Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The End

The end of a Journey

I slept in my own bed this weekend, for the first time in about 10 months. It felt both good and bad.  The journey is over, what a trip.   Getting back into “normal” life has its good points, and its bad. The tough part is not having our cruising friends to help us.  To some extent we are going our own ways, on with out lives, we do live thousands of miles apart.  But none of us will forget our friendships, and we will never forget our journey together.  I can only hope we will meet on the high seas again. 

 Just a quick recap in pictures.






Great Food

Got it

One Haircut
Great People

What a ride..........

Sunday, May 22, 2011

St Augustine to New Orleans

I had been discussing a position with my previous employer, and they made an offer in Baton Rouge.  I accepted, so the trip is coming to an end quickly.  The girls took our new car my brother drove down from up north and left for Augusta, marking the end to their cruise.  It was very emotional.
One last walk off the dock
Back to car life

The day they got there the forecast could not have been much worse, south winds, 20 mph.  The wind was as unprecedented as the storms it caused in the south.  Tornados always follow that kind of wind.  We headed outside but barely made it to Fort Pierce by morning.  It was a miserable slog, 3 knots over the ground most of the way.  We decided to go in the intercoastal so that we would only be fighting the wind, not waves to boot.  
My Brother

Tuesday Wednesday
We anchored and had a nice dinner near the south end of Merrit Island, we did see the Shuttle on the launch pad.  Then on to Fort Pierce, we had a night on the dock there, and an uneventful ride to Lake Worth.  We were then as prepared as we could be for the trip to Marathon. 
Near Lake Worth

The wind shifted and we were able to start sailing, Just off the beach in Fort Lauderdale my brother caught a king, and we had it for dinner. 
Carts fish

The weather turned pretty bad with squalling and thunderstorms.  We missed the first set but the second came over us, broke back apart, and cam over us again.  We could see it on radar, and normally you cannot see rain.
Quite a Storm, Small Craft Advisories
Storm on radar at night

We heard a report of Haitians on a raft in the straights of Florida, and the next day we heard someone reporting they had seen them, but it was a hoax.  Sad that someone would report seeing that when they had not. 

Friday afternoon
We stopped off in Marathon, where we spent the holidays, for a gas and go fuel stop.  Then we continued  on our way headed toward Tampa. The autopilot was not working really well, so my sister in law and I replaced the gyro compass before we got into deep water. The wind filled late in the afternoon and we began the stampede to Tampa.  There was a lot of wind, from just the right direction. And we were making time.  The wind smelled of smoke, some significant fires in south Florida, and we could smell them almost 200 miles away.

We made it to Sanibel Island and kept going up the coast.  Cart got another king.  The wind was coming off the land and so were the love bugs.  They covered the boat and us.  Since we were the only place to land…. we were a magnet.  They covered the boat to the point we could not see out the isinglass.  After about two hours I started the wash down pump, because the only place I could see them was on and around the boat.  I must have washed 10,000 of the darn things into the ocean.

Lots of Big Dolphin

Made it to Tampa by nightfall and decided to keep going.  We have seen three shrimp boats and one cruise ship.  I have not seen so little traffic the whole trip.

Across the gulf and on towards the panhandle or were ever we land.   We put up the big spinnaker, we have not burned much fuel until today.  It lasted about two hours, but the swell was so big that there was no way.  We put up the iron spinnaker and set off for Mobile.  We had several riders, including Andy, as cart named him.

As the sun rose, so did the wind, about 15 knots from the southeast.  We put the spinnaker up and got great speed, about 9 knots.  We heard the weather, and there were small craft advisories issued for later in the day, west winds and then north winds at 30.  We decided to make a bee line for Pensacola.  It was a great day of sailing, about 5 miles out of Pensacola the west winds came, for about 10 seconds, and then north at about 35.  We motored into the wind and tide, making as little as one knot over the ground.  We tied up after dark, and had a great night sleep.
Screamin reach to Pensicola

Another Sunset

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fort Pierce and Florida’s East Coast

 We spent one night in Fort Pierce and headed to Vero Beach.  We picked up a mooring with Sheet Music. They share mooring balls there which is a bit strange to me, but fun.  A sailboat coming the other direction kept altering course until we were almost on the ground, and then he started yelling at us because he was a sailboat and we were motoring.  Welcome back to the US, the guy did not have a clue what the rules are, but he was determined to get into a near collision to make his day.  I guess it is intercostal rage, new to me. 

The next day we went to the south tip of Merit Island where we managed to get to a Publix to do some shopping.  It was an experience.  The store was huge, with every bit of food you could possibly imagine, yet the shoppers crowded and pushed like they were about to starve to death.  After about 10 minutes both Mike and I decided we needed to leave even though we were not done with all of our shopping.  It is going to take a while to get used to the US again.

We pushed on to New Smyrna, a long day past Cape Canaveral in the ditch.  We ordered pizza for delivery to the boat, and prepared for the next day.  We sailed outside from the Ponce to St. Augustine. Sheet Music went on the inside.  It was a great day of sailing for us, averaging about 8 knots all day.  St Augustine is a very beautiful town, rich with history. 
Our boat off the fort

We had a mooring right between the Bridge of Lions and the fort.  Sheet Music got in a little later than we did and picked up a ball next to us.  After a few days of touring around, and a birthday outing at a Chinese restaurant (Michael’s 14th), we said our good byes, and they set sail for their home port on the Chesapeake Bay.  It was an emotional moment for all of us.
Touching the moon rock

We rented a car and headed Cape Canaveral and on to Disney World.  The girls could hardly contain their excitement as they touched an actual moon rock.

