"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

September 30, 2014

Sept. 29 – New Smyrna Beach, FL

New Smyrna Beach City Marina

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” ―Vivian Greene

Today started out a little cloudy and continued to get worse as the day progressed and we moved south. By the time we docked in New Smyrna Beach it was coming down so hard that seeing the channel markers was almost impossible. Wearing rain gear in warm weather is a little uncomfortable so I only put on my raincoat...that kept the top half dry. I was totally drenched on the bottom half by the time we were docked. The dock master gave Stan information on the town and it looks like a cute place with little shops, pretty homes along the water and lots of restaurants. Even the beach would be an easy ride for us on our bikes, but the rain kept us on board the rest of the day. I guess we'll have to stop here another time to do a little exploring.

September 29, 2014

Sept. 28 - St. Augustine, FL

Marineland Marina

“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.” – Joseph Conrad

We had a beautiful uneventful day on the water with relatively little boat traffic for a Sunday. The highlight of our day was spotting three bald eagles during our first hour on the water. 

We're docked at Marineland Marina. When Marineland was built it was the first aquatic park were people could watch and interact with dolphins and other marine life. It was opened in June of 1938 as Marine Studios – a facility designed for Hollywood film makers to create underwater footage for their movies. Never before had people had the opportunity to see marine life live and up close, and from the day it opened, Marineland has provided that opportunity to millions of guests. The park seems very small compared to today's mega facilities and now specializes in personal dolphin encounters. We opted for a walk on the beach instead of exploring the facility...we see a lot of dolphins from the boat. 

We have stayed in touch with a couple we met in 2011 that live in St. Augustine. We've tried a few times to get together this year, but it hasn't worked out. Today after we went under the Lions Bridge we get a text and a picture from them...they were walking across the bridge and spotted us...small world. Thanks Darrell and Grace-Marie for the photo.

Protecting the waterway 
 Part of our view this morning
 Sights in St. Augustine this afternoon
The Pearl in St. Augustine
It was a beautiful day...but there were some strange looking clouds
Views from the beach

September 28, 2014

Sept. 27 – Jacksonville Beach, FL

Beach Marine

We woke to a cloudy misty very windy day, but here in Florida it doesn't seem to last long. One minute it's cloudy and the next there's blue sky. We had a relaxing slow morning since we were only going about eight miles down the coast to Jacksonville Beach. We met our friends David and Barbara there to enjoy a party that Beach Marine puts on the last Saturday of the month. They offer free dockage and a Tiki party...lots of good food, free drinks, door prices and music. We even won a door price...a wash down hose and nozzle we'll use on the Hatteras. The marina is very nice and the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. We enjoyed our stay very much.

The last two nights we’ve noticed the popping sound under our hull. It’s been years since we’ve heard this noise and I remember the first time years ago wondering what it was. It’s the sound of Snapping Shrimp. They are very small shrimp that snap one of their claws at such a speed in the water that it sets up a “sonic boom” so to speak and a resulting large snap that travels a long distance. In fact they are probably not under our hull at all. They do this to stun their prey with the sound and then catch them. The sound goes on constantly and sounds a little like rain hitting the deck. It’s amazing something so small can make so much noise.

Our morning view
The evenings entertainment
A Snapping Shrimp

September 27, 2014

Sept. 26 – Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville Free City Dock at Sisters Island

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came."—John F. Kennedy

We've been in Jacksonville for six months...way too long for our nomad spirit. I can't say it's been boring, we've explored the St. John's River, worked on our teak, had time to play with our grand daughter, got to welcome our grandson into the world and had a lot of quality time with him and his parents and we've bought a new boat. Although we haven't spent much time on the water, it certainly has been a busy season. Our plan now is to move The Pearl south to Harbortown Marina in Ft. Piece. We will leave her there until we return after Christmas and move to Marathon for the winter. Once we have her settled we will come back to Jacksonville and get the Texas Pearl ready for her trip home to Texas.

