Saturday, August 30, 2014
From Sea to Foggy Sea
|CAR CAMPING the easy way|
We traveled through 13 states, stayed in 5 National Parks, 3 Forest Service campgrounds, 5 State Parks, 1 BLM campground and 1 private campsite. Total cost for overnight stays and park access was a grand total of $356 (28 nights).
We slept comfortably in our van with our new "tent" attached and on our V-berth cushions from the boat. Our new camp stove and pop-up rain/shade cover worked great.
Bear? Yep. I was just sitting in my Deluxe Chair reading when I glanced up and saw a bear walking slowly by me. I froze. He came up onto the gravel of our site, looked at me casually, and kept walking. Slowly, slowly, I stood and backed up towards the car. Then I threw myself in the car and started yelling "BEAR!, Bear! Bear!" and honking the horn. Jonesy was just walking up to our site from the bathrooms and he clapped his hands. The bear trotted away - not in a real hurry. Heck, there were lots of kids camped near us!
We notified the park staff and they sent out a guy with a Paint Gun which they use just to scare the bears and discourage them from hanging out at the campgrounds. Turns out this bear was what they call a "yearling". He/she was one of the cubs born last year when they had a population explosion. He was a littler larger than a Bernise Mountain Dog/St. Bernard and much heavier looking. I actually got to about 6 feet of him and could see the beautiful shiny black fur. So that's our bear story.
As I can knit simple socks without having to look at my hands, that's what I did whenever we were underway. Jonesy did all the driving, in fact, I haven't driven our car yet. I make a great "rider" and a mediocre road navigator. But at least I got some socks done. Here's one pair for the teenagers at the orphanages in Kazakhstan. These are simple socks from Regia Ringel Color wool yarn donated by a fellow knitting camper.
More to come! We have bison and Tetons and visits to fiber studios!
Monday, July 28, 2014
|JONESY AND THE NIKI WIKI|
So here we are in our slip at the Brunswick Landing Marina. We're way down on the new Dock 15 which means that we can enjoy lovely views of the marshlands, sunsets, and all the birds. Oh, and watch the steam rise from the cellulose (pulp) mill up river.
The ShadeTree boat covers are in place and the A/C is running 24/7 to keep us cool from the Georgia summer heat. We know how to do this after 8 years in the tropics and actually it has been cooler here than it was anywhere else we've been. Being farther north does have it's advantages.
The downtown area of Brunswick is just a short walk from our boat. It's a sleepy little town that has seen better days. Back during World War II this town was busy building the large cargo "Liberty Ships" for the war effort. Over 3 years they built 99 ships! There sure must have been a lot of people and action around here in those years. It's kind of eerie to walk the streets as most of the old buildings are vacant, and the styles haven't been updated. I like it!
|OLD CHUNK OF ROSIN|
The other day one of our dock neighbors shared with me some rosin. He was out shrimping (which is what he does for a living) and the nets hauled in a mess 'a (that's southern speak) pine rosin from a site where a barge had sunk many, many years ago. Back in the early 1900's Brunswick produced products called "Ships' Stores". These were pine tar, rosin and turpentine made from the pitch of the numerous pine trees which grow here. So this yellow chunk may be almost 100 years old and is still good after spending time in a barrel on the sea floor!
Pine tar and rosin were important to ship builders and owners to prevent the wood from rotting. These days with most boats being made from steel or fiberglass, there's not much demand for pine tar. Now rosin is still used a little. I remember the small piece of rosin that I used to draw my horsehair violin bow across. It had such a great pine smell. In Brunswick there is still a factory which produces modern rosins, resins and other chemicals out of the pines. I'm having so much fun learning about the history of this area.
|LOADING UP THE VAN|
We have wheels! Jonesy put in a lot of research trying to find a used minivan for us (because they aren't very popular), but he did it! Yep, this is our 4th Dodge Caravan and no, it isn't white like the first 3 were. This one is silver. We have flipped all the rear seats down into their hidey holes in the floor and are getting it ready for our cross-country car-camping adventure.
