The name may sound like a remote estuarine inlet – perhaps a First Nations historic site. In fact it is a yacht harbour and condo complex just north of St. Augustine, where we had arranged to have our prop shaft issue inspected and fixed. We thought it may be a cutlass bearing issue and expected that Tai Chi would need to be hauled out of the water. We left our mooring at St. Augustine at 7:00 am in order to make our appointment with the mechanic at the fuel dock in Camachee Cove by 7:45. To cut a long story short, we stayed five days at Camachee Cove and spent several ‘boat units'($$$) on repairs, mostly on replacing the engine mount and realigning the engine, which they felt was the cause of the rattle in the prop shaft. They did not haul the boat. Sad to say, when we sea trialed the boat on Friday, the knocking in the prop shaft at certain spends was still very evident. The mechanic felt it was just a “critical speed issue” and nothing to worry about.
The week was mostly spent waiting for parts, and making use of the time to do other DIY repairs, boat chores, laundry, boat washing etc. We fixed our wifi antenna by buying new Ethernet cable and running it through the boat – which sounds easier than it is, as it involves unpacking all our lazarettes which are full of tools, spare parts, cleaning stuff etc,. and unpacking our aft cabin (a.k.a. the “garage”) to access the locker under the bunk for the wiring as well as several other cupboards. Steve went up the mast twice – once to bring down the broken running backstay to fix the Norseman fitting, and once to replace it when it had been fixed. We had our radio checked to assess why it was not transmitting and the diagnosis was that our 9 month new Icom radio was malfunctioning, which required sending it off by courier to the warranty centre and many phone calls to ensure that it was returned promptly the next day so it could be reinstalled – this was completed at 4:00 pm on Good Friday! All of this narrative is to temper our smug tales of life in paradise with a reality check. Boat repairs. Grrrr.
So here’s the good part. If we had to be stuck somewhere doing boat repairs, we could not have picked a better spot. Camachee Cove Yacht Works provided free docking for us while they worked on our boat. They have wonderful facilities including two cruisers lounges, internet, laundry and showers. And free courtesy cars – including an older Lexus and a minivan!
So we borrowed the car to go to the post office and the grocery store, and to go to the Sailors Exchange – a nifty junk shop for sailboat owners! We were even able to do a little more fair weather sightseeing of St. Augustine as we went about our other chores. The weather was chilly in the mornings but otherwise perfect while we were. We walked across the bridge over the ICW one day, visited nearby Vilano Beach, and enjoyed several strolls around the marina complex.
And best of all, we had friends close at hand. Dave, our ex-US Navy friend who crewed with us from South Amboy, NJ, to Hampton VA last fall, lives in Neptune Beach near Jacksonville. He came over on Monday afternoon which his adorable daughter, Natalie, to visit us on the boat and walk around the marina. Then he drove us to his lovely home, and once his wife Kristen returned from work, we all went out and enjoyed a great seafood dinner in Neptune Beach. They are such a lovely family and we feel grateful, if that is the right sentiment, for the double misfortunes that brought us together at Lockwoods Boatworks, where Dave’s Pearson 36 was towed in shortly after Tai Chi was. Sadly, his boat was hauled there for the winter, and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, so he is in the market for a replacement.
Our friends Mary and Wayne also visited us on Thursday night. They brought our forwarded mail, which arrived in the nick of time as they headed back to Ontario on Friday, their three-month winter migration time over. We were happy recipients of their gifts of food and drink as they cleared out their condo to vacate it.
The marina was quiet and peaceful in the evenings, except for our last night there. No they never threw a party for us, but the Marlin Association, whose clubhouse is on the premises, held a party with live music and prizes. Fishermen were cleaning their impressive catches at the fish tables on the docks, and the pelicans seemed to be enjoying the party as much, if not more than the people!
As soon as the repairs were finished we were on our way again, leaving our dock just after sunrise on Saturday morning, fueling up and pumping out as we left. The early mornings on the ICW are the best – peaceful and quiet – great for bird and dolphin watching. I will never tire of the thrill of watching dolphins swimming alongside us or in our wake.
Listen!….is that a clapper rail I hear? No, wait, that is the knocking in our prop shaft again. Yes, sadly the serenity of the morning was more than a little spoiled by that darn@#$! rattle. Far from being fixed, it was worse than before. Our five-day ‘it’s-worth-the-delay-to-get-everything-fixed’ stop at Camachee backfired on us.
(For best viewing click on the first picture, then press ‘slide show’ at the bottom. now point your cursor to the bottom middle of the screen and press pause (ll) so that you can scroll though at your own rate once the pictures are fully loaded, using the arrows < >) at each side (middle) – the captions should show under each picture.)
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