Things on the Hatteras are going well, the name has been changed, the prop shaft packing has been changed, the hull polished and the bottom sanded and ready for a coat of paint. She should be put back in the water by Monday. In the mean time we are starting our trip south on The Pearl. The FEC Railroad Bridge in Jacksonville has been operating on a limited schedule the last few months and was closed completely last week. We left our slip in time to make the 2:00 opening this afternoon and are spending the night at the free dock at Sisters Creek. We arrived at the free dock just in time to have happy hour with another couple from St. Pete. The dock is part of a park and is very remote...a nice change for us. The view of the water is pretty and I'm sure if it wasn’t so windy we'd see lots of shore birds…at least the wind will keep us cool tonight. Tomorrow we will move to Beach Marina at Jacksonville Beach to enjoy their free docking and Tiki party they offer on the last Saturday of the month.

The FEC Railroad Bridge in downtown Jacksonville is opening...we are finally out of here

September 25, 2014

Sept. 24 - Texas Pearl

Our new Hatteras is beginning to look and feel more like our boat. The old name is gone and the new one has gone on. One step closer to our trip home.

September 24, 2014

Sept. 23 – Jacksonville, FL

Lamb’s Yacht Center

“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea. Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again.” -Chasing Mavericks

We've been busy the last three days working hard on the Texas Pearl. I have wiped down every surface on the boat, polished all the wood and washed all the bedding. Stan has done dozens of small jobs including changing the oil in the engines, fixing the wash down pump on the bow, cleaned the water pump, worked on the shower head, replaced several electrical plugs, changed light bulbs, installed a new microwave, caulked fitting around the windless and figured out how to remove the old refrigerator to make room for the new one.

Yesterday I went to Palm Casual and ordered wicker furniture for the aft deck and began collecting things to stock the galley. We'll only have the bare essential onboard for the trip home. There'll be plenty of time later to full equip and decorate her. Today we had her hauled out for a new bottom job, polish the hull and have her new name painted on the transom. We will start moving The Pearl south on Saturday and return next week to get the Texas Pearl ready for her trip home.

Moving Texas Pearl to the travel lift
On the hard

September 19, 2014

Sept. 19 – Hatteras Stats

Lamb’s Yacht Center

I know there are some of our readers who might like to have the stats on our new Hatteras…so here is what was on the yacht listing and a few engine room pictures.

September 18, 2014

Sept. 18 - Introducing the Texas Pearl

Lamb's Yacht Center

“Finding your way doesn't mean you always know where you're going. It's knowing how to find your way back home that's important.”  ―Clare Vanderpool, Navigating Early

It’s official…papers have been signed and money exchanged, we’re the new owners of a 1981 48’ Hatteras to be know as Texas Pearl. I can finally just be excited! Here are a few pictures of how she looks right now. She’s in wonderful condition…all she really needs is a good cleaning, but I look forward to redecorating a little and making her feel like our home.
Floor Plan to the 48' Hatteras
Aft deck and stairs to the flybridge
Aft deck
Salon looking towards the bow at the galley and dinette 
The Salon looking towards the aft of the boat
Galley with new Corian counter tops
Looking aft at the main stateroom
V-birth off the galley

September 17, 2014

Sept. 16- Jacksonville, FL

Lamb’s Yacht Center

“You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.” ―Mandy Hale

Happy 60th birthday babe! A man can never have too many tools, guitars or boats. Stan's answer to how many he needs is always..."Just One More"!

Last fall we fell in love with the idea of having another boat. One we would leave in Texas to use as a vacation home. A place for family to gather, take short cruises and hang out. We've been talking about and looking at boats online and in person for almost a year. We came close to buying a 53' Hatteras last December, but the timing wasn't right and it just didn't happen. This spring we looked at several other boats a 50' Maine Trader, a Sea Master 48 and the 48' Hatteras. Stan studied and searched the Internet daily for the right boat. Last spring after we finished our trip up the St. John's River Stan looked at a 48' Hatteras docked at the end of our pier. We didn't think much about it until we got home this summer. The more we thought about it the more we realized it was the boat we were looking for...three staterooms, plenty of living space and a large aft deck for entertaining family and friends.