Yep, we are leaving the boat all alone for a few months while we go-see-do from literally, coast-to-coast. Guess what? The cushions from our V-berth fit perfectly in the back of the van as our bed!
|LINDA P. SOCKS #3 FOR KAZ|
In the meantime, there has been some local sight-seeing and knitting going on. We took a drive to nearby St. Simon Island and toured the Ft. Frederica National Monument. This was an English fort build in 1736 to fend off Spanish ships from this territory. There's not much remaining of the fort or all the houses which were there, but the site itself is beautiful.
|VAL SOCKS #2 FOR KAZ|
Yes, I have a large amount of donated sock yarn already in the van for our trip. What could be better than being driven through beautiful country, camping in natural places, and knitting socks?
Life is good.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
NEW Sock Knitting Book!
Yippeeee! This brand-spanking new book from Interweave Press includes both an article I wrote about knitting with multiple stranded colors of yarn in socks and the corresponding Spectrum Socks pattern. Yes, I'm tickled to pieces.
I received my author's copy in the mail last week and haven't come down from the high yet. Sockupied: 20 Knit Projects to Satisfy your Sock Obsession is available online as a Pre-Order or Kindle download on Amazon, on the Interweave website and soon in book stores and at your local yarn shops.
If you already own the Sockupied Spring 2014 emag, then you already have my contributions. BUT if you prefer a nice paper book (like I do), then this one has that and a whole lot more.
Now I really must get to knitting my lastest sock design which are on my needles. Life is good
Sunday, July 06, 2014
The WHY we do this thing we do
Why do we bother to travel slowly, winding back and forth up the Intracoastal Waterway instead of heading out to sea and doing a straight through sail? Because, we get to spend our evenings and nights safely anchored in beautiful places like this.
In Northern Florida we watched the large PINK Roseate Spoonbill birds go about their daily business, and in Southern Georgia we spent the late afternoon watching the wild horses on Cumberland Island graze the shore grasses. Along the way we passed Bald Eagles sitting atop their nests in tall trees.
We left St. Augustine just days before Tropical Storm/Hurricane Arthur blew in. We traveled north during the "calm before the storm" enjoying the sunny weather. We went through drawbridges and under fixed bridges and only went aground once. What?
Yes, even within the very nice channel markers on the waterway it can get too shallow for our 5 1/2 foot draft. It's not supposed to be that way but it just is. We managed to quickly throttle up and back off of the "hump" or shoal. No biggie. The few miles of channel at the back side of Jekyll island is notoriously shallow. So for this section we planned on arriving about a half hour before high tide. This allowed us to move through it during mostly high tide. Yes, we saw 5 1/2 feet on our depth gauge but we didn't feel any bump and made it safely through. Why again did we do this instead of going out to sea and around the island? Because of the unique opportunity we had to see the unspoiled beauty of the tidal marshes. Finally, on July 1st, we sailed under the big Sydney Lanier bridge and now are safely tucked into the Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia.
These are knit with worsted weight yarns from the bottom up. To finish, a length of cord elastic is threaded through the last stitches and a ribbon can be woven through the eyelet round. Lazy daisy flowers can be stitched onto it too!
These are sized to fit a 9" circumference around the waist. Many of the children who have received these bears, and will in the future, are quite young so I wanted to make clothes that would be easy for them to dress their bears. Elastic and ribbing should work, and maybe a touch of Velcro.
And we all know that teddy bears also need some socks, so I knit up some sport weight ribbed socks too. No. I don't have a picture of my completed bear because I STILL haven't gotten up the nerve to embroider his eyes, nose and smile. That part intimidates me, but I'll get it done before he gets send to Kazakhstan.
Of course there were people-sized socks started and completed too along the way. These 3 pairs are from yarns donated to me to knit for the kids from Linda P. and Kris. Two are simple plain socks (well the yarn isn't plain) and the purple pair is knit from my Hug Me Socks pattern which makes a stretchy and textured fabric.
