Sitting Out The Gale

When bad weather threatens, we like to get ourselves tucked in someplace where we can still enjoy the day and get stuff done. For folks who never plan (like us!), planning can be everything. We planned St. Augustine.

Days 157 – 158, March 19 – 20, 2019

With a gale imminent, we had nestled ourselves in to St. Augustine. The Municipal Marina is convenient and secure, and there is plenty to do in the area to keep us amused. Like fresh do-your-own donuts, and a brewery. What?

It blew hard, just like the forecast said. Fortunately it was mostly a dry gale, so in spite of the wind we could still cruise around town and keep ourselves busy. And get some boat work done.

It did blow hard. 30 gusting to 40 around bedtime. I’m not sure if it blew harder after that or not.

Bruce disassembled our combo washer-dryer. We know a lot of people hate these units, but we love ours, a Splendide Ventless 7100XC . The key to happiness is keeping the condenser clean. If someone tells you their ventless washer-dryer “never works”, it’s because they don’t clean their condenser.

This is not a task for the faint of heart, but it can be done and it’s worth the effort. Some idiot engineer got lazy and buried the condenser deep into the guts of the unit. It has to be hauled out of it’s cabinet. The lid has to be removed. An unknown number of miscellaneous critical parts have to be unbolted and set aside. Eventually, the condenser is revealed, removed, cleaned and reinstalled. Rinse, repeat, put it all back together again.

Bruce has to remove the machine from it’s cabinet in order to unbolt the top and disassemble the guts in order to get at the condenser.

The first effort, after a few months of use when we discovered our clothes weren’t getting dry, took several hours. Bruce now has it down to about 45 minutes. We enjoy clean, dry laundry on-demand, almost anywhere-anytime. Such a joy. We try to run one small load almost every day, probably four to five days each week. I still do a large load of “boat laundry” when we have easy access to a decent laundromat (like in St. Augustine), but if need be, we can do everything on the boat.

OK, so Bruce took advantage of Gale Day to clean the washer-dryer condenser, while I used the very convenient and clean laundry facility at the marina to do a deep-clean of all the sheets, towels, dog rugs, dog beds, etc. I also ironed our sheets. Whaaat??? I mean, really.

I never iron anything. But the prospect of crisp sheets overcame me when I found an iron and ironing board at the St. Augustine marina.

At home I don’t iron anything. I hate ironing. But I discovered, shortly before this trip, that some people do iron their sheets, and ever since then I get really annoyed at the edges of sheets crumpling up after multiple wash cycles. So while I was hanging in the laundry room in St. Augustine I noticed that they had a clean, new iron and ironing board. I have never seen this in a marina before (maybe we just don’t go to the right marinas?). I hesitated, but decided yes, I was going to iron those crumpled sheet edges. I must be losing my mind.

So iron the sheets I did. Not the entire sheet, mind you, but all the edges, and all the pillow cases. I felt delightful, and making the bunks up with crisp sheets was a joy. (Not enough of a joy to buy and iron and do it regularly, but still a joy.)

OK. Enuf about laundry. On to donuts.

I can’t remember how I found it, but I had seen something about a do-it-yourself-fresh-donut-shop. As luck would have it, while we were on our way to the St. Augustine Distillery (for bourbon), I spied the donut shop, a tiny little place in a simple strip mall. The Donut Experiment. I made the mistake of pointing it out to Bruce. Screech and a hard left into the parking lot we went.

It was a great set up: a little conveyor belt carted the little donuts through the hot oil and out onto a rack, made to order. On the wall was a list of all the toppings. Pick your own! The donuts were warm and the toppings were fun. And the donuts weren’t even too big, which made me happy. I really dislike all the oversized food that shops try to sell you. I mean, who wants (or needs) a cookie the size of a dinner plate? Ack.

So we had a fun little morning snack.

On to the St. Augustine Distillery. We did the tour in the fall on our south-bound trip so we didn’t need to do that again, but Bruce decided he liked their Florida Double Cask Bourbon finished in port wine barrels from the nearby San Sebastian Winery. As it says on their website, “The result is spectacular; A unique malted bourbon with a smooth and semi-sweet finish with hints of raisins, cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate. Our Port Finished Bourbon won a Triple Gold Medal in the 2016 MicroLiquor Awards.”

The distillery is in an historic ice house and it is fun going on the tour. You learn a bit about the roots of the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the Linconville Historic District, which was established by freed slaves after the civil war and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

I went for a run in the afternoon around Lincolnville, which is a nice little escape from the busy touristy streets of St. Augustine. The ongoing gale had pushed the waters above flood stage, and many of the streets were flooded and impassable. I gathered that this happens routinely, as there was little fuss and the waters generally receded over night.

Streets flooded with the wind-driven high tides and full moon.

For dinner, we tried Catch 27, which specializes in local seafood and farm-to-table fare. We sat at the tiny little bar and chatted with the bartender and a couple of locals who sat next to us. It had promise, and our meals were good, but the food came out so fast it was ridiculous.

The second day of our visit was similar to the first. Boat stuff — Bruce scrubbed the hull and did engine room maintenance, I did more boat clean-up. By mid-day the gale had begun to blow itself out which allowed for a very pleasant run, and some long walks around town with the pups.

We were nicely tucked in for the gale.

We got to chatting with fellow boaters Sam and Jerry on an N37 who had just completed the Great Loop, and ended up joining them, and their friends Mike and Karen from Imagine, for drinks at the Tini Martini Bar followed by a really fun dinner at The Floridian. We thought both would just be tourist traps, but in the end they were very good. Beware: the martinis are, um, generous. I was especially happy with the menu at The Floridian – definitely a go-to for next time.

We stumbled home to walk the pups and go to bed. The gale was a distant memory, and tomorrow we would be on the move again.

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