Disney was very exciting for me, because it is my last trip.  If god does not like me when I get to the pearly gates, he will send me to Disney World.  I will be waiting in line for “It’s a small world” for eternity.  That being said, the girls had a great visit.
A line at Disney
I beat my best friend Steve who came to visit in mini golf, earning the first money I have since the trip began.

Another sunset, they are all pretty

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back to the US

Green Turtle Cay

We arrived at high tide Saturday morning and made our way into the harbor, with almost a foot to spare under the keel.  We took a slip at the Bluff House, which is a very nice marina where you can eat your dockage.  Everything you spend comes off the amount you spend for dockage. 

It was a very nice day and we decided to go snorkel on the north side of the island with the crews of Sheet Music and Messenger (a boat with kids we met in Georgetown).  We ended up conching when we saw some locals getting conch likely for the Bahamian specialty of conch salad.  Between the three crews we got 7, five queen conch.  I picked up two at the same time and wore myself out getting them back to the boat.  They are truly beautiful and will make a great decoration in our new home, wherever that is. 
A conch, the inside
Conch Fritters

We rented a golf cart and went to town, and Michelle did some shelling.  We had dinner with 4 boats with kids, it was a good evening.  I tried to do some conching but there was so much wind that the visibility was only about 10 feet.  No luck.  The kids swam in the pool and we made conch fritters and had an appetizer party on the boat with 18 people aboard. 

Allen’s Pensacola, Mangrove Cay and the Gulf Stream

We sailed to an uninhabited island called Allen’s Pensacola where we hiked across the island with the crews of Falco and Sheet Music.  We stopped by the Hilton on the way.

Falco’s crew did not bring shoes, but they were able to find some on the beach, it was kind of like Wal-Mart. 

The next morning we said goodbye for now to Falco, they are staying in the Bahamas for a while longer.  We will miss them!  We went to Mangrove Cay, just a spot of land on the bank and spent the night.  We left at about 3am to cross the gulfstream.  There was very little wind, and we ended up motoring the whole way.  Something ate my bait, but I did not even notice it.  We arrived back in the states on Friday night in Fort Pierce Fl. 
Last Bahamas Sunset
Raising the Q flag on the way into the US

Monday, April 4, 2011

Man O War

We left early Wednesday morning to Man O War Cay.  It is a very pretty little island with a very snug harbor.  All three of us were able to secure a mooring after passing the very narrow entrance, and we bumped the bottom on the way in.  With only two more days of lobster season we headed out in our dinghies.  Michael, from Sheet Music, got one.  The rest of us just got soaked in the 4 foot waves we had to go through.  It was the roughest dinghy ride so far.  On Thursday we decided to walk across the island and make one last attempt to get more lobster.  Emily got her first lobster, and I got two more. It was the perfect end to the season. 
Emily with her lobster
The days catch

Man O War was known for its boat building and still is.  We met Joe Aubrey, who is still building wood boats from local materials.  He invited us for a tour of his shop.  He starts by choosing the right wood and soaking it for a year in the sea.  He then selects elbows for stringers and begins the process. 
Stringers from bent limbs

 The boats are beautiful, and I understand they last forever.    I would love to sail one, but that’s not in the cards.
The final product

We left Man O on high tide headed for Treasure Cay, where the beach was voted on of the 10 best.

Treasure Cay (Not Really)

We set the spinnaker for the first time since the disaster out of Emerald Bay, and other than the girls having some trepidation we sailed without incident.  We stopped at Spoil Cay because we had heard that there was good shelling.  Spoil Cay is the last island before “THE WHALE”  which is a three mile stretch that is open to the Atlantic, and is know for being very rough in certain conditions.  It looked so easy because of conditions we could not resist going on through, and it was easy.  We have seen about 500 beaches so far during our Bahamas adventure, so we will have to come back to see one of the 10 best.  We anchored off No Name Cay, and had a very restfull night.  Weather is supposed to come in early next week, so we will head for Green Turtle Cay to wait it out. 

Marsh Harbor and Hope Town

We sailed from Spencer’s Bight to Marsh harbor in about 20 knots of breeze, the forecast was for less than 10 knots.  It must be hard to do the weather for this area as none of the forecasts have been correct so far.  We docked at the Marsh Harbor Marina and Yacht Club, which was a nice facility with all of the amenities.  I knew we had been “out” for some time when I had to dig the power cord out from under the sewing machine.  We spotted Texas Dreamer across the harbor, we had not seen them since the Keys, and it was very nice to catch up with them.

Traffic Light in Marsh Harbor

Marsh Harbor has the biggest grocery store we have seen since leaving the states. And the road even has a traffic light.   There was a “Rake and Scrape” at the marina, complete with a libo stick, it was a nice evening for all of us.

Michelle ended up getting ill and having to see the doctor, so we spent a few more days than we had planned.  The clinic was nice, but not cheap like you often read about in cruising magazines.  They do ask before each procedure if you can afford it.  Michelle rested, and we hooked up cable TV and AC for a few days.

We left on Tuesday for Hope Town.  It is an interesting and picturesque place, so much so that the harbor is featured on the Bahamian $10 bill. 

We climbed the lighthouse, which was built over the objections of the local “wreckers”, who made a living off shipwrecks.  They actually sabotaged the building to protect their “trade”.   The lighthouse still operates as it did, with kerosene like a Coleman lantern (it is about that big).  It spins by the keeper cranking a weight to the top and letting it fall slowly every hour.  We also spent some time shopping and touring the town.  There was a nice history museum with artifacts from the loyalist days.  Many southerners, loyal to the King during the revolutionary war, resettled in this area. 
Coleman light inside the dome

Emily and the Falco crew went snorkeling off the beach there and came face to face with a 6-7 ft. reef shark.  It turned and swam away, uninterested in any of them. 
Diamond from the lighthouse