Back? Yep. We lived in Georgia up outside of Atlanta for 7 years back in the 80's and early 90's. So in a sense we are returning. But this time by sailboat.
We're living the slow life.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Storks, Cranes, and Blue-Tailed Skinks Oh My!
|LIGHTNER MUSEUM & SHOPS|
But, we're doing our best to enjoy our last few weeks here in Florida (just like we used to enjoy Sundays when we had to go to work on Monday morning). You just have to clear your head of the thoughts of what's coming next and enjoy the present. Jonesy loves life in a marina and I like to Go-See-Do and be on the hook. So, where are we now?
We're almost north enough, but not quite - we are in St. Augustine Florida. This is an ancient city (at New World standards), the oldest in the Americas. St. Augustine is a tourist destination due to the historic fort and beautiful old buildings and of course the shopping and dining experiences aimed at tourists to grab their dollars.
|LAUNDRY, A/C, WIFI AND LOUNGING|
Now for us, it was a chance to meet new doctors (thanks Obamacare) update our meds, shop in (my first) Hobby Lobby craft store, and get our laundry done. We picked up a mooring ball at the City Marina and have been enjoying the sea breezes and chuckling at the tidal flows.
Usually, a boat will face into the wind which is why all the hatch openings face to the front of the boat. But the tidal currents are so strong here in the mooring field that our boat is pushed to face up "stream" regardless of where the light breeze is coming from. Thus, we struggle a little bit to get cooling air into the salon of the boat. We've experienced this before in La Paz, Baja California Mexico.
|JONESY WALKS THE BEACH|
While out riding the bus on our many trips around this part of Florida we've seen a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a Wood Stork. Yep, they were just right there on the side of the roads for all to see! The large cranes winter in Florida, then migrate to points north for the summer months. I guess these were stragglers (like us). The stork stays in the warm south year round. We see blue-tailed skinks everywhere. Their tails are so brightly colored it's hard to miss them.
|WOOLWORTH'S "SELF SERVICE" Air Conditioned|
Here's some nostalgia - check out these engraved door handles on a bank in central St. Augustine - Woolworth's! These days there isn't a single store to buy general merchandise in this area as all the buildings have been converted into art galleries, restaurants, bars, and tourist cha-cha marts. This old city has gone through many changes over hundreds of years; changing nationalities in its colonial days, the most exclusive and expensive resort hotels in the nation at one time, to apparently to having a functioning middle-America downtown. Now it is a tourist spot - what will be next?
Yes! I completed my challenge to knit 52 pairs of socks in 52 weeks. In fact I finished a month early. What a relief! Here is pair #52 which is knit with yarn donated by Tina in Vero Beach (Knit Picks Simply Stripes). I used the slip-knot cast on for this pair because 1) Tina introduced me to it and 2) it is very stretchy and neat.
Oh, and another pair of monster socks were completed. For these I stuck to yarns in the red/burgundy/pink color tones. At each change in
And finally here are pair #53 which officially made me an "over-achiever" on the Ravelry group for the challenge. Ha! I think that must be the first time I've ever been called that!
This last pair shown today was knit with a mystery yarn donated by Linda P. The pink/yellow/purple yarn was already very pretty so I didn't use any special stitch patterns and just knit a plain sock. This pair lived in my shopping tote that I carry with me everywhere. We spend a lot of time riding or waiting for the little Sunshine Buses so I get quite a bit of knitting done during our land travels. We've even got to know some of the other riders on the bus and had a nice beach outing yesterday with a local gal.
Yes. I do have more socks on the needles, but now that I've reached my 52 sock goal I am also joyfully diving into other fiberly pursuits. Like what?
Crochet! Hardanger embroidery! Tatting! I purchased a set of 4 bookmarks from Nordic Needle which provide a step-by-step guide to learn the art of hardanger embroidery. Each kit comes with the bookmark already made with attached lace, the needles needed, a needle treader, and both types of thread to complete the project. This is the way I needed a kit like this because I wouldn't have a clue as to what needle to use.
