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

May 27, 2014

May 27 - Memorial Day Weekend

Lamb's Yacht Center

There were all kinds of festivals going on in Jacksonville this weekend...celebrating the beginning of summer and honoring our veterans. Saturday we drove down to Paltaka to check out the Blue Crab Festival. We spent several days in Palatka when we went up the St. John's River and again on our way north three weeks ago. They have a nice waterfront park and historic downtown area. Palatka is a small town, but this festival brings out thousands of people. There were arts and craft booths, educational booths, carnival rides and games, entertainment and tons of seafood. It was the warmest day of the weekend, but we still enjoyed the festival and having lunch in the shade by the river.

On Sunday we went downtown to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. It started on Friday night and consisted of three stages with entertainment. We found a shady spot and enjoyed the music for a couple of hours. It was the last day of the festival and the crowd seemed a little small, but I'm sure it was packed Friday and Saturday night.

Our last weekend festival was the best, it was the Memorial Day RiverFest in Green Cove Springs. We also stopped at this beautiful little town while we were exploring the St. John's River. It's a quaint community with an amazing riverfront park with a gigantic playground, a spring feed pool, huge shade trees and lots of green grassy spots to spread out and have a picnic. It looked like we had stepped back in time when we arrived at this festival…red, white and blue banners flying everywhere a huge American flag greeting people to the park, kids running around playing chase, swimming and splashing in the spring and adults listening to the music and visiting with each other. It looked like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. There were lots of booths selling crafts, food and sweets, plus tons of things for the kids to do, and  continuous entertainment under the gazebo. An all American Memorial Day celebration. We found a great spot along the spring run to set up our chairs and relax. From there we could hear the music and people watch. We were having a wonderful afternoon until a thunderstorm rolled in with tornado warnings and sent everyone home. It didn’t look like it was going to last long, but we decided to come home. I hope they were able to enjoy the fireworks that were planned later in the evening.

We had a great weekend and it was nice to have a break from boat projects. The thing that amazed us the most about these festivals was the fact they were all free. No charge to come out and enjoy the day with your family and friends.

Scenes from the Blue Crab Festival
Enjoying the Jazz Festival 
Scenes from the Memorial Day RiverFest  
The views from our chairs by the spring 
One activity they had was the rubber duck race in the spring run. We bought four duck, but ours didn't win! 

May 21, 2014

May 20 – An Afternoon on the Water

Lamb’s Yacht Center

“Life is simple…just add water”

We put the first coat of Cetol gloss on the cap rail, flybridge and port door this morning. It’s getting a little tedious going around and around; coat after coat, so this afternoon we decided to take the dinghy up the Ortega River. It’s not a long river…or at least the navigable portion, but it is beautiful. The area around the marina looks more like a small lake and is lined with beautiful, large expensive homes. All with beautiful yards and boat houses. A couple of miles from the marina the river begins to narrow and it looked like we were back on one of the small creeks off the St. John’s River…lush, green and remote. I’m sure just beyond the wooded shore there was civilization, but it was very relaxing and it felt great to be on the water.

We love having the boat under cover at the marina, but we haven’t seen much sign of wildlife since we arrived. We did watch an eagle do a little fishing the other night, but other than that and a few cormorants fishing behind the boat, it’s been a little dull around here, but it wasn’t dull today. Once we got into the narrower part of the river we spotted an eagle and a small alligator, but the real fun was spotting a manatee. At first we thought it was a large alligator, but once we got a better look we noticed it was a manatee. We turned the motor off and just drifted for awhile. The curious creature decided to come investigate us and stayed for a nice long visit. It was so much fun seeing him up close. What a great way to spend the afternoon.

I don't drive the dinghy very often...so Stan gave me a driving lesson.
The narrower part of Ortega River  
Our little visitor. I think he was as excited to see us as we were to see him. 
Not a bad little spot to relax in while Stan fished 
Stan did a little fishing, but no luck...we had chicken for dinner! 

May 17, 2014

May 16 – Jacksonville, FL

Lamb’s Yacht Center

We are at Lamb’s Yacht Center on the Ortega River in Jacksonville. We chose this marina, because it has covered slips…it’s not like being in the sheds at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Great Bridge. These slips are covered by a high concrete roof, which lets in plenty of light and breeze but keeps out the heat of the sun and the rain. It’s the perfect place to do work on a boat, especially teak work….and that is what we’ve been working on the last week and a half. Our first project was getting a maintenance coat of Cetol Gloss on the teak Stan refinished last spring. That meant removing the stainless rub rail trim, taping, sanding, cleaning and then finally applying a coat of gloss. The next project was to redo all the teak that wasn’t done last year. That meant all the old layers of Cetol needed to be removed from the cap rail and port side door. Stan does that by using a heat gun and a wonderful little scrapper he bought last year, both items make the job a lot easier, but still time consuming and hard on the knees. After all the old layers were removed and the decks swept, Stan cleaned the teak with Star Brite Teak Cleaner to remove the mildew and then wiped on Star Brite Teak Brightener. These products really restored the look of our teak and were easy to use. Before we could begin applying Cetol we had to tape, sand and remove dust with Xylene. Today we applied the first of three coats of Cetol, which will be followed by three coats of Cetol Gloss. Five more days and we will be looking great!