Buying a large old used boat can be somewhat of a roller coaster ride. Definitely not like buying a car...it's more like buying a house. Finding just the right boat can take awhile, but that's only the beginning. Once you find that perfect boat...you start getting excited, but there are still so many things that have to fall into place before it can be yours. One day everything seems perfect and the next day something unexpected comes up. Engines have to be checked out, electrical systems and plumbing have to be looked at, not to mention the condition of the hull, the paint, the windows, the electronics and a zillion other things that could make the boat a bad choice. We spent two days poking around the boat checking everything out, and then debating if we really wanted or needed the extra responsibility of owning another boat. The answer was YES, so we made an offer on the boat and our roller coaster ride of emotions began. Waiting to hear if the offer was accepted was a little hard...especially since we really wanted the boat. Once the offer was accepted we began lining up experts to do a full survey of the boat. One surveyor that would concentrate on the Detroit engines and another would check everything else. We could tell the boat looked great, but it is 33 years old. Our biggest concern were the engines and how much work they might need. The first checks on them showed there might be an issue…so then we had to rethink our offer. We even gave some thought to passing on the boat all together. In the end we adjusted our offer and had the survey and sea trail yesterday.

The sea trail is my favorite part of the process…that’s when you take the boat out on the water and see how everything works while underway. The survey, haul out and sea trail didn’t show anything new or alarming, in fact it showed that the engines seem fine for now, although they may need to be over hauled in the future. So…today we are waiting on the written report and the oil samples to be returned and hopefully by Wednesday we can start the process of signing all the papers and making her ours…I guess we need to come up with a name pretty soon!
A look at the bottom of the Hatteras 
A beautiful day for a sea trail 
A little video of the haul out

September 10, 2014

Sept. 10 – Jacksonville, FL

Lamb’s Yacht Center

We've been back on The Pearl for a week and we're still in Jacksonville. We've been busy, very busy taking on a new project. So stay turned blog followers, things are beginning to shape up and by next week there should be exciting things to report on.

September 4, 2014

Sept. 3 – Jacksonville, FL

Lamb’s Yacht Center

“Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again” - Willie Nelson

Ok, so all those lyrics may not be true...yet, but at least we are on the road again. Heading back to the boat in Jacksonville after a great summer with our family. We definitely aren't goin' places we've never been before, at least not right now. This is our 18th trip on I10 in the last three years. It's a long (862 miles), straight, pretty boring shot from Houston to where I10 ends in Jacksonville. We've memorized every bump, turn and detail of the road...from the best places to stop for gas to which exists have the best places to eat and we have definitely learned what time of day to avoid driving through Houston and Baton Rouge.

We live two hours south of Houston which means we have to leave Port Lavaca around 4-4:30 in the morning if we want to miss the morning rush hour and still make it to Jacksonville at a decent hour, that's pretty early…very early. But it's what we've done in the past. This time we decided we'd leave after dinner and drive through the night, so we could get back to the boat earlier in the day. Neither of us like coming aboard in the dark. There are too many things that have to be done before we could go to bed and if there are any unexpected issues it can be a pain to deal with late in the day. So we packed the car, took care of last minute things at home, visited with our parents, took showers, had one last good Mexican dinner at a local café and left for Florida at 6:15PM. Driving at night seems to make the trip go by faster and there is definitely a lot less traffic to deal with. We arrived at the marina by 9:45AM...14 1/2 hours and we had the whole day to get things organized on the boat and get it cooled off before collapsing into bed early.

We really don’t know what tomorrow will bring…no set plans at the moment, but it does feel nice to be aboard. We miss our little grandwonders, but the walls are covered with their pictures and we visit with everyone by phone almost daily and exchange lots of pictures and videos.