So, I've finished the first bookmark and am now working on the second one. The instructions are very clear and complete so I haven't had any problems (except for my own counting errors). I don't get to cut out the peek-a-boo windows for which hardanger is famous for until the 4th bookmark after I've learned all the stitches. That's fine with me - I think they are lovely just like they are anyway.
|HARDANGER - COUNTED THREAD EMBROIDERY|
Life is good.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Knitters are the Knicest!
|THANK YOU VAL of Vero Beach!|
This collection of yarn was generously donated to me by a knitter that I "met" online through Ravelry.com. Val (is her name) knew that I knit socks for my favorite charity, the Motherless Child Foundation and she had some yarn in her stash that needed a home. When she realized that I was traveling through her winter-home area of Vero Beach, and even though we couldn't meet up in person as she had already gone north, she had her friend hand-deliver these yarns to me! Yes. Knitters are the knicest.
But that's not all. I met Val's friend, Tina, at a knitting get-together (along with many other kind folks). Then, at our 2nd meeting, Tina surprised me with yarn donations from her stash! Not only did I get to sit and knit and chat with fiberly folks, but I went home with bags of yarn which were full of future entertainment for me and warm socks for kids in cold areas.
Tina also introduced me to a very unique cast on method that is SUPER STRETCHY and wonderful for the cuffs of socks. So many knitters make that one cast on row so tight that they can't even get their hand knit socks on over their heels. So sad. In the last few years I've been using the German Twisted (Old Norwegian) method with good results.
|THANK YOU Tina of Vero Beach!|
The first ball I lovingly fondled from Tina's stash called out to me to be knit into mittens...soft, warm mittens. The kids in the orphanages of Kazakhstan need mittens too (it gets to -40 degrees there!) I was writing up the tutorial for my Mitten Knit-along on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo Group, and I needed a mitten-in-progress to photograph. How do these things all work out so great anyway?
The Mitten KAL is running right now through the end of June 2014 so if you've ever wanted to learn how to knit an adult sized mitten with fingering weight or sock yarns this is your chance! The pattern is free during the KAL and will be for sale later on Ravelry.
You know the old saying that things always come in sets of 3? Well the donations of yarn for my charity sock knitting really did just that. In the mail I received a big FLUFFY package of sock yarns donated by a friend of mine from knitting camp (Linda P.). I am overwhelmed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of these knitters who share from their personal stashes of woolly wonderfulness.
|THANK YOU Linda P. of OK|
The timing couldn't have been better! My personal stash of sock yarns is very low right now and I have just about worked my way through some past donations. The director of the Motherless Child Foundation just returned from another delivery trip to Kazakhstan and confirmed that the need for socks and other warm items continues and is greatly appreciated.
So I'm able to knit on because knitters are the nicest folks. Life is good.
Monday, June 02, 2014
All the way to the Moon
Not? Oh. Well, we DID tour the Kennedy Space Center the other day which has been on our Bucket List for many years - more on that later.
We spent two weeks in lovely Vero Beach. We loved it there and now know why other cruisers have called it "velcro beach". You could really get stuck there.
The City Marina facility is the best that we've seen - shady picnic and BBQ areas, large, secure dinghy dock, friendly staff, and all the needed amenities for cruisers. The city of Vero Beach runs a FREE bus service that stops both at the dinghy dock and the cruiser's lounge every hour. The long white sand beach is within easy walking distance through a beautiful neighborhood, plus the bus also stops at the beach which is great when you get worn out from beach walking and need a lift back. There's a farmer's market on Saturday mornings, a charming yarn store (Knitty Gritty) and even get-togethers with friendly knitters at the Panera Bread cafe. What's not to love? We certainly are enjoying all the conveniences of life in the USA.
|Niki Wiki on a mooring in Vero Beach, FL|
Here's a photo of our boat taken from the big bridge we went under to get to Vero so you can see that there are natural areas too. We were in Vero during the beginning of the low season so we had a mooring all to ourselves and several even were unoccupied. During the high season they actually raft boats together to share a mooring ball because this place is so popular. Sounds a little too chummy to me.
