorites.

Shrimp, grits and sausage. Yum!

Grouper sandwich and fried corn. Yum!

New friend shares her technique for opening oysters and one of her prized oysters.

Hard to believe just three nights ago it was 35 and we had on 7 layers!

Planes, Trains and Automoblies

We started feeling like real cruisers on our most recent trip from the standpoint of modes of transportation. We took planes, taxis, our beloved s/v Honey Ryder, our own feet and buses to get to where we needed to be. BUSES? Yes, Greyhound to be exact.

To some of you, this doesn't seem odd at all. But to many others, especially those of the great plains states, buses are not the normal mode of transportation. KC has city buses but I only know of one person that rides the bus. Nope, we all have cars and we all drive them. Sadly, individually most of the time. This has perhaps lead to a bias against mass transit buses as transportation. *Recent discussions with said persons on this topic shall remain confidential.

We needed to get from Savannah GA back to Brunswick GA for our Sunday evening flight. I looked into car rental. Besides the cost of a cab to take us to the not so close car rental facility, they wanted massive $$ for the 3 hrs we needed it. 23 hrs costs the same amount. Amtrak runs through but doesn't stop in Brunswick. Greyhound however did. And for $22 each. $47 with tax! Hello Greyhound. Neither Tom nor I had ridden a Greyhound bus. The station was full when we got there via cab. There weren't enough seats but as people milled around and got up and down we snagged 1 1/2 seats. The station wasn't all that clean but it was ok. We just sat back and took in all in. It was early 8:20am so many folks snoozed in their seats. Others were charging their cell phones at the cell phone charging counter. As rookies we didn't get there in time to find an open plug to charge ours.

When the bus pulled in at 8:50 there was a mad rush to the gate....which was really just the #6 above a specific door. The girl behind the counter had completely disappeared but Paul, our bus driver took control and clearly didn't need her. He quickly got us all in one line ( we were towards that back as rookies who didn't know to mad dash for #6). Then he asked for passengers going to Hicksville or Higginsville or some such hville - there were two women. Then he asked for passengers traveling to Brunswick. Cap10 Tom and I were the only ones. He directed the four of us to the front of the line. SCORE! He rattled off a bunch of instructions and then took the Hville passengers tickets and let them out door #6. We were next - "leave any checked bags by the side of the bus (we had none, backpacks only) , board the bus and pick any seats except the front two rows. Those the driver's space. We can't have people sitting there because they ask too many questions of the drivers." * Oh if we could only set rules like that in other ares of our lives!

Cap10 Tom and I boarded and found our seats. The bus was cleaner than the terminal but not spotless but hey....cruising transportation right! I thought it best not to tempt the travel gods and venture into the bus head on my virgin outting. My friends.... the seat on buses are way bigger than the tiny airline seats and comfy. Two by two so no risk of the dreaded middle seat. The other passenger filtered on. The bulk seem to be going to Jacksonville FL and south. By this time, many interesting characters had risen to the top of the crowd and even more interesting where the relationships amongst the travelers. Like the red headed, dreadlock braided, totally tatoo' d up white chick from Alabama and the simply, classic dressed black woman who got off in Hville. Well soon enough we were underway with Paul given us the simple rules of his bus. Again....way better than the flying circus called air travel. The bus rode really well. Being early morning, people chatted quietly. The guy catty corner behind us (MO guy) said to the guy behind us (NFL guy) that he started out from Osceola Missouri and this was his third bus. For those of you that don't know...Osceola is on HWY 13 on the way to Springfield MO and I pass through there at least once a week. MO guy explains that it's a really small town but that there is this place there that makes cheese. PEOPLE, I stop there all the time and buy the yummy cheese - Mango fire is an addiction for me! But wait.....the quote of the day.....NFL guy says "you go all the way out there to get you some of that cheese?" Cap10 Tom and I nearly lost it overhearing this all. Anyway, we both finally opted for our ipods. This allowed us to relax, chill and watch the scenery and Canadians go by. *No lie, all of Canada is headed to FL. In a 45 min time frame on I-95, 12 cars with Canadian plates went by. At Hville Paul warned that only the 2 passengers getting off would be allowed to exit the bus. However, he caved because he needed to search for some worried woman's luggage below. He let everyone take a quick 3 min ciggie break while he searched. Red headed, dread braided, tatoo'd up white chick said goodbye to her classic dressed black friend. Turns out that they have been riding on the same buses from St Louis to this Hville. That is how they got to know each other - like drunkin air flight buddies in an airport bar on a 10 hour delay. Probably had to be there.