We've been very busy working on the boat, but we have taken a little time to do fun things too. We went to the beach and farmers market last week and this week we went to dinner with friends. They belong to a Captain's Club that meets twice a month for dinner. We had a great visit with Barbara and David and enjoyed a nice fish fry and program. The program was presented by a treasure hunter...Amelia Research & Recovery, LLC. He explained the techniques they use and showed us some of the treasures they have recovered. We actually saw their ship working near Fernandina Beach when we came through there last month.

The teak ready for it's maintenance coat of gloss
Stan removing the old layers of cetol 
The next few pictures show the same spot of the cap rail. This picture shows why it needed a little work.
This is the same spot after the layers of cetol were removed 
This is how it looked after the Star Brite treatment 
And the same spot with its first coat of Cetol 
Another spot on the cap rail that was looking very bad. 

May 12, 2014

May 11 – Jacksonville, FL

Lamb's Yacht Center

We had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. We’ve been working hard all week on redoing some of the teak on the boat, but we took the day off on Saturday. We went to the Riverside Art Market, a large farmers market and art show held under the Fuller Warren Bridge at the end of the Northbank River Walk. The river walk is a two-mile-long pedestrian/cycling path that connects the north end of the Riverside Avondale Historic District with Downtown. The market was one of the best farmers markets we’ve been to, just about anything you’d want, plus entertainment and lots of food choices for lunch…a good place to spend the day. After lunch we walked along the river to downtown…it was a nice break from all the work we’ve been doing.

The kids gave me a gift certificate to Orsay, a French bistro, in Avondale for Mother’s Day. Being away from family is very hard on days like today, but our kids always think of something to make it special. Stan continued his work on the teak today and I even did a little work, but the highlight of our day was the wonderful dinner we had at Orsay. The food was amazing; we started off with a Thai rock shrimp appetizer followed by scallops for me and trout for Stan and Black Forest cake for dessert. We had a magnificent meal...thanks to our amazing kids.

Plenty of shade and cool breeze off the river makes this a great place for a farmers market.
Looking back at the market from the riverwalk 
A view of downtown Jacksonville from the riverwalk 
Part of the riverwalk 
Railroad bridge close to downtown...we've waited on this bridge when we came into Ortega last March. 
A park under the Acosta Bridge 
Thai Rock Shrimp 
Sea Scallops 
Carolina Trout 

May 8, 2014

May 7 - Jacksonville, FL

Lamb's Yacht Center

“Sand in may shower means I had a great day”

We've been working hard since we arrived at Lamb's on Monday. Stan removed the bimini, we taped off all the teak, sanded it down a little and washed all the dust away...all in preparation for a maintenance coat of Cetol Gloss. Stan did most of that work although I did help between running back and forth doing laundry. After washing down the decks this morning, there was little we could do while everything dried, so we drove to Jacksonville Beach. It was a perfect day for a beach trip...wonderful temperature, clear blue sky and a nice cool breeze off the water. It felt great to have my toes in the sand and even better walking through the water. We spent time walking the beach and then wandered through a few beach shops and by a lot of restaurants...this place is probably a zoo on the weekends. I wanted to do a little shopping in some nicer shops so we drove up to Neptune and Atlantic Beach. They have a beautiful Town Center full of boutiques and restaurants, just steps away from the beach. We did some shopping, walked on the beach a little more and enjoyed some frozen yogurt before heading back to the boat. It was a nice break from the work we've been doing the past two days and the work we still have to do.

Life Guard Station at Jacksonville Beach
Jacksonville Beach 
Entrance to the beach near Atlantic and Neptune Beach 
Part of the Beaches Town Center 

May 6, 2014

May 5 - Jacksonville, FL

Lamb's Yacht Center

“When my toes are sunk into warm sand and the ocean is lapping my feet, when I breathe in the scent of salt and hear the cry of a seagull, I know that I am returned to a place of restoration. I am home. I can heal here.” ―Toni Sorenson

Our wonderful relaxing river cruise came to an end by lunch today. We spent a quiet morning enjoying the peace and quiet a Monday brings to the water...everyone was back at work. We had a picture perfect day for our cruise into Jacksonville, cool temperatures and light winds. We were fueled up and pumped out and in the shade of our new slip at Lamb's Yacht Center by noon. We'll be here for about five weeks doing a few projects and redoing a little teak and then we'll head back to Texas for the birth of our second grand wonder. Our new temporary home doesn't have much of a view, but we're undercover and that will keep us cooler while we work on projects.

Right after lunch I went to Wal-Mart for groceries and needed supplies, by the time I returned Stan had removed the bimini and stainless rub rails on the handrails…The Pearl looked a little sad, but a new coat of varnish and she'll be looking even better than before. It’s amazing how fast you can go from relaxed cruiser to maintenance crew...oh well, living on a boat can’t always be fun. Even we have to work sometime, but the next few weeks won’t be all work, we will go and have a little fun too.

Our only company today on the water
Coming back into Jacksonville 
Looking back at the Ortega Bridge and Jacksonville 
The Pearl...looking a little sad 
We will have a little morning sun...so we won't be totally in the dark!