But, we have to keep our eyes on the calendar to be sure that we are north of Florida (latitude 31) by the first of July, so too soon it was time to head up the Intracoastal Waterway to our next destination.
|Vero Beach - walk, walk, walk forever|
|My view of the shores of the ICW for 2 days|
It was a short 2-day trip up the Indian River (which makes up this part of the ICW) to the City Marina in Titusville. Cruising up the river is much easier and more scenic than doing ocean passages! All along both sides of this wide river are houses, many of them with their private docks. We saw small, older fishing get-away cabins right next door to sprawling mansions with manicured landscaping.
The waters were so calm because we were entirely protected from the ocean waves and most of the winds by the barrier islands or strips of land. The channel itself is well-marked so it was like driving on an open highway at 5 miles per hour. Occasionally, we encountered another sailboat but mostly we had motorboats of all sizes traveling with us.
And yes, we did drop the hook and spent the night sleeping during this passage unlike our big-seas passages. People have often asked us what we do at night when we sail from one place to another and wonder if we drop the anchor to sleep.
|Osprey (Fish Hawk) nest on a pole and in the background|
Nope. When out at sea that is impossible and we have to have someone awake and watching the helm at all times. On the ICW, we can stop at many different places and drop the hook. That's because it is very shallow water. We are loving this easy cruising!
|Jonesy watching an Atlas rocket launch|
Another reason why we were in a bit of a hurry to get up to Titusville is that there was a launch of an Atlas Rocket scheduled from the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force station. There was no need to travel anywhere because we could see it right from our boat! The roar was exciting! Up, up and away on a secret mission!
So, I mentioned our trip to the Kennedy Space Center earlier. We had a wonderful day there! The space shuttle Atlantis is now kept there inside a special display building so that we had the opportunity to get up close to it.
|Jonesy with the Space Shuttle Atlantis|
Some of you may not know that Jonesy spend his early years on an Air Force base as his dad was a test pilot. This was during the time of the "Right Stuff" and some of these pilots went on to become the first astronauts. Then in later years we both worked in the Rockwell Intl. Palmdale, CA facility which also housed the Space Shuttle Program (we were on the B1-B program).
|Jonesy and his rockets|
All of the staff at the Kennedy Space Center were so friendly and helpful which made our time there even more enjoyable. It was like they wanted to be working there! We appreciated their positive attitudes and smiles all day.
Yesterday, while I was doing laundry in the marina's A/C'd laundry room we had a thunderstorm with some rain.
Well - that's a manatee! His/her head is at the concrete wall and that's the thick, wide tail sticking up. These critters know that if it rains there will be fresh water coming out of the downspouts. They position their mouths right under the spout and drink the fresh water. This got me wondering how they do it out in the natural areas...do they catch runoff from rocks or trees? Obviously, they like the fresh water.
Here's a close up photo. He/she is so ugly that it's cute! The chin was covered in thick bristles. What a treat to see one up so close!
Anyway, we'll be here in Titusville for another couple of days and then we need to head north some more. Next stop will be a single overnight anchoring off of Daytona Beach and then in to St. Augustine for do some more go-see-do activities!
Next post: knitting
Life is good.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Hoist the Anchor, Anchor, Anchor, Beach Chair...
|Anchor, anchor, beach chair, bimini frame|
So, while I manned the helm in the cockpit, Jonesy hoisted the anchor - the electric winch groaned with the weight. That shouldn't be. What was up? Slowly, he pulled in the anchor chain until this mass appeared.