We made it to Brunswick right on time 2 hrs and 15 mins. Paul dropped us at the closed station. Remember from previous blogs....very little is open in downtown in Brunswick on Sunday including the small bus stop. Overall, a very good experience. Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us.

Sail Harbor Marina and Boatyard

s/v Honey Ryder's new home for a while.

A full fledged boatyard.

This beauty is a Hylas 47 that came up from FL to be painted a special America's Cup Dennis Conner blue. The color is simply gorgeous!

The bath house was ok.

A mile walk up the road each evening for dinner gave us a choice of restaurants, bank, liquor store and Ace Hardware. Further shopping will require a car or better yet a dinghy ride up the creek. *The walk into town on empty tummies seemed longer than a mile than the walk home on full ones. Either way, we almost felt like cruisers huffing it around by foot.

Arch aka The Tuna Tower

s/v Code Blue - Caliber 40 LRC 's arch

Why did we sail from Brunswick GA to Wilmington GA? Why did we venture out into the Atlantic and up the east coast at the end of January in 35 degree weather? For our boat of course! We needed to get s/v Honey Ryder up to the Sail Harbor Marina and Boatyard so we could get an arch built for the back thus replacing the current davit system we have for the dinghy, efficiently organizing all the other junk back there and allowing for smart expansion of gear in the future. This is something that Cap10 Tom has been thinking and researching about for some time.

The Boykin Brothers - Eddy and Clay are now Cap10 Tom's NEW best friends. After many emails and phone calls, we finally met them in person when they came by Saturday morning to see s/v Honey Ryder in person, take measurements/ pics and discuss design ideas and needs. Tom was thrilled with their knowledge and we even got to see their work first hand on a 2010 Catalina 445 who just happened by luck and chance to be in the marine this weekend.

Eddy and Clay are local boys raised right on the island. Seem to be good guys.
Cap10 Tom spent the rest of the day taking off all the gear on the back of the boat while I gave her a fresh water rinse and stored the newly displaced stuff.

Cap10 Tom also cleared the way for them to be able to work in the areas of the boat which meant storing stuff in other areas of the boat.

While we haven't even started to use all the storage space efficiently and we aren't starting until after this project, there is a ton of room on this boat. The forward shower is now a garage.

The aft head storage closet.

The old davits and outboard found potential shin busting and toe breaking positions on the cabin sole.

Before - with all the gear and davits.

After - NAKED with all the gear and davits removed.
For sale -used dinghy davits, good condition, bargain! Act now!

Wassaw Sound

Waterway Guide and Maptech both say that "local knowledge is strongly suggested" for entering Wassaw Sound. Markers #4,6, 8 are not even charted as the shoals shift so much these markers must be repositions quite often. Lovely. But two different locals said yeah it's shifty but just sail to R2 and then follow the other marks in. SURE. R2 was easy, but we had a hell of a time finding #4. It was quite a ways into the sound and in between R2 & R4 there are some very shallow areas (2ft & 4 ft sprinkled in with some 9ft, 11ft & 17ft). In terms of depth, the NEW paper charts did not match the NEW Garmin chartplotter. But we made it and cruised on up the Wilmington River to Turners Creek and Sail Harbor Marina and Boatyard.

Marina owner and fellow K-Stater Dick Long, told Cap10 Tom to head for the travel lift and we could pull along side of a dock there until he could locate a specific spot for us. The position of this dock to the travel lift and shallows combined with the current and 20 knots of wind made this an interesting challenge. But fear not, Cap10 Tom circled around a couple of times, analyzing the situation, while Randy one of the boatyard guys came down to help. It took some line maneuvering and engine thrust in reverse but Cap10 Tom did a fine job.
Total trip - nautical miles 95. Hours almost 14.

Brunswick GA to Wilmington Island GA (south of Savannah)

