Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day One

A year ago, we decided that we needed to end the work routine, to spend more time together, that our first adventure into retirement would be cruising the Great Loop, and that we would toss the lines on March 1, 2011.  Although the projects and tasks required to be accomplished took much longer than anticipated, we did leave the dock at 0808, March 1st.  The photo above shows the empty slip where Last Dance was moored for many years and, if you look closely, you can see our neighbors, Jessie and Mark, who helped with the lines.

Our first cruise was a very short one as we motored down the San Sebastian River about a mile to Xynides Boat Yard.  Nickey Xynides is an old-time shrimpboat builder and repairer.  Xynides is a yard that still allows owners to work on their own boats, a self-service type yard that is quickly disappearing from Florida.  Nickey is knowledgeable and great to work with.  While the boat was in the slings, Nickey asked: "How much do you think she weighs?"  Knowing that there were many provisions and spare parts aboard, I guessed 40,000 pounds.  My estimate was correct, which surprised him since the markings on the hull indicated a weight of 32,000 pounds.

When we did a bottom job on the boat in October, we decided that the props needed replacing.  New props had to be manufactured, requiring 6 weeks.  So we decided to replace the shafts, paint the bottom, and return to Xynides at the beginning of our trip.

This photo may not have much meaning to our land-bound friends, but may have some information for cruising friends.  The San Sebastian River has a reputation of supporting soft growth of underwater organisms in the winter and hard growth, such as barnacles in the summer.  Since we were replacing the props, we installed the old ones sans paint.  As you can see, the props grew a great field of barnacles (the upper blade has been scrapped).  The bottom, painted with an ablative paint, had small amounts of muddy soft growth, and the shafts, painted with a New Zealand developed product called PropSpeed, were as clean as the day they were painted.  The manufacturer claims that the surface is so slick that barnacles and other growth cannot stick to it.

The bottom was pressure washed.  A boat with a displacement hull travels through the water with a large surface creating friction and resistance.  The cleaner and smoother the hull, the less the resistance, and the greater the efficiency.  When you are working with a boat that travels 7.5 to 8 miles an hour, small improvements make measurable differences.  With a long trip planned, it made sense to leave with the bottom of the boat in the best shape possible.

The new props installed.  We had applied PropSpeed a couple weeks earlier.  The gold color is appropriate for this product, as the price is comparable.  It is also claimed that the slick surface increases the efficiency of the props and our measurements indicated that we do pick up some speed with this coating.  There are many components on boats and many considerations to be made in choosing products/systems and making sure the installation is correct.

Last Dance is a twin-engine vessel and has two sets of shafts and props.  The new "wheels" installed and ready.

Since we will be traveling through areas filled with crab traps and other debris, we decided to purchase a bit of insurance.  A line wrapped around a propeller/shaft can rip the shaft out of the boat or pull off the supporting struts.  Either situation could result in a sunken boat.  Forward of the props, we installed some line cutters, by a manufacturer calling them Shaft Sharks.  There will be a bit efficiency lost in prop performance, but there is always a trade-off.  An unintended aspect in this image is the framing of the shrimp boat, Apple Jack.  Kenny, Apple Jack's captain, has provided many pounds of shrimp for our table.

Last Dance, cleaned and new props, ready to go back in the water.  A two-hour stop on the first day of the voyage that should provide great improvement in performance for many 1000's of miles.

The chart plotter showing us heading north, with the 312 bridge behind us and downtown St. Augustine ahead.  The speed of 9.4 mph was aided by the current created from an outgoing tide.   Screaming north at a high rate of speed.

Our first night was spent at anchor in the  Fort George River, just north of the St. Johns River.  We anchored in front of the Kingsley Plantation house, built in 1795.  It is now a state park and you can see that the house is receiving some renovations to correct termite damage.

As an ending note to this first day of a long journey, we wanted to add a few remarks from the previous Saturday when we shared an evening with family, friends and colleagues at the Creekside Restaurant.  English professor, Allan Marcil, and artist wife, Jody, shared a gift guaranteed to lift our spirits, presented in a creative gift box along with a cute card.  The photo on the card is below.  You may see us someday in the shirts embroidered with "Ms. Captain" and "Mr. First Mate" which accompanied the spirit-lifting gifts from math professor, Ed McDonald, and wife Kelly.  A special addition, and a bit of surprise, was the arrival of daughters Amanda, from Jacksonville, and Brittany, from Baton Rouge at Creekside.  It was a great evening sharing dinner, drinks and conversation.  Thanks much to Krista Ubbels for arranging this event.

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