As we pulled in our anchor, we also hooked up and pulled in THREE other anchors, a beach chair and a large bimini frame!! This mangle of metal, rope and fabric could take a long time to unravel. We would have to put the dinhy back down in the water off of the back davits and get to work. Our trip would be delayed by hours, we risked getting ourselves injured on the job, and we may not make it to our scheduled overnight anchorage spot before dark then.
|Untangling the mess|
YES! He did want it - and he was just getting ready to hoist his (puny) anchor to sail off south. He jumped into his cockpit, started his engine as fast as a rabbit! Within only about 3 minutes he had snuggled his boat up to ours. Just as quickly our new friend got to work untangling the mess on our anchor chain. Working from below like this was the ideal way to tackle this job. He salvaged the 35lb anchor and lovingly placed it on his deck. Then he untangled the beach chair, the low-quality little anchor and the bimini frame and let them drop.
|Easing his new anchor on deck|
We would have preferred to remove them as they are hazards for future boaters, but we simply weren't in a position to bring it all aboard and we would have to take it ashore in our big boat. Bad timing. Both of us were drifting loose and needed to get underway during this morning calm. We thanked our new friend profusely - he thanked us for the anchor. It all worked out for everyone (except for the folks who lost these items). As our anchor retriever motored away with a big grin on his face, we pulled in the last few feetof our anchor chain.
Yep. There was YET ANOTHER 35lb anchor on our chain, but this one slipped off as we pulled it in. So there are more anchors in Boot Key Harbor to be found. Why? We discovered that the rope (rode) was frayed on the one that we rescued so we have to assume that it snapped while in use at some time. The beach chair and bimini frame probably were blown off of boats during a big wind never to be seen again by their original owners. King Neptune claims a lot of our boating gear.
|Sailing past Miami Beach with socks on the needles|
But Jonesy couldn't stay asleep and at 2:30 am decided that it was time to hoist the anchor again and sail north. I've learned over our 8 years of cruising not only to trust his judgement, but also that everybody is happier if I play along nicely when he's a "man on a mission". After all, the most I had to do was be awake enough to man the helm as he raised the anchor and then I could crawl back into the bunk once we were underway...which I did.
|Sun setting over South Florida coastline|
The winds and seas were calm enough that Jonesy managed to sleep until 3am (only waking up about 3 times to ask "you OK?") My only source of entertainment was my knitting and the few large ships outside of Palm Beach which popped up on my radar. I did have to change course so as not to collide with one which was at anchor. This barely interrupted my knitting mojo.
Soon it was my turn to sleep and Jonesy took over the watch. He woke me up in the morning so that I could see our approach to the Fort Pierce inlet and our FIRST time on the Intracoastal Waterway!
It was certainly a day of "firsts". We called our first draw bridge operator and had him open the bridge for our first passage through a drawbridge - just for us! We were the only boat on this part of the ICW. Cars had to stop for us too!
But our thoughts quickly turned to the next two bridges as these were "fixed" bridges that we had to go under. See, our mast is about 61 feet tall off the water and these bridges were about 64 1/2 feet tall over the water. Remember there are tidal considerations too. We "knew" we should be able to pass under them but we still were filled with anxiety - especially as we approached the bridges. It just didn't LOOK like we would make it.
What does it look like to you? Scary right? No matter what angle I tried to look up it certainly didn't appear as if we were even close to being able to pass under the bridge.
Stay tuned for next week when we see if Jonesy and Terry caused major destruction with the good ship Niki Wiki.
Nope. I wouldn't do that to you.
As I tightly gripped onto the boat to brace myself for the impact and held my breath, we silently slipped under the bridge. Not even our antenna tapped the roof. Not a sound except that of our trusty Perkins engine.
We had put our trust in the folks who built and manage these bridges and the ICW and our faith was well placed. Jonesy and I high-fived each other and giggled all the way to the next bridge.
The second bridge was also our marker for the place to turn into the City Marina of Vero Beach. This time we had more confidence that we'd clear, but it was still un-nerving. We motored right under the bridge and immediately turned into the mooring field. We radio'd the marina and they promptly
|Turning into the Vero Beach City Marina|
Socks, socks and more socks have been completed as I work towards my goal of 52 pairs in 52 weeks. Below are photos of pairs #44, 45, 46 and 47. All are smaller sized socks and are knit with yarns donated by fellow knitters. The kids in the Orphanages in Kazakhstan will have warm feet this coming winter.
|Jonesy watches the US Navy's Blue Angels|
Life is good.