We did our normal routine - checked the weather, plot the trip up the ICW on Maptech, checked the tides and then...discovered with two trouble spots (Little Mud River and Hell's Gate) and the need to hit them both on rising tides, we couldn't make the ICW route work with our schedule (stupid schedule - stupid work) Plan B, head out St Simon Sound, up the coast, in at Wassaw Sound and up the Wilmington River to Sail Harbor Marina on Turners Creek. Ok. Start over, check the weather, plot the trip, read up on Wassaw Sound, read local knowledge strongly recommended, read again, check weather again. Cap10 Tom called the marina and owner ( and fellow K-Stater) said "yeah - it's a bit tricky but just follow the markers in." More later on that.
To make our approach to Wassaw Sound in the daylight on a rising tide (since it was new to us), we left Brunswick at 10:45pm just after low tide with quite a flow. Cap10 Tom did a terrific job of keeping us in the channel, while I spotted the buoys amongst all the shore lights and range markers. Confusing at times not to mention the two channel markers that were out.
3 hrs later we cleared the channel and turned north. The wind was perfectly on the beam blowing from the west 15-20 knots. It was fabulous - except it was cold. The forecast called for a low overnight of 35 and I believe it. But we were prepared. I cooked ahead of time so we could just reheat if we wanted to, coffee was made and in the thermos, we shortened our watches to 2 hrs to help, laid out the new watch sleeping bag and dress accordingly. What does that mean.....dress accordingly? 7 layers. And how much do I LOVE my foulies and sailing boots! So we were chilly but we didn't care because the sailing was so good. *Video coming soon - as soon as I figure out how to edit it and get it on here. Ok...not soon but sometime sort of soon. Or in the near future, southeast of disorder.

AIS don't leave the marina without it

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automated tracking system used on ships and by Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for identifying and locating Vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and VTS stations. AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport.

A marine traffic coordinator using AIS and radar to manage vessel traffic.
An AIS equipped system onboard a ship presents the bearing and distance of nearby vessels in a radar-like display format.
A graphical display of AIS data onboard a ship.

Information provided by AIS equipment, such as unique identification, position, course, and speed, can be displayed on a screen or an ECDIS. AIS is intended to assist a vessel's watchstanding officers and allow maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements. AIS integrates a standardized VHF transceiver with a positioning system such as a LORAN-C or GPS receiver, with other electronic navigation sensors, such as a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicator. Ships outside AIS radio range can be tracked with the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system with less frequent transmission.

The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires AIS to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with gross tonnage (GT) of 300 or more tons, and all passenger ships regardless of size. It is estimated that more than 40,000 ships currently carry AIS class A equipment.[citation needed] In 2007, the new Class B AIS standard was introduced which enabled a new generation of low cost AIS transceivers. This has triggered multiple additional national mandates from Singapore, China, Turkey and North America affecting hundreds of thousands of vessels.

OK -That was from Wikipedia. Now for the WikiSabrina definition - It's a way to identify and hail the giant container ship hauling ass in the narrow channel towards you. Yes, they all have radar and should see your little sailboat - SHOULD. Yes, they all have crews (although I think we would be frightened at how small the crews are on these giants) and should have someone at the helm and vhf radio at all times - SHOULD.

Below is Honey Ryder's AIS mounted at the nav station.

For my birthday last fall s/v Honey Ryder got an AIS vhf with a separate mic in the cockpit that shows the same information as the unit below at the nav station. The AIS information is networked into our chartplotter so that the ship pops up there as well and sounds an alarm. This trip was the first time to use it. As we headed out St Simon Sound, at night, in the very narrow channel, at low tide, there was a slow moving vessel in front of us with lights that we could not make out. The AIS alarm went off and we were able to zero in and id the vessel Padre Island. I hailed them directly by name and the captain informed me that they were dredging the right side of the channel in and we could just pass port to port. It wasn't until we were much, much, much closer that we were finally able to see the lights identifying them as a dredger. Oh yeah and I almost forgot the casino boat Emerald Island the that was zooming back to port after their evening gambling junket. I think we have all seen the care and caution the captains of gambling boats take. NOT. *Can't really blame them. Have you seen the usual suspects er... passengers that go out on those gambling boats? Same ones that are hitting the slots at the Argosy twice or three times a week.

Herbs An' Spices

There wasn't time or a car to go for provisions in Brunswick. Luckily we had enough canned goods on board that I could whomp up some cruising grub to get us through our overnight sail to Savannah. Even more lucky was the fact that I had my handy-dandy spice kit that sailing friends Margie and Sea Salt gave us - actually gave to Honey Ryder. I was able to turn otherwise boring canned burgoo into pretty decent burgoo. Thank you Margie and Sea Salt.

FourLoko lives

Apparently the folks that own this convenience shop in Savannah GA missed the FDA's ruling on FourLoko or perhaps they think those are "more like guidelines" or just plain don't care. Too bad we were flying home and had a limit on liquids. We could have purchased the whole lot and built up our cruising kitty selling FourLoko to the college kids (over 21) back here in Kansas. *And don't email me any crap about the dangers of caffeine and alcohol. People have been searching for the best buzz for ages and this just happens to